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Restore it or leave it?
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May 26, 2023 - 11:35 pm
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I bought an 1886 that letters as a 36″ barrel. Unfortunately it has been cut down. Question is do I leave it or restore it. looking for input,  

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May 26, 2023 - 11:39 pm
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How far has it been cut down?  What caliber?

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May 26, 2023 - 11:42 pm
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I’m thinking convention wisdom is to have it restored.  If you do so, you will have a 36 inch barreled ’86 that will letter.  Very rare and desirable.  If you have Turnbull do it, it will be prized (by many) for that feature as well.  I will admit my thoughts are tentative given I just don’t know what the cost will be.

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May 26, 2023 - 11:43 pm
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Cut to 26″.. Caliber? 45-90 of course, with double set trigger!

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May 26, 2023 - 11:46 pm
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steve004 said
I’m thinking convention wisdom is to have it restored.  If you do so, you will have a 36 inch barreled ’86 that will letter.  Very rare and desirable.  If you have Turnbull do it, it will be prized (by many) for that feature as well.  I will admit my thoughts are tentative given I just don’t know what the cost will be.

  

Not all that sure I would send to Turnbull. I think the money would be too much and it’s not the same gun. 

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May 27, 2023 - 12:29 am
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Unfortunately it has been cut down.oldcrankyyankee said

  

Somebody came to their senses.  Leave it be.  If there’s even a hint that it might have been restored, it will never be worth the cost of the restoration.

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May 27, 2023 - 3:53 pm
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Right!  Once something is monkeyed with like this, leave it alone.  It has some value with a 26” barrel, then you have to “invest” in a 36” barrel, and once an educated buyer catches a whiff of this not being original, he starts to lose interest really quickly and wonders “what else is wrong with this rifle?”

Now a newbie might get fleeced, but that opens up a whole lot of ethical questions.

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May 27, 2023 - 6:37 pm
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I’m not a restoration fan either, but I have taken note that there is a whole world out there that pays big money to have restorations done.  I’ve also seen restorations sell for big money.  Whether they are selling for a lot more than what the owner paid for the restoration, I do not know.  

A common restoration is new wood, barrel and tube.  I’ve seen some M1886 Winchesters with special order barrels – that added a huge amount of desirability to the rifle – restored.  And, “restored” meant the rifle no longer wore the original barrel.  If the original barrel has condition issues, it gets sold off and a new barrel installed.  I recall a .50 Express we discussed here that was restored and the original barrel went along with it (as a takeoff).  It is possible that if Tom’s ’86 had the original 36 inch barrel still on it – and the owner was one of those people who wanted it restored to its original glory – that 36 inch barrel would be replaced by a new 36 inch barrel.  This does not reflect my mindset, but I believe what I am describing happens frequently.  If Tom’s recent purchase consisted of only the receiver, the fact that it letters as a 36 inch barreled rifle would catch the eye of a restorer.  And when restored, it would letter as a 36 inch barreled rifle.  It’s amusing to me that some rifles get rebarreled, but in the case of a restoration, the word rebarreled is usually not used – because it is a, “restoration.”  For me, it’s only been the last few years that I’ve understood this.  

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May 27, 2023 - 8:48 pm
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steve004 said Whether they are selling for a lot more than what the owner paid for the restoration, I do not know.   

Doubtful, I think.  Though loosing a few or several hundred probably doesn’t matter to the folks who can afford Turnbull’s work.

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May 27, 2023 - 10:42 pm
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I’ve been pondering the restoration topic this long holiday weekend…

I’ve seen a whole lot of guns since this hobby grabbed hold of me.  I remember a small percentage of what I’ve seen, but of those, some have been very memorable. Some to the point that I would say they haunt me (for not purchasing them). Many were out of my league, but some were not.  By virtue of being so very memorable, many were rare to point that they perhaps constituted a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. I say, “perhaps” because I’m not dead yet and who knows what tomorrow will bring?  To provide an example – a Winchester single-shot in .577 Eley.  It was affordable – in the teens as I recall – but condition wasn’t good enough.  Needless to say, I am haunted by the desire for a, “do-over” on this one. – and many others  Pickiness can be a virtue or a handicap.  

Of the ones I remember, an extremely small number have been restored.  Of those that have been restored, a microscopic number have strongly tempted me.

Here’s one – I talked about it here two years ago.  

https://www.gunsinternational.com/guns-for-sale-online/rifles/winchester-rifles-model-1886/1886-winchester-deluxe-rifle.cfm?gun_id=101442832

Restorations vary in quality and this one is at the high end of workmanship (in my uneducated opinion).  The rifle itself is wonderfully rare given the very numerous special features.  I love heavy barrels, I love matted barrels, I love fancy wood, I loved the rarity of Swiss butt,  I think the price was around $10,000.  

I don’t know the details of this rifle’s restoration.  Of largest concern was the originality of the barrel – which to me was the most special and desirable aspect of the rifle.  The fact that the bore was not perfect suggested that it was not a replacement.  But, what was done to preserve the matting and the barrel address within the matting – if they were preserved – was a puzzle.  At the time I decided to not pursue this rifle, I had not anticipated it would remain in my memory banks.  Would I buy it today if the, “do-over” presented itself?  I can’t say, as the reasons I hesitated, haven’t been erased.  In the end, I’ve stayed away from restored rifles for my entire collecting career.  And by the way, a do-over on that .577 Eley?  I’d grab it in a heartbeat.  

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May 27, 2023 - 11:40 pm
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Once a rifle is “restored” all the history of the gun is GONE. I like guns that were used and show it. Of course, those types of guns fit better into my budget too.

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May 27, 2023 - 11:56 pm
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steve004 said
I’ve been pondering the restoration topic this long holiday weekend…

I’ve seen a whole lot of guns since this hobby grabbed hold of me.  I remember a small percentage of what I’ve seen, but of those, some have been very memorable. Some to the point that I would say they haunt me (for not purchasing them). Many were out of my league, but some were not.  By virtue of being so very memorable, many were rare to point that they perhaps constituted a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. I say, “perhaps” because I’m not dead yet and who knows what tomorrow will bring?  To provide an example – a Winchester single-shot in .577 Eley.  It was affordable – in the teens as I recall – but condition wasn’t good enough.  Needless to say, I am haunted by the desire for a, “do-over” on this one. – and many others  Pickiness can be a virtue or a handicap.  

Of the ones I remember, an extremely small number have been restored.  Of those that have been restored, a microscopic number have strongly tempted me.

Here’s one – I talked about it here two years ago.  

https://www.gunsinternational.com/guns-for-sale-online/rifles/winchester-rifles-model-1886/1886-winchester-deluxe-rifle.cfm?gun_id=101442832

Restorations vary in quality and this one is at the high end of workmanship (in my uneducated opinion).  The rifle itself is wonderfully rare given the very numerous special features.  I love heavy barrels, I love matted barrels, I love fancy wood, I loved the rarity of Swiss butt,  I think the price was around $10,000.  

I don’t know the details of this rifle’s restoration.  Of largest concern was the originality of the barrel – which to me was the most special and desirable aspect of the rifle.  The fact that the bore was not perfect suggested that it was not a replacement.  But, what was done to preserve the matting and the barrel address within the matting – if they were preserved – was a puzzle.  At the time I decided to not pursue this rifle, I had not anticipated it would remain in my memory banks.  Would I buy it today if the, “do-over” presented itself?  I can’t say, as the reasons I hesitated, haven’t been erased.  In the end, I’ve stayed away from restored rifles for my entire collecting career.  And by the way, a do-over on that .577 Eley?  I’d grab it in a heartbeat.    

Once restored, it’s a 0% gun.  Money isn’t infinite, and there’s still enough unrestored stuff to chase down.

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May 28, 2023 - 12:51 am
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Once a rifle is “restored” all the history of the gun is GONE. I like guns that were used and show it.Brooksy said

  

So do I, excluding stupid abuse & careless mishandling.  You’re allegedly interested in antique guns because of the history associated with them, then erase that history with a restoration?  I don’t get it.  Though as Steve points out, many DO take that illogical attitude. 

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May 28, 2023 - 3:13 am
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 If the 86 is all original with the bobbed barrel being the only flaw, then maybe just stretch the barrel and tone to match is an option. I have seen one sell in recent years for about 20K, not what an original would bring, but good money. The sellers made it clear the barrel was stretched but gun was original. The stretched barrel was the original barrel with original caliber and barrel markings. A weld in sleeve of the full length made it look good inside and added dovetails were well done. Not that obvious. A modern made barrel replacement would not bring that kind of money.  

 On a 86 the serial number is on the lower tang and is easily changed, so if the gun is a composite then the value is gone. A full high end restore would not be worth more than the cost of the restore. T/R

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May 28, 2023 - 11:45 am
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TR said
 If the 86 is all original with the bobbed barrel being the only flaw, then maybe just stretch the barrel and tone to match is an option. I have seen one sell in recent years for about 20K, not what an original would bring, but good money. The sellers made it clear the barrel was stretched but gun was original. The stretched barrel was the original barrel with original caliber and barrel markings. A weld in sleeve of the full length made it look good inside and added dovetails were well done. Not that obvious. A modern made barrel replacement would not bring that kind of money.  

 On a 86 the serial number is on the lower tang and is easily changed, so if the gun is a composite then the value is gone. A full high end restore would not be worth more than the cost of the restore. T/R

  

The barrel stretching is an interesting potential option.  

As I’ve stated, I personally prefer originality and condition that reflects some history.  My collection reflects this.  Over the years, I’ve found it interesting to see the diversity among other collector’s preferences.  As we know, some collect restorations and pay big money for them.  With restorations, the history is erased. 

There is another category we haven’t mentioned: the very high condition pieces.  These are pieces that were purchased and not used.  The, “history” of these pieces consists of the string of collectors who held them in their safes over different decades.  They are safe queens that have rarely breathed fresh air and the only character they might pick up is a safe ding.  I’ll concede it wasn’t a choice for me to collect these pieces anyway as the door to the high roller club has eluded me Wink

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May 28, 2023 - 12:05 pm
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Heck of a discussion here , I guess I need to clarify my original question. I was not, nor would I ever be interested in a full blown restoration of this gun. It has enough condition as is, just missing 10″ of it’s barrel and magazine, which are both original. By posing the question to restore or not was simply in regards to re-establishing the original lengths. If I have read Madl’s research correctly, and that’s a big if, there were only 60 1886’s made with 36″ barrels. And for the record, I am not of the mind set to fleece anyone, never have never will. I bought this for my personal collection not for a quick turn over. 

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May 28, 2023 - 1:01 pm
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 oldcrankyyankee said
Heck of a discussion here , I guess I need to clarify my original question. I was not, nor would I ever be interested in a full blown restoration of this gun. It has enough condition as is, just missing 10″ of it’s barrel and magazine, which are both original. By posing the question to restore or not was simply in regards to re-establishing the original lengths. If I have read Madl’s research correctly, and that’s a big if, there were only 60 1886’s made with 36″ barrels. And for the record, I am not of the mind set to fleece anyone, never have never will. I bought this for my personal collection not for a quick turn over. 

  

 We share the same opinion.  I love long barrel guns. Your gun was made with a 36″ barrel, very rare. But like many of the 60 the barrel was cut. If I saw your gun on a table for sale I would buy it without a second thought. So I assume the question is do I leave it alone, stretch the original barrel, or make a new one.

  I don’t think the stretched barrel would be as accurate as a new barrel but it would be mostly original. If you have a new barrel with tube made and installed but keep the original with the gun you can change your mind at anytime in the future. If you do nothing now, you can do anything in the future.

 Glad to here your gun is not a composite and you have no intention of doing a full restore. I have an original 36″ 86, it’s accurate and fun to shoot. I doubt I would ever sell it. I like long barrel guns. T/R

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May 28, 2023 - 2:06 pm
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TR, I like anything with an 1886 stamped on the tang. I bought this knowing it was original, plus I liked other things about it. Double set trigger and in 45-90 basically made it a no brainer for me. Just not sure what to do about the barrel. A 36″ in the safe would be nice, I’ll never be able to find or afford an uncut original. 

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May 28, 2023 - 2:50 pm
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oldcrankyyankee said
TR, I like anything with an 1886 stamped on the tang. I bought this knowing it was original, plus I liked other things about it. Double set trigger and in 45-90 basically made it a no brainer for me. Just not sure what to do about the barrel. A 36″ in the safe would be nice, I’ll never be able to find or afford an uncut original. 

  

Tom – 

Like you, I like anything with the 1886 tang stamp. Ever since I learned that they made some with 36 inch barrels, I lusted for one.  The closest I came was a .50-110 with a 32 inch barrel.  And at least that one was long enough to have the two magazine retaining bands – and that was a rifle I traded off over 40 years ago – and would love to have back.  But like you, I believe I will ever be able to find or afford an uncut original 36 inch barreled Model1886 (or any other 36 inch barreled Winchester lever for that matter).  Yet, I would love to have one.  So if I had come across the 45-90 you have, I would certainly research the details and cost of a stretched barrel.  As TR suggests, it would be, “mostly original” and given that’s as close as I would ever get to having one before I’m looking at photos of my guns in the nursing home, I would be thinking hard.  Your comment that a 36″ in the safe would be nice – sums up my feeling exactly Laugh

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May 28, 2023 - 4:12 pm
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I’m cautiously moving into the 36” camp because that would return it to its original configuration. I suspect the repro barrel folks can make a 36” barrel and if that’s the case I’d probably go that route but the “stretch” option has merit. Guns in similar situations are bringing respectable prices so when the time comes for it to move along I believe there will be buyers happy to add it to their collection. 
More importantly, it seems you would like to have it in its original configuration and I don’t believe it would have a negative effect on the value other than as a hunting rifle. It’s your gun and it will never be truly original, if the price tag of the work doesn’t stop you nothing else should, IMHO. 

 

Mike

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