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Old 12-29-2017, 12:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Refurbishing dad's old pheasant gun.

Disclaimer: no pictures. Yet.
I'll get them as soon as I stop lazing around.

So just after Thanksgiving, I stopped by my dad's apartment to help him move the last of the stuff out of his storage unit. I found, rolling in the bed of his truck, the receive for his double-barreled shotgun.
It had been in limited climate control in a storage unit in Florida for twelve years. The barrel was in such bad shape he pulled it off and tossed it in the dumpster at the rental place. The receiver was the color and vague texture of a brick.
The stock is surprisingly good.
Thankfully he offered the remaining parts--everything but the barrels--before he tossed that. His plan was to toss the barrel and receiver separately, to prevent someone from putting it back together and either cutting the barrel short and getting up to no good, or risking blowing it up in their face.

He bought it to hunt with sometime between the late seventies and early or mid-eighties. And there wasn't a squirrel or pheasant season until we moved that didn't have a couple in the table. He's not a sentimental guy, but I could tell it hurt to lose it.

Some steel wool and WD40 later, and the receiver is worse for wear, but functional. It looks like the old and darkened but case-colored piece it is.
So then I had to search for a barrel. No, I couldn't call the manufacturer. I couldn't find anything in antique lots. I could find some 12-gauge barrels for the re-badged shotgun, the 311, but nothing in 16ga.
Not sure when they discontinued the 16, but it was old when he bought it. This one was made before serial numbers. It was made before they changed the model number to 311 (this is the 5100), which means it was made before those date codes. The only markings are 'Stevens' and the pointing dog emblem on one side, and '5100' and the company name and city on the other.
The name, 'J. Stevens Arms Company,' suggests the shotgun was manufactured between 1915 and 1945.

Thankfully, a week ago I got a message on another forum. Someone has an orphaned barrel and receiver, with no stocks or triggers. He's willing to sell them separate. Perfect! The barrel's in the mail now.

So! Running through this via text aside, now it will come down to some polish and buffing. If I'm lucky, the barrel will drop right on. If I'm not, I probably can--but am not at all looking forward to--fitting it.

Until then, I'm going to refinish the wood. It's nice, but old varnish is old. I'm trying to decide whether to use the satin tinted polyurethane I have in the right color, or pick up a can of gloss to match more closely with what it had.
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Old 12-29-2017, 01:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Sounds like an awesome project. I'll have my fingers crossed for the barrel to just drop in. You'll probably want to prepare yourself for a little bit of file and stone work though. Older guns were mostly rough machined, really rough, and then hand fitted. (Why isn't there a fingers crossed smiley?) Sounds like you're at least ready to be ready for that.
As for the stock, the beauty of old wood is that if it doesn't work on the first try you can always try it again. A little sandpaper and it's a blank slate once more.
Good luck man. Bring the old girl back.
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Oh, I'm plenty prepared for some fitting if it's tight. I've done machining, I would just really miss my workshop.
I may have to buy a reamer to adjust headspace a little.
Worst case, it's loose. I do not want to deal with that if I can help it.
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Old 12-29-2017, 05:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Alright, making this less useless before returning to bed.


The wood is still surprisingly nice. The metal... keep in mind this is after soaking with WD40 (there's a reason I bought it in a gallon can) and an hour or two with steel wool.
Not sure if I want to use satin poly on the wood... a can of gloss is cheap enough, though. Or gloss clear over the satin for a semi-gloss.
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Old 12-29-2017, 07:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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good luck. i know a gunsmith that can fit the barrels for you or check your work. he is very reasonable on most things. i have seen him do some amazing things to junk guns.
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Old 12-29-2017, 07:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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There are 3 basic areas that can be adjusted for fitting on a 311.

1. The lug between the barrels. This is your primary lockup. There is a cam surface on the shaft of the lever that interfaces with the angled surface on the lug.

I have fitted a loose 311 by welding up the lug and filing to fit. You can also replace the lever to try and affect the fit. Numrich Gun Parts is the best source for parts.

2. The face of the breach. If it doesn't close and lock up cleanly the rear face of the barrels can be stoned/flat sanded until it closes. Use dykem or sight black/candle soot to show the high spots to be fitted down.

Be super careful and go very slowly. Also watch the underside of the barrel because it might bind at the water table.

3. Front lug pivot. If you put the barrel on and it has daylight between the breach face and the back of he barrel, or it has some wiggle, you can weld up the inside surface of the lug and then recut/fit down the surface until it locks up tightly.


As far as headspace; in my experience these guns have fairly loose fit on the rims of the shells. But since the firing pin protrusion is quite generous I doubt you will have any light strikes due to headspace.

What I have seen however is light strikes due to weak hammer springs. Some people don't drop the hammers and that can cause the springs to take a "set". These were price point guns and combined with their age you may see this.

If you have to do any welding make sure to isolate the area with heat control paste or wet rags so that you don't loosen the brazing on the rib-barrel seams.


Good luck.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have trouble finding any local gunsmiths. I'll look around, I'm sure the local shop knows one, but I'm also pretty well broke at any point.
I can do pretty much any work I need to, as long as I know what needs done and have the tools. Unfortunately I don't have a welder.
If push comes to shove, my thought would be to silver-solder a piece of shim stock into place, then file to size. I'd have to research that, but on the plus side I very much doubt it will see much use. I'd prefer having it professionally done, or finding a friend with a welder.
And, yeah, I know the barrels and ribs are generally brazed or hard-soldered into place. Not something I'd want coming undone. Or ruining any temper on the pivot.

I'll have to inspect first before figuring out the best way to handle things. Like I said, if I get lucky, it's a drop-on thing.
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Old 12-30-2017, 09:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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My dad has a 16ga J.C Higgins( Stevens 311 re-badged) that's basically had the bluing worn off but it compliments the tenite stocks it has.

I loved that gun and found a deal on a 12 ga. 311 when I worked at Gander Mtn. that needed much love. It got a reblue and a major stock refinish. The reblue was professional after me doing the metal work and the stock work was mine, thanks to much learning from some great gunsmith's at the above job.

I'm a big proponent of using Tung oil to do stocks. It's a labor of love becasue or the time involved, but I have done more than a few (7 months on four ceremonial Garand stocks for my PD) but the glass like finish is worth it to me.
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Old 12-30-2017, 01:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I considered oil-- tung oil or tru-oil.
The problem here is that the stock was already varnished and is at least 70 years old. No idea how well it would absorb it even if I sanded it off. That, and the original front wood is bakelite or something, and the one dad actually used he made. It's a different wood, and not the same color. Something like the tinted poly will help match the color.
And from what I can find, Stevens never blued their receivers released under their name. They were case colored, so this is closer to that.
On the plus side, not having to blue it saved me a lot of trouble.
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Old 12-31-2017, 07:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The finish reminds me of the Steven's 12 ga (it was either a model 17 or 57 can't remember which) bolt action I had as a teen, I loved the mottled finish on the barrel & receiver.
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