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Pre 64 original stock finish
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March 19, 2017 - 8:49 am
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Hi everyone I am new to the forum and am posting from Australia. I have owned a 1937 Winchester Model 70 (220 Swift) for 20 years. The gun is in very good original condition as I bought it off a 90 year old fellow who previously owned it and I assume had it from new. According to the serial number check it is a 1938 gun but the numbers ’37’ is stamped under the barrel near to the action. Anyway it is fitted with a Lyman ’48 WJS’ peep sight and unfortunately the previous owner drilled and tapped the receiver so it now wears a Redfield bridge mount and I have fitted a Lyman All American fixed 20x. Anyway back to my question, the stock is painted with some sort of lacquer and whoever painted it flooded the checkering so I want to strip it back but would like to bring it back to its original factory finish whatever that may be. Is there anyone who may assist in this regard.

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March 29, 2017 - 4:38 am
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Pre-64 Model 70s had a sprayed lacquer finish applied at the factory.  Over the years there was quite a bit of variation in the appearance of this finish.  During some time periods the finish appeared much thinner than during other periods.  Some factory finished rifles had a “dry” appearance.  You have to look at a lot of original finish rifles in order to learn what is original.

Most of the finishes applied when a stock is refinished are not lacquer–they are one of the oil finishes like Tru Oil.  There are some oil finishes marketed as Pre-64 Winchester finishes but they are not lacquer.  I have not seen any refinished stocks that totally duplicate the factory lacquer finish. 

The oil finishes are good–in some ways even better than lacquer.  At least it’s easier to repair scratches on an oil finished stock.  I think you should go ahead and finish your M70 stock with one of the many finishes commonly used today.  You won’t be able to perfectly match the original factory finish in any event.  If you sand the stock to get rid of dings you may have to stain it and then fill the pores.  A water-based medium dark walnut stain with a hint of red looks good on many M70 stocks.

Good luck!

PS–Those 220 Swift M70s are great.  I’ve owned and shot a bunch of them–both standard Rifles and Target Rifles.  Most are accurate of can be made accurate with a bit of tuning.

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March 29, 2017 - 1:26 pm
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vicvanb said
Pre-64 Model 70s had a sprayed lacquer finish applied at the factory…

This applies to pre-war stocks such as this one? 

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March 29, 2017 - 8:56 pm
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Yes–the Pre-War stocks had sprayed lacquer finishes.  The Pre-Wars had carnauba wax added to the lacquer giving a “softer” appearing finish compared to the Post-War stocks.

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March 29, 2017 - 11:38 pm
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vicvanb said
Yes–the Pre-War stocks had sprayed lacquer finishes.  The Pre-Wars had carnauba wax added to the lacquer giving a “softer” appearing finish compared to the Post-War stocks.  

I’m surprised–had assumed it was varnish! But I checked briefly in the 1916 & 1933 catalogs, and found no mention of stock finishes, except that in the ’33, the finish specified on some of the higher grade guns was called an “oil finish.”  Even the very detailed listing of “extras” in the ’16 included no references to optional finishes.

Any idea when the use of lacquer as the standard finish was introduced?

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March 29, 2017 - 11:57 pm
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I don’t have an exact answer but the “toned lacquer” finish was used as early as 1900 on the .22’s with gumwood stocks.  As far as I know the Model 1900 was the first bolt action Winchester .22 to use the lacquer finish.   That is from my limited rimfire perspective though, I have no idea about the levers or centerfire rifles.

Regards,

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

http://rimfirepublications.com/  

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March 30, 2017 - 12:08 am
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Hi Clarence-

I can only comment on the M54 (1925) and M70, but Vic’s right (as always).  Sprayed on nitrocellulose lacquer, and the pre-war base coat of lacquer contained Carnauba wax, which changes the look a bit.

Hi Vic-

If I ever live long enough to get my gun room set up (I’ll have to build the house first), I want you to come visit and help me separate the sheep from the goats.  Like you say, there’s a considerable amount of variability in factory original M70 finishes and you have to throw on top of that all the attempts to replicate it!!!  Add to that rifles that have original finish underneath an overcoat.  

I’ve handled a pretty fair number of M70s, but can’t come close to your ‘gestalt’ on finishes (especially wood).  It’s easy enough to tell “working refinishes” from original, but deliberate attempts to replicate factory are (still) hard for me sometimes.  One of my failings over the years has been that I have been a total “condition collector” on post-war M70s.  So most of the type III oval tang rifles I have are 99% or so condition.  There have got to be some there that are professionally redone.  Or else you’ve just made a paranoid for nothing!!! Wink

Best, Lou

WACA 9519; Studying Pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters

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March 30, 2017 - 3:14 am
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JWA said
I don’t have an exact answer but the “toned lacquer” finish was used as early as 1900 on the .22’s with gumwood stocks.  As far as I know the Model 1900 was the first bolt action Winchester .22 to use the lacquer finish.   That is from my limited rimfire perspective though, I have no idea about the levers or centerfire rifles.

Regards,  

Makes sense that on such low cost guns an effort would have been made to speed up the finishing process…and the foremost virtue of lacquer (actually, the only one I know of) is that it dries quickly. 

What, exactly, is meant by an “oil finish”?  Suspect it does not mean the linseed oil finish applied to US military arms.

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March 30, 2017 - 1:54 pm
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The other reason for the toned lacquer finish is that it contained a brown color tint (hence the term “toned”).  That was especially useful when using gumwood for the stocks since it tended to absorb traditional stains in an uneven, blotchy manner.  Combining a brown tint with the lacquer allowed Winchester to colorize the .22 bolt action stocks in a quick and even manner to give the stock a more standardized colored finish.

Again, I don’t know if that process was used on the centerfire rifles but it was used commencing 1900 on all of the subsequent low priced bolt action .22s.

Regards,

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

http://rimfirepublications.com/  

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March 30, 2017 - 2:41 pm
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Some time ago, I went on a quest to duplicate the finishes on Winchesters turned out from the 30’s through the mid fifties.  Not to fool anyone but I was making trap stocks at that time and I couldn’t stand a Tru Oil finish on a nice pre 64 model 12.  That and the fact that I enjoyed taking a clunker and trying to make it look like something original again. Here’s some of the things I discovered along the way.  Do not sand the stock with a grit any finer than 100.  I could see sanding streaks that even looked like 80.  At that time Herter’s French Red was about the closest color to match the Winchester color. Plus, it filled the pores.  Winchester didn’t have time to sand in finish to fill the pores.  Over the years, their colors changed, so if you have one from a certain vintage that looks a little browner, it can be toned a little but buy wiping over it with a thin coat of Minwax Ebony stain.  As to finish, there are cheap hardware story lacquers and furniture grade lacquers.  I used Sherwin Williams Furniture Lacquer, medium rubbed finish.  It came in gallon cans and was special order.  I used a little Jiffy sprayer which did a nice job.  It took several coats and the nice thing about lacquer is that in 5 minutes, you can spray it again and the top coat will dissolve into the preceeding coat.  After it dries a day or so, the finish will look much thinner than when it was first applied.  The volatiles will evaporate out.  Then you will have to coat it again to give it a deeper finish. 

Today, I don’t know what kind of finishes are available to you down under, but if you can find Deft Clear Wood Finish semi-gloss and a red brown wiping stain (has the filler in it) it may be pretty close  The Deft comes in a 12 oz spray can.  Good luck.

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