Browning T-Bolt and 'salt wood'?


March 27, 2003, 04:52 PM
I've found a Browning T-Bolt NIB on GunBroker; I've always wanted one of these and it looks sweet.

I've heard that their were a run of the Browning T bolt that had a
problem with their wood stocks; something along the lines of the stock
blanks being soaked in salt water and because of it the metal work suffering
from corrosion below the stock line.

The seller says that there's no rust on it but he doesn't want to take the action out of the stock to check.

The serial number on this firearm is 45268X69, which would make the date of mfg. 1968.

Does anyone have a clue as to when Browning had this salt corrosion problem?

Thanks in advance.

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Gerald McDonald
March 27, 2003, 05:08 PM
I think the time frame for the salted wood is around the mid 60's. It wasnt just on T Bolts, but also over/unders and centerfire bolt guns. I havent heard of it to be a wide spread problem, so it might depend more on the humidity levels where the gun was stored.

March 27, 2003, 07:59 PM
Salt wood resulted from a process used on Brownings to speed up the curing time of wood...the salt would draw out the moisture and speed up the drying process, unfortunately the salt residue remained in the wood grain and caused metal corrosion where the metal and wood made contact. This was not a Browning problem, but a supplier problem.

About 1965, a large wood supplier sent wood not only to Browning for FN's use but also to Bishop, Fajen, Winchester, Ruger and to the US Military for M-14 stocks. This company was drying their walnut using granulated salt, by covering the wood with salt and placing it in quonset huts.

The wood dried so quickly that the workers said they could actually see a steady drip of moisture coming from the wood. The wood was already cut into the appropriate size planks and no one thought that any salt residue would remain on or in the wood after final shaping, sanding, and finshing.The US Government stopped using walnut for the M-14 rifles and went to other types of wood because properly cured wood was so scarce at the time.

In Brownings case, the problem first showed up starting in 1966 and ends on their guns about 1973. Superposes and T-Bolts made between 1967-1973 should be looked at; Safari, Medallion or Olympian made between 1967-1976; and any A5's 2,000,000 edition Commemoratives should be looked at.

Inspect any place the metal touches the wood. Take out the butt plate screws and look them over carefully. If you find no rust, the gun is probably OK. Sometimes you can test the wood with silver nitrate. Place a drop or two on a hidden spot on the wood, if it bubbles you have a problem

(From "Browning Sporting Arms of Distinction" by Matt Eastman)

Browning procrastinated in signing the wood contract in Europe because there was a price spike. They thought it was a ploy and put off the purchase knowing there was plenty of cheap California wood available if needed. By the time the European wood deal fell through the California wood was gone.

The only figured wood available was planks bought in California but sent to South America for furniture. Browning was trapped and had to take it. This is where the salt curing was being done but Browning missed it being a problem.

They then tried to sell some of these to TRW for M-14 stocks but Claro walnut failed the physical test and was never used. Bishop, Fajen, the Warsaw Missouri pact, bought some and sold it in semi-inlets.

Browning nearly went broke from the fiasco. A serious tax problem about the same time almost put them under and as a result they lost the FN connection and were forced to Japan and Portugal for guns and parts. 1968 was the “1964” of Browning Arms. That’s why round knob, long-tang, (RKLT) Brownings are more desirable. If a Browning has French walnut stocks it can’t be salt wood. All Claro, especially the higher grades, is suspect.

March 28, 2003, 11:26 AM
Well damn.

Rembrandt- that was perfect. Exactly what I've come to expect from the gentlemen of distinction and erudition on the the High Road.

Mmmm. Decisions decisions. It looks really good in the pictures, but now I’m not sure.


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