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Refinishing Grandpa's Old J.C.Higgins

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by sewright34, Nov 26, 2006.

  1. sewright34

    sewright34 New Member

    I have received my Grandfather's late fifties J.C. Higgins model 88 .22 revolver from my mother as a birthday gift. I know that this gun has very little monetary value, but to me, it is priceless. The problem is the condition. It has a little rust on the barrel and cylinder, and the blueing is virtually gone from the entire gun. I was considering trying Blue Wonder on the steel parts, but I have no clue what to do with the aluminum frame. I don't have much money to dump into this gun, so a pro job is out of the question, but I want to get the best finish that I can.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to approach this old snake killer? I'm a greenhorn at blueing, so please go easy on the technical stuff.

  2. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    The best option for the aluminum parts is one of the spray-on coating finishes sold by Brownell's.

    These are available in both spray-on and cure and in spray-on and bake in the kitchen oven.
    These are available in a variety of colors, look good, and are very durable.

  3. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    Clean off the rust and shoot it. Leave it as is...
  4. jeepmor

    jeepmor Well-Known Member

    Use some fine steel wool, call it good

    I left my 22 rifle in the trunk of my car in college since they were not allowed in the dorms. It rusted pretty badly in the gun rug, but thankfully did not pit. Some gun oil and liberal scrubbing with some steel wool cleaned it right up. I thought I was going to need to reblue it, but when done, you couldn't even tell it was rusted in the first place.

    Give it some elbow grease first then reevaluate it. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how well it will clean up. I know I was with my remington 22 I'm referring too, and I still have it, looks great.

  5. sewright34

    sewright34 New Member

    I understand the point about "leaving it as is", but there is enough of a condition issue to make me worry a bit. This gun is extremely special to me. My grandpa and I were very close, and he always wanted to get the gun refinished but never got around to it. He carried it on his hip during many, many trips to the woods from the time it was new in '58, until his death in '91. I just feel like it's something I need to do as an homage to him. I hope that makes sense.

  6. Riss

    Riss Well-Known Member

    Well, if I can read into what you are saying you need to get it blued. The Ol' Guy wanted it refinished, most likely so you would have it 'new" just like he did. Kind of like repainting an old cherished car. I would seek out a good gunsmith that does blueing and have it done. Simple as that. Any VALUE in the piece is the piece itself. NOT because it is in original, unrestored condition. The sentimental value for you greatly means more that its dollar value. SO. Go get it blued.
  7. RexDart

    RexDart Well-Known Member

    Another option would be to get the Lauer Duracoat in clear: the look would remain vintage while sealing the surface against further oxidation. I'm considering this treatment for a Winchester '97 with the bluing gone.
  8. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Well-Known Member

    Use some steel wool to knock the rust off. Field strip it and give it a good coat of hard carnuba wax. That wear on the finish was put there by your grandfather's hands. It is a thing of beauty and you shouldn't change it.
  9. Riss

    Riss Well-Known Member


    NO quicker way to strip the gun of its finish than steel wool. Use something softer like bronze wool. To remove the rust and preserve the finish, if that is what you are trying to do, use the bronze wool and LOTS of oil. Then clean and wax. Good, paste furniture polish works well.
  10. joab

    joab Well-Known Member

    I second the nix on steel wool.
    I have always used a denim cloth saturated with oil , but I like patina.

    Duracoat also make a "gun blue" coat.

    The cost is about $50 and the finish is as indestructable as you are going to get.

    I have never seen the Gun Blue but a friend did a 1911 in black and OD and it looks great

  11. Plink

    Plink Well-Known Member

    If you want the finest finish, I'd suggest rust bluing. It's the most expensive factory finish so it's only done on high end doubles and one some fine older guns. You can get a bottle of Express Blue from Brownells for only a few bucks. It takes quite a bit of labor as you heat the metal, apply solution and let a film of rust appear, then boil it, card off the rust and repeat several times. The finish you get is a gorgeous satin blue that is more durable than any hot blue. The hand labor is why it's the most expensive finish, but you can do it yourself inexpensively if you put in the labor yourself. I use it on muzzleloaders often and Express Blue is the easiest of the rust blues I've tried.

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