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I have a relic SAA that I purchased a bit over a decade ago. It was stated in the description that it been found in some ruins in New Mexico, and had been left out in the desert for perhaps 100 years or so. It's plain a bit of "restoration" was done - the grips were replaced and I think a new mainspring added, and maybe some other work as well to make it loosely function.

The serial number (39xxx) places it to 1877, however, this leads to a bit of mystery. The barrel length is 4-3/4" but AFAIK that length wasn't offered until 1879. That said, the barrel looks to be original - the last four of the serial number are stamped under the ejector and the patination matches. I don't know what to make of it. Perhaps the barrel was cut back from 5-1/2" or 7-1/2"? But if so, it looks like a very professional job.

I am keenly interested in restoring this to blackpowder cartridge shooting condition, if at all possible. The frame, barrel, and triggerguard, in particular, appear to be in acceptable shape in spite of hanging out in the desert for a century or more - indeed, much better than I shall look in an equivalent amount of time... The bore was in much better condition than I expected; whilst some minor pitting was evident, the rifling was actually rather sharp. The cylinder, however, was rather rough, so either extensive restoration or replacement would be necessary. I've attached pix to give you all a better sense of condition.

If it can be repaired, does anyone here have any recommendations as to a good armorer for the job?

Also, would it be worth the money to have it lettered by Colt?

Finally, should I consider restoring it further than simply making it operational? Polishing, refinishing, etc.? I ask since I will have to outright replace some parts anyway, such as the grip and possibly the backstrap, likely the cylinder, and almost certainly at least some of the internals.

Thanks in advance for any help with this!
pix685207953.jpeg
 

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short barrels were offered to the brits, early, a proof mark under the housing near the base pin will tell you that, or it could of gone back to colt and had the barrel fitted,and & mark will tell you that.getting it running and leave it as is.it tells history like it is.dont refinish it.
cheers from downunder.
i just noticed the single line address, it explains either 5.5" or longer.two address lines for 4 3/4"
 

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From my standpoint I wouldn’t bring it back by restoring it.
Two reasons: it’s old and to make it a firing piece would mean replacing the cylinder. And If you are going to restore it - you should use one fairly close in era and that price will be dear.
It laid away for decades, it’s cool to preserve its current condition.
I think any money well spent would be in a letter. What’s $100 when it comes to something that could be a big surprise?
Working order, correctly timed so you can enjoy pretending to shoot marauding Indians would be worthwhile - but I don’t think I’d go any further.
That may be leaving some money on the table, but - money ain’t everything.
 

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I have a relic SAA that I purchased a bit over a decade ago. It was stated in the description that it been found in some ruins in New Mexico, and had been left out in the desert for perhaps 100 years or so. It's plain a bit of "restoration" was done - the grips were replaced and I think a new mainspring added, and maybe some other work as well to make it loosely function.

The serial number (39xxx) places it to 1877, however, this leads to a bit of mystery. The barrel length is 4-3/4" but AFAIK that length wasn't offered until 1879. That said, the barrel looks to be original - the last four of the serial number are stamped under the ejector and the patination matches. I don't know what to make of it. Perhaps the barrel was cut back from 5-1/2" or 7-1/2"? But if so, it looks like a very professional job.

I am keenly interested in restoring this to blackpowder cartridge shooting condition, if at all possible. The frame, barrel, and triggerguard, in particular, appear to be in acceptable shape in spite of hanging out in the desert for a century or more - indeed, much better than I shall look in an equivalent amount of time... The bore was in much better condition than I expected; whilst some minor pitting was evident, the rifling was actually rather sharp. The cylinder, however, was rather rough, so either extensive restoration or replacement would be necessary. I've attached pix to give you all a better sense of condition.

If it can be repaired, does anyone here have any recommendations as to a good armorer for the job?

Also, would it be worth the money to have it lettered by Colt?

Finally, should I consider restoring it further than simply making it operational? Polishing, refinishing, etc.? I ask since I will have to outright replace some parts anyway, such as the grip and possibly the backstrap, likely the cylinder, and almost certainly at least some of the internals.

Thanks in advance for any help with this!
View attachment 705374
You don't see a 4-3/4" barrel with a one-line barrel address. The reason is that the roll die would have hit the front sight! So this gun was cut down, probably from 7-1/2". Many were cut like yours.

That gun is way to rough to consider "restoring". Pitting is too deep with extensive coverage. Some serial numbers are eroded away. You will spend more than the cost of a new or slightly used Colt SAA.

I would just enjoy it as is - and wonder what led to its being lost in New Mexico!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
From my standpoint I wouldn’t bring it back by restoring it.
Two reasons: it’s old and to make it a firing piece would mean replacing the cylinder. And If you are going to restore it - you should use one fairly close in era and that price will be dear.
It laid away for decades, it’s cool to preserve its current condition.
I think any money well spent would be in a letter. What’s $100 when it comes to something that could be a big surprise?
Working order, correctly timed so you can enjoy pretending to shoot marauding Indians would be worthwhile - but I don’t think I’d go any further.
That may be leaving some money on the table, but - money ain’t everything.
I have a thing about non-functional items, and if it can be fixed I'm bound and determined to do so. Besides, given the guano loco that's going on these days having an extra lead thrower around may not be such a bad thing, even if it's rather obsolete. I am also considering the relatively good state of the bore - seems a shame to not give it another lease on life. However, I see no reason to discard the old cylinder, and will simply keep it along with any other original parts that get replaced.

I will avoid refinishing beyond restoring functionality, though, in deference to the advice given by yourself and others who've responded so far.

I'll also probably have to spring for the Colt letter - especially since it's clear that this barrel was cut down from a longer one. It would be nice to know in what configuration this was shipped. What information is usually provided in a Colt letter for an SAA from this timeframe?

Thanks for you input!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You don't see a 4-3/4" barrel with a one-line barrel address. The reason is that the roll die would have hit the front sight! So this gun was cut down, probably from 7-1/2". Many were cut like yours.
I thought the address was too close to the front sight, which made me think it could be cut down. Is this something that Colt would have done? And, if so, would there be any records of the conversion?
 

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I thought the address was too close to the front sight, which made me think it could be cut down. Is this something that Colt would have done? And, if so, would there be any records of the conversion?
Colt didn't cut the barrel. The front sight is too close to the muzzle, and the barrel was never crowned.
 

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Imo, letter it. Send it to lever action Bill to make it functional and enjoy it. Don’t restore it as it will lose value from what it is. Grips don’t fit too bad as they are.
Get a good magnifier and look for a 4 digit partial serial on the cylinder.
 

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I vote to get a letter and then make it functional! ...Keep the parts that can't be safely restored/used and display them in the same shadow box when the gun is on display.
 

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That is really cool. I have it’s little brother, 17 years younger, found in a mine shaft opening north of Silver City. I’m plugging away on functionality, still waiting on screws to let loose. Like yours, it was jacked with after it was found but nothing particularly detrimental. I believe it might be shootable but have about decided against shooting it after all. I vote with the others, don’t restore it aside from functionality and do letter it. You’ve got a great piece of history there, congratulations.
705947
 

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Letter it. Then post the letter here. Such a cool gun, the only thing I do on weathered wood is rub a little lemon oil type finish on it. No I do not varnish or Tru-oil the grips. I have something like lemon oil I rub into the wood. It sucks it up and kind of stops splintering of weathered wood if you know what I mean, and stops further degradation, yet keeps it looking old and weathered. The brand I use is Wahkon bay Tru Coat, and I rub only 1 coat in.
For functionality why replace the backstrap and the grips? For occasional shooting the internals and the cylinder can be replaced. For extensive shooting its a different story.
 

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Darn, 25 years of hunting in old mines and ghost towns of NM and AZ and I've never found a gun. One whole corktop bottle, a few scraps of iron, lots of arrowheads, a few .50-70 ctgs.

On making your gun workable again that is a fools errand. That bore looks like a sewer pipe. The first time you shoot it it may blow sky high. It laid out in the rain and snow and sun for 100 years, there is no going back.
 

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Letter it. Then post the letter here. Such a cool gun, the only thing I do on weathered wood is rub a little lemon oil type finish on it. No I do not varnish or Tru-oil the grips. I have something like lemon oil I rub into the wood. It sucks it up and kind of stops splintering of weathered wood if you know what I mean, and stops further degradation, yet keeps it looking old and weathered. The brand I use is Wahkon bay Tru Coat, and I rub only 1 coat in.
For functionality why replace the backstrap and the grips? For occasional shooting the internals and the cylinder can be replaced. For extensive shooting its a different story.
I have contacted Colt and am getting it lettered. I will post here when it arrives.

The reason I want to change the grips, regardless of whether or not I try to restore it to shooting condition, is because what you see in the pix are not original. Whatever had been found with the gun originally had been discarded. Further, the replacements do not have a proper screw to hold them in place - when I got them they had been lightly glued on. At minimum I would have to figure out how to correctly drill the holes and install the escutcheons for the grip screw. As for the backstrap, I may leave it be, but it was somewhat more rust damaged than the other components.
 
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