This particular gun was made in the 2nd or maybe 3rd year of production (1907 or 1908) and is the third variant (known at the time as the "triple safety model").
Here is what the gun looked like when I picked it up. Some minor pitting and the grips are worn to nothing, but functionally it works. I took it shooting and ran a partial box of Remington FMJ ammo with zero malfunctions.
In discussing the type of finish I should apply, I always like to see what the factory did and then decide if I should replicate the original finish or improve upon it. The gun below sold at auction in 2014 for $858, you can see the finish is near mint. It gives us a good reference point:
The factory finish was not a high polish affair, perhaps close to 400 or 500 grit. We will strive to match the factory finish as close as we can.
Usually the first step is disassembly, but I wanted to tackle an issue at the rear of the slide. The slide to frame fit had a rough/raised edge, it wasn't flush like it should be:
So I used a small file to smooth it out
I'll finish it with sand paper later
Disassembly of this gun is unique to say the least. The fixed barrel is not mounted to the frame or slide, it is kept in place by a set of three grooves and matching tongues. You pull back on the slide until the grooves can be seen, turn the barrel in the grooves and then remove the slide and barrel off the front of the weapon.
What a good fortune! the serial numbers all match
Disassembly was not as difficult as I thought it would be.
Stay tuned for part two where we will strip the 100+ year old finish and polish the metal