Dealing with a Salts stock

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Helix_FR, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR Active Member

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    Well i picked up a Browning (belgium made) T Bolt for 20 bucks. Never fired. Bolt still sealed in the bag, got the box and all. Gun is rusted to hell. I knew a about the salts stock on the Auto 5's and superposed but never knew it applied to the T bolt. Any area of this gun in direct contact with this stock is rusted big time. Bore is perfect, trigger group works fine, barrel past the stock is fine. Over all the action is recoverable, it wont be as pretty as it should be but it would be a great starting gun for the kids. So my question is this. Is there a way to deal with the salt stocks? Seems that most of the concensus is to trash the stock and get a aftermarket but i want to see if anyone has heard of any remedies for this.
    Just a side note for people that don't know. A salt stock is referring to a time when browning was trying to up production and decided to dry their stock material in salt mines to speed the drying. Well the moisture in the wood absorbed the salt and after being assembed to a blued action a few years later, the actions rusted. Ill post pictures, this one is quite sad also bc it spend years in a old damp musty basement. The box has mold in it. I may take it over to the Browning facility in Arnold MO. I know a few people over there that might want to reminis about the time when Browning got greedy. ;)
  2. StoneChimney

    StoneChimney New Member

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    The only, and I mean only, remedy for salt wood is the burn pile. There has been no sealant, refinishing, or anything else that has proven to salvage a salted stock. Don't try, as refinishing seems to even make a salty stock saltier.

    The 'salt wood' period is generally 1966 to 1971, with the later years showing the most production, and can be found in any Browning model. Superposed shotguns, T-Bolt and High-Power Bolt Action rifles are the most commonly encountered with salt wood, especially in higher grades. I recently looked at an Olympian Grade Bolt-Action that was badly rusted from salt wood. Breaks the heart of this old Browning collector I assure you.

    But, it's not only Browning. Winchester Model 12 shotguns have shown up with salt wood. Bishop and Fajen both bought blanks from the same suppliers in California and Missouri that used the salt-cure process. Weatherby, too.

    This was not Browning's idea. They were selling so many guns in the 1960's that they could not supply enough kiln-dried blanks to FN and production was bottlenecked waiting on stock blanks. A couple of blank manufacturers came up with the idea of packing the stock blanks in salt to speed the drying process, and it worked. The idea was that the finishing of the blank would cut away any salt that had seeped into the surface of the blank. Nobody had any idea the salt would absorb that far into the blank to make it into the finished stock, but it did.

    So, any higher grade rifle or shotgun from Browning or Weatherby from that time period needs to be checked before purchasing. Pull the buttplate screws and look for rust. Take the forends off of shotguns (sometimes only the forend or the buttstock were salted on a particular gun). If you think you can knowingly purchase a salt-wood gun and have it fixed and come out ahead, you are probably wrong. The cost of repair and restocking the gun will be as much or more than the gun is worth.

    Art's Gun Shop in Hillsboro, MO is the specialist in restoring salted guns. They can make it look new, including welding up pits, restoring engraving, etc. NOT cheap.

    I've been a BACA member and gunsmith working on Browning for many years. Trust me, burn the stock.
  3. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR Active Member

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    Thanks SC and that is what I was afraid of. I did buy this gun knowing that it would be a labor of love over a long period of time. My boys are only 6 and 3- I got some time. Ive seen Arts work before and it is truly amazing what he can do and I know the prices are steep but when you got a talent like that, you pay for it. There is a gentleman that comes into the range every now and then that was a master engraver for Browning for about 25 years. He said the same thing, burn it.
  4. Lanrezac

    Lanrezac Active Member

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    Thanks to both StoneChimney and Helix_FR for posting about this. I had never heard of it before and it is quite interesting.
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