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New Member with Old Model 94...1920 or 1921
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February 11, 2022 - 10:52 pm
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I’ve been a huge fan of Winchester lever guns since I was a kid, 60+ years ago, and watching The Rifleman and other old westerns in my formative years.  My first gun was an Ithaca Model 49 single shot .22 lever rifle, which was essentially a kid’s version of the Winchester ’94.  I started shooting at a very early age, but once I was off to college, I barely touched a gun until fairly recently, when I got the itch again.  After satisfying my urge for modern guns, I got back to my lever gun “roots”, and picked up a few modern lever guns…three Winchesters and a Henry.  But I’ve always had my heart set on getting an old ’94 or ’92, especially a SRC.

Last month, when I was at my LGS, checking out the latest lever guns on his rack, I spotted an old ratty looking gun in the back, and asked to see it.  It looked like it had been through a few wars, but still quite intact and original looking.  I had done some reading on this forum so I knew a few things to look for, but couldn’t remember all the bullet points that were in the “Tips on Buying an Old Winchester” thread, that Bert H. had compiled.  I checked out the barrel closely to see if it had been cut down or re-lined, etc., and it all looked legit, as far as these untrained eyes could tell.

These SRCs are as rare as hens’ teeth here in the northeast, and I felt that the gun looked straight enough to take a chance on, so I felt like I should buy it on the spot and not risk losing it while researching it to death…especially since a couple of other guys there had their eye on it as well.  I didn’t want to risk putting it down, even for a moment.  My only reservation in buying the gun was the fact that it’s a 32WS, which I knew would be very difficult to find.

After getting it home and poring through all the info I could find on these guns, I had a few “Oh Sh!t” moments as I found things that may not be quite right, but then finding other info that put me more at ease.  I took it to the range yesterday (after paying through the nose for some ammo), and it shot great!  What a blast!  And extremely accurate, too, which probably explains why it looks like it’s been used A LOT!

Anyway, it’s mine now, and it is, what it is, as they say.  Hopefully, what it is, is pretty original, without too many things “wrong” with it.  So, here’s my “new” old, beat up 1920 or 1921 Model 94 (I’m finding conflicting info on the date checkers).  Note: in the first pic, shown with my “new” new Winchester 92:

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/new-win-92-old-win-94-1400-jpg.115186/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/receiver-l-jpg.115185/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/receiver-r-jpg.115184/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/serial-number-jpg.115183/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/tang-type-5-jpg.115182/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/barrel-markings-jpg.115181/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/barrel-receiver-markings-jpg.115180/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/butt-stock-jpg.115179/fullImage Enlarger

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/front-sight-jpg.115178/fullImage Enlarger

 

I’ve learned so much so far in this forum, and hope and expect to learn a lot more.  Some of you guys are amazing with your wealth of knowledge and incredible collections.  I just wish I hadn’t started down this path so late!  But as they say, better late, than never.

Thanks!

Frank

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February 11, 2022 - 11:25 pm
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Welcome to the WACA. Your 94 is 1920. That’s all I can say because I collect Winchester 22’s. I do have a 1050 94 that I use for blacktail. Anyway the fun just getting started for you.

Vince
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February 11, 2022 - 11:59 pm
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Vince said
Welcome to the WACA. Your 94 is 1920. That’s all I can say because I collect Winchester 22’s. I do have a 1050 94 that I use for blacktail. Anyway the fun just getting started for you.  

Thanks, Vince!

The reason I’m confused on the date is because the date checker on this forum indicates that it’s a ’20, and pretty much every other serial number list I’ve seen, including the one that Winchester publishes, seems to indicate that it’s a ’21…unless I’m reading it wrong.

 

Frank

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February 12, 2022 - 12:15 am
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Well used for sure, but more importantly, not messed with so far as I can tell from photos.  Maybe the buttplate has been buffed, but cold browning solution could be used to make it a better match with the tang.  The scratches in the wood could be stained to make them less obvious, but all in all, a good old gun.  There was a very informative thread here not long ago on staining & wood restoration, if you can find it again.

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February 12, 2022 - 3:25 am
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clarence said
Well used for sure, but more importantly, not messed with so far as I can tell from photos.  Maybe the buttplate has been buffed, but cold browning solution could be used to make it a better match with the tang.  The scratches in the wood could be stained to make them less obvious, but all in all, a good old gun.  There was a very informative thread here not long ago on staining & wood restoration, if you can find it again.  

Thanks, Clarence.

You actually raise a good point that I’ve been wondering about.  After doing a search on this forum, on restorations, I see lots of differing opinions on whether a gun like this should be kept as-is versus giving it a good cleaning.  I’d love opinions on what I may be able to do to clean up both the metal parts and the wood on this gun, and whether I SHOULD do that.  Will doing so decrease its value, or are these, as one person put it “a dime a dozen”, and therefore restoring it won’t hurt much.

For those in the camp that says clean it up, I’d love some recommendations on the best way to go about that.  I’ve read about using Kroil and copper mesh for cleaning up the metal parts…does that apply to all parts, or is there some patina that should be left as-is?  And how would you go about cleaning up a century of grime on the wood parts?

Note that I bought this to shoot, since it’s obviously not a museum piece.  While I could likely afford a museum piece, that’s not where I’d like to spend my hard earned money right now.  I’d like to have something I can both admire and shoot guilt-free.  So any help/advice would be appreciated, because I’d love to see a little more beauty come out of this beast, if possible.

Thanks!

Frank

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February 12, 2022 - 4:46 am
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Hellcat1 said
For those in the camp that says clean it up, I’d love some recommendations on the best way to go about that.  I’ve read about using Kroil and copper mesh for cleaning up the metal parts…does that apply to all parts, or is there some patina that should be left as-is?  And how would you go about cleaning up a century of grime on the wood parts?
 

Frank,  Don’t touch the metal!  Except, possibly, to do something about the buttplate.  Am I right about the buffing?  This is a part that can be taken off & “experimented with” without doing serious harm; one learns by doing.  

My comment about the stock would not have been made if the evidence of fairly recent careless handling wasn’t evident–that is, those “fresh” scratches. Merely rubbing with boiled linseed oil cut 50/50 with turpentine should effect some improvement, without the chance of doing harm.  Better results would probably require removal of the stock, & that entails some risk.  It’s seems evident from your photo that the buttstock has never been removed since the gun was built, & sometimes, if such a stock is removed & replaced, the fit of wood to metal never looks the same again; I could tell you “why,” but it requires a long explanation.  

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February 12, 2022 - 7:20 am
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Hellcat1 said

Thanks, Vince!

The reason I’m confused on the date is because the date checker on this forum indicates that it’s a ’20, and pretty much every other serial number list I’ve seen, including the one that Winchester publishes, seems to indicate that it’s a ’21…unless I’m reading it wrong.

 

Frank  

All of the other “date checker” websites contain erroneous information.  Your “new” old Model 94 was manufactured in March, 1920.

The stocks on your SRC are the typical Gumwood, which is soft and easily damaged.  My recommendation would be to clean them with any quality wood furniture cleaning oil.

As for the steel, simply wipe it down with a soft cloth and little bit of gun oil.

Bert

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February 12, 2022 - 3:34 pm
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Bert H. said

All of the other “date checker” websites contain erroneous information.  Your “new” old Model 94 was manufactured in March, 1920.

The stocks on your SRC are the typical Gumwood, which is soft and easily damaged.  My recommendation would be to clean them with any quality wood furniture cleaning oil.

As for the steel, simply wipe it down with a soft cloth and little bit of gun oil.

Bert  

Thanks, Bert, much appreciated!  March of 1920 it is!  You have such a wealth of knowledge on this stuff, and it’s great to have you around as a resource.  And will do with regard to the wood and steel.

Thanks again!

 

Frank

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February 12, 2022 - 3:37 pm
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clarence said

Hellcat1 said
For those in the camp that says clean it up, I’d love some recommendations on the best way to go about that.  I’ve read about using Kroil and copper mesh for cleaning up the metal parts…does that apply to all parts, or is there some patina that should be left as-is?  And how would you go about cleaning up a century of grime on the wood parts?
 

Frank,  Don’t touch the metal!  Except, possibly, to do something about the buttplate.  Am I right about the buffing?  This is a part that can be taken off & “experimented with” without doing serious harm; one learns by doing.  

My comment about the stock would not have been made if the evidence of fairly recent careless handling wasn’t evident–that is, those “fresh” scratches. Merely rubbing with boiled linseed oil cut 50/50 with turpentine should effect some improvement, without the chance of doing harm.  Better results would probably require removal of the stock, & that entails some risk.  It’s seems evident from your photo that the buttstock has never been removed since the gun was built, & sometimes, if such a stock is removed & replaced, the fit of wood to metal never looks the same again; I could tell you “why,” but it requires a long explanation.    

I really appreciate your input, Clarence…much appreciated!  With regard to the buttplate, I think you’ll see from this photo that I just took, that the finish on it is very much consistent with the overall appearance of the rest of the metal parts on the gun.  Probably the angle and lighting in the previous photo made it look in better shape than it really is.

https://www.mylespaul.com/media/buttplate-jpg.115187/fullImage Enlarger

 

Frank

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February 12, 2022 - 5:25 pm
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Hellcat1 said

  Probably the angle and lighting in the previous photo made it look in better shape than it really is.
 

Yes, glare from the light made it look polished to me; better as it is. 

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February 12, 2022 - 11:27 pm
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To add to what others have said.  The information that this club has access to for dates of builds is from the original Winchester documents that are housed in the Cody Museum..  The rest are just guessing or are using incorrect data.

The use of lots of oil and a aluminum or copper wool is for the removal of surface rust.  You use very light pressure and practice first on a spot that is somewhat hidden or replaceable.

The metal surfaces should be oiled then brushed with a soft brush to remove any grime.  Grime can be removed from the wood then oil can be added.  There are many ways to clean the dirt off of the wood.  A very mild soap, some furniture polishes and some oils.

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February 13, 2022 - 3:33 am
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Chuck said
To add to what others have said.  The information that this club has access to for dates of builds is from the original Winchester documents that are housed in the Cody Museum..  The rest are just guessing or are using incorrect data.

The use of lots of oil and a aluminum or copper wool is for the removal of surface rust.  You use very light pressure and practice first on a spot that is somewhat hidden or replaceable.

The metal surfaces should be oiled then brushed with a soft brush to remove any grime.  Grime can be removed from the wood then oil can be added.  There are many ways to clean the dirt off of the wood.  A very mild soap, some furniture polishes and some oils.  

I appreciate the advice, Chuck.  I’ve already done some gentle cleaning and oiling of the metal parts, but haven’t used anything more aggressive than a soft rag.  I’ve also done some cleaning of the wood, and found that hiding under some of the grime are some bare spots.  So when I get a chance, I’ll apply some oil to help condition and preserve what’s there.

Frank

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February 13, 2022 - 5:10 pm
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Hellcat1 said

I appreciate the advice, Chuck.  I’ve already done some gentle cleaning and oiling of the metal parts, but haven’t used anything more aggressive than a soft rag.  I’ve also done some cleaning of the wood, and found that hiding under some of the grime are some bare spots.  So when I get a chance, I’ll apply some oil to help condition and preserve what’s there.

Frank  

Not sure what you mean by bare?  If just dry spots keep adding oil until the dry spots disappear.  Coats of boiled linseed oil may be better.  If some stain is gone use some walnut stain then the oil.

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February 13, 2022 - 6:47 pm
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Chuck said

Not sure what you mean by bare?  If just dry spots keep adding oil until the dry spots disappear.  Coats of boiled linseed oil may be better.  If some stain is gone use some walnut stain then the oil.  

I’ll have to take a closer look at those “bare spots”…and the rest of the stock, when I’m reunited with the gun after vacation.  The bare spots still seemed to have color, but didn’t appear to have anything on top of the bare, stained wood, unlike the rest of  the wood, which, as I recall, seemed to have a bit of a semi-gloss appearance to it.  How SHOULD the wood look, and what is known about the original finish on these old guns?

Thanks.

Frank

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February 13, 2022 - 8:08 pm
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Hellcat1 said  How SHOULD the wood look, and what is known about the original finish on these old guns?

 

Finish methods changed over time, but by 1920, I think it was sprayed lacquer.  Wouldn’t be strange if this thin finish had worn or flaked off over time. 

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February 13, 2022 - 8:28 pm
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clarence said

Hellcat1 said  How SHOULD the wood look, and what is known about the original finish on these old guns?

 

Finish methods changed over time, but by 1920, I think it was sprayed lacquer.  Wouldn’t be strange if this thin finish had worn or flaked off over time.   

Great info, Clarence!  I work quite extensively with lacquer, since I’m also very much into vintage Gibson guitars (from the ’50s), and do a fair amount of work with lacquer.  In the vintage guitar world, an inexperienced individual might be tempted to apply a lacquer overspray to a guitar that has worn finish, but it’s actually a big no-no, and can dramatically reduce the value of the instrument. Would you say that the same thing applies to these old Winchesters?  Or do you think that applying some lacquer to the “bare wood” areas, and blending it in, would be ok with a non-pristine gun like this one?

I’m guessing, as is the case with old lacquer finishes on guitars, that blacklighting the finish could tell me a lot as to whether the finish has been messed with or not.  I’ll definitely try that when I return home.

Thanks!

Frank

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February 13, 2022 - 9:04 pm
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Hellcat1 said
 Or do you think that applying some lacquer to the “bare wood” areas, and blending it in, would be ok with a non-pristine gun like this one?
 

I’d be afraid to try it, but maybe you have enough experience with lacquer to make it work; a very skilled hand would certainly be required to blend it in unnoticeably.  I wonder if wax would achieve the effect of making the “dry” spots look more like the areas that retain finish? 

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February 14, 2022 - 5:51 pm
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I wouldn’t add any finish except maybe in the real bad spots.  But then they may end up too shiny.  A very small amount of Truoil added to boiled linseed oil will dry glossy depending on the mixture.

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February 14, 2022 - 6:31 pm
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Thanks for your suggestions, Clarence and Chuck.  I’ll certainly evaluate carefully, and even experiment a little, before doing anything I might regret.  I’ll be real curious to see how the wood looks under black light, but again, I won’t be able to do that until I get home in another week.  And BTW, having worked with lacquer quite a bit, I can tell you that it’s quite forgiving.  Usually, the newer lacquer will just melt into the older lacquer, but will black light differently…although there are additives and tricks you can use to make it black light correctly.

Frank

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February 14, 2022 - 6:45 pm
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Hellcat1 said   And BTW, having worked with lacquer quite a bit, I can tell you that it’s quite forgiving.  Usually, the newer lacquer will just melt into the older lacquer, but will black light differently…although there are additives and tricks you can use to make it black light correctly.

Frank  

Another forgiving finish is shellac.  When recoating or touching-up shellac, it behaves just as you described the lacquer.  Still, a newly applied coating is bound to have a different sheen, or reflectivity, than an older one.

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