Educational Zone #111 – Restoring an Old Shotgun

I recently took my stepson Abel out to shoot shotguns, as he had never shot a shotgun at an aerial target before. We had fun, but the double barreled shotgun he was using was kind of heavy for him. I decided I’d be on the lookout for a nice 20 gauge single shot for his first shotgun.

I went to visit my buddy Ted in Temple, Texas and he and I made our usual pawn shop visits, looking for deals.

I saw a rack of shotguns in one pawn shop and saw a single barrel shotgun with a price tag that read $79.95 on it. I asked the lady if I could look at it.

She handed it to me and I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was an Iver Johnson Cycle Works, Champion 20 gauge shotgun. It had a couple of dings in the stock, but it was obvious that they had mis-priced the gun. But, since I never pay full price at a pawn shop, I told her, “I’d like to make you an offer. How about $70 out the door.”

She said, “That will be fine.” I told her to wrap it up.

It took a little while to fill out the yellow form, as this shotgun was made before shotguns had serial numbers on them. This one had four letters marked in a couple of places and that was it. I finally convinced them that those were the only identifiers there were.

I got it home and decided to refinish this fine old gun to its former glory.

Here it is.

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It had one place where the finish was worn off the stock, but that is easy to fix.

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The receiver is case hardened, but had some slight surface rust, but no really bad pitting.

I can fix that too.

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Here are the markings on the receiver.

This is a fine old gun, and was made back when they took some pride in their work.

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First, I took it all apart, to allow cleaning and refinishing.

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To get the surface rust off the receiver, I used some Very Fine steel wool and some WD-40. 

The trick is to rub very, very gently, with a lot of WD-40 on the surface. 

The key is “Gently”, as we don’t want to remove the case hardening, as it is very difficult to re-do.

We just want to remove the surface rust.

Since there is little pitting, it won’t take much to remove the surface rust.

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I then took the stock outside and sprayed it with Easy Off Oven Cleaner and let it work.

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Then I used a stiff brush and lots of water to remove the Easy Off and the finish.

It only took two applications to remove all the varnish.

Then I let it dry in the sun. 

I then lightly sanded the pieces to remove the whiskers raised by the cleaning.

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Now it’s time to stain the wood. I used some stain my old buddy Tman made out of Rit Dye and alcohol.

This color is mostly scarlet with a little Brown Rit Dye.

Continued below...

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While the stock dried, I worked on the metal. There were a couple of places where the bluing had been worn off, and I reapplied blue to those areas. 

I use Birchwood Casey Super Blue (Super Blue has twice the bluing chemicals as their Regular Bluing)

Again, there is a trick to doing this well.

If you rub too long in one place, you can actually remove the bluing from that area.

The trick is to rub very lightly with a well-soaked patch of cloth. I just use cleaning patches.

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Once it takes the bluing, then spray the area well with WD-40 to prevent rust, as the bluing is actually a type of rusting and if you do not put on a rust preventative, it will rust again.

I cleaned up all the metal and lubricated it for reassembly.

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Now that the stock stain is dry, we were ready for the finish.

I will use a spray polyurethane finish, as I like the way it looks on a field gun.

It also protects the stock in case it ever gets wet in the rain while hunting.

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I use many very light coats and I am done.

Take your time, light coats, so you don’t get any runs.

Now I reassembled the shotgun and we are ready for the range.

Here is the finished shotgun.

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And here’s where the stock was damaged.

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And here’s the receiver, after removing the surface rust.

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And another picture of the finished shotgun.

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Conclusion:
I hope Abel has many fine memories with this old gun. (Do you remember your first gun?)

I always enjoy restoring an old gun back to its former glory. If you’ve never done it, give it a try.

2 Comments on Educational Zone #111 – Restoring an Old Shotgun

  1. Thanks.
    Exactly the information I was seeking.
    Great job.
    Nice gun.

  2. Efrain Alvarez // September 27, 2016 at 6:47 am // Reply

    Someone gave me a U.S. Remington 1903a2 sport, the stock needs to be done. What would it cost to refinish the ball park. just looking to see if I have it redone or just buy a new one.

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