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Receiver bluing flaking problem on Winchesters
July 20, 2013
5:36 am
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I have forgotten some things here about the flaking problems on Winchester receivers. I think it started around 1915 or so, but have forgotton how long it went on. I would like to know pretty exact dates if someone out there has them and what model guns it affected. I have started looking at some old Winchester 22 pumps and was wondering if it affected any of them. Also, did this flaking problem affect the receivers depending on how hard they were used...ie...more use, more flaking? If that is so, would a gun in pretty mint shape of the era of flaking receivers not be flaked? This time I will write it down in my notes. Thanks, Peter

July 20, 2013
8:56 am
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I would defer this question to Bert. I think he has researched this problem. In my collection, I have a near mint M94 Eastern Carbine # 1066205, no XXX's, PR date, 5-23-1930. The receiver is badly flaked ruining a real nice carbine. It would appear that many of the guns from the early to late 30's have some sort of flaking, but I also have a 1902 vintage M1892 rifle that has flaked and the rifle is a 99%er without the flaking. That hurts. 100% case colors and bright blue loading gate and a spotted receiver.Still, they bring good $$$$. I think many collectors have these guns in their collections perhaps as maybe there is a shortage of of the really high condition types, and of course they are cheaper. I am the proud owner of a very early M1894 takedown(1903), in 32 WS that is a good 95% overall. I hope it doesn't sit in the safe and change color. Big Larry

July 20, 2013
10:15 am
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Thanks for sharing Big Larry. You are probably correct in that Bert will have the answers here. Peter

July 30, 2013
8:56 pm
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Peter,

The more use the more flaking. A mint gun in the era of flaking would not be flaked.

mentallapse

July 30, 2013
9:36 pm
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I just picked a 26 vintage 1894 with a 98%barrel and mag but the receiver is 80% because of flaking.

July 31, 2013
4:43 am
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In my view use and handling of a Winchester causes normal wear to the blue, but does not cause flaking. I see the flaking as a chemical reaction of the carbonia style blue with the receiver metal, probably related to higher nickel content. The flaking comes off the blue in jagged edge patterns, nothing like normal wear patterns. Sure, if a gun gets used more, is out in the elements, undergoes temperature changes, and above all is left dry with no oil, those use factors do indirectly promote flaking. But do not directly cause flaking.

The one 1892 I have owned for over 50 years flaked from 95% blue to 30% blue while stored and not used at all. It was kept dead dry and wrapped in cloth, in a closet and left untouched for many years. (The gun was in the custody of a non gun person for many years, I did not do this to it.)

July 31, 2013
7:13 am
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mentallapse said
Put this in your notes. The more use the more flaking. A mint gun in the era of flaking would not be flaked.

I am not sure this is true. I purchased a Model 53 from Merz Antiques. I could not find any evidence that it had ever been fired. Barrel blue was 100%. The finish on the stocks appeared to have absolutely zero wear. The blueing under the receiver at the carry point was 100% and showed zero evidence of it ever having been carried. Nevertheless, there was some significant patches of flaking on the receiver. The patches had crisp, sharp edges, not blended edges from wear.

In general, flaking leaves crisp, clear edges. Also, I have also found that the entire Model 53 range is extremely susceptible to flaking (1924 to somewhere in the early 1930's).

July 31, 2013
8:49 am
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I too have seen mint, unused guns that have flaked. One was a M12 Trenchgun from WW2 and that is well after the bluing changes were made. As I stated in my first post, my 1930 M94 has seen very little usage, if any, and it has flaked badly. Big Larry

July 31, 2013
12:19 pm
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Here is an example of flaking. This receiver (serialed in 1929) is not a mint one, but it still illustrates a key attribute of Winchester flaking .... sharp distinct edges as opposed to the graduated faded edges due to wear.

Flaking_zps65865f98.jpgImage Enlarger

July 31, 2013
2:02 pm
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If that is a 44 WCF, it is double troubling. Big Larry

July 31, 2013
2:52 pm
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Big Lary, it is a Model 53, 32 WCF.

August 2, 2013
8:40 am
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My BIL took his unmolested M53 in 44 WCF to the Reno gun show to have it looked over. No spotting on it, in fact the rifle appeared to be drippy mint. He showed the rifle to a very high end expert and got some bad news. The rifle had been professionally restored. Bad news to a guy who would never buy a reblued gun. I myself thought he had gotten a great deal at $4,500, but I had some concerns and asked him to bring the rifle to the show. He probably wishes he hadn't now. I guess the best thing to do with a flaked rifle is to live with it. Much better than a restoration, I think. Big Larry

August 2, 2013
1:33 pm
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I heartily agree, Big Larry. I would much rather have an original Model 53. I am sorry to hear about your friend and, especially, what he paid for his Model 53. In building my Model 53 database, I have seen quite a few restored and reblued Model 53's. If you see a mint Model 53 with no flaking, take a very close look. There may be some out there, but it would have to be under highly unusual conditions. The blueing on an original high condition Model 53 should look almost black under normal room lighting. If the colour is a bright blue it has been reblued.

By the way, I have also been noting actual sale prices of higher end Model 53's. A mint completely honest and original Model 53 chambered in 44 WCF would be a steal at $4,500. A refinished one would be worth closer to $500 in my opinion.

I sold my 44 WCF Model 53 but I now conclude that I was out of my mind. I would buy it back in a heart beat if the fellow I sold it to would part with it. Completely honest original Model 53's chambered in 44 WCF are very difficult to find.

August 2, 2013
7:58 pm
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pday said
I have forgotten some things here about the flaking problems on Winchester receivers. I think it started around 1915 or so, but have forgotton how long it went on. I would like to know pretty exact dates if someone out there has them and what model guns it affected. I have started looking at some old Winchester 22 pumps and was wondering if it affected any of them. Also, did this flaking problem affect the receivers depending on how hard they were used...ie...more use, more flaking? If that is so, would a gun in pretty mint shape of the era of flaking receivers not be flaked? This time I will write it down in my notes. Thanks, Peter

Peter,

The flaking problem as shown by Win38-55's picture is very representative of this problem. I have an 1890 that dates back to 1928 that has the same problem.

James

August 3, 2013
12:25 am
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Perhaps a quarter century ago, before the niceties of the Internet and the genuine fingertip expertise such as found in this forum, I purchased a 'clean' Model 53 in 44-40. Only many years later I began to suspect it was reblued, which it is. Quite a decent job of it except for some perhaps inevitably slight 'softening' of the factory nomenclature which should otherwise be crisp. To my inexpert view, the work could clearly have been Winchester factory; but presumably never to know. Anyway the work appeared 'class' and perhaps accomplished in response to flaking. I assume also that it was likely performed at a time when "professional restoration" was not in the Winchester collector vocabulary in respect of an 'ordinary' Model 53.
Some significant comparative value observations have been offered in this Thread. They suggest remarkable differences in value between "original flaked" condition and "refinished"; all apparently without regard to the quality of the latter workmanship and result achieved. Questioning these views, I am not suggesting that market value must be, or even is necessarily, logical. I am just presenting what seems a clear conundrum in the form of an emerged tongue in cheek question: To increase value, should my presently rather handsome little rifle be "professionally restored" to an appropriately flaked receiver? Perhaps there should be a new category of restoration recognized short of 'factory new' restoration; such borrowed from the broader antique/collectibles industry to create a category to be known as "distressed" firearms. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Offered here simply as a point to ponder...

August 3, 2013
8:52 am
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iskra said
Perhaps there should be a new category of restoration recognized short of 'factory new' restoration; such borrowed from the broader antique/collectibles industry to create a category to be known as "distressed" firearms. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Offered here simply as a point to ponder...

There are already restorers who create the aged look. There was an outstanding one on this forum a few years ago, who has since retired (can't recall his user ID) who could age his work down to about 90% if I recall correctly. I've seen the work of another restorer here in Canada who also ages his work, complete with tiny pin-point rust spots and artificial forging striations on the reblued and re-worn receiver that would fool most if not all collectors. It was only after he told me what he had done that I could (sort of) see that the striations were not original, but if he had not told me, I would have been completely fooled. He showed me a spanking new deluxe pistol grip, checkered stock he had aged and installed in an original deluxe Winchester that had a badly damaged buttstock. When he showed the new aged stock to the craftsman who had carved and checkered it, the craftsman was certain it was a hundred year old, original deluxe buttstock, not the very one he had made. Bottom Line: Having seen his work, I have a better idea of what to look for in subsequent Winchesters .... very fine things to carefully examine. I can't really afford real high condition Winchesters, but for those who can, there are restored and aged 'high-condition' Winchesters out there that can be a real challenge for the non-expert collector to identify.

Having looked at a lot of Model 53's, there are a lot of re-blued ones out there. Most of them have the wrong colour of blueing, not the very dark, black-blue of the originals.

August 3, 2013
9:16 am
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Sort of off the restoring subject, but Mike Hunter had this informative post with discussion awhile back about flaking. I knew this subject was discussed some before. Here it is for anyone who hasn't read back this far:
http://winchestercollector.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=27223&highlight=#27223

Winchester was trying a lot of new things after WWI that I assume were done to make a profit. There were some ads by Winchester around the time they added products on one hand and seemed to streamline some things in the other. They seem to stress the quality issue. I'm curious. Does the flaking issue show up much before the 1920? I have one rifle, a Model 95 DOM 1920, with just a little flaking on the upper tang and one side of the receiver, so not a lot of reference for this in my little collection to go by.

(On a side note it's very neat to me the Model 1873 was around long enough to be cataloged as the Model 73.)

http://s1226.photobucket.com/user/hurint/media/1894%20sight%20reference/ad1920_zps65899d12.jpg.html

[Image Can Not Be Found]

http://s1226.photobucket.com/user/hurint/media/1894%20sight%20reference/win1920_zps359ddc0d.jpg.html

[Image Can Not Be Found]

Just some thoughts,
Brad

Regards

Brad Dunbar

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August 3, 2013
11:54 am
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I do not believe that the "flaking" problem was an issue until the early 1920s. During the past 30+ years, I have examined nearly a thousand Model 87 Winder Muskets that were all manufactured in the January 1918 - June 1920 timeframe, and none of them exhibited the flaking problem. I realize that I am referring to just a single Model, but I also feel confident in my belief that Winchester would have used the same bluing process on all other models during that same time period.

So, what that leaves us with is a time period between June 1920 and June 1924 (the introduction of the Models 53 and 55).

Bert

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May 21, 2019
2:04 am
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T. Smith
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Hello all,

I would think just as highly of a total "100% correct" restoration as I would an original firearm in 80-85% condition. Doug Turnbull has no problem finding clients that agree with me. Has anyone ever seen a 1930 Rolls Royce, or a 1964 Ferrari GTO. All those vintage cars have been redone and no one complains about their 'non-original' status. Million dollar paintings have been restored. Years ago the Mona Lisa was being cleaned by museum experts. They cleaned off her eyebrows. For years they debated putting the eyebrows back. So far they haven't, but truly it's not the same painting without her eyebrows. 

Restoring a firearm should not draw criticism if the work was done correctly. I have seen case colors that were done better than the Winchester factory.

May 21, 2019
2:20 am
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T. Smith
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Hello,

I have a Model 95 from 1924 and it has minor flaking. Some model 55's have flaking as late as 1929 (by serial number). It appears, in retrospect, that flaking was caused by a process error. Eventually the Winchester plant corrected the error.

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