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Blacklighting an old Winchester
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February 26, 2022 - 4:43 am
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I’ve been trying to find information on this topic both on this forum, and through Google searches, but haven’t been able to come up with any hits, so I thought I’d start a thread here, as a follow-up to the one I started back a couple of weeks ago.  Here’s a link to my original thread:  https://winchestercollector.org/forum/winchester-rifles/new-member-with-old-model-94-1920-or-1921/

I was asking the question about how to clean up my 1920 Winchester 94, and asked what kind of protective finish would have been applied to the wood on these guns back when they were new.  Clarence responded that by 1920, Winchester would have started using lacquer on the wood.  Since I collect and do work on vintage (1950s) guitars that have old lacquer finishes on them, I thought I’d try a trick we use with these old guitars, to see how well it would work on my 1920 Winchester.

Specifically, I thought I’d blacklight the beat up, worn wood on my gun, to see if, indeed, it would show any signs of having old lacquer on it.  With guitars, when lacquer ages and is viewed under a black light, the old lacquer would glow yellow.  It’s a good way to tell whether there are any repaired areas, not otherwise obvious, or generally any areas where the lacquer has been worn away.  Here’s an example showing the back of one of my old ’59 Gibson Les Pauls, both in regular light, and in black light, so you can see the original lacquer finish glowing yellow under the black light:

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/59-les-paul-back-png.115202/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/59-les-paul-back-black-light-png.115201/fullImage Enlarger

Here’s the result of my blacklighting of my Winchester 94, where I not only am I seeing some areas with (likely) original lacquer, but also worn, chipped, dented and scratched areas, where the lacquer is gone, with no real sign of repairs, I don’t believe:

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/black-light-stock-3-jpg.115204/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/black-light-stock-5-jpg.115207/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/black-light-forearm-jpg.115208/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/black-light-stock-4-jpg.115203/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/black-light-stock-2-jpg.115205/fullImage Enlarger

And here’s what the stock looks like in regular light, for comparison purposes:

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/stock-5-jpg.115209/fullImage Enlarger

Now that I’ve done the blacklighting, I don’t yet have a plan for what to do (if anything) about fixing up or preserving the wood on the gun, aside from giving it a good cleaning, which I’ve already done.  Anyway, I thought this was an interesting experiment, and again, wasn’t sure whether this was a “thing” or not in the old gun world, as it is in the vintage guitar world.

…and now that you’ve seen my gun under black light, I’d love to see what other peoples’ guns look like under black light as well…especially well-preserved examples!  That is, of course, if the gun in question has an old lacquer finish.

Thanks for looking!

 

Frank

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February 26, 2022 - 1:39 pm
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The wood is crying out for something to be done.  I’d start with something quick & easy, like Scott’s Liquid Gold.  Because the wood is bare in places, but has the remnants of lacquer in others, absorption won’t be even.  Rubbing down with a paper towel may help to equalize the results.  Probably have to experiment to find what works best.  I’m curious about what the effects of wax might be, but if it didn’t prove satisfactory, it would have to removed before trying anything else.

If only Winchester had followed the tried & true treatment given most military stocks–dipping in hot linseed oil–how much easier a restoration would be!  That procedure would take no more time than spraying with lacquer, but it wouldn’t be as “pretty,” & prettiness does a better job of selling new guns than longevity of the finish.

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February 26, 2022 - 1:44 pm
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Frank,

That is very cool and not something I have seen or thought of but certainly a useful tool!

Thanks for sharing the technique and pictures.  I am headed to the safe with the blacklight to see what shows up.

Do you use a long or short wave UV blacklight, or does it matter?

Thanks!

WACA Life Member #6284 - Specializing in Pre-64 Winchester .22 Rimfire

http://rimfirepublications.com/  

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February 26, 2022 - 1:52 pm
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Very interesting. Great info

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February 26, 2022 - 2:22 pm
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JWA said
Frank,

That is very cool and not something I have seen or thought of but certainly a useful tool!

Thanks for sharing the technique and pictures.  I am headed to the safe with the blacklight to see what shows up.

Do you use a long or short wave UV blacklight, or does it matter?

Thanks!  

Glad you found it helpful; that was my intent.

I’m no black light expert, so I really can’t say whether it’s long or short wave, but if I had to guess, I’d say it probably doesn’t matter.  I used a UV flashlight similar to this one, but I’m sure the old fashioned black lights we use to use for making our psychedelic florescent posters light up back in the ’60s and ’70s would work too: keywords=black+light+flashlite&qid=1645884821&sprefix=black+light+%2Caps%2C79&sr=8-5

The flashlight version comes in handy, since it’s portable.  I usually take mine with me to vintage guitar shows so I can look for hidden repairs on old guitars.  While it can be used in rooms that are well lit, it’s best used, of course, in a dark closet or in a darkened room.

 

Frank

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February 26, 2022 - 2:31 pm
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clarence said
The wood is crying out for something to be done.  I’d start with something quick & easy, like Scott’s Liquid Gold.  Because the wood is bare in places, but has the remnants of lacquer in others, absorption won’t be even.  Rubbing down with a paper towel may help to equalize the results.  Probably have to experiment to find what works best.  I’m curious about what the effects of wax might be, but if it didn’t prove satisfactory, it would have to removed before trying anything else.

If only Winchester had followed the tried & true treatment given most military stocks–dipping in hot linseed oil–how much easier a restoration would be!  That procedure would take no more time than spraying with lacquer, but it wouldn’t be as “pretty,” & prettiness does a better job of selling new guns than longevity of the finish.  

Good suggestion with regard to the Scott’s Liquid Gold, Clarence.  I’ll have to check that out.  I know some people had recommended I try boiled linseed oil, so that’s a possibility as well.  But the Scott’s seems a little less extreme, so I may try that first.  Also, if you note in my pics that some areas look more orange than yellow.  To me, in person, it looks like there is yellow underneath the orange;  And I’m guessing that at some point, someone may have applied something like shellac on top of the original lacquer, which may be causing the orange appearance.

 

Frank

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February 26, 2022 - 3:52 pm
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Hellcat1 said

  I know some people had recommended I try boiled linseed oil, so that’s a possibility as well.

I did, but it would need to be cut 50/50 (at least) with turpentine.  I believe the results would be longer lasting than furniture treatments like Scott’s, which seem to evaporate over time.

I wonder if more uniform results might be obtained by removing what remains of the lacquer with lacquer thinner; suspect remaining lacquer is not bonded well to wood & would wipe off fairly easily, but of course I’m guessing.  But try your other options first.

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February 27, 2022 - 1:18 pm
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 I like Clarence’s idea of Liquid Gold, don’t soak it, just rub it down with a wool pad dampened with Scott’s. It’s a easy no down side first try. It’s also a good wax remover. I don’t think it will look like new ,but it might be an improvement. If that doesn’t do it try hard paste wax, put it on ,let it sit for a hour, buff it with a micro fiber rag . Repeated wax applications will put a shine on it. Both products are not permanent but can be repeated after use. Your goal is to make it match the gun condition. I do not apply permanent finishes to old original guns. T/R

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February 27, 2022 - 2:23 pm
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TR said  Repeated wax applications will put a shine on it.  T/R  

That’s my chief reservation about wax–too much shine.  And that dents in the wood will create a dull contrast with the shine, unless they can be buffed out too.  I’ve never used wax, but in attempting to cut the gloss on a newly varnished stock with steel wool, every low place that the wool doesn’t reach becomes a reflective spot.  Is there any treatment to a wax-finished stock that can be used to reduce the shine?  

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February 27, 2022 - 2:39 pm
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  Clarence has a point, but if you don’t like the look Scott’s will take it right off. I use Johnson’s paste wax in the yellow and gold can on all my guns , wood and metal. T/R

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February 27, 2022 - 4:36 pm
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Thanks so much for the advice, guys.  Much appreciated.  I just got back from the hardware store after picking up some Liquid Gold.  I’ve never used the stuff, but looking forward to seeing if it does the trick.  I figure worst case, I’ve got some furniture around the house that could use a little rejuvenating, so I’m sure if it doesn’t have the desired effect on my Winchester, at least my furniture should look great!  I’ll report back, hopefully later today, with an update.

 

Frank

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February 27, 2022 - 8:22 pm
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Ok, so I had a chance to do some work on the gun today, but can’t say that I had much success.  I started by cleaning/wiping down the wood with Naphtha, a favorite of luthiers (guitar builders & repairers) that work with vintage guitars with lacquer finishes.  After allowing that to dry, I then applied a liberal coat of Liquid Gold, let it sit for a bit, and then wiped off the excess.  I then applied a second coat, using the same method.  After not noticing any significant difference, I then thought I’d try wiping the wood with some Old English Scratch Cover for Dark Woods.  Still, no real noticeable difference.

After this experiment, I’m beginning to think that the areas on the wood that I thought might be bare, likely have a clear coat of some kind on them, preventing the wood from really absorbing anything else.  Those “bare” areas did seem to have a very slight satiny sheen to them, but thought it might have been just very smooth wood, from decades of handling.

Here is a before and after photo of the stock…which may show a slight difference, but certainly not the kind of difference I was hoping for:

Before:

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/stock-before-liquid-gold-jpg.115231/fullImage Enlarger

After:

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/stock-after-liquid-gold-jpg.115230/fullImage Enlarger

At this point, I’m wondering whether the only way to get any decent result would be to take Clarence’s advice from above:

clarence said

I wonder if more uniform results might be obtained by removing what remains of the lacquer with lacquer thinner; suspect remaining lacquer is not bonded well to wood & would wipe off fairly easily, but of course I’m guessing.  But try your other options first.  

Of course, doing so would remove what little original finish remains on the wood, and would really necessitate disassembling the gun to properly strip and refinish the wood.  And then there’s the question of how much this detracts from the value and/or collectability of the gun.  I would imagine that that depends on the quality of the work performed.  But then again, is a gun in this condition really considered to be a collector grade gun anyway.

…and if I were to go the route of stripping and refinishing, I’d like to know if anyone here is familiar with “Winchester Restorations Stock Oil by John Kay”, as found in this Ebay listing, and whether it’s considered a good product: https://www.ebay.com/itm/144081402837?hash=item218bebbbd5:g:bywAAOSwPDRfIMhm

Thanks again for all the advice!

 

Frank

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February 27, 2022 - 9:51 pm
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Hellcat1 said

…and if I were to go the route of stripping and refinishing, I’d like to know if anyone here is familiar with “Winchester Restorations Stock Oil by John Kay”, as found in this Ebay listing, and whether it’s considered a good product: https://www.ebay.com/itm/144081402837?hash=item218bebbbd5:g:bywAAOSwPDRfIMhm

 

Frank  

Good product, but essentially this with stain added: https://www.lin-speed.com/

Both are combinations of boiled linseed oil & driers–chemicals which speed up the chemical reaction of curing.

If Old English left no trace, there must, as you think, be something on the wood preventing penetration.  But chemical stripping would be the very last thing I’d try, because it would open up the pores, requiring a lot more finishing work.  If you remember the old  Formby’s TV ads, he’d say repeatedly that used as he demonstrated, the old finish would be “refreshed,” not stripped to the bare wood.  His “secret formula” contained lacquer thinner (toluene) & methyl alcohol, but as important as the ingredients is the way it’s applied.  If you missed his old ads that used to run over & over again 30 yrs ago, investigate the Formby’s website. 

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February 28, 2022 - 2:23 am
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clarence said

Good product, but essentially this with stain added: https://www.lin-speed.com/

Both are combinations of boiled linseed oil & driers–chemicals which speed up the chemical reaction of curing.

If Old English left no trace, there must, as you think, be something on the wood preventing penetration.  But chemical stripping would be the very last thing I’d try, because it would open up the pores, requiring a lot more finishing work.  If you remember the old  Formby’s TV ads, he’d say repeatedly that used as he demonstrated, the old finish would be “refreshed,” not stripped to the bare wood.  His “secret formula” contained lacquer thinner (toluene) & methyl alcohol, but as important as the ingredients is the way it’s applied.  If you missed his old ads that used to run over & over again 30 yrs ago, investigate the Formby’s website.   

I’m pretty sure I used Formby’s Furniture Refinisher on some furniture a few years ago, so I’m familiar with it.  It may very well be worth a try, since it seems like it may be a little less invasive than a full refinish.

That said, I’m not at all intimidated by the prospect of doing a full refin on the wood.  I do finishing/refinishing as part of my part time business, building and restoring guitars…most with lacquer finishes.  And these finishes are much more involved than what a gun stock would require.

But again, there’s the question of whether I would hurt the value or collectibility if I were to do a complete refin.  I guess I could try the Formby’s route, and see how that goes first.

BTW, I just finished doing a partial refin on a brand new Winchester.  I bought this 92 Large Lever, in .357 Mag, with a terrible mismatch in wood color between the stock and the forearm.  So I refinished the forearm to match the stock.  This was a PolyAcrylic finish (according to Winchester), so I redid the forearm in that type of finish as well, after staining it to match the stock.  It actually was a bit of a challenge to get the stain on the forearm to be a close match to the color of the stock, because the color difference in the actual pre-finish wood was quite dramatic.  It’s probably why it left the Winchester (Miroku) factory looking the way it did.

Before:

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/large-lever-92-before-refin-jpg.115233/fullImage Enlarger

After (shown with the 1920 94 that’s the subject of this thread):

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/new-win-92-old-win-94-1400-jpg.115171/fullImage Enlarger

 

Frank

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February 28, 2022 - 12:56 pm
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 Does your carbine have a gumwood stock? If so how does that complicate the refinish? Is your gun original and if so do you what to keep it that way? T/R

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February 28, 2022 - 10:09 pm
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TR said
 Does your carbine have a gumwood stock? If so how does that complicate the refinish? Is your gun original and if so do you what to keep it that way? T/R  

Sorry for the delayed response…it’s been a busy day!

Great questions!  Actually, I do believe it is gumwood, as Bert also mentioned in my other thread.  And you’re right, it does complicate the potential refinish, as I believe it’s probably harder to work with than walnut.

And yes, the gun does appear to be pretty much all original, as best I can tell.  And as someone else mentioned in my other thread, it doesn’t even look like the wood has ever been removed.

The above makes me think that I should probably just leave it as is (although I’m still tempted to try the Formby’s Refinisher as mentioned above).  I’ve seen photos of other similar guns with gumwood stocks that have been refinished, and many came out much lighter colored than I would like.  So, I’m again leaning toward leaving it mostly as is, while possibly putting something over the wood to help protect what’s there, especially the parts that look like the finish has worn away.

 

Frank

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February 28, 2022 - 11:24 pm
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Hellcat1 said
 I’ve seen photos of other similar guns with gumwood stocks that have been refinished, and many came out much lighter colored than I would like.  

A description of the wood from Wiki: “Sweetgum is one of the most important commercial hardwoods in the Southeastern United States.[23] Its wood is bright reddish brown (with the sapwood nearly white) and may have black grain in the heartwood; it is heavy, straight, satiny, and close-grained, but not strong. It takes a beautiful polish, but warps badly in drying.”  Goes on to say it accepts stain readily.

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March 1, 2022 - 3:21 am
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clarence said

Hellcat1 said
 I’ve seen photos of other similar guns with gumwood stocks that have been refinished, and many came out much lighter colored than I would like.  

A description of the wood from Wiki: “Sweetgum is one of the most important commercial hardwoods in the Southeastern United States.[23] Its wood is bright reddish brown (with the sapwood nearly white) and may have black grain in the heartwood; it is heavy, straight, satiny, and close-grained, but not strong. It takes a beautiful polish, but warps badly in drying.”  Goes on to say it accepts stain readily.  

Thanks, Clarence.  I actually looked it up and found the same description for gumwood, since I’m not really familiar at all with it.

Meanwhile, I found out that Formby’s is no longer being made.  All of their products were bought up by Minwax.  And while I suspect that Minwax’s Antique Furniture Refinisher may be the same thing as the old Formby’s, I can’t be sure.  Another product that I’ve used quite successfully on some antique furniture is Restor-A-Finish.  The description of it is very similar to that of the old Formby’s:

  • Restor-A-Finish is a unique finish-penetrating formula that restores wood finishes while blending out minor scratches, blemishes and abrasions
  • With a simple wipe-on, wipe-off process, most finished wood surfaces that seem to need a complete refinishing job can be restored in a few minutes
  • Restor-A-Finish restores the finish without removing any of the existing finish

So if I do end up wanting to try something on the wood of this gun, this might be a good option.  I’ll think about it over the next couple of days, and maybe do some experimenting on some other sacrificial lambs first.

 

Frank

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March 1, 2022 - 3:40 am
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Hellcat1 said

    • Restor-A-Finish restores the finish without removing any of the existing finish

 

Yes, probably just about the same formula, which was only a concoction of over the counter solvents.

Sweetgums grew in profusion where I grew up, yet I never knew of their many commercial uses before reading that description.

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March 8, 2022 - 3:42 am
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Ok, I finally had a chance to play around a little with the Restor-A-Finish on the gun’s furniture, and while the results aren’t earth shattering, they’re certainly good enough for what I was after.  The finish seems to have evened out quite a bit, with parts of the wood that looked a little void of finish now appearing to have more color and sheen, and the sections that were pretty shiny, have now dulled a bit to be more consistent with the rest.  So, color-wise and sheen-wise, it looks much better and more consistent.  One thing that didn’t happen, which I was hoping for, was the removal of some of the scratches in the finish. I guess they were just too deep to be removed by this method.  That would likely require a complete refin, which I don’t think I want to do.

The Restor-A-Finish did seem to deliver on its promise of not removing the original finish, as can be seen in the new black light photo that’s shown below.  I don’t see any noticeable difference between the before and after black light photos, which indicates to me that the wood retained the (somewhat limited) lacquer finish that was previously on there.

Here are some “after” photos of the stock:

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/stock-after-redo-1-jpg.115258/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/stock-after-redo-2-jpg.115255/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/black-light-stock-8-jpg.115254/fullImage Enlarger

 

And now that I’m satisfied with where I’m at with the overall looks of the gun, I could use just a little more help from y’all…if you have any words of wisdom for me.

When reassembling the gun, I wasn’t able to get the barrel band screw to be able make it all the way through and catch on the threads on the other side.  After researching it a bit, I see that I’m not alone in having that problem.  One detailed “fix” I read about involved removing the magazine tube, but since I can’t get the forward barrel band screw to budge, I don’t think that’s an option.  Any advice?

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/foreend-barrel-band-screw-jpg.115257/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/foreend-barrel-band-screw-2-jpg.115256/fullImage Enlarger

 

Thanks!

 

Frank

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