Saving A Wall-hanger Antique Muzzleloader

gun_rtside_bfrThis double-barrel 12 guage percussion cap muzzleloader belonged to Ruben Burwell Anderson, 1864-1974, my great-grandfather, who lived with us in the 1970s- or else to his father. Named Old Betsy, Daddy claims it killed enough animals to fill a house. Not sure when it was last used for hunting but my father’s generation and later ones used it as a child’s toy, probably shooting many imaginary Yankees when playing war.

Ruben Burwell (though sometimes he used Burwell Ruben) was born in Mobile, Alabama, because his Daddy was helping to build either Ft. Morgan or Ft. Gaines on Mobile Bay during the Civil War. The old man lived with us for a while in the 1970s and we kids ended up with the gun and abused it some more.

DSC01386Kids are hard on toys and this shotgun shows it. The left hammer and right cap nipple are broken off and missing, the barrels’ muzzles are battered (bayonet charges?), fore-end is cracked and is missing an escutcheon, complete with years of rust, dust and cobwebs.

Now if this was a valuable antique firearm I would follow gunsinternational dot com’s advise on cleaning: light rub with 0000 steel wool for surface rust, no oil soap on stock, no lubricants, no glues except hide glue, etc.

But this is a battered wall-hanger so I don’t feel so constrained. I also could not follow their advise to dissemble the gun before starting because any attempt would have destroyed the screws and the wood.

gun_bbl_oildI started by rubbing the barrel with 000 grade steel wool, then washed it in the kitchen sink with Syrian olive oil soap applied with a depleted Scotchgard pad. After wiping dry I liberally sprayed the barrels with Rem Oil gun oil and rubbed it in.


I’ll rub again with oil on more 000 steel wool or else use fine-grit emery paper. Finally I’ll clean and oil it or else use the recommended wax finish.

gun_stk_bfrThe pic at top showed deep cracks that split the stock into several pieces held together only by the hardware, here you can see checking.

gun_rpr_clmpNot having any hide glue, I pried the cracks apart and worked in Titebond III waterproof glue. After squeezing and wiping away the excess glue I wrapped the repair in plastic, then in two layers of bungee cord and finally clamped it with a drywall clamp (UK:cramp).

I’ll let this dry for twenty-four hours and evaluate the fracture repairs and see how much glue ended up on the outside.

I plan be as conservative as possible with the locks, stock and fittings. Some are finished in what looks like silver plating, so I’m going to destroy the valuable patina by polishing with German motorcycle chrome polish. Not sure what I’ll use on the stock and fore-end but I will not be refinishing it or using oil soap on it.



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2 thoughts on “Saving A Wall-hanger Antique Muzzleloader

    • Thanks for the kind words. I like the clean uncluttered informative look of your blog. The food looks delicious, wish I could taste it. My San Francisco daughter took an impulse vacation to Lisbon last year and raved about the food and the look of the place. And all I got was a mosaic tile fridge magnet saying “Lisboa”! I love it. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.

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