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Old March 12, 2018, 12:46   #1
Col. Bat Guano
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Oh, the Humanity! From Safe Queen to Rust Bucket

Some time ago, I acquired a new-in-box 1968 production Colt 1911 Govt. Commercial model.

http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showthread.php?t=362603

Due to its unfired condition, it was destined to be a safe queen to be handed down to my sons (yes, I realize that I need two).

A couple of years ago, I was photographing some custom leather holsters for a client and I used this pistol in some of the photos. As luck would have it, some meth-head, in his attempt to break in to the nearby pharmacy, broke in to my office and ended up stealing a couple of pistols, including the Colt. When criminal scumbag discovered that he could not access the adjoining business from my studio, he went low-tech and simply broke out the door glass of the pharmacy by using one of my guns as a hammer. When exiting the building, he decided to toss the Colt over a fence into someone's yard. The gun ended up in a snowdrift, and when the snow melted three months later, the Colt was found. The pistol then spent the next two years locked up in the evidence vault while the perp awaited trial in Federal Court.

Last month, my stolen firearms were finally released from evidence. As expected, the Colt didn't fare well. Since the collectibility of the Colt is in the crapper, I will most likely sell it, as I have other 1911's for shooters. My question is this: What would be the best way to go about cleaning up this pistol without causing further damaging the finish? As always, your suggestions are greatly appreciated. Here are a few pics:

From this:



To this:











As a side note, while the perp was out on bail awaiting his trial date in Federal Court, he proceeded to burglarize seven additional businesses in a nearby town. Some dogs just need to be put down -- it would save taxpayers a ton of money.
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Old March 12, 2018, 12:58   #2
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Electrolysis. Any other method risks removing “good” metal.
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Old March 12, 2018, 14:28   #3
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i'd blast and paint over park. the gun will never be new again, so it might as well get used hard, and be coated accordingly.
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Old March 12, 2018, 14:39   #4
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Damn shame. I always thought the muzzies had at least something right about cutting the hand off of a thief.
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Old March 12, 2018, 14:47   #5
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Old March 12, 2018, 14:48   #6
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i'd blast and paint over park. the gun will never be new again, so it might as well get used hard, and be coated accordingly.
This is the way I would go....what a damned shame....fugging crankers
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Old March 12, 2018, 14:59   #7
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I'll leave the blasting/parkerizing or refinishing options to any potential buyer -- I just want to remove the rust without inducing any further damage to the gun.

OMR_RDTandE -- won't electrolysis attack the blued finish as well or is that only applicable to old firearms with rust blueing?
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Old March 12, 2018, 15:19   #8
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Looks at least as good as a few I was issued back in the day.

I'm not sure how good they are anymore, but you might try here.

https://www.colt.com/page/colt-custom

The folks below are great, but not sure if they will take in a Colt 1911

https://www.smith-wesson.com/custome...on-gunsmithing

I've found, that SW and I suspect even Colt are about the best to restore weapons back to original condition and the prices are lower than stand alone smiths.

I picked up a SW model 25-5 decades ago that had been severely abused.
Finally got around to sending it back to Smith a few years back, with a note which read, please restore this pistol back to original new condition.

Cost me 250.00 and a few months later, back came my pistol, in new condition, even in an original box with new papers.

Call Colt custom shop.
Can't hurt, and you might get back a keepsake/safe queen for the grand kids, once again,,,, vs a current rust bucket.
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Old March 12, 2018, 15:20   #9
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How much would you sell it for right now, in it's current condition?
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Old March 12, 2018, 15:21   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Col. Bat Guano View Post
I'll leave the blasting/parkerizing or refinishing options to any potential buyer -- I just want to remove the rust without inducing any further damage to the gun.

OMR_RDTandE -- won't electrolysis attack the blued finish as well or is that only applicable to old firearms with rust blueing?
You want to sell this now???
Put a price on it.
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Old March 12, 2018, 15:22   #11
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How much would you sell it for right now, in it's current condition?
I smell ugly duck auction!
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Old March 12, 2018, 15:26   #12
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I have never tried an insurance claim on a firearm from homeowner's insurance or NRA or elsewhere, and this loss is almost certainly below your deductible, but....

You have a demonstrative firearm "loss" where your $900 gun is now a $300 gun (arbitrary numbers bro, I am not trying to put an actual value on your gun). Does the free gun insurance offered with NRA membership cover such a loss? Perhaps looking into.
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Old March 12, 2018, 15:30   #13
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I have never tried an insurance claim on a firearm from homeowner's insurance or NRA or elsewhere, and this loss is almost certainly below your deductible, but....

You have a demonstrative firearm "loss" where your $900 gun is now a $300 gun (arbitrary numbers bro, I am not trying to put an actual value on your gun). Does the free gun insurance offered with NRA membership cover such a loss? Perhaps looking into.
^^^ Yes; that!!!
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Old March 12, 2018, 15:49   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Col. Bat Guano View Post
I'll leave the blasting/parkerizing or refinishing options to any potential buyer -- I just want to remove the rust without inducing any further damage to the gun.

OMR_RDTandE -- won't electrolysis attack the blued finish as well or is that only applicable to old firearms with rust blueing?
Electrolysis will, at a minimum, convert all the rust back to iron. It probably won't help the bluing, but I don't think there is much bluing to save at this point. My biggest concern would be if there's any pitting.
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Old March 12, 2018, 15:51   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Col. Bat Guano View Post
I'll leave the blasting/parkerizing or refinishing options to any potential buyer -- I just want to remove the rust without inducing any further damage to the gun.

OMR_RDTandE -- won't electrolysis attack the blued finish as well or is that only applicable to old firearms with rust blueing?
I tried electrolysis for the first time on an old basket case of a fn49...it got rid of most of the rust,left what original finish there was. Came out pretty good for first time..now,my battery charger was onlyputting out .5amp when it needed to be 1 to 2 amp so maybe it would have done better.

Just have to make sure you have the solution right and have it hooked up right..or it WILL eat the gun instead.

You could always take some solvent, real good penetrating oil,etc and use some very fine BRONZE WOOL and try cleaning it up.

I used to have a browning hp that a cat pissed on the soft case for years. All pitted..cleaned it up and had it parked. Sold it to a friend and regret it..but he wont sell it back to me..bastard.
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Old March 12, 2018, 17:26   #16
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Got a friend that swears by these folks, never used them myself though.

https://www.customshopinc.com/
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Old March 12, 2018, 17:27   #17
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I would be interested in making it a shooter. I've got a 1951 Colt LW Commander that's not correct that I want to customize but this might be a better option as its too far gone to make correct. Let me know what the price would be.
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Old March 12, 2018, 17:56   #18
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evaporust
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Old March 12, 2018, 19:25   #19
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evaporust
Yuuuuuuuuuup
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Old March 12, 2018, 19:39   #20
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Evaporust will kind of work, at least in making the rust go away, but electrolysis will actually replace metal. This does assume you don't get your anode and cathode confused.
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Old March 12, 2018, 19:41   #21
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Slide is going to be toast on the left side

sadly it likely was not in that bad of shape when the homeowner turned into the brain fart piggie patrol who just dropped it raw and dirty into a plastic evidence bag to rot. Yeah seen this shit many times.
Know of real horror stories regarding maltreatment of "evidence" once in Police hands.

The worst was a fellow I knew with a pair of Colt 1921 Thompsons that were seized in Cook County iL while he was on his way to KCR
Flat mint guns. Had his approved 5320 interstate transit forms from ATF with
all the paperwork.

Cook County seized them, it took two years and considerable pressure from ATF to gain their release by which time both were covered with a thick film of rust, one had a bulged barrel with two slugs lodged in it.

Like GP always states, the Chicago Way

Anyways the frame IS salvageable
pull the grips and guts then work down what ever scale with brass scapers
then boil the frame in distilled water which will convert the red oxide into black followed by hand buffing with oiled cotton waste.

No damn evaporust or electrolysis

Chuck the slide and find a replacement on GB or Ebay, they do turn up. I have snagged fairly nice ones for the $300 mark
or drop $400+ on a vintage Colt ACE .22 conversion unit

Again that slide in going to be at least medium pitted under the scale on the left side. The barrel may not be bad at all

Value as it sits ?
Well it's a vintage Colt 1911 frame assm that should clean up fine
might need to replace some external bit's but that reasonable at cost
theColt frame is where it's at

I would call it a solid $300 to $400 range
and $300 is lowballing it some
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Old March 12, 2018, 20:02   #22
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If I may be so bold, I offer $400.00 the way your fine specimen sits.

I would take a dremel tool with a wire brush and do all the sliding surfaces to get them clean and hold lubricant.

The rest of the surfaces, this gun is a tv gun, sit in front of the tube and with ultra fine steel wool, polish and oil it until the finish suits you.

Clean up and oil the grips.

You have a great shooter there!
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Old March 12, 2018, 20:17   #23
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evaporust
∆ This or a long soak in a bucket of ATF (automatic transmission fluid).
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Old March 12, 2018, 20:27   #24
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Take the grips off, soak it in oil, take some OOOO (4 ought) steel wool and gently rub over the affected areas. It works, I did this for many years in my gun shop Kastle Keep Largo, Florida. It won't make it perfect, but it will get the surface rust off and then you can assess the permanent damage. If any. Give it a try. The steel wool is not aggressive enough to hurt the blueing if you don't use excessive force. I was taught by a Master.
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Old March 12, 2018, 20:37   #25
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Like djvdz66 said, some 4/0 steel wool liberally soaked in a very fine sewing machine(3in1) or gun oil will do it and without scratching what's left of the blue finish.
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Old March 12, 2018, 21:47   #26
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perhaps I should explain the brass scrapers
The idea is to plane the high rust formations level with the remaining blued steel then through boiling bath convert from red ferric oxide to black Iron oxide.

Properly done this results in no evidence of scattered pitting and often blends in very well with blued gun steel finishes plus it stops the rust period.

Evaporust strips bluing completely
just as well apply Naval Jelly
Brownells has their Steel White, like advertised it makes steel white

Electrolysis IF carefully monitored can remove light scale without much damage to blued finish
on something like this ?
It will just trash it leaving a lunar landscape of open craters

I would get it knocked down first then work the frame carefully
strip the slide and such with whatever one chooses as the slide and even controls are likely trashed

and please no rotary wire brush tools

on that slide it "may" be salvagable.

Easy route after stripping is run it through a surface grinder
more labor intensive ?
Chunk of heavy plate glass or ground granite from monument supply joints
take a can of spray adhesive and glue down successive grades of wet/dry paper then hand grind the flats

thing is as bad as the one side is going to be to maintain semetry between the sides you are going to lose all markings on the right side of the slide as well

Super fine steel wool and oil is NOT a restoration technique
the problem is it will flush out pitting removing the soft red oxide
in short you will never make it look right again

Scraping is the generally accepted restoration technique in these cases.
in that case brass streaking is common, that's where 0000 oiled wool comes in and only lightly used to lift the streak
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Old March 12, 2018, 23:15   #27
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Take the grips off, soak it in oil, take some OOOO (4 ought) steel wool and gently rub over the affected areas. It works, I did this for many years in my gun shop Kastle Keep Largo, Florida. It won't make it perfect, but it will get the surface rust off and then you can assess the permanent damage. If any. Give it a try. The steel wool is not aggressive enough to hurt the blueing if you don't use excessive force. I was taught by a Master.
I'd go for bronze wool instead.
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Old March 13, 2018, 13:12   #28
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Yuuuuuuuuuup
Evaporust will make what's left of the bluing go away, too.

If it were me, I'd price out having the pistol refinished and reblued with the appropriate finish, then possibly let the gunsmith mess with the rust and whatnot. I'm not sure what the market is on unfired 1911s but I would imagine you'd be more likely to sell it at a higher price reblued than as-is.

Just my $0.02.
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Old March 13, 2018, 13:51   #29
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Unfortunately it's never going to be anything more than a shooter or carry gun so it makes little difference how you go about trying to rid the rust.

I would probably blast and matt blue or Park it. I don't care for paint because it looks like hell after it starts chipping off.

You might also try electroless nickel too. Or birdsong's Black-T.

So sorry about your classic Colt. That sucks.
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Old March 13, 2018, 14:15   #30
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These guys have made some rough firearms into gems.
They are popular with the vintage S&W revolver folks and give free estimates.
https://www.fordsguns.com/
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Old March 13, 2018, 15:08   #31
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I am perusing the $500.00 and under club and am looking at a new piece.

I would consider your piece there in that range as well.

"please no rotary tools"

https://youtu.be/Qw9oX-kZ_9k

I would use the rotary tool on the joint between the slide and frame and the barrel engagement lugs to the slide or any other internal area that needs to be clean.

I would just polish with ultra fine steel wool and oil all the appearance surfaces.


Last edited by gunshooter; March 13, 2018 at 15:14. Reason: learning to insert links
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Old March 13, 2018, 18:58   #32
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Unfortunately it's never going to be anything more than a shooter or carry gun so it makes little difference how you go about trying to rid the rust.

I would probably blast and matt blue or Park it. I don't care for paint because it looks like hell after it starts chipping off.

You might also try electroless nickel too. Or birdsong's Black-T.

So sorry about your classic Colt. That sucks.
Yes & No Walther

Yes to some of us puritanical Gun Snobs
{Yeah, I can get rather snooty about pure collector's guns myself}

That said it can be brought back to life as an entry level piece in my opinion but it's going to need a replacement slide at the very least.

The upside is we are talking an older Colt 1911
it's not like we are dealing with "all numbers matching" and there are plenty of older Colt 1911 slides in the pipeline with higher levels of original bluing.

No, it will NEVER be what it once was
That said with a bit of sweat equity and maybe no more than a $500 investment in original parts AND particularly if he still has the box/paperwork that can be turned into a solid $1000+ Colt 1911

See, I'm seeing a potentially decent Colt Frame with very little effort involved that will match the box and documentation
very KEY factors.
That's where the $$$ are in this shit my friend

I used to live for these projects.
is it "faking" to do partial restorations as I described earlier in this thread ?
No more than those who buy up say Garands and play the parts swap game to build "correct" rifles
Hell, they were correct when they were mismatched after refinish & rebuild.

This is done a great deal in the overall military game
I also used to apply it with semi auto pocket pistols, buying the broken or somewhat beat to create one or two high end examples and 3, 4 or 5 low end ones. You break even on the low end but make big coin on the nice stuff.

That's how the high end market works, been in and out of it for decades
I'll be honest and frank with everyone here
I have known & worked with some rather large names in the Collectors Arms industry.
Say you are a Winchester specialist
you purchase semi beat examples often just for a few decent bits you can move around.
Another example would be those who buy something with special order features such as say sights then strip those out, replace them with the common selling the rifle at a minor markup...the $$$ is in the free to you mint and rare sight set.
In some cases we are talking well over a grand in free money.

The younger generation don't really get this branch of the gun biz
seriously, many folks older than I don't have a solitary clue.
I had the benefit from a very young age of old school guys taking me under their wing explaining the trade to me rather in depth
consequently I just shudder when I see something like this and the Magilla Gorilla Gang advocating aggressive actions Walther.

That's why I am pushing preservation tech
Guys here seem to be looking at a gun much like a forrest but are unable to see the basic tree being that frame & matched box/docs

Nothing is lost by concentrating on saving that frame and from what I can see it's pretty easily done.
if not, then sure blast it, dunk it, park, plate or paint it
reduce it to a chunk O' junk

Everyone here seems to focus on the slide whereas I only have my eyes on that frame and box.
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Old March 13, 2018, 19:03   #33
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I am perusing the $500.00 and under club and am looking at a new piece.

I would consider your piece there in that range as well.

"please no rotary tools"

https://youtu.be/Qw9oX-kZ_9k

I would use the rotary tool on the joint between the slide and frame and the barrel engagement lugs to the slide or any other internal area that needs to be clean.

I would just polish with ultra fine steel wool and oil all the appearance surfaces.

old timers used dental picks
never knew one who would suffer engagement surfaces to any rotary tool
this is very carefully done and by physical hand

Harbor Freight carries somewhat decent pick sets but you can often get used for free if you befriend your favorite Dentist
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Old March 13, 2018, 19:27   #34
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For a Colt 1911, I trust Doug Turnbull to restore your gun to "as new" condition.

https://www.turnbullrestoration.com/gun/colt-1911/

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Old March 13, 2018, 23:14   #35
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Here's a bit of an update.

While work has kept me from diving in on this project, I did go to the parts washer to gently clean off the mud, and I was pleased to see that the internals are free of rust. The blueing on the right side is remarkably clean, with the rust on the left side appearing mainly as light surface rust. There may be some pitting at both ends of the slide on the left side, but I can't tell at this point.

I thought of putting the slide in my ultrasonic cleaner to see if some of the rust flakes off, or I might just go ahead and start soaking it in oil. In the meantime, I will do some checking with some of the sources provided by you in regards to restoration. This is not the basket case that I had initially thought it was.

I'll post here as I find out more. Thanks for the input, gentlemen!
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Old March 13, 2018, 23:58   #36
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Send the pictures and story (with PD release) to Colt for a quote on refinishing.
Ya never know! . . . there might be a special deal, and they do excellent work.
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Old March 14, 2018, 00:03   #37
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Can't get more "BFP" look than that! Looks like you picked it out of a trench in the Argonne..
I'd clean it up,cerokote it,and shoot it till it falls apart. Its just a thing.
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Old March 14, 2018, 00:04   #38
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The pics make me sick.
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Old March 14, 2018, 04:29   #39
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Blast and parkerize. When the dimwitz come over the hill, it won't matter if the finish is original or not.
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Old March 14, 2018, 08:36   #40
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Yes & No Walther

Yes to some of us puritanical Gun Snobs
{Yeah, I can get rather snooty about pure collector's guns myself}

That said it can be brought back to life as an entry level piece in my opinion but it's going to need a replacement slide at the very least.

The upside is we are talking an older Colt 1911
it's not like we are dealing with "all numbers matching" and there are plenty of older Colt 1911 slides in the pipeline with higher levels of original bluing.

No, it will NEVER be what it once was
That said with a bit of sweat equity and maybe no more than a $500 investment in original parts AND particularly if he still has the box/paperwork that can be turned into a solid $1000+ Colt 1911

See, I'm seeing a potentially decent Colt Frame with very little effort involved that will match the box and documentation
very KEY factors.
That's where the $$$ are in this shit my friend

I used to live for these projects.
is it "faking" to do partial restorations as I described earlier in this thread ?
No more than those who buy up say Garands and play the parts swap game to build "correct" rifles
Hell, they were correct when they were mismatched after refinish & rebuild.

This is done a great deal in the overall military game
I also used to apply it with semi auto pocket pistols, buying the broken or somewhat beat to create one or two high end examples and 3, 4 or 5 low end ones. You break even on the low end but make big coin on the nice stuff.

That's how the high end market works, been in and out of it for decades
I'll be honest and frank with everyone here
I have known & worked with some rather large names in the Collectors Arms industry.
Say you are a Winchester specialist
you purchase semi beat examples often just for a few decent bits you can move around.
Another example would be those who buy something with special order features such as say sights then strip those out, replace them with the common selling the rifle at a minor markup...the $$$ is in the free to you mint and rare sight set.
In some cases we are talking well over a grand in free money.

The younger generation don't really get this branch of the gun biz
seriously, many folks older than I don't have a solitary clue.
I had the benefit from a very young age of old school guys taking me under their wing explaining the trade to me rather in depth
consequently I just shudder when I see something like this and the Magilla Gorilla Gang advocating aggressive actions Walther.

That's why I am pushing preservation tech
Guys here seem to be looking at a gun much like a forrest but are unable to see the basic tree being that frame & matched box/docs

Nothing is lost by concentrating on saving that frame and from what I can see it's pretty easily done.
if not, then sure blast it, dunk it, park, plate or paint it
reduce it to a chunk O' junk

Everyone here seems to focus on the slide whereas I only have my eyes on that frame and box.
I have had the same hard choices with relic P.38's and PP's. Most were not worthy of a full-on restoration, but cleaning up and reblueing a real basket case never really decreased the value any.
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Old March 14, 2018, 11:24   #41
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Good that you got it to clean up some with the parts washer. Electrolysis would be next. Remember, the anode gets +, the work piece gets -.
Larry
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Old March 14, 2018, 11:42   #42
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Some "ruined" guns can have a second life:

http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showt...kerized+Python
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Old March 14, 2018, 13:05   #43
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old timers used dental picks
never knew one who would suffer engagement surfaces to any rotary tool
this is very carefully done and by physical hand

Harbor Freight carries somewhat decent pick sets but you can often get used for free if you befriend your favorite Dentist

Old timers didn't have variable speed dremels with cute little tiny brushes of various persuasions!

and for every bodies enjoyment:

https://youtu.be/uelHwf8o7_U

I think the cops enjoyed locking that colt up with no protectant in the bag.

Question for the day? Why does it take a white guy to do a black thing right?

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Old March 14, 2018, 13:52   #44
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Some "ruined" guns can have a second life:

http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showt...kerized+Python
I think the Python looks great.
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Old March 14, 2018, 17:05   #45
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I think the Python looks great.
Thanks Mebs. Yeah, Randy brought her back from the dead.

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