Basket Case Marlin
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Basket Case Marlin


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Old 03-31-2014, 01:22 PM   #1
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Default Basket Case Marlin

Heres one I did last fall.

Well, here it is, and its BUBF! (Butt Ugly But Fine)

Marlin 336 SC, F code 1949 manufacture date, strong ballard rifleing, 2/3 lenght magazine and an added on late model front sight, broken buttstock and really hacked up forend that will be a challenge to save.

Mechanically, it seems all is well and the bore is pretty dag on nice, only a couple small pits mid bore. Should shoot great!

I'm just struggleing to decide if restoration should be limited to restocking and salvaging the forend or if the light rime of rust and thin blue merit a updated metal finish. It sure would look sweet done all over and the aparent mechanical condition would make a reliable and unique hunter...It would be neat for someone to take some game with a 62 year old Marlin and not worry about a scratch or ding while in the woods. (oh yeah, its got extra holes drilled and tapped in the left wall for an old side mounted scope, even the carving on one side of the forend shows a lever action with a scope, darn kids and their pocket knives!)

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects[hr]
And I doubt the boys pimple cream will help this facelift one little bit!


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Old 03-31-2014, 01:22 PM   #2
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As you can see from the pics, Forend is salvaged. Fortunatly, there is plenty of good wood in a Marlin stock. Straight work with a rasp and then contouring with files and a sander and sand paper. Overall its a bit thinner now, but the panels are more flat and a bit more tapered, still hand filling but perhaps a bit more comfortable to grasp. Final finishing is indicated but this old walnut has gold, green and red tones. If I can avoid using stain, I won't use it, going with a simple clear finish to highlight those subtle colors.

Unfortunatly, the buttstock did not survive, removeing it, it fell apart at the break. It had been split from the tangs in the past and glued with some combination of glue like elmers and expandable foam. So, I'm looking for an uncheckered walnut Marlin 336 pistol grip stock (no plastic grip plate like on some of them). If you have one, PM me.

A look at the entire gun reveals additional and poorly drilled holes in the left action panel for an old side mount scope. I believe these can be plugged neatly with set screws, none of the holes will negatively impact the strength or suitability of the action.

Unfortunatly, the replacement modern Marlin front sight is a different story. The orignial factory holes were redrilled larger and retapped. Neither hole is straight up and down, one angles left and one angles right. In fact the rear sight base hole is oversize and enough off center to pull the sight base out of parallel with the bore centerline. I took several measurements, both front sight holes are drilled too deep. The amount of metal left in the barrel at the front sight hole is 23 thousands and the rear front sight hole is 28 thousands. I usually don't tap or cut sight bases so deep in a barrel, prefering to leave at least 80 thousands of metal above the bore and 1/10" is better. I'm not sure here, it may be the barrel has to be shortened and reinstall a sight with more metal above the bore. Not a big loss since this one has seen some abuse in 62 years.

Now, this Marlin has the old school one piece trigger and sear. That means it can be fired from open bolt unlike the modern 2 piece trigger/sear with the trigger block. It may be prudent to make minor modifications, install modern trigger parts and convert this one so that it can't be fired from the open bolt. We shall see.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

This is a pretty classy old girl so we'll save the barrel since its pretty good inside and should make a fine jacketed bullet shooter or hard cast bullets with gas checks. The bore cleaned up nicely with an initial scrubbing and only has a little and very light pitting.

Given there was not a lot of roof left in the barrel where the late model front sight was installed (the holes were drilled oversize, crooked and way too deep) I shortened the barrel a minimum amount, 1 3/8" (Leaving an nice 18 5/8" tube). The initial marks were made lightly with a pipe cutter and serve as a guide for the hacksaw, the straighter the cut, the less there is to smooth away with the hand powered piloted faceing and crowning tools.

The muzzle was final squared with hand powered piloted faceing tool and an 11 degree resessed target crown was turned in place with the piloted hand cutter. With good cutting oil and after using the cutters a few times, they cut without chatter and so smooth as not to need a final polish. A q-tip passed across and thru the muzzle does not snag any cotton. With a smooth file, put a small bevel on the outer circumference of the muzzle, this eliminates the sharp edge left on the outside when you are thru with the facing cutter.

Leveling up the dovetail jig allowed rough cutting a new 3/8" dovetail slot by hand with a hacksaw. Then some file work to clean it up with the jig installed and sharpening up the angled edges with a two side safe dovetail file, again with the jig installed to prevent going too deep and too wide.

The roof over the bore is now over 80 thousands thick, more than sufficient amount of steel under the front sight to keep things in fine shape.

The plan for sights is a nice Marbles wide base front sight with gold or ivory bead. The rear sight will likely be Marbles Full Buck Horn adjustable or at least a Marbles Semi Buck Horn adjustable.

Lots of fine pitting on this barrel exterior, it may need a bead blast or if I am really industrious, draw filed then hand polished.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects [hr]
I did a check tonight. The bolt is later model, serial numbers do not match. There will have to be a headspace check and it may be prudent to fit a new locking bolt depending on the results.


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Old 03-31-2014, 01:24 PM   #3
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I bolted up a synthetic stock to this one yesterday and took it out for a function test at the range. It feeds fires and ejects beautifully and I was able to confirm some suspected problems to be addressed in the refinish/refit of this old gal.

a. Mainspring, tired and weak. There were two miss fires, it is likely why the previous owner filed a slot forward of the factory spring seat to add some zip by further compression of the spring. I'll put in a new spring. 62 years is a long time to be in service!

b. Chamber and bore is fine, the replacement bolt functions in all ways but there may be some excess headspace. All the primers on the 180g handloads and 150g factory Win Fusions werea bit high after firing. So, its obvious the 62 year old locking bolt should be replaced and a new one fitted.

c. The action is smooth as warm butter, cases feed in and out nicely and nothing (gun or case) is swolen, bulged or cracked.

It looks like I need to round up a walnut stock and a few minor action components and get to work.

The stock arrived and with very minor effort, fits up nicely to the 1949 Action. Since this stock has not a drop of oil in the wood, I'll eventually put in a skin of glassbedding on the tangs to seal it and make it a snug fit for many years to come. But, thats another day.

Today I am filling two of the four holes previous owners drilled in the left receiver wall for a side scope mount. Only the two front holes have useable threads so I decided to fill them in a reversable manner. All the threads were cleaned and the holes chamfered a bit to accept a weaver head screw. The screws were shortened so as not to bind the bolt and threads also cleaned.

Each screw was wrenched in tightly with blue locktight and the heads neatly filed off. As you can see, the counter sinking really allows the repair to disappear when the action is initially polished. If not countersunk, you'll see the start of the thread on each screw as an ugly gap. These will never back out but if for some strange reason I ever wanted to reverse the repair and use the threaded holes, simply center drill, heat to ouch temperature with a soldering iron and an easyout will back the repair plug cleanly from the hole.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

The locking bolt arrived. In the pics below, the original 1949 locking bolt is always on the left. You can see it was previously molested with a file when the prior owner installed a replacement bolt. The total headspace created was about 40-eleven thousands inch...thats enough to get occasional missfires unless holding the bolt forward with your thumb. All the headspace is gone.

The replacement bolt took a couple hours of fit and try with interference marks from the contact between bolt ears and mateing face of the locking bolt leading the way. Carefull fileing, and then stoneing and finally lapping (of the angled mating faces of the locking bolt only), all the while maintaining the angles dictated by the contact marks on the locking bolt lead to a snug fit with no forward or back movement of the bolt in the receiver.

When lapping, it is critical to disassemble often and clear out all the grit that gets on anything but the bolt ears and forward mateing surface of the locking bolt. Tedious, but in the end this bolt bears evenly on both wings of the new locking bolt and all the excess headspace is gone.

Once I got to a point where I no longer needed a small screwdriver to help pop the lever open I switched from fileing/stoneing to lapping. About 100 cycles (with lots of cleaning) got the action to where it requries a bit more effort (additional zing on the lever like a really tight new gun) to open or close with dummy cartridges running in and out of the chamber. Winchester dummies work perfectly, Federal dummies need a bit more zing since the rims are a bit thicker. But, all the lapping compound is washed out of the guts now and a few hundred more cycles in front of the TV (with various dummy cartridges from Win, Fed, Rem, PMC - to check fit) and I expect it will wear in nicely, just like a new gun...A bit hard to open and close when brand new but really settles in for the long haul in a season or three of use.

Just for giggles I inserted a couple of the cases fired with the ill fitting 1949ish locking bolt, as you recall, the spent primers were high. Snapping the newly fitted action closed reseated those spent high primers just as nicely as my primer installer on the bench! So, I think this weekend I need to install a front "Try Sight" and head to the range and give the newly tightened action a try with Factory and Handloaded 30-30 ammunition.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

I test fired the 1949 Marlin 3030 today after replacing the worn locking bolt and mateing it to the replacement bolt inserted by the prior owner.

All the headspace is gone. There are no high primers and no movement of the bolt once locked in. The gun is still fitted very tight and a single round did not ignite on the first pull since I did not have the lever completly closed. I don't intend to do any more polishing of the locking bolt mateing surfaces, just let it wear in to final fit thru cycling in front of the TV and doing some more shooting.

I see why folks like the Wild West no flop triggers, this model does not have the two piece trigger and sear, its crisp and clean with no take up. I still think it would be prudent to upgrade the tang with the late model trigger blocking safety, I have the parts in hand to do just that.

Accuracy wise, I stuck on a try sight. As you can see its not quite tall enough to be on Zero at 25 yards but the potential accuracy of this 62 year old gal will make the work to slap her cute worth the effort and time. A total of 13 rounds were fired. Three each of my 180g RN handloads to see if it was at least on the paper. A pretty nice starter group for my old eyes.

The next group fired was five each of the Winchester Fusion 150g HP factory loads. More promising performance from inexpensive off the Wall Mart shelf ammo.

The final group fired was five each of the Hornady 160g Lever Evolution ammo. Expensive but it would seem, most accurate of the ammo chosen for todays test.

In all, the action remains tight requiring just a bit of zing to open and close. Sort of like when you hurridly lever in a second round for follow up. But, not so much force you'd think there was something wrong with the ol gal. Like I said, it'll wear in to perfection here quite soon.

All in all, glad I picked this one up. When done its going to make someone a really nice old school hunter and shooter. Who says an Old Girl can't Get Er Done?

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:25 PM   #4
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Some folks have expressed concern over my initial thoughts about adding the later model Marlin trigger blocking safety to the trigger plate. I went over the guts of the gun tonight, that combined with recent shooting and I have to say everything is in fine as froghairs condition inside. No reason to change to the late model trigger block on the trigger plate. With the test firing and fitting of the new locking bolt, it locks up tight with little or no headspace. The gun has passed all the safety checks and I can't get the hammer to fall without pulling the trigger. So, some glass bedding to do to tighten up the forend and bed the replacement stock and then its off to polish and blue.


Tonight I managed to plug the third of four holes previously drilled in the left side panel of this rifle. The four holes were for a side mount scope base, which is long lost. In any event, the two rearmost holes were stripped out and oversize/crooked. The third hole was capped with a cone of steel silver soldered in place and filed flush. It looks fine. The fourth hole is right over the extractor cut and the walls quite thin, plus soldering it shut is bound to have silver solder get into the action and thats a hard job to clean out. I'll probably just leave it alone. It won't look bad once blued and we'll just call it an inspection port.

Besides, I hate silver soldering. Hot, slow, and its hard to get the individual parts tinned up and then clamped and held till the solder flows. Its particulary difficult for me where there is a big part like an action and a small part like a plug. Seems I always have the small part too warm. But it went okay this time if a bit slow and the new plug looks fine. I suspect they're be a tiny line of silver around this plug, unlike the first two which are screwed in and set with locking agent.


Fortunatly the forend is a nice piece of dense walnut. In the photos, the first coat of Truoil is on the sanded (220g) wood to start sealing it up. The factory inletting has a fine coat of finish from some earlier time and it is in great shape, sealing the wood inside and not looking like its in need of any additional topcoating.

Typical of any forend thats over 60 years old, it shrank a bit over the years and is a bit loose when installed. As you can see, a bit of epoxy bedding at the junction between the action and back of the forend fills up about 1/16" of shrinkage. When reinstalled, the forend will fit as good as new and stay that way for many years. For bedding small parts like this, where there is not a lot of stress, almost any thick epoxy will do. Acraglass gel is tops, but microbed and even JBWeld will work perfectly as a skined in place shim. Use what you have, just use release agent on the metal. I've gotten away from the paint on release agents that come with the bedding kits. About all I use any more is good old Rig +p grease. Everything that could get glued to the wood gets a thin coat, including screw holes and screws and it always breaks free in the morning! Perfect bedding and release every time.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

The replacement stock is going to be a pretty good match for the original forend. Both have hints of green and gold and red in the wood. Both are plenty dark with no stain.

The forend is on its third coat of Trueoil Each coat is knocked back with 0000 steel wool before the next layer is rubbed on. I rub the Truoil by hand, hard, till it gets get ouch hot and nearly dry, then let is set 3 to 5 hours, steel wool and the next coat. About 5 to 6 layers does the trick. The last steps are rub out with 0000 steel wool to just remove the gloss and bring it back to a satin finish by handrubbing with Brownells fff compound. Nice satiny finish, level and smooth.

The buttstock has been sanded and twice wet sanded to remove the whiskers. Leave the buttplate on during sanding, it keeps the sharp edges sharp and not rounde over...plus the butplate, spacer and wood all come out the exact same size. I only wet sand onece or twice on a nearly perfect sized stock, don't want it to get too small. To assure all the whiskers get removed before finishing, I freeze them with a coat of Truoil rubbed in. Once dry a final very light sanding and then 5 to 6 good coats of Truoil and hand rubbing to finish it all out.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:25 PM   #5
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Forend is about done. A sixth coat tomorrow and it should be ready for final leveling and hand rub. The stock is about midway, third coat of Truoil drying in the wood. Perhaps tomorrow night it will be ready for leveling and final rub as well. Then, a fit check on the gun (just to see how good it looks) then wrapped up and stashed someplace dent free till all the metal work is completed.


Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

While a gunstock finish, just applied, may be as shiny as a sporting gals advertisement of opportunities for love, it won't be quite perfect. Not in looks and especially not in feel.

The finish, whether wiped or sprayed on should have been leveled and cleared of dust/pins w/steel wool between coats. The final treatment is typically leveling to create smoothness of touch. (Touch a handrubbed finish and one that is not hand rubbed at the end, you won't be satisfied with the unrubbed finish no matter how glossy!) After leveling, the polish brings up whatever shine you desire on the now silky smooth surface.

Knock off the gloss with 0000 steel wool or wet sand with 800g paper. I use the wool, less messy. Using a buffing compound, I like Brownells fff, really give the dulled finish a work out. You can feel the surface smoothing and as the compound dries on the rag it really starts to polish. FFF can produce a low luster to factory glossy shine. If you want to get back to mirror bright, follow up with fffff compound.

Its hard to see in the photo but the left side has the gloss knocked off w/0000 steel wool and the right side is just buffed to low luster. Subtile difference in looks, major difference in how warm the wood feels to the touch.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects[hr]
Gloss on the stock is untouched True Oil. It needs leveled and rubbed. Shiny and nice for sure, but you see the pores in the wood as shadows and the gloss can actually hide figure and subtle colors. These stocks have some nice greens and golds in them that I don't want to hide, so low luster is the word. Plus, gloss shows every ding, scratch and mark, low luster is much easier to care for in the long run...Look at a Browning rifle, gorgous shiny under all the scratches and marks.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

And the new wood on the back is a pretty good color and grain match for the original wood on the front. Everything skinned into place with bedding so it won't move for years to come. Finish is leveled and polished to low luster, very warm and easy to touch, golds, reds and greens in the wood show thru. No stain on this wood, thats all natural color darkened slightly by application of Truoil.

Maintenance will be easy, Pledge or occasional Johnsons paste wax and a good buff with an old t-shirt.

White lines are white, edges of the stock do not round under the recoil plate (since it was sanded with the pad on) and the heavily scarred pistol grip cap polished up pretty well with 0000 wool and fff rubbing compound. The stock just needs the screws polished and blued but for now all the wood is well wrapped, stored in a heavy cardboard box and stowed away in a relatively dent free zone.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:26 PM   #6
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First polish, a worn 120 grit. All done initially with the palm sander to pull off the blue/brown finish. Now, the gun was overall brown, and had some very fine pitting on the receiver walls.

You can polish or file out most pits but often wind up with dished screw holes, waivy lines, etc. For light/fine pitting such as on these old guns its often best to just go with a 120 to 200 grit polish. Remember, the rust black is low luster anyway.

Compounding the issues, here is a gun with very shallow roll marking of every single word and number on the gun. Rather than transition from finally polished to less finely polished areas to preserve the markings, I plan to blend the entire gun to about a worn 150 grit finish, all by hand and all done with aluminum oxide paper. This keeps straight lines straight and no dished out screw holes or dovetail edges.

Now the waffle top has to be chemically cleaned or lightly wire brushed or you'll quickly grind off this unique feature of the early Marlin 336s. I used a wire brush to clean it out and worked up to the edges with the jitterbug.

In the final finish, one can either hand polish all the lines in one direction or for rust blue, leave the swirl marks in the metal from the jitter bug. Either way, they are not really noticable in the final finish because its not highly reflective. Just be consistent on all the parts for the best results. Different alloys can give different colors and you compound the problems with different strokes on the various parts. Consistency gives best results overall.

What you see in the pics below is not pitting but very course 120g jitterbug finish. More polish to follow and it will look much finer in the raw and just super in the black.

Now I have half a bottle of rust blueing and everybody is out of Pilkingtons. It should be more than enough but I'm never comfortable starting up with out a spare cause I occasionally spill stuff and make a real mess. Wish me luck.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

And the barreled action and magazine tube is rusting away. I sure do love humid days in the South!!!! Final finish on the barrel was done in a wire brush. Another sanding or two would have just obliterated those lightly stamped letters. At least this way, they will be crisp and clear (and strangely enough, the factory rear sight dovetail cuts right thru some of the markings....better pics later.)[hr]
Three hours into the first rust on this old action. Talk about accelerated decrepitude. Good thing there is a nice black finish at the end of the tunnel. I never get tired of seeing them go from rusty to silver to rusty to Gorgeous Black! Paint is for shovels and fences!

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Third boil and the color is coming up well on the action. 2 cycles of 24 hours and a cycle of 4 hours. Most importantly, the color is starting to blend, streaks and or spots are blending in to an overall even dark grey black. As you see, the finish to the metal will be quite nice for a 62 year old, we all have some skin damage at that age, but the face lift will look great and this is gonna be a real prize when done.

See the three plugs in the left action panel...the two left most plugs are screwed in. The right end plug is silver soldered. The screw in plugs are prefered, removeable, easier to plug and can be fitted tighter/less noticeable in the end. Silver solder will always always have a light silver outline of silver braze.

Overall, the plugs and the unfilled holes will hopefully serve as a reminder to refrain from butchery. Modifications are cool, just get them done well so they work right and last the life of the firearm.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:27 PM   #7
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Action reblue is complete, 5 rust, boil and card cycles total. The finish is velvety smooth and even. Dry its a deep grey black, with a bit of oil on the metal its soft black and rich. (White specs are not pits/flaws, they are reflections off the oil and bits of my oily wipeing rag)

I think this old gal is now, even before final blueing of all parts and assembly, the Cougar of the Marlins I've cleaned up. The skin ain't perfect but it sure looks fine now and its ready to be used. I'll sure be sad if this one sit around and never gets bumped in the woods, rained on in the stand and smeared on the barrel with the fresh blood of a deer or boar.

Small parts for the front end will be polished and touched up as needed with Birchwood Casey Super Blue while I wait for the Marbles Full Buckhorn Rear Sight and Brass Bead front sight to arrive.

Major action parts to receive additional rust blue will be at least the trigger tang and lever. Most everything else is screws/pins needing minor touch up and can be handled with Super Blue for a working rifle.

If I can, I'll get the forend on tonight and post up pics.

(Oh yeah, and I'll take a beating for this I'm sure, Gun Paint is for Sissies!)
Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects[hr]
There is background or mood music running thru my shop..."I'm too sexy for the safe, to sexy for the safe, too sexy to lounge in the safe."

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:28 PM   #8
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nevermind....
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:28 PM   #9
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Sights are on. First small dent in the forend is done too. Woo, glad the first dent is overwith. Now, like a pick up truck carrying its first load of gravel and railroad ties in that pretty bed, I can get to work without worries.

Both sights are Marbles. Long leg, Full Buckhorn rear and bright brass bead front. Looks nice. Got them centered by eyeball. It'll be up to the shooter to bang them around till they are fully adjusted for windage and elevation.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

A humid evening in the garage. 45 minutes into the first rust and just prior to application of the second thin coat of solution, a superb bloom of rust. These parts are finished by wire brush and then followed up with worn 150 grit on the jitter bug. There is some small pitting but most removed and the rest is small enough to get lost in the satin finish. I think they will look just fine in a few days.

Won't be long now. Might as well start polishing up screw heads and reblueing them. With luck, this project will wrap up in a week or two...just in time to shoot it a lot before hunting season.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Mornings at my house. Boil water for coffee, black. Boil water for gun parts, black. Drink coffee. Scrub gunparts and rerust. Clean up mess before Momma gets up.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

I had a person tell me that this "Marlin Soup" I've been fixin is making their mouth water....wonder if it makes their belly grumble too?

I gave the small parts their second boil this evening and already a deep grey black that is very even has developed. I noted the humidity in the garage dropped from 70% this morning to 50% this evening and the temperature is down a bit. So, all the parts are in the cardboard rust box with a hot coffee cup of tap water to make humidity. I'll change out to hot water again in an hour and do the third boil before bed time and a fourth boil in the AM. With luck, by Sunday or Monday this one will be ready for final assembly and photos.
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:29 PM   #10
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Location: Sanford, NC
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All the blueing is done. As you see from the photos, the lever, trigger plate and foreend cap came out very nice. At 62 Cougar has a few minor issues with her "skin" but overall the facelift is successful and I think she'll be a knockout in the woods. Both in looks and performance.

All the screw heads were polished in the drill press with a single cut file and sandpaper then dunked twice in Birchwood Casey Super Blue. They are resting in Hoppes #9 gun oil as are the small metal parts just blued below.

Final assembly should be Sat evening or Sun AM and if the weather holds, I'll take it to the range for a sight in and 50 yard work out and report back here with pics of the final product and the targets.

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects

Basket Case Marlin - DIY Projects


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