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Wood Clean Up of My French Resistance No.4

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    Posted: January 11 2023 at 1:52pm
I just reassembled my French Resistance No.4 MKI after cleaning off the coating of hardened oil & cosmoline from the wood. 
In the past if I had a milsurp stock that I judged needed to be cleaned up, I used solvent based strippers or re-finishers to clean down to the bare wood. The problem with that method is that it removes most or all of the original finish and tends to liquify any dried oil and grease and cause it to soak int to the wood to some extent.
As I have continued to collect, I am more and more reluctant to re-finish an original milsurp stock. In the case of this rifle, it became clear that the outer surface was just hardened oil, cosmoline and dirt. There were blotchy and uneven areas due to the varying thickness of the outer coating of oil, grease and dirt. In addition, I inadvertently dripped bore solvent on the wood on one occasion, and it immediately ate through the oil and grease and created an ugly streak. This was not a 'finish' that I could maintain if I were to continue to shoot this rifle on occasion. 
Since this was obviously not the original finish, but the original condition as found after soaking in cosmoline and 75+ years of storage, I reasoned that it would be appropriate to clean the wood on this rifle.
Because this rifle is so well preserved as far as the other original finishes are concerned, I wanted to clean this wood in the gentlest method possible. I was looking for a way to clean down to the original finish without completely stripping the wood in order to preserve, rather than restore this rifle.
Based on a recommendation from Goosic in the thread on this forum about his pristine resistance rifle, I used Parker & Bailey's Furniture Cream with Lemon Oil to clean the wood. The Parker & Bailey's worked great. Since it is a cream, it sits on the surface, rather than immediately penetrating the surface like a solvent would. I assume that there is some very fine abrasive in it, but it is very mild. It took roughly 3-4 hours and maybe 10 applications due to how mild this product is. I think that time and effort was worthwhile. 
I used the underside of my handguards as a reference for what the original finish most likely looked like. The underside of the handguards had escaped the cosmoline and appeared to have an un-spoiled original oil finish. 
I rubbed until almost no color was coming off on my rags and the color of the exterior wood resembled the underside of the handguards. I may have been able to do another application or two, but I wanted to be sure of stopping short of rubbing through the original finish. 
After letting the wood dry overnight, I applied 3 coats of 50/50 thinned pure tung oil over the next 3 days to protect the wood.
I have attached a photo of the cleaned wood, a comparison of the cleaned forend and the underside of the front handguard and some before & after photos of the assembled rifle. 

Original color of underside of handguards compared to cleaned wood: 


Cleaned wood:


Before...


After

Before...


After



Before...


After


Before...


After


I'm very happy with the results. I think that this process has removed the 80 years of grease, grime and hardened oil while preserving the original finish as well as possible. Thanks to Goosic for the recommendation of the Parker & Bailey's product.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote m38swede Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 17 2023 at 10:43am
well done!  Think I will try that method on my Savage as it could use a good cleaning and some TLC as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bubba ho tep Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2023 at 3:15pm
Why ?. Now the stock has that cleaned by bubba look forever.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goosic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2023 at 4:35pm
Originally posted by bubba ho tep bubba ho tep wrote:

Why ?. Now the stock has that cleaned by bubba look forever.
 
Why not?! Now it has 79 years of dirt, grease, and who knows what else removed from the wood, leaving the original finish intact and as it was the day it left the factory...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Honkytonk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2023 at 5:10pm
Very nice looking rifle(s)!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2023 at 6:20pm
Very nice "Parade Rifle" finish. Actually that's a lot nicer finish than the one it probably left the factory with.
Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goosic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2023 at 7:15pm
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

Very nice "Parade Rifle" finish. Actually that's a lot nicer finish than the one it probably left the factory with.
Shamu. I cannot vouch for the OP's rifle, but I can vouch for mine. All I did was to clean the wood with Parker & Bailey Furniture Cream with Lemon Oil.  Once I did that, I applied a small thin layer of Kiwi Conditioning Oil to the wood and let it dry. Once dry, I lightly rubbed a soft cloth over the wood and then put it all back together. It still has all the factory scratches in the wood when viewed up close...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goosic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2023 at 8:48pm
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

Very nice "Parade Rifle" finish. Actually that's a lot nicer finish than the one it probably left the factory with.
My "Parade Rifle" with the No7 Mk1/L swiveling pommel bayonet...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote A square 10 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2023 at 11:43pm
looking real nice , dont make them too pretty , they were tools after all , 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote shiloh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 21 2023 at 4:50am
I mean to each his own, but as genuine rifles it took 80 some yrs to create that dark patina on the wood and in one fell swoop of cleaning paste its gone forever.
That`s fine I guess, but not what collectors and antiquers` look for, and some would say it greatly depreciates the value.
For me if I could acquire one of these, it would get cleaned with a damp cloth and maybe I mean maybe a bit of RLO if it seemed too dry.
But that`s just me, nice rifle bye the bye.
shoot em if you got em
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Enfield trader Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 21 2023 at 7:02am
Originally posted by shiloh shiloh wrote:

I mean to each his own, but as genuine rifles it took 80 some yrs to create that dark patina on the wood and in one fell swoop of cleaning paste its gone forever.
That`s fine I guess, but not what collectors and antiquers` look for, and some would say it greatly depreciates the value.
For me if I could acquire one of these, if would get cleaned with a damp cloth and maybe I mean maybe a bit of RLO if it seemed too dry.
But thats just me, nice rifle bye the bye.

Agree 
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Originally posted by bubba ho tep bubba ho tep wrote:

Why ?. Now the stock has that cleaned by bubba look forever.


You obviously didn't read my post very carefully. Bubba would have used oven cleaner or lacquer thinner and taken it down to bare, dry wood. 
The product that I used was much milder than any solvent. Of course, I did not sand the wood or alter the original finish on the metal. In fact, all of the very fine sanding marks in the forend from the factory that were covered in many places by the grease and dirt are now visible again. 
I used the un-cosmolined underside of the handguards as a reference to represent the color of the original finish. When I was finished cleaning, the outside surfaces of the wood matched the un-cleaned undersides of the handguards very closely.
I only cleaned 75+ years of uneven storage grease and dirt off of the surface. I did not remove original finish. In addition, due to the layer of storage grime on the rifle, the appearance was changing every time I wiped it down with Balistol after firing and cleaning. I merely cleaned it down to the actual finish and preserved it with the oil that was used at the time of its manufacture.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goosic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 21 2023 at 8:01am
Originally posted by shiloh shiloh wrote:

I mean to each his own, but as genuine rifles it took 80 some yrs to create that dark patina on the wood and in one fell swoop of cleaning paste its gone forever.
That`s fine I guess, but not what collectors and antiquers` look for, and some would say it greatly depreciates the value.
For me if I could acquire one of these, if would get cleaned with a damp cloth and maybe I mean maybe a bit of RLO if it seemed too dry.
But thats just me, nice rifle bye the bye.
 
It took 8 decades of being in storage to collect all that grime, dust and dirt embedded in the wood to create that dark patina and a little bit of wood cleaner removed that and brought out the color of the wood again and exposed all the nicks and scratches as well as bringing out all the unique Maltby stamps that otherwise would have gone undetected. To a collector, the rifle is just an acquisition that one day he could profit from and must be kept in the condition it was found in never to let any of the nuances of those Maltby stamps in the wood see the light of day.
I did not sand out any cuts or scratches and I did not iron out any dents or dings. I also did not reblue any metal pieces either. I cleaned the metal with dish soap, a toothbrush and washcloth. Used compressed air to dry it and then applied some gun oil and that is what the rifle looks like. I cleaned the wood with wood cleaner and that is the way the wood looks now. No more and No less. Everything done was done for the sake of preserving the rifle as it is and as it will be for my daughters and their families years from now. Someone from the Maltby Factory scribbled in pencil an I-5 & I-12 inside the barrel channel ahead of the reinforce. I only found that after cleaning the wood because you could not see it with all the filth covering it. 
Look at it from this perspective as well.  Finding all those Maltby stamps in the wood after one fell swoop of wood cleaner gave Bear43 information he was never aware of...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fullsize 4-speed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 21 2023 at 9:04am
Originally posted by shiloh shiloh wrote:

I mean to each his own, but as genuine rifles it took 80 some yrs to create that dark patina on the wood and in one fell swoop of cleaning paste its gone forever.
That`s fine I guess, but not what collectors and antiquers` look for, and some would say it greatly depreciates the value.
For me if I could acquire one of these, if would get cleaned with a damp cloth and maybe I mean maybe a bit of RLO if it seemed too dry.
But thats just me, nice rifle bye the bye.
This is an $825 milsurp, how greatly do you believe the value has been reduced? Try to buy a rifle as nice as the finished product online or at a show for less than $825. This is not a $25,000 original Henry or Colt SAA. If a rifle that looked like mine did as I originally received it was on a table at a show next to one that looks as it does now, I suspect that the one that was carefully cleaned would sell for more.
BTW - I did not clean it because it looked too dry. I cleaned it because of the unstable layer of grease that was concealing original finish, factory markings and original sanding marks.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Honkytonk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 21 2023 at 11:37am
Even the "Mona Lisa" has been cleaned...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 21 2023 at 12:31pm
To each his own & I've done a restoration for one of my Ex-mummies.
Its your rifle to do with as you please, so I'm not going to knock what you've done.
I meant "parade rifle" as a compliment btw. We had Shooters & Parade Rifles, the Parade Rifles were much prettier, but they were still part of a rifle's history.

The problem, as you're finding, is that serious collectors don't think that way.
They want every fingerprint, rust stain, nick, dent, smear & everything else to be strictly "as was".
Because of that your rifle is now no longer collectable & that will reflect in the value if you ever decide to sell it to a collector.

You've seen the restoration I did on the 14 Beezer SMLE. I went out of my way to not over restore, but even that has probably dropped the value by a couple of hundred to a die hard collector. Its "too Pretty! They WANT the dirt, grime, fingerprints, & so on even rust is collectable if its stabilized they call it "patrina"! Just drying out the "La Brea Tar Pits oozing seeping & weeping" they want. Its an "authenticity" thing.Shooters will like it because its looking nicer, that's a different group.

As  received:

Restored, as far as I'm going to.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)
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