I’m about to disappear out of the country on business for a week or so, but I’ve made some progress with the garden gun in the few days I’ve had since deciding to go ahead with the project.

Stock Replacement

I’ve been making inquiries as to possible sources of stock wood and thanks to the PigeonWatch massif, I’ve got some leads to follow up when I get back. Although I’ve been thinking of getting hold of some walnut to create a new stock, it’s been suggested to me that alternative woods might also be worth considering. Beech, for instance, is cheap and similar in characteristics to walnut, whilst cherry, maple and oak have all been suggested as alternatives.

Oak would likely prove heavy and risks drawing in moisture if it’s not properly dried, but is an outside possibility. One of the most interesting suggestions I’ve received would be to create a laminated stock out of two or three different kinds of boards. That could certainly prove attractive, but there is also a strong motivation not to go overboard on cost at this point. The aim is very much to refurbish the gun so that it lasts another 85+ years, rather than to turn it into a work of art.

At this point, I’m leaning towards beech on grounds of cost, or walnut if I can get it, but it won’t be difficult to put off that decision for a while.


This evening’s progress took the form of removing the old blue from the gun and polishing out as much of the rust as I could. I suspect that another session using the Birchwood Casey Blue & Rust Remover,

A pot of (horrendously smelly) blue and rust remover, used for stripping the aforementioned substances from old, worn barrels and other metalwork.

which is a mixture of Sulphuric, Phosphoric and Oxalic acids (the last of which is the poison in uncooked rhubarb and the source of the familliar yet acrid smell) will be in order when I return to the country. I’m not yet happy enough with the condition of the barrel or the trigger mechanism to begin the long, slow process of sanding out the pits and surface defects.

Once again, credit goes to the members of PigeonWatch for their wisdom. It’s a bit of a bear pit of a place at times (and downright intimidating to newcomers to the sport, I imagine) but there is certainly a huge amount of shared knowledge there too. I have been following this guide, kindly provided by another enthusiast who came before me and I can add here some observations of my own to supplement his shared experience.

The de-greased bolt, trigger assembly and miscellaneous parts were dried in the oven at 140°C to remove all traces of water.

Having de-greased the barrels and metalwork exactly as the instructions described, I attacked the barrel of the gun with the rust remover first, wiping it with a sponge as instructed. I found that this probably didn’t transfer enough of the acid onto the metal, or that what was transferred was spread too thinly as, having waited the suggested two minutes, the blue was reluctant to come off. I went through the cycle of applying the acid and scrubbing several times and it wasn’t until the third or fourth time that I found that the blue started to disappear and the dull metal of the barrels showed through.

Treating the trigger assembly metalwork and removing the blue with OOO-grade wire wool. The rust remover had a tendency to “foam” when applied with a sponge.

I later discovered that this was partly due to the OOO-grade steel wool I had been using, as per the instructions. This was simply too fine for the job and as soon as I moved to using much coarser wool (the kind one might use for scrubbing dishes) the blue came off cleanly and efficiently.

Of course, it made a hideous mess and the iron dust produced as the wool disintegrated took a long time to clean up, which made me wish I’d put some sheets of cardboard – sadly unavailable – down on the side to protect it and catch the debris.

By the time I’d finished, the barrels were mostly clean, with the exception of some severe pitting on the underside of the chamber and a certain degree of corrosion that I couldn’t polish out at the muzzle. In fact, I think I may grind down the muzzle by a millimeter or two and refinish it, just to make sure that all of the corroded metal is removed, but that’s a job for another day.

The barrel of the garden gun, after the first session of blue and rust removal, oiled and ready for storage.

After I’d done the barrels, I worked on the other metal parts: trigger assembly, bolt, barrel anchor and screws. These were all straightforward to clean up with the heavier gauge wool, though the trigger mechanism could probably do with another scrub and polish before it’s blued.

The trigger assembly, bolt and other miscellany of the garden gun, after the first session of rust and blue removal.

Finally, I used a .30 calibre copper brush and a power drill to clean the chamber and the muzzle. In fact, I wanted to polish out the whole barrel, but I haven’t yet worked out how to detach the handle of my cleaning rod without breaking it completely. When I do, I’ll fit it to the drill and give the barrels a good clean. A good quantity of unidentifiable “gunk” came out of the two small areas I could reach, so no doubt there’s plenty of grime left in there that the usual oil and patches haven’t been able to shift.

After that, I collected up the bits and locked them all away in the cabinet, but not without taking a picture of my handiwork.

A composite image showing the state of the metalwork before (top) and after (bottom) the de-bluing process. Not shown in the bottom image is the pitting in the area of the stock that was revealed by the removal of the rust and blue which suggests the gun has been put away wet on more than one occasion.

I probably won’t get a chance to work on the gun tomorrow night as I’ll be packing for my flight, but I should be able to upload the photos (which are missing at the time of writing). I’ll be back in a week or so, hopefully having completed the cleaning stage and be ready to move on to the (laborious) task of sanding the barrels down to remove the pitting and defects.