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Old February 17, 2014, 04:50 PM   #1
Skans
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Can a pitted antique firearm be restored?

If an antique firearm has pitting on the exterior (not surface rust, but substantial pits), can metal be added to permit it to be blued and restore its appearance?

I'm not really asking whether it is worth it or not, or whether it would ruin the value of the gun. Just want to know if pits can be filled and restored so that it would no longer detract from the condition.
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Old February 17, 2014, 04:56 PM   #2
BillM
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I would think no----but after seeing some of the guns Doug Turnbull
has worked over, I have to believe that it can be done.
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Old February 17, 2014, 05:23 PM   #3
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Depends on where and how deep the pits are, friend of mine machined the pits out of a military rolling block receiver.
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Old February 17, 2014, 06:01 PM   #4
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Yes and no. Pits can be filled with weld and remachined, but the problem is that, due to the dissimilar steel used in the welding process, sometimes the rebluing can be a problem.
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Old February 17, 2014, 08:11 PM   #5
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Any "restoration" to antiques ruins their collector value, but unless it's something exceedingly rare, it probably has relatively little value anyway
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Old February 17, 2014, 09:33 PM   #6
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It has been done, with expert welding used to fill in pits and replace rotted away metal, followed by very careful machine and hand work. But the job is very expensive and there are maybe 4-5 people in the country who can do it, and I'll bet your average gunsmith is not one of them. Maybe Turnbull does it, but I don't think so. If interested, ask them.

In an old article I read, the gun was a flat side Mauser C96, but even for that rare a gun the job would have cost more than the gun was worth except as a "no expense spared" project gun to showcase the welder's talents, and with the cost partly borne by selling the article.

A few pits might be filled with TIG welding, using a wire of a steel that will take bluing/plating, but it would not be easy and the risk of doing further damage to a rare gun would be pretty high. Filling pits with JB Weld or some similar compound would work only if the gun is to be painted; it would not stand up to other types of refinishing, so a real "restoration" would not be feasible.

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Old February 18, 2014, 08:48 AM   #7
Skans
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If the work could be done, does anyone have an idea if we're talking about $3000 - $6,000 range? possibly less than that, or closer to $10,000?

Heck, the reason I'm asking is because I want to know if a Borchardt C-93 for sale on Gunbroker can be properly restored. It's quickly getting out of my price range anyway, so this is why I'm asking...

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...=393923616#PIC
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Old February 18, 2014, 09:26 AM   #8
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Why? Really, why do it at all? Those pits are part of the story of the life of the gun. I have several old single shot .22s. I would never gussy up their appearance. I might reline the bore so they will shoot but leave the outside alone. That's my tuppence.
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Old February 18, 2014, 10:28 AM   #9
Dixie Gunsmithing
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A rule on bluing is to remove the pits, if you can, but leave any close to the lettering, as to not remove it. Shallow pits can be removed with polishing, but you need a good polisher to do it, else it look like a sucked-on lollipop.

Deep pits can be welded up, but the bluing solution needs the correct additives to keep a color-mismatch from showing, and the correct filler metal has to be used (one that will blue the same color easily). Really, it is better to leave that deep a pit. Screw holes from scope mounts, or side mounts, especially ones not laid out correctly, will have to be welded, unless you want to keep them. Ones on the barrel, leave them alone, and use a plug screw.

I would advise not bluing a gun that is above fair condition by NRA appraising standards. Poor condition will increase its value, but ones in better condition could harm the value, unless you want to keep it.

The buy it now price on the pistol is too high, if you ask me, and really what its at now as a bid. The bore is bad, seen by the photos, and pitted up a good bit. The pits on other places are way deep, so I doubt much could be done. It would be a show piece, a wall hanger, nothing more.

Last edited by Dixie Gunsmithing; February 18, 2014 at 10:36 AM.
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Old February 18, 2014, 10:30 AM   #10
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The pits on that gun just tell a story of how it was improperly stored. They do nothing for it. If the Borchardt can be restored to remove nearly any trace of those pits (and I don't mean just polishing them away), it would be worth it, to me anyway.

I would pay more for a professionally restored Borchardt C93 than I would for one that is severely pitted. The value to me is in the design of the gun - this gun was likely never used in any famous battle. The poor condition of the gun detracts from its design.
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Old February 18, 2014, 10:57 AM   #11
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What Jim says above is correct, as the cost to restore this, would mean actually fabricating new parts, if you want it in shootable condition. That costs a lot of money because there is a huge amount of time involved.

The barrel, with the deep pitting on the outside, and pretty bad pitting on the inside would be dangerous to shoot, if you ask me, even with black powder rounds. Deep pitting can cause cracking and failure when exposed to large pressures, just the same as a very rust pipe can burst if a good amount of pressure is ran through it. The pitting could even cause increased pressure in the bore, as it could hinder the free travel of the bullet.

And this from what is observable. What kind of mess is its internal works in?
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Old February 18, 2014, 11:29 AM   #12
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DG, thanks for your insight. This particular C93 is too expensive, given its condition, for what I'd be willing to spend on it. My thought is that if, all considered, someone could have a total of $8,000 into this, and have a cosmetically decent, working, example of a C93, the purchase + restoration might be worth it.
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Old February 18, 2014, 01:06 PM   #13
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I always rust blued. If somebody wanted a hot blue job, I sent it out. I don't remember the name of the plater I dealt with, but he advertised something called "Iron plating". If I remember correctly, it was used to get an even blue on welded areas and fill pitted areas. I never had the cause to use that service, but it may be an option for you. Welding rarely works out. Even areas that are heat treated differently usually show a difference in the blueing. It will work somewhat on low carbon receivers like Mausers and Russians because the rod is generally close in composition to the receiver material.
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Old February 18, 2014, 02:43 PM   #14
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Just for shootability, would a barrel relining make something like that safe to shoot?
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Old February 19, 2014, 09:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Just for shootability, would a barrel relining make something like that safe to shoot?
It is a common fix for .22lr rifles.
For larger caliber center fires, I would check with your gunsmith before proceeding. I have no experience with those but safe to say "maybe" and "maybe not". No sense taking chances, too many variables.
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Old February 19, 2014, 12:24 PM   #16
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I could remove pitting from a surface and restore it. Deep pits would be welded, machined then hand worked. Its not just the area of a pit but the whole surface. Typically you would lose at least .005" from a surface in order to have it look "new" again. As an idea of cost- take any one cohesive area of that gun and figure on 4-5 hours at $100 an hour. Then comes the issue of blueing. As others said it will not match. An option, is to use a product such as "lab metal" or other fillers. Then sand out the area and cerakote or powder coat it.
I would not do any of that to the gun you posted a link to.
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Old February 19, 2014, 12:39 PM   #17
Dixie Gunsmithing
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Quote:
Just for shootability, would a barrel relining make something like that safe to shoot?
The only hope would be to take the measurements off the old one, create a working drawing, and send it off to a barrel manufacturer to have a new one made. The problem is, you will lose any proof marks that was on the original, etc., unless those could be copied and recreated by a CNC engraver, but then, you run the risk of breaking the law by forging proof marks. You would have to always state it was unauthentic.

The other, would be to have a good barrel house bore that out, paper thin at the muzzle, and maybe make a stepped insert barrel, a larger step at the chamber, that could be slid in from the breech, and silver soldered in place. That would probably be the most expensive method, since you're still making a new barrel, and using the old one as a skin. I think this has been done on some old Broomhandles.

IMO, though, that barrel is toast.
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Old February 19, 2014, 01:52 PM   #18
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The Borchardt barrel is like the one on its descendant, the Luger. It has intricate machining that is inside the receiver and has to be done either before barrel installation (as was done at the factory) or by repeated removal and replacement of the barrel, not a good idea. Further, the front sight base is integral to the barrel, though that might be faked using a ring.

All in all, I can't see any gunsmith or barrel maker being willing to tackle that job.

Boring out the barrel to a shell and installing a new barrel inside as suggested above, might work, but that barrel is not very heavy or thick, so that job also would be very touchy, which translates as careful and expensive work.

My own feeling is that the current bid (now $7k or so) is about right; it would be worth the "buy now" price in better condition. Very sad. That gun looks to have been almost new when it was stored somewhere that damp got to it.

If someone bought that gun at $7k and spent another $7k to restore it, it would be a restored gun worth, maybe, 8k. IMHO, the figures don't work out. If I owned that gun, I would leave it alone, enjoy it as an example of an early auto pistol, and think of it maybe as trading stock if I found something nicer.

Jim
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Last edited by James K; February 19, 2014 at 02:06 PM.
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Old February 19, 2014, 02:19 PM   #19
Dixie Gunsmithing
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All in all, I can't see any gunsmith or barrel maker being willing to tackle that job.
Jim, I can't either. There's just way too many hours involved in it, as to what the end result would be worth, and with machine shop hours with what they cost, well...
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Old February 19, 2014, 02:23 PM   #20
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James, my thinking was that if the gun could be purchased in the $4,000 range, and if a good cosmetic restoration could be done for $4,000 (excluding the bore), the gun would interest me. While this one isn't what I want and is out of reach for me financially, I wanted to know what could realistically be done as far as restoration goes for future purposes.
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Old February 19, 2014, 02:42 PM   #21
Dixie Gunsmithing
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Skans,

The problem is still there with hiding the heavy pitting, and making it all one color after bluing. Now, if you could get one thats not eat up with very deep pitting, like this one, it could be refinished, and brought back to an almost new look. Though, you do not want a refinisher who only to takes a power polisher to a gun, but one to just use is sparingly to remove some pits, as it needs to be hand polished, using abrasive cloth and a hard backer, to keep all the sharp angles, etc right, which is time consuming, but I think that could be done for what you're speaking of, or cost less even, just not this one at that pricing.
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Old February 19, 2014, 04:41 PM   #22
Skans
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DG, that's good advice. This C93 just isn't right for me - even if I got it for (what I consider) a reasonable price, those pits would really bother me. See, for me, part of the allure of the C93 is the uniqueness of its design, and even though many consider it to be kind of "ugly", its beautiful to me. The aesthetic appeal of this firearm is as important to me as its historic value. I'm just going to have to keep looking.....saving.....and investing.
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Old February 21, 2014, 10:15 PM   #23
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One advantage of buying a gun like that (if it can be had at a reasonable price) is that it can be shot, analyzed, and generally played with without risking damage to a really valuable collectors item.

Jim
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Old February 22, 2014, 10:11 AM   #24
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Sometimes if you are putting a bead blasted finish on a firearm the media blasting will " take care" of the pits if they are shallow enough
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Old February 22, 2014, 02:10 PM   #25
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Somebody wanted it bad enough to pay over 15,000 for it.
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