A few years back when I was a litter dumber than I am now about Marlins I purchased a old Marlin in 44-40. I wanted a 44-40 just because. Who knows why? I found a 44-40 not too far away so I called to check it out. The gun looked like a model 1889 from the pictures and was described as a working 1889 with a 28 inch barrel with a new stock that needed to be finished.
The gun was about a 50 minute ride from me so I took a little trip to see it first hand. I was a little disappointed with what I saw in person. The stock was nothing more than a hack job. The owner said that a carpenter friend put the new stock on it and was still bare wood. He had told me about the dent in mag tube. The bore looked dirty but not all that bad. I could see rifling. The gun looked plausible for a fixer upper. The owner loaded a round in the mag tube and fired a shot proving that the gun did work. There are no model marking anywhere on the gun. The trigger plate was from an 1889. Everything I saw looked like something that I could repair or fix.
We haggled for a while. I complained about the stock, missing lever lock, dent in the mag tube, and the dirty bore. He offered a box of 44-40 to go along with it. The box had an eye popping $79 dollar price tag on it. We settled on half of what he was asking and I became the proud owner of an old Marlin 44-40 and a very pricey box of 44-40 cartridges.
To make a long story short, the gun was not an 1889. It was an early model 1894 with an 1889 trigger plate. The firing pin, though working, was broken near the tip and had been for quite some time. The break was beat to a smooth finish. The first shots with the rifle seemed OK. I cleaned the barrel and the next trip to the range the bullets were key holing at 25 yards. The barrel was completely shot out. This was the most ill advised purchase I have ever made. This was going to be a heck of project.
3 years later I now have a nice looking and fine shooting 44-40.
Here is what I started with:
The Phillips head screw is a nice touch.
Can't wait to see the end product!
NRA Endowment Member, Texas State Rifle Association Life Member, Firearms Accumulator, Native Texan, Team 99 #29
I took the gun apart to clean and inspect it. Folks, it is not an 1889, it is a Frakenmarlin. The first indication was the tang serial number on the side of the tang did not match the trigger plate. The gun was made in 1894 by tang serial number. I spend a bunch of time edumacating myself with older Marlins models. The more I learned the it became obvious that the gun was an early 1894 with 1889 trigger plate (I think).
During the inspection I found that the trigger pin was broken. Now I needed a new stock, new trigger pin, and a trigger plate to match the 1894 that I had. I started looking for a new barrel. Yah right.... 44-40 barrels are made of unobtainuim. So how much is a reline? Redmond offered relines for about $300. Viable, but I want to do this myself. Brownell's has liners and everything I need to do it myself. Or so I thought...
Well, time to start fixing things. First item is the firing pin. In playing around with the gun it became obvious that that this thing could fire out of battery. No trigger block and a single piece firing pin. I bought a two piece firing pin to put into it. Here is the two piece side by side with the broken one piece. The retaining pin needs to be moved in the bolt for the two piece pin to work.
I drilled a new hole (red) the proper location to match the new firing pin. The original hole is marked by the blue arrow.
I assembled the gun and tested it out. It still fires! Ok, we got one problem fixed and gun is a little safer.
Drooling already!! Keep em coming.....
Take a close look at the original firing pin. That thing has been pounded to oblivion. The hammer has the matching dent as well. I would love to know the entire history of this gun.
Next up, fix the mag tube. This gun has the 28 inch barrel. My sympathies to any of you who attempt to repair one. I looked everywhere to find a mag tube to replace that one. The longest that I could find was 26 inches, and that was not ready made but was a u-fit. The Redmond barrel liners from Brownelle's were also 26 inches long. I tried a couple of times to save the original mag tube. It is basically a folded sheet with a seam on the top. Maybe with about 20 hours of work and making a special mandrel it could be done. All of my attempts lead to the crack opening up and wrinkling. I abandoned that effort. Looks as though this gun is going to end up being a little shorter. I bought the barrel liner, finishing chamber reamer, step drill, and mag tube stock. The original mag tube spring was toast. At least you can get a mag tube spring long enough for the 28 inch barrel.
I wanted to fix the mag tube and keep the gun in working order so opted to make at new tube and add an extension that could be removed later on. Drilling the holes for front mag tube mount was not hard. I made a removable extension for the tube to gain the extra two inches needed. The extension sits under the fore end so it will not be visible.
I cut the requisite piece of tube from the stock and a shorter joiner. I slit the joiner and silver soldered it to the extension. The new mag tube friction fit nicely.
The fore end wood needed to be relieved slightly for the joiner. I installed the new mag tube and spring and cleaned up the follower. So far, so good.
Now I turned my attention to the trigger plate and wood. I found a used trigger plate on eBay for $30 and found a rough stock for a decent price - $25 if I remember right.
I transferred the trigger, trigger spring, and hammer spring to the new trigger plate and began fitting the new stock.
I began by fitting the butt plate to the stock
Working the end grain on the stock is not easy as one might think. The in-letting process is tedious, but enjoyable. I had to force myself to quit and start up later to keep from becoming sloppy or making a mistake. I can see why the "carpenter" did his final fitting of the butt plate using plastic wood! I wish I had taken a picture of that as it was good for a laugh when I pulled the but plate off.
Next the stock was inletted to the receiver and new trigger plate.