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Thread: Rebore or Line My '73?

  1. #21
    Boolit Buddy
    Eddie Southgate's Avatar
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    Reline if it does not respond positively to a better load . A good 38-40 is not something I would give up .
    Grumpy Old Man With A Gun....... Do Not Touch !!

  2. #22
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    I have a '73 Winchester in 38 WCF made in 1886. This thing has some unbelievable wear and tear on it from over a century of hard use. The bore was so bad that I couldn't hit a paper target past 25 yds. and the bullets keyholed. I tried different loads with no luck. So I removed the barrel and sent it to John Taylor, who is a man of the highest integrity and does great work!

    The first target I fired at 25 yds after he returned it-



    Then on the bigger and further things-







    So I'm for having Mr. Taylor line it.

    35W
    "Only accurate rifles are interesting." -Col. Townsend Whelen.
    NRA Life Member
    Certified Texas Hunter Education Instructor

  3. #23
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Another recommendation for John Taylor. He has done numerous projects for me, both rifles and revolvers. I have always been well satisfied. Relining while keeping the rifle in its original caliber, with original markings and patina intact would be my vote.
    The ENEMY is listening.
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  4. #24
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by DonMountain View Post
    Relining the barrel will maintain the original caliber and markings, and give you a modern, high strength steel barrel that will last for a much longer time and work better with smokeless powder and jacketed bullet loads. Reboring will give you an old, soft steel barrel meant for black powder and lead bullet only loads. Again.
    While new barrels are made from 4140 steel the liners are made from 4130. This is harder than the original black powder barrel but not as hard as modern barrels. Smokeless powder loads need to stay within the same pressure levels as the black powder loads and while jacketed bullets will work the liner will not hold up like a 4140 steel barrel. I have not seen any liners wore out yet that I have installed.

  5. #25
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks once again to all for their recommendations. I'm researching what a good smokeless load will be to expand the base of a lead bullet but keep pressures within the old gun's limit.

    I have Bullseye, Trailboss, and Universal powders on hand, if anybody has a .38-40 load they'd suggest that might bump the base, I'd appreciate it. I know black powder would probably be the best, but I don't have any and would prefer not to try it.

  6. #26
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo66 View Post
    Thanks once again to all for their recommendations. I'm researching what a good smokeless load will be to expand the base of a lead bullet but keep pressures within the old gun's limit.

    I have Bullseye, Trailboss, and Universal powders on hand, if anybody has a .38-40 load they'd suggest that might bump the base, I'd appreciate it. I know black powder would probably be the best, but I don't have any and would prefer not to try it.
    According to Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook 4th Edition (2010) on pg. 261 with RCBS #40-180CM

    5 grains of Bullseye or 6 grains of Trail Boss with 180-grain lead bullet.

    They also show 7 grains of Unique, which should be OK also with Universal, none of these loads over 12,000 psi.
    The ENEMY is listening.
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  7. #27
    Boolit Master
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    Mr. Taylor re-lined a Low Wall for me in 38/40. I am completely satisfied. Great work.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #28
    Boolit Master enfield's Avatar
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    I use BP in my 73 38-40 also made in 1889 ( also with a not so good bore ). my other 38-40's and 44-40's have been getting 6.5 - 7.0 Gr Herco lately for plinking loads and they work awesome. make sure you are using as fat a bullit as will chamber I use a Lee 40 cal bullit and a NOE that's casts .404 maybe the bullit your using is toooo small ??

    hey, watch where ya point that thing!

  9. #29
    Boolit Bub Ajohns's Avatar
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    A good 73 in 38wcf is hard to beat. Mine is lined, though I bought it that way. When you find the right load it all pays off because they're a joy to shoot. And if you do decide to do a liner, chances are it will shoot real good.

  10. #30
    Boolit Buddy
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    Back in '90 or '91 I bought a '73 that was loose and the bore was shot out. It was in 38-40.

    I rebuilt the action. The normal oversized pins for the toggle. But I also made a new bolt face by turning down the front 1/2 of the bolt, sleeving on a new piece and then milling & shaping that to respectable dimensions from the sad condition of the original. The two pieces are hard soldered together but the joint line is nearly invisible.
    I cut the 'window' inside the frame that the bolt slides back and forth through oversize with a shop made cutter & then silver soldered a new plate in there. Then another cutter to re-bore the hole to fit the new bolt.
    That window was so worn in the orig condition that the bolt would close and then drop down visibly. The firing pin barely striking the primer.

    The bore was a toss up betw reline to 38 or rebore to 44.
    At the time I was doing some engraving/recutting work for Ken Bresien. We traded work. He rebored the 73 bbl to 44 (.427) for my lettering recut on a heavy Sharps bbl he was working on at the time.
    I rented a reamer and recut the chamber to 44-40.
    I changed the caliber marking to 44WCF on the top flat. Peened the old mark over, polished it out and cut the new caliber marking. Then touched up the old brown finish to match.
    ..and I left the entire rifle in it's brown, worn metal and worn and dented wood condition.
    I put the old finish back in place where the soldering and other work had displaced it.


    I've been tempted more than a few times to 'fix 'er up' but I just left it as -is.
    There's an old owners initial of 'B' stamped in a few places on the gun, but very small. Plus someones scratched date of Jan,1,1897 on the stock.
    Sometimes it all bothers me, sometimes not.
    I put a nice orig tang sight on it and shoot it with light loads of RedDot and 205gr LFN bullets.
    Very accurate and fun to shoot.
    It's seen a lot of rounds since the rebuild and is still as tight as the day I completed the rebuild.
    I used to shoot it with BP-Sub loads too. But the RedDot loads are more accurate and the rifle has held up just fine.


    **** One thing to mention IF you rebore a 38WCF to 44....

    On the Win 73 Rifles,, the 32 and 38 caliber frames had the small step down radius at the front of the frame.
    The 44WCF Rifle did not have that radius on the frame. They were made straight.
    So , as with my conversion from a 38wcf, the frame has that radius on the top of the frame.
    This will tell any collector that the rifle was likely* originally a 38WCF rather than the 44WCF it is now.
    Small point, but some people wring their hands over such stuff.

    * I say 'likely' as I believe the Carbine version of the 73 in 44WCF had that slight radius to the frame.

    Personally it doesn't bother me one bit. I just like working on the things and shooting them. After I'm gone, others can argue about such stuff and sell it for pizza money.

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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