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Browning saltwood explained

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Barrelbulge(Fl), Nov 24, 2009.

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  1. Barrelbulge(Fl)

    Barrelbulge(Fl) TS Supporters TS Supporters

    Aug 27, 2007
    West Central Florida

    Please discuss the Browning Superposed salt problem and how to detect
    this defect. I have not been able to find any reference to it in the
    shotgun literature.

    Dear Bill,

    The best discussion of the Browning salt wood issue is in Ned
    Schwing's "Browning Superposed" book (Krause Press, 1996). According
    to Schwing, in the mid '60s Browning needed a better supply of high
    grade walnut for it's guns. A California contractor had a large
    inventory of good walnut taken from clearing power line right of ways.
    Demand for Browning guns was at an all time high and the usual kiln
    drying process for walnut was too slow to produce what was needed.
    Rapid kiln drying also produced cracks in the California walnut.

    Morton Salt had developed a salt solution drying process successfully
    used in the furniture industry with good results. This cured the
    walnut much faster than the kiln method. Browning tested it and there
    were no problems, so Browning bought the process in 1965. "In an area
    roughly the size of a football field, five-foot by five-foot by
    eight-foot stacks of stock blanks were covered with salt. The salt was
    supposed to leach out the moisture and dry the wood quickly. The
    process did accomplish its purpose but the moisture that was drawn out
    of the blanks on top of the stacks ran down into the blanks below,
    resulting in a brine solution that soaked the lower wood blanks."
    (Schwing, pp 246) The retained salt reacted with the gun metal with
    the finished stock was installed. This caused the rust associated with
    "the salt wood problem".

    According to Schwing's interviews with Browning's Harm Williams and
    Val Browning, all the salt curing was done in the US and affected at
    least 90% of all Browning stocks from made from 1967 to 1969. The
    problem continued to show up until 1972, but in smaller numbers. It
    was then that the entire supply of walnut blanks was burned and
    replaced with traditional kiln dried wood.

    To detect salt wood on 1966 to 1972 guns, first check for outward
    appearance of dark or discolored spots. Check every place that wood
    meets metal, as on the rear of the forend and at the head of the
    stock. Rust on the metal will be apparent if there is a problem.
    According to Schwing, the definitive test is to remove the butt
    pad/plate, scrape away a little wood from the exposed butt and apply a
    1% solution of silver nitrate to the fresh wood. If the silver nitrate
    remains light purple, there is no salt. If the silver nitrate turns
    white, you have a salt gun.

    If you can prove that you are the original owner of the salt gun,
    Browning used to replace the wood for free and will probably still do
    so. If you bought the gun used, you are on your own. I got a used
    Superposed 410 with salt wood about ten or twelve years ago. Browning
    charged me about $250, if memory serves, to replace the wood. It
    wasn't free, but it was certainly a bargain price. I don't know what
    the numbers today are.

    By the way, Browning wasn't the only one to get taken in by the salt
    wood walnut curing process. I've heard that some other gun companies
    did also, but weren't quite as up front about dealing with it.
  2. rodbuster

    rodbuster TS Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Mr Bulge, there is some good info on this site: http://artsgunshop.com/index.html

    have a good day sir, Rodbuster.
  3. OhioGal

    OhioGal Member

    Jan 15, 2009
    Now this is interesting that this was brought up, as I was at Cabela's last weekend and fell head over heels with a Browning Medallion 7mm rem mag. When I got home I was going to look at the picture again, and the listing said salt wood, but the actual gun did not, and the gun looked in great shape.

    I called Cabelas, the guy said OH yes I remember you I was behind the guy helping you. I asked if the saltwood was an error, and he took the number, went and got the gun and said nope, it was not tagged as saltwood, and he corrected the problem.

    Now here is the interesting part. He told me if I purchased the gun and was not going to use it for a number of months, that he strongly suggested taking the action off and the bottom plate. He said they undid a screw on the bottom and detected rust which is how they knew it was a salt wood gun.

    I was also told a lot of people did not turn the gun into Browning because when they got the gun back the wood was of a lesser value. I am not sure I would agree that gun is worth more as is, as he tried to make me belief, if taken care of (action out of gun) cleaned well, oiled etc. it should be a valuable gun down the road.

    So would you consider it?

  4. acss

    acss Well-Known Member Supporting Vendor

    Feb 7, 2006
    rock port, mo
    why????it cant be the only gun left on the planet to own!!!!
  5. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    You do not want a gun with salt wood. HMB
  6. yobyllib

    yobyllib TS Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    has anyone tried stripping and soaking a salt cured stock in water like a peice of dry codfish? you keep changing out the water every couple hours.
    maybe boil it too.
    heck if it was a stunning grade of walnut,thats what Id do,then coat the metal with something,even hard chrome.
  7. high 2

    high 2 Member

    Oct 21, 2008
    I`ve had a couple of them in the shop to refinish. BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID. Just nothing I have found to make it worth while.
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