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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Went over to my parents' house to take over some knick-knack souvenirs from my recent Colorado/Bandlands trip, stepfather hands me a Connecticut Valley Arms .50 Hawken black powder muzzleloader, double set trigger...can't help but feel like I'm getting the better end of the deal here. Unfortunately, my knowledge of black powder is limited, I have some reading to do. In the meantime, a few pics, maybe someone with one of those magic books can reference the serial number ( 86 369018 ) and give me an idea of when this was manufactured? I know it's a replica, I know it was made in Spain (a kit, I think?). The furniture on it looks in pretty good shape, the brass needs a good polish. Barrel rifling looks good, very few rounds were ever put through this, if any. The outside needs a good cleaning for a small amount of flash rust and probably re-blued. Any technical data it such a parts list or exploded view would be very welcome as well. I can pay the freight if anything needs to be mailed, vs. scanned data. I'd like to put the shine back on this, although they don't appear to be particularly valuable. (iirc, they resell for around $250?) As a replica piece, I can't think of any reason to not clean it up. But, you guys are the experts, I just come here for the politics.

A few lame pics: (I'm assuming the 700K p/cm2 is the max rated pressure for the rifle. Unfamiliar with the hallmark stamps, and what the F . 2 stamping means.) The CVA website has no information on this piece on their webpage.

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Ages ago before I was married I built a CVA kit flintlock rifle and pistol. I lent the rifle to a co worker to hunt in muzzle loader season and never got it back. I still have the pistol. I will have to take a pictures and see what kind of serial number is on it. Yours looks very nice!
 

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I shoot A LOT of BP in both cap and flintlock rifles. If the barrel is in good shape, you've got a winner. The biggest issue we see with "pre-owned" BP rifles is that the previous owner shot it a little and failed miserably to clean it properly or protect the barrel for long term storage. CVA caplock rifles are "shooters" ( no inherent collector value) and do a pretty good job btw. That surface rust you show has zero meaning but it will be nice to get it cleaned up before taking it to the range. A caplock will work just fine with either real blackpowder, or any of the decent alternatives available. NO smokeless powder in any quantity or combination is considered SAFE in that rifle. If you're planning to shoot it, I recommend a lot of online reading, or...better still...find someone with experience shooting AND CLEANING such a rifle.
Track of the Wolf is a vendor specializing in BP firearms and supplies. They might also be able to provide some information on the serial number. There are a lot of others, that's just the first one that pops to mind.
If the administrators of this forum have no objection, allow me to suggest you take a look at this one, specifically for BP shooters:
If that link is a violation of forum rules, I apologize, please delete.
Fell free to contact me by message for more information, if you'd like.
BE SAFE...and enjoy..!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So, here's where I'm at with it: Did a takedown and got the barrel out. Surface corrosion at the bolster (yeah, I've been reading) is a little more significant than the pic shows. Minor surface pitting as a result at the bolster and where the barrel sits against the tang. Got into it with some fine steel wool to get it stopped and get some oil on it, but as expected, it's damaging the bluing (I expected I might have to have that redone anyway, there's surface up around the muzzle as well, I'll worry about serviceability first and appearance later). Got the nipple out, but had to wrench on it pretty good. I think the threads into the bolster are OK, and after cleaning, nipple goes back on and tightens, but I'll probably replace the nipple. As I understand it, that's a commonly replaced item anyway, seems like. What I have here is a low time, low use rifle, but as you said, horribly kept/stored. I did what most of the videos suggest. After some good copper brush scrubbing of the insides with Hoppes 9, Rem action cleaner (I don't have any Ballistol) and watching all the brown liquid coming out, I boiled a pan of water and ran it through with a funnel. Wash, rinse repeat 2x more times. I'm pretty happy with how the barrel looks in as much as I am able to see it.

My problem right now is this: I want to inspect and clean this barrel from the other end. But, until I get some more expert knowledge here, I'm hesitant to go further into a teardown. So, two questions: Is the bolster removable? What is the screw on the outer part of the bolster, does that serve as a kind of maintenance port for cleaning? If so, it ain't budging, which makes me wonder if the bolster itself will need replaced. Second is the breach plug. This barrel has the hooked plug, and the question here is also whether or not that is removeable. It looks to be threaded, but again, I'm hesitant to touch either the plug or the bolster, since I suspect these items may need to be indexed when installed. Seems to be true at least for the bolster, otherwise the nipple won't align correctly to the hammer cap, correct? That said, I REALLY want to get into the back side of that barrel and insure it cleaned up adequately. I can't get a light in there to see it end-to-end. I won't consider it safe until I can verify that the corrosion hasn't harmed it back there internally. I'm big on visual inspection, and after talking to my stepdad some more, this looks to be a case of it sat for ~30 years unused and not properly prepped for storage. Mostly I'm worried about that bolster and that outer screw I can't budge.
 

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I'm trying to respond ( in red) close to your questions. I hope this isn't too clumsy, or hard to follow.
So, here's where I'm at with it: Did a takedown and got the barrel out. Surface corrosion at the bolster (yeah, I've been reading) You have indeed..congratulations..! is a little more significant than the pic shows. Minor surface pitting as a result at the bolster and where the barrel sits against the tang. Got into it with some fine steel wool to get it stopped and get some oil on it, but as expected, it's damaging the bluing (I expected I might have to have that redone anyway, there's surface up around the muzzle as well, I'll worry about serviceability first and appearance later). Got the nipple out, but had to wrench on it pretty good. I think the threads into the bolster are OK, and after cleaning, nipple goes back on and tightens, but I'll probably replace the nipple. Nipples are a "wear part" on caplock rifles. Yours takes a 6mm nipple, available from any company selling BP supplies. Pull the nipple whenever you're cleaning the rifle after shooting. Get it clean inside, make sure the little hole in the bottom isn't plugged, then apply a tiny amount of anti-seize on the threads before re-installing. As I understand it, that's a commonly replaced item anyway, seems like. What I have here is a low time, low use rifle, but as you said, horribly kept/stored. I did what most of the videos suggest. After some good copper brush scrubbing of the insides with Hoppes 9, Rem action cleaner (I don't have any Ballistol) Ballistol is great stuff, IMHO. Hoppes makes a dedicated BP cleaner that is also well regarded. There are others. The key is to use something that offers water solubility because the most effective cleaner for BP residue is water...use it, then finish up with one of the others. and watching all the brown liquid coming out, I boiled a pan of water and ran it through with a funnel. Wash, rinse repeat 2x more times. I'm pretty happy with how the barrel looks in as much as I am able to see it. You'll get varying opinions about using boiling water in your bore. I've been using it on my T/C rifles (they allow me to easily pull the barrel off the stock) with ZERO issues since the 70's and the bores are in like new condition. I clean with tap water that has a drop or two of Dawn liquid in it. Once the bore is clean..I pour a cup of boiling water down the bore. The barrel gets too hot to hold without a kitchen mitt, which is the object of using boiling water, things dry right away. The key is to follow up IMMEDIATELY with a water soluble oil/water displacement product ( I use Ballistol) and swab the bore to preserve the bare metal inside. People who use boiling water and fail to immediately follow up experience "flash rust" that's not good, but can be avoided. Be very careful using a brush in the bore of a BP rifle. On the Muzzleloader forums it's fairly common to read of a new shooter using a brush in his rifle...then coming on the forum for advice on how to remove a brush that is STUCK solidly inside the rifle. I've been shooting BP rifles since 1975 and have never used a brush in the bore of any of mine. Once the bore is clean and dry...you can use any good gun cleaning product to preserve it. I choose G96.
My problem right now is this: I want to inspect and clean this barrel from the other end. But, until I get some more expert knowledge here, I'm hesitant to go further into a teardown. To help inspect the bore...I use a tiny little light, sold at sporting goods stores for lighting up fishing lures. Turn it on, and drop down the bore. So, two questions: Is the bolster removable?
It is, but Don't that's not necessary. What is the screw on the outer part of the bolster, does that serve as a kind of maintenance port for cleaning? Yes, that's a "cleanout screw". It's not necessary to remove it for any routine cleaning. I haven't removed any of mine in a few decades. Folks who attempt to remove them, often end up doing more damage than any extra cleaning would justify. If so, it ain't budging, which makes me wonder if the bolster itself will need replaced. Second is the breach plug. This barrel has the hooked plug, and the question here is also whether or not that is removeable. It looks to be threaded, but again, I'm hesitant to touch either the plug or the bolster, since I suspect these items may need to be indexed when installed. The breechplug is removeable but doing it correctly requires knowledge, and in a lot of cases some special equipment to get it done without damaging the barrel. It is a LAST RESORT to resolve problems ( such as a stuck brush) before just replacing the barrel. Seems to be true at least for the bolster, otherwise the nipple won't align correctly to the hammer cap, correct? That said, I REALLY want to get into the back side of that barrel and insure it cleaned up adequately. I can't get a light in there to see it end-to-end. (See my suggestion, above about using a fishing lure light) I won't consider it safe until I can verify that the corrosion hasn't harmed it back there internally. I'm big on visual inspection, and after talking to my stepdad some more, this looks to be a case of it sat for ~30 years unused and not properly prepped for storage. Mostly I'm worried about that bolster and that outer screw I can't budge.
Here's an older link discussing the removal of breechplugs on a CVA rifle:
CVA rifles have a "patent Breech" that can get clogged up with BP fouling easier than "flat breech" rifle barrels. Verify that the breech is clear on your barrel before trying to load and shoot it. If your pouring water down the muzzle with the nipple removed and getting a free flow out of the bolster, you're probably alright as far as old crud buildup goes. When you take the fully assembled rifle to the range, go to the firing line, put a cap on the nipple, hold the muzzle down, close to some grass and fire the cap. You should see the grass move, indicating that the nipple and patent breech are clear and you're ready to load. Unless a visual inspection of the bore reveals extensive corrosion, your rifle should be safe to shoot with recommended loads of Blackpowder, or one of the substitutes, properly measured.
Hope this helps all helps you enjoy that rifle without repeating my first experience with blackpowder;
When I began shooting BP, back in the 70's...there was no internet, and I didn't know anyone who I could learn from. I just took my new T/C "Hawken style" rifle out to the farm..loaded up and proceeded to shoot. What a HOOT..!!
Of course, I didn't know about FOULING so as it got progressively more difficult to load subsequent shots...I just pushed hard. By load #5, I broke the ramrod.
 

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Traditions makes a small diameter bore light that can be dropped into a muzzle loader. Traditions Bore Light

I really don't know if it is possible to remove the breech plug on a CVA. My old Numrich H&A Minuteman has a screw in breech plug. Haven't had it out in decades and it was a PIA last time I did it. And I clean my rifle after every shooting trip.

The CVA bolster does screw out. They are machined to turn up tight enough at the correct angle. It would be nice to be able to remove it, or at least the access screw.

If you really need to have the bolster off, try soaking the breech end of the barrel in a container of Ed's Red, which is equal parts of automatic transmission fluid, kerosene, mineral spirits and acetone. It had very good penetrations properties, does a good job of stopping and cleaning up existing rust, and helps to lubricate tight joints. A couple days soak is needed. Even auto tranny fluid alone will help, or Ballistol.
If you replace the nipple, try to get a stainless steel one.

Try running a snug, lubricated patch down the bore and "feel" for any roughness. That may help to evaluate the internal condition of you barrel. Use a paste type lube such as "Bore Butter". Crisco will do in a pinch.

At worse, I would expect there is some roughness inside the breech end of the bore. But those octagon barrels have a lot of extra meat on them. Doubt there is enough corrosion to be a safety issue. More likely it would be a hindrance to accuracy.

Black powder is best to use and really isn't that hard to clean up. Hot soapy water (dish soap liquid) does the trick and having an easily detachable barrel makes it a snap. just remember to clean the inside of the lock too! Most of the new substitutes require a thorough cleaning after use too. Pyrodex residue especially can be more corrosive than black powder's, despite the early claims.

My brother had a used TC Hawken that had been neglected worse than yours but it shot well enough to take hunting. He waffled on getting a new replacement barrel for years but eventually sold it to a friend that wasn't as picky!

Good luck with your new toy!

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies. One other question…what is that F (bullet point symbol) 2 stamped on the barrel? Is that telling me to use FFg/2Fg powder for that barrel? I’m just guessing here. I don’t know what that or the other two hallmark symbols stamped on the barrel are…
 

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Thanks for the replies. One other question…what is that F (bullet point symbol) 2 stamped on the barrel? Is that telling me to use FFg/2Fg powder for that barrel? I’m just guessing here. I don’t know what that or the other two hallmark symbols stamped on the barrel are…
More likely an inspector mark.. I use 3Fg in my 45 caliber and smaller front stuffers and FFg in my 58 caliber and over guns. But you can use either in any of them. You may find that any particular gun shoots better groups with a certain granulation size. Even more so with different brands of Black powder. But start off by using what you can find and trying different load weights. For a 50 caliber start at 50 grains and work up in 5 grain increments and see what groups best. With black powder barrel length is a big influence on how much powder you use. For example, I have two 45 caliber rifles and I use the same .440" diameter round ball with a .010" greased patch in both. But my 28" barreled TC Hawken shoots best with 60 gr of FFFg while the 39" barreled H&A Minuteman does best with 90 grs of FFFg.
Whatever you use, just remember to remove the ramrod from the barrel before firing.

John
 

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The F2 is part of the proofing. The marks are from the proofing process years ago I read something about the Spanish proof houses marking which powder was used to proof the barrel.
I agree with the above posts on your other questions. I started shooting BP in the early 70’s, very little info and my reference was old magazines and a Dixie Gun Works catalog. The catalog has changed but still has a lot of info as well as parts and supply’s.
I have always been a traditional shooter and have no experience with substitute powders, cleaning is all hot soapy water, rinse with as hot as you can stand dry in hot sun or us small electric heater fan, or hair blower then oil. Ballastoil is best I have found. We never had fancy cleaners or bore butter so made our own with crisco and beeswax, bore butter is much easier!
Your barrel is probably made to shoot sabots but a patched ball may be more accurate. I would try both until you figure out a load that works for what you plan to do with it.
When I got a particularly abused gun I would wrap a bore brush with steel wool and run down the barrel till smooth, the face of the breech we used to polish with cork and pumice but CVS uses a sort of recessed area which is a pain to clean. Breech plugs can be removed but probably not worth the trouble.
Unknown guns we would double charge and test fire strapped to a tire and fire with a string. Sounds hokey but that’s what the old timers did and worked for us also. Also to find max load was to shoot over snow covered ground with increased powder charge until in burnt powder was noticed, lol it works but is unnecessary. There is plenty of info on line about loads and with modern steel it is quite hard to blow one up. That said with a used guy it is better to work up a load on the range using both greased patched round ball to see what accuracy you can get out of it.
Have fun there is not much to them, once you have shot and cleaned it a few times you will either love it or hate it!
 
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