Cleaned up my old Ithaca


March 11, 2011, 05:27 PM
About a week ago I posted some pics of an old 20 gauge Ithaca SxS I recently aquired. I knew absolutely nothing about it other than it was old and had been badly refinshed with a flat black paint job. I got some great info from fellow members and found out it was actually a 28" Flues model 1 1/2 grade made in 1919.
I talked to the previous owner and he said it was powder coat, not paint, and had been done because his grandfather kept the gun in his truck and it had gotten really shabby looking by the time it was passed on to him. I couldn't take the way it looked and thought I'd take a chance at cleaning it up. Anyway the stuff was a real PITA to get off but I have most of it cleaned off and thought I would share.
Overall I think it looks good to be so old and well used, but I am still in the dark about a few things. First and foremost one barrel is slightly bulged at the choke, my guess is from using steel shot or too heavy a load. I think I am going to keep this gun and would like to shoot it a little if possible, any advice on what to do with this barrel? I am tossing around then Idea of having it shortened an inch or two since the barrel is basically toast as is. Also I see what look like a series of rings on the barrels and wonder if this is Damascus steel, in which case it will be a wall hanger anyway and I'll leave it alone.
I'm getting long winded here so I'll put up some new pictures and let you all have a look. As always I appreciate any comments or information.

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March 11, 2011, 05:30 PM

March 11, 2011, 05:32 PM
Damascus steel?

451 Detonics
March 11, 2011, 07:31 PM
Looks much better than the paint...and yes...the barrels appear to be damascus but it is hard to tell in the pics. Is there anything on the rib or barrels as far as a description? For examples some Flues had "Smokeless Powder Steel" on the barrels.

March 11, 2011, 07:35 PM
Nice job 100% better.

March 11, 2011, 08:24 PM
Detonics, yes the barrels do say 'smokeless powder steel'. Something else I am curious about is how to determine if the chambers are 2 1/2 or 2 3/4. A 2 3/4 shell fits but I'm not convinced that is the determining factor. Doesn't a shotgun chamber need room for the shell to open up? I would love to put a few shells through this old gun, but the bulge and the possible Damascus steel make me think it may not happen. Any thoughts, I'd really like some, "if it were mine", kind of ideas. Thanks again.

March 12, 2011, 10:21 AM
........I have a Western Arms double from the '30s. Ithaca made store brand. My gunsmith told me to run lower recoil ammo through it because todays ammo is allegedly hotter than yesteryears metallurgy can handle. His words not mine. No problem for me as I use it for a fun gun, block shoots, busting clays etc. I believe it can handle more, it's built like a tank. Real sweet triggers on those old doubles.

451 Detonics
March 12, 2011, 07:55 PM
Target loads will be fine through it and you can measure the chambers quite easily yourself. you can see a shadow from the start of the forcing cone in the chamber, measure from that to the face of the barrels. I am willing to bet however it is 2 5/8ths and shooting standard low brass target loads will be fine in it. If you are worried about doing so just order some 2 1/2 inch shells from here...

March 13, 2011, 08:19 AM
Detonics, once again thanks for really useful information. I think I might order some of those 2 1/2 inch shells. I don't want to hunt or shoot a lot of clays with this gun, I just want to put a few shells through it. What are your thoughts (or anyone else's for that matter) on the bulged barrel? It is in the last inch or so of the left barrel. It is slight, but it is there. Should I just leave it as is, or look into having it cut down?

451 Detonics
March 13, 2011, 12:12 PM
Won't hurt a thing...I would just ignore it. Cutting it back would reduce the choke and reduce the value of the gun. If you ever have it restored the bulge can be ironed out.

March 13, 2011, 01:38 PM
Thanks, sounds like good advice. There is still a little paint to get out of the nooks and crannies, and I have ordered an extractor to replace an mine, its MIA. After that I think this one's going to stay like it is for a while. It will mostly be a wall hanger, but it's hard for me to have a gun that never gets shot. Thanks everyone.

March 13, 2011, 08:21 PM
the bulge is most likely from someone shooting a slug through the barrel. It is quiet common in the A5 shotguns to see a bulge from slugs in an older choked barrel. There was a write up on the bulge (concerning the brownings) and the effect on the patterns. There was no effect on the pattern of the guns with bulges and the plain ones. Just one of those things you see in older shotguns.

Black Knight
March 13, 2011, 09:09 PM
A friend of mine who was our police armorer just took a look at your photos and he said those barrels are Damascus and not to shoot modern loads in it. I had only seen Damascus knife blades so I didn't want say but since he looked at them I would not shoot them right now. Take it to a gunsmith you trust with your life and have him take a look at it before you do anything with it.

Red Label
March 13, 2011, 09:13 PM
If the barrel says smokeless powder steel then its probably not damascus but the chamber length definately needs to be considered. I would have a gunsmith check it though. I have an old Winchester M1912 that has the 2 9/16 chamber so I buy the 2 1/2 shells for it. Not a big deal. If you have a Cabelas nearby they stock them.

You did a nice job on the gun. I hate to see nice old guns that have been neglected but I like resurrecting them too. If they have already been messed with you sure can't ruin it.

Unfortunately my favorite neglected gun was my grandfather's .22 Winchester. It lived it's life as a "barn" gun and it looks it. I restored it as best as possible but the pitting both inside and out has made it virtually unshootable. It is resigned to a special place in my den. Your Ithaca still looks servicable! Good luck with it!:)

March 13, 2011, 10:05 PM
Congratulations on cleaning up the Flues. It looks nice.
I inherited my Pap's old 1925, 12 gauge, SxS, Ithaca Flues as well. The top of the buttstock to the left of the safety was missing a large piece of wood when I got it. After doing some research and asking the right questions to the right people, I found out that it is a common mistake to fire 2 3/4" shells through the thing. When you do that the pressures get too high and the stock does exactly what mine did. Pap probably got tired of looking for 2 1/2" shells and fired a couple 2 3/4" through it.

I am still looking for an old buttstock. Just in case anyone has a clue as to where I can find one.

Here are a couple things I have learned, or at least what others who know a lot more than I do about Flues models, have told me:
- "Smokeless Powder Steel" means that it can shoot target loads at 2 1/2"
- With that on the barrel, Red Label is correct, it is NOT of the Damascus variety
- The Damascus barrel shoud make it a nice gun to admire but not to shoot
- Numrich Gun Parts does have parts for Flues models. Their inventory changes constantly.
- Midway USA also stocks 2 1/2" shells. There are a few other commercially available shells out there if you beat the bushes.
- The chamber can be modified to accept 2 3/4" shells if done by a competent smith.
- Mr. Flues led an interesting life. If you have the time, there is plenty about him on the net to read.

When I finally find an old stock, I'll post some pics too.
Good luck................

March 14, 2011, 11:18 AM
What did you use to remove the powder coat?

A 2 3/4 shell fits but I'm not convinced that is the determining factor. Doesn't a shotgun chamber need room for the shell to open up

Exactly - and a gun that old could have 2-1/2, 2-9/16, 2-5/8 as well as possibly 2-3/4 - it would take a smith 10 seconds with a chamber tool to tell you, unless it says on the barrel flats or water table.

RST and Polywad sell "Vintager" loads meant for old guns - short length and low pressure, they work well in a variety of old guns to keep them shooting

Have fun with it

March 14, 2011, 12:16 PM
Aguila also markets some mini shells with a buck and ball configuration. I think they are 1 1/4 inch long. Should be fine with that old Ithaca.

March 14, 2011, 06:20 PM
One Ounce Load, I used 'Klean Strip brand, KS-3 premium stripper' that I got from Wal-Mart. I tried another stripper that I had in the shed and it wouldn't touch it. I left some small parts soaking in it overnight and nothing happened. That Klean Strip (I feel like a spokesman), several toothbrushes, they melt, and some 0000 steel wool used VERY CAREFULLY did the trick, and as you can see, left the original patina intact. Thanks for all the info and compliments guys.

March 15, 2011, 01:53 PM
I like the "after" look much better. It doesnt look like any damascus barrels that I've seen before. The lines are too evenly spaced and straight. The damascus I've seen looks more twisted or spiraled. And if it does say "smokeless powder" on it, I'd bet it's most definitely not damascus. But as stated, a quick trip to a reputable smith will solve that question and the chamber length issue too.

March 15, 2011, 03:09 PM
Aguila also markets some mini shells with a buck and ball configuration. I think they are 1 1/4 inch long. Should be fine with that old Ithaca

Maybe yes, maybe no - it would depend on the working pressures - if that is a modern high-pressure round, just being short doesn't mean it would be safe in an old gun; also can't really see using buck and ball on quail either.... ;)

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