It always pleases me when a customer brings me a family heirloom to be restored…. there’s something kind of magical about a grandfather’s rifle that evokes special memories, so this “rescue” – like all the others – had special meaning for its owner. The old Marlin Model 80 was a mess, with a pitted, rusty barrel, and globs of shellac masking the 80-year old walnut. The original rear peep sight was gone, and the (brass) front blade sight painted a ghastly orange. I certainly had my work cut out for me.
I got busy stripping the walnut stock using several applications of Citri-Strip, each coat scrubbed with a 3M pad to hasten the process. Once stripped, I lightly sanded the old walnut, leaving the small gouges and marks that gave it character. No stain was needed – a couple of coats of tung oil applied over 48 hours brought out the beauty of the wood. A final coat of Tru-Oil gave it a nice sheen for many more years of enjoyment in the field.
The key to my success has been taking the time to do the needed prep work. Of course, no rescue would be complete without cutting a new target crown, so I got busy with my Manson Precision crown cutting kit ! First, I removed the old sights. After cutting the new crown, I spent 2-3 hours just polishing the barrel with emery cloth. By hand. Next,I applied about 8 coats of Oxpho-Blue, burnishing each successive coat with 0000 steel wool. By hand. After applying a light coat oil, I then hung the entire receiver/barrel assembly to “cure” for about 48 hours….for some reason, this seems to help give the bluing a “deeper” look.
Hard to argue with results, especially when the finished product looks like THIS ! The hand-rubbed tung oil finish, hardened with Tru-Oil, gave the wood a warm, red glow that almost took my breath away.
Like I said, it’s hard to argue with these kind of results.
Finally, the day came when I had to deliver the customer his grandfather’s rifle. I carefully wrapped the rifle in a new Bore-Store sleeve, and waited for him to unveil it. The reaction was predictable – this big, tough State Trooper welled up with tears, and, right then, I knew I had exceeded his expectations. His grandfather’s old Marlin .22 rifle would live on for several more generations. Yeah, getting paid to perform these transformations is nice, but hearing the customer tell me how he would present this rifle to his eldest son made my heart swell with pride.
Do YOU have a ridfle that needs to be rescued ?