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Restoring blued rifles
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February 29, 2024 - 1:57 pm
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I am new to this forum so please let me know if this is the correct place to pose this question:  I have two Winchester rifles–an 1873 Military Musket, cal 44-40 and an 1876 rifle w/octagonal barrel, cal 45-60.  They are both in excellent mechanical condition and stocks are very good but unfortunately they were blued about 60-65 years ago.  I know that bluing can be removed in several different ways but I wonder what condition that would return the rifles to and can they truly be “restored”?  Are there professionals that do this and do they disassemble the guns or simply do the removal with them assembled?  I live in MD and any references will be appreciated.

BTW I need to insure the rifles and am trying to gather valuations both in present and possibly “restored” condition.  Opinions and input welcome.

 

TIA–Michael O.

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February 29, 2024 - 1:59 pm
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I forgot to mention that I am missing some screws for the buttplate on the 76 as well as the sliding cover on the top of the receiver.  Is there a good source for these parts?

 

Best–Michael O

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February 29, 2024 - 11:34 pm
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Main problem isn’t the hot blue, it’s the polishing that preceded it (seldom done well)–no remedy for that, regrettably. 

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February 29, 2024 - 11:44 pm
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in two weeks is the Baltimore Antique Arms Show.. You can bring the rifle there and get some knowledgeable opinions.

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March 1, 2024 - 12:26 am
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clarence said
Main problem isn’t the hot blue, it’s the polishing that preceded it (seldom done well)–no remedy for that, regrettably. 

  

100% on that Clarence. Few and far between done without regrets!

 Rick C 

   

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March 1, 2024 - 12:34 am
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Michael,

There are guys that can do professional refinishing which is done with the gun disassembled but if the previous refinish was done wrong i.e. a buffing wheel it my not be worth it.  If you could post some pictures of the guns with closeups of the stampings since that is where you can see how the refinish was done.

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March 1, 2024 - 2:51 am
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Bob–

As a bit of explanation, I bought these two rifles about 60 years ago when I was very young and did not know enough at the time to realize that bluing them seriously decreased their value.  Obviously I should have left them in their original condition, which was not bad, and in fact the musket was still in what I call “cosmoline”.  

I’ll try to post some closeups of the sn’s and other markings tomorrow but I wonder if having them disassembled, etc. would be an exercise in futility and simply throwing good money after bad….

Best–Michael

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March 1, 2024 - 4:42 am
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Michael,

You would not take them apart. If you were to have them reblued, the guy doing the rebluing would do that. Once we can see what condition they are in now then we can tell you if its worth while or not to do anything to them. With you being a guest you can’t post pictures on this site directly. You would have to post them to a third party picture hosting site and then post the link to them in your post or you can email the picture to me at the below address and I can post them.

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March 1, 2024 - 3:55 pm
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Michael-

It’s only original once, as they say. OTOH well-used guns were often refinished as normal maintenance, done correctly several decades ago they may pass as original today. Many collectors today enjoy guns that have been refinished or altered, they’re often more affordable and fun to shoot. Even if over-polished the barrel can be restored to the original type finish and the lettering re-stamped but restorers often replace the barrel. Receivers can have their original contours restored and numbers and lettering re-stamped. Small parts and wood can be replaced. It just takes money but it won’t ever be worth as much as a high condition original to the traditional collector.

We haven’t seen pics yet but from your description I’m thinking you have some pretty cool Winchesters, enjoy!

 

Mike

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March 1, 2024 - 4:10 pm
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Mike–

 

Thanks for your thoughts and I will be posting good shots of the sn’s and barrel stampings later.

Right now the two pieces–the 1873 musket (complete with triangular bayonet) and 1876 rifle are mounted prominently to the wall over my fireplace mantle.  Probably not the best place to store them despite not using the fireplace more than a few times a year here in temperate Southern Maryland.

My issue is what to do with the guns.  I’m 81 and though I am in good health one just never know.  My daughter would have no use for the guns and my son, who might possibly want one or both, lives in BC, Canada and though he is moving to CA he’ll be living in a rented home for a couple of years until he reestablishes himself and his kids there.

So I don’t know whether to keep the guns and give them to my “Partner” along with the house when I pass or sell them (or perhaps donate them to a museum) and if so should I try to restore them to maximize their value-yada yada yada.

Life is filled with so many issues but these are what I call “fancy problems”.  In any case check back later for some photos.

Best–Michael

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March 1, 2024 - 4:27 pm
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Michael-

I share your concerns about a lack of suitable heirs. A museum will most likely not be interested in a restored gun. I’m only 64 but I’d respectfully suggest you enjoy your Winchesters any way you can for as long as you can. 

 

Mike

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March 1, 2024 - 5:08 pm
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Michael Oritt said
Mike–

 

 or sell them (or perhaps donate them to a museum) and if so should I try to restore them to maximize their value-yada yada yada.
Life is filled with so many issues but these are what I call “fancy problems”.  In any case check back later for some photos.

Best–Michael

  

  Restore them to maximize their value is not practical. Money spent on restore will not be realized when sold. A restored gun donated to a museum will just be sold cheap and the money used to run the museum.

 Get your guns appraised by posting pictures on the Forum and give the appraisal and the phone number of the auction house of your choice to your heir. If your heir has no  interest in collector guns they can donate the money at your request or keep it.

                                                                          T/R

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March 1, 2024 - 5:17 pm
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Non original guns
I’d just sell them as they are right now…..done

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March 1, 2024 - 5:22 pm
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Michael Oritt said should I try to restore them to maximize their value-yada yada yada. 

Money thrown away.  Easiest solution, pass final disposition of them on to your son; what diff does a rented house make?  If he refuses, you could easily sell them yourself on-line if they’re pre-1899 antiques, which they probably are.  Both these models are highly collectable, & would be of interest to folks who can’t afford such pieces in original cond.   I’m facing your problem exactly, but without the son as a possible remedy!

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March 1, 2024 - 9:34 pm
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Thanks for the last several replies–I suspected I was going to hear that I should simply sell them.  Or perhaps I’ll just leave them in place over the mantle and let them go with the house to my partner–She likes the way they look and it will then be her concern.

Sorry for newbie questions but I’ve tried to attach or insert a picture of the serial number on the 1873 musket and after I click on “Insert/edit image I am not able to either drag the pic into the box or enter its name as saved on my computer.  Is there a tutorial somewhere telling me how to post an image?  

The sn on the 73 musket is on the tang–481412P–just aft of the lever but I cannot find any lettering on either the receiver or barrel.  As to the 76 rifle I can find nothing at all and perhaps all the detail is obscured as a result of either polishing or bluing.

Best–Michael O  

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March 1, 2024 - 9:56 pm
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Michael Oritt said
 

Sorry for newbie questions but I’ve tried to attach or insert a picture of the serial number on the 1873 musket and after I click on “Insert/edit image I am not able to either drag the pic into the box or enter its name as saved on my computer.  Is there a tutorial somewhere telling me how to post an image?  

Best–Michael O  

Please read this for the answer to your question concerning posting pictures – Forum Rules and FAQs | Forum | Winchester CollectorWinchester Collector

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March 1, 2024 - 11:39 pm
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Michael Oritt said
Mike–

 

Thanks for your thoughts and I will be posting good shots of the sn’s and barrel stampings later.

Right now the two pieces–the 1873 musket (complete with triangular bayonet) and 1876 rifle are mounted prominently to the wall over my fireplace mantle.  Probably not the best place to store them despite not using the fireplace more than a few times a year here in temperate Southern Maryland.

My issue is what to do with the guns.  I’m 81 and though I am in good health one just never know.  My daughter would have no use for the guns and my son, who might possibly want one or both, lives in BC, Canada and though he is moving to CA he’ll be living in a rented home for a couple of years until he reestablishes himself and his kids there.

So I don’t know whether to keep the guns and give them to my “Partner” along with the house when I pass or sell them (or perhaps donate them to a museum) and if so should I try to restore them to maximize their value-yada yada yada.

Life is filled with so many issues but these are what I call “fancy problems”.  In any case check back later for some photos.

Best–Michael

  

 

IMO, your best bet is to identify now who will be the best recipient and care for/love them, and speak to them about the process, value, etc. NOW. Then write your wills or trusts to help them take ownership when you’re gone. Nothing brings out the worst in families other than death…at least I see that in all my friends and relatives. Passing them down to someone who will love them would mean so much to the right person, and that may not be your son or a family member at all. I wish I had just one gun from all my parents and grandparents who are gone….it would mean so much to me. In my line of work, I see a lot of unpredicted death, and it leaves an absolute mess for those cleaning up behind…

 

On a happier side note  🙂  I’d also love to see pics and vote for leaving the guns as is.

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March 2, 2024 - 1:35 am
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Jeremy–

Wonderful advice and I am in the process of writing a new will–hence my questions, etc.

I have no siblings and most of my friends are not only my age but they are not gun owners, nor are my children.  OTOH my partner, while not into antique guns, likes the esthetic appearance of the two Winchesters and she will be willing to care for them, so I think I will simply pass them to her as is.  Also she has had experience with handguns and I am giving her my Manhurin P4, the postwar French 7/8 scale version of the Walther P38, which is a very nice weapon for a woman who does not have small hands.  

Back to the pics of the Winchesters–I attempted to post one as per the Forum instructions but when it came to “right-clicking ‘ on the image I could not proceed as I have a Mac and do not know how to do the equivalent of a right-click on it.  However, Terez–my partner–does, and I will set her to the task tomorrow. 

Again, thanks for the considered advice.  In my earlier years I practiced law and though I did not do too much Estate work I did enough to understand just how petty people can be when it comes to money and stuff.

Best–Michael

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March 2, 2024 - 1:38 am
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Email me the pic and I will post them.

Bob

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March 2, 2024 - 2:56 am
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Bob–

Done–please check your email.

Best–Michael O

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