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Inherited model 1892 - how to preserve
February 10, 2013
11:33 am
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Hi all,

I'm new to this list. I recently inherited a Winchester model 1892 chambered in .25-20. The story behind it is that my dad built a house in the 1960s that we lived in until we moved to the country. When we moved out, my grandparents, who were from northern California, moved in. They lived in the house for ten years, and when they moved out my dad discovered the rifle, along with a Savage model 1899 in .303 Savage in the attic. They weren't his, but my grandpa claimed he had never seen them before either. So their provenance is a bit of a mystery.

Anyway, I ended up with the Winchester and my brother got the Savage. The Winchester is serial number 273037, which means it was made in 1904. It is not in the greatest condition; the receiver has turned about 75% brown, and the barrel probably has 25-25% of the blueing left, and has a bit of honest rust where it meets the forestock. The forestock has two partial cracks near the barrel. The buttstock has a fairly deep gouge on one side. But the action cycles smoothly.

For a while I thought I would have the rifle restored (rebluend and wood refinished), but after reading the threads on this blog I think I've changed my mind. But my question is, what should I do to preserve the rifle? What kind of cleaning should I have done, and who can I send it to who would inspect it, and do whatever gunsmithing that could be done to it without destroying its history? If possible, I'd like to bring it back to shooting condition. I don't plan to shoot it a lot, but I would like to shoot it at least a few times.

Thanks for your opinion.

February 10, 2013
1:09 pm
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I would take the gun to a gunsmith just to get it mechanically checked out but do not let him try cleaning it up. Don't let him replace any parts that will show from the outside. Post some good pictures of it here so we can see what your dealing with as for finish and give you a course of action. In the mean time just wipe down the metal with oil.

Bob

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February 10, 2013
5:50 pm
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Here are some pictures. Not that I'm ever going to sell it, but I'm also curious if anyone has an idea what it is worth.


8462683185_047df9477e_z.jpgImage Enlarger

You can see the rust on the barrel just above the forestock, and the small crack in the forestock towards the left-hand side of the picture.

8463782624_cd19c3a8fe_z.jpgImage Enlarger

The receiver is turning brown...

8462683341_24101f37e1_z.jpgImage Enlarger

There's a bigger crack on the other side of the forestock.

8462722299_6be366a74b_b.jpgImage Enlarger

The lettering is readable but not perfect, and it looks like there's a screw missing. Several of the screw heads appear to be slightly damaged similar to this one.

February 10, 2013
6:08 pm
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Hello Glen,

Your 1904 vintage sporting rifle is definitely in rough condition. If you would like the exact day on which the receiver was serialized you can contact the Cody Firearms Museum. Usually the rifle was fully assembled and in the Winchester warehouse after a few weeks of the serialization date. They can also prepare a "Factory Letter" specific to your rifle. It will contain the date the rifle entered and was later shipped from the Winchester warehouse and the original configuration of the gun. An example is shown below. http://www.bbhc.org/explore/firearms/firearms-records/
[Image Can Not Be Found]

The tang stamp on your rifle is interesting in that by this serial number range almost all receivers have a different style of stamp on them. There are two small groups of rifles with this style, which has no periods after the 1892 and the 1884 dates. You are correct that the forward tang screw is missing.

Could you please post a photo of the caliber stamp and the barrel address stamp? The rifle is far below what most of us collectors here would be looking for. The amount of surface rust and the cracked fore end wood will definitely put the gun into the rough shooter and parts category. I would think you would have difficulty getting $500 for it.

Michael

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February 10, 2013
6:25 pm
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I have never dealt with one that ruff. I don't think you have much to loose in cleaning it up. I use 0000 steel wool and oil to clean rust off, so people use brass wool to help protect the remaining finish but I think your going to need the steel wool.

Bob

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February 10, 2013
6:34 pm
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Sure. Here's the caliber stamp:

8463940140_ca47144d20_b.jpgImage Enlarger

and here's the address stamp:

8462839997_8470f9b077_b.jpgImage Enlarger

I guess I'm not surprised at the value. Maybe having it refinished wouldn't be such a bad thing after all?

February 10, 2013
7:03 pm
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Having it refinished to the point it will be worth more will cost you a lot of money. Having it refinished on the cheap, it will never be worth any more than it is now except you spent money.

Bob

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February 10, 2013
7:17 pm
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Not really in it for the money... I just plain like the old girl, and I'd like to see her looking proud again. She's been mistreated for a long time. And even though I don't exactly know the provenance, I think the most likely thing was that she belonged to my great grandfather, which would make her something of a family heirloom.

On the other hand, I've gotten really different quotes for "refurbishing" it. Turnbull told me $4000-$5000. I'm sure I would get a beautiful rifle back from them, but I don't have $4000, or anything near it. I've had others tell me, depending on what I had done, around $300-$400 to reblue it and maybe another $300-$400 to refinish the wood.

What is "cheap" in this context? Would a $300 reblueing job be shoddy?

February 10, 2013
7:24 pm
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Glen,

The barrel is not original to the rifle. Having the caliber stamp and barrel address both on the left side of the barrel did not occur until approximately 200,000 rifles after yours was manufactured. Is there a proof stamp on the top flat of the barrel?

I think it would take a fair amount of buffing to remove all of the rust and that would result in most of the stamped writing being very shallow, removed, or having a newly blued gun with a pitted surface. All of those options are not so good.

Michael

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February 10, 2013
7:40 pm
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Cheap is less than $1000, it entails sanding and buffing but will still have rust pits and all the corners and screw holes will be rounded off, stampings will be sanded thin or smeared from buffing. The bluing color will be wrong, probable more black than blue. The wood will still have the cracks in them. The mechanics of the gun will not of been fixed.

A refinish job for $3500 or more will get you a new barrel, tube and wood. The receiver will be nicely sanded down to remove all rust pits or welded up if too deep and stamps will be rehit as needed. The bluing color will be closer to Winchester color than the cheap route. The internal will have been gone through to bring it back to a solid functional gun that will shoot.

I would clean the gun off yourself to get a more smooth metal finish and live with it as is.

Bob

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February 10, 2013
7:45 pm
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There are in fact two oval proof marks on the top of the barrel just in front of the receiver. I can't make out what they are. If it's important I will post a picture tomorrow.

Interesting about the barrel. I wish I knew more about her history.

"I would clean the gun off yourself to get a more smooth metal finish and live with it as is. "

Good advice... I certainly don't have $1000 to throw at it. Guess I still need to ship it to the gunsmith to have the internals looked at.

February 10, 2013
7:48 pm
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Glen,

One of the proof stamps is the superposed W/P and the other is a single P in an oval. This indicates the barrels was sold, and replaced outside of the Winchester factory.

Michael

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February 10, 2013
8:22 pm
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One good thing to do is to disassemble and lightly remove any areas of rust. There can be further rusting and other issues underneath the wood and between certain parts.

Sincerely,
Maverick

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February 11, 2013
10:45 am
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Glen, if you’re mechanically inclined and want to try cleaning the rifle up some yourself, you could pick up a copy of Gunsmithing Guns of the Old West by David Chicoine. Read through it and see if the work is beyond your capabilities. If not, go for it.
Looks like you’ll need some 000 steel wool and make sure it’s well oil soaked. Sometimes they look pretty good just cleaning them up. You’ll also need Brownells Acraglas to repair the stock. A lot of the heaver rust caking can be cut off with a sharp X-ACTO razor then clean it up again with the oiled steel wool. Clean the wood with a wood cleaner and see if you like what how it turns out. I was at a gun show this weekend and a guy was telling me to try a wood cleaner called Amazing, sold at Dollar Tree. That book explains a lot of this and gives step by step disassembly of your rifle. You might like it not reblued. The rule of thumb is to not get over aggressive. It looks like a good project rifle.
Gene Laugh
PS. Good screwdrivers are very important.

February 11, 2013
1:06 pm
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That's great info - I am somewhat mechanically inclined, but have never done any gunsmithing before. As it happens I've been emailing David Chicoine (Jr?) about this particular gun. I think I'll give it a try. Knowing that the gun has little monetary value makes me less skittish about working on it.

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