Muzzleldrs Navy Arms 63 Springfield

KHyatt

Private
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
I’m looking at a Japan marked (would that be a Miroku?) Navy Arms 63 Springfield. It has seen some use; stock, lock and barrel are in OK condition but to my untrained eye the rifling looks pretty worn. I would want it as a shooter, not reenactor or mantelpiece. I could use y’all’s advice. The price is $350. (1) How much might it cost to reline the barrel of such a rifle, and (2) would it even be worth it? Thanks for any help!
 

poorjack

Corporal
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Location
NC
I’m looking at a Japan marked (would that be a Miroku?) Navy Arms 63 Springfield. It has seen some use; stock, lock and barrel are in OK condition but to my untrained eye the rifling looks pretty worn. I would want it as a shooter, not reenactor or mantelpiece. I could use y’all’s advice. The price is $350. (1) How much might it cost to reline the barrel of such a rifle, and (2) would it even be worth it? Thanks for any help!

The rifling looks shallow because it IS. Minies aren't designed to work with deep rifling. At $350 I have to wonder why it isn't in your hot little hands yet.

The Miroku Springfield is known to be a great shooter with the right minie. I wouldn't hesitate at the price.
 

KHyatt

Private
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
For better or worse, I bought the Navy Arms/Miroku Springfield last week. I say better or worse because it turns out it was previously in the hands of one very careless reenactor. Here's the story.

I first saw this gun when I went to the home of a new acquaintance to pick up some shooting supplies. He is a dealer who is mostly interested in mountain man and frontier guns and accoutrements, and he told me that he had acquired this Miroku and various other guns from a collector in Colorado. His "showroom" is simply his mobile home, and it is not very well lit. All the metal parts of the Miroku had a patina of what I took to be light surface rust. However, neither the surface nor the bore seemed to be pitted, so I figured I could clean off the rust and have an OK gun to shoot. The stock looked like it had been handled a lot, and I figured that the kind of wear and use that I saw was from a fairly serious reenactor. I paid the asking price of $350 and took the gun home.

At home I started to clean off the "rust" and quickly realized that it wasn't rust at all, but some kind of oil or lubricant that had dried, hardened and turned a rusty brown color. I have only seen vegetable oils with that kind of appearance on my seasoned kitchen pots and pans and was surprised to see it on the gun. However, with some denatured alcohol, Scotch Brite pads and fine emery cloth I was able to get all the exposed surfaces to shine. I also cleaned the stock with alcohol and applied a light coat of linseed oil. The small dings and scratches in the stock give the gun the air of a period rifle that had been carried into battle. I was quite pleased with myself. BUT...

In hindsight, maybe I should have turned my attention to the working parts and bore first, but I was excited to see how the gun would look. Silly me. I first put a cap on the nipple and fired the gun into the snow to see if the nipple and chamber were clear, but the cap even sounded wrong when it went off. There wasn't the slightest discharge of gas or anything else from the muzzle. I looked closer at the nipple, and only then did I see that it was fully plugged with black...stuff. I couldn't even get a small steel pick through it. So naturally, I grabbed my nipple wrench, figuring I could easily remove and clean the offending nipple. It may as well have been welded to the bolster. I've had penetrating oil on it now for about 48 hours, and it just won't budge. And yet, that isn't even the worst of it! (Read on, if you wish.)

When I removed the lock, I was dismayed to see how absolutely filthy the internal components were. But again, at least there was no rust, so I wasn't too concerned. I had looked at the bore and rifling with a bore light at my friend's home, as I mentioned in my original post. Now, after seeing how dirty other parts were, I was anxious to see if the bore might be a total loss. It took many patches and a good deal of Hoppe's but I finally got the bore reasonably clean. Again, what I had taken for rust just turned out to be old lubricant. The rifling is actually clean and sharp. However, I noticed when I dropped a ramrod down the barrel that it sort of thudded at the breech end and didn't ring like metal-on-metal. My friend told me that six of the other ten guns owned by the same reenactor were actually loaded, so I wondered if he had overlooked this gun. The ramrod didn't feel like it had even contacted lead, so I attached a scraper to the it to see what might come out of the breech. You can see the results in the attached photos. I can't figure out how the guy could have accumulated so much carbon in the gun, unless he was pouring it down the muzzle. And, I'm not even sure I've got it all out.

I worked on the gun for a total of about eight hours Saturday and yesterday. Tonight I'll take it apart again and soak the barrel in hot water, scrape some more, and maybe try to remove the nipple with a redneck nipple wrench (read: Vise-Grips). Even if I can't get the nipple to budge, I hope to at least clear it and the breech so that the gun will fire. Right now it's just a pretty club. (But hey, it's a Miroku club.)

I would appreciate any and all advice!

I apologize that the pics aren't better, but maybe y'all can get a sense of the conditions I tried to photograph. These are all "before" images, except where yo I'm going to wait until it is all finished before I post any more "after" photos.


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Craig L Barry

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
Location
Murfreesboro, TN
I think you have the right of it, it needs a good thorough cleaning. I would be careful with vise grips because you will just strip the shoulders off the cone. If you can heat the cone up and break it free, take the cone out of the bolster, probably replace the cone if you can't see light through the vent or else carefully pick out all the debris after soaking it in Hoppes #9. Then take patches or q-tips soaked with Hoppes #9 and scrap all the hardened black debris out of the bolster until you can re-establish a flash channel into the barrel. Run pipe cleaners soaked with Hoppes through the flash channel once the crud is all out of there. It should be fine.

Todd Watts is a professional gunsmith and you may want to send him the barrel to get the cone off without buggering it up, if you are unable to do so. What I described (heating the base of the cone) is what he does if the cone is stuck in there. You have to get that cone out of there to clean it properly and reestablish the flash channel.
 
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KHyatt

Private
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Thank you Mr Barry. Tonight I finally got things cleared, although the nipple is still stuck fast. I’ll keep working on it.

I’ve been a bit confused over what Springfield models (61 and 63) had case hardened and/or blued surfaces on some parts. Can you or someone else clarify? This Miroku is turning out so beautifully that I think I might like to match the appropriate original appearance. Or not. I’m not yet convinced one way or the other.
 

Craig L Barry

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
Location
Murfreesboro, TN
I built several of the Miroku US 1861s from the Dixie Gun Works kit and I don't recall any of the parts being blued or case hardened. This is probably fifteen years or so ago. I am not sure about the Miroku US 1863 model which were long gone by the time I got into the hobby.
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
Be careful applying heat. Even dried, caked residue can ignite. I use KG 1 to soak the residue soft and then it can be flushed out. KG1 turns black powder into mud in short order. And yes, avoid vise grips. If you break off the nipple flush with the bolster that can be a drill out job. A pain in the A##. Send it to Todd W. and let him handle it. Not doubting your ability but he'll have tools and experience to "get 'er done". Overall it doesn't look bad. Inside is what counts though. Maybe Todd can open it up and see if there is internal damage.
You could also check with Paul Ackerman at Ackerman Arms and see what he has in stock. He has a LOT of Miroku parts from various repro muskets. He might have a barrel :unsure:
 

KHyatt

Private
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
I was referring to original 1861 and 1863 Springfields. I saw a discussion in N-SSA about color case hardening of some parts (https://www.n-ssa.net/vbforum/showthread.php/16549-Color-case-hardening-on-rifle-musket-locks). I also saw a photo recently of a museum quality Springfield (I don’t recall if it was a 61 or 63) that had case hardened lock plate and hammer and blued barrel bands. I didn’t notice if there were other colored components and now I can’t find the pics.

I damaged my cone wrench trying to remove the nipple and marked the nipple itself a bit when I tried vise grips. That sucker is there to stay, at least for now. I since cleared the channel, and as long as it shoots I won’t bother with it further until I send it off to Mr Watts. After thoroughly cleaning the barrel and chamber I dropped a light in it and the condition is well beyond my expectations. As I explained, what I took for rust and wear was just an incredibly dirty barrel. I’m very surprised that treating the gun so poorly didn’t result in corrosion, or worse. (I have concluded that not taking care of one’s rifle must be the ultimate farbism.) Shooting well will be the real test, of course, but for now I don’t think I need to replace the barrel or anything else.
 

KHyatt

Private
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Thanks, Johan! Very helpful. So it appears that the hammer and lockplate are color case hardened, and according to Craig screws are blued. I believe that the barrel bands and nose cap are also blued. What about the trigger assembly? I can't quite tell in your pics but it looks like it is white, correct?

My other Springfield reproduction is an Armi Sport that I bought used. The steel was not polished, and since I had to use scotch brite pads to remove some rust anyway, I just cleaned the whole thing that way. It has more of a satin finish to it, but I don't know if the guns are delivered that way from the factory. I recently read in some CWT or N-SSA post that some soldiers cleaned their muskets with clay to keep them shining. The only clay I've handled was very fine and I'm pretty sure would give a smooth, polished surface. Would the "in the white" armory finish really have been a high polish or more of a satin finish?
 

7thWisconsin

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
That looks exactly like my old 1863. Bought it for $350 and sold it nearly 20 years later for $350. And I still miss it! Plain olive oil will leave the metal parts looking like that if you let the gun sit for a long time between cleanings. It's a great protector and wood nourishing, but you need to clean the gun regularly to keep it from setting up like that.
 

KHyatt

Private
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
If I ever part with this gun it won’t be for $350. I think all my cleaning and shining have added a little value. It’s starting to look like a real fine piece. Now I just need to find a place to shoot it, and if it performs anything like it looks I’ll be very pleased. Could be a keeper.
 

KHyatt

Private
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Is there anything to learn from the Navy Arms/Miroku serial numbers? The serial number of this gun is 4130.
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
From what I'm reading neatsfoot was one of several lubricants used for gun oil in the past which makes sense, its primarily for leather but works on iron/steel. That solved a supply and logistical problem. Using one oil for multiple purposes. The Brits used Rangoon oil in the Crimea and India. Rangoon oil is just petroleum oil from Burma. Whale oil was used for centuries as well as bear oil but whales are protected species now. I've never used either one. Winchester Sutler had a "synthetic" whale oil but I never used it. Sewing machine oil does work well and it's probably close enough to being period correct. My mother was a professional seamstress for 40 plus years until she retired. I still have some of the oil and use it on locks, etc. Avoid "sweet oil" which is any edible oil like olive oil as it has salt. Not good!
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
I was referring to original 1861 and 1863 Springfields. I saw a discussion in N-SSA about color case hardening of some parts (https://www.n-ssa.net/vbforum/showthread.php/16549-Color-case-hardening-on-rifle-musket-locks). I also saw a photo recently of a museum quality Springfield (I don’t recall if it was a 61 or 63) that had case hardened lock plate and hammer and blued barrel bands. I didn’t notice if there were other colored components and now I can’t find the pics.

I damaged my cone wrench trying to remove the nipple and marked the nipple itself a bit when I tried vise grips. That sucker is there to stay, at least for now. I since cleared the channel, and as long as it shoots I won’t bother with it further until I send it off to Mr Watts. After thoroughly cleaning the barrel and chamber I dropped a light in it and the condition is well beyond my expectations. As I explained, what I took for rust and wear was just an incredibly dirty barrel. I’m very surprised that treating the gun so poorly didn’t result in corrosion, or worse. (I have concluded that not taking care of one’s rifle must be the ultimate farbism.) Shooting well will be the real test, of course, but for now I don’t think I need to replace the barrel or anything else.
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FWIW If heat is applied to remove the nipple it is applied to the bolster, not the nipple. The idea is to expand the metal away from the nipple threads and reduce the rust to powder. Another way is to use heat spoiled pliers or vise grip and to grip a small section of steel rod and heat it red hot with a torch. Apply the heated rod to the nipple. The heat will run down the length and expand it slightly. Take your time doing this and repeat it at least two or three times. Try removing it. If it won't budge, apply heat again. For penetrating oil, Kano Kroil makes an oil with silicon in it that is supposed to penetrate better than the original product. Give it time to work. And use a "loosening/tightening" action on the nipple. Try to unscrew it slightly and if it moves at all, tighten slightly. Keep this back and forth action and work slowly. Use that oil and it will eventually come out. And this is not some technique I pulled out of the air, I got this from the late Kit Ravenshear a first rate black powder gunsmith. You really need to get that nipple out and replace it if at all possible for safety. And don't feel guilty if you don't want to try this yourself. That's what a gunsmith is for :wink:
 

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