First Model 1855 Harper's Ferry Rifle
Lodgewood's owner and head gunsmith David Stavlo built this beautiful 1st Model 1855 Harper's Ferry Rifle. It features all the correct finishes and markings. Unlike many of our other builds that are made up of new made stocks and barrels combined with reproduction and original parts, this rifle is comprised of almost entirely new made parts, some of which were made in-house by David.
The stock was custom-made from straight grain Black Walnut - the same wood that was used in original 1855 Rifles. David hand fit each of the components to the stock blank before shaping it to the correct dimensions of originals; paying close attention to the moldings around the lock, as well as the wrist and forestock. The stock was finished with linseed oil. Again, just like the original guns. An inspector's cartouche was added to the lock panel to replicate the inspector's marks found on original First Model guns.
The lock plate was custom-made for this project and features all the correct markings for an 1855 Rifle. The internal components are originals. Unlike other reproduction 1855 lock plates this plate is set up for a fully functional Maynard Tape primer system and features a functional door and tape cavity; just like the originals. The hammer was finished from a casting made by the Rifle Shoppe. Dimensionally, it's a perfect copy of the original 1855 hammer, complete with a correct "tape cutting" notch in the bottom of the hammer face. Both the lock plate and hammer were color case hardened using the traditional 19th Century "pack hardening" method. This is the only way to achieve appropriate colors. Pack hardening (or bone-charcoal color case hardening as it's sometimes called) is fairly difficult to master and few shops are able to do it, but it is absolutely necessary to correctly build or restore most pre-20th Century guns. These parts were case hardened in-house, as is all of our case hardening.
The barrel was made by Dan Whitacre. David extensively re-profiled the breech flats and bolster of the barrel to be the correct dimensions of originals. He also removed .5" from the muzzle to shorten the barrel to the correct 33" length of original guns. A set of machined Rich Cross front and rear sights were installed on the barrel and a proper machined 1855 bayonet lug was mounted as well. The barrel was then stamped with an "1857" date to match the lock and a correct Harper's Ferry "VP and Eagle" was also applied to the breech. These stamps were made from markings taken off an original barrel and are perfect copies. The barrel was then finished in "National Armory Brown" just like the originals. This is a slow and difficult process that involves multiple applications of a rusting agent applied very lightly over a period of several days. The rust is scaled between coats and oiled liberally when a uniform color is achieved. The result is a warm, rust resistant, non reflective finish which eliminates glare from the barrel when sighting. This is the same finish that was applied to all 1855 Rifles and M1841 rifles.
The brass furniture was all made from castings by the Rifle Shoppe. Each component was hand finished and polished before installation on the rifle. The bands feature the correct "U" stamps, and the butt plate features a correct "U.S." stamp. Like the originals all the screws feature a brilliant "fire blued" finish.
The finished gun is quite striking. A mixture of dark brown against polished brass, and vibrant color case hardening against satin polished walnut. This rifle is a very faithful recreation of the original rifles used during the Civil War; right down to the smallest detail.