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  #1  
Old 02-14-2017, 11:20 AM
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Default Marlin 1893 - refinish the wood, or not?

Ok, so I picked up a Marlin 1893 a few weeks ago, and am giving it a once-over and light rehab. It has/had several issues that needed to be addressed, but I picked it up for a decent price and I have no problem cleaning and repairing mechanical/function issues.

List of issues:

1) One fore-end cap screw is missing the screw head.
2) Light primer strikes, sometimes failing to fire the primer.
3) Cracked fore-end wood.
4) Old refinishing job on the wood, with varnish that is crazed and slopped over onto the receiver/metal bits.

Issue #1 has been addressed - screw body was successfully drilled and removed with an easy-out, and replacement screw ordered.

Issue #2 has been addressed (I think). I disassembled the bolt, and discovered that the tip of the firing pin was both badly bent and had been brazed on at the shoulder, apparently having been broken off at on time. I've ordered another firing pin. The problem could also be a weak main/hammer spring, but I'm hoping the new firing pin does the trick.

Issue #3 is being addressed now. I removed the fore-end and wicked wood glue into the cracks. It is now clamped up and drying.

Now - to issue #4....... Should I or should I not remove the old re-finish job and reapply? I'm on the fence, because even though it was obviously refinished and no longer original, the finish has enough patina to suggest that it was done a long time ago. So I don't know if I should leave it as "period correct", or go ahead and remove it and re-oil.

What is the opinion of the cognoscenti?
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Old 02-14-2017, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
4) Old refinishing job on the wood, with varnish that is crazed and slopped over onto the receiver/metal bits.

Should I or should I not remove the old re-finish job and reapply? I'm on the fence, because even though it was obviously refinished and no longer original, the finish has enough patina to suggest that it was done a long time ago. So I don't know if I should leave it as "period correct", or go ahead and remove it and re-oil.
If the refinish looks as bad as you describe, I would refinish it.

A thread with some ideas http://www.marlinowners.com/forum/ma...1893-93-s.html
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Old 02-14-2017, 5:59 PM
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Ok, so I picked up a Marlin 1893 a few weeks ago
Didn't happen without pics!
What caliber?
I am of the opinion that a crappy refinish is grounds for a proper one to be applied. Original is original, redone is redone, so you may as well make it look good.
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Old 02-14-2017, 6:16 PM
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Didn't happen without pics!
What caliber?
I am of the opinion that a crappy refinish is grounds for a proper one to be applied. Original is original, redone is redone, so you may as well make it look good.
I'll get some pics up ASAP.

It is chambered for 30-30, with a round barrel. Came with a Marbles rear tang site that accepts different apertures. The rifle was kind of grungy inside, and after I took it apart I was able to clean a lot of crud out of the action and out from under the wood. But aside from the finish issue and the mechanical issues I detailed, it is a pretty decent copy of an iconic rifle.

The bent/repaired firing pin was a surprise though - I didn't know about that when I made the deal. Still - I don't think I got hurt on the price, and I was figuring on refinishing the wood because of the sloppy varnish job. Just got cold feet, so thought I'd ask. Turns out, the cracked fore-arm may force my hand on the matter. The glue doesn't seem to be repairing the crack very well, so I may have to strip the wood to get a decent bond.
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Old 02-14-2017, 6:51 PM
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Some pictures for Trap..... bonus points if you can give a guess as to date of manufacture.

Notice that the wood is the right color/stain for a vintage Marlin, but someone over-coated it with varnish that is now crazed and lumpy. I was able to gently scrape the varnish off the metal using my thumb nail, so it looks a lot better now than it did when I got it. Notice also that the wood to metal fit is outstanding so apparently the wood hasn't been removed much if at all, and it wasn't sanded. In addition, the screws aren't too buggered up either, so that's a plus.















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Last edited by bigbossman; 02-14-2017 at 6:57 PM..
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Old 02-14-2017, 7:22 PM
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Someone may have put shellac over the original finish. To test for shellac try some alcohol on a rag and wipe a small area.

If that removes the finish just proceed with more alcohol. Some 0000 steel wool will be useful to help remove the sticky mess.

If you decide to strip and refinish do not sand the wood near the receiver as it will alter the wood to metal fit.

If it is not shellac then try acetone/nail polish remover and see if that works.

If the bad finish comes off just steel wool and oil to finish unless you want some shine then use BLO.

irh

Last edited by ironhorse1; 02-14-2017 at 7:25 PM..
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Old 02-14-2017, 8:19 PM
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Originally Posted by ironhorse1 View Post
Someone may have put shellac over the original finish. To test for shellac try some alcohol on a rag and wipe a small area.

If that removes the finish just proceed with more alcohol. Some 0000 steel wool will be useful to help remove the sticky mess.

If you decide to strip and refinish do not sand the wood near the receiver as it will alter the wood to metal fit.

If it is not shellac then try acetone/nail polish remover and see if that works.

If the bad finish comes off just steel wool and oil to finish unless you want some shine then use BLO.

irh

I think you're right about the varnish being applied over the original finish.

That being the case, your advice is very helpful as I would really like to preserve the original color/stain if possible, while removing the crappy varnish top coat. Thanks for the ideas!
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Last edited by bigbossman; 02-15-2017 at 8:29 AM..
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Old 02-14-2017, 9:13 PM
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Strip it - don't sand it - linseed oil.
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Old 02-14-2017, 9:34 PM
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I would strip the varnish off for sure. It will look much better once that has been removed.
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:28 PM
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I would leave it. That refinish is C&R.
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Old 02-15-2017, 2:54 AM
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Quote:
bonus points if you can give a guess as to date of manufacture.
1917 - 1918 is about as close as you'll get.
That might be varnish applied over an older oil finish. Original finish was hand rubbed varnish. Might explain why the glue didn't bond too, if the crack was already there when the finish was applied.
Before I stripped that mess off completely and started over, I would try some 0000 steel wool and mineral spirits to see if I could take the layers off without loosing the red patina underneath. I wouldn't bet on it, but it's worth the effort to see if you can. It'll be a gooey sticky mess when you start though.
If it looks hopeless, strip it to bare wood and bring it over, I can duplicate what it was suppose to look like.
Too bad sunlight and age fades the color case on the receivers, Marlin color case put Winchester's color case to shame. How they did it, is lost to history, but one man went on a mission to duplicate it, and I think he nailed it. Really long thread, but full of pics of originals and his results.
http://www.marlin-collectors.com/for...741406ab40d664
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Old 02-15-2017, 8:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRAP55 View Post
1917 - 1918 is about as close as you'll get.
That's a lot closer than I got on my own, using Google. Thanks!

Whoever applied the varnish didn't bother to take the wood off the rifle, so that's a plus..... the wood/metal fit is still very, very good. In fact, I tried to get the buttstock off after removing the tang screw, and it would not budge. I wonder just how much crud is in there..... . At least the trigger is crisp and light.

Good advice all around. I have several "pre-ban" solvents, thinners, mineral spirits, acetone, etc on hand from cruising swap meets over the years. I'll start giving them a try to see if anything softens up and dissolves that old varnish. I'd hate to lose the original reddish finish, but it is good to know that I have you in my back pocket in case I do.
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Last edited by bigbossman; 02-15-2017 at 8:42 AM..
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Old 02-15-2017, 8:10 PM
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Whoever applied the varnish didn't bother to take the wood off the rifle, so that's a plus..... the wood/metal fit is still very, very good. In fact, I tried to get the buttstock off after removing the tang screw, and it would not budge. I wonder just how much crud is in there
Probably not crud holding it on, it's the varnish!
See what works to soften the finish, then use that around the tangs to get the buttstock off. If you don't, you risk chipping the edges.
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Old 02-25-2017, 3:46 PM
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OK - so here's an update......

Mechanical:
I got the replacement firing pin and spring, and installed it. Working the action, I noticed that the hammer would occasionally fall when the bolt closed home.... basically a slam fire condition. I took the rifle completely apart, and detail cleaned every bit of baked on crud.... I mean, completely stripped it, to the pins. The hammer and trigger notches look OK, but the mainspring looks very much like someone did a "trigger job".... it is in the white with obvious grind marks and heat discoloration on the sides where it's been thinned. However, there was a lot of hard crud in every crevice and notch, and after detail cleaning, lubrication, and re-assembly, the issue seems to be resolved. I still think I would be wise to source another main spring.

Trap - any ideas?

Cosmetic:
Since the wood was off, I decided to see what I could do about the crappy varnishing job. Acetone softened it up, but it soon became apparent that it wasn't going to be a real pleasure to do. The gunk was too thick, and when the acetone started to evaporate the goo would reconstitute. In addition, it was very thick in some places, and removing the top layer revealed hidden drips and runs that were thicker still. What a mess.

I elected to strip it completely, down to bare wood. I won't tell you what I used because some of you will have kittens, but suffice it to say it worked very well...... but still took 3 applications with soft-scraping in between treatments. Lots and lots of thick, tar-like goo all over the place.

The wood is drying out now, and after it is nice and dry I'll use 0000 steel wool to get rid of any whiskers before refinishing. I haven't decided whether I'll just BLO it, or stain it first.
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Old 02-25-2017, 5:18 PM
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Use raw linseed oil-aka flaxseed oil. You'll get that deep red c&r patina back in a matter of weeks.

C'mon-what did you use to strip it. Easy-off oven cleaner, or what?
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Old 02-25-2017, 6:02 PM
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Tung oil. Formby's or some similar. Several layers with sanding in between. I finished a replacement '93 stock, and it looks very much like the original. You need to stain it the right shade first. Raw linseed will never dry, and the red tone is not correct for original Marlins..
Actually, after seeing the photo, rub some softened gunny paste and see what it loos like first.
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Old 02-25-2017, 6:33 PM
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You used ez-off, didn't you? I will have you know that every time somebody uses that on an antique gunstock, God kills a kitten.

To see what the wood will look like with an oil finish, just put some mineral spirits or bbq lighter fluid on it.

I have used linseed oil, and have not had it turn reddish brown, at least not yet. I used alcohol dye to do that, either Fiebings dark brown or Chestnut Ridge military stock stain. Brownells will have what you need for correct stain. Do not use regular stain from the hardware store, it has pigment that will cloud the finish.

If using tung oil, be advised that minwax and formby's are a tung oil finish, with varnish added, which is a superior product in many respects but it will not apply like straight oil. One or two coats and it is largely done.

Last edited by God Bless America; 02-25-2017 at 6:53 PM..
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Old 02-25-2017, 8:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
That's a lot closer than I got on my own, using Google. Thanks!

Whoever applied the varnish didn't bother to take the wood off the rifle, so that's a plus..... the wood/metal fit is still very, very good. In fact, I tried to get the buttstock off after removing the tang screw, and it would not budge. I wonder just how much crud is in there..... . At least the trigger is crisp and light.

Good advice all around. I have several "pre-ban" solvents, thinners, mineral spirits, acetone, etc on hand from cruising swap meets over the years. I'll start giving them a try to see if anything softens up and dissolves that old varnish. I'd hate to lose the original reddish finish, but it is good to know that I have you in my back pocket in case I do.
IF the year of manufacture is 1917-18, I wouldn't touch the finish. It may or may not be correct, but once it is refinished, the value could drop. Doesn't matter whether or not it is ugly etc.
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Old 02-26-2017, 11:23 AM
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IF the year of manufacture is 1917-18, I wouldn't touch the finish. It may or may not be correct, but once it is refinished, the value could drop. Doesn't matter whether or not it is ugly etc.
Quote:
In addition, it was very thick in some places, and removing the top layer revealed hidden drips and runs that were thicker still. What a mess.
That indicates more than one bubba refinish, it's overdue to be done right.
BBM, you can have clean hammer and sear notches, but have loose fitting pins that will cause it to jump the notches. Taking it apart for cleaning, and re-installing the pins so that the worn load bearing surfaces are indexed away from each other, can "temporarily" eliminated the problem.
Can't tell you anything for sure without a hands on.
BTW...I don't want to know how you stripped the wood. I have a good idea what you did, but not knowing for sure, absolves me from having to flog you with a cleaning rod. Give it plenty of time to dry or you won't get a finish on it that's worth a damn.
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Old 02-26-2017, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRAP55 View Post

Can't tell you anything for sure without a hands on......
So - when exactly are you available?
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Old 02-26-2017, 11:56 AM
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With the work schedule I've had lately, I haven't been available to check when I would be available. "Looks like" I "might" have FSS off this wkend. Fri or Sat would be good, I have a broken Stevens stock to finish stripping and figure out how I'm going to put the pieces back together. Call me Thurs afternoon.
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Old 02-26-2017, 1:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRAP55 View Post
With the work schedule I've had lately, I haven't been available to check when I would be available. "Looks like" I "might" have FSS off this wkend. Fri or Sat would be good, I have a broken Stevens stock to finish stripping and figure out how I'm going to put the pieces back together. Call me Thurs afternoon.
Will do.

I don't know if this is a useful clue, but it always happens just prior to the lever snapping closed behind the locking bolt. Never before, but just as it clicks and snaps closed.
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Old 02-26-2017, 7:58 PM
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Have you headspace checked it or made a cast of the chamber?
Those old Marlin 1893s are known to sometimes develop issues if too many hot loads were run through it.
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