Author Topic: A sad fate for an Artillery model  (Read 825 times)

Offline Roscoe Coles

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A sad fate for an Artillery model
« on: October 08, 2021, 09:17:10 PM »
A buddy sent me this sad picture of a colt that came into his shop today.  It is a martially marked artillery model that someone decided to tart up.  Bad polishing, bad engraving, cheap poorly fitted plastic grips, and tarty plating have pretty much destroyed it’s value.  I am amazed that anyone would do this to a rare gun.  As you can see by the price, it turned a valuable gun into shooter. 

Online St. George

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2021, 10:34:45 PM »
When this was done, no one revered them - they weren't placed on silken pillows and covered with Renaissance Wax, to be handled with white gloves.

Hard to imagine, I know...

Back then - not even Kopec, Graham and Moore were writing about them - and they were likely the first to do so.

These were cheap - surplus guns always are - and many fit the bill to be cleaned up and embellished with zero thought to the collectors of the future.

Back then, they weren't Holy Relics - they were just low-cost, used revolvers.

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Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2021, 11:46:14 PM »
Well, I don’t belong to the silk pillow crowd.  My RAC 1890 cavalry model (below) lives in a holster like all my SAAs, and gets shot with BP, whenever I get the chance.  The guy who sent me the pictures has an earlier cavalry model and an artillery (that he traded from me 30 years ago) that he shoots as well.  You should see the faces of folks at SASS shoots when they figure out they are not reproductions!

I have read the articles from the 50s in the Rifleman on how to slick up your SAA with Smith and Wesson sights and a vent rib. And the ones on how to rebuild you old Winchester 1885 target rifle into some wildcat cartridge. In my years in the used gun trade, as a smith, and as a collector I have seen quite a few nice guns that where ruined by “improvement” and every time I do I think the guy who had it done should get a swift kick in the jewels.  The gunsmith who did it should have them cut off.

Just my opinion, but I am not likely to change it. 

Offline Dave T

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2021, 01:01:55 PM »
That's not just a shame, it's a crying shame.

When I got into CAS back in the mid 1980s the reproductions weren't as nice as they are today.  Back then the Italians didn't quite have the knack of tempering screws and springs.  I started with a Uberti made 45 Colt but after replacing a number of springs and stripping screw slots I gave up on it. Then I came across an 1882 Colt that someone had installed with 2nd Gen barrel and cylinder.  About the same time I found an old gunsmith who liked old guns and knew how to fix them.

I spent the next 10-11 years finding junker Colts, Winchesters, and other 19th Century firearms and restoring them to shootable condition.  Shot nothing but full charges of black powder behind soft cast bullets back then and loved every minute of it.  Like the OP I got a lot of surprised comments when fellow shooters found out I was shooting originals.  The most common question was why I had to shoot such heavy loads.  LOL

Back in the those days I would have been tempted to buy that Artillery and then try to "fix" it.  Not sure that's even possible but it deserves the effort of someone  who cares about old guns and history.

My $.02 worth,
Dave

Offline River City John

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2021, 02:59:19 PM »
Perhaps as well lament the huge purchases of surplus Springfield rifle barrels and other ordnance used by Bannerman's to build a breakwater for his Hudson River island.

St. George pegged it. Different times and what was considered scrap, - now scarcity and the longings fed by nostalgia have rendered invaluable.

   
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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #5 on: Today at 02:55:09 PM »

Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2021, 03:23:34 PM »
Dave, I started shooting SASS in the mid 80s as well (SASS 1188) and shot original Colt Bisleys (still do).  The Italian guns can be fine, heck they use better steel than Colt did back in the day.  They just need tuning up.  Still, there is nothing like a Colt.  I too restore guns (the gun shown below was a gray 2nd gen that
 was missing half the trigger guard when I got it). I looked hard at this gun to see if it was worth the effort.  It could be done, assuming you could get the plating off, but the math is not right.  It would need a new proper cylinder and maybe a new barrel.  There might be some welding to build up rounded edges as well.  Lots of work. 

As for different times, and Bannerman, that was done a long time ago when they had no value.  It’s a shame, but no one at that time new the value of a surplus gun better than Bannerman.  If he couldn’t sell it, it couldn’t be sold.  The work on this gun is much more recent and less forgivable. But worst of all, it’s really bad work. 

Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2021, 10:37:12 PM »
My buddy decided to buy it for one of his three daughters. The other two already have 1880s Colts, so this makes a set.  It was built in 1883 and was probably a nice gun before it was messed with. 

Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2021, 10:50:48 PM »
Well, it gets more interesting.  The gun is listed by serial number in the Springfield research books as having been issued to Company L of the 7th cavalry on March 14, 1888.  Manufactured in 1883, it is obviously post Little Bighorn, but knowing the history makes it a better deal and a good candidate for restoration.  I talked to my buddy and am going to try and work out a deal to get it.  Then I need to talk with Dave Lanara. 

Offline Dave T

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2021, 12:44:59 PM »
I'm guessing the serial number you are referring to is on the frame.  If you get it and it really is an Artillery Colt instead of just a cut down Cavalry gun, research the serial numbers of all the various parts and pieces.  Thirty years ago I had an Artillery Model and its parts dated from 1874 to 1892.  Literally a history of the Colt Single Action Army in government service.

Dave

Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2021, 09:44:23 PM »
 The frame is 1883 and that is the number that’s 7th cavalry.  The trigger guard is 1885, and the cylinder is post 1900 (according to Dave Lanara).  It’s likely that the gun was at the battle of Wounded Knee, which in interesting.  I bought it today and can’t wait to see it so I can work out all the details.  The detail photos I got today show that it is not as polished as I though from the first picture. 

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #10 on: Today at 02:55:09 PM »

Offline Dave T

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2021, 09:49:20 AM »
Please revisit this thread after Dave Lanara has his way with it.  I look forward to the restored result.

Best of luck with this project,
Dave

Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2021, 10:37:34 AM »
 It may not be a good candidate for a full restoration.  We will see when it gets here. The first step would be to remove the plating, which can be a challenge, especially with gold.  In any case, Dave is 2 years behind on restorations so the “after” shots are a ways off if it goes to restoration. 

Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2021, 11:32:42 AM »
I picked up the gun yesterday.  It took a while for the shop to send it.  The major issues are with the grip frame (front and back) which has been drilled in a couple of places and over polished. I have a guy who does micro welding for high end gun restoration so I can have the holes filled, but only if I do a full restoration.  The other option is to replace the grip frame, which could be tough.  The frame itself is actually quite good.  There is one edge that is a bit rounded, but that can be fixed.  The bore is excellent, though the barrel markings are thin.  There is no trace of any gas cutting in the top of the frame.  The gun is mechanically fine and it operates perfectly.  It would be a good shooter, with a proper set of one piece grips.  From what I see, it was probably a very nice gun before some idiot got ahold of it. It looks like the finish might actually be chrome, rather than nickel.  I am going to try some low power /low risk methods to remove chrome and see what happens. 

Offline Dave T

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2021, 12:49:40 PM »
Rosco, I have a tale you might find interesting.

Back in the late 1980s I wondered into my favorite gun shop in the town I was living in and the owner, a Colt collector himself, said he had something to show me.  He pulled out a black powder frame SAA that was in the white.  All the original finish had been removed.  As I looked at it (after the shock wore off) I saw it was a US marked, 7-1/2" SAA with matching numbers and it was in excellent mechanical shape, particularly for a gun made in 1884 as the shop owner told me.  I asked if he knew the story behind it and he did, and a sad story it was.

The man (idiot) who sold him the gun had inherited it from his grandfather and it was in very good condition.  Most of the blue was left but the case colors had faded to a shadow of the original.  He said he wanted it to be like Paladin's gun (all blue if you remember) so he took it to a gun shop and asked for it to be polished and blued.  That shop wouldn't touch it.  He went to another gun shop and made the same request.  That shop owner, know around town for not mincing words, cursed him for a fool and threw him out.

He got the idea he would do it himself and proceeded to strip the original finish off by hand.  He tried cold blue and it looked awful.  By then he was sick of it and tried to sell it, first at my friends store.  He didn't like the offer and left to peddle it somewhere else.  He was back the next day because my friend (remember he 's a Colt collector and knew exactly what the gun was) had offered him the highest price.

And yes, it ended up in my hands.  With the help of the shop owner I managed to bring it back to look like a used but clean SAA.  I shot it for years in CAS matches with full power BP hand loads.  Life happened and I had to sell it and most everything else but I sure do miss that Cavalry Colt.

Dave         

Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2021, 08:27:28 PM »
Sadly, people do really dumb things to nice guns. 

Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: A sad fate for an Artillery model
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2021, 08:42:02 PM »
The Artillery model went off to a smith in Florida that specializes in finish work (including plating).  He is going to strip the nickel and gold for me.  He has done this job on other guns.  We had some conversations about making sure not to damage the underlying steel in any way.  He thinks it can be done without too much trouble. Keeping my fingers crossed that it all goes well.  I also got a package of small parts (screws etc) to replace the banged up/plated ones that came on the gun.  Luckily, the bolt and hand were fine. I am on the hunt for a good period cylinder.  Given the artillery rebuild at colt, that could be an 1880s period cylinder or a 1900-1903 era civilian cylinder (which were used when originals were to worn).   

 

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