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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Introduction and authors comments:

This one was a long time in the making.

Because of the nature of the project, many processes required exceptional amounts of time.

For one extreme example, it took me 11 calendar days to remove one screw. Granted, during those 11 days, it was "Squirt some Kroil on the screw, turn the screw 1/8th of a turn, then come back tomorrow and repeat.

One year, 10 months, and 3 days from the first pictures arriving until it was done.

I didn't work on it every day. If I were to add up all the time over that nearly 2 years, it would probably only add up to 6 - 8 weeks.

As an added bonus, those of you that know me, know I travel for my job quite a bit, generally Mon-Fri, and generally 35 - 45 weeks per year, which leaves me the weekends to do stuff like this, along with other domestic duties.

Tracking down and finding parts was a challenge, for certain parts, it took weeks or months to locate them.

In the end, it all came together.

Some compromises had to be made, there are always compromises in a restoration project.

It also challenged me to learn new skills in the process, which you will see in a later post.

Per Rick's (ExBlueLight) request, I am posting this here before even he has seen the final result in person.

Rick, I am sorry it took so long, but I hope you are happy with the result.


History:

In October of 2020, I was contacted by ExBlueLight to see if I was interested in restoring an unknown Civil War rifle that had been in his wife's family for a very long time (presumed since new).

He warned me that it was in rough shape.

Work on an old gun?, yes please and twice again on Sunday!

I asked for and received pictures of the, as then, unidentified rifle.

(Note: This is going to be a long post in several installments. I have lots of photographs to the process, far too many to post them all here, but I will be posting a lot of them, so I apologize in advance for the graphics heavy long load times.)

Original Photos:

Hood Wood Sleeve Floor Natural material









Sleeve Wood Rectangle Plant Tints and shades

Brown Wood Twig Tree Window

Air gun Wood Trigger Gun barrel Gun accessory

Wood Air gun Shotgun Gun accessory Gun barrel

Wood Trigger Air gun Gun accessory Metal

Wood Tool Fashion accessory Metal Blade

Wood Musical instrument accessory Knife Metal Fashion accessory

Wood Twig Metal Bicycle part Hardwood


Wood Sleeve Tints and shades Rectangle Twig


It isn't a rifle at all, it is a Sharps Carbine!

By appearance it seemed to be an original 52 caliber paper cartridge model.

Near the end of October/first part of November, ExBlueLight was passing through my area, so we met up and I took possession of the carbine.

It was in rough shape. The hammer was frozen, the trigger was frozen, and many of the screws looked very corroded. This was going to take some time.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Part 2: Model Number and Front Handguard.

Upon getting the carbine home, I examined the carbine in detail.

Rubbing top of the barrel with some oil and steel wool, I found the model number

Bicycle part Fluid Material property Cylinder Wood


A Sharps New Model 1863 Carbine.

The handguard was in very bad shape. It was split into 3 pieces along its long axis, and the wood was very, very dry.

To complicate matters even further, someone in the past had carved their initials in the wood: "JBR". This would have to be preserved if possible.
(Pic taken post repair)

Wood Axe Hardwood Tool Varnish


First thing to do was to get the handguard off. Fortunately, the screw holding it in came out with little difficulty. The barrel band popped off easily, and once off, soaked it in methanol and acetone to clean it.

After first cleaning, you can see the splits in the handguard.
Food Ingredient Rectangle Cuisine Baked goods


Detail shot of the splits.
Wood Carnivore Toy Chair Hardwood


The second cleaning was in straight acetone.
Wood Gesture Finger Nail Thumb


After getting it as clean as possible and removing any loose splinters of wood that could snag and cause more damage, I sanded it lightly with 400 grit paper to smooth it out.

Mixed up some acraglas putty and started getting all the split pieces back together cleanly.

My initial intent was to reinforce the inner surface with a fine fiberglass mesh with agraglas. However, that did not work out, so I wound up using straight acraglas and fine pins.

Acraglass curing on outer surface. There are pieces of wood that are missing, so the acraglas will fill in those missing pieces.

Wood Rectangle Flooring Hardwood Musical instrument



Inner surface.
Wood Flooring Floor Rectangle Wood stain



Inner surface after sanding and contouring.
Finger Wood Auto part Tool Fashion accessory


After everything was cured,and contoured, I finished the wood with raw linseed oil to rehydrate the wood, then I applied an "old world" preservative:

Beeswax will liquefy in turpentine, making a thick viscous liquid. Mix that with some more raw linseed oil and you have a paste like wax preservative that can be used on wood and metal.

Mixing up a batch the beads you see are beeswax still dissolving.
Food Tableware Ingredient Recipe Wood


Next Post: Buttstock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Part 3: Buttstock

The buttstock is secured to the receiver with 2 tang screws, 1 trigger bar screw, one saddle bar/lockplate screw, and a through receiver lockplate screw.

Attempting to preserve as much as possible, it took about 16 days to get those screws out, including the 11 day screw I mentioned in the first post. One of them was so far gone it had to be drilled.

But, after some effort and a fair amount of cursing, the lockplate was removed, and then the buttstock was removed.

Lockplate removed for the first time in 157 years.

Wood Sleeve Collar Knife Blade


The buttstock was very dry, and the wood had started to check on the left side. a piece of the stock popped off right next to the tang, so that would have to be repaired as well.

Into an acetone bath for cleaning.

After first cleaning:
Wood Wheel Tire Walking shoe Hardwood


The stock was soaked in acetone for a total of 3 weeks to pull all of the oil and dirt out of it.

Once it was clean, I gave it a light sanding

Shoulder Table Leg Human body Wood


Then it was time to break out the acraglas and start repairs. The broken piece by the tang was pinned with a brass rod, then acraglassed


Filling in the checking.
Handheld power drill Automotive tire Wood Bumper Drill


Tang area repair

Brown Wood Amber Floor Road surface


After curing and sanding, the buttstock and the handguard were rubbed down with the oil/wax mixture.

Wood Artifact Floor Flooring Wood stain


Wood Line Table Hardwood Tints and shades


Checking filled in

Brown Rectangle Wood Wood stain Hardwood


After many coats of oil and the oil/wax mixture, the wood was polished and set aside to cure.

Wood after curing..
Glove Sleeve Gesture Nail Wood


Next Post. Receiver Disassembly and Corrosion Removal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Part 4: Receiver Disassembly and Corrosion Removal.

(Author's Note: I am breaking these posts down by sub-assembly for ease of reading Events in this post occurred before or during the time that parts 2 and 3 happened. As I said, it was a slow process)

As stated above, the process of getting the buttstock off of the firearm took a number of days. 16 days for the screws and the lockplate, and a few more days to get the trigger bar off.

Lock Assembly removed. Note the broken hammer spring, and frozen components. Just below the hammer, you can see parts of the Lawrence Primer Feed System. Details about the primer feed will be at the end of this thread.
Hand tool Axe Wood Tool Saw


Outside: The slot to the right of the hammer is the Lawrence Primer Feed piston.

Hand tool Scrub plane Plane Wood Shoulder plane


After lots of soaking with Kroil, some effort and unfortunately some drilling of the bridle screws, I got the lock plate disassembled and thankfully, the primer feeder system (at least the parts that were still installed) off without damage..

Lockplate, with hammer, hammer screw, tumbler with stirrup, bridle, and sear.
Wood Reptile Font Snake Scaled reptile


After removing all of the primer feeding system.

Wood Tool Auto part Pliers Framing hammer



The next task was getting the lever off so the trigger bar could be removed.

Again. Kroil.... Lots and lots of Kroil.

The first thing to remove is the lever spring

Lever Spring Removed: The spring was beyond repair and no longer "springy: The screw hole on the left is for the lever spring, the hole on the right is for the front handguard screw. This block is silver soldered to the barrel.
Bumper Material property Automotive exterior Wood Gas


After about a week of soaking and trying to move the lever (which is attached to the breechblock) I had no success.

Trying to move things along, I used a brass wedge to start forcing the lever up.

The lever moved, but the toggle between the lever and the breechblock was broken.

Lever fully retracted, trigger bar removed, lever spring removed.
Wood Bumper Gas Automotive exterior Hand tool


After driving out the broken lever pivot pin, I was able to remove the lever.

Top view, looking at the bottom of the breechblock. That half round piece is the broken toggle attached to the breechblock.
Hand tool Wood Wrench Musical instrument Tool


All efforts to remove be breechblock failed.

Since all of these parts are made of a very crude form of steel, most of these parts were case hardened, which left a VERY hard surface. Excellent for wear, but not so easy to clean and polish.

As a result, to get as much rust as possible. I used Evaporust. Evaporust is non-toxic and water based.

Filled up a closed off PVC pipe with Evaporust, and started soaking the barreled receiver.

Soaking..
Wood Serveware Automotive tire Circle Automotive wheel system


After a few days of soaking the receiver looked like this....

Same view as before, just cleaned up.
Wood Tool Bumper Automotive exterior Auto part



Top View of breechblock
Hand tool Wood Tool Bumper Metalworking hand tool


The Breechblock still did not move a millimeter.

Next Post: Part 5: More Metal Work
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Part 5: More Metal Work, bore cameras, and things that go "Boom"

After about 2 months of soaking in and alternating mix of PB Blaster, Kroil, and Evaporust, along with heating with a propane torch and pounding with a brass drift, I still had nothing.

To complete the assembly, the breechblock had to come out.

Using an ultrasonic cleaner to try and break things up.

Kitchen utensil Automotive lighting Automotive exterior Tobacco Metal


All of this did have some benefit. I started getting lots of debris out of the barrel.

What appears to be black powder It does burn....
Wood Wood stain Natural material Tints and shades Hardwood


I saved some for Rick.
Finger Nail Thumb Computer keyboard Wood



After soaking the receiver for another month, I started to see hopeful signs...

A red "goo" running from the space between the block and the receiver.
Fluid Drinkware Automotive lighting Gas Bicycle part


After soaking for another week, I decided to try something a bit risky.

I secured the receiver in a 3 ton hydraulic press with blocks of UHMW Polyethylene, then cut a small aluminum rod to fit the top of the block and started to press. One pump of the press at a time, moving very slowly.

After 5 or 6 pumps, I heard a squeal and the block moved!

Wood Gas Auto part Metal Automotive wheel system


Once it broke free, it only took a few more pumps to get it out.

Wood Tool Composite material Metal Auto part


Wood Tool Hand tool Metal Gun accessory


The block went for an ultrasonic bath, then a soak in evaporust.

The receiver went back for another soak to clean out the receiver.

Cleaned, with some traces of rust/powder/dirt "mud"
Azure Bicycle part Electric blue Metal Composite material


For those of you that are unfamiliar with black powder. It is, in a word, corrosive as hell. Especially since this one had likely been sitting for 125 years or so.

The screw holding the toggle to the block was not moving.

The block went into a container of Kroil, and soaked.

My travel requirements went way up about this time. The block soaked in Kroil for a LONG time.

Meanwhile, I was looking for a replacement block if necessary. Original blocks for the percussion guns are VERY rare, and VERY expensive.

Located a source that makes reproductions. Order one in November of 2021. It is on back order. As of August 2022, it is still on back order...

It was compromise time. I had ordered the replacement parts, to include the primer nipple and the powder cleanout screw, and the block to toggle screw.

Given the level of corrosion, I stopped trying to get the nipple off. The powder cleanout screw, literally fell to pieces, and the toggle screw was still firmly stuck.

Being out of options, I took the path of last resort. I mounted the block in a vise, and using drills, left handed drills,and screw extractors, I finally got the screw out.

The block could be reused.

Next Post: Part 6: Refinishing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Part 6: Refinishing.

Once the block was out and the receiver cleaned. I started polishing it as best as I could. The receiver is case hardened so sanding is difficult. Also, due to the deep pitting there was no way to get all of them out.

Only two interesting pictures from this process were the model number stamping and the trademark stamping.

Model number, you can see the depth of the pitting, as well as the barrel/receiver witness mark.
Musical instrument Material property Wood Cylinder Auto part


The remains of the trademark stamp. screw hole to the right is for mounting the rear sight.

Gas Bumper Vegetable Cable Metal


The rest of the receiver and barrel were polished as best as could be done.

Most of the small parts were blued at this time. As stated previously, most of these parts were case hardened, more specifically, color case hardened, which I could not do at the time.

No pictures of the blued parts. They did not turn out well at all, so I wound up stripping them.

The barrel was originally blued. The receiver was color case hardened, which could not be done. Nor would I want to risk destroying the receiver trying to get it off the barrel.

Receiver ready for bluing. The shotgun receiver is one I did at the same time.

Purple Tool Knife Kitchen utensil Wood


I have covered rust bluing before, so I will not go into great detail, but a general rule of thumb is "the cheaper the steel, the blacker the finish"

Since these parts are steel only in the most basic sense, they blackened easily

Wood Tool Burin Hand tool Gas


Road surface Wood Gas Flooring Asphalt


Slathered the barrel and receiver in oil and set them aside.

Next Post: Part 7: New Parts and New Techniques
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Part 7: New Parts and New Techniques

Sorting through the remaining parts, I was stuck. The "trim" pieces did not blue well at all. Smaller pieces like the barrel band and the patchbox cover blued up fine.

Further, 3 parts were really corroded beyond practical repair and should be replaced.

The original rear sight was missing pieces and had corroded to the point the range scale was illegible. This was replaced with a reproduction part.

The original saddle bar was far too pitted to clean up at all. The saddle ring suffered the same issues The saddle bar was replaced with an original part, and the saddle ring was replaced with a reproduction part.

The lock plate had deteriorated to the point it could not be effectively smoothed. An original lockplate was sourced. There were a couple of back and forth shipments between myself and the vendor before I received one that was acceptable to me.

A few missing parts to the primer feed system were ordered. As well as all of the screws that either had to be drilled out or were too far corroded.

The screw heads were polished and dipped in molten sodium nitrate to give them a fire blue color.

The effect does not photograph well in bright light, but here is a picture of the primer feed spring screw after fire bluing. original lockplate in background.

Automotive lighting Hood Automotive design Gadget Office equipment


During this time, I had been spending some of my weekends working with a friend of mine who happens to be a licensed gunsmith.

Like me, he likes the old guns. I was talking about the issues with the finish on the "trim" pieces.

One thing led to another, and a few purchases were made.......

Next Post: Part 8: Color Case Hardening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Part 8: Color Case Hardening.

After some purchases, mainly an induction furnace and some bone and wood charcoal, and then a good amount of practice on some junk guns, we finally felt comfortable about giving it a try "for real"

The method of color case hardening is to pack the pieces to be hardened into an airtight crucible that is filled with a mix of bone and wood charcoal.
The crucible is heated to the "critical point" of the steel and held there. Carbon rich gas from the charcoal penetrates the steel, leaving a very hard, wear resistant surface.
After holding for a few hours, the crucible is removed, and immediately emptied into a container of cold, aerated water. This instantly cools the parts.leaving them hard. As a result of this, there are frequently random patterns of color in the parts.

By playing with the ratio of bone to wood charcoal, you can somewhat control what colors form. The mix I went with was a 3:1 ratio of bone to wood. This tends to produce brighter colors.

It took awhile to perfect the method, but we got there.

So I color case hardened the "trim" pieces: Lockplate, hammer, trigger bar, lever, saddle bar, buttplate, and breechblock.

Furnace and crucible.
Wood Rectangle Gas Tints and shades Composite material


All of the parts were glass bead blasted to remove all oxidation.

Wood Tool Font Automotive exterior Gas


Wood Tool Gas Font Kitchen utensil


You can still see some of the engraving on the block

Wood Bumper Automotive exterior Gas Metal


After bead blasting, the parts needed to be annealed

The were put in the crucible,and heated to critical point, then allowed to slowly cool. This softened the metal so they could be polished

Parts polished. There are still pits, but they are less than before...

Wrench Ratchet Tool Font Hand tool



After that, the parts were packed in new charcoal and heated.

Furnace and water tank in background.
Plant Building Tree Wood Gas



Quench tank ready to receive the parts. The water temp is 44 degrees Note the air hose pumping air to oxygenate and keep the water moving.

Waste containment Grass Drinkware Drink Liquid



When the cycle was complete, the crucible was removed and emptied into the water. you can see bits of carbon floating in the water

Automotive tire Charcoal Grass Gas Cuisine


Next Post: Part 9: Results
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Part 9: Results

The parts after being removed from the water. I was happy with the result.

Tool Hand tool Wood Auto part Metalworking hand tool


Hand tool Wood Tool Household hardware Metalworking hand tool


Saddle bar didn't get a whole lot of color. It is truly random what you get.

Tool Hand tool Household hardware Wood Metal


Wood Metal Auto part Automotive exterior Steel



Because the ultimate destination for this carbine is display, and because the CCH colors are delicate and prone to fading, the parts were sprayed with a clear enamel for durability

Hand tool Tool Wood Font Metal


Hand tool Tool Metalworking hand tool Wood Household hardware


Next Post: Part 10: Final Assembly
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Part 10: Final Assembly

Now that everything was done, it was time to put it all back together.

Thankfully, everything is in sub-assemblies, and the finished sub-assemblies get installed on the receiver.

Patchbox cover installed on the stock. wood given another coat of oil/wax
Musical instrument Sleeve Wood Denim Musical instrument accessory



Trigger bar and Lever latch went together easily

All the components
Musical instrument Wood Hand tool Musical instrument accessory Hardwood


Wood Engineering Metalworking hand tool Workbench Tool


Lever and Block
Hand tool Wood Saw Computer keyboard Tool


The lock took a bit of work and a hammer spring compressor.

Pieces and parts
Hand tool Saw Wood Tool Drill


Bridle and tumbler installed, primer parts installed, compressed spring on the right.

Hand tool Saw Tool Wood Metalworking hand tool


Top view

Automotive tire Tool Handheld power drill Hand tool Rotary tool


Hammer Installed

Hand tool Wood Tool Metalworking hand tool Pliers


Ready to install.

Hood Wood Hand tool Tool Automotive tire



There was a bit of filing to get everything to line up again, but it was finished.

Next Post: Finished
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Part 11: Done

After a long time, which admittedly was mostly spent waiting.. it is finally done.

The hammer cocks, the trigger works, and you can open and close the breechblock.

Given the level of corrosion, it is unsafe to fire.

But it will make a nice display piece commemorating a family member which may or may not have actually used this in the civil war.

Hope you enjoyed reading, if anyone has questions, please feel free to chime in. Been typing this since 8 AM, so I am taking a bit of a break.

The photos taken represent a small part of the 200 or so photos that were taken.

Left Side Final
Light Cutlery Eyewear Kitchen utensil Automotive exterior


Right Side Final
Wood Tableware Gas Automotive exterior Tool


Replacement rear sight

Wood Bumper Air gun Trigger Gas


Rick already posted this one...

Wood Revolver Metal Air gun Tool
 

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Awesome project and write up as usual. That came out amazingly good for how bad it was in the early stage. Well done.


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He didnt give you the Pixs I first sent to him....wood, very poor shape, dried out and cracked a lot.....action, rusted and frozen shut.....look for yourself
 

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Maybe he will post a short version of the history of a Sharps new model 1863....He opened my eyes to the history of these rifles......
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Maybe he will post a short version of the history of a Sharps new model 1863....He opened my eyes to the history of these rifles......

Posted a few posts down from this one.
 
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