Advice Please - Fixing Cracks in Enfield Stock

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Nov 1, 2018
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Hi everyone. My P1853 Enfield has some cracks behind the barrel plug, beside the lock, and it extends externally out through left side (see pictures). I see some limited evidence of epoxy used to fix it in the past, but most of the cracks are open. This gun is a shooter, not a wall-hanger...so what's the best advice for fixing these cracks to strengthen the stock? Strength-wise, Epoxy sounds good but its hard to get it to penetrate deep. So what's the best glue for penetrating deep but will survive recoil?
 

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gary

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I put clear liquid Accraglass down it and then clamp it tight. First, dam up anything you don't want the Acraglass to get into. Second, do only a section at a time. Clamp and let it cure per instructions. Carefully remove any excess. Then move onto the next area.
 

Patrick H

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If you are determined to shoot it, Gary has good advise in his post #3. Your stock is gradually breaking itself apart during recoil. From the photos, I can't tell whether it is fatally dry from central heating or rotted from gun oil. Any previous epoxy is going to get in your way and will not be easily removed. Accraglass will leave dark lines in the cracks being filled (and everywhere else that you aren't meticulous in cleaning up.) It is not a solution to take lightly and it will forever change your antique piece. However, it can hold your stock together. It would invlove spreading the cracks, one at a time, and filling them with the accraglass. Then clamping them shut with something like strong elastic bands wound around the stock. The pressure would make the accraglass squirt out everywhere along the crack and would cause a mess of a first class nature. A few days later, clean up and move on to the next crack and repeat the process. Etc. etc. etc. It might be wiser to put this old piece on permanent display and buy a repro to use as your shooter.
 

gary

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BTW I had to fix a poorly repaired stock that had been epoxied. I used a heat lamp and with a dental pick, tediously scrape away all the epoxy I could. Then it was Acraglass and clamp for overnight. The one thing I didn't do was the rechecker it.
 

gary

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If it's original, then I'd use Hide Glue (it can be removed) and clamps. That's for conservation, not shooting. For a shooter, buy a new stock if you want to shoot.
 
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Booner

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With out having the stock in hand, it's pretty hard to determine what's going on and how to go about fixing things. There are several problems with this stock that we can see, then there also appears to be a crack that goes into the lock mortice and we don't have a picture of the lock side and mortice so we don't know about what's going on there.
My advise that with so many issues, professional help from a stock maker would be called for to fix the stock. The wood may not be in a good enough condition to take a fix.

However, if you wanted to try and fix it yourself,the first thing is to be honest with yourself as to if you have the talent and equipment to make a proper fix, and realize that if you try and fix it yourself and goof it up, you will make it more expensive and difficult for a professional to fix your mistakes.

With that being said, I think to type of glue you want is something like Titebond III, as it will migrate into the pores of the wood; epoxy doesn't do this. You'll have to open up the cracks and remove as much of the epoxy as possible and apply a small amount of Titebond to both sides of the cracks, then clamp it down for several hours. A couple of ways to get the glue deep into the cracks could be; with the cracks opened as much as you feel safe in doing so, #1 apply the glue then use compressed air to push the glue further into the crack. and/or #2. with a #30 drill, drill a couple of holes perpendicular to the crack and use 1/8" dowels to hydraulically force the glue down and into the cracks. Leave the dowel in the stock, and if you set them below the surface of the stock, you can put a "cap" of wood that matches the grain and color of the existing stock to help hide the repair. Again, clamp the wood while the glue dries, and realize that more glue doesn't mean a stronger bond. You need just enough glue on both sides of the crack to provide a bond; it's an art in knowing how much or little to apply.

After you've glued everything and it's dry and your satisfied, I would then apply some Accuglass to the breech and tang area of the stock. Use clear shoe polish or past wax on the metal to prevent the barrel from becoming glued into the stock and "bed" the barrel into the action. Bedding the barrel into the stock should help the stock with the effects of recoil.

Good Luck if you plan on doing this yourself, and do a lot of research on stock repair before you do anything.
 
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I have the skills and patience to do it. but of course, its always a good idea to get advice before doing anything, and i am getting good advice here. Thanks everyone.

Re lock side...no cracks whatsoever. This stock is fixable....and this Enfield will be put back into shooting service soon enough.
 

frankconrad

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This to me is a example of often heard comments about poor stocks as the grain appears to run crossways across the lock area.
To my eyes it will never be a high value gun but if it is repaired so that will be something to shoot, hang on the wall and handle without fear of devaluing, I would repair it, if you have the skill.
Gary, one other thing would be to undercut the stock where the face of the barrel and tang are a 1/8 inch ta give some thickness to hold the barrel and run 1,4 inch dowel length way of the wrist between the tang and the left side of the stock it needs all the help it can get with it having the grain that has.
 

Patrick H

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This to me is a example of often heard comments about poor stocks as the grain appears to run crossways across the lock area.
To my eyes it will never be a high value gun but if it is repaired so that will be something to shoot, hang on the wall and handle without fear of devaluing, I would repair it, if you have the skill.
Gary, one other thing would be to undercut the stock where the face of the barrel and tang are a 1/8 inch ta give some thickness to hold the barrel and run 1,4 inch dowel length way of the wrist between the tang and the left side of the stock it needs all the help it can get with it having the grain that has.
I hope you will diagram your suggestion, because I can't see it in my mind's eye, and I don't think we should assume our original poster can visualize it, either. No offense meant! I'm just asking for clarification.

With regard to other previous suggestions, as they come to mind...

Hide glue: It's great, it's historic, it absolutely does not creep under tension. Is it shock resistant? I don't know. I DO know that it is often described as "hard as glass." Hot hide glue is the absolute glue of choice for the stringed instrument maker. It will withstand constant tension from strings tuned up to pitch. But could it withstand repeated sharp impacts, such as a recoil upon firing? Instrument neck joints often fail when the instrument is dropped. YIKES!

Tight Bond: If I knew for certain that the cracks were free of dirt and other contaminants, I would consider using original Tight Bond. I would be sure I had a fresh bottle, too. I stress the word "consider." I have used Tight Band lots of times. I built a very nice custom archtop guitar with tightbond, and also a very fine tenor banjo, multiple mandolins, etc. etc. It is good stuff. It can creep in ultra slow motion, but I don't think it will shatter like glass upon recoil. I am not arguing with my buddy, @Booner as I write this. We often disagree on ways to solve problems, but we always help each other out, and we ALWAYS get the job done!

Accraglass: I have seen it highly recommended on gunsmithing and repair sites. I have seen it work. But it is NASTY to clean up. Of that much, I am certain!
 

frankconrad

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Patrick
I don't know how to draw you a picture. If you look at the picture where the barrel and tang fit the stock you will see that the face is cracked in several directions, the 1,8 undercut and acra glass will tie that all togather with the rest of the stock.
If you look at where the edge of the tang and the edge of the barrel channel you will see that a 1/4 dowell will fit running parallel with the wrist. make sure you miss the lock screws.
You can get accra glass deep into cracks with air but its a good plan to do it outside and clean up with vinegar.
I have used accra glass for 50 years, use plenty of wax and or release agent, masking tape where you don't want accra glass.
 

Patrick H

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Patrick
I don't know how to draw you a picture. If you look at the picture where the barrel and tang fit the stock you will see that the face is cracked in several directions, the 1,8 undercut and acra glass will tie that all togather with the rest of the stock.
If you look at where the edge of the tang and the edge of the barrel channel you will see that a 1/4 dowell will fit running parallel with the wrist. make sure you miss the lock screws.
You can get accra glass deep into cracks with air but its a good plan to do it outside and clean up with vinegar.
I have used accra glass for 50 years, use plenty of wax and or release agent, masking tape where you don't want accra glass.
Thanks, Buddy. I think I have a better understanding of your recommendation. I hope our friend, Confederate Canuk, can do all this work. Nothing that any of us has proposed to him will be easy.
 
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I am assessing all the advice. Gonna see a friend later this week who does a lot of work on antique guns. I appreciate all the advice. If anyone else has anything to add, I am listening. Once I do the repair I will report back to everyone on how it went.
 
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Just an aside - the stamping on the internal lock plate was "W&CS" (sorry, no picture to post at the moment). Anybody know which manufacturer that is, and are there any links you can provide regarding that manufacturer? Also, I rather unexpectedly found a deep stamping of "W.H" in the stock beneath the rear trigger guard tang...so deep its like the initials are set into a tiny box cut out of the stock (pictures to follow later). I also have W.H. on the underside of the barrel, along with a rather large "BURR" (presumably the barrel manufacturer), plus some numbers. Can anybody unlock the mysteries of all this and provide any knowledge?
 
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I got a rather innovative suggestion from my friend. He said to use liquid polyurethane (the synthetic varnish) since it will penetrate deep into the cracks. He said to feed polurethane into the cracks until they stop absorbing, and fill with liquid. Then clamp the stock and let it dry a few days. Polyurethane is oil, water, and shock resistant, and is incredibly strong as a solid. He says it will be a steel-strength bond. It would also be a lot messier than Accraglass.

Any opinions on this approach?
 

Patrick H

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If it were my firearm, I would not trust a varnish to close the cracks and hold them. They will only fail again and then be totally ruined for future repair attempts. I am relatively certain that your friend was talking about polyurethane adhesives--not varnish. Even so, I think someone with experience in these matters should examine the cracks to determine their extent and direction, their possible contamination with dirt or oils, and opportunities to reinforce the cracks (pins, dowels, etc.)
 
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He did mean the varnish (but being polyurethane the "varnish" solidifies into a plastic layer). I clarified that with him when he first mentioned it. The issue with the adhesives is getting them deep into the cracks....the super glues penetrate but they are brittle andcan't handle shock so that isn't an option.

I am definitely considering dowels (I prefer over metal pins) as an extra measure to add strength. I need to give the cracks another thorough examination (depth, direction, etc) before I commit to a repair job, for sure. Thanks for the advice....it helps to get a variety of opinions and then consider how they best apply to the specifics of the repair job.

One other thought .... I should probably test the polyurethane varnish on some scrap pieces of wood to see how well that works, since it is a rather unusual approach.
 

Booner

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He did mean the varnish (but being polyurethane the "varnish" solidifies into a plastic layer). I clarified that with him when he first mentioned it. The issue with the adhesives is getting them deep into the cracks....the super glues penetrate but they are brittle andcan't handle shock so that isn't an option.

I am definitely considering dowels (I prefer over metal pins) as an extra measure to add strength. I need to give the cracks another thorough examination (depth, direction, etc) before I commit to a repair job, for sure. Thanks for the advice....it helps to get a variety of opinions and then consider how they best apply to the specifics of the repair job.

One other thought .... I should probably test the polyurethane varnish on some scrap pieces of wood to see how well that works, since it is a rather unusual approach.
Your friend isn't talking about Permalyn, is he? If so that's an epoxy-like wood sealer, used to fill in the wood grain after the wood has been stained........

Please tell us exactly what the product he's talking about is.

And a little link for you to read...>>https://www.gun-tests.com/special_reports/long_guns/extreme-stock-repair-spec-report-14897-1.html#.XOmxO3dFzIU
 
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Not Permalyn...though now that you have mentioned this product, I am going to read up on this to see if its useful for other stuff...never heard of it before.
 


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