Firearm refinishing advice

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by kckndrgn, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I have an OLD Marlin 1894 lever action that was my great-grandma's rifle. After I inherited it from my dad, I set about restoring it to working condition. It is now in working condition. I've replaced a handfull of broken/missing screws, replaced springs and had the barrel relined.

    I now need to work on the finish of the receiver & barrel. At some point in my families history, somebody used black spray paint on the receiver & barrel. That paint is now flaking off. I want to strip it down and refinish.

    I really don't want to have to send it off to a smith to have the work done, as money is really tight right now. I see my options as:
    Blued (prolly would send off to a smith)
    Case hardened coloring (would have to send to smith)
    Gun Kote (need somthing to "bake" the barrel in to harden the finish)
    Duracoat (don't have to "bake")

    This will not be a safe queen, at least once I can find a supply of bullets & cases to start loading it. The caliber is .25-20, a fun shooter.

    I managed to keep a 2.5" group at 25yards after getting the barrel relined.

    I'll try to get some pics tonight of how the rifle looks and post them up. Using the s/n I found that the rifle was manufactured in 1897.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    With the age and family provenance of this rifle, considering it's original finish is probably long ruined I would have it professionally blued. BUT.... if the paint can be removed without damaging any remaining original finish, see if it has enough to retain. Even a very worn original finish will give you greater 'collector value' if that is a consideration.
    Me, if I were looking at using this rifle and eventually passing it down to younger family later - I'd go with the good professional blue job. And a good refinish of the stock and fore end too.
  3. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Sea, thanks for the response. Any "collector value" went out the door when I had the barrel relined.
    On the parts of the firearm where the paint has come off, it appears to be bare metal, no bluing left at all. I was originally planning on having it blued, but then I found out the original finish is "case hardening colored", and I have no idea what that is.

    Guess I'll start making some phone calls to local gunsmiths for some pricing information.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Case hardening is, reduced to the simplest terms, giving the metal a bath in hot materials of some kind. Bone charcoal is one, some chemicals are another. This gives a very thin coating of (usually) very much harder metal oxide on the surface. If the color is worn off, the case is probably also. You are a candidate for a blue job; color case could very well be the original on the receiver, but not the barrel. I'm not at all sure how well blue will "take" over color case, but my guess is not well. Nor am I too certain that re-coloring is in anyone's price range these days. Good luck, and we will need pix ---
  5. kansasrebel

    kansasrebel Monkey++

    How about trying to cold blue it yourself? I've used a product called Oxpho Blue by Brownells. You'll need some 0000 steel wool, but with some patience and elbow grease you can have a pretty nice finish.
  6. CraftyMofo

    CraftyMofo Monkey+++

    If I had a project gun like that, I'd:

    Brown the metal vs. blue...looks sweet on a muzzleloader, wonder how it would look on a lever gun.

    Then, I'd strip and send the stock and fore-end into the dishwasher to rise any dings and bleed out some of the oils. I've used this technique on Garand stocks and even an AK stock, works wonders. I'd follow it up with either tung oil or plain 'ol BLO.

    I think Birchwood-Casey makes a kit for browning metal....

    My 0.02! Sounds like a fun project!
  7. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yes, I've thought about doing it myself. I've see that product from Brownells and one called Blue Wonder mentioned.

    Never heard of "browning" the metal, guess I'll google it.

    Here are some pics. Sorry the quality is not better, I suck at photography LOL

    This is what the muzzle looks like, after I got it back from the gunsmith from getting it relined:

    Part of the barrel and magazine tube. What you can't see is how the paint ran when it was applied:

    The top of the barrel:

    One side of the forearm wood:

    Close up of the front sight, is it brass?

    Left side of the receiver

    right side

    Close up of the right side:


    Tang on bottom, next to lever:

    Close up of the band on the forearm:

    First things first, if I'm doing this myself I gotta strip the metal down. I've read that acetone will work, any other options?

  8. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Acetone might work, but make sure you use it outside, it can kill you mos skosh. Almost any paint remover will work, and some are less hazardous. Do NOT use acetone on the wood, too much of a drying effect, try Formsby's. In truth, I would not try to raise the dings and dents. Even with a new finish all around, there is character in them thar dings.

    Be very careful with the edges on the octagon when getting around to getting rid of the rust, they are easy to round off.

    Yes, chance are very good that front sight is brass. The forend cap may be also, can't tell for sure from the pic.

    "Browning" is just a different form of bluing. Both form an oxide finish similar to rust that will limit more damaging corrosion. Back in the old days, browning was sometimes done in trays of horse piss, soak, card off the lumps and do it again as many times as it took to get a fine patina, then kept well oiled.
  9. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    The wood does not look too bad, I actually was planning on leaving it just the way it is, maybe wipe it down with some tung oil.

    There is no rust on the gun, even though it may look like it in the pictures.

    Interestingly enough there are 2 notches cut out on the stock. No one in my dad's family knows why they are there. Wish I knew, it might make a good story to tell to my son some day.

  10. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    A good automotive stripper will clean up the metal nicely, since we are not worried about original finish. I don't like sanding on the action and barrel, so as to prevent rounding the edges - that really ruins an old gun's looks.
    Cold blueing has never worked well for me on larger projects, and it won't work on top of case hardening. Some steels, due to chromium content, won't take it either.
    The wood does look pretty good for it's age! It's all honest 'working wear', not from abuse. Formby's makes a mild "Antique Furniture Stripper" that is good for old stocks - does not damage the wood fibers like some stronger types.
    I'd love to tackle a project like this! [winkthumb]
  11. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    It could be a stock-weld point, kind of like a kisser button for a bow. No scopes back then, at least none on the civilian market worth buying until after Korean War.

    More than likely, it might just be a mark from being mishandled. I don't know, I have no hands on.
  12. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    You can see the notches in the photo of the stock. They are on the top part. See the box on this pic.
  13. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Yes, I saw the notches ;) I just can't tell from that angle if it was from being slammed against something (or vice verse) or purposefully carved into the stock. If you see any impressions where the grain of the wood appears to be pressed by force, it was probably smacked against something.
  14. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Those notches were carved out. I'll try to get a close up shot tonight, but no guarantee I can get to it.
  15. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Does a 25-20 round fit precisely between the notches?

    And then the last thing I can think of is RED DAWN "All that hate is gonna burn you up, kid." -Carving a notch for each kill.
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