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 Post subject: Colt 1878 Shotgun
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2020 7:18 pm 
Field Grade

Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:31 am
Posts: 38
Location: New Bern, NC
Finding nothing on the internet to help me with a Colt 1878 shotgun I thought a few notes might help someone else. This gun was in fair to better condition but seriously unattended in recent years. The bores were badly pitted, common to black powder guns, and nearly ever screw in it was seized.

The forend is a latch type release. The forward screw is a metal screw, that looks like a wood screw, through the forend iron into the latch and the rear screw is a wood screw that looks like a metal screw. Like all the wood screws in this gun, except the butt plate, the heads look like metal screws.

The lock plates are held by a single screw in each plate. The plates are very closely fitted and if not stuck come off easily.

The trigger guard is held at its rear by a wood screw through the trigger plate beneath and into the stock. The forward end screws into the trigger plate, but cannot be removed until the triggers are out. The guard interferes with the triggers and can only be turned a little to one side or the other. The triggers can’t be removed until the trigger plate is out and consequently neither can the trigger guard.

There are three screws holding the trigger plate and stock to the receiver: a large engraved one on the bottom that holds the forward end of the plate to the receiver and two from the top tang. The small rear tang screw threads into the rear portion of the trigger plate and can be seen under the scrolling of the trigger guard. The third screw is beneath the top snap lever and threads into the same threaded hole in the trigger plate as the forward end of the trigger guard. This isn’t obvious until you get it apart and causes problems if stuck. You can’t access the threaded end of this screw for penetrating oil because you can’t remove the trigger guard yet. This was bad planning on Colt’s part. It is also hard to access the head of this screw because the spring loaded lever is in the way. (If you are lucky you may be able to remove the lever screw but if seized your problem is compounded.) This third screw has an unusual head with a lot of surface area to rust tight and may be seized on both ends. All tolerances on this gun are very tight and lend themselves to seizing not only on the threads but the heads as well.

Once you remove the above trigger plate screws the trigger plate and stock will come right off.

If you have to make any screws for this gun you will find the sizes odd to today's standard. US screw sizes were not standardize until 1948. Screw and thread sizes in 1878 were different. With exception of the small lock plate screws most of the larger screws came close enough to 24 tpi that chasing them out was an easy fix. Diameter was another problem. One screw I had to reproduce was a #11-24 tpi. The closest normal tap and die today is a #12. Resizing #11-24 to #12-24 was very close in size. Another screw was a #13-24. The next size up would be a #13-24 but #13s are uncommon. Fortunately I didn't have to reproduce this one. If you have to make screws, consider the sized differences carefully.

I would like to post more detail but this should help get you started. These are valuable guns if in good or better condition. This one was not and didn't suffer much in value because of general cleaning. If you have a good one and it doesn't come apart easily, then leave it alone. Always use proper gun screwdrivers of the right width for the slot.

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