Thursday, 22 May 2014

Heanel Mod 1, Cleaning the Stock and Metal Work

A semi restoration.

While resealing and lubing the action I thought why not treat the stock?

When I first acquire a new (to me) rusty old air rifle, I always rub the metalwork down with some gun oil or 3 in 1 and some very fine wire wool and wipe clean with a kitchen towel - this removes the rust and shows me the condition of the metal. 

A quick rub with some oil and wire wool helped matters no end.

I can see either how much bluing or enamel is left and whether any of the rust has left any pitting, giving me the choice of leaving it as it is or completely rubbing down and cold bluing or painting with enamel spray paint.

State of the rifle when I first got it.

I did this to the Heanel Mod I when I first picked it up and found the barrel to still be in really good condition, and even though the compression tube wasn't so hot, the metal still looked dark where the bluing was worn. 

Lots of rubbing with 3 in 1 and 0000  wire wool and the metal is looking quite respectable.

So recently, when the stock was off and the rifle was apart, I thoroughly rubbed down every part until all the dirt and rust were removed. It took about an hour of rubbing which did reveal a little pitting along the compression tube just below where it sits in the stock. 

Pitting below fore stock line.

Having already spent a half hour doing this when I first got the rifle, most of this session involved the removal of accumulated grime, and seeing as it was over 75 years old, some of the grime was a little tough to remove. Once cleaned, the metal looked pretty decent, so I decided to leave it with it's protective coating of oil; besides, the rear sight and front sight hood are missing and I wouldn't really consider rebluing until they were replaced with original parts.

Rear sight in need of a competent bodge.

Front sight still useable.

The stock is made of walnut and has a lovely little oval brass Heanel badge on the side of the butt. The brass got a clean when I first picked it up but now that the rifle was apart, I decided to rub down and oil the stock whilst it was removed. 

Nice badge and a very old stock.

I had recently picked up a small pack of three grades of wire wool from my local discount shop, so taking a pinch of the coarsest grade, I rubbed down a test patch on the butt. 

Test patch with ingrained dirt from over 75 years.

It looked good, so using most of the rest of that grade, I cleaned the rest of the stock, first rubbing in a circular motion then finishing off by rubbing along the grain.

Four hours of solid rubbing with rough grade wire wool ... looks good but could be better.

Four hours of solid rubbing revealed a nicely grained piece of walnut. More effort was put into the end grains and the many dings and dents the stock had accumulated. 

The Butt needed extra attention, note the cracks that even steaming couldn't shift.

The wood is old and dry, and although the Danish oil is giving the outside a bit of a rejuve, the inside where the action sits is bone dry, so here I filled any light cracks with superglue and glued on some bits which had chipped off.

Loctite superglue fills those small cracks and rejoins any bits chipped off.

The accumulated years of sweat and dirt were still noticable, so one evening I used the remaining wire wool to get the stock as clean as I possibly could.

Hours more rubbing with wire wool and i'm a lot happier.

This was followed up with a rub down with the medium grade wire wool for about an hour, then about half hour with the fine grade just to get it really smooth. 

Look at the dust and crap on this, you can't beat a good damp cloth to show you what you've actually achieved.

With a fine cleaning of the brass badge, the stock was ready for oiling with Danish oil, which happens to be the only oil I have at the moment.

The first five or so thin layers of Danish oil tend to soak in to the wood before forming a laquer.

I have been told the best way to oil a stock is to rub on a light coat of oil every hour for the first day, one coat every day for the first week, one coat every week for a month, then once every six months to keep it topped up. During this process, the stock should be rubbed down with very fine wire wool after every third coat, and cleaned with a damp cloth. You don't have to follow the instructions to the letter but it gives you a rough idea. I have used this as a guide before and found it to produce very satisfying results. A couple of coats over a year with a light rub down now and again helps stop the sweat and dirt on your hands staining the wood, apparently.

Starting to look as good as I hoped it would.

So this stock got a coat of oil every few hours on the first day. Over the next seven days, it might've had two coats in a day, though I did miss a day due to being just too busy. But I did give it a rub down with wire wool after every third application without fail, just a light rubbing and a wipe with a damp cloth to bring back the silky smooth texture of the wood.

Baby wipes are very good for removing any wire wool bits.

It is important that each layer is as thin as possible, because after the oil has soaked into the grain it starts to build up like a lacquer and if it is applied too thickly it will feel bitty and take ages to dry. If there was the slightest tacky feel to the wood before rubbing with wire wool, I left it another hour and just gave it a wipe with a cloth in the mean time; the worst thing to do is rub down while it hasn't completely dried. Once a good lacquer base had been built up I left it to dry for 15 hours, then, using very fine wire wool I rubbed along the grain in single light strokes to remove any bittiness. A cloth was used to remove all the bits of dust that came off the wire wool, leaving a shiny smooth stock. I could if I wanted apply another thin coat of danish oil but will leave it for now as i'm happy with how it looks.

Ready for a good rub down with wire wool finally.

After the third day, I put the trigger guard and action back on the stock; any further applications will be made with the trigger guard left on but the action removed. 

After three days all bits and blemishes were rubbed out of the stock, I was left with a very smooth base to apply more very thin layers of Danish oil.

I was very pleased with the results as there are some lovely grain features in this walnut stock, and even though I couldn't remove all the dings and scratches it's still a damned sight better than it was originally.

Stock with many layers of oil, rubbing and wiping after a week.


Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe.

And the Lord said "Let there be Weasels", and there was.        

1 comment:

  1. Danish Oil is great for wooden supporter in a rifle. I use it for mine. My friend is a gunsmith. He told me how many times he has seen wet guns put away in a wet gun case and 9 months later the owner pulls it out to discover...(dramatic pause) RUST!

    Thanks for this useful post.
    MA Firearms School