Originally Posted by Otis the Sasquatch
But I would
like to shoot it, eventually. Maybe just w/ marbles.
First problem; shined a flashlight down the bore and... no light at the nipple hole. Ruh-Roh. Then I put the loading rod down the bore, and it hit something hard near the bottom. Loaded maybe?
Now what? guess I'll get or borrow a borescope and see what's going on in there.
Anyway, any thoughts y'all have would be appreciated. I have been trying to find a Gunsmith 'round here that KNOWS these guns AND isn't backed up 6 months! If I do, I'll get it gone over and maybe add a reproduction rear sight.
Muzzle loaders are not my strong suit - way too much work and cleaning after use, haven't owned one since I turned 21 and could own a cartridge handgun. Still, the basics haven't changed much......
First, run that ramrod or something similar back down the bore. Carefully (more or less) mark it at the muzzle when it bottoms out then remove it and compare on the outside to see where the rod ended relative to the nipple. If it is less than or about 3/8" forward of the nipple, it probably isn't loaded just stuffed with crap/rust. Anything much more than 3/8" could
allow room for it to be loaded. It could be loaded with just a projectile (not too unusual for someone to forget powder) or a full load. Said full load might
or might not
still contain viable powder.
Under normal conditions the nipple is removable, that one might be but it isn't going to be easy. I don't have any knowledge of values or rarity about Springfields, guessing that the bore isn't a lot better than the outside, I have doubts that it has collector value (I know, you are not looking to sell but sometimes doing anything at all to an old gun ruins value, you would not want to 'destroy' it) but certainly can't confirm one way or the other.
Back to whether or not it is loaded,
If the ramrod test shows nothing to be in the bore you could try clearing the nipple hole with a small drill bit and pin vice, the actual hole may be considerably smaller than the rusted/eroded end of the nipple would indicate so start very small and be gentle enough as to NOT break off a drill bit in the hole! Don't overdo the depth, that hole only goes down to the center (well just beyond) of the horizontal hole which is filled with a screw (hardly discernible on your gun but readily apparent in 'buildit's' photos. We will come back to that screw shortly.
If the ramrod test does indicate it being 'loaded' there are a few options, a soft projectile (i.e. lead) can usually be 'pulled' by use of a worm which can be either a screw or a couple of 'twisted wires' that screw onto the end of a (probably not the one that came with the gun) ramrod and are then threaded into or around the projectile. IF the bore is not too rusty the projectile can be withdrawn although it might take several tries. If it is one of his marbles still in there it isn't going to work unless the (external type) worm somehow gets a good grip on some cloth patching material.
Lacking the ability to pull the projectile, the alternative is to push. In the old days, when a ball or bullet was loaded without powder the answer was to try and work enough powder behind it to 'shoot it out', this wasn't too hard if no one was shooting at you at the time and IF that screw we talked about earlier would come out. Trying to get powder down through the nipple would be bad enough, getting it to take that right angle turn (behind the rusted away screw) and end up behind the projectile will be more challenging.
I would be inclined to try and use air pressure instead of powder to remove whatever might still be in the gun. This is not without some measure of risk but mostly in regard to where the projectile might end up should it suddenly become 'unstuck'. The results for anyone in front of the muzzle could indeed be lethal.
It is an interesting project, I hope that you are a patient man. Good luck!