Some Summertime Stock Maintenance

Some Summertime Stock Maintenance

This is a discussion on Some Summertime Stock Maintenance within the Firearm Cleaning & Maintenance forums, part of the General Firearm Discussion category; There's lots of "ol' lumber" piled in the safe here in the form of walnut gun stocks from the 19th century and first half of ...

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Thread: Some Summertime Stock Maintenance

  1. #1
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    Some Summertime Stock Maintenance

    There's lots of "ol' lumber" piled in the safe here in the form of walnut gun stocks from the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Most of these were originally factory finished in oil of some sort. Occasionally waxes were used. Some more expensive stocks once came finished in varnish. Military stocks of U. S. issue and many other nations were simply dipped in vats of heated raw linseed oil and hung up to drain.

    Hot summertime in Texas is a good time to freshen up stocks. I continue to use simple linseed oil. It's easy to apply. Can be used after touching up minor dings or pressure dents in order to maintain a uniform surface appearance. Linseed oil's a chore though when weather is cooler unless one wants to rig up a heat source, so I try to get around to tending to a few stocks each year during really hot weather.

    These stocks here may be anywhere between 70 to 130 years old. I don't wish to do a Turnbull grade* refinish on my trash 'n treasures, but prefer to maintain originality. It's bad form though to own rifles and allow them to become so dry and checked that the wood is degraded. A light wiping with water only, a solution of water with a little Murphy's Oil Soap, or careful use of denatured alcohol in some instances followed by rubbing in linseed oil, raw or boiled, your choice, is a good way to address maintenance in the spirit of maintaining originality.

    *https://www.turnbullrestoration.com/

    A friend from over in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and I were visiting by telephone a couple months back and discussing classic vintage .22 rifles. As a collecting and shooting tangent, we're both kind of "ate up with 'em." The Remington Model 33 was brought up in the course of conversation and I allowed that I had one. He said he'd like to see it and I told him I'd have to dig it out of the back of the safe, but would do so sometime soon and photograph it and/or drive by his house with it sometime when I was in town.

    Dug it out of the safe and one thing led to another. The back of the safe is where .22 rifles languish in the murky gloom. I love 'em all and strive to exercise them, but can't always get around to all of them without the effort of extracting them from behind other long arms. So, generally one or two are out at any given time and kept in the front of the safe for access and then infrequently changed out whenever I get "a round tuit."

    Some of the .22 rifles could use some attention to their stocks so I began fishing them out. This morphed into a plan. I'd go through them over the summer and verify sights and note relative shooting characteristics. Despite the infestation of .22 rifles, I've never owned a good scoped, adult-sized bolt-action .22 in my life and this represents a huge hole in the menagerie. Oh, I bought a Winchester Model 190 when I was 14 which came with a Weaver Marksman .22 scope, but the scope proved to be baggage from new and wouldn't adjust. So, I still need to settle on a good scoped .22 rifle now that I'm approaching my dotage.

    Why, I'd have me a ".22 Summer!" Due to time constraints from several different but related circumstances, I haven't lately enjoyed as much time to hand load and shoot as I would like. I could shoot .22s and have fun without a large investment of time. As it is, this ".22 Summer" I'm undertaking will probably wind up about next February with me freezing my fanny off at the bench rest at the local club range, if my normal follow-through is up to typical standards.

    Anyway, a couple of bolt-action, single-shot .22 rifle's stocks were supplied with a maintenance application of raw linseed oil. Then a bolt-action repeating Winchester Model 72 was trotted out. I'd recently read that some mid-century Winchester rifles were factory finished with wax so I thought I'd experiment with the stock on this rifle.

    We have a house that's nearly 130 years old with a goodly measure of original wood floors we uncovered and brought back to glory. We've been using Johnson's Floor Wax to good effect rather than to employ a modern polymer floor finish. The Johnson's, applied and buffed, really looks great on the floors, I had several cans of the stuff on hand. So, rather than the old faithful raw linseed oil (or flax seed oil if you will), I got out the Johnson's floor wax that we use on our ancient wood floors. Thought to give it a try.

    Slathered it on, let it dry for 15 minutes, and buffed it off. Didn't like the results at all which left the stock with a duller finish than before and with a hint of haze. Should have just applied the linseed oil on a hot stock left in the 100F-plus afternoon sun as I'd first intended to do.

    Didn't really want to darken the stock further and the linseed oil will eventually darken a bit. Liked the hue of the wood as is. The wax kept the hue. Didn't like the muddy-appearing surface though. It's only a straight-grained piece of black walnut, but dulled out like this it just looks ... brown.

    Anyone have any opinion about any of this wax business?

    I retrieved the fortunes of the stock by late last week. This was intended as only a freshening up of the walnut surfaces and not a sanding and complete re-do.

    I cut all the Johnson's Floor Wax off the stock's surfaces with applications of denatured alcohol and gave it three applications of raw linseed oil, allowed to soak for around an hour each on the stock rehabilitation apparatus* and then wiped off excess oil.

    *Stock Rehabilitation Apparatus - a highly technical appliance, being a combination work table and heat applicator. In truth it's a sheet iron awning covering the chicken run with two pieces of crooked cedar limbs lying on it. The sheet iron heats beneficially in the direct August sun and 100F-plus temperatures and the crooks in the cedar limbs are convenient for holding the stocks while being oiled and drying.

    Anyway the stock appears less dried out. Its original surfaces and medium/dark red/brown hue was retained to my satisfaction and wax haze was banished. The camera was fooled and the stock appears a bit orange-y in the very late afternoon sun when photographed against the white cab of the pickup.



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    But wait!

    There's more!

    A really shabby Remington Model 511's lived neglected in the gloom of the back row of the safe. Last weekend, I thought to tackle cleaning up the rifle's stock while I was at it.

    The rifle's nothing to write home about. It has a fine bore, a really outstanding trigger for the breed, and a grooved receiver. Its "LB" code indicates a February of 1955 production date*. I was interested in it because it has the later grooved receiver, good bore, and the nice trigger might make a decent scoped .22 rifle. It's just ... ugly. Metal's not crusty with rust but has turned brown with the odd spotting here and there. The stock was thick with grime and was just ... brown with no wood figure or grain showing. A very well used rifle and very filthy, bordering on being scary hideous. Part of the trash of the "trash & treasures" here and will never be anything else.

    Cleaned the stock with mineral spirits and denatured alcohol over the weekend. After wiping away the initial application of mineral spirits the wood's character began to just peek through so I thought to photograph it. Wish I'd photographed it before I began for a true "before and after"record.

    The stock's proven to be serendipitous. Who'd a' thought a highly figured piece of black walnut would appear as a factory stock on a plebeian model .22 rifle that listed for all of $26.45 when it was new. It's really not worth so much more than that now.

    But it'll have a knock-out stock on it.

    The stock after the initial layer of grime had been wiped. Crackly crud yet clung and a hideous scratch marred the left side of the stock.


    Prep completed yesterday morning and awaiting the sun to heat things up.


    Raw linseed oil being applied.


    Right side of stock rubbed and heating in 98F and rising temperatures by around 11:00 yesterday.


    Upside down view of left side of butt stock. Look maw! No scratch! The hideous scratch didn't even penetrate the built-up crud layer to damage the wood's surface.


    I had to be away all afternoon so only got in a single application of linseed oil. I'll work on the stock some more this week.

    I didn't intend to do any sanding and filling, but rather only clean and oil the stock. The stock's surfaces were fundamentally sound and could have easily been given a fine finish. I'm staying the course charted though and only oiling the surfaces for now.

    The rifle would look really goofy if the stock was taken to its full potential for glory as the barreled action's finish isn't attractive at all.

    It's funny about that apparently deep scratch on the left side of the Model 511 stock's butt. I figured it was a wound that would require some effort to sand out, yet it dissolved with the coating of filth. Remington's finish on these 500 series .22 rifles left something to be desired too. I guess it was intended to be transparent when new, but a cloudy yellowed effect develops that isn't pleasing after over half a century and serves to obscure any figure that the walnut beneath might display.

    The 500 series rifle stocks from the 1940s seem to be simply oil-finished walnut. Sometime around 1950 some sort of thick colored varnish appeared. I got that Model 512 back in March at the Abilene gun show. It's stock is a nice original with good clean surfaces. It's not really a pleasing hue though. It's a bit too blond to really suit me. Best description of it, any of several noted on a GunBroker inspection of photographs of 500 series Remington .22s, or this ratty Model 511 is a sort of "baby poop" color. It is fairly thick too as additional scrubbing was required after the layer of gunk came away from the Model 511 stock.

    Here's the nice Model 512 picked up in March, one of the treasures of the menagerie. It was manufactured in February of 1950 and has the later style finish, whatever it may be.


    *Remington Date Codes - Remington Manufacture Dates
    msgt/ret, OD*, airslot and 6 others like this.
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    That’s some very pretty wood once it was cleaned up.
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    Gorgeous!
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    Nice!

    I refinished the stock of my Win 72 as a woodshop project back in the ninth grade. It hasn't needed refinishing since. Linseed oil is goos stuff when done right. I left the minor dings and dents as they are part of its history. It looks very much like yours. A great .22 it is.
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    Yeah OldVet. They used to have beneficial courses like wood shop in schools ...

    ... back before "The War" when you were in school and your rifle was new.

    You're right. Linseed oil is hard to beat for appearance and for ease of maintenance if the rifle stock gets minor blemishes.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

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    Bryan, I think my first Gun was a single shot 511. I don’t remember black walnut though. Sadly, I sold it at some point in my life.
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  9. #8
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    Very, very nice.
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    I have started building Pennsylvania flint lock long rifles.
    A lot of the folks to build and restore still use boiled linseed oil.
    It can be an SOB to use and can take an eternity to dry.
    Some use other products.
    I find after cleaning the stocks of residual waxes and such. I apply a product called
    Chambers traditional Oil Stock Finish. Sold by Jim Chambers Flintlocks.
    Goes on easy, absorbs well, and can be put on in many multiple coats to achieve a deep finish.
    I find it is also compatible with the existing finishes on stocks, but always advised to test in a inconspicuous area.
    Dries pretty quickly so depending on the weather multiple coats can be put on in the same day.
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    Nice restore of the stocks sir.
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