This page documents a project I undertook in the spring and early summer of 2007. Click
any of the thumbnail pictures to see a full size version of each photograph.
Several years ago, I purchased a number of Remington 513T rifles from the CMP. I use these rifles for a variety of marksmanship training activities but their main use is for Boy Scout Merit Badge classes. Each summer, these rifles spend about 7 weeks at the local scout camp. During that time, the rifles are used almost every day for merit badge classes and evening "fun shoot" activities. Our camp is located on West Point Lake in west central Georgia. The weather in June and July in this part of the country is either hot and humid or rainy, hot and humid. The rifles, as received from CMP, were in good condition but the metal finish was quite worn - down to bare metal on some - and the wood on most retained only the remnants of the military's oil finish. The summer camp staff and the scouts try to take care of the rifles but the combination of worn finish and harsh conditions means a constant battle against rust. After several years of this, I decided that the rifles needed to be refinished with special attention to providing protection from the elements.
As you can see from the photo, the range (50ft. 10 firing points) is covered but that provides very little protection from the elements and just means we keep shooting even in light rain. This photo was taken the first year these rifles went to camp (2005).
|If was very difficult to get good "before" photographs that really showed the condition of the metal. All of the rifles had been Parkerized at some time in military service. If some cases, the finish was only worn away in a few spots (which would rust). In other cases, most of the exterior finish was worn away and the Parkerized coating only remained in protected areas (under the front sight). A friend of mine has a complete Parkerizing setup and generously offered to help refinish the rifles. The solution he had on hand was the newer, black variety as seen on later M14 rifles and Springfield Armory M1As. Many, many thanks to James for his help with this project.|
|The stocks also needed work. This photo shows the rough nature of the modified comb on some of the rifles. The comb on almost all the rifles had been cut down at some point (as, it seems, have most 513T combs). These two look like the modification was made with a dull hatchet.|
|The first step was to completely disassemble all the rifles. I wanted to Parkerize all of the metal except the internal trigger parts so everything had to come apart. The parts were placed in separate plastic bags so that they could be put back with the correct rifle.|
|As I disassembled rifles, James started bead blasting the metal parts.|
|It is amazing what that bead blaster can do. It's like a power eraser for metal. A few swipes of the nozzle and you have bare, shiny metal. Having a large cabinet was a real plus because the entire barreled action would fit in the cabinet and could be worked over in one pass.|
|This picture is blurry but shows most of the small parts in the bead blaster. We later went back and also blasted the bolt bodies and decided to leave those in the white (shown in later photos).|
|This is the stainless steel parkerizing tank. It sits on top of a two burner propane stove to provide the heat source. The tank is long enough to hold a complete barreled action along with a basket for the small parts with room to spare. The parts were kept in the solution for about 5 minutes.|
|As soon as the parts came out of the solution, they were rinsed and dried (residual heat from the tank bath made them dry almost immediately). Once dry, a thick coat of oil was applied. I know some people place great importance on soaking newly parked parts in vats of oil and only in certain types of oil. We just sprayed them with WD-40 because it was easy and seemed like a good thing to do to take care of any remaining moisture. As the rifles were later reassembled, the WD-40 was wiped off and replaced with CLP. This photo shows several barrels after oiling and two that are about to go in the tank.|
|All done with the Parkerizing. All the metal parts were packed away while I worked on the stocks over the next few weeks.|
|I used the infamous Dishwasher Method to strip the stocks. More to protect the dishwasher than anything else, I gave each a good cleaning first. I scrubbed each stock with furniture stripper, then with Simple Green, then rinsed them in water. The stocks then went in the dishwasher for one "pots and pans" cycle with automatic dishwasher detergent. This photo shows before (bottom), after pre-washing (middle) and after the dishwasher (top).|
|It was a tight fit but I could get two stocks in the dishwasher at once.|
|It was amazing how well this method worked. I had my doubts about this dishwasher business and, to be honest, I did pick the absolute worst stock to do first thinking that if it ruined the stock, I wouldn't be out much. I've now done a total of twelve 513T stocks and every one came out great. They come out looking like new wood. It even smelled like new walnut. I know that some would say that is exactly what I shouldn't want (new wood) because the "patina" has all been washed out. Well, maybe, but with so many stocks to do, I really didn't have time to worry about patina and the results were exactly what I was hoping for.|
|A number of the stocks had small cracks. No, these were not caused by the heat of the dishwasher. Several stocks had existing repairs in exactly the same spots so I think these must have been fairly common stress cracks on 513Ts. This photo shows a crack, that starts in the bottom of the bolt handle cutout and runs back along the wrist. At this point I have started the repair by drilling holes for support pins to be placed through the crack from above.|
|Here, you can see that I have injected thinned glue in the crack and into the holes. Brass pins, made from brazing rod, have been tapped in. The excess glue will be wiped off and the rods cut flush with the wood. The repair was then clamped and allowed to dry overnight.|
|Several stocks had cracks at the forend. I think this area gets considerable stress because of the way the barrel bears down on the very tip of the forend. There is a raised hump just inside the tip of the forend. This hump allows the barrel to "float" between the receiver and the forend but it puts all the stress here at the very tip. A repair similar to the one shown above was made with glue, pins, and overnight clamping.|
|In one case, a significant chunk of the heel crumbled away. The stock did not appear water damaged or otherwise any worse than the others. The wood was just crumbled in this one spot. I suppose this MIGHT have been a defect in the original wood that could not stand up to the heat and water of the dishwasher. I dug down to good wood and prepared an epoxy filler.|
|Since this repair would be a fairly wide and deep repair, I placed a brass pin in the wood to give the epoxy an anchor.|
|I didn't make any real effort to hide the repair. It stands out here but once the stock was stained and finished, I was surprised how well it blended in.|
|After the repairs, any remaining dents and gouges were filled with wood putty. One of the great things about using the dishwasher is that the steam created by the heated water in the dishwasher followed by the high heat of the drying cycle raised most of the smaller dents. After filling, the stocks were sanded smooth. A coat of thinned polyurethane was applied as a sealer. The stocks were then lightly sanded with very fine sandpaper in preparation for staining. They stocks were stained with Minwax Natural Stain with a little walnut stain mixed in. I just played with the ratio until I got the color I wanted. Any part of a stock that didn't seem to want to take this stain or that came out looking yellow got a quick wipe with Chestnut Ridge Dark Walnut Military Stock Stain. This is an alcohol based stain and works really well to get back that reddish walnut color. The four stocks on the left side of this picture have been stained and are still wet but no finish has yet been applied.|
|After the stain dried, the stocks were buffed with steel wool and then wiped down to remove any dust. Several coats of high gloss Minwax indoor/outdoor Helmsman Spar Urethane were applied using a foam brush. The stocks were allowed to dry and lightly sanded between coats. This photo shows several stocks with the first coat applied.|
|Here, all the coats of high gloss finish have been applied. I suppose that someone else might have stopped here but this really wasn't the look I wanted. I should back up a bit and explain my thinking on the finish for these stocks. I love the look of a hand rubbed oil finish but I didn't think that was best for these stocks. They are going to see hard use in a wet climate. They are going to get banged around. Oil and cleaning solvents are going to be dripped on the stocks. And, I just didn't have time to apply a hand rubbed finish to this many stocks. I used high gloss exterior urethane for the base coats because I think it builds a harder more durable finish. Ultimately however, I wanted a less glossy look.|
|This was achieved by applying several coats of satin finish spay polyurethane. Personally, I was thrilled with the way the finished stocks look. Only time will tell if the desired durability was also achieved.||Once the stocks were thoroughly dry, the rifles were reassembled. This turned out to be a rather time consuming process. The bolt bodies had been bead blasted and this left grit in the extractors so these had to be removed and cleaned. The bolt was then reassembled. The trigger internals which had not been blasted or parked had to be cleaned then assembled on the receiver. The front sight, rear sight mounting block, and all stock hardware was reinstalled. Each rifle probably took about two to three hours to reassemble. You can see from this photo how the new finish looks. The combination of bead blasting and the Parkerizing process resulted in a very even matte finish. Perfect for these rifles. You can see the bolt bodies are left in the white. I painted the safety dimple and the firing pin cocking indicator with red nail polish. You might notice that the sights were not Parkerized. More on this later.|
|Here are the first 10 rifles assembled, cleaned, oiled and ready to go.|
|Another angle. Notice the heel repair on the second rifle from the left. Not bad.|
|Parting shot. The rifles are back on the range at camp and ready for another year (2007).|
Final thoughts and comments.
I believe I accomplished what I set out to do. The rifles certainly look better. (They look new.) Only time will tell but I think the finish (both metal and wood) will hold up well and protect the rifles much better.
I mentioned that I did not Parkerize the sights. CMP sold the sights separately from the rifles. Most of the sights I received from CMP still had the original blued finish and had never been Parkerized by the military. It seemed a shame to remove the blued finish. However, past experience tells me that the sights (especially the knobs) are VERY prone to rust. Before installing the sights on the rifles, I cleaned them thoroughly and applied a coat of Boeshield T-9. I've never used this product before but those who have claim it is one of the better long term corrosion preventative coatings. We'll see. It's expensive but a little goes a long way. I did park one sight that already had been parked by the military so we'll see how that holds up in comparison.
When I delivered the rifles to camp this year, I asked the shooting sports director to keep an eye out for corrosion but not to make any special effort to keep them wet with oil. Just wipe them dry if they ever get wet. I wanted to see a worst case test for how well they would hold up with minimal maintenance.
I'm sure that this type of refinish isn't everyone's cup of tea. I'm sure there are some collectors out there who think I have ruined these rifles. Well, these rifles work for a living and I want them to keep working for many years to come. They simply were not going to hold up with what was left of their original finish.
I'll be happy to answer any questions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After Action Report.
Well, the rifles are back from their first post-rebuild summer at camp. I cleaned all 10 rifles and observed the following:
The rifles will be used for several merit badge weekends this fall and then I'll have time to deal with reparking the parts mentioned above over the winter.