Day after I day, sanded and sanded until I got the barrel to bare metal.  It was not for the feint of heart I would say!

After getting the barrel sanded down and polished, I started working on the pitting on the receiver.  This didn't take as long.  I started with 80 grit to get the metal down quicker.  Then switched to 120 grit to polish to an almost mirror finish.  One thing I learned here is that as the sandpaper begins to wear out, it makes a nice polish/buffing tool.

Bluing the Gun Barrel and Receiver
For mostly economic reasons, and because, it is a relatively inexpensive firearm, I concluded that sending the barrel off to be hot blued was not really a good choice.  I decided instead, to use the Birchwood and Casey cold bluing method.  I used their Super Blue product because it requires less applications to get the look I wanted.  I wanted the barrel to be a deep, almost black color.

You are going to watch a LOT of videos which tell you that you have to heat the gun metal before applying the bluing.  This is not true and is a waste of time.  Follow the directions on the bluing bottle or refer to Birchwood Casey's official documentation on their web site. If you want to perform a hot blue then send it off for bluing. Here is a summary of the process which worked for me.

  1. Clean the barrel well using the Birchwood Casey Cleaner-Degreaser.
  2. Remove all left over rust or bluing using the Birchwood Casey Rust and Blue Remover
  3. Again, clean the barrel well using the Birchwood Casey Cleaner-Degreaser
  4. Clean it again using the Birchwood Casey Cleaner-Degreaser (yes I meant to put it again)
  5. Make sure the barrel is wiped clean and dry
  6. Use a Birchwood Casey Swauber Applicator and dip it into the Super Blue
  7. Begin applying it to the barrel. I blued the first half of the barrel first.
  8. Let it dry for 30 to 60 seconds and NO MORE
  9. Dip a different Swauber Applicator into clean water and go over the newly blued area with the water to stop the chemical reaction
  10. Repeat steps 6 through 9 for the rest of the barrel or metal part
  11. Apply the Birchwood Casey Barricade product to the barrel to begin the curing process.
  12. Let the metal cure for 24 hours.
The Newly Blued Barrel

As you can see from the above photograph, the bluing turned out very well. I was very impressed with the Super Blue product and would recommend it to anyone.  There are several videos which claim it isn't as good as others, but the internet is full of nay sayers.

I continued the process of bluing each of the other parts that needed bluing, and the results were equally impressive from the Super Blue.

A view of the finished rifle showing the sanded receiver(once full of pits) and bluing

Finishing the Gun Stock
It is always a tough call on whether to refinish a stock or not on an antique rifle.  In the case of the Mosin, I think it is OK, since there were so many made.  Also, if you are looking to make it into a "shooter" or for hunting purposes, I see no reason not to.  In my case, as I had stated in an earlier post, I wanted to perform more of a restoration, and not any real modifications.  That was tricky as I had to decide how far to take each process so the gun would not loose character.

The first step in refinishing this stock was to sand off the old finish.  I did not use a stripper as this could strip away too much of the "character" of the gun. After a couple nights of sanding the gun was ready for finishing.  

A section of the gun stock after sanding off the finish and some of the oily areas

In the above shot, note that I didn't sand down to bare wood.  I left some of the character in the gun, including oily spots where the gun was handled and so forth.

After sanding it was time for the finish to be applied.  I used "Red Mahogany" stain for this project, put the first coat on and let it rest for a day.  The following day I came back and put the second coat on.  At this time, I noticed the gun was too sticky.  This is from putting on too much stain.  If this happens to you, simply rub down the sticky areas with 0000 steel wool and blend together.

After putting the stain on and letting it dry for another 24 hours, I started putting on a coat of Birchwood Casey's Tru- Oil.  This will seal and protect the wood.  Note that you don't want to put on a heavy coat of the Tru-Oil.  Dip your finger in and lightly apply to the entire gun.  Wipe off any excess or it will drip down the gun and dry with an ugly drip stain.

After letting the finish dry for 12 hours, I put the second coat of Tru-Oil on.  The following day, I put the final coat on.  Below is an image showing the True-oiled stock.

In conclusion, I feel like this is mission accomplished.  The finish is close enough to be of the period, and I lost none of the rifle's character by leaving dents, dings and some oil marks in the stock.  All the metal is now nicely blued with most of the pitting removed.  I didn't go into detail on this, but I also disassembled the bolt, cleaned it, sanded the major pitting off and re-positioned the firing pin per specifications. 

In some ways, the Mosin Nagant restoration was a bit of a fool's errand.  It ended up costing me $400 dollars to fix a $200 dollar gun, but I had a great time doing it, and I recommend that anyone who is up to challenge make this project a reality in their world.  If you wanted to take the gun back to it's original, off the factory look, it would have taken more money and much more energy. Frankly, I am not sure it would be worth it both monetarily, and because you would lose all the gun's character.

Well, back to photographing wildlife life.  Thanks for the interruption!

This is an update to the previous posting I did on evaluating and getting started with my restoration of a Mosin Nagant 91/30.

It didn't take long for me to realize the enormity of the project I had chosen and what needed to be done to bring this old girl back to life.  I have spent about 5 nights sanding, polishing the barrel and removing rust.  My technique for removing the rust was to first scrape any of the soft rust off with a plastic tool used for popping off door panels in a car.  This tool allowed me to scrape off old cosmoline from both the barrel and the stock.

Next, I began to work on the actual rust by using a copper penny and oil.  The technique is to oil the barrel and scrape the penny along the barrel.  The softer copper removes the rust without destroying the finish.  You could also use copper steel wool, or, since we are going to re-blue anyway, I could have used any steel wool to remove the rust.  Once I got the rust removed, I was left with the pitting to remove.  I carefully began sanding lengthwise to start removing the pits.

If you remember, the original image showed massive rust.  Below is the original image and the one after it is how it looks at this point in the game.  More to do, but looking much better. The black inside the pits is caused by metal filings and tiny pieces of sandpaper getting burned into the pits.



At this point in the game, you can see that the rifle can actually still be fired.  I recommend taking the rifle to a competent gunsmith though to be sure. He can check head space, pitting depth and so on. Sure beats the alternative.

Once I was satisfied all rust had been removed and the majority of the pitting sanded to acceptable condition, I started working my way toward the muzzle.  The following video shows the results of tedious and careful hand sanding on the rest of the barrel.

There is still a huge amount of work to be done on this project and the barrel and receiver are only about half-way done.  I estimate another 24 hours of work on the barrel and then I can finally move on to the other metal pieces and the stock.

Until next time...

I don't always take photographs.  Sometimes I like to take on a project that exercises the need to work with steel, wood and sweat.  To me, it is something that is built into many people, and more often built into the male of the species.

Being someone who has always been interested in history, I decided to buy a Mosin Nagant 1891/30 rifle. The Mosin was manufactured by various countries between 1892 and the early 1970s., and was the primary field rifle used throughout WWII by the Russian military.  Russian troops would have used the Mosin throughout the war and even had it when they entered Berlin to help crush the Nazis. These firearms can be obtained on the military surplus market nowadays for around $220 to $400.  On the $200 dollar end, you will get a rifle that will work, but will need some tender loving care to get it back up to speed.  On the $400 dollar side, you can get a rifle that is in great condition and won't need any work except for a decent cleaning.  Sadly, we used to be able to buy these for less than $100, but the  market is drying up.

I opted to get a fixer upper and purchased one for around $230 from Classic Firearms out of Monroe, NC.  The rifle arrived at my dealer, and I immediately realized it would take some work to get this back to a semi-restored condition.  My goal with this restoration is to not take it back to factory condition, but to take it back to the condition it would have been during the first year of use, as a war time gun. When the project is complete, it will have wear marks on the stock, and even some dings left on it.  In short I want to preserve the character of the weapon as the original soldier might have seen and used the rifle.

Understanding Where this Rifle Has Been

After World War Two was over, the Mosin Nagant 91/30 and other variants, were sent to arsenals for repair, storage or sent back into the field for use with the now smaller army.  When the rifle was sent back to the arsenal for a checkup, the stocks were often refinished, and any issues with rust were also addressed.  Rifles that were stored long term were covered with a product called cosmoline.  This sticky petroleum product was used to keep the rifle from rusting during long storage, and should be removed when buying a Mosin.  It doesn't appear that the arsenal would take time to remove pitting though, as many Mosins have pitting issues. 

Evaluating the Rifle

The first thing I did after getting the rifle home was to perform a detailed evaluation to determine what I need to do, to restore the rifle, and would it still be safe to fire.  My rifle was not covered in cosmoline, but did have some on the bolt and dried cosmoline on the surface of the receiver and barrel.

Continuing the evaluation, I removed the two barrel bands and removed the barrel from the stock.  This is were I ran into a huge amount of rust on the underside of the barrel and top of the barrel.  It was a disappointment to see the rust, but I decided to press on.  I also removed the magazine assembly and found pitting on the top portion of that.  There was also pitting on the top of the receiver and pitting at the end of the barrel and stock.

Major rust and pitting found the Top of the Barrel after removing hand guard
Minor and major pitting here.  You can also see the dried cosmoline.

The stock itself was in fairly good condition, with minor dings and some areas which need a good cleaning.  This was particularly true on the inside of the stock were the barrel is bedded.  The stock itself appeared to have no cracking.
Minor pitting on the receiver.

Rust and pitting shown on the band spring

Determining a Plan of Action
  1. I need to first rescue the barrel. With that much rust and pitting, I would need to first remove all the surface rust.
  2. After removing the rust from the barrel, I would need to address the pitting.  The pitting will be removed using 80 grit and 120 grit sandpaper by hand sanding those areas.  Leaving small pits on the hidden portion of the barrel is acceptable for this project.  
  3. After all rust and pitting has been dealt with, I will re-blue the barrel using a cold bluing process.  This will give it a fair bluing job which will give it more of a used, historic look.
  4. Next, individual parts will be re-blued or touched up to match the barrel.
  5. Next, I will sand the stock down to remove the damaged finish, but will leave dings and oily hand marks on to give the rifle more character.
  6. Next, I will apply a stain to the rifle
  7. Finally, I will apply the Tru-Oil product by Birchwood Casey to give it a little shine and protection. 

Well, that is all for now.  Keep checking back for each post as I progress through this restoration process.