Iron Mounted M1855 Harper's Ferry Rifle
Lodgewood's owner and head gunsmith David Stavlo built this beautiful Iron-mounted 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. Inspector's cartouches were 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 Bob Hoyt. David extensively re-profiled the breech flats and bolster of the barrel to be the correct dimensions of originals. 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 "1861" 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 full glass bedded to insure maximum accuracy
David originally finished this rifle in "armory bright" because that is how David, as well as most other students of musket history, have understood the original rifles to have been finished. It wasn't until we picked up John Willyard's excellent book on the M1855 and read an excerpt from a document called "Recommendations of the Ordnance Board, Convened at Washington, May 18, 1860" that we realized that these guns were not originally polished bright, but actually featured color case hardened locks, browned barrels and blued furniture. After this discovery, David immediately set out to "finish" the gun the right way.
He browned the barrel, and re-polished and blued all the furniture. The lock plate and hammer were then bone-charcoal color cased hardened. The rifle was then re-assembled and oiled. To our knowledge, this is the only custom Iron Mounted M1855 Rifle to feature these correct finishes, as the information on how these guns were finished originally has not been readily available, nor do any of the surviving original guns have any original finish.