Restoring a Historic Rifle (Part 3)

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!


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