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How would you restore an 1881 SAA Mutt?

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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've found what is kind of a mutt. I got a deal on a relatively early 1st Generation SAA from 1881? I am having Alan Harton help me restore this little puppy. There are several issues. Original parts are the frame (heavily buffed at the rear), loading gate, hammer, and trigger. The trigger guard and grip frame are from a later 1st Gen gun. No original barrel, but I have a later 1st gen 5.5 barrel and a few shorter cut offs on hand. It letters as a nickel gun in .45 Colt with no listing for stocks or barrel length, meaning probably walnut and 7.5 inches. I got it CHEAP. It's probably more valuable selling off the parts, but I don't think I can do that quite yet. Since this is a restoration, I can really do anything. If you've seen Alan's work, I could do anything so I'm torn. So I thought, once again, I would leave it to the crew here to VOTE and lend me direction. I would REALLY appreciate any comments as well. Please disregard the ANTIQUED for each of the choices.
 

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Since the numbers are mismatched, I'd be tempted to make a sheriffs model out of it. I always thought that if I ever found a frame that's what I'd do. Not to sell as original & try to take advantage of anybody, but for my own enjoyment. However, since you have the letter, mabey back to original would be the way to go. Like you said, you've got a mutt and you can do whatever toots your whistle.

It has no barrel, or just not an original one? Is the tiggergaurd rounded? If so, probably won't look right on a blk powder frame anyway......

Guess I haven't been much help.....
 

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Ya'll know me~ I'd go with a 4 3/4" barrel, blue and case hardening, forgo the antiquing, elk stag grips.

These silver gray guns with no finish leave me cold.

Bob Wright
 

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It's something commonly done to the Italian clones to make them look older, and sometimes weatherbeaten - a popular thing within CAS circles, among those who don't realize that their sidearm was in new, or near-new condition during the time frame they portray.
 

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It's something commonly done to the Italian clones to make them look older, and sometimes weatherbeaten - a popular thing within CAS circles, among those who don't realize that their sidearm was in new, or near-new condition during the time frame they portray.
OK - thanks for explaining. I like my guns to be in immaculate shape, so no antiquing for me. I can shoot just as good with a pristine pistol as anybody can with a beater and then show the gun to someone as a proud possession. I didn't vote because the OP apparently likes antiquing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
By the way, what are you calling antiqued? I've seen everything from buffing with fine steel wool to soaking in tomato juice. No way I'd treat a gun of mine that way!Bob Wright
It's just an older looking nickel finish without a "high gloss" look. Closest example I could find was this, only it has engraving.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's something commonly done to the Italian clones to make them look older, and sometimes weatherbeaten - a popular thing within CAS circles, among those who don't realize that their sidearm was in new, or near-new condition during the time frame they portray.
Even though this is a restoration, I didn't want to take away some of the character that comes with age. Maybe I should open that up to a vote as well.
 

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I, for one, like for my guns to look good. Any character they may posess is that that I have imparted to them.


Bob Wright
 

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Alan Harton is a true master from the pictures that I've seen of his restoration work. I sent him a 2nd Gen SAA to have him time it correctly and provide a trigger job, it turned out fantastic! His trigger job makes the gun still feel like a Colt, but very smooth. If your gun were mine, it would be a 4 3/4 blue and casehardened, no antiquing just honest wear. Attached is the gun that Alan worked on for me.
 

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There's no use replying until you state the reason why you want to restore it. A restored gun will rarely gain in value & usually it kills the value. If you want a shooter then I would get something more modern as an 1881 frame is NOT for smokeless, no ands, ifs or buts. You will have to handload real blackpowder loads to shoot it. Not that that is a bad thing, just that probably less than 0.001% of the posters here shoot real BP.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I wanted to restore it to give the old girl a little more life. I would occasionally shoot it, and would use my own reloads. Had there been more original parts, I would insist on following the letter. Being as its like an antique hammer with the handle changed four times and the head twice, I figured I could do whatever I wanted and not effect value. A mutt will always be a mutt.
 

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No matter who 'restores' it - be it Harton, Turnbull or Colt - you're left with a refinished, used revolver that you've sunk a lot of money into, and will never recoup.

'Restoration' doesn't add life to already tired metallurgy, and the Colt of the time frame was made of what's akin to wrought iron.
 

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I would have voted but my candidate, Leaveit A. Lone, is not on the ballot.

I don't know how to say this nicely so I'll just say it....If that revolver were mine I wouldn't restore it with your money.

Hang the old girl on the wall and dream of Cowboys and Indians, then spend $1200 or so for a used 3rd Gen if you want to hear something go BANG. In the long run (and the short run too!) you will come out waaaayyyyy ahead.

John Gross
 

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I'd say do it if the total cost of parts gun and work costs about the same or less than a refinished 2nd or 3rd generation shooter. But you're not asking if you should restore, but how. So I would say get it looking as close to an original a possible, no lame antiquing. That reminds me of those Relic'd Fender guitars, where they sand the body in places to make it look like an old concert worn guitar. But you pay more, and it's fake!
 

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I'd leave it as is rather than throw money away.Believe it or not,there are guys like me who prefer old Colts that have been modified for whatever reason (translates-cheap).I have a few 1st gens,some of which were modified many years ago,but I wouldn't spend a nickle to have them modified for myself.I'd rather speculate as the when and why they were changed in the first place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'd leave it as is rather than throw money away.Believe it or not,there are guys like me who prefer old Colts that have been modified for whatever reason (translates-cheap).I have a few 1st gens,some of which were modified many years ago,but I wouldn't spend a nickle to have them modified for myself.I'd rather speculate as the when and why they were changed in the first place.
This is a great point, and I agree with you. I had considered that. It was altered to look like a buntline. The problem with that is that some genius drilled through the barrel for the ejector. I got it cheap enough that I thought I could do something with it and some of the other parts I have. NOT to be anything but a five digit example in my collection. Possibly occasional shooting of low power black-powder reloads. I have others to shoot.
 
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