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Old 12-08-2013, 11:15 PM
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Default refinishing old pistol

I got an old 38 in a trade. Its a model 10 size frame with a snub nose barrel but its not stamped. Its also a 5 screw model. It has or more realistically had a nickel finish at one point. The nickel is probably about 75 % gone. I really don't have anything money in it and it doesn't have any sentimental value for me. I was wondering what DIY options there are as far as refinishing the pistol. I saw the nickel stripper that brownells sells? Has anyone had any experience with it? Any other ideas?
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Old 12-09-2013, 05:14 AM
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If you're intent upon a home job, your best bet probably is, yes, a nickel strip, followed by parkerizing; there are home kits for that at Brownells, too.

The question is whether you'd need a bead blast between the nickel removal and the parkerizing for the park to properly take. Doubt you want to invest in that set-up for the home, and if you pay someone to do it, they better know what they're doing as much can go wrong (there are plenty of people who bead blast other media who'll be happy to bead blast a gun with no knowledge of the special care that must be taken bead blasting firearms).

Look into the home spray options like Duracoat -- some people like them.

Home hot salt bluing isn't much of an option unless you're prepared to invest some coin and time to master the learning curve. Some report good luck with home slow rust bluing options.

I'd either live with it and keep it oiled and wiped down, or seek one of the less expensive refinishes from a professional -- either parkerizing or a bead blast and matte reblue. This, especially, if you intend to carry.

Mind you, this being a classic old five screw S&W, if the nickel is the original finish there is still some collector value, even rough -- if you opt to refinish -- even in nickel -- that collector value is gone. May not matter to you, but worth knowing.

Lastly, keep the cleaning solvents you use mild, like a CLP; various gun cleaners can further damage nickel once the finish has been compromised. Check the product before you use it.
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:58 AM
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Personally I'd go for a factory re-blue (or Nickel if you prefer) from S&W. By the time you spend the money on all the tools, materials, supplies etc. I'll bet it won't be a lot less expensive and will more than likely not look anywhere as good. By sending it to Smith you might have to wait a bit, but you'll wind up with a beautiful gun once again. I'll also bet that Smith will replace springs, bunged up screws, and go over the gun before sending it back.
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:29 AM
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Its wasn't going to be a carry piece. I had read about the room temperature stripper, but even some of the reviews said that it doesn't take all of it off. The finish on this gun is horrible, but it still goes bang. I would like to have it stripped and reblued, i love those old blued guns. Any idea on what that typically runs?
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hcdrughunter View Post
I would like to have it stripped and reblued, i love those old blued guns. Any idea on what that typically runs?
Almost as much as it would be to just buy a model 10 in excellent condition. In fact, if you count the money you'll get if you sell your current gun, you will come out ahead by buying a new gun in the condition you want it.

Otherwise, I recommend either S&W or Fords (Ford's Custom Gun Refinishing - Ford's Desert Eagle Sights) and ask for the high polish blue refinish ("Master" from Fords). And be prepared to spend $275+.
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:02 PM
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How about a photo or two of the old soldier?
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:06 PM
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Talking Slow Rust Blue

I have home blued several guns with a slow rust blue sold by Brownell's. It takes a bit of patience, but is very inexpensive and is a historical way to blue guns. If you have a lot of time to devote to the process, it is a great learning experience and gives great results. The instructions are simple and you can probably get the job done for less than $50. Done by a gunsmith it will cost $300-400. The secret is in the metal prep, polishing up to 600 grit. Taking the gun apart and putting it back together would be the challenge. Hope this helps.
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:17 PM
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Let me see if I can get some pictures uploaded, it will be a little bit.
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Old 12-09-2013, 09:18 PM
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Told ya'll it was in rough shape. I can't find a model number on the frame and the serial number is very faint.

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Old 12-09-2013, 09:22 PM
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Yup, rougher than any I've tried.

It's a refinish, they almost polished off the S&W logo and the address (I have one similarly polished)
.
Probably explains the faint sn.
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Old 12-09-2013, 09:22 PM
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The only marring is some gouging on the outside of the yoke.Other than that no pitting or rust. I pulled the side plate and the cylinder off, cleaned it out and lubed it up. The insides look pretty decent after cleaning it out.
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Old 12-09-2013, 09:32 PM
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From the leftover plating on the hammer and trigger, it has been redone once already. Anything you want to do will require you to remove the rest of the plating. There is not enough gun left to give you a good blue job, maybe a bead blast and black gun specific paints like duracote or ceracote, after you replace those buggered up screws and tune up the action. Me, I would just tune it, clean it, and shoot it.
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Old 12-10-2013, 08:25 AM
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Brownell's stripper will work like a charm on that pistol. I would bead blast it after and parkerize the exposed parts only. Or you can buff it some after a blast and blue it or duracoat it.
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Old 12-10-2013, 08:38 AM
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Make sure you don't use any Hoppes 9 or other ammonia-based solvents on that thing -- they'll cause the nickel to flake and chip.
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:11 PM
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Wow, that photo is really striking! Looks like something that came out of Jimmy Hoffa's vault. After recoiling in fright, it looks like a cool old-school snubby when taking the second look. I agree with you as far as stripping off the little bit of nickel that's left. I think I'd go with beadblast parkerized or maybe just try to cold blue it with Oxpho after blasting it. A spray-on finish would be my second choice.
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Old 12-11-2013, 02:18 PM
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Well, after SEEING the photos and the extent of the damage, I'd just do the best I could in my own Shop. When I suggested having it reblued at the Factory I did not realize it was as rough as it is. Doesn't pay to spend any real big bucks on, and might just choose one of the refinishing kits from Brownell's and do the best you can.
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Old 12-13-2013, 11:49 AM
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I thought about suggesting that you have it round-butted. It does have a certain cool look in the stock SB configuration, but an older snubby like this with round butt and service (not magna) grips has a cool look also.
You didn't post the s/n but it looks to my untrained eye like it has the short-action hammer, which should make it a 1948 or later gun. SCSW says the RB variation became available in 1947, so a conversion to RB would not be unauthentic.
Be sure and post photos when you get her done up.
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Old 12-13-2013, 12:14 PM
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I'd like to have one in that shape for a project. Provided I got it commensurate with what I thought the value was.
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Old 12-13-2013, 03:56 PM
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If that gun came into my possession, I would use one of the DIY stripping kits like those from Brownell's and get rid of the rest of the nickel. Then I would have the outside parts lightly bead blasted just enough to even up the surface. I'm too old school to use one of the painted finishes, but would go with a hot immersion or DIY cold blue, then re-oil the existing wood grips on it and throw it in my car as a ccw. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Froggie
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Old 12-13-2013, 05:31 PM
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I just went through this with a badly rusted blue Mod. 15.3. Came out pretty good for shooter. You can see it under S&W Smithing. Look for "My rusty 15-3".
Dick

Last edited by Reddog; 12-13-2013 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:12 PM
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Have fun with your project!

That gun has no collector value and never will, so do whatever you prefer with it. Money expended on the gun will never come back to you; the money will be spent, not invested.

Even if you just first rubbed it with a strip of real copper and a lubricant to remove rust, then polished the gun with Flitz polish and microfiber cloths, you might be surprised how good it will look. Run some searches for the exact techniques to use. Or sand it - start with 300 grit sandpaper, move to 600, then 1000 grit (depending on how shiny you want to make it.) Use the nickel stripper, if you wish. However, you might be able to scrape off the nickel mechanically or sand it off.

If you have time, it might be enjoyable to use some of it on a refinishing job.
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Old 12-14-2013, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
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....That gun has no collector value and never will, so do whatever you prefer with it. Money expended on the gun will never come back to you; the money will be spent, not invested.........


Never say never! It's a long shot, approx 10 zillion to one, but what if you lettered that gun & it came back as having been sold to J Edgar Hoover, Elliott Ness, or Dick Tracy? Restored to it's former nickel-plated glory, it might be worth a ton of money.
Certain things are not all about investments & making money, or even getting your money back out of something. Ity's often just about having something cool that you enjoy owning.
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Old 12-14-2013, 12:05 PM
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Soak it in EvapoRust and leave it in the "whites" well oiled. I did this for a colt 1903 that was UGLY but functioned fine. It looks worlds better than it did. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 12-14-2013, 02:13 PM
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I have zero dollars in it so far. I didn't think there was any real collector value. It still goes bang and I have a soft spot for smiths. Its the only wheel gun I have other than a 442. I was trying to see what the best method for getting the remaining nickel off.
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Old 12-14-2013, 04:56 PM
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On the other hand, it's nothing a good coat of Ren-wax won't fix........
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