My 1922 semi-restored, should I go further?

Discussion in 'Browning Auto A-5' started by Biz, Mar 25, 2020 at 9:11 PM.

  1. Biz

    Biz .270 WIN

    Hello everyone,
    Now that the authorities have shot down my business (coved-19 imposed), I have a bit more time for forum activities. Here is 1922 I bought a couple years ago. All the parts have matching serial number. The overall condition of the gun was very good, therefore, I decided to refinish the stock and retouch the checkering. A close look at the metal show some very light pitting, what should we expect after almost 100 years! Would you redo the blue or live as is? 02D03529-C67A-4E2B-971F-B3C39C8EDFAF.jpeg 5A1EC982-18A5-4C6C-9409-0FB9EF61CDD9.jpeg D8EC2EB5-6D27-4AF7-B126-368E77F8CEC6.jpeg ED54402B-58A6-443F-BA82-55393B3A2A94.jpeg D20240B6-6205-4E9B-9D1E-F40316BCFE98.jpeg 7B3C96C6-7FB6-4689-80B7-F93B4D197F19.jpeg

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    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020 at 9:32 PM
  2. Bill Idaho

    Bill Idaho .270 WIN

    Ahhhhhh, that sure helps my blood pressure. First of all, congrats!!! So far it looks really good. The checkering looks fine and dandy, and even cooler is that it is a straight stock!!! ( I have REALLY gotten into those lately, but this isn't about me!)
    Are the internals as clean as the outside?! Personally, based on the pictures provided, the pitting doesn't look too deep or bad. I think- again, merely based on those pictures-I would have it re-blued. if I were to decide to reblue it, I would make sure it was done by someone familiar with rust bluing, as a shiny hot-dipped blue job wouldn't be "right". It might look new, but not 1920 new. I have done a handful using the "Super Blue" stuff they sell at the local China-mart, and must admit----I think I have darn-near perfected replicating the old rust blue look. I very carefully- with a capitol V- remove the old bluing, using extra caution around the lettering and engraving with 1000 grit sandpaper. It does take A LOT of time. I always use a block so my fingertips don't ruin any flat areas. Obviously areas around the pitting get a little extra love. I make every effort to keep edges sharp and not rounded off. The 1000 grit seems to be just right as far as a balance between removing old bluing/very slight surface imperfections, and NOT removing too much. It also seems to be about the right grit to provide the proper sheen/finish for the new bluing. I then degrease with acetone, maybe some alcohol, and heat it up to about 150 degrees. I get a soft rag, wad it up to a "ball" about the size of a golf ball, and liberally apply that bluing stuff. Liberally. I try to spread it around pretty good, and when it is all "dark", I rinse it off with hot water. I heat it up (supporting it up above the stove) again, and take 0000 steel wool lightly to the whole thing. (That "evens" out the bluing.) I then start over, with the heat, rag, and bluing stuff. Usually it takes about 5 cycles to get it to match that year of original bluing. Time consuming, but it works. After I get it to the right color, for want of a better word, I let it sit and cool off on its own. Then I give it a heavy thick coat of 30 wt. oil- and do NOT wipe it off for at least overnight. For some reason, I have learned it appears to help set, or harden, or whatever the right word is- the bluing. This replicates the old rust bluing, NOT the new fangled hot-dip bluing.
    YMMV.

    (Oh yeah, you will need to COMPLETELY disassemble the gun.)

    Upon a second inspection of the pictures, The existing bluing looks pretty good. I am not certain I would refinish that gun. European, with the straight stock and sling mounts, too.........Ahhhhhhh......
  3. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Beautiful, Biz. A reblue means polishing which washes out the markings. I’d leave it alone. A light coat of oil will make it look brand new.
  4. win7stw

    win7stw .270 WIN

    I’d leave it. Nice work on the checkering. That turned out great!!!
  5. Biz

    Biz .270 WIN

    Thank you all for your insight. Bill I am not familiar with your "super blue" I will inquire around to find it. I am slowly gathering all the components to build a real rust blue operation meaning steam box, tubs, buffers etc.. With respect to the oil finish, I am not satisfied with the result, I don’t like blond walnut. If I recall correctly, Rudolph checked being the buttplate of one of is buttstock and it appeared to him that the wood was stain. I would like to explore with different stain on walnut. In all the literature I consulted, I haven’t fond any information on when Browning start using varnish or nitrocellulose for the finishing of the stock. Would you guy have that information? Finally what type of finishes do you prefer, oil or varnish style?
  6. win7stw

    win7stw .270 WIN

    I have stripped a few stocks and they definitely colored them. I almost think it was a tinted oil finished. A dunk in acetone and the finish is gone. It sands off with minimal effort. If they stained them I’d think the color would go into the wood somewhat deep. Not sure when they changed the finish but I am guessing in the 50’s.

    I prefer an oil finish. I use Pro Custom Oil
  7. win7stw

    win7stw .270 WIN

    I will post pics of the stock I just finished it needs to be darker too
  8. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Biz, I like an oil finish. But just in case you’re planning on keeping this gun instead of giving it to me, it’s more important to give it the finish that you like.

    I don’t know what FN historically used, but I’ll check S/V. I know that in the late 50’s or early 60’s they started using a urethane finish that I don’t like.

    Here’s a stock that Art’s did for me:

    [​IMG]

    Not an oil finish, but not a plastic coating either. I like it.

    EDIT:

    There’s not a lot of information in S/V. It says stocks had an oil finish in 1903. And it mentions oil finish in 1946. Then it quotes Browning literature from “prior to 1962” that says they use a glossy clear penetrating lacquer. The book mentions that after 1961 the lacquer finish was extra glossy, described by Browning as a “brilliant finish”.

    I know I said it was a urethane finish. I said this because when I bought my Light Twenty the finish was shattered like glass and flaking off. I didn’t know lacquer could do that.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020 at 12:53 PM
  9. Bill Idaho

    Bill Idaho .270 WIN

    According to the bible, it looks like 1960-1961 was when they switched from the nitrocellulose coating to the newer finish. It kind of eludes to a period of a handful of years where both were available, or offered. (My son, who works in a paint store, just found a source for gallon cans of the nitrocellulose finish! It is being advertised as a finish for musical instruments.)
  10. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Bill,

    I didn’t see the word nitrocellulose in my copy of S/V. Are we referencing the same book?
  11. Biz

    Biz .270 WIN

    I know that Remington and Stevens were using nitrocellulose before the first war. I wonder if Art would tell us if he used stain and if so what color.
  12. win7stw

    win7stw .270 WIN

    I think he uses the French red formula he sells
  13. win7stw

    win7stw .270 WIN

  14. win7stw

    win7stw .270 WIN

  15. Rudolph31

    Rudolph31 .30-06

    Well, I just read the Wikipedia article on lacquer. There are many varieties, and nitrocellulose is one. But I don’t know how you guys know that that is the variety used by Browning.
  16. win7stw

    win7stw .270 WIN

  17. Bill Idaho

    Bill Idaho .270 WIN

    Yeah, I am certain we are referencing the same bible. The dates are in there, but the nitrocellulose was mentioned elsewhere---and I cannot remember where I read it. Let me do some research.
  18. Biz

    Biz .270 WIN

    It is highly likely. I suppose someone that has dealt with Art could ask him.
  19. Biz

    Biz .270 WIN

    I would love to find the proper information regarding the different finishes use by the F.N. over the years. The evidence I have with respect to the oil finishing is S/V mentioning that the first year auto-5 was oiled and the 1989 Centenary model has French walnut with an oil finish. Which by the way is true since I have an example.
    The early Remington and Stevens, following a researcher on SGW, where finished with nitrocellulose.

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