Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Ruger Spencer Carbine Part 3

Part 3 of this build, click here for Part 1 & Part 2 

I had been asked if I intended to "antique" the metal to make the gun appear to be 100+ years old. I covered this on a previous post.

While that may look cool, it would be difficult to pull off, especially with this gun. The receiver and barrel band are aluminum and other parts like the trigger housing and butt plate are plastic. So I decided this one will look like a new Spencer would have in 1865.

This project was well under way when I found this used 10/22 rifle. It came with an extra stock (foundations for more projects?).

 The rifle is in good shape, so other than my usual action/trigger job and bolt buffer and swapping out the rear sight, it is GTG.

when it came time to stain the stock, I had to do some research, between 1980 and 2008 the stocks were birch, after 2008 the material is maple or beech. Neither is easy to stain.

I asked some wood workers the best way to stain wood birch, beech or maple, I got all kinds of advice....Including the following:
  • Water based wood dye, followed by dewaxed shellac
  • Alcohol based wood dye, followed by a sealer
  • Water based wood dye followed by pre-stain conditioner, followed by gel stain
  • Shoe polish, followed by your favorite sealer
  • RIT fabric dye, followed by a sealer
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Pine tar
  • Steel wool dissolved in vinegar
  • Leather dye, followed by a sealer

The shoe polish could work, but some recommend it only as a top coat.
RIT fabric dye is out, I believe it contains salt. 
The vinegar and metal filings solution is really designed for oak to "ebonize" it (making it black like ebony) it has something to do with the tannins in the wood reacting with the vinegar and iron.

Then I found one guy who had successfully turned a commercial, post-war M1 Carbine birch stock into a fresh from the battlefield walnut stock (at least it sure looks that way). So I followed his advice and used some Fiebings Dark Brown leather dye. They say that alcohol based dyes work better on birch for some reason and the Fiebings is alcohol based.

After sanding to 400 grit, I used the Fiebings Dark Brown leather dye 

The color went on pretty evenly an left the wood looking like oil saturated walnut, like an old military stock should look.

After rubbed in some brown shoe polish. I sealed it with a couple of coats of Minwax Antique Oil Finish followed by a gentle polishing with some 0000 steel wool. 

The gun is darker in some parts, but it actually looks a lot like an old military stock might look....

I snapped some pictures in the natural light to show what the stock looks like with the dyed finish

 I put the Spencer stock over the top of a factory one so you can see what we changed.

I then installed the barrelled action in the stock and checked the fit of the barrel band

 As expected I needed to remove some of the shoulder to get it to fit over the thicker part of the barrel
 It now fits
 You can see the areas that were filed away
 I used my wire wheel to remove the anodizing or paint or whatever was on the surface, preparing it for paint
I installed the sling mounts and the saddle ring after they came out of the oil tank following the rebluing they received.

I also finished the trigger group with the extended mag release.

The leaf rear sight that I bought would not fit, so I installed this Williams peep sight that I had in my parts bin.

The Peep Sight/picatinney rail is not the right look, so I bought one of these sets, also from Williams
 and then of course I bought a filler blank for the empty dovetail


Final Words:
Thinking about the project and the reaction that Bill Ruger would have given, if he were still around, I think Bill would have been pleased
Bill had a real love for the simplicity and practical nature of the late 19th century carbines. 

For the very look of 10/22 carbine (and the .44 Carbine that came before it) was partly inspired by those guns of old. 
They were built for work, the fact that they looked good was a pleasant consequence.
Bill once described this as "avoiding all the usual banalities" and this gun does just that.

In my opinion this gun, or one like it, should have been the 50th Anniversary model (too bad Hipshot didn't enter the contest).

Not to take away anything from Gary of Michigan (the gentleman whose design was chosen for the 50th Anniversary model), but this gun would have been a more fitting tribute to both Bill Ruger and those guns he loved.

My appreciation goes out to Hipshot for his inspiration.