A molested 1917 Luger gets a little love...

45collector

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As promised, here is the thread of my 1917 DWM Luger semi-restoration. The gun came into my hands years back for dirt cheap. All the accessories it came with are WWII era. Both magazines, the holster (no markings on it) and the takedown tool.

When I first removed the gun from it's holster (where it had likely been sitting, in some dank basement, for many decades) The action would not budge, and the magazine would not come out. Everything was seized tight with rust and verdigris. I removed the grips (numbered to the serial # and "RLA" carved into the inside of one of them) and soaked the gun in Kroil for a day. The magazine eventually worked free and the toggle started to move. Once I got everything apart, the guts proved to be a challenge too. The firing pin/spring/retainer were seized in the breech. Another soak in Kroil and some persuading with a screwdriver worked it free. Everything else was able to be disassembled but it was all covered in rust, old grease, and grime. I spent a few days soaking parts and cleaning and then took it to the range. I fired 4 magazines through it, 32 rounds, without any issues. 100% reliable and surprisingly accurate. I had at least 20 more photos I had taken of the process of cleaning up the gun initially, but I can only find these:1917018.jpg
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45collector

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I have fired probably 300 or more rounds through this gun over the last several years and it shot just fine. No real issues besides the occasional stovepipe which are common in Lugers. A few months ago I decided I was sick of the looks of it. Horrible. Bubba-f*cked nightmare garbage. Pimp gun. Bling Bling blaster. Just generally ugly and rusted to hell. I looked into having it professionally restored but that would cost me more than the gun would be worth when finished. Nope. I can do this. I bought the materials from Brownells: Dicro-clean 909, TCE cleaner/ degreaser, Super-strip, and Pilkington's Classic American Rust Blue. The nickel-stripping process is done by reverse plating with the Super-strip solution and a battery source. I used a 12 volt car battery, jumper cables, varying lengths of cut down coat hangers, and a plastic bin (cat litter bin). Before the stripping process the parts need to be cleaned/ degreased thoroughly in order for the stripping solution to work properly. Once more I disassembled the gun down to the last pin and spring. (I have photos of the first time I did this, as mentioned in the first post above, but Photobucket isn't giving them up. I hate Photobucket now.)
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Those black plastic grips are "Vopo" Luger grips and I bought them cheap to use on the gun when shooting it. The original numbered grips are nice for their age.

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After about 20 minutes in the stripping tank you can see the nickel starting to dissolve/ flake off.
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Almost there...
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45collector

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A brief history on this gun: Originally this gun left the DWM factory in 1917 as not a P.08, but an LP.08. An artillery Luger. The flat step at the front edge of the barrel extension is there to make room for the Artillery model's rear sight, which was at the rear of the barrel rather than integral to the rear toggle.
barrel flange 001.jpg

On the right side of the receiver, left of the original factory acceptance stamps put there in 1917, is a "stick eagle" marking. This stamp was put there during a factory rework done at a German Army weapons depot some time after 1933. (I learned that neat little tidbit from the knowledgeable gentleman on one of the Luger forums.)
1917003.jpg

So, the gun having served in WWI, was then re-worked into P.08 configuration and put into service for WWII. I don't have any info on this gun other than what it's markings tell us, but based on the accessories it came with all being WWII era, I assume it was captured as a complete rig during WWII, and brought back to the states where someone nickeled it. Whether the nickel job was done before or after it started collecting rust is up for debate.

So the barrel was force-matched to the receiver:
barrel flange 002.jpg

Take a good look at the bore, and remember what it looks like for future reference. The large rust spot seen on the left of the barrel in my OP actually was not as deep of pitting as you would expect, and I was fully intending on re-using this "original" barrel. Though it was not truly original to this gun:
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Bore is pretty decent and like I said, the gun shot very accurately through the several hundred rounds I put down the pipe. However, after I removed it from the stripping tank, I saw this:
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The bore was obviously "re-sleeved" at some point. I'm not exactly sure how this is done but the metal is not as strong/ hard as the original steel the gun is made of. The stripping tank revealed the truth, and thus I didn't care how bad I marred up the barrel in removing it from the barrel extension. The barrel will be replaced with a brand new, unmarked one from a guy who specializes in restoring Lugers, making new parts and so forth.

Another unfortunate event was that I left the rear toggle sitting in muriatic acid for too long to remove some of the leftover copper phosphate left behind from the nickel stripping process. This idiot move (I was busy at work and completely forgot I'd left this part in the acid bath) was not quite so tragic in that the part wasn't original to the gun either. It was replaced as part of the factory re-work because the original toggle to this gun didn't have any rear sight built into it.
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Quite unfortunate, as there was nothing wrong with this part. But oh well. Lesson learned. Don't do shit like this when you're busy as a bee.

Taking a break from the story for now because I have to get back to work. More later!!
 

Sweeney

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Very cool! I like to bring old, abused iron back to life as you are doing. Looking forward to updates.

It's also interesting how the etched toggle reveals the structure of the metal from forging.
 

mac1911

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cool....most of the stuff I did was long before digi cams and computers..... could not afford a polaroid instamatic either.
stripping metal was a go to local library event find out how and what you needed then off to hardware store
 

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From the factory these parts were straw finished. After 1937 these parts were salt blued like the rest of the gun. For this project, I wanted some remnant of originality so they went into my oven fully stripped and clean, 450 degrees for 20 minutes.
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45collector

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Haha. Here we have some of the small parts, about halfway through the bluing process. Each part gets 6 or 7 coats of the rust blue. All parts are handled with rubber gloves only. The blue is applied by a slightly damp *NOT WET* cotton ball. After each coat, the parts must sit and "rust" for at least 3 hours. after 3 hours they are suspended in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. This turns the red oxide (rust) to black oxide. After 10 minutes the parts are removed, and blown off with a gentle stream of air, chasing off every last drop to make sure no water spots/ blemishes are present. After that, the part is left for at least 10 minutes and then a thoroughly degreased piece of 0000 steel wool is used to "card" off the film of leftover black oxide. This leave the blue finish behind. Steel wool pads come with an anti-corrosive oil/ preservative on them. If you didn't bother to degrease them before carding your parts, you would get oil contamination in your blue and you'd have to start all over again. So far I haven't had to do that. ;)
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The receiver after it's 3rd coat of blue:
It still has a slightly grayish-brown to it, and not perfectly even in some spots. I could have stopped right here if I wanted a well-worn type of look. Not really what I'm going for on this project though. I'm not trying to pass it off as all original. If that were the case I would have backed way off on the rich gold color of the straw parts too. When I'm done I'll post this gun side-by-side with the all original 1915 P.08.
I want this gun to be a "Oh yeah that's definitely not an original finish but holy cow it looks pissa!" type of deal.
3rdbluecoating.jpg
 
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45collector

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I already finished the receiver last week. At this time I'm still bluing that last of the small parts (side plate, center toggle, grip screws, extractor, a few of the toggle pins) and I'm still waiting on the new barrel, rear toggle, and a few other tiny parts.

You can clearly see a lot of the pitting I left alone. I wanted it that way. This gun earned it's scars and it gets to keep some of them. I did do a fair amount of sanding in other areas where it was really ugly. You can tell by the original photos when it was still nickel, where those spots were.
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At this time I've done all I can do until the new parts arrive. The seller, a guy in PA who is well known for his work with Lugers, has been taking his sweet time getting me the parts. He is notorious for taking forever with everything he does; building guns, restoring guns, selling parts, etc... So I sent him an email, now just under a month after I paid him for the parts, saying refund my money or mail the f*cking parts please. We'll see what happens. :/
 

45collector

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Very nice! Now replace the VoPo grips w/ wooden.

I have the original wood grips but I’m not putting them on. This will be a shooter as all collector value is long gone. I like the look of the black grip even though it’s incorrect for this gun. I may end up selling the original grips if someone with a gun ending in 14 needs them.
 
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