View Full Version : Original Enfield re-blue?
01-21-2010, 04:36 PM
When I was young and dumb(er) my grandma gave me an original Enfield musket and what I thought was an accompanying bayonet. I now know it was a bayonet to a different and smaller-barreled gun, but I still tried to get it on my original musket and it scratched up the whole end of my barrel, ruining the previously fine blueing.
I've been too ashamed at the stupid mistake I did years ago to bring it up until now. Is there any way I can fix the scratching at the end of the barrel? I'd say "without diminishing the value," but I'm sure the scratches hurt the value already. My knowledge of antique restoration is not too good. Can you help me?
Thanks very very much
01-21-2010, 06:19 PM
When it comes to collecting guns, condition and originality are key. All guns only have their original finish applied once and there is no way to "fix" them if there is finish loss. Your Enfield is still original, though it has lost some of its original finish. If you refinish it, it will no longer be original, either.
I'd recommend enjoying it as it is for what it is and chalk up the rest as a lesson learned.
01-21-2010, 07:53 PM
Original Enfield barrels were rust-blued. Modern gunsmith "touch up" solutions cannot effectively "touch up" or make invisible damage to the original rust-blued finish disappear.
One can replicated the original finish by rust-bluing the whole barrel, but yes it does hurt the cash value as well as the 'history."
When dealing with originals, their 'value' and 'resale value' is based upon assessments of how much or what "percentage" of the original finish is still present. And once the gun is altered, or original and even 140-some years of patina is removed... that value drops.
01-21-2010, 09:32 PM
Curt's absolutely right, as usual.
Anything you do to an original gun, except a very light cleaning, will reduce its value. What makes it valuable is how original it is. I have an 1898-dated U.S. Krag rifle inherited from my grandfather, who chopped it up and "sporterized" it in the 1950s. It's worth about $300 today, instead of the $1,500 or so even a junky long Krag in original configuration might fetch. Another fellow's dad had an original Civil War U.S. Marine sword and scabbard that he inherited, and 120 years of age had darkened the metal with patina. He buffed it up on the wheel in his garage, assuming a cleaner, polished-up sword would be more valuable than one dark with age. Nope.
If these are just nasty scratches, in time I expect they will eventually patina and won't look as obvious.
Far be it from me to tell ya what to do with it, but if it was my original Enfield, I'd lightly oil it against rust and hang it up. Queen Victoria isn't making any more of them. Then again, I have a 110-year old Swedish Mauser I still regularly drag out and shoot, and King Oskar isn't making any more of them, either.
01-21-2010, 10:26 PM
It is unusual to find an original Enfield with blue blueing. It has usually turned brown on exposed surfaces from age. If yours is still blue, it may not be the original finish.
01-22-2010, 12:36 AM
Thank you all for your help. As I have been, I will admire my piece for what it is and learn from my past mistakes. Thanks again.
(And it is also good to know about the blueing turning brown, it is indeed original then.)
01-22-2010, 12:10 PM
Not precisely to your point but one can clean up many valuable antique weapons and retain the original finish and patina (and value) fairly simply. The trick is to learn the techniques, be prepared to take a good deal of time on a project, use a very light touch, and know when to stop working the wood or metal.
To clean rust from metal without harming the blue or brown finish I use G-96 Metal Treatment or Kroil and an old nickel, not the new nickels. A little oil goes on a small area and the edge of the nickel is used to very lightly rub the rust. The oil starts turning brown and wiped off. After several applications and a deal of lightly rubbing, depending on the level and amount of corrosion, the surface rust is gradually removed leaving some black pitting but not harming the original finish. One must be very careful not to expose any briht metal under the rust. I had a blued bayonet that came with an 1882 serial numbered 'Trapdoor' Springfield rifle. Someone had both over a fireplace for display and didn't dust off the far side very well attracting moisture leading to corrosion. There was about 85% blue remaining and 15% rust. Cleaning the rust down to the black pitting on the bayonet took about 3 hours in three sessions of nickel rubbing. The rifle took significantly longer and many nickel rubbing sessions. Practice first on an article not of great value like a used but abused cap and ball pistol.
To clean an old gunstock of accumulated dirt, grime, and oil, I use a 50/50 mix of pure turpentine and linseed oil, soft cloth gun cleaning patches or cut up T-shirts, and pumice powder or rottenstone, depending on the level of cleaning needed. A cloth patch is soaked in the reduced oil, dredged in the pumice powder, then lightly rubbed about ten times in one direction on a small portion of wood. That patch is discarded and a new one applied. The entire stock is treated this way then rubbed clean to assess. It may not take more than a few applications before turning to rottenstone for a light polish, leaving a satin finish after cleaned off with a clean rag dipped in the oil/turpentine mix. Good to practice first on the stock of a well used military surpus rifle like you can find at Big 5 for $89. Anyway, two simple techniques I've used successfully on many antique weapons to clean them without taking off the original patina. One must get some experience so as not to remove too much.
01-22-2010, 01:23 PM
The information you have received here are all excellent suggestions/advice.
It is, however, important that each historical firearm be evaluated on it's own merits as to just how much of it is original to it's period manufactured design and intended usage. Some alterations/modifications maybe appropriate to a given period in history, most, however, are not.
This usually requires an extensive knowledge of the individual artifact (s) in question. Persons who have studied such artifacts in all of its various modifications and/or incarnations are those who are usually best qualified to direct you in your endeavor.
Generally speaking, what has been done to any historical artifact in it's past, is best simply left alone, until the artifact can be properly analyzed by a knowledgeable person involved in just such studies.
The fact is, this item belongs to you, and you are the only one that has the right to judge how you should proceed. Your questions are right on target and you have been given sound suggestions/advice.
Without photos and a greater amount of info, it is difficult to offer you or suggest a solution to your request.
This is just my opinion. I hope you find this info useful.
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