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.
It had one place where the finish was worn off the stock, but that is easy to fix.
The receiver is case hardened, but had some slight surface rust, but no really bad pitting.
I can fix that too.
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.
First, I took it all apart, to allow cleaning and refinishing.
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.
I then took the stock outside and sprayed it with Easy Off Oven Cleaner and let it work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And here’s where the stock was damaged.
And here’s the receiver, after removing the surface rust.
And another picture of the finished shotgun.
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.