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Old December 17, 2009, 07:25 AM   #1
guitar1580
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Stock cracks?

I have an old single shot 20 ga, approx 100+ yrs old, which I've never fired yet. It has some hairline cracks in the stock, close to where it attaches to the frame. Should this be considered dangerous to fire, for fear of the stock cracking further? The barrel and the gun in general are in good shootable condition.

Josh P
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Old December 17, 2009, 10:59 AM   #2
Uncle Buck
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Josh,

If you only knew how many of us poor farm boys wrapped duct tape or bailing wire around the cracked stocks of our shotguns and kept going... Your hair would turn white and you would swear we all ate lead paint when we were infants (and some of us did, I suppose).

The only way to really know if it is safe to shoot is to have a qualified gunsmith look at it. If you post some pictures (always like looking at pictures ) someone might be able to take a look at it and tell you one way or another.

They make some great glues and resins for fixing wood that would probably fix the problem, but once you start fixing things like this, you trash any resale value the gun might have.

You could also look into getting a new stock for the gun.
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Old December 17, 2009, 11:52 AM   #3
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You're not alone. If you look at some old home gunsmith type books, they usually have a section on various methods of repairing the cracks you describe. The kind of repair (if repairable) depends on the nature and extant of the damage -- one pic is worth 1K words. Be forewarned, some of the repair techniques maybe mechanically sound but are obvious and unsightly.

Good luck
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Old December 17, 2009, 02:11 PM   #4
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If it has any merit as a collector's piece, leave it alone and don't fire it. If it's a shooter, the easiest (and safest) thing is probably to put a new stock on it. Save the old one in case you ever want to sell the gun.

If you just have an urge to repair it, get a structural epoxy resin that's made for wood (System 3 is a good brand). Wax the stock around the cracks, but not into them, first, to keep the epoxy from adhering to the surface. After mixing the epoxy, stir in a small amount of wood dust to thicken it a bit, and work it into the cracks with a very thin artist's spatula. Close up the cracks as much as possible with padded woodworking clamps, hose clamps, pieces of inner tube, etc. (Experiment ahead of time to see what will work for this without marring the stock.) Then leave the thing alone for 2-3 times the cure time given on the label. Clean off any excess epoxy, rub the stock down with steel wool and paste wax, buff, and enjoy.

Use your judgment about firing the gun after this -- I make no claims that the stock will be structurally sound after this treatment, but it's the best bet if you do want to repair it.
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Old December 17, 2009, 02:58 PM   #5
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I do a lot of specialized woodworking - and like others advised - send us a picture and we can probably give you specific advice on how best to fix it. There are lots of ways - depending on what we see in the photos to accomplish a good repair these days - and with a limied amount of specialized equipment.

As an example - if you don't have woodworking clamps / you can do a lot by wrapping the stock with a towel and using a good bungie cord / or even some kind of a strap that you can get to tighten up ...vs investing in clamps that you may not need again.

We haven't seen your gun but many single shot guns that have been around for 100+ yrs aren't worth that much ( as a collectable ) - not saying there may not be a lot of sentimental value in it for you .... but fixing it, probably isn't going to affect the value much - like it might on an antique piece of furniture - but it depends on what it is too.

I'll wait for photos to give you any specific ideas.
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Old December 17, 2009, 05:49 PM   #6
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I have both of my great grandfathers old double barrels. Remington and Baker and both have a 3" piece of the stock broken off the left side where the stock meets the reciever. I know one of them broke using modern shells in it around 15 years ago so I would think if you shoot yours with modern ammo it could easily finish breaking. A lot of old shotties at the gun shows have patched stocks.

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Old December 17, 2009, 10:40 PM   #7
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It doesn't really have collector's value. It's only valued at around 100 - 200 dollars. It's a Black Prince, by Bridge Gun Co, and someone in the past had refinished the black stock and forearm.
I know that some of the guitar repairmen use hypodermic needles to inject glue into small cracks.
It's really a nice 20ga, with good balance and feel. It may make some kid a nice rabbit gun, if I know it's safe.
I'll try to get some pics tonite.

Josh P
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Old December 18, 2009, 12:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitar1580
I know that some of the guitar repairmen use hypodermic needles to inject glue into small cracks.
Yes, that does work, but the glue has to have very low viscosity, or it won't go through the syringe, and you have to be absolutely sure you can get the crack to close completely -- a low-viscosity glue generally has very poor gap-filing properties, and if the crack doesn't close all the way, the repair will fail..
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Old December 18, 2009, 02:27 PM   #9
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Pics of cracks

You are correct Van, I think they thin the glue with water when using that method.

Here are the links to pics of the cracks, for those who asked... top and bottom. To me, I'm not sure I trust shooting it.

Anyway, if I dont sell the gun, I may strip the black paint, glue the cracks, and refinish with dark stain, if it's worthwhile. Just a winter project. I traded some old furniture for the gun.





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Old December 18, 2009, 03:42 PM   #10
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Based on the photos - its clearly a "project" gun ....

I think I'd stick with standard woodworking ( aliphatic resin glues ) like TiteBond II that is waterproof. I wouldn't thin it out either / but you can use a needle tip injector to get the glue into the cracks as deep as you can.

Guitars don't see weather .... so repairing them is a little different.

Getting all the paint out of the pores of the wood is going to be tough. I think I'd probably suggest / fixing the cracks / then roughing up the paint on it now and reapplying a coat or two of spray paint. But if you really want to stain it / you'll have to sand it / repair any defects or lost wood with some type of filler - and go as dark as you can / then some good varnish on top of it to keep the water out.

I'd wear gloves if you wanted to shoot it / I don't know that its dangerous to shoot - but it certainly might crack more. Remove the wood stock from the receiver before you do any work on it of course / it may expose more cracks too ...

Honestly, if you have a buyer for it .... as parts or whatever.... I'd sell it rather than spend the time to fuss with it.
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Old December 18, 2009, 04:31 PM   #11
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depending on your woodworking skills, I would gently wedge the cracks open ( very slightly ) this is where you skill level comes in. I generally use epoxy resin to glue the cracks ( this leaves almost no visible lines). The biggest failure of a repair seems to be the years of gun oil that have soaked the wood. It's hard for glues to bond to oil. There is a solvent they use for removing the oil, but I can't think of it right now.
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Old December 18, 2009, 06:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigJimP
I think I'd stick with standard woodworking ( aliphatic resin glues ) like TiteBond II that is waterproof. I wouldn't thin it out either / but you can use a needle tip injector to get the glue into the cracks as deep as you can.
The aliphatic resin glues also have very poor gap-filling properties, even when not thinned. The strength of the bond made with these glues depends on getting the two surfaces to join tightly, and using quite a lot of pressure when clamping. If the joint is open, the glue itself has very little structural strength.

Cracks in wood are usually due to shrinkage, and they seldom want to close nicely. If you use a good structural epoxy, it makes a strong repair even when things don't go back together as tightly as you'd like.

Wedging the cracks open a bit is a good idea (make thin wedges from a hard wood like oak or birch, and tap them in gently with a hammer); so is using a needle injector... You can thin some of the epoxy slightly with denatured alcohol to get some deep in the crack this way, and then thicken the rest with wood dust and work it in with the spatula to fill the void as much as possible before clamping. (Use an epoxy with a loooong pot life -- the slower-curing it is, the easier all of this will be.)

Going just from the grain pattern, it looks like that stock might be walnut under all that paint. If so, stripping it might not be too bad, and who knows... the wood might be kinda purty.

ETA: Repair the cracks before stripping the paint. Getting stripper and paint sludge in the cracks before gluing is another great way to guarantee a failed repair...
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Last edited by Vanya; December 18, 2009 at 06:39 PM.
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Old December 18, 2009, 07:10 PM   #13
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Vanya is right about yellow glue not have much gap filling properties / but you should be ok as long as the gap is less than 1/32" / and if the gap is under 1/32" the bond with yellow glue will be stronger than the original wood. It's also inexpensive and will give you an open time of about 10 - 15 min if you use TiteBond II / TiteBond III has an open time of 20-25 min.

If you can't get the cracks to close up tightly / I agree epoxy is probably a better way to go ......but it never occured to me that you can't get the cracks to close tightly under pressure .....

Standard woodworking clamps / or a strap clamp will give you enough clamping strength to ensure a good bond ...
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Old December 18, 2009, 07:20 PM   #14
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the use of a whiting powder and acetone mixture will draw oils out of the stock to ensure a good bond with the epoxy.
I was told that cracks like that ( from the tang ) were due to improper stock tightning.

Last edited by mwar410; December 18, 2009 at 07:24 PM. Reason: addition
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Old December 18, 2009, 09:00 PM   #15
Catfish25p2000
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Your shotgun

Hey, that doesn't happen to be a Black prince by Bridge gun company does it? I looks a lot like one. I have one in a 16 gauge that I sanded the black paint off of to find some of the nicest walnut I have ever seen! Turned out to be a really nice looking shotgun!
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Old December 18, 2009, 10:36 PM   #16
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Yes, Cat ... that's exactly what it is. Bridge Gun Co, Black Prince. Wish I knew the exact year. I dont know why I didn't take a pic of the whole gun. I'd like to see yours too.

Other than the cracks, its a nice gun. Do you know, are they originally painted black, or stained? Looks like someone repainted mine quite a long time ago.

Thanks for all of the great info folks. Sounds like a little beyond my skill & tool level. I probably will end up trying to sell it ... although, now you guys have me wondering what that grain looks like under the paint.

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Old December 19, 2009, 01:52 AM   #17
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couple more pics



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Old December 19, 2009, 08:47 AM   #18
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Here is mine. I got it at an auction for like $40. I think the stocks are stained. I cant imagine covering up that wood, I loved mine when I got done with it. I think I remember reading that they were made in England in the early 1900's. I polished the receiver on mine, it was pretty rusted. Believe it or not, that is the original wood that was on the gun. It turned out great for a $40 wall hanger. Mine is a 16 gauge.




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Old December 19, 2009, 02:18 PM   #19
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40 bucks, eh? Sweet. I hope it's not just a wall-hanger...?

If Catfish's shotgun also had the black paint, and the thing is called a "Black Prince," perhaps that paint was the original finish? (Ah, for the good old days, when they'd put nice wood like that on a gun, and then paint it.)
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Old December 19, 2009, 04:31 PM   #20
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When I saw the first pictures, I said; that looks like a Black Prince and indeed it was. Confused me when you said it was old and I guess that holds true as well. Happened to be my first shotgun and the original stock finish, was black enamal and the reciever was chrome. No reason why this "vintage" shotgun could not be a shooter. Sure brings back fond memories. There is more than one way to make this fix and I would start out as conservative as possible. I've done seringes, then wedges and the glue I use the most, is Tite-Bond -III. It's water proof, you can thin it down and it creeps into cracks by itself, if you give it a little room and let gravity work for you. It's also easy to wipe clean as it dries and comes to the surface. practice and try a little. Later, you can cover up the cracks with a black permanent marker and buff it out.

Thanks for taking me back, a bit!! ......


Be Safe !!!

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Old December 19, 2009, 04:52 PM   #21
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I'm also a "wanna be" woodworker. For cracks like that I use a slow-setting CA glue (superglue). The new Gorilla brand superglue is made to be flexable when cured. I use the wedges as previously mentioned, plus I push the glue into the crack with air. If the crack goes all the way through the wood, a shopvac will help pull the glue into the crack. If it doesn't, a gentle blast of compressed air will push it in.
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Old December 19, 2009, 05:14 PM   #22
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Thanks for the pics, Catfish. Very sweet. That stock is beautiful. I love the shape of the forearm on these, they have a nice feel.

Here's what I found about Bridge Gun Co a while back: It was the trade name for Shapleigh Hardware Co in St Louis, MO.

Bridge was the brand name first used by Crescent Firearms Co of Norwich, Connecticut. Founded in 1893, bought by H&D Folsom. Folsom imported and distributed English, French, Belgium, and American made Crescents. 1890's to early 1900's. Bought by Stevens Arms in 1932.

Black Prince valued between $100 - $200.

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Old December 19, 2009, 10:12 PM   #23
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Quote:
If Catfish's shotgun also had the black paint, and the thing is called a "Black Prince," perhaps that paint was the original finish? (Ah, for the good old days, when they'd put nice wood like that on a gun, and then paint it.)
Thats how they did it. Isn't that something that they would cover up wood that nice. That is how all the black princes were.
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