I recently bought a Mauser 24/47 from Classic Arms.
I got it from the Brown Truck O’ Happiness and, like a kid on Christmas morning, could hardly wait to tear open the box.
It was just as I expected…
Completely covered in Cosmoline.
But it looked like there might be a nice rifle under al that crud.
Here it is on my bench.
I began by taking it all apart and started the long process of removing the Cosmoline.
I use Mineral Spirits to wash the Cosmoline from all parts of the rifle.
It works like a charm.
I then lay the parts out in the sunlight and they are dry in 15 minutes.
I just kept repeating “Cosmoline if our friend. Cosmoline is our friend.”
Here’s how the action looked when I took it apart.
Full of grease.
I don’t think we will have to worry about any rust.
I had to pry the action out of the stock.
It was “glued” with Cosmoline.
The bolt was covered also.
When I pushed a patch through the barrel, the Cosmoline came out like a pile of guts.
I couldn’t even see any rifling, but knew from experience that it would take some cleaning to get to the rifling.
I then disassembled the bolt.
You have to be sure to get every bit of grease out of there or the firing pin won’t strike properly.
Here’s the bolt after cleaning.
I cleaned all the metal parts completely and then re-blued them with Birchwood Casey Super Blue.
I’ve tried the standard Blue, but it has exactly 1/2 the bluing agent as Super Blue.
Super Blue works like a charm.
I then coated all metal parts with oil and set them aside.
The stock was a disappointment after washing in Mineral Spirits. It still had patches of varnish or some other finish on the wood, but it was 90% gone.
Well, I expected to have to do a lot of stock work. It was pretty beat up. But that’s easy to fix.
We might as well get this over now… I sand my stocks and remove all rough wood and prepare them for finishing.
I know some people will tear their garments and call me a “Bubba” and all that. But this is an approximate $100, old rifle, that has been stored for 50 years in a warehouse, and needs to be brought “back to life.”
I do not sand off any cartouches or numbers, or alter the shape of the stock.
I use a power sander and 100 grit, 150 grit, and then 220 grit sandpaper.
I finish the job with hand sanding.
It takes a “light” touch.
Here I am with the sanding almost done.
You will notice the wooden dowel that goes through the stock.
It is my understanding that this was where a cavalry rifle had a saddle ring mounted. When they were arsenal refinished, it was removed and a dowel inserted in its place.
After the sanding was done, I took it to Tman’s house and we used some alcohol-based stain to get the proper color. I personally like a reddish-brown finish on military rifles, so that’s what we used.
We have found that water based stains will sometimes just bead-up on a stock that has had Cosmoline on it. The alcohol stains will work great.
There is a lot of heated debate about finishes. Many just swear by Boiled Linseed oil (BLO) or Tung Oil (which usually isn’t really Tung oil). These finishes are often proclaimed to be more “original” to the rifles.
This is true for one reason. It was the best they had 50 years ago. But if they had had access to polyurethane, they would have used it. Why? Because it is about 100 times better at protecting a stock from moisture and the elements than any oil finish.
Those of you that love BLO, please feel free to continue to use it if that’s what you want to do. But if your mind isn’t made up, you ought to try poly. You’ll never go back.
I use Minwax Wipe-On Poly, Clear Satin. I cut it 50/50 with Mineral Spirits and use this for about 3 coats. I wipe it on with a cloth and let it dry.
Use thin coats. Doesn’t usually take very long between coats.
Here I am putting on the first coat.
Then I use 100% poly and wipe it on thin.
Let it dry completely and use very fine steel wool between coats to knock down the sheen.
Two or three coats will usually do the job.
We like to set the stock out in the sunlight and it will dry very quickly.
Here’s the final job.
The whole rifle.
Finally, the action.
This was a fun, but slightly difficult project. I now have a beautiful old rifle, that I can shoot all my life and then leave to my grandson. I plan on taking it to the range Monday and will give a report. I bet it shoots like gangbusters.
If you’ve never refinished an old C&R rifle, you ought to give it a try.