Help/advice restoring a Remington 51

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Dark_Gladiator, Sep 9, 2011.

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  1. Dark_Gladiator

    Dark_Gladiator Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Garland, Texas
    Howdy folks,

    This is my first time posting at the High Road, this has always been one of my first stops with firearms questions, but I've never participated in the discussion (most of the threads I've read have been inactive for years).

    I was browsing through pawn shops here in Garland looking for files and deals on tools for my shop, and I spotted a Remington 51 in the glass cabinet. They were asking $400, and after several days of reading everything I could find on it, I went back and walked out $200 more broke, but grinning like an idiot.

    I'm sure that she's pre-1923 because there are no barrel codes on the left side of the trigger guard, but I'm not sure beyond that. According to Ed Buffaloe (http://unblinkingeye.com/Guns/Rem51/rem51.html), the pre-1921 guns should have a 9 serration slide (mine does), but no Remington trademark or caliber stamp on the barrel (mine does). This makes me wonder if I just have a 1921-22 gun, and the slide was replaced, or if I've just got some weird transition period gun.

    I took several while I was taking the gun apart for cleaning.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157627503875725/

    As you can see, the slide seems like it was sanded with pretty rough paper. The take-out pin has been sanded down a bit with the slide, and the left side of the frame is missing some blue and seems to have been lightly scratched up by the trigger guard. I think there was some light engraving on the left side of the slide, which prompted the bungled refinishing attempt.

    Otherwise, the frame and internals seem to be in great shape, there's a small amount of pitting near the left grip (probably where it rubbed against skin while being carried?).

    What would you all suggest for restoring this gun? I'm not sure if I should look to Numrich for a replacement, or try to refinish the current slide. I've never done any bluing, and it kind of intimidates me. I'm also not looking to put significant monetary investment into the equipment to do so, because I'm not likely to be using it on any other projects.

    I bought the pistol to be a shooter, also because I wanted it to have a good home (one that wouldn't abuse it with sandpaper!). Still, I'd like to retain as much value in the pistol as possible, and I'm not sure if replacing the slide or refinishing the current is the better choice.

    Any suggestions?

    If the suggestion is to refinish, any recommendation on good gunsmiths in the Dallas area?

    Thanks a bunch.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2011
  2. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    6,398
    Even if a replacement slide is available, you're going to sink a lot more into the gun than it will ever be worth.

    For a refinish, I'd suggest a good re-blue, and see what the company who does it can do to straighten out the bad polishing job. Often they can surprise you.

    These days you can have good bluing or cheap bluing, you don't get both.

    Cheap bluing may be dark blue and shiny, but a ham-handed polisher will only damage the gun more by rounding off sharp edges, dishing out holes, and leaving waves in the flats.
    This may look okay to inexperienced people, but most anyone who's into guns will instantly see it for the botch job it is.
    Most local gunsmiths who even still offer bluing only fire up the tanks once a month or so. Doing the polishing that seldom prevents them from obtaining or maintaining the polishing skills, thus the botched polishing.
    Also, most of them don't have the right polishing equipment. They all too often use smaller, soft muslin buffs.

    A good re-finisher can often at least partially correct botched work.
    Since 95% of a good refinish is the hand polishing, you're paying for the labor, and good polishers don't work for minimum wage.
    Professionals used large diameter hard felt polishing heads, and spend 40 hours a week polishing metal.

    Again, cheap or good, choose one.
    Here's some proven professional gun refinishing services.

    http://www.apwcogan.com/

    http://www.fordsguns.com/

    http://www.gunbluing.com/

    http://www.elitecustomguns.com/index1.htm
     
  3. aminyard

    aminyard Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2011
    Messages:
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    Any reblue willl destroy the value of the pistol. Short of sending it to Turnbull (mega-bucks) I would clean it with some 0000 steel wool an a good oil (for this application I would recommend Hoppe's). I have a 1905 S&W that has almost no blue remaining, but that is part of its history. I cleaned it and applied some of the new Break Free collector's lube and preservatiive. Everone who sees it loves it!!!

    Good Luck!!
     
  4. Dark_Gladiator

    Dark_Gladiator Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Garland, Texas
    Thanks a bunch for the advice. I'll probably end up sending it out to be refinished and re-blued, I value the pistol more for it's good looks, feel, and as a shooter than I do as a collector's piece. I guess in the meantime, I'll keep it well oiled, and save up to get good quality work done.

    I appreciate the comments!

    Edit: Either way, it looks like around the same cost going in. A new slide would run about a hundred bucks, and it's also a century note for a reblue with Turnbull. Is Turnbull a big name in restoration? I'm guessing that the additional cost of a polish with them would be the largest part of the expense, but I might be willing to see how much their quote would run.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  5. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    34,962
    Location:
    Central PA
    That pistol doesn't look all that bad. If you DO send it to someone like Turnbull's, I'll bet you have a beautiful gun when it comes back.

    It might cost you several times what you spent on the gun, but it would be as close to "better than factory new" as you could want.
     
  6. 788Ham

    788Ham Member

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    I might throw in something here: use "bronze wool" not steel wool ! If you're trying to remove any and all rust, use the bronze wool, it will remove the rust, but leave what little bluing is left. Use the wool with some light lube oil too, and use the wool in a soft sliding motion, don't use a lot of pressure.
     
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