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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi guys,
This may be a bit off topic but what I'm working on is a couple of sniper rifles and I thought you guys could best answer my question. What I'd like to know is, what you guys do when perfroming a "restoration" on one of these rifles. I'm mainly interested in the stock of the guns.

I have 2 Mosin Nagant snipers that I'm working on.

One is a Samco import thats in great condition. All I did was clean the stock with mineral spirits then gave it a coat of Tom's 1/3 Gunstock Wax. The gun appears to have a shellac finish. I felt the mineral spirits are rather mild and don't seem to effect the shellac but removed the dirt and grease pretty well. The gunstock wax doesn't seem to do much (it may have added a bit of shine) but I felt it wouldn't hurt the shellac and any places that the shellac was thin or missing might be better protected. Overall I'm very happy with the finish on this gun and don't feel it needs anything else but would like to hear how you guys would have done it.

The other is a Century sniper. This is the one I'm not sure what to do with. It appears to have no finish or some type of military oil finish. It is also stained, greasy, and has some nasty nicks and gouges. It doesn't have any shellac on it that I can see. What should be done on this one? New Shellac,Tung Oil, BLO, Gunstock wax? I'm not really sure what is correct or what would be the best product to use in this situation. What would you recommend as far as cleaning it up, would you do any sanding, and what type of finish to use.

I'd like to know what you guys woud have done, or recommend, on a rifle like the Samco thats in pretty nice condition already. Also, how would you go about re-doing the stock on the Century thats in kind of rough shape.

Thanks for your ideas and advise.

Mike
 

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Stock refinishing

Refinishing stocks is a very touchy subject with most collectors. They prefer that nothing be added to a stock. Sanding is a no no. Every swipe of sandpaper removes $ from the value of the rifle. Remember, todays $59 milsurp is tomorrows $500 collector item. Myself, I prefer to do nothing, maybe a cleaning with mineral spirits if needed. Obvious damaged areas can be made to look better with an application of a little BLO on oil finished stocks and a little BLO/shellac mix on shellac finished stocks. Better, is to do nothing, and leave well enough alone. But then again, its hard to ignore a big long white scratch in the shellac on a rifle! As to refinishing the fresh cut for the scope base on a PU exsniper, I have found that a Minwax Stain Marker in Red Mahogany works well for me. It also will minimize scratches in shellac as well. Ace Hardware carries them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Duane,
I'm not into doing too much to them. I mostly just try to clean them up a little. The Century stock looks pretty darn bad and I really wasn't sure which way to go with it. I'm still trying to determine exactly what finish was/is on it. It almost looks like it may have been BLO or a Finn type gunstock wax.??? Either that or the shellac is just completely gone? If was BLO or a wax type finish I wouldn't mind giving it a light coat to freshen it up a bit, but not do much else.

Mike
 

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Century sniper

The Century and Samco sniper rifles are of Yugoslavian origin. They seem to be an oil finish, at least mine is, and most of the ones I have seen. I don't think an application of BLO will hurt anything, as most of them are very dry and scratched up some. Wipe it on, let absorb for 20 or so minutes, and wipe excess off, and buff wood with a cloth. Then don't ever tell any body what you did! Never BLO and tell! A lot of collectors are very anal about this subject, I suppose if there was a bit of dog turd stuck to the buttplate, they would not scrape it off, as it might be the leavings of Rin Tin Tin!
 

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As Duane said just use mineral spirits with a clean rag to remove the grease and grime. BLO and then wipe a few time to remove any excess.
 

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I believe the issue as to what the Russians used has been settled, they used shellac to coat the stocks.
I am convinced that the shellac they used originally was a lighter shade than the flaky garnet shellac that most refurbs wear.
In addition to not using garnet shellac, I believe the original shellac was applied MUCH thinner so that the alcohol penetrated the wood pores, providing a thinner and more durable coating that would not flake off.
I've refinished a 91/30 stock (using a lighter shade of shellac over a coating of oil) that looks a lot like pictures I've seen of wartime Mosin's.
If you want to see the results, I'll take some pictures and post them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys,
I was looking it over again and the best I can determine is that its some kind of oil finish on the Century. The Samco does appear to be a shellac finish, but like chasdev said its much, much thinner than the thick finish you see on re-furbs. So thin that it doesn't even fill the grain on the wood. On the other hand, I don't see this on the Century. As Duane said it appears to be bare and dry. I think I'll give it a good mineral spirits cleaning and rub in a light coat of BLO. I don't really know how the Yugo rifles were finished. I've seen some both ways. Some appear to be shellaced and others looked like an oil finish. I'll post some pics of the Century stock later.

Mike
 

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My SAMCO

Mike,

We got our SAMCO's within a week or so of each others. My stock sounds just like yours. From the front of the receiver forward the wood looks like a very light coat and in some places remnants of shellac - very light. From the receiver back seems like all the shellac has been worn off and now appears as if the wood only had an oil finish. This blends very nicely and you really need to take a hard look to view it. With a quick look its not really noticeable. Seems to me that the rifle was used a lot and the finish has worn about where you would expect. I haven't done anything except clean mine and waxed the stock but would be interested to know how yours turns out if you decide to do anything. I was concerned about doing something that might be irreversible.

Please post pictures of before and after if you decide to do something.

William
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi William,
Your description fits mine perfectly. I don't plan on doing anything else with the Samco. I think the cleaning and coat of wax is all it needed. Now,the Century, well that one looks pretty bad. I really don't want to get into complete refinish but If I can get it cleaned a little better and maybe a coat of something to freshen it up a bit, I'd be happy.

I did a bit more looking at the finish on the Century and I think it was shellac at one time. I see traces inside the receiver area etc. I think it's just so worn and weathered most of it is gone. Then it looks oily because it soak up a lot of cosmoline. Looks like I'll get her cleaned up better and figure out where I want to go from there.

Mike
 

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Century b4 and after

These are my Century's one redone and one as it came from them. If you do redo yours make sure you warm the stock to drive out as much cosmoline as possible. Otherwise is will bubble under any new finish especially after shooting
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks riotsquad,
Thanks for the tip. Mine looks just like to bottom one you've shown. Boy, is it ever soaked in cosmoline. I think I now have most of it cooked out. It looks a lot better than it did, but there's barely none of the original finish left. I think thats why it soaked up so much cosmo. Anyway, its getting there, and its really starting to look like something now.


Mike
 

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If you plan to refinish don't use 1. sandpaper! 2. Minwax stain or stain of any kind. 3. Tung oil! These are permanent changes to a stock. New shellac can always be removed and BLO can be removed with mineral spirits and acetone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi Mosinmeister,
Thanks. I definitely won't be sanding anything nor using stain. More than likely just a coat or two of shellac. I should have took some pics before I started but it looked very similar to the bottom gun in the pic riotsquad posted. I'll take a few pics this evening of what it looks like now. Basically bare wood. All I did so far was get the cosmo out of it by wrapping it in paper towels and placing it in a black plastic bag on the dash of the truck. I'd wipe it off and re-wrap it every couple of hours. Then just a final wipe down with mineral spirits.

I feel like most guys do when it comes to refinishing these guns. I'd really rather not do it. But, this one is so nasty, I think its the only option at this point. Thanks again for the tips.
I'll try to get some after pics too.

I didn't know tung oil was a permanant thing. thats something I'll have to remember in case I ever get the crazy idea that I'm gonna oil something.

Mike
 

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Hi Mosinmeister,
I didn't know tung oil was a permanant thing. thats something I'll have to remember in case I ever get the crazy idea that I'm gonna oil something.

Mike
Tung oil is a "hardening" oil that fills the open wood cells and then hardens. Since the wood is already soaked in cosmo though, it can't sink in as much so it may just sit on the surface. Personally, I just think tung oil is a butt ugly stock finish and looks like WalMart!

I would recommend though that after you clean the cosmo off the stock with mineral spirits, wash off the spirits residue with acetone or naphta. Mineral spirit residue can linger for a while and if you shellac over it too soon, the evaporation can lift the top finish and you'll have to start all over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks,
I'll be sure to wipe it down with acetone before finishing.

I'm not that crazy about the looks of the tung oil finish either. I've never used tung oil and had no idea it hardened as such. I guess you do learn something new everyday. Thanks again for the tips and advise.


Mike
 
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