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  #1  
Old 02-26-2013, 5:03 PM
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Default Refinishing while preserving "historical" value

So I just refinished my '59 Chinese SKS (pictures to come soon in a later thread) and it got me to thinking, what's the general rule of thumb when it comes to refinishing C&R's while preserving whatever antique/historical value they may have? I went to town on the SKS and fully stripped and sanded it down giving it a custom stain because it's never gonna be worth more than the material anyway (plus it's a damn fine shooter), but I would hate to ruin the eventual Russian I come across while attempting to restore it.
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Old 02-26-2013, 5:08 PM
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Everyone has their own opinion..

Here's mine:
Don't do it unless really necessary.
Don't sand / sand as little as possible.
Use correct original finish.
Don't reblue.
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Old 02-26-2013, 5:18 PM
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"Refinishing while preserving "historical" value" = Oxymoron
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Old 02-26-2013, 5:19 PM
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It's impossible to preserve historical value if you refinish anything. It also hurts actual monetary value as well. Learn how to stop active rust (Kroil), gently clean wood stocks (wipe down with damp rag) and leave it the hell alone.

In 20 years when other Chinese SKS's are worth 4 times what your refinished one is, you might be kicking yourself.
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Old 02-26-2013, 6:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Fate View Post
It's impossible to preserve historical value if you refinish anything. It also hurts actual monetary value as well. Learn how to stop active rust (Kroil), gently clean wood stocks (wipe down with damp rag) and leave it the hell alone.

In 20 years when other Chinese SKS's are worth 4 times what your refinished one is, you might be kicking yourself.
Well said!!

In addition by "refinishing" a military firearm you kill it's collector and monetary value.

Now with that said the more "Bubbas" there are butchering their guns the more valuable my original firearms become.

So do as you please, but recognize in ten to twenty years when you go to sell your "improved" rifle many many collectors will not even give it a look, because to them it's of little or no collector value.
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Old 02-26-2013, 6:47 PM
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Maybe I should've clarified that the current project is strictly a shooter for that reason with no intention to sell. The whole reason for this post was to know how to deal with anything in the future not meant for heavy use.
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Old 02-26-2013, 7:26 PM
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It's a personal decision. Looks vs value. There is a price to pay for a good looking anything - be it rifle, car or girlfriend. I have refinished (wood only) $100 Mosins. They look great. They feel great. I get compliments. I personally like shooting a good looking rifle. I have no intention of selling. CA will probably take it away eventually anyway. In the meantime, it's more enjoyable for me. If I take a beating down the line on my hundred dollar Mosin, I'll be too old to care.
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Old 02-26-2013, 7:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fate View Post
It's impossible to preserve historical value if you refinish anything. It also hurts actual monetary value as well. Learn how to stop active rust (Kroil), gently clean wood stocks (wipe down with damp rag) and leave it the hell alone.

In 20 years when other Chinese SKS's are worth 4 times what your refinished one is, you might be kicking yourself.
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Originally Posted by SVT-40 View Post
Well said!!

In addition by "refinishing" a military firearm you kill it's collector and monetary value.

Now with that said the more "Bubbas" there are butchering their guns the more valuable my original firearms become.

So do as you please, but recognize in ten to twenty years when you go to sell your "improved" rifle many many collectors will not even give it a look, because to them it's of little or no collector value.
They beat me to it^^

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Originally Posted by Gutter View Post
Maybe I should've clarified that the current project is strictly a shooter for that reason with no intention to sell. The whole reason for this post was to know how to deal with anything in the future not meant for heavy use.
Not to be harsh, but you'll die eventually. That SKS will more than likely outlive us all. Preservationists are about preserving history not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
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  #9  
Old 02-26-2013, 9:00 PM
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The solution is so ridiculously simple. Buy SKS. Buy stupid Tapco plastic abomination. Insert SKS action and barrel. Take supposedly hideous Chinese SKS stock, insert in storage bag and hide in attic or closet. Bubba-fied SKS to satisfy you and all you have to do is insert the action and barrel back into it and voila! Historically accurate untouched SKS. I agree with the others about collector and historical value. Don't buy C&Rs to refinish them. At the very least, keep the original stock and then buy a replacement you can test your nascent wood refinishing skills on. These are pieces of history, even our $99.00 Big 5 Mosins.

That said, I bought a Hungarian M44 this year that somebody sanded down and coated with Devil's Snot, inserted sling swivels and inexplicably painted the brass sling ferrules black. Totally Bubba'd. I would have much rather had the rifle untouched but the metal was pristine and it is a GREAT shooter, but it will never be worth much to a collector. I also bought a bunch of other correct Russian M44s to make up for the Bubba'd one.
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:15 AM
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"Refinishing to preserve "historical" value..." is like "f**king to preserve virginity".

And any Russian SKS you might come across, just like the Chinese SKS you just ruined, doesn't need "restoring".

Stripping, sanding, staining, and slopping on a thick shiny coat of pig snot is about as bad as it gets, unless you also coat the metal with that hideous, ugly, vile, nasty, disgusting, heavy metal toxic waste jokingly referred to as "cold blue", that looks like last week's dog crap and stinks like a diseased tom cat pizzed all over a pile of rotten eggs.

Last edited by Marcus von W.; 02-27-2013 at 11:20 AM..
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:30 AM
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I love your way with words Marcus, you never disappoint ;-)
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StephanieLynn View Post
"Refinishing while preserving "historical" value" = Oxymoron
Yup - Kinda of like "Jumbo-Shrimp"

Seriously; the question you have ask yourself; Am I going to keep it or are you planning to sell it somewhere down da road? If you're going to keep it, then refinnish it (although you might regret it later). If you're planning to sell it in the future; forgertaboutit! Don'ta toucha thinga! Kapish?
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:44 AM
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IMO, Shootability > Collector value

That being said, the only two stocks I ever refinished actually needed it. One had some ugly *** thick varnish and the other one had no actual finish left.

If I had any "rules" about it, I'd say do it with good taste and don't half *** the job.


I have used BLO and Tru-Oil. They both worked great for their respective applications.
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Old 02-27-2013, 12:28 PM
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I had a long post all typed up, then I lost it. Damn you internets!!!

Here was the jist of it:

When I first started collecting C&Rs, I liked to restore them especially since they were mostly rack grade CMP rebuilds. They are non-correct arsenal rebuilds with non matching parts and in many cases non matching wood. They were ugly and stocks were dinged up; an M1 restored by DGR Guns looks and shoots much nicer.

The older I get, the more I appreciate all original guns. Because even if it was rebuilt from a parts bin in a government armory during 1955, that in and of itself is a historical aspect of the guns life. But even still, I am on both sides of the fence depending on the circumstances.

So now I still personally think restoring is okay as long as it follows these guidelines:

Guns are meant to be shot. If you want to shoot it, and its not shootable, restore it to the point that it can shoot.

-If there is basically no finish left what so ever, reblue it
-If the stock is basically rotted away, put a new stock on it
-If the barrel is rusted out, re-barrel it

If it is 70, 80, 90%+ condition with a good bore, just leave it alone because you're wasting money.

Few of us here have enough money to buy a pristine example of every gun on our wish list. Sure it would be nice to own an unissued war-era M1 Garand. Ain't gonna happen though!

-There are rich enough collectors or museums that have already beaten you to it anyways. If you want to see a perfect example go to a gun museum, they are in the business of collecting much nicer rifles than you can ever dream to own. And they have the capital to do it.
-If I do happen to find myself with enough funds to buy my dream gun (an unissued 1911 in the box with papers) I would never be able to shoot it. I would immediately ruin it's value. And why the hell would I own a gun I couldn't shoot? I don't have enough money to buy one for show and one for shooting. Try explaining that to the wife!

However, if a gun is in mint or near mint condition, I generally don't think its appropriate to restore it because there is nothing to restore. But generally speaking, if the gun is less than 70% condition I think a partial or full restoration is in order.

Also, if a gun is a unique or one of a kind it should never be restored. That is basically a museum piece that you want to put behind glass. I would never "restore" Teddy Roosevelt's Colt SAA no matter what.
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Last edited by Army GI; 02-27-2013 at 12:47 PM..
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:59 AM
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I guess you learn something even when you are being crucified. Thanks for all the thoughts and info. I'll be sure to stay away from stain and sandpaper on anything I can't stand to lose or am actively trying to collect. It seems like cleaning and preservation would be a more acceptable approach than full on restoration or refinish.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:23 PM
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Well like I said, it's all a matter of opinion.

Unless you own some sort of one-of-a-kind gun or a mint condition un-issued service rifle, I don't see any problem with restoring. It is an inanimate object, afterall. One of millions.

But restoring, IMHO, means professionally not something you do in your garage.

Check out Turnbull Restorations at http://www.turnbullmfg.com/. His work dramatically increases the value of guns that are otherwise of mediocre value.

Here is a little quote from their site that I kinda agree with:

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When someone asks if restoration will affect the value of the firearm, remind them that The Statue of Liberty, The Washington Monument, The Star Spangled Banner and The Charter of Freedom (Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence) have all undergone restoration efforts. Does restoring these pieces of American history diminish their value or significance in our country's history?

We hope the original gun makers would be proud to see these guns being preserved for future generations. The craftsmen at Turnbull Mfg. Co. are dedicated to continuing the great gun making tradition in this country.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Army GI View Post
Well like I said, it's all a matter of opinion.
Right on. That's why I really appreciated you post prior to mine because I want to shoot my guns and enjoy working on them. From the onset, I was trying to get information on how to properly care for/restore/preserve/whatever a gun that may be one of a kind or have significant value. Looking back, titling the post with "historical" value may have been a poor choice as just about everything has that be it a $300 or $3000 gun.

Good call on Turnbull site.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:57 PM
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I have but one C and R. It's a Springfiled Garand I bought as a barreled receiver. The finish on the receiver was GONE, not worn, nor going, but it looked like someone bead blasted it, the only places there was any finish was in the engraving and along sharp corners.

I made it up into a mixmaster, the barrel was good, I bought a new gas system, most of the rest was used but good condition. It's one of 6 million Garands, fairly early production, but othewise unremarkable in any way. I knew I was going to shoot this, that's why I bought it.

When I got all the parts, I had it parkerized. Professionally. I put a beater stock on it, Italian surplus, but now I am putting a Boyds thin profile on that I am finishing this week.

I even posted a thread about it, and the consensus was that as it was a barreled action and not a complete weapon, there was virtually no collectibility value other than it is a Garand. I have no interest in combing through parts to try to get a perfect SPringfield, and, honeslty, that is actually anti historical, as my understanding is, historically, almost every Garand got a rebuild with whatever parts were on hand.

http://calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=62306

I now have a refinished rifle that looks fantastic, brand new really, and that I will shoot with pride.

And I am certain that it's worth way more than I paid for it now. Not that that enters into my thinking, but in terms of reduced value, I don't think it's accurate here.
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Old 02-28-2013, 1:11 PM
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Dont attempt to restore a less then perfect Russian SKS if you think you could not sleep at night or be chastised but hysterical collectors.
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Old 02-28-2013, 1:18 PM
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Look at the Turnbull site... All commercial long guns which have a "commercial" finish, so restoring a commercial finish to a used firearm is a legitimate endeavor.

Much different than Military firearms which through use gain legitimate marks and scars directly related to their history. Removing the marks and scars removes the history, and turns it into just another commercial firearm.

Just because a military firearm has a rough stock, or lacks some of it's finish does not decrease it's ability to shoot accurately or reliably. If you refinish it the rifles accuracy or reliability will not change, but you will alter it's historical value.

There is really no "up side" to refinishing a military firearm. It does not increase accuracy. It does not increase reliability, and it does not enhance value.

So why do it?

Some say that these rifles are so common that it does not matter. Thats just a short sighted view. Many in the 50's, 60's, 70's ect thought the same thing about German and Japanese WWII rifles. Today original un-messed with examples are worth thousands of dollars. Similar rifles which have been altered are worth hundreds less.

SKS rifles in particular are very collectable in original condition. They will only become more and more collectable as the years go by. This latest batch, which your is a part of is a specified group, and as such many collectors will seek these out to add to their collections. "improving" them by refinishing will only drop the value of your rifle in comparison to other unmolested examples.

The best policy related to the care and maintenance of military firearms is "do no harm".
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:51 AM
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^+

I hate having Museum taste and a beer budget but as has been said... 20 yrs into the future todays splinter pile may turn into tomorrows treasure.... maybe.


To a collector you are creating a filler. It just fills the hole in a collection for awhile and is a much less expensive item that may be used as a shooter, parts or trade after the upgrade is found to fill in the collection with the real deal.

So I guess the future beer budget collectors of the world... will thank you.
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Old 03-01-2013, 5:42 PM
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First and foremost : no sandpaper
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Old 03-01-2013, 9:12 PM
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Quote:
There is really no "up side" to refinishing a military firearm. It does not increase accuracy. It does not increase reliability, and it does not enhance value.

So why do it?

I disagree. If the finish is bad, a new finish on metal or wood would better protect the firearm from the elements. This is the sole reason that I've refinished stocks. And also, this is the reason why there was a finish on a military weapon in the first place.

Personally, I don't think that sanding away a stock or rebluing the metal or something like that takes away from the historical value. That Enfield or Mauser or whatever still went to whatever battlefield and was carried by so and so. You can never change that. Just because that Mauser receiver now houses a .308 barrel and is tapped for glass doesn't mean it lost its role in Verdun or the Somme or wherever.

To me it seems like that a long time ago, some collectors decided that refinishing old guns was "bad" and so it caught on. Just like how someone decided that hex receivers were "better." IDK, I think 6mmintl is on to something. Some historical collectors really can get hysterical.


IMO, shooting is too fun and life is too short to get wrapped up in hysterics.
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Old 03-02-2013, 9:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rojocorsa View Post
I disagree. If the finish is bad, a new finish on metal or wood would better protect the firearm from the elements. This is the sole reason that I've refinished stocks. And also, this is the reason why there was a finish on a military weapon in the first place.

Personally, I don't think that sanding away a stock or rebluing the metal or something like that takes away from the historical value. That Enfield or Mauser or whatever still went to whatever battlefield and was carried by so and so. You can never change that. Just because that Mauser receiver now houses a .308 barrel and is tapped for glass doesn't mean it lost its role in Verdun or the Somme or wherever.

To me it seems like that a long time ago, some collectors decided that refinishing old guns was "bad" and so it caught on. Just like how someone decided that hex receivers were "better." IDK, I think 6mmintl is on to something. Some historical collectors really can get hysterical.


IMO, shooting is too fun and life is too short to get wrapped up in hysterics.
This pretty wraps up my feelings on the subject in a much more eloquent way.
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