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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Picked this up for $118.71 OTD a few weeks back with the knowledge that it would be a project gun. I hope to make it a usable, shootable upland gun. I grew up bird hunting with my grandpa's 20ga version of essentially the same gun, so I couldn't pass this one up. I know these don't have a lot of value and were never super high quality guns, but I'd like to think it's serviceable and with some TLC might serve my purposes.

It probably shoots fine as-is, but you'll see there are a few areas that could use some help and I might as well give it a general tune-up. Brownell's sells a spring kit for these guns that I'll stick in. I also want to dress the pin holes and receiver pins, and possibly replace them if they're too mangled. I wonder if I could use drill bit shafts, or would the hardness difference be an issue? Also, there is a stock crack that I want to address and I might as well put a new finish on the stock at that point. I don't think I'll be ruining any collector value by doing that, right?

If it looks like it'll be a lasting shooter, I might look into having the receiver re-colored, but that's down the road. There is some minor pitting/old rust on the sides of the receiver that will need to be addressed. I would like to avoid losing any more of the logo markings which were lightly struck to begin with. Anyone know what would cause the "flaking" look around the rear of the receiver?

Here are some "before" pictures. As I work it over I'll post updates.






 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Some more pictures. Most of the internal parts are VERY roughly machined and pretty rusty. What's impressive is how smooth the gun felt in operation despite this fact. I guess they knew how to polish and fit the important bits. Although it probably doesn't matter one bit as far as function, I will clean up and smooth the parts as much as I can. The receiver is cast, and there is lots of ugly left over from that process... I'll clean some of that up too I think.

Here's a look at the safety assy. removed from the gun. Lots of rust and tool marks on these parts. Should clean up pretty easily.



Here's a look inside the receiver. You can see the rust on the trigger bars. The edges are so sharp on these internal parts they shred rags and q-tips. You can also see how the automatic safety works and how easy it would be to disable it. Not sure if I'll do that... probably.




This is the inside of the forend, to get an idea of what the case coloring is supposed to look like.



The muzzle –– the right barrel mics at .650" and the left at .641" –– approximately modified and improved, respectively. Going to have to touch up the crowns I think.



The breech. This is the one thing that worries me –– I don't know how much life is left in this barrel tang, nor how to tell. I can get a new top snap from gunparts, but fitting that might not be worth the effort if the barrel tang is shot.





Tom :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
After the safety comes out, the next step is to remove the sears/trigger bars and the triggers.

The pins go out RIGHT to LEFT. Mine are buggerred up pretty bad but they came out easy.

Here are the trigger bars and triggers, showing their orientation inside the gun.



Here are the parts separately. Rough, sharp, and rusty! The pin is okay, though.



Next, out come the hammers and cocking lever. This one was a little tougher as the hammers are under a bit of spring tension.



Here the parts are separated. Notice that pin... probably going to have to replace it I think. It came out reasonably easy, so I don't think I was the one who mangled it. The last "smith" that re-assembled this gun really did a number on these pins and on their receiver holes.



The last major assembly to come out of the receiver is the latch/top snap assembly. It looks like it should come out easy, and it would, but that spring is HEAVY and I couldn't pull it rearward enough to slide the guide rod out of its slot. After about 30 minutes of fighting with it, I had a light bulb moment and stuck one of my punches into the trigger pin holes, which gave me exactly the right leverage.




Voila! I used a tiny vise-grips on the guide rod to keep the spring from launching itself into low-earth orbit and the whole assembly came out neatly. This is one of the springs I'll be replacing with the Brownell's low-power kit so it should go back in easier. Some nice orange rust growing on the latch screw. Also removed the firing pins and their retaining screws (which also appear to act as hammer stops to help prevent firing pin damage).



Here's a look inside the now completely-stripped receiver. Talk about rough... it looks like Moria in there! Most of it doesn't matter, but I'll clean up some of the sharp spots just to make cleaning and reassembly easier.



The next step is to start cleaning and working over all these small parts, hopefully without losing or breaking any. :p

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Finally got all the small parts cleaned up. There was 60 years of dried crud and filth and rust on them, so it took some time. I also (lightly) polished some of the moving parts' contact surfaces. As an example, here's the hammers.



I found out why the receiver had such a strange dark finish, with patchy areas around the pin holes. It had been cold blued. As I started gently scrubbing it with a bronze brush, the bluing came off easily. Underneath was basically bare metal with some sanding marks. In fact, you can see that it was sanded and cold blued with the pins still in stalled –– there's a square patch of intact case color around the pin hole on the starboard side where the pin had protruded 1/8" or so.





I'll probably leave it as-is for now, and possibly later on have it re-colored.

I also began work on the stock. I used Kleen-Strip's "Green strip" which is just like citristrip –– safe for indoor use, most importantly. The varnish came off pretty easily.



Also got in the spring kit from Brownell's, and found that Numrich had a couple spare firing pins and replacement receiver pins, so I ordered them up. I also got a new trigger guard screw, but somehow I lost it since the package arrived. :p I think these factory pins will work better than drill rod stock –– I was told by a gunsmith that drill rod might be too brittle for the high tension of the hammer springs.



More later!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Are you planning to have the receiver and other external parts rust blued or cold blued? Seems like it all cleaned up well enough. Do you have any "after" photos of the wood?

-Thomas
Hi Tom,

I'm going to reassemble it and put a couple boxes of shells through it before I invest in any refinishing. I want to make sure it works and I can hit stuff with it before that. I do have a line on guy who does case coloring and I also am considering modifying the buttstock to remove the pistol grip -- but we'll see how it shoots first.

I don't have any "after" pics of the stock yet -- I haven't finished it yet. ;)
 

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I think I'd be inclined to leave the pistol grip alone, at most slim it a bit and increase the radius. That "tang" you are worried about - that is a barrel extension and i don't think you have to worry about it unless the slot where the top-bolt (Greener-style - or is it Anson & Deely, I'm having a moment of brain cramp - cross-bolt) engages it is worn. In which case, you'll need to build it up a bit and then fit it.

As far as damaging collector value, this essentially has almost none. You won't be hurting it any.
 

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Hmm. good choice! I guess it would be important to know if the gun shoots at all! I am going through a repair of a new-to-me shotgun as well. Picked up a Model 12 16ga for $300.00 at a local shop. All it needed was a new butt stock. Still made a good buy on it because I can get the work done for free after purchasing a new stock. Can't wait to get it back. Crow season is coming in (June 1st) and I am going to be grinning ear-to-ear when I bust a crow with it!

-Thomas
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Clyde, I am not sold on the modification to straight stock either. I like the look but I've never shot a shotgun with one before. I was inspired by an old article I found online that showed the mod and I thought it looked nice. Thanks for the info on the barrel extension. My concern lies with any wear on the extension from the top snap bolt, but if it can be repaired by welding and re-fitting then I should be okay down the road if I have problems. (The top snap lies slightly right of center right now.)

Thomas, be sure to post some pics of your Model 12 when you get her fixed up! I was starting to think that Model 12s without polychokes didn't exist anymore. :p
 

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Best of all, as with all Model 12's, there is NO TRIGGER DISCONNECT! Ya' know what that means? Pull and hold trigger down on the first shot and the following shots will "slam fire" provided that the trigger is held down while cycling. OH YEAH!!!

-Thomas
 

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Clyde, I am not sold on the modification to straight stock either. I like the look but I've never shot a shotgun with one before. I was inspired by an old article I found online that showed the mod and I thought it looked nice. Thanks for the info on the barrel extension. My concern lies with any wear on the extension from the top snap bolt, but if it can be repaired by welding and re-fitting then I should be okay down the road if I have problems. (The top snap lies slightly right of center right now.)

Thomas, be sure to post some pics of your Model 12 when you get her fixed up! I was starting to think that Model 12s without polychokes didn't exist anymore. :p
Well, if the gun is tight, then you don't need to worry about the extension and cross bolt (those are basically something to insure that the gun doesn't open if the locking bolt gets REALLY worn), buit if the opening lever ("top snap") isn't centering and it bothers you, take a look at how it works and proceed (or maybe have somebody who understands old doubles do it).

My Martinis, my Winnie 94 and my Marlin 1894C have straight grips, and i like the way they look and feel. My shotguns have pistol grips (though not very extreme ones), and i'm not sure i want to change that. Now - a classic British bird gun, it ought to have a splinter fore-end and a stright grip, and weigh not a lot. But before i did something i couldn't change back (like - cutting the pistol grip off...), I'd be inclined to get access to a straight-gripped double and see how i liked it. And shoot this one unchanged and see how it mounts and fits. I handled a Ruger 28-ga OU with a straight grip and it was very nice, but i like my old (mid-1930s, third year of importation) 12-ga Superposed with the factory pistol grip, too. your gun, figure out what you will like and go there is all i can say.
 

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Wow. Wish my Belgian had been in that good of shape when I started on it! Only suggestion I've got is to deal with that stock crack before putting rounds through it. As had been suggested to me you could use Gits Rot or something similar as it is basically a thinned out epoxy so it'll penetrate the wood a bit. Another option that I've used with some success is polyester resin + hardener for fiberglass repair.
 

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That type of crack is typical for a mass production inletting. It needs to be pinned and then glued, since glue alone will just crack again. Then the edges of the receiver inletting relieved a bit to allow for the wood shrinkage and prevent future cracks. Just file the edges of the wood aroundte inletting back at a VERY shallow angle so there's a tiny gap at the outside between stock and receiver.
 

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If your action closed tightly and locks solidly with the top lever remaining slightly right of center,,that is good. That is where it is supposed to be.

It indicates very little if any wear to the locking surfaces. As they do wear the lever will start to rotate closed down closer to the 6 o'clock position. That takes either alot of shooting or some abuse or some of both.
If the lever starts to rotate left of center to lock the action shut, it is generally though that the locking surfaces are at their limit of wear and something should be done to renew them and bring the lever back to the right once again.

The 5100 receiver is made from cast steel. It was originally finished by color case hardeniing by the cyanide hardening process. The color pattern in the forend iron is the giveaway but it is generally known that these were done that way. If it says 'Stevens' on the gun but was mfg'rd after 1920,,it was actually made by Savage.
The Fox shotguns done after WW1 were also done by the cyanide process.
Earlier Fox shotguns (pre WW1) used bone & charcoal process and that is what the purveyors of the restoration art use today.

Cyanide casehardening/coloring is cheap, quick and extremely dangerous to do outside of an industrial setting.
Fox, Stevens and Savage (who bought out both Fox and Stevens) used Heinzelmans in NJ for their cyanide color hardening going back to the end of WW1. Heinzelmans is still in the business.

The receivers do not hot salt blue too well because of their cast nature. You may get the metal turning a reddish cast after a while. They do rust blue well though.

Your butt stock appears to have enough wood to make a straight grip stock. The bottom toe line is below the bottom back edge of the receiver.
But the drop to the stock may make for a very small butt plate height and therefore a very small dimentioned stock when you get through with it. Do some drawing right on the wood with a grease pencil first to establish the lines and make sure they are not only do-able but pleasing to the eye.

The cross pins tend to walk themselves out of the receiver with use on these guns. You see many with stake marks around the holes or hammer divits to the ends of the pins in attampts to make them a tighter fit.
Fox had the same problem and solved it with internal set screws on the hammer and sear pins.
Best to make these a nice clean slip fit and assemble with a touch of lock-tite on the ends,,carefully applied!. Use one that can be un-done w/o the use of heat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the great posts, guys. I was aware that "right of center" is where I wanted to be, and it's just barely. I will monitor it as I use the gun. I do have another question or two.

Re: the stock. I assume that the main recoil-bearing surface should be the rear tang area of the receiver, behind the safety? Right now there is contact only on the very front edge (very thin area of wood) and that seems to be what caused that crack. There is in fact a gap at the rear of the receiver. Should I relieve the "front" of the buttstock so that it makes solid contact at the rear of the inlet? Would it benefit me to use some Acraglass in this regard to solidify that region of the stock? As for the pistol grip removal, I will wait on that for now. I have the stock colored and partially finished already.

Re: the metal finish. Not sure what I will do at this point. I don't mind the look of the silvery steel it has now, as it contrasts with the dark walnut nicely. If I can find someone who can recolor it reasonably I might have it done but it's not urgent. I could always give it a nice rust blue using the browning and boiling technique. I have some Laurel Mountain Forge browning solution on hand that would probably work well.

Re: the cross pins. The original hammer pin was bent. Turns out it was bent for a reason -- the four holes in the receiver it must pass through do not line up. The two on the right are about 1/64" higher than the two on the left. The receiver seems square in itself, so it almost seems like the holes were drilled in from each side instead of through from one side. Seems very strange. Anyway, with some careful fitting of the new pin and one of the interior pin holes I was able to get the new pin to bend to fit. It's rather tight so I doubt it will walk much. The rear pin fit better but still wasn't square. If I have any problems I will use the locktite on them -- thanks for that tip.

I totally reassembled the gun and it functions as designed now, and opens and cocks very smoothly. I'm happy with my efforts so far. Next test will be shooting, probably next weekend. I have a few more pics I can upload later this weekend.

Thanks again, all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Small update: talked to a gunsmith friend and he advised simply glass bedding the buttstock to the action to prevent any future cracking problems. I'm still curious as to the amount of contact there should be at the rear of the receiver, between the tangs.
 

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Glass bed at the front. I'd allow a few .000" clearance at the rear tang radius to avoid any chance of cracking. If it were a nice flat surface, I'd bed it. But being the shape it is, allowing it to contact the wood can lead to splitting the wrist. Its rounded shape acts like a wedge if the recoil allows contact with the wood.

Same idea the bolt rifle stockers use in the rear tang area. Leaving a slight clearance to avoid cracking the wrist. Wood shrinks and moves with age and no telling where it will be years from now. A slight clearance will allow for that and not reduce strength if the glass bedding up front is done properly.

There's more than enough contact surface at the front. The crack up there is from poor contact. That is corrected with careful glass bedding.
With proper bedding, a draw bolt stock design is one of the strongest.
 

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Stevens 311A SXS in 12ga

When I first saw this thread I thought the wrong gun was listed - then did some reading. I have the Stevens 311A SXS 28", F&M. I even have the hang tag - check the price!!!! LOL Did a ton of shooting with this baby. My Dad bought it in 1956 but I never used it until 1967 when my bolt action poly-choked Mossberg gave up the ghost. Being this 311A is in decent shpe, I would like to do some work on it as well - will watch for and take many suggestions.
 

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Re: the stock. I assume that the main recoil-bearing surface should be the rear tang area of the receiver, behind the safety? Right now there is contact only on the very front edge (very thin area of wood) and that seems to be what caused that crack.
All the recoil loads should go from the receiver to stock at the rear of the "box" forward part of the receiver. The tang just holds the safety switch and the rear screw prevents any side to side movement. If the tang bears on the stock and the forward section doesn't it'll act as a wedge top crack the stock.
 

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When I first saw this thread I thought the wrong gun was listed - then did some reading. I have the Stevens 311A SXS 28", F&M. I even have the hang tag - check the price!!!! LOL Did a ton of shooting with this baby. My Dad bought it in 1956 but I never used it until 1967 when my bolt action poly-choked Mossberg gave up the ghost. Being this 311A is in decent shpe, I would like to do some work on it as well - will watch for and take many suggestions.
Don't laugh too loud - usng the AEIR COLA calculator that price translates to $508.69 on 2010 dollars.
 
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