1847 Reilly 16 bore SxS - Need a barrel expert

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by Gene Williams, Aug 4, 2019.

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum by donating:

  1. Aug 4, 2019 #1

    Gene Williams

    Gene Williams

    Gene Williams

    32 Cal

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2019
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    5
    Good morning all, looking for some advice. I shoot mostly 19thcentury SxS shotguns. I recently wrote a new short history of London gunmaker E.M. Reilly, published in Diggory Hadoke’s on-line magazine.
    https://www.vintageguns.co.uk/magazine/a-new-history-of-e-m-reilly

    The Reilly history led me to this gun; the owner contacted me and I wound up buying it for really a wall-hanger price. It is a 16 bore, J.C. Reilly SxS muzzle-loading shotgun. It has both the 316 High Holborn and the 502 New Oxford Street addresses on the rib making it certainly 1847 (He moved his shop from High Holborn to New Oxford St in late March 1847).

    The gun turned out to be very attractive. 28” Damascus barrels, double trigger. I was going to restore but the patina on it is so appropriate that I’ll likely leave it as it is.

    [​IMG][/URL
    ]

    [​IMG][/URL
    ]

    [​IMG][/URL
    ]

    [​IMG][/URL
    ]

    This ad is from 09 Nov 1847 "London Post," 8 months after Reilly moved (removed) to Oxford Street:

    [​IMG][/URL
    ]

    Now here’s the question: Now I want to shoot the gun. I’m going to leave the stock pretty much as is…maybe clean out the checkering – I like the patina. However, there are a few condition problems of the barrels that need to be checked out:

    Small dent in the left barrel – possibly done in shipping:

    [​IMG][/URL
    ]

    Small area of corrosion on the outside breech area of the left barrel – doesn’t look much deeper than the stamped serial number:

    [​IMG][/URL
    ]

    Some deeper corrosion on the left barrel about 5”'s in front of the breech:

    [​IMG][/URL
    ]

    Nipples are not blocked and appear in good condition. It looks like they haven’t ever been changed….but……you never know and I don't know whether I can find caps to fit them:

    [​IMG][/URL
    ]

    I need a good barrel man familiar with old muzzle loaders to check out the barrel, wall thickness, nipples, corrosion, bore (I don’t have a bore scope) to see if it’s safe to shoot and perhaps to change the nipples if need be. The gunsmiths in Northern Virginia sort of said, “Well, don’t know much but I’ll figure it out.” No thanks. Recommendation anyone.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
  2. Aug 4, 2019 #2

    hawkeye2

    hawkeye2

    hawkeye2

    58 Cal.

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    2,878
    Likes Received:
    195
    Location:
    Winchester, VA
    Any gunsmith worthy of the title can remove that dent with no problem at all. They also could clean the bores, give them a lick with a hone and inspect for corrosion/pitting. As to whether they will offer an opinion as to whether any damascus barrel is safe to shoot or not is quite another issue. Most will probably say it isn't safe to shoot even it it were mint, it's a liability thing. If I were going to shoot it I would replace the nipples and save the originals to go with the gun.
     
    flntlokr likes this.
  3. Aug 4, 2019 #3

    SirFrancis

    SirFrancis

    SirFrancis

    32 Cal

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2015
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    5
    If it were my gun I’d try to shoot it with a load somewhat hotter than I’d ever expect to shoot it with, being mindful that even in perfect shape, it would need a load considerably more mild than usual for a modern barrel, and I’d do the old strings tied to the triggers routine. Then I’d do it a couple more times with regular loads and call it safe. But first I’d want to have a gunsmith check out the bore and make certain there’s no serious pitting inside, and take out that dent while he’s at it, which shouldn’t be difficult. Shotgun barrels are thin and subject to dents, so it’s a common procedure.

    Guns are meant to be shot and if you’re in it for wallhanger money, no harm in taking a gamble and seeing what the old girl can do.
     
  4. Aug 5, 2019 #4

    Rat

    Rat

    Rat

    50 Cal.

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Messages:
    2,016
    Likes Received:
    315
    Sure is a pretty gun. Be aware that with the pitting, it's possible with damascus that rust or corrosion could penetrate between the layers of steel, if all the original welds were not perfect, making it weak. If the bores are pitted, then that possibility is working from both sides, and I might be more concerned. ? The gun does look like it has rusted quite badly in the past, much more than patina. ? Not saying don't shoot it, but be aware of those/that possibility. I am all for shooting old guns, but I might pass on that one.
     
  5. Aug 5, 2019 #5

    Rat

    Rat

    Rat

    50 Cal.

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Messages:
    2,016
    Likes Received:
    315
    Also that deep pitting 5" ahead of the breech concerns me, that is often where them old guns blow, or burst, when they do. ?
     
  6. Aug 5, 2019 #6

    Britsmoothy

    Britsmoothy

    Britsmoothy

    70 Cal.

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2007
    Messages:
    5,484
    Likes Received:
    720
    Location:
    England.
    I ain't no expert but I got a ding out of a muzzle like this one by making a bore size mandril and fitting it with a good cranking handle. I then ground a flat on it so it cammed out the dent when I vigorously cranked away. Plenty of oil and the barrels in a vice nice and secure.
    Worked out well.
     
    theoldredneck and Rat like this.
  7. Aug 5, 2019 #7

    Rat

    Rat

    Rat

    50 Cal.

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Messages:
    2,016
    Likes Received:
    315
    Right, those muzzle dings aren't hard to fix. Did the same with my Great-Grand-daddie's SXS. I started out with an oversized rod with a taper, then found a rod that fit the bore perfectly, and tapped the barrel around it with a small brass hammer.
     
    Britsmoothy likes this.
  8. Aug 5, 2019 #8

    52Bore

    52Bore

    52Bore

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2016
    Messages:
    173
    Likes Received:
    39
    Good looking Percussion double. I too would leave it alone..
    I once owned and restored a beautiful case EM Reilly Sporting Rifle, good stuff.
    Dent, others have spoken how to easily solve.
    Pits look surface at the breech, there have certainly been worse. Check the bore if possible and shoot square loads of 1oz or less.
    I'd have to get the nipples out and replaced, but that's just me.
    Have fun and enjoy your you new piece..
     
    hawkeye2 likes this.
  9. Aug 6, 2019 #9

    theoldredneck

    theoldredneck

    theoldredneck

    40 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2012
    Messages:
    312
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Alabama
    I enjoy buying and playing with old damascus barrel shotguns in both muzzleloader and breech loaders. Would never shoot proof loads in a damascus barrel with pitting. I clean them with evaporust inside and out. Plug the nipples and fill barrels with it. Removes all rust scale. For barrels that are pitted enough to not be safe I look at lining to a smaller gauge. Would rather have heavier gun in smaller gauge I can shoot than a wall hanger.
     
    Rat and hawkeye2 like this.
  10. Aug 6, 2019 #10

    Rat

    Rat

    Rat

    50 Cal.

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2004
    Messages:
    2,016
    Likes Received:
    315
    Funny you should mention lining. I've been thinking what a cool piece it would be with one barrel lined with a rifled .58" liner, and the other a smaller gauge smoothbore liner, for a really slick combo gun. However, didn't mention it as I have no idea of how to un-breech a double, as the whole shebang is soldered or brazed together. I suppose you could insert the liners from the muzzle, seat them on the breech face, and drill out the flash holes. ?? Anyhow, I've always wanted a double combo gun, and those thoughts were running through my head. That gun would be so cool in .58/20, or .58/28, or something like that.
     
  11. Aug 6, 2019 #11

    Gene Williams

    Gene Williams

    Gene Williams

    32 Cal

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2019
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    5
    After making the rounds of gunsmiths in the area...I'm going to send the gun out to an acquaintance who is an acknowledged muzzle-loader gunsmith. I cleaned out the interior of the barrels as much as I can. A lot of old rust came out. There may be pitting about half way down the right barrel...but as I said I don't have a bore scope. I've asked my friend to evaluate whether the gun can be shot safely. If not...we'll consider other options. If so, I'll finance getting it back into shape to shoot.

    It's interesting....J.C. Reilly (the father) and his better known son E.M. made guns from c1825 to 1912. Reilly along with Blanch and Lang were the first advocates for Lefaucheaux's breech loading invention after the 1851 Crystal Palace world's fair. But old J.C. who started the company never much liked the new-fangled things. He retired in September 1857 and I've never found a breech loader with his name on the rib. I have found an E.M Reilly muzzle-loader built after 1881...so people were still ordering them.
     
  12. Aug 6, 2019 #12

    Gene Williams

    Gene Williams

    Gene Williams

    32 Cal

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2019
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    5
    And I'm sort of suspecting that at some point in its life, somebody might have sawn off a couple of inches of the barrels....it happened a lot. Can't really tell from the photos and it doesn't seem to effect the balance.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Aug 6, 2019 #13

    Feltwad

    Feltwad

    Feltwad

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    May 28, 2017
    Messages:
    727
    Likes Received:
    89
    The best and only way to check the barrels for pitting and wall thickness is to remove the plugs , looking at the images the most vulnerable is the left barrel where it joins the plug if the pitting is more than surface rust there will be little metal between the pit and the plug thread Wall thickness is most important if pits have been honed out on Damascus and should be no less than 29 thou . If pitting in the bore is on the part of the wall under the ribs this can be due to a raised rib which will be full of rust between it and the barrel. If when restoring and loose ribs I always strip the barrels and remove the plugs and remove all signs of rust before assemble them and regulating the barrels The dent muzzle end can be remove by using brass plugs up to the required size
    Feltwad
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Finished job
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  14. Aug 7, 2019 #14

    bud in pa

    bud in pa

    bud in pa

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    17
    how are the breech plugs removed? They seem to be connected and part of the barrels?
     
  15. Aug 7, 2019 #15

    52Bore

    52Bore

    52Bore

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2016
    Messages:
    173
    Likes Received:
    39
    Zoom on Gene W. post photo and you can see the seem. I drew a line (arc) just below.
    Right plug out first.
    AF2E76AA-0E8D-4E4A-9B45-AD595258C241.jpeg
     
    theoldredneck likes this.
  16. Aug 7, 2019 #16

    Feltwad

    Feltwad

    Feltwad

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    May 28, 2017
    Messages:
    727
    Likes Received:
    89
    Enclosed are a couple of images showing the plugs removed from the tubes before cleaning
    Feltwad
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    theoldredneck and Britsmoothy like this.
  17. Aug 8, 2019 #17

    smo

    smo

    smo

    70 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2007
    Messages:
    4,734
    Likes Received:
    248
    Location:
    Tn
    Great pics and great info Guys!

    From my limited experience , most doubles that I have seen that had the barrels cut off, the front sight bead was missing...

    I’m sure some reinstalled them but I’ve seen several without front sights.

    Here’s another photo showing breech plugs.....

    B1493D22-CE4C-4B1A-BFAE-91E38B69937B.png
     
    theoldredneck likes this.
  18. Aug 8, 2019 #18

    Gene Williams

    Gene Williams

    Gene Williams

    32 Cal

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2019
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    5
    Thanks you all for posting the pictures of the breech plug. Very informative. I'll look for a video now of someone actually unscrewing one. I didn't feel comfortable taking the barrels apart so sent them out to an expert. Thanks again. Gene
     
  19. Aug 8, 2019 #19

    Feltwad

    Feltwad

    Feltwad

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    May 28, 2017
    Messages:
    727
    Likes Received:
    89
    You will find that most original sxs Damascus shotgun barrel barrels are 29.1/2 and 30 inch this applies to 12.14.16.20. and smaller bores if on these sizes they are less then they have been cut .sxs bores which are bigger from 10 have a 32 plus and 8 and 6 are 34 to 36 these bore barrel lengths are mostly made for wildfowling . You will also find that these bore sizes in s/b are a lot longer at 36 to 40 and 42 inches.
    Feltwad
    A D/B 6 bore with 36inch barrels
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
    theoldredneck likes this.
  20. Aug 8, 2019 #20

    smo

    smo

    smo

    70 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2007
    Messages:
    4,734
    Likes Received:
    248
    Location:
    Tn
    Gene, one thing I ran across on the internet about unscrewing breech plugs on old double guns was not too over tighten the barrels in a vice because if the barrels are silver soldered they could break apart.

    I have no experience in this, just passing along what I’ve read...
     
    theoldredneck likes this.

Share This Page

arrow_white