Have a pro go over it. A restoration pro. Rebluing and or refinishing will decrease the value. A professional appraisal is in order "PRIOR" to anything being done to or for this firearm. Prime examples of this model(First Model-Standard Grade) have a market value in the $10,000 range, with the Deluxe version drawing even more. Removing anything can devalue this firearm. Try: www.bluebookinc.com for a professional on-line appraisal and check out the Winchester Pro's at www.Gunlist.net.
Kevin - As Rusty says - an appraisal is called for. And a professional look-see.
The 1890's are easily distinguished by serial numbers
1 to 15552 - First Model - solid frame - case hardened - fixed rear sight
15553 to 112970 - Second Model takedown - case hardened frame - adjustable rear sights
112971 to 325250 - Second Model - takedown - blued frame - adjustable rear sights
325251 to (approx) 850000 - Third Model - takedown - blued frame - adjustable rear sights - Third Model had the locking cut in the top front of the receiver for the bolt locking lug. All previous models were locked up internally.
All models had a 24 inch octagon barrel and the serial number was on the lower tang until # 232328 when the number was also stamped on the lower front of the receiver.
Also cartridges are not interchangeable. They were chambered for the Short - Long and Long Rifle in addition to the WRF, but use was confined to whatever it was chambered for. They weren't interchageable. That feature didn't appear until the Model 1906.
RFP, Seaweed, question for you guys (or anyone else) on this grade of firearm:
Prior to the comment "don't remove anything" I _would_ have advised a person that lightly oiling w/a soft cloth would be OK, and anything (rust, etc.) that got wiped off (GENTLY!) would be fine. (I'm not talking about rubbing off patina, here)
Agreed that the BEST advice is to do nothing _if_ a person is going to follow through with an appraisal and expert care, but if they're not going to do that, wouldn't a light oiling be appropriate?
Robert - I would tend to agree with you. A light protective oil-wipe couldn't/shouldn't hurt as far as I'm concerned. But, I'm not an expert and the people that control the factors dealing with collectability may not agree with me. So, I could be very wrong.
In my travels, I'm going to try and get a professional opinion on this either directly or through Google. I'll post what I find.
Robert, I would agree if I knew the person asking the question. What is "light rubbing" to you and me may take the hide off a Cape Buffalo when done by someone else. A case in point is when a Gun Club member ask me what I used to card off rust from a certain bluing process. My casual reply was" a soft wire wheel" The next time I saw him he had his Model 70 with the bluing gone and the lettering wiped half way around the barrel and he blamed ME! He also brought a wheel that was capable of taking a 100 years of rust off an I-beam. I scolded him and his reply was " Well, It was the softest one they had at the auto parts store!" If I can't put a name and part number on the item, like use 0000 steel wool or 800 grit wet/dry automotive paper, then I tell them to check with the expert prior to doing anything. If they have had it for 10 years and have done nothing another week or two isn't going to matter, but one instance of misapplied light rubbing and oiling can make a $10,000 antique into a $200 parts gun in about a NY minute.
RFP, amen! I think my stock answer might be, "Don't do anything you wouldn't do to a baby's butt", but even THEN...;)
Speaking of wire wheels, have you tried those 'baby soft' carding wheels from Brownell's? Man, they're the best thing for rust bluing. I keep one in the drill press at lowest speed - you can lay a part into that thing as hard as you want and it won't take the bluing off.
Have worn out several!
I have a model 1890 that I purchased at an Estate sale. Pretty rough condition. Serial number dated to 1898. Barrel appears to have been shortened as there is no dove tail to mount a forward sight, measures 14.75 inches from receiver to end which leads me to believe it was shortened some time in its life. Butt stock was split and some time in its life it was repaired with vinyl tape and a hose clamp. removed the take down screw and the hammer mainspring had been replaced with a small coil type spring and some small wire fished back thru the tang to put it under tension. A machine screw and nut was installed thru a drilled hole in the but stock between the upper & lower tang. The action actually worked. the right half of the fore stock is missing. Mild rust on the barrel and most of the blueing is gone. Seems to have seen a lot of use in its 124 years, Any advice on how I should proceed (i.e. leave as is or replace enough to make it a decent shooter.)
Also got a Stevens Favorite model 1915 in the deal.