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Old 03-06-2014, 12:12 PM   #1
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Default Restoring my Father's Model 37 shotgun

Im beginning the restoration of the first shotgun I ever fired. If memory serves that was when I was 9 or 10 years old. My Dad bought this Winchester model 37,single barrel, break action,shotgun used in 1958. The first owner sold it because it kicked too hard. He sold it to another guy who only briefly owned it and then sold it to my dad in 1958 for $20 because it kicked too hard. These were rugged adult males, farmers/hunters, that didn’t want the 12 Ga because of the recoil so when my dad had me and my 2 brothers shoot the gun as little boys you can imagine the result. My two older brothers (then aged 11 and 12) went first and after just one shot ran into the house crying. The end result was tears and black and blue shoulders. Over the next 56 years that old shotgun sat leaning in the corner of the farm house with very little use as everybody was to intimidated to fire it.

The Winchester model 37 was produced from 1936 to 1963. During that time slightly more than one million were made. During World War II, the National Guard soldier used Winchester Model 37, 12 gauge shotguns. When my dad bought the gun used in 1958, the shotgun sold new for $29.95. Here are some ads from the past. This first ad mentions how the light weight would make it good for women and kids and even mentions the model 37 would be a boys first love. Love? If love means getting knocked on your arse.



I doubt Santa understood the pain and terror he was placing beneath Christmas trees. Look at the words they used to describe the model 37. “hard shooting” At least this ad was factual. Santa must have fired the 37 as it looks like his right arm doesn’t work and he lost the sight in his left eye from the recoil, it appears (by the droopy mouth) that it caused a stroke and it screwed his back up so badly he cant stand upright.



Winchester did not serialize these guns so the exact date of manufacture is not known but I will assume it was made in the mid to late 1940's. During my last visit to the farm I collected the old model 37 so I could do the restoration. Like a lot of 60 and 70 year old guns, this one is in need of some TLC. The butt stock is broken as is the butt plate. The foregrip is cracked and both stocks finish is missing in some areas. There are many dings and scratches and a few burns (im guessing cigarette). Im not too concerned about the broken heel on the butt stock since Im going to shorten the stock and install a recoil pad (something this shotgun sorely needs) and the cracked wood will be easy to repair. A recoil pad should make this gun tolerable to fire.

Here is the shotgun in the condition I got it in.



The stock it chipped away and the butt plate broken. It looks like either water damage or sun (uv) damage to one side of the stock as the finish is gone and the wood is very grey.



The grip is pretty chewed up as well.



The fore grip is cracked.





And chipped away at the back end.



The metal is a bit rusted and tarnished but only a small amount of pitting. I can see there are a lot of deep oil stains (almost black looking wood) near the receiver. Not sure how to get rid of that.





My dad said a prior owner did some filing on the receiver to keep the hammer from sticking when it came forward. Its a pretty crappy file job.





This one is going to be fun to restore because I have a history with the gun. I'll start with the wood and recoil pad since all the coats of tung oil take so long to dry and I can then work on the metal parts while applying the tung oil.

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Old 03-06-2014, 03:55 PM   #2
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DIY,

At first when I read this thread my reaction was DO NOT TOUCH IT! as far as refinishing it and all. But after seeing the pictures I also would refinish it and make it look Great! With the finish in that condition it would not actually classify as a good collectors piece. Even if it was a Red Label Model. I did the same thing with one of my Grandfathers Fox Sterlingworth Shotgun. Since it also had a broken stock and other issues. Today although not a collectors piece it is one of the most impressive looking shotguns I have with it supporting new Reinhart Fajen wood stock and forend. And a Blue Finish which was not the normal. But she is "BEAUTIFUL" in my eyes! And reminds me of my Grandfather who introduced me to shooting and hunting everytime I pick it up. Still shoot some clays with it once in a while because I think it obviously brings a smile to Grandpa's face as he probably checks on me from time to time! It is a double barrel Fox Sterlingworth 20 GA. Full and Full and has killed it' share of rabitts, coons, fox and other game over the years. So bottom line "GO FOR IT"! my friend! Let us see some pictures when you get her done!

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Old 03-06-2014, 05:26 PM   #3
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On occasion, unaffiliated people tell me not to restore this gun or that gun as it will detract from the value. Ive never concerned myself with such things as many of the guns I restore are useless or in such disrepair and to hold no value (aside form sentiment). To me a gun is a tool. It no different than a saw or a wrench. Its purpose is to be shot and used to hunt or target shoot. Tool ought to be maintained and returned to service. Since I or the owners of the guns I restore are not interested in sale or trade value and intend to keep (and use) the guns, it’s a no brainer to restore them. I think sometimes the whole “leave it be and it will be worth more” mind set is misguided. “worth more” to who? If I plan to keep it and pass it down or hunt with it, its only worth is based on how dependable and accurate it is.

With that being said My dad has an 1895 Winchester 30-40 Krag serial number 749 that needs some TLC but I don’t plan to touch it. He bought it used from the first owner back in 1958. The original owner bought it from a local hardware store with 3 boxes of shells for $45. That gun I am letting be.

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Old 03-07-2014, 04:05 AM   #4
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Your restorations are beautiful. Keep it up. I don't see how you can do them though. Reading it on here it seems like you do one every few days.

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Old 03-07-2014, 10:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Reading it on here it seems like you do one every few days.
That is correct. As soon as I finish one I am working on another.
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Old 03-07-2014, 10:35 AM   #6
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The first step was to spread the crack in the foregrip and syringe some titebond glue into the crack and clamp it. While that dries I can shorten the stock and install a recoil pad. Im using a Pachmayr 325 field recoil pad because I like the vented (ribbed) look vs the sims which just looks too modern for this old gun. The Pachmayr has the old school look with a white spacer so it will be more “period” looking.

http://www.pachmayr.com/home/recoil-pads.php

The recoil pad is just over an inch thick so the stock needs to be shortened by the same amount. This solves the problem of recoil and the broken plastic butt plate and the chipped wood on the heel.



Then I drilled the holes for the screws.



Then the oversized recoil pad is screwed on so it can be ground to fit the size and slope of the stock.





The end of the stock is wrapped with two layers of painters tape to protect the wood and then the pad is ground on a belt sander to fit the stock. I start with 80 grit and then 120 grit belt and then hand sand with 220, 320 and finally 400 grit. After peeling off whats left of the tape.





The screws on this pad are hidden. The rubber is self healing after a small slot is cut to insert the wood screws. It’s a good look and will look even better once it washed and polished.



Then the foregrip is final sanded and both will get several applications of tung oil rubbed into the old wood.

To be continued…..

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Old 03-07-2014, 12:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
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That is correct. As soon as I finish one I am working on another.

That's awesome. It seems like these projects should take a lot longer. I have an old sporterized 1903a3 that needs some tlc. You're inspiring me to do something about it. Thank you.
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Old 03-07-2014, 02:20 PM   #8
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Love your guns. Spend some time with them.

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Old 03-07-2014, 02:33 PM   #9
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Very Cool !

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Old 03-07-2014, 10:36 PM   #10
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great project, I'll stay tuned!

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