March 30, 2018
It'll be a while before I have it in my hands and can figure out what's what, so here are pics from the seller. Lever action looks a little bowed inward around the spot where the serial should be. Hammer looks damaged around its lip(?). It's about preserving history, and with the SRS DVDs I have coming, I hope to have some additional history to add. Odd that only on the rare occasion that I searched for a Merrill carbine that I found this carbine, as well as the DVDs.
Crossing my fingers that some Merrill restorers or collectors have the parts. Have to say it's nice not to see any reproduction rifles/carbines mucking up the waters. In my Coates 180 page soft cover booklet I saw reference to an accuracy competition of all the major players at three different distances. Only the Merrill (rifle over carbine can't recall) hit target 10 times each. Nothing else was even close.
April 11, 2018
She arrived today. First impression was that the barrel had been tanked. Maybe the lock plate and saddle bar too. Good thing was that someone had taken her apart and all but the butt plate screws were easy.
I could read 1863, the eagle and all the patent info on the plate. Serial is 14112 and will check my xls soon. Lever latch is off and the receiver/block/lower barrel are taking a long bath in PB blaster. Markings on the top of the lever are very vague but there. 43 is on the bottom of both the barrel and receiver. Stock is just beautiful.
There is a vertical screw about 3/4" before the rear tang that goes to the bottom of the stock. Was this a factory job for 2nd models? I can't see any cracks at all in the rear, but first try screw removal at the Tang was no go. Need a T handled screw driver for easier straight on torque.
I'll take the barrel/receiver out tomorrow and run the scope down. Lot of rust came up when I used my 1/2 oak rod with liquid wrench - did drip out the nipple too, so that's clear.
Lastly, both springs were there, but the long arm of the mainspring was broken half way, just sitting in the stock. The bottom of the barrel is beautiful smooth steel, not so the rest. I'll see if my pumice Stone and running water can shine up and bring out markings better.
Used the pumice to completely remove Dremel marks on a 1877 French Gras bayonet.
April 11, 2018 (later)
Trigger plate, guard and butt plates cleaned up nicely with brasso. All the other metal pieces are in the PB blaster.
3 over 43 are stamped on the barrel, receiver, trigger plate and guard, lock plate and hammer. Any significance? Sign they're all original and same carbine assembly?
Anyone ever had luck welding a broken spring? I have a Lincoln welder, but maybe special techniques to consider.
There's also just one cartouche on the stock that I can see. It's a U.S. right above the saddle bar. I've seen a 1st model that seemed to have an inspector's initials. Should all models have had an inspector's initials, or is the U.S. valid? Stock looks completely original, but just never know sometimes.
April 12, 2018
Lever's back that was badly bent is now barely so, with lots of time heating her up with the propane torch. Never turned red.
Set up my welder to real slow and D setting. Real happy I could fix the mainspring. Ground down the over weld and Rust-Oleum sprayed her.
The rear sight screw is busted, so I'll have to drill a little hole in the center and use the extractor bit. Worked wonders on four screws on my Sharps.
April 15, 2018
It shocked me that after plenty of blaster soaking the top lever, I was able to not only move the top Lock's two side screws back from the open position, but to bring the inner spring back to life.
While I wait for the RB-17 to arrive, I picked up yet another rust treatment at Auto Zone called Metal Restore. Mixed two capfuls of the solution with eight of water. Cut out a rubber piece to fit over the breech area where pushrod/plunger(?) Is rusted. Wrapped the rubber with lots of packing tape, poured the solution in the breech area, then set it vertically with the muzzle on the ground.
I bought a 1/2" steel rod and some good whacks did squat. A few days later I'll see if she wants to budge. If not I'll soak her again by filling up the barrel until RB arrives.
If anyone has a parts diagram/patent for this 2nd model to share, please let me know. Thanks.
April 16, 2018
Not sure if it was pb blaster, (and pressurized it with tire plug). Today after a both-ended short bath with metal rescue and 20 min at 250 in the oven and maybe 10 moderate whacks with my 3' x 1/2" rod, the ram broke free. With all my hitting and predecessors, that .025 layer of copper Jobe mentioned is mostly intact.
I did notice an 8 over 13 on the ramrod, same as on the top end of the butt plate. All others have 3 over 43. Wish a Merrill expert would chime in on that one, as far as are these all matching parts. Now that I ponder it, there's no way in heck that a barrel/receiver with 3/43 was not mated to the 8/13 ram/lever.
I'll set up the wallpaper tray for a formal all-parts metal rescue bath. Next up, removing the butt plate screws, extracting the rear sight screw end, and finishing the reshaping on the main level.
Forgot to add that I need to replace the front sight vertical piece. Is it also German steel? Shows as being braised, as I believe that's what Jobe or Johan mentioned in my Sharps thread. Would propane torch heat be enough to dislodge it?
Rifling looks beautiful (3 grooved) for an old plugged up piece of CW history. Few more pics I'll take tonight and upload.
April 22, 2018
Tang screw head only broke open with my extractor bits. Spent 15 min hammering gently a small nail punch to break up the head pieces. Used three increasing size drill bits in tandem with the extractor. Never had luck using the extractors' drill ends.
Second screw did come out with bits and extractor. I'll caliper the specs on the screw. Next task will be to find other rifle/carbine screws to match.
Tried CRC freeze-off but doubt any help. Me thinks these screws, butt plate are all original. Why else would these screws be the most difficult to remove, even after soaking the entire butt plate area in pb blaster for a day?
Surprised when I looked at the backside of the buttplate. Looked like the inside area that didn't touch the stock wood had a copper look to it. Also, with my 40x magnifier I saw several micro cuts maybe from some finishing blade going left to right.
Head diameter 13/32"
Screw length 1 20/64"
Thread diameter 17/64"
Thread length 15/16"
Thread count 8
July 23, 2018
Below is my effort to remove the broken rear sight screw. I bought a reproduction 3rd type rear sight from SS Firearms, but the slight damage to the barrel female thread was too much for the tiny screw to grip. I used JB Weld and doubt it’ll come loose. I then realized why there were comments recorded by officers during the Civil War that the rear sights broke off.
Guess I stopped posting on civilwartalk.com with any updates, as I had tackled all the tricky restoration work. I played around with Barrel Brown, but after several days of trying to darken the metal to a rust brown look that just looked fake, I decided to softly scrub off most of the dark look. I settled for somewhere in between the extremes, and am very happy with it laying up against one of our walls, next to our family piano.