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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently acquired a long rifle that I am hoping to learn more about, and I would be very grateful for the insights, observations and opinions of the forum.

I have not had a chance to completely disassemble the rifle, so I cannot tell if there are any markings under the woodline on the barrel or back of the lockplate.

The rifle appears to be a .50" caliber, with strong defined rifling still present. The barrel is marked "PHILADA" only.

What is interesting to me is that the lock and trigger seem to have been modified at some point, with a flash-guard added around the bolster, and the triggerguard seems to have been elongated with signs of having been brazed.

The rear trigger must be set before the hammer will lock back. Once it's locked, the front trigger releases the hammer, and let me say that it is a REALLY light trigger... truly one of the few times I do not feel that the term "hair trigger" constitutes undue hyperbole. She's a bit too light, IMHO.

The patch-box lid is marked "TRYON", which I believe refers to a parts supplier that furnished various firearms parts to gun-makers in the mid-late 1800s. Note the unusual device for locking the patch box; one must push the button on the toe to release the patch-box lid. Looks like it was done by an individual.

As you can see, the forearm could use some repairs along the wood line.

I would be glad for any insight into possible makers, or at least the likely era it was made.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Decided to take a look at the internals. The barrel is marked READING PA, and the triggerguard is also marked TRYON.

Note the double-trigger assembly.

 

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Tryon was a Philadelphia firm that operated into the 1840s. Builder - Flayderman documents a George W. Tryon Flintlock Pistol made c.1815-1830, described as a typical officer's or militia private purchase type. Contracted with the Republic of Texas in 1839 for Model 1816-style Flintlock Muskets, but didn't deliver part of them (1500 gun order, 860 paid for, remainder returned to company). The 640 not paid for were sold to the US in 1846, apparently shipped from Frankford to Galveston, and PROBABLY issued to Texas -recruited Volunteers in US service.

No other known Tryon contracts for government arms, but the company did produce commercial arms, and parts.
 

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As Clyde has pointed out, Tryon was a big Philadelphia arms supplier. Most of their guns were inexpensive and aimed at the westward emigrant market. The rifle itself isn't a reproduction but its had a lot of "fixing-up", much of which is heavy handed. It rather looks like a badly beaten up rifle fixed up for shooting in the 60s or 70s. I think that the double set triggers are new. There is a good deal of rough brazing repair and its clear the stock has been sanded. Forty years ago, rough, plain rifles like this were very cheap, probably cheaper than the reproduction parts that were coming on the market at the time... occasionally they still can be. I even remember an article in Gun Digest around the late 60s on "making a muzzle loader" where the author purposely started with a plain original rifle to which he added a scope and a patchbox and glass bedded the barrel. This was all quite acceptable and I think this is probably an example of that sort of work, albeit not as well done. The big patches in the stock and splintering along the forend suggest an original in very rough condition. Given the overall rough condition of the gun, the barrel may have been refreshed because our forefathers were usually not all that conscientious about cleaning them.

Does the lock have a half-cock notch? Often locks intended for use with set triggers don't... but certainly not always. I think you could say if there in only one notch it should have double set triggers... but not the other way around as all of these locks were imported and the maker had to use what they could buy.

The patch box release if fairly normal and is commonly seen on NE rifles. It isn't the most common type but is certainly not rare. I think I have 2 or 3 like that. I am pretty sure they have never been copied on a common reproduction, another indication of its real age.

I don't have Tryon's dates of business at hand but suspect the basic rifle dates between the middle 1830s and the beginning of the CW. It was a plain, workmanlike rifle that saw hard service and has been brought back with a bit too much enthusiasm. I confess to having done sort of thing this myself. One of my "shooters" is a NE percussion halfstock (probably ca. 1825-30... cost $75) with bits replaced along the forend and in front of the lock and new barrel key escutcheons to cover deep gouges in the sides. The barrel was so loose in the forend that I glass bedded it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The lock seems to have only one cocking notch, although I wish it did have a half-cock notch. Joe, I think you may be right about the trigger group being new (meaning, probably replaced sometime since the 1950's).

The pillow-ticking inlay in the forearm was done, I suppose, to reinforce some cracks along the edge, as it seems fairly stiff as though it were applied with lacquer or some sort of hardening solution.

I will need to invest in a cleaning rod that is long enough to reach to the bottom of the barrel, and my intent is to flush and scrub the barrel a bit in the hope of firing this old girl. I will need a replacement rear sight, which I assume would be a fairly simple V-notch blade, right?

I understand it is not an entirely original, but learning that the rifle likely dates to pre-Civil War times makes me very happy. It was very reasonably priced, as well.

I measured the inside of the muzzle, which seems to be around .485" (though I don't know if I was measuring from groove to groove. I assume that a patched .50" round ball should work fine.

It sounds corny, but I'm very pleased to know this is (mostly) an original piece from the age of American long rifles. I fully intend to fire it, as well. I may eventually have someone do a repair to the forearm edge of the inletting (mainly to keep it from continuing to crack away.)

My only concern is that really light trigger. I would feel better if it had a half-cock to allow for safer priming of the cap to the nipple. Perhaps a short piece of wooden dowel could be used to hold open the hammer while capping the nipple. Otherwise, it will be a matter of having the muzzle pointed downrange before capping the nipple.
 

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That lock to me, appears to be converted from a flintlock to caplock. You can almost see there the external frizzen spring had been mounted on the outside. The holes in the lock plate indicate this also as the external frizzen spring was locked onto the plate from the inside via screws.

Does your bore measure .485 from the lands(the top of the rifling), or the grooves(thebottom of the rifling)? If this measurement was taken from the top of the rifiling then you may want to get hold of some .480 sized round balls an patch with about an .010 to .015 patch. Most common .50 caliber balls are either .490 or .495 which will be too big and harder to load in this bore. It can be done but will be a bear once the bore get s sooty.

As to the "hair trigger" the little screw in between the triggers is the set screw. Back it off a bit and it will increase the pull of the set trigger ......
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sidney, I wondered the same thing. The lock assembly definitely looks to have been modified.

Taking time to get the inside-diameter blades of the micrometer lined up in the grooves. I took some groove-to-groove measurements, some of which were up to .495". Were these barrels made with a slight decrease in bore diameter toward the muzzle end, or are they uniform in diameter the whole length of the barrel?
 

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Very good posts by both Joe and Clyde, you have a nice, well made working class rifle by Edward K. Tryon's shop sometime in the 1840s or 1850s. It has, as Joe said, been re-worked for shooting purpose, likely in the '50s or '60s, maybe as late as the 1970s. I suspect the barrel was bored out and re-rifled at that time and that the breaching was redone, originally the gun may have had a patent breach that fitted the lock properly, this would have required that the barrel be shortened and inch or so. The drum and nipple conversion percussioning was done then.

If you are concerned about the light trigger pull, a knowledgeable muzzleloading gunmaker could modify it to have a slightly heavier trigger pull.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
TP, with such a heavy barrel, I would be surprised if it were originally in a smaller caliber. But that is mere speculation on my part.

Wouldn't the conversion to percussion likely have been done much earlier? The barrel is about 41 and 1/4" long overall.

It's not so much the light trigger, but the absence of any half-cock to facilitate safe capping that makes me cautious. I did back out that set screw on the trigger, but it didn't seem to change the light break-point of the forward trigger.
 

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TP, with such a heavy barrel, I would be surprised if it were originally in a smaller caliber. But that is mere speculation on my part.
Heavy barrels were not at all unusual in the period. The original caliber could have been .40 caliber, a common caliber at the time of the rifle's construction and the weight was not a concern at the time. what we consider extra thickness was a way of allowing for refreshing the bore when needed.

Wouldn't the conversion to percussion likely have been done much earlier? The barrel is about 41 and 1/4" long overall.
Earl, your rifle was originally built as percussion, it was never flint. My assumption that it may have been re-breached is simply that and is based on the large cut out the original lock plate, if the lock is original to the gun which I think it is.


It's not so much the light trigger, but the absence of any half-cock to facilitate safe capping that makes me cautious. I did back out that set screw on the trigger, but it didn't seem to change the light break-point of the forward trigger.
People looked a shooting much differently in those days, the lack of a half cock notch in the tumbler was a common thing at the time your lock's and rifle's construction. They weren't less safety conscious, but they were very careful about about where the muzzle was pointed, that was their method of keeping the gun safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for your insight, TP. As usual, very helpful and much appreciated.

My guess is that if the rifleman were afield with the rifle loaded, they would wait until they were ready to fire before capping the nipple. I have already practiced a few times going through the motion of how I would do the same... :) Basically, keep the muzzle pointed downrange, slip the cap on, and don't touch that trigger until I'm on target! One of the reasons I'm itching to fire it is because I suspect that trigger will make for a fine-shooting rifle.

If the grooves are between .490 and .495", what are the odds that I can use a .490" with .010" Wonder Wad patch without too much trouble?
 

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Your load sounds interesting but I am unfamiliar with Wonder Wad patches? When I shoot a rifle (rarely, I like military smoothbored muskets :) ) I will use linen or ticking patches with a round ball. Lube usually with spit.
 

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Regarding the one notch tumbler... when the triggers are working properly, there is little danger of the gun going off unless the first trigger is "set". The front trigger is supposed to be very light but only when set. The gun would be carried cocked and capped and the trigger set with the rear trigger when it was on target.

I see no sign that it was ever a flintlock and, as far as I know, commercial flint locks were never made with only one notch. Also, I agree it was probably rebored and that it was originally .40 caliber. .40 caliber is a sort of "magic number". It works well with both round and picket bullets, for both target and hunting. It was extremely common from the late 30s to the end of the muzzle loading era. I'd guess that something like 98% of the general purpose rifles were between .38 and .42 caliber.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Joe, the trouble is that the hammer won't lock back unless the rear trigger is set. So instead of the normal process...."cock hammer, set rear trigger, fire".... on this rifle it is "set rear trigger, cock hammer, fire".

I used a .490" ball with a screw in it, drove it in an inch or so, then pulled it out. The widest diameter is about .490". So using a .010" patch with a .490" ball might be a bit tight. But I also suspect that once the patch and ball are in bore a couple inches and engraved with the rifling, the rest of the journey down to the breech wouldn't be too difficult. And I'll bet it would shoot really well.

I'm going to have to get a longer ramrod. My CVA fiberglass rod is only 36". I may order a 3/8" fiberglass rod at least 44" long (barrel is ~41 inches). The wood rod with the rifle looks really old, and I'd rather not use it.
 

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That is probably a result of improperly fitting a replacement trigger. Its not supposed to work that way. You should be able to cock it but until the trigger is set, the pull is very heavy... so much so that you'd have to deliberately pull it. I'm not certain what you can do about that though.

On second thought... This is only a guess, but I wonder if the trigger plate is set too far into the stock and the bar on the top of the trigger is bearing on the sear... the trigger would go down and lock in place when "set" but, when not set, be too high to allow the tumbler & sear to work properly. The sear moves slightly as the hammer is cocked. If it touches the trigger, this can prevent it entering the notch in the tumbler. The working clearances could be as little as a few thousandths. The fix could be as simple as a thin shim or two (paper or thin cardboard) between the stock and trigger plate to get the top of the rear trigger a little further away from the sear. In any case, that would be a non-permanent test of the theory. If it does prove to help, you could think of a more permanent fix.

The pillow ticking in the forend is an old fashioned repair... maybe from the 40s or 50s but it probably could easily go back a good deal further. I've had two guns that was done to, the NE halfstock I referred to above and a Henry Pratt full stock flint rifle. The forend of the Pratt rifle was shattered and only held together by glue and pillow ticking. I had that one fixed by a friend who was very good at this sort of thing and he... glass bedded the barrel. He felt it was the only glue that would hold everything together. None of these original rifles had barrel inlets of the machine like precision people expect on reproductions. They were all a bit loose and many were barely octagonal, so there was room for the acra glass without altering anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Joe, you were right. I shimmed the front of the trigger assembly with a bit of folded cardboard. The hammer locks back to the rear as it should. Without setting the rear trigger, the front trigger has some play until it contacts the sear, then it breaks clean and crisp. If I set the rear trigger, the front trigger breaks with the slightest touch. In truth, I'd be fine with just using the front trigger without need for setting the rear.

I will play around with it a bit more and probably cut a piece of wood to make a more permanent and stable shim.

As usual, the knowledge on this forum is a huge benefit.
 

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Sounds like you got some good advice. Great news. Suggest you use some brass shim stock instead of wood - it won't change as humidity does...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Clyde, I will likely do something like that. The screw that goes through the tang is the one that controls the seating depth of the trigger group, so I want to ensure a snug fit at just the right depth.
 

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Or, since the rifle has been heavily reworked in the last 40 or so years, you can try using Brownell's Green Acraglas to bed the triggers. It is a good product used by professionals for action bedding and, being thicker than the Red Acraglass and nowhere near as runny, will allow the triggers to be set to the right depth. If you decide to go that way, follow directions carefully and use plenty of release agent.
 
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