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Discussion Starter #1
This is my latest 1877 project gun. The frame dates to 1883. When I received it, I was a stripped frame and trigger guard. The frame has the serial number, but the trigger guard does not. The markings on the frame which go thru the trigger guard makes me believe the trigger guard may be original to the frame.

This thing was coated with a thick coat of oil or grease and took alot of cleaning to get the screws to even fit. Unfortunately I was not able to find an etched barrel. I had a old pair of dinged up grips that seem to match the overall condition. I was hoping to make it a Thunderer, but couldn't find a .41 barrel without the ejector lug.

I cannot figure out why they scratched the frame in such a manner. The trigger guard was rather crudely ground down at the rear. Some of the scratches look intentional while others dont. The + on the left side looks like it was intentionally. The diagonal scratches on the right don't seem to correlate to anything.

Anyone have any thoughts?
 

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Basically, someone really messed up this Colt M1877 DA. It could possibly be improved, but with no TG number, would it be worth the trouble and cost? As is, it might be a $400 gun for parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Basically, someone really messed up this Colt M1877 DA. It could possibly be improved, but with no TG number, would it be worth the trouble and cost? As is, it might be a $400 gun for parts.
It's a shooter grade as far as I am concerned. The is gun fully functioning now, I just haven't been able to take it to the range yet. I am always looking for these project 1877's, but sometimes they are price too high. It is a hobby for me, and I enjoy taking something that someone gave up on a long time ago and getting it back to a working gun.

I think all of the dings and dents give it character. I realize it's not a collector grade or anywhere near that, but I would love to hear the story about how it got into this condition. The scratches on the right side seem to go along the loading gate, but the +'s on the left side almost seem like they meant to make them like that.
 

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It's a shooter grade as far as I am concerned. The is gun fully functioning now, I just haven't been able to take it to the range yet. I am always looking for these project 1877's, but sometimes they are price too high. It is a hobby for me, and I enjoy taking something that someone gave up on a long time ago and getting it back to a working gun.
I could say exactly what you wrote here, totaly agree and share the same hobby !
 

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Discussion Starter #7
This is basically what I started with. The backstrap, screws, hammer, trigger and grips were from my parts bin. It was just a frame and trigger guard when I started. I am happy with the way it turned out.
 

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Here is a Lightning I repaired lately.
It had different internal problems and I had to work on cylinder stop, sear, strut and little springs to make it work correctly.
But I also noticed a strange frame shape around the window of the cylinder stop :
IMG_7592.jpg IMG_7595.jpg
The frame had been filed and the opening enlarged and I wondered why.
Finally I think I have found the reason : because of the wrong shape and fitting of the mecchanical parts, the cylinder stop was falling too early and was blocking the action. I guess the owner of that gun did not understand very well the problem, and rather than removing the cylinder everytime to unlock it, he prefered file the frame to be able to push the bolt inside the frame with a screwdriver or a knife... !!
IMG_7596.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Here is a Lightning I repaired lately.
It had different internal problems and I had to work on cylinder stop, sear, strut and little springs to make it work correctly.
But I also noticed a strange frame shape around the window of the cylinder stop :
View attachment 691245 View attachment 691247
The frame had been filed and the opening enlarged and I wondered why.
Finally I think I have found the reason : because of the wrong shape and fitting of the mecchanical parts, the cylinder stop was falling too early and was blocking the action. I guess the owner of that gun did not understand very well the problem, and rather than removing the cylinder everytime to unlock it, he prefered file the frame to be able to push the bolt inside the frame with a screwdriver or a knife... !!
View attachment 691249
Here is one I have that is too damaged to rescue. Someone drilled a hole thru the frame near the cylinder stop. They disrorted the cylinder stop hole to the point where it would take more work than its worth. I think someone tried to create a different cylinder stop.

All that being said, I was going to try and get it back into firing order but discovered they got frame so hot when they tried to repair the trigger spring hole that it shrunk the frame. The cylinder pin nut and loading gate latch will not fit in the frame. The sliver blob and black discoloration are from when I used the frame to see how it would take silver solder. I used this experiment to silver solder a ejector lug on the barrel of my 1883 Thunderer.
 

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I think the only way to repair this kind of things is TIG welding. Filling the holes with steel and re-machining the frame... Personnaly I don't like silver solder, and I have no Tig welder. I made some trials with stick welding (arc) but results are not 100% waranty !
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I think the only way to repair this kind of things is TIG welding. Filling the holes with steel and re-machining the frame... Personnaly I don't like silver solder, and I have no Tig welder. I made some trials with stick welding (arc) but results are not 100% waranty !
The silver solder was for attaching a lug to a ejector frame barrel on another gun. I wanted to see how hot I needed it to get for the solder to work, so I was just using this frame as a guinea pig. A local gunsmith made one for me, and I didn't know of any way to press one into the barrel like the original. The lug is still holding well on the barrel of that gun, and there was no scaling on the inside of the barrel or discoloration.
 

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Here is a Lightning I repaired lately.
It had different internal problems and I had to work on cylinder stop, sear, strut and little springs to make it work correctly.
But I also noticed a strange frame shape around the window of the cylinder stop :

The frame had been filed and the opening enlarged and I wondered why.
Finally I think I have found the reason : because of the wrong shape and fitting of the mecchanical parts, the cylinder stop was falling too early and was blocking the action. I guess the owner of that gun did not understand very well the problem, and rather than removing the cylinder everytime to unlock it, he prefered file the frame to be able to push the bolt inside the frame with a screwdriver or a knife... !!
I bet that you are right about the lock bolt sticking. Also looks like someone may have made and installed a trigger return spring that was way too thick and stiff. It crowded the bottom of the frame, under the cylinder.
 

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The silver solder was for attaching a lug to a ejector frame barrel on another gun. I wanted to see how hot I needed it to get for the solder to work, so I was just using this frame as a guinea pig. A local gunsmith made one for me, and I didn't know of any way to press one into the barrel like the original. The lug is still holding well on the barrel of that gun, and there was no scaling on the inside of the barrel or discoloration.
Most threaded ejector bosses were silver soldered, but you need a milling machine and two special mills to set up and complete the job. First a small end mill to clean out/prepare the barrel blind hole. Then silver solder the boss at no more that cherry red steel color (1100F). Then what some call a tree-pan mill to mill over the soldered boss, remove excess solder, leave a slight counter sink, and slightly taper the top of the boss.

The boss must be made and threaded before starting the above.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Here is a .41 LC that I am currently working on. It was made in 1886, and I have no idea why someone would try to chisel out or try to modify the bottom of the frame like this. They removed quite a bit of material near the hole for the cylinder stop and its crack where the metal is the thinnet; however, that does not go the frame. I dont see any cracks from the bottom inside the frame under the trigger spring.
700005
700003
700004
 

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Here is a .41 LC that I am currently working on. It was made in 1886, and I have no idea why someone would try to chisel out or try to modify the bottom of the frame like this. They removed quite a bit of material near the hole for the cylinder stop and its crack where the metal is the thinnet; however, that does not go the frame. I dont see any cracks from the bottom inside the frame under the trigger spring. View attachment 700005 View attachment 700003 View attachment 700004

About 15 years ago I saw at Collector Firearms the very first factory engraved Colt M1877 DA. This one in the 1xx range was formerly in the Richard Marohn collection. It was with a factory letter, but someone had "upgraded" the grips with old checkered ivory. I was about to buy this gun, but removed the cylinder to see broken out places in the frame, below and behind the cylinder. That would be difficult to "fix", to say the least. And we would be working on a factory engraved gun with about 80% original nickel.
 

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It looks like someone tried to pry the cyliner out and caused the frame to dent and crack.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It looks like someone tried to pry the cyliner out and caused the frame to dent and crack.
Think you nailed it. The crack only goes up through the area where the hand comes out and the metal is thin. The cylinder rotates perfectly and doesn't appear that they bent the frame. The rest of the frame is solid, so I wont have any concerns firing this one when its finished.

I finally finished fitting the new cylinder stop with a new trigger stud that I replaced on the trigger. It times up now, and everthing locks as it shpuld. That was a long process and I am not looking forward to doing that again with my other 1877 that's waiting...
 

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It looks like someone tried to pry the cyliner out and caused the frame to dent and crack.
Often times this is caused by a trigger return issue. The inexperienced gunsmith knows enough to make a thicker trigger return spring. However, after installation, when the hammer is drawn back (or trigger is pulled) there is no longer a clearance above that spring. Thus the upper spring makes contact with that thinnest part of the frame, and the hammer or trigger now has extreme leverage. The result is a cracked bottom of frame. Sadly, the trigger return problem often didn't call for a stronger spring, and the actual problem was far easier to fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Thought I would share this since it falls into the same category as inexperienced people working on 1877's. I just received this trigger and cylinder stop / sear spring. I have no idea how it got into this shape, but someone got frustrated with it.

They put a homemade trigger stud that was peened on the other side. It stuck out too far, and I doubt it actually functioned. Fortunately I was able to drift it out and they didn't try to enlarge the when they put the homemade studd in. The replacement stud will fit perfectly now. Just need to set it and shape it.
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