Browning was enjoying great sales in the 60’s and they were supplying wood to the FN plant in Belgium, as there was a ready supply of it, here in the US.
The problem was they could not supply enough to meet the demand.
The tried and proven method of curing wood was with kiln drying, which removed the right amount of moisture which seasoned the wood and made it useful as a gun stock. The wood was put in large kilns and would remain there for several months to get the moisture content to the desired level.
The bottom line was that it worked well, but it just took too long and thus the gun manufacturing process was being held up while waiting for the wood to dry.
A new process was being introduced in this country, by which wood could have salt packed around it, and thus the moisture would quickly be removed - and the wood was quickly ready to be sent to Belgium
As old Browning retiree's have attested, one of their jobs was to go out into the field and locate cured gunstock blanks.
When they visited with suppliers in California and Missouri and taken on a tour of those facilities, they told how surprised they were to see pallets of wood blanks stacked high, and amazingly enough the wood had salt packed between each layer of blanks.
Water was running from the blanks as moisture was being pulled from the wood.
The suppliers informed them that this greatly accelerated the curing process and that they could supply as many of these blanks as was need. It seemed harmless enough.
Deals were made, and soon many blanks of wood were on the way to the plant at FN.
Production increased, and everyone was happy - but trouble was around the corner.
This salt curing process began in 1966 and continued until around 1971. In those few short years thousands of Browning’s, but not all, were fit with salt cured wood.
It wasn’t too long after the salt wood installation process began, when only a few guns started appearing in the Browning repair shop; but it soon became a full-fledged epidemic as they began to pour into the St. Louis repair facility.
Damaged guns were always repaired at no charge, but the owners were without a gun for a long period of time. Browning was really in a financial pinch over the situation and it would dog them for years to come and still does to this day. (Browning no longer honors the saltwwod warranty)
Many guns would have to be replaced as they were just too far gone for repair. Replacing Olympian, Medallion, Midas, Diana grades (and everything in between) was a terribly costly situation for Browning, as many thousands of man hours were spent on the repair of salt guns.