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Thread: 1873 build

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    1873 build

    Finally jumped in for a swim. Bought a 1873 receiver with the intent of building a rifle out of it Johnny Cash style.

    Going to begin the lessons like i always do ... the hard way. Best way for this hard headed ole fool.

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated. I know nothing [ NOTHING] about 1873 rifles. Never owned one ... just read some concerning others joy with them. Don't know what fits what and what don't ... but im bettin it will become clear as i go and get stung a few times.

    So the plan is to build a 38 WCF rifle or maybe carbine or maybe short rifle. The short barrel length appeals to me but i also want the rifle forend cap of the rifle, not the barrel band of the saddlering carbine.

    So i intend using these replies and other reads i can find as building suggestions as well as down right tips for my peace of mind and to keep my smile plastered on my face.

    Thanks in advance for tips and suggestions coming my way. I intend taking a while on this project and do it on the cheap so to speak ... part here and parts there as the pocket book provides.

    Let er rip
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Good Cheer's Avatar
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    bigted,
    Only thing I have to offer is that my father dropped a buck with his 1873 38-40, pass through and pile up.
    Best wishes on your project.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Thankyou kindly. This will be used for blacktail here in western Oregon as well as paper, tin cans and unlucky rocks time to time.
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Great idea for a project, and it looks like a good receiver and a good place to start. Remember the fried chicken ad that used to run on TV -- "Parts is parts". In your case, though, I don't know if that will hold true. You're probably going to have to find them here and there, a couple at a time.

    The logical place to start (and I'll bet you've already checked there!) is Gun Parts Corp. and some other parts houses like Bob's Gun Shop in Royal, Arkansas. Gun shows, like the big ARPC show in Albany, OR, would be worth visiting and searching for parts. If you can find a good exploded drawing like in "Exploded Firearms Drawings" or even better some detailed disassembly/assembly photographs so that you know exactly what the individual parts look like, that would help a lot.

    I've never personally owned an original 1873 Win., but this past winter I bought two new replicas, a Uberti and a Miroku. It might be that some of their parts would interchange with the original Winchester parts, but I wouldn't count on it. At first look these two rifles appear identical, but closer examination shows differences in the Japanese-made firing pin. Just a possible lead, I don't know if Chiappa is making the 1873 or not, but they are making the 1892 and claim that all of their parts will interchange with the original, so if they are or do make the 1873 they might be a good source of parts.

    Of course, I know that original Winchester parts would be preferable for your project, and since they've been out of production for a long time I suspect they'll be kind of expensive. Since the rifle originated in the black powder days I suspect that a decent original barrel will be the most difficult part to find, and you might be looking for a newly made replacement which would guarantee you a good bore. Unless you get lucky it could prove to be a long term search.

    If I just happen to run across any parts or an ad for them I'll PM you the information. Good luck with the project.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    Send me your e mail Pm and I will send you a schematic and instruction sheet for the build.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    I'll see if I have any parts and PM you if I do.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I used to know a guy who started with a cormorant hood ornament and built a Straight-8 Packard underneath it. So you’re in good company.

    You might spring for a copy of Arthur Pirkle’s Winchester Lever Action Repeating Firearms, Vol. 1. This covers all the toggle-link models from 1866 to 1876. There are line drawings of every part and descriptions of all changes in them as new calibers were introduced and the years progressed. Might save you some hassle trying to get the right dust cover or breech bolt, etc.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Given enough time and searching you can complete the project.
    Going out and buying what you need from the many parts dealers on-line and at gun shows will fill a bucket with the necessary parts for you too.
    But this latter method will cost you many times what an original can cost even if you have to put a few parts or some time into the orig to get 'her up to speed.

    Right off a decent bbl is going to be in the $300 to $400 and up range. There are repro's being made for the '73 complete with the markings and such but they are in that $$ range.
    A simple part like the hammer will cost generally $100 +/-. Then you don't always get the stirrup and pin with it.
    The (brass) carrier is around $50 to $75 depending on the condition. The carrier arm itself another $40 to $50,,,the small flat spring to power it $$20 to $30. You'll need another of these springs, an opposite copy called the lever spring for the other side,,another $20/30.

    You can see it adds up real fast. You haven't even gotten a breech bolt, linkage or side plates and wood yet.

    If you can dive into misc parts accumulations & boxes and come up with parts cheap at shows and shops, you're gold,,.
    Those days are about over though. Everyone's an expert now.

    The gun is fairly simple in operation and simple to work on if you have to rebuild one that has seen better times. They can be tightened up quite easily with some simple machinest work. You can go full out and rebuild the bolts w/a new breech head on them to repair old worn faces, firing pin holes and loose headspace.
    Even the bolt support surface inside the frame can be rebuilt to once again put the bolt in correct allaignment with the bbl breech. Many of these suffer from the bolt dropping down more than a few .000 just as the bolt closes and locks due to wear in the frame race way.

    I've rebuilt more than a couple in the past. Just like you I couldn't pass up a good project, but mine were well worn rifles that needed work. I didn't start with just a stripped frame.

    Good luck on your project.
    Here's a link to Homestead Gun Parts 1873 Winchester Parts.
    A great many of the parts are 'out of stock',,and not that you want to just go out an buy them anyway,,
    I thought the list, pictures and descriptions would help ID what you'll be looking for, the differences in the models and caliber specific parts. Plus it gives you some idea of what the going prices may be,,at least from one source.

    http://homesteadparts.com/shopcart/Winchester_1873.htm

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Don't worry with a little fitting most of the reproduction parts will fit just fine.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    https://www.vtigunparts.com/store/, some of the parts may work. Make sure that your frame is not for a 22 rimfire. Other parts http://homesteadparts.com/shopcart/Winchester_1873.htm
    I picked up a 73 in 32-20 that was found in the crawl space under a house that was tore down. The action works so it got a liner and will need a mag tube then it will be a shooter. Good cote of rust on the outside.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Well thank you all for the combined wisdom and know how. The overall cost is fairly inconsequential in as much as the education and fun factor is hard to put a price on. This is a quest i have intended to take on for a while now.

    Been perusing ebay and have a bunch of parts on the way. So far looks like 8 or 9 hundred should get me very close. Nope not a smokin deal but like above, it is the quest im after and to wind up with a fairly good 38 wcf carbine after the dust settles.

    This should be a hoot. Any books i should buy would be a helpful suggestion.
    Last edited by bigted; 06-27-2018 at 09:52 PM. Reason: Added info
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I did one of these a few years ago. Also in 38. Buffalo Arms has/maybe had new toggle links and brass carrier blocks. I also used the names mentioned above and the parts through Precision Gun Stocks, plus used their wood. Seconds they were selling on ebay for a little cheaper. They're a lot of fun when you get them done, and doing one like this gives well deserved satisfaction. They're not complicated, most anything should fit with minimal work and effort. New barrels (Homestead parts) can be had, but not always. I'd advise maybe doing that instead of rolling the dice on a used one. Unless you can tell a used one is not completely bad. Then you'd have to get it lined, coulda just as well started with a new one then. Other than that I would say be wise on the bolt you purchase that it is also in good shape. You want as good as you can there also. Have fun!!!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Speaking of bolt's, I need some pointers on how to spot a good 3rd model bolt. Have no idea what makes one a 1rst, 2nd or third model and what makes em good versus not so good.
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Now that you say it, I'm not sure. I think I just went buy what the seller (ebay) said it was. Maybe not a great idea but I did. I think as long as it's not pitted bad, anywhere, it stands a chance of being ok. Usually a seller will say how it was, out of a shooter, or out of a wall hanger, that sort of thing. I looked at the end of mine where it matches to the case rim. That are was clean so I went with it. If there are differences in the bolts, it's probably how it attaches to the dust cover. If I remember right I bought mine - bolt, firing pin, and pin stop all together. There's a small pin that goes through a little thin wedge that attaches to the center area of the bolt. Upon working the lever, that pushes the firing pin back from the case and sets it up for the next shot.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for that. Ive seen em for sale and wondered what differences there are
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    Another source of good modern data is the SASS/CAS community. That's the Single Action Shooting Society, the largest sanctioning body for Cowboy Action Shooting. 73s are very common and can be made to run very fast. There are a number of smiths specializing in 73s.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Well itza start. So anxious now to get some more extra dollars to continue this build.

    Just threw together what i have, not set in place but will get thete. Have a lever and toggles as well as all pins. Need bolt, firing pin, lever screw, lever and lifter springs, lifter, mag tube end cap.

    Got dies and lee factory crimp die, have some 401 175 lee boolits so couldnt resist loading one with 40 grains KIK 2Fg powder and compressed with the boolit, 1.575 inch oal. Sure a good lookin cartridge, can't wait to shoot it.

    May havta bust the bank and just buy one to shoot till i get this old hummer together. Sure handles super already.
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Coming around, looking good!

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Clark's Avatar
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    This 1873 was made in 1886 in 44-40.
    Some guy sold it to me for $750 in 2015 because his great great grandfather killed indians with it on his homestead.

    The 44-40 back then was a heeled bullet. Realoading for this rifle takes some work.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check