View Full Version : a crying shame

June 2, 2011, 10:28 PM
Hey guys love the site!

Couple months ago my fathers home burned to the ground ,along with almost every firearm we owned.All tucked away in a safe. Needless to say a few hour fire rating is mostly useless if no one reports the fire. among the dearly departed where three pythons, one blue,one stainless,and one nickle. They were my baby girls,all virgins never shot and still in the box. and a 1943 remington rand m1911A1
We were not allowed to retrieve anything untill the insurance and state finished thier investigation. Upon whitch time I promply retrieved these 4 weapons. I went to work on the !1911 first soaking it in a pentrating oil then disassembling it. after ordering almost all new parts and having the slide and frame checked out,bead blasted and reblued, It looks great and works fine.
BUT this gun is a toy compared to these pythons. So my question is this. Can they be restored? If so where should I start? What can I do to see if it is even worth the effort.
below are some pics not the best my phone is a POS.


June 2, 2011, 10:47 PM
I also own 2 pythons & a gov 1911a1 all made in the mid 1970's---i too feel your pain & anguish. But be of good cheer:

Contact mr. Alex hamilton @ 10-ring precision in san antonio, texas for instructions as to what is the best thing to do. After that, send them all to robar in arizona for professional refinishing with the "np3" or one of their new poly finishes. Me, i like the np3 the best.

Your fellow brother in the colt fraternity of admirers,


James K
June 3, 2011, 12:30 PM
I can't tell anything from those poor pictures, but if the guns got hot enough to burn off the wood the springs are gone and the heat treatment of the frames and cylinders is no more. It would be very unwise (IMHO) to spend money trying to restore those guns and covering the damage with paint or a new finish will not change things.

You can contact gunsmiths and maybe someone will tackle the job, but again IMHO, anyone who claims he can make those guns like new is into dreaming or deceit or both.


Buzzard Bait
June 3, 2011, 03:36 PM
My heart goes out to anyone that has to suffer such a loss as a house fire. How does the homeowners insurance treat the loss of the firearms? I quess all the other pythons in the world are now worth just a little bit more.

Clifford L. Hughes
June 3, 2011, 03:40 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your loss. Your guns can't be restored because the temper has been destroyed and shooting them would be hazzardous.

Semper Fi.

Gunnery sergeant
Clifford L. Hughes
USMC Retired

June 3, 2011, 03:56 PM
thanks Jim
this the info I am looking for.they definately got hot. and then wet ,so they are in pityful condition.Of all the guns we lost these were the ones that had the most sentimental value.
The 1911 was in the same safe as pythons and it seems to have retained its tensil strenght and works fine.Ofcourse I replaced everything except the slide and frame. So I had a lil ray of hope for these revolvers but I really never expected to make them like new.but if they can be made operable again I have to try.

Is there a way to test the steel? the stainless one seemed to make it through in the best condition.
If anyone has any ideas or contact info for anyone who has worked with burnt firearms b4 please PM the info.


June 3, 2011, 04:03 PM
State Farm paid 8k for over 30k worth of firearms so if you have a nice collection get a rider on your policy!

Jim Watson
June 3, 2011, 04:14 PM
Years ago I saw two fire guns that had been refurbished.
S&W .44 Specials redone by S&W. They had gorgeous as new nickel plate and new Magna grips. Unfortunately the bores were rough, nothing to be done about that with no Triple Lock barrels left to put on.

I am having my fire guns refinished gradually with a couple at a time in the shop. The worst was only lightly scorched and the rest show only smoke and water damage, with a good deal of mold on stocks.

Show them to a gunsmith experienced in the field.

James K
June 3, 2011, 08:52 PM
I don't know if I qualify as a "gunsmith experienced in the field", but I have had the unfortunate experience of looking at a fair number of burned up guns. Generally, if the wood is only sooty or dirty and the guns are just dirty or with a little rust, they will be OK after a thorough cleaning and can be refinished. But if the wood is burned away, or fiberglas or polymer parts destroyed, or the springs ruined, the gun is scrap and trying to "restore" it is a waste of time. Even if the rust and burned metal can be polished down and refinished, not only is the heat treatment destroyed on all the parts but parts like a shotgun receiver or a revolver frame will probably be warped and useless.


June 9, 2011, 09:53 AM
We've refinished quite a few burned firearms over the years. First, just as FYI for firearms that have been in a house fire:
Even if they weren't physically burned, they've been exposed to all kinds of corrosive vapors and steam. That's a perfect environment for rust. The wood should be removed and soaked in a good quality wood furniture "rejuvenation" chemical. The metal parts should be disassembled or at least field stripped. Wash them in soap and hot water. Blow dry with compressed air or at least a hair dryer. Then spray them all down heavily with WD40. Yes, it's a lousy lubricant but it's a great water displacer. Determine if they can be safely restored. if so, soak them in an automotive oil and leave them "wet". We've had firearms arrive here that were wrapped in oil soaked rags inside plastic bags. They were dripping with oil when I unpacked them but that's the best way to protect them.

To determnine if they can be safely restored: Note: "Safely restored" means doing it without re-tempering the metal. Re-tempering isn't cheap so it may not be worth it to have that done.
I break it down into three stages.
1...Rusty metal. That's not a real problem as long as you get to it before pitting sets in.
2...Burned wood. If the wood is actually charred, then it was on fire. The temperatures for wood ignition vary quite a bit depending on a lot of variables but generally, it has to be in excess of 200 Centigrade. This is high enough to start to temper some metals so charring is not a good sign.
3..."Dead" springs. Springs are made from tempered steel. Their mass compared to their size is usually quite small. That means that they get hot and cool down fast and that means that they will loose their tempering fast. If the springs have no spring left, the whole thing was subjected to excessive temps. At that point, I would write it all off. Either make it a wall hanger with a disabled firing mechanism or scrap it for the small parts.

A word of caution! Some shops that refinish firearms have the equipment and ability to test the hardness of the metal. Most, including us, don't. Some shops will refuse to refinish burned firearms because of the questions regarding heat treating. Some shops don't care and will refinish it even if the metal is as soft as putty! We have a simple policy:
If the wood is charred, it might be dead. If the springs don't spring anymore, it is most certainly absolutely without a doubt dead as far as we are concerned. If I'm not sure about, it won't get refinished by us. Yes, it might not be really dead but we're not taking the chance that it comes apart in your face.

Here's some photo's of burned rifles to look at. The damage to these rifles was all caused by smoke, steam and corrosive fumes. Keep yer powder dry, Mac.


Tuff-Gun Finishes. The Name Says It All.
Mac's Shootin' Irons.

June 9, 2011, 02:39 PM
Looked at your before & after photos. Wow what a difference after you did your magic on the metal & wood. Out of curiosity, i went to your website & clicked on language #2 to see what pops up---rosetta stone-----how funnnnnnny !!!! What a hoot bro. I like it.


Capt. Charlie
June 12, 2011, 04:22 PM
Contact TFL Staff Member Denny Hansen (http://thefiringline.com/forums/member.php?u=10120). He went through this a couple of years ago and restored a number of guns far worse than what yours appear to be.

I believe S.W.A.T. Magazine did an article on his restoration, along with before and after pictures. I'm sure he can relate and walk you through this. Good luck :).

James K
June 12, 2011, 05:24 PM
When throwing around the term "restoration", it is good to know just what was involved. Read the posts by yours truly and by Mac's. You can take almost any gun that has been in a fire and "restore" it so it looks good. Polish, reblue, replace springs, replace wood, etc. But that gun can be dangerous and unable to stand up to any significant firing, if the parts are dead soft, bolt lugs weakened, rifling burned out, revolver cylinders weakened and ratchets ruined, and so on.

That is why, with all due respect, I dislike posts like: "My shotgun was burned in a fire and all the wood was burned and the barrel sort of bent, but gunsmith X restored it perfect so it looks good as new." Keyword -"looks".


June 12, 2011, 05:41 PM
I'm with Jim on this one. When those guns reached the temp in which the grips went away, then the hardening also left the metal.. And Mac, 200 degrees celcius is crazy hot, wood will burn at alot less. If even the springs are still there, those pistols still maybe dangerous to shoot due to the pressure's of the .357. I've seen a few "burnt" pistols restored and fired, and they seemed fine for awhile then cracks started to appear here and there,and etc, then they were retired.

June 13, 2011, 11:37 PM
How much is a gun worth?

How much is a person worth?

June 19, 2011, 12:41 PM
hooligan1.."When those guns reached the temp in which the grips went away, then the hardening also left the metal.. And Mac, 200 degrees celcius is crazy hot, wood will burn at a lot less"

smithwk..."Couple months ago my fathers home burned to the ground ,along with almost every firearm we owned.All tucked away in a safe. Needless to say a few hour fire rating is mostly useless if no one reports the fire"
The Auto-Ignition Temperature - or the minimum temperature required to ignite a gas or vapor or material in air without a spark or flame being present - are indicated for some common fuels below:
Wood... 300C. 572 F.

In the case of this particular post, the firearms were located inside a fire safe. It's safe to assume that they were not exposed to flame, only heat. Yes, wood will burn at a lot less than 200 C but it will not ignite at less than 200 C..even closer to 300 C..if the heat source is only heat and not flame.

Tempering of steel can start at as low as 150 C. which is less than that required to auto-ignite wood. That's why it's very important to determine if the wood was burned and how it was burned. If it auto-ignited, the firearm is dead. The temperatures were hot enough to affect the temper of the metal. If it source-ignited..as in from flame..it may not be dead. It requires much less heat to source-ignite wood. Two good rules of thumb to remember are: If the wood auto-ignited, it had to be at least 200 C. which is hot enough to affect the temper. If the springs are dead, all of the metal between them and the heat source had to be hot enough to affect the temper of the metal. Yes, there are quite a few variables involved, such as the type and age of the wood, the type of metal and whether enough oxygen was present to sustain flame.

Yes, "restoring" a burned firearm can be done. However, many questions have to be asked of the owner and by the 'smith to himself. Was it exposed to flame or only heat, by-products and steam? Did the wood ignite? Are the springs dead? Did the metal change color? Depending on those answers and others, I would make the decision to restore it or not. I am ALWAYS very conservative in my decison. If it's questionable, I won't do it.

What's amazing to me are the extremes of the decisions of whether to restore it or not. I have seen firearms scrapped that were only damaged by some heat and lot of steam and fire by-products. I have seen others that should not have even been used for parts that were restored to near perfect condition! Sometimes, that's due to the 'smith being an idiot. Sometimes, it's due to the owner not telling the truth about how it got burned. Sometimes, it's due to the owner doing it him/her self so the firearm can be sold. Sometimes, it's due to the variables. Like I said: If it's questionable, I won't do it! De-tempered metal will eventually stretch and break, usually with bad results. Keep yer powder dry, Mac.
Tuff-Gun Finishes. The Name Says It All.
Mac's Shootin' Irons.

June 19, 2011, 01:57 PM
The most common 'fireproofing' is to line the interior of the safe with gypsum sheets.

As the gypsum is heated it releases water vapor, keeping the safe cooler, but giving the contents a nice steam bath.

Further heating can drive the temperature well over the boiling point of water and create superheated steam.

It is NOT good for blued products.

Wood ignition temperature are all over the place, and depend on length of exposure.
See http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplmisc/rpt1464.pdf

They are showing 180 C to 430 C depending on what wood and exposure time.

James K
June 19, 2011, 02:16 PM
There are so-called "fire proof" safes (which aren't) and gypsum, and sprinklers, and other means of keeping guns from being ruined in a fire.

But the very best way is to prevent that fire from happening in the first place. Be careful with open flames and space heaters. Common causes of fires are a kerosene or oil heater knocked over or material getting into it (like a curtain or a newspaper); oil lamps or candles used during a power outage; an electical short or overload, often caused by improper electrical work; and discarded smoking materials. All of those can be prevented by common sense.

And if that doesn't make you determined to prevent fires, here are some scary thoughts. When you have a house fire, your home WILL BELONG TO THE FIRE MARSHAL until he completes his investigation. If he is anti-gun (many are) he WILL find your collection and create as much trouble as he can for you, using the law and the press to blacken your name and/or have you arrested. (Yes, it has happened, and I know of a couple of cases.)

Not only that, but some "fire investigators" will simply steal anything they can and tell the homeowner to "shut up and claim it on the insurance." Since the investigator can charge the homeowner with arson or anything he wants to, there are few complaints. (I know of such cases also.)

And of course, an insurance company is always happy to take the fire investigator's word on anything that will allow them to nullify the claim.


June 19, 2011, 06:44 PM
There supposedly is a gunsmith in Tucson, AZ who can reintroduce the carbon into, and retemper, burnt guns, but his name escapes me at present.

Maybe some of the other members might know.

James K
June 19, 2011, 09:02 PM
Sorry, but I checked and the guy I talked to says the idea of re-heat treating is a non-starter. You have to know exactly the composition of the steel before the damage (serious analysis even if the manufacturer cooperates) then draw to dead soft and begin all over. Then add the possibility that the frame and/or other parts are warped, almost a certainty if hot metal was hit by water in fighting the fire. And he says you can't "reintroduce carbon" into the steel without melting it down. You can carburize (case harden) it but that doesn't affect the interior of the steel, only a thin layer on the surface, fine for hardness, but not for strength. As I said, some folks make claims but I wouldn't trust the results.

No disrespect, Gyvel, but I would take a pass on anyone who claims to be able to do that kind of thing.


June 19, 2011, 09:29 PM
I got a rider on my renters insurance, raised it by about $5 a month. Sorry to hear of your loss, and I can't agree loud enough - if the wood was burned off or charred inside the safe, render them non firing and have them mounted on a plaque.

June 20, 2011, 04:09 AM
If nothing is warped you may be able to replace the cyliders in the Colts and be OK if the guns have not got really and I mean really hot, Frames and barrels really have no major heat treatments to them out of being soft vs hard. The issue is the metal being burned or to brittle.

June 21, 2011, 07:51 AM
No disrespect, Gyvel, but I would take a pass on anyone who claims to be able to do that kind of thing.

No problem there. I'd only heard about the guy, and I think it was initially in regards to re-heat treating Norinco M-14 receivers or some such.

June 25, 2011, 04:42 PM
The humidity, acid and smoke are very corrosive and goes EVERYWHERE in a fire. Drawers, guncases, closets-at least it did on our home. Too late for the original poster but should this happen to you-get the guns out and into the shower. Wash em and then oil-RIG.

The fire dept wont like it but... The insurance co should not mind as you will be saving them money. This applies to those not burned to any extent and are in some other room/area from the fire.

June 25, 2011, 06:48 PM
Hey guys, you all have me thinking about my own safe now. I don't want to get side tracked with another topic, but all the talk about losing guns have me thinking. I have a Cannon Safe that is rated for 1200F for 40mins. From the sound of what happened to smithwk, I wonder if there is something I need to do to my safe. I have a lot of family guns that have been passed down from my grandfather and dad. I don't know what I would do if something happened to them. Any suggestions? Thanks.