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Cleaning Richard Wolldridge’s experimental musket

Richard Wolldridge, gunmaker at the Tower of London (1704—1749) made this experimental musket. Although this particular pattern or design was not issued to the military its does show the general form which British military firearms were beginning to take in the early 18th century.

musket by Richard Wolldridge

Flintlock Land Service Musket (1715) by Richard Wolldridge. XII.80.

The musket was is a very good condition prior to entering the Conservation Lab with only a small amount of old yellowed oil visible on the lock. Even though the exterior of the musket didn’t need a great deal of remedial work the lock mechanism was carefully removed from the musket, after of course checking that the firearm wasn’t loaded.

flintlock by Richard Wolldridge

Lock from a 1715 Flintlock Land Service Musket engraved “Richard Wolldridge 15” and a crowned “GR” the cypher of King George I.

When working with firearms we will always, where possible, remove the lock mechanism in order to check the condition of the lock’s interior as well as the underside of the barrel. Often the interior of a lock can look very different to its external appearance, with combinations of dirt, old oil or wax and corrosion all potentially present.

flintlock by Richard Wolldridge

Interior and exterior of Richard Wolldridge’s lock

Luckily in this case the interior of the lock was in a very good condition with no further cleaning or disassembly needed. The musket was therefore reassembled, making sure that the screws were replaced in exactly the same order they were removed. This is good practise as particularly with older firearms the screws threads will have been hand cut so using the wrong screw can damage both the screw itself as well as the internal thread.

Once the old yellowed oil was cleaned from the musket’s lock using solvent swabs the metallic sections of the object were given a thin coating of Micro Crystalline wax providing a protective layer.

This experimental Land Service musket by Richard Wolldridge is on display at the White Tower at the Tower of London.

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