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The wife and I were cleaning out the MIL's house and found some older revolvers. I found a list of serial numbers for K-frame revolvers that puts this one from 1908-09, and other information I found suggests that its a Model 1905, with at least one engineering change. The trigger and wheel action appears to work, but the wheel is gummy instead of smooth. The body is scratched up and there is some oxidation on it as well. I want to clean it up, but I'm not sure what I should do with it. Any info appreciated.

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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! Would you post a picture of the left side of the gun? It appears to be a .38 M&P, Model 1905, 2nd Change round butt made in 1909. Some collectors would call it a Model 1902 because that is how S&W marketed the round butt M&P in that era.
 

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Thanks for posting, we love to see older Smiths. Looks like the nickel finish held up well over the years. I noticed the pic with it in the holster. Don't put it back in the holster, get a gun sock. And get some leather balm for that old holster to save it. I use neatsfoot oil myself but someone here might give you better advise.
 

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Oh, I meant to comment on your grips. They appear to be from the 1920's but have had the checkering sanded away. S&W marked the back of the right panel with the serial number of the gun because they were hand fitted to the grip frame. There may still be a penciled number on your right panel but, after all this time, it may be erased. If you can give us the number, we can give you an approximate date the grips were made.

To free up the action, I suggest you remove the grips and immerse the whole gun in auto transmission fluid for a few days or weeks. Then take some aerosol carb/brake/parts cleaner and spray the gun down. Spray into the action through the hammer or trigger openings until the effluent runs clear, then put 5 drops of gun oil into the action to lubricate it. That should make it operate a lot smoother. It should also loosen up any rust on the outside and allow it to be wiped away with a soft cloth. You can polish the nickel if you like. Flitz or Mother's Mag polish works pretty well.

You can use neatsfoot oil on the holster. But it is not recommended as a long lasting conditioner. Blackrock Leather N Rich was recommended to me many years ago and I still have the can I bought about 12 years ago. It doesn't change the leather color or damage the stitching.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Oh, I meant to comment on your grips. They appear to be from the 1920's but have had the checkering sanded away.
They kind of look like grips from the 42-45 period according to this (I don't know if that is accurate), but still have the half-moon relief at the top from the earlier periods. This may have been a WWII service weapon, from what we know of family history, so maybe it was an armory refurb?

S&W marked the back of the right panel with the serial number of the gun because they were hand fitted to the grip frame. There may still be a penciled number on your right panel but, after all this time, it may be erased. If you can give us the number, we can give you an approximate date the grips were made.
If I get that invasive I will be sure to look!

To free up the action, I suggest you remove the grips and immerse the whole gun in auto transmission fluid for a few days or weeks. Then take some aerosol carb/brake/parts cleaner and spray the gun down. Spray into the action through the hammer or trigger openings until the effluent runs clear, then put 5 drops of gun oil into the action to lubricate it. That should make it operate a lot smoother. It should also loosen up any rust on the outside and allow it to be wiped away with a soft cloth. You can polish the nickel if you like. Flitz or Mother's Mag polish works pretty well.
I put some Hoppes oil on the parts that I could reach and the wheel spins freely now. A lot of surface corrosion wiped off too, although obviously the pitting and scratching is still there.

You can use neatsfoot oil on the holster. But it is not recommended as a long lasting conditioner. Blackrock Leather N Rich was recommended to me many years ago and I still have the can I bought about 12 years ago. It doesn't change the leather color or damage the stitching.
Thanks for the info!
 

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Thanks for that picture. I can see the barrel pin and rebound slide stud just to the upper left of the grip panel have been polished flat. That indicates a refinish outside the factory at some point in its life. Look under the barrel on the extractor rod flat and see if there is a B in front of the serial number. If there, it originally left the factory as a blued gun. I'm glad you got it moving. I still recommend soaking and flushing it to get rid of 100 years of gunk.

I doubt it was used in WWII. The grips are older than that. Much of the bordering was sanded away except up at the top. Originally, the border went around the sides of the checkering. I believe the grips originally looked like the ones on this M&P target:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for that picture. I can see the barrel pin and rebound slide stud just to the upper left of the grip panel have been polished flat. That indicates a refinish outside the factory at some point in its life. Look under the barrel on the extractor rod flat and see if there is a B in front of the serial number. If there, it originally left the factory as a blued gun.
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Wow. I guess if they polished off the bluing, sanding the checkers isn't too far fetched
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Here it is all cleaned. After the G96 soak I put it in a ziploc baggie full of Evaporust (no blueing so no harm) and that took care of the pockets of corrosion. Cleaned with pressurized alcohol, oiled, cleaned again. It still had some lead deposits after that but they came off with a plastic scraper. The barrel was brushed and wiped a few times. The corrosion around the grips is the plating peeling off--it appears that moisture from the wood got under the plating.

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I tried to get the corrosion off but the plating flaked. The action feels great now, but I've decided not to clean it any further, its a neat and interesting piece but its far too damaged to worry about making any better. I would have to buff the hell out of it to make it look much better, and to be honest it would probably burn what's left of the stamping off if I tried.

I'm curious about the plating though. Were the blued guns plated and then the plating was blued?
 

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The bluing on steel is actually an oxidized form of iron ("magnetite") which has one more oxygen atom than rust does.

I don't believe nickel or chrome plating can be put directly on the bluing. It has to be done on clean, raw active steel so if the gun started out blued it would have had to be chemically removed first, and then the steel parts placed into the plating baths.

If there is any metal still rusting, that rust should be stabilized and removed. I have done that through using well oiled steel wool on a well oiled rust surface. Just don't use too much pressure or the steel itself will be galled. Count on any destabilized plating to also be flaked off. Removing the active red oxidation will typically leave a layer of black magnetite oxidation below it.
 
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