restoring burned guns

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by vahunter, May 4, 2006.

  1. vahunter

    vahunter New Member

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    A friend of mine recently had a house fire in which his firearms collection was burned. The fire was pretty hot and burned all of the wood and most of the blueing off of the guns. How can you tell if the metal is still viable? I want to know if it is safe to have some of the guns reblued and re-stocked. thanks
  2. inplanotx

    inplanotx New Member

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    Personally, I would not trust a gun that was in a fire due to the fact that it retempered the metal. I'm afraid they are lost. Were they insured? If so, the insurance (homeowners) should replace them. Sorry, I know it's a bummer. that is why I have mine in a fireproof safe. If he was an NRA member, they have policies that cover you to what I think is $5,000. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

    IPT
  3. wolfgang2000

    wolfgang2000 New Member

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    IPT
    I agree with you. If they got hot enought to burn the stocks off they are nothing more than wall hangers now.
  4. MRMIKE08075

    MRMIKE08075 Member

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    #1 ROCKWELL HARNESS TESTING will determint if the receiver, BBL, frame, etc... are still at there proper temper and hardness

    #2 every spring in the gun will need to be replaced

    #3 sheet or stamped metal parts will be suspect and are more easily damaged

    #4 plastic or composite pieces will need to be scrapped

    #5 a GUNSMITH or MACHINIST should inspect

    #6 new finish should be applied if the gun passes the correct tests

    it can be done, but its not an ametuer undertaking.

    best regards, mike.
  5. vahunter

    vahunter New Member

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    Is this an evaluation that you would trust any competant gunsmith to know how to do? thanks everyone

    ps - anyone want to buy about 2 dozen rifles and shotguns real cheap? I just might know someone willing to sell
  6. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

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    I run a construction business and I tell you the same thing I tell a lot of my clients. Anything is possible If you have a big enough checkbook. You will basically have to change every part on/in the gun, basically a whole new gun.
  7. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    It the fire was hot enough to burn off (not just char, but burn off) the stocks, I'm afraid that I agree with everybody that your friend's guns are toast (pun intended)! :(

    He could go the route that MRMIKE suggests, but that would likely cost as much, or more, than the value of the firearms.
  8. MRMIKE08075

    MRMIKE08075 Member

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    once upon a time we received (from a secret source) a crate of FROMMER-STOP semiauto pistols and a crate of MAKAROV semiauto pistols that had been in a fire...

    the MAKAROVS were a trial...

    the grip panels had melted and sealed the mags into the frame...

    we replaced all the springs, the mags, the grips, and had them all hot dipped re-blued after testing the metal for hardness and temper...

    i still have one, and it works fine.

    the FROMMER STOP`s needed new grips and were all refinished...

    but the springs were all OK (must not have been too hot)...

    i still have one (presentation grade COLT ANACONDA ROYAL BLUE) and its a good gun.

    as a rule of thumb, this is a task that should not bee undertaked by a hobbiest or amatuer...

    and i agree that if the wood is totaled fried to a crisp, or turned to carbon and ash you may have a lost cause...

    however...

    on bolt actions, single shots, falling blocks, rolling blocks, etc...

    the BBL`d actions might be salvaged if the metal; tests out OK.

    what guns were affected (make and model)???

    best regards, mike.
  9. John Kay

    John Kay New Member

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    Va hunter,
    Years ago I sent some guns to Flaig's in Millvale Pa. that were burnt up pretty bad. I do not know if they are still in business or not. They checked the hardness within tolerances to see if it was even safe to re do them and safety checked it 100%. They came back as beautiful and serviceable as ever. Completely guaranteed. These smiths are one of the best of the old timers.
  10. vahunter

    vahunter New Member

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    Thanks guys. the couple I was thining about restoring for my friend are bolt actions. one was a cutom .270 with a winchester barrel. the other was I believe his first deer rifle. I think it is a Rem 788. Like I said no wood is left at all. the bluing on some of the guns is patchy and others are totally corroded from the fire. He had them insured but I was looking at trying to re-do a couple that probably had significant sentimental value, not because it would neccesarily be the cheap way to replace them. I have since talked to a local gunsmith who insisted that if the wood was all gone there was no reason to even bother examining them further. however I am encouraged by your advice and may take them to someone else . just looked up Flaig's, Millvale. It appears they closed in 1995. see the bottom of this thread if you are interested http://shootersforum.com/printthread.htm?t=10329
    any other ideas of who I could ship them to?thanks
    Last edited: May 6, 2006
  11. LIKTOSHOOT

    LIKTOSHOOT Advanced Senior Member

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    While no two fires are the same, including burned items-keep this in mind.
    A fire hot enough to burn wood off the frame of a firearm AND remove bluing in spots is hot! You can replace every component, but you cannot replace the frame or barrel (per-say,original) The barrel is going to be warped as will the frame on any bolt gun/lever/semi-auto. Sorry to say, these go in the round file.....matters not what the hardness test results say.


    Sorry for the loss.....I`m sure it hurts.


    LTS
  12. barnetmill

    barnetmill New Member

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    I know a gunsmith that has had a lot amount of experience with this sort of thing. Some he has restored and others he will not try.

    Very hot fires can actualy destroy the steel, not just soften it. I believe the carbon content of steel is altered. Hot fire will also melt aluminum and other non-ferous metals. Cooler fires will often warp rifle barrels.

    House fires can go above 1000 F. I believe that some heat treatments can be altered by 500-600 degrees F.

    It also depends on the type gun for cooler fires. A .22 rifle blowback semiauto due to the action type and thichness of steel with a 25,ooo PSI cartridge is safer to shoot than a .300 mag bolt gun that has gone through a fire.
  13. Mark

    Mark New Member

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    The guns are junk. The hardness of the steel has been changed. The different components are most likely different steels and would have to be correctly identified, annealed, then re-heated to the correct hardness. The factory would have to be consulted as to proper hardness. Good luck getting this information.

    With all the heating and re-tempering, the pieces will probably warp to a degree, and not work properly in assembly. What could you do about the barrels? Add the cost of restocking and re-blueing.
    This is indeed unfortunate, but it's just not feasable.
    Mark
  14. ptrck

    ptrck New Member

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    A friend of mine had all his gun in of of the cheap gun lockers when his apartment building caught fire. The gun locker dropped through two floors into the basement. He didn't even bother to look at them and let the dozer bury them where they lay. It was a HOT fire and the whole building was ashes.
  15. stash247

    stash247 New Member

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    If it was a Low Wall Winchester Scheutzen rifle, I'd do what I had to do, to restore it, because there never were many, and accordingly, they are quite valuable; as well, the metallurgy in known, so re-heat treating is a little thing.
    Here's the part I never heard mentioned! The above described Winchester, and I have seen 2 such rifles, would likely bring well over $20K at auction; if you do not separately schedule your firearms, I suspect that your Homeowner's policy places a limit of $5000 US, or less, on firearms, whether by fire or theft.
    All you all better either git on down to your Insurance Agent, and adjust your coverage, or substantially improve your stogage conditions.
    I schedule my firearms separately, and storage is a Mosler, and a Meilink, double door, TL-30 rated fireproof safes; I am looking for another, close to San Antonio.
    Seriously, work with your insurance agent, get your firearms inventoried, and separately scheduled, and pay the small increase in premium.
    I'm gonna tell you, when you actually DO an inventory, you will scare your self, with the money you have at risk!
    I live in a small house, 28 years old, in a modest neighborhood, and the firearms would likely bring more than the house!
    My house, and my guns, are insured at "replacement value" which means, what they are worth today, not what I originally gave for them; I don't think I could replace an 'Unturnerd, unfired' 5 1/2" Colt SAA for the $190 I gave in '72; consider changing companies if your present company cannot, or will not, provide similar coverage.
    "
  16. 45Smashemflat

    45Smashemflat New Member

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    Great post Stash. I dug into similar things a few months ago after getting a few more guns all in one place. A timely visit to your agent is a worthwhile visit. The trick is getting the value right. Some agents will take "blue book" data, others want an actual appraisal. Shop around - and shop for service as well as price. If you swap guns in and out of the collection as I do, you don't want a big hassle with each addition/deletion.
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