Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: Restoring my Father's Model 37 shotgun

  1. #1
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    364

    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.

  2. #2
    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    1,481

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rancid Crabtree View Post
    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.
    In 1951 my Dad won a World Series Baseball pool. With his winnings, He bought himself a new Winchester 12ga pump, and for another $15 he bought me a used Mod 37 in 16ga. I didn't think the recoil was that bad. Although he did put a rubber butt pad on it for me. Pheasant hunting in the Northern Panhandle of Nebr was probably at it's peak in those years, and (altho I'm prejudiced) I always thought we had the best pheasant hunting on our Family farm. The limit was 3, so each Day my Dad gave me 3 shells. For each miss, that was one less shell I got issued the next day and if I blew all 3 shells, I carried that gun empty for 3 days.. I've got a couple much fancier shotguns in my gun cabinet, but I always seem to grab the old mod 37 when we head out on snow machines to pop a couple caps on some ptarmigan..

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    In 1951 my Dad won a World Series Baseball pool. With his winnings, He bought himself a new Winchester 12ga pump, and for another $15 he bought me a used Mod 37 in 16ga. I didn't think the recoil was that bad. Although he did put a rubber butt pad on it for me. Pheasant hunting in the Northern Panhandle of Nebr was probably at it's peak in those years, and (altho I'm prejudiced) I always thought we had the best pheasant hunting on our Family farm. The limit was 3, so each Day my Dad gave me 3 shells. For each miss, that was one less shell I got issued the next day and if I blew all 3 shells, I carried that gun empty for 3 days.. I've got a couple much fancier shotguns in my gun cabinet, but I always seem to grab the old mod 37 when we head out on snow machines to pop a couple caps on some ptarmigan..
    Cool story, and I look forward to following this thread....

    Jake

  4. #4
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Wrangell
    Posts
    7,600

    Default

    Well built little guns for sure. The 37 red letter and the pigtail style of the gun can bring big money. The 37 dosn't realy have a hammer it has a cocking piece that looks like a hammer,its a stricker fire gun. Enjoy the journey.

    Side note most times a scared grip like yours comes from pushing down barbwire to step over.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  5. #5
    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Missing Palmer AK in Phonix AZ.
    Posts
    6,416

    Default

    That was my first shotgun, got it for my 9th birthday. I told Dad I wanted a 12 gage and he said it we'll kick like a mule and you won't use it. I told him I wanted all the range I could get and was willing to take the pain to get it. It never bothered me, nobody else would shoot it but I shot the tar out of that gun.
    Andy
    On the web= C-lazy-F.co
    Email= Andy@C-lazy-F.co
    Call/Text 602-315-2406
    Phoenix Arizona

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Sandpoint, ID
    Posts
    1,974

    Default

    My Dad had a Stevens 28 ga that killed everything it was pointed at. I thought about refinishing the gun which is in better shape than the Win 37 when it hit me...leave it alone...that's the way it was when Dad used it, so I'll never touch sandpaper to it. Just my way of looking at it.
    Somewhere along the way I have lost the ability to act politically correct. If you should find it, please feel free to keep it.

  7. #7
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Wrangell
    Posts
    7,600

    Default

    Andy and now you know all guages shoot the same distance shells being equal. My first was a 37 20ga. and at one time had over a hundred of them in collection. At one time I was putting raised ribs on them and selling them for trap guns which they were very good for.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  8. #8
    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Missing Palmer AK in Phonix AZ.
    Posts
    6,416

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    Andy and now you know all guages shoot the same distance shells being equal. My first was a 37 20ga. and at one time had over a hundred of them in collection. At one time I was putting raised ribs on them and selling them for trap guns which they were very good for.
    Yea but the bigger the gage the more dense the pattern. I had started dove hunting with Grandpa's 410 then went to Dad's 16 and learned I was twice as likely to down birds past 20 yards. I figured if 16 was better then 12 had to be better yet, right or wrong I still like a 12.
    Andy
    On the web= C-lazy-F.co
    Email= Andy@C-lazy-F.co
    Call/Text 602-315-2406
    Phoenix Arizona

  9. #9
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    364

    Default

    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…..

  10. #10
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    364

    Default

    This old shotgun does not have a lot of metal parts but the ones it has are in need of some TCL. Rebluing parts isn’t hard and doesn’t take long. What take the most time (and its time well spent) is cleaning and polishing the parts. With a good polish comes a good looking blue. For those that are afraid of cold bluing because they heard of bad results or that cold blues are streaky or blotchy are from people who are doing it wrong. Cold bluing can look like a factory hot blue but you have to put forth the effort.

    With the gun disassembled and all the parts tagged and bagged I can get to work.



    I'll start with the trigger guard. It’s a little dinged and dented and there are some knicks in the edge and there is overall surface rust. If I were to hit it with some sandpaper or steel wool and then try to blue it I would end up with a crappy finish. Extra time spent polishing pays off in great end results.





    Several grades of sandpaper, then steel wool and some time on the flannel buffing wheel and you can get a mirror finish. IF you dont have a bench grinder that you can mount a buffing wheel, you can substitute a drill or drill press with a flannel wheel. The finish work you put into the part shows up through the blue. The bluing doesn’t hide anything, in fact it exposes defects in finish. Spend the time polishing.



    I use Dicropan cold blue. Its inexpensive and easy to apply (in this case I used a Qtip). I blue 5 times using 0000 steel wool to buff the part after each application. Steel wool wont remove the blue. It actually makes it shine. The final application of the cold blue is aplied with steel wool.



    Before and after.





    Then its onto the action latch.







    After bluing





    Other small parts.















    Even the tiniest of screws (like these that hold on the trigger guard) that can be seen on the outside of the gun get the treatment.



    Interior parts that cant be seen dont get polished. They simply get cleaned and reblued if they were once blued or they stay unblued if thats how they were on the gun originally.

    These many pictures are not really for this blog. there is another reason I take this many photos. Its a tip I will pass along. My eyesight is not that great so I will photograph the parts after polishing and then view the parts on my computer at 10 times their actual scale. It helps me find even the slightest blemish allowing me to see it and correct it. The same thing after blueing. The jumbo sized computer images really help me see the parts and blemishes better. The pictures that make it here are only 2 or 3 times larger than actual scale. Also, you are only seeing a fraction of the pictures I take.

    To be continued......

  11. #11
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Wrangell
    Posts
    7,600

    Default

    Good job keep it going.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  12. #12
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    364

    Default

    The receiver is a real mess. Lots of surface rust but only a little pitting







    The main problem here is that somebody did a real doozy of a file job on the tang of the receiver where the cocking lever slides forward.



    I cant put the metal back but I can clean up and finish the job somebody else started. Fast forward after lots of time cleaning up the receiver and polishing it and then brushing it with 0000 steel wool and this is what is looks like.

    **Disclaimer*** Photographing polished metal means the metal will look like whatever your shirt looks like and your hand and your camera are going to reflect back at you.





    And that nasty filing job is all cleaned up.



    To get a better look at the polished receiver I have a video where unlike the stills you can see the pitting.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zhn0Q...ature=youtu.be

    Then it was onto bluing. The same procedure except I use a cotton ball (several of them) to apply the dicropan. The receiver was blued 7 times and steel wooled after each application.









    Here is a video of the blued recevier that shows it a little better.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q297W...ature=youtu.be

    Then it was time to reassemble all the metal parts.









    And a video of the assembled receiver.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N27h7...ature=youtu.be

    The barrel is the last item to be restored.

    To be continued ...................

  13. #13
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    364

    Default

    The next step is restoring the barrel. Most of the rust is surface rust but there are a few areas with pitting. Deep pits can't be done away with as it would remove too much metal. Some pits will remain, its just a fact of life.





    Before I submerge the barrel in naval jelly I Use a lot of 320 grit and steel wool then the barrel spent a half hour in the jelly. Once the barrel is rinsed under hot water I use 400 and then 600 grit and 0000 steel wool to clean it up. Lastly I polish the barrel on a flannel buffing wheel with red rouge. The results are a real improvement.





    This video does a better job of showing the polish job on the barrel.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgOKW2rzH7s

    The next step is bluing the barrel. I start by plugging both ends of the barrel with wood plugs that act as handles. Then the barrel is scrubbed with acetone to remove any oils that would prevent the blue from taking. I used Dicropan cold bluing. Here are results.






    Here is a video of the blued barrel.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRh4BA-aRO0

    Even though there are still at least 3 more applications of tung oil for the wood, I think its time to put the entire gun together and take some pics and video of the restoration so far. I can always take it apart to finish the finish.















    And here are some videos of the gun.

    Right side

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qedH...ature=youtu.be

    Left side

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdNm...ature=youtu.be

    After 2 or 3 more applications of tung oil I will buff the finish to a glass-like smoothness and give it a few coats of paste wax and this gun should be good for a few more decades and with a lot less kick. When the weather improves I will give it a shot to see if it still makes me cry like it did 40 years ago.

  14. #14
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Fairbanks Area
    Posts
    7,274

    Default

    Yet another amazing restoration, well done Sir, well done!!
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
    Founding Member
    http://www.residenthuntersofalaska.org/

  15. #15
    Member Tearbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    1,986

    Default

    Amazing is right...I am impressed with all of your restoration projects.
    "Grin and Bear It"

  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    20

    Default

    I'm an envious reader! Amazing work!

  17. #17
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    364

    Default

    I finally got the final coat of tung oil on my dads Winchester. It turned out like glass. Here is a video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiXN2...efs3ZUx84OSXXA

    Then I added some “poor mans” gold inlay to the lettering on the barrel.




Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •