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Mauser Heat Treating
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I recently acquired a Argentine 1909 project rifle barreled action/pattern stock that has been completely customized by one of the current master gun builders.

In looking over the various paperwork that came with the rifle I have a receipt (Blanchard)for the action/bolt heat treating. I was not going to purchase this rifle without this documentation paper work.

When (what year) did the USA custom rifle builders determine that some of the Mauser 98 receivers/bolt needed to be heat treated? Who was the leading force (custom builder) in the custom rifle trade who started this trend of heat treating the actions?

I see so many high end custom Mauser 98 rifles built by the likes of Jerry Fisher, Al Biesen, Griffin & Howe,Holland&Holland, Rigby, Leonard Brownell, Tom Burgess etc. for sale that were built in the 1930’s,40’s,50’s,60’s,70’s,80’s until today. What percentage of these high dollar custom Mauser rifles built by these masters during these times were properly heat treated (reheat treated)?

What are the problems that can arise from using these rifles with a soft action? What would be the fix to correct one of these high dollar rifles with a soft action? What kind of cost would be involved if there is a setback or other issues?

Many of these high dollar custom Mauser 98 rifles built by these master builders are sitting in collections and have never been fired. How does one determine if the action is the proper hardness? Most sellers are not going to allow you to send off their rifle for hardness testing prior to a purchase. What percentage of these older and new custom Mauser 98 rifles have never been heat treated properly?
 
Posts: 198 | Location: Western USA | Registered: 08 September 2018Reply With Quote
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Portable testing deices are widely available at reasonable cost. Your other questions….? My opinion is that not ALL actions need to be re heat treated...in all likelyhood, most don't...However, I haven't seen an action ruined by re heat treating
 
Posts: 2131 | Location: Phone: (253) 535-0066 / (253) 230-5599, Address: PO Box 822 Spanaway WA 98387 | www.customgunandrifle.com | Registered: 16 April 2013Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Duane Wiebe (CG&R):
Portable testing deices are widely available at reasonable cost. Your other questions….? My opinion is that not ALL actions need to be re heat treated...in all likelyhood, most don't...However, I haven't seen an action ruined by re heat treating


Other questions Duane, are when and who in the custom gun building trade started heat treating the Mauser 98 actions? What can be done to fix the problems if a setback occurs?
 
Posts: 198 | Location: Western USA | Registered: 08 September 2018Reply With Quote
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Never known it to NOT be available. Set back? damn rare...only actually saw two..both 7 x 61 S&H (Hand loads in both cases)on FN's that came at 24 Rockwell

The fix is to recut the recess, set back barrel, and re heat treat.

Hard to separate the bullshit from the buckwheat when it comes to action heat treat. Haven't seen a failure, mini or max that didn't do back to a reloader
 
Posts: 2131 | Location: Phone: (253) 535-0066 / (253) 230-5599, Address: PO Box 822 Spanaway WA 98387 | www.customgunandrifle.com | Registered: 16 April 2013Reply With Quote
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Thanks Duane. You definitely have the experience at a very high level ,especially with Mausers . Do you know when, what year aprox. the heat treating of Mausers was started by the custom gun trade? When did it become common practice to test hardness and heat treat the actions?
 
Posts: 198 | Location: Western USA | Registered: 08 September 2018Reply With Quote
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The answer is 1970. And it was, and is not, always common or done; depends on the cartridge used. So don't think that all, or even any, of those old custom rifles have re-heat treated receivers. Or that they aren't safe. A soft receiver is far safer than a too hard one; another discussion here.
I have sent a dozen or so receivers for re=heat treating; only because the customer wanted it; not that they needed it.
No commercial rifles made from 4140 steel would be sent; you can't case harden them; they will be soft forever. But tough.
And it is hard to check the locking lug seats with any type of Rockwell tester; can't get the stylus on the lug seats.
A better question is, what calibers are you using?
And which Mausers are you using? Typically the only ones that need it are the pre WW1 DWM and Lowe ones, when chambered for cartridges with pressures higher than the original.
And as DW said, even those are quire rare.
IF a setback occurred with your hand loads, YOU are responsible, of course.
 
Posts: 12335 | Location: USA | Registered: 02 August 2009Reply With Quote
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Would having a Mauser receiver black nitrided count as heat treated?
 
Posts: 320 | Location: Florida | Registered: 07 June 2013Reply With Quote
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I have seen two.
One was an 09 Argentine barreled to 270. Factory loads only, and not that many .... he guessed 300 rds.
The other was a .375 H&H, originally a German 98, but I don't know what exactly. Shot only PMP
factory ammo. Several hundred rounds, as it was my Namibian Pals, fathers gun, and his favorite rifle. We took it to the gunsmith who built it. It would close the bolt on a disc of cardboard the thickness of a cereal box in back of a no-go gauge.
 
Posts: 3404 | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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A damn famous metalsmith used a carbide scriber to see if he could scratch the recess. Gave it a "go" if unable to do so.

Now that can be an indication, of course. but doesn't tell how deep the case is. Blanchard will come up with a case depth of .015-025 @ 35 Rockwell

As dpcd says, 1970 would be about right. Doesn't include the guy with a blowtorch and can of oil! HAR!
 
Posts: 2131 | Location: Phone: (253) 535-0066 / (253) 230-5599, Address: PO Box 822 Spanaway WA 98387 | www.customgunandrifle.com | Registered: 16 April 2013Reply With Quote
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Jim; NO.
I have actually used the scribe method; works for me. But I don't put magnums on pre WW1 actions either.
Blowtorch and can of oil! That is how Springfield armory got into trouble. Don't forget the old leather shoes. (Not a joke; 03s were carburized after being heated with charred leather)
 
Posts: 12335 | Location: USA | Registered: 02 August 2009Reply With Quote
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I have seen two 1909 Arg set back. The first one I do not recall if it had been rebarreled before.
The second one I currently have and it was one of the imported rifles converted to 30-06. it has set back several thousandths.

I current am rebuilding a 1902 Mexican action, it had been twisted taking the barrel off with the wrong type of action wrench, so had it annealed so I could straighten it, and now it needs to be surface ground and reheat treated. I do not see any lug set back, but once I get done with it it will not mater

I also currently have a mid 1950's FN commercial action in short mag that someone overloaded and it has set back.
Yet another project to rebuild for down the road.

I handled and repaired a 1948 FN C ring commercial that had been in 220 Swift for decades, it had set back .0025"
Once the ring/lug seat was recut and then the action reheat treated it is back up and shooting.
Yes it was soft in the low 30's RC before reheat treating

And yes even the best Metalsmsith's mess up.
I have a Rem 1917 Enfield receiver that Tom Burgess surface ground, BUT it had several spots of red marker on it that Burgess had put on it, after it had been surface ground.
It took me a bit of time to figure it out
It RC tests in the mid 20's ???, but the give away is the lug set back and the very small bits of scale here and there on the receiver.
Suspect the action had been in a fire at one point and someone rebarreled it and started to shoot it.
Burgess did not catch it until after he had done all the surface grinding on it, and why it did not get reheat treated or scrapped out is anyone's guess

I took a call from DArcy Echols a couple of weeks ago. He had a customer bring in a rifle that Tom Burgess did all the metalwork on years ago.
Mid 1950's FN commercial action, it is starting to set back and the factory surface hardness is in the very low RC 30's

You handle enough actions and yes you will find soft/softer ones that has or will set back with enough shots.
Guess in my older smarter age I am getting twichy on action hardness and possible lug set back

J Wisner
 
Posts: 1064 | Location: Adna, Washington | Registered: 02 April 2003Reply With Quote
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This talk got me to thinking about a magazine I have..... somewhere around. I've been looking as I know I still have it.
I think it's an old GunWorld from the 70's.
If I remember correctly, the article was by a smith that worked for Golden State armory, or something like that, an importer.
He Rockwell tested, several of every mauser action they imported. Even cut open and tested the lug recesses. Off memory, the Polish Radom was the hardest ones tested. Never seen one myself.
I'll keep looking, it will turn up sometime.
 
Posts: 3404 | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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The common 30.06 Springfield shows a SAAMI pressure of 60,190 PSI or 58,740 C.I.P.

Are these pressure levels acceptable for a prewar 98 Mauser that has been heat treated by Blanchard? The rifle has been worked over by a very experienced ACGG metalsmith and Test fired numerous times during the build.

If those 30.06 PSI/C.I.P. pressures are to high for the worked over 1909 Argentine Mauser 98 , what would be the recommended max pressures ?
 
Posts: 198 | Location: Western USA | Registered: 08 September 2018Reply With Quote
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I knew there was a real question within your question; always is.
It is not the pressure that is important; it is the Backthrust against the bolt that causes the issues. 60K psi on a 30-06 is not the same as on a magnum. Internal area to push against, you know.
No one can guarantee what you are asking, but just give opinions; but having had a few receivers heat treated by them; yes.
 
Posts: 12335 | Location: USA | Registered: 02 August 2009Reply With Quote
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I owned two rifles that had lug setback. ONe was a commercial FN action, and the other was a 1908 Braziliian that was made in the same factory as the 1909 Argentine.


I also had two actions ruined by a local heat treater. They warped.
 
Posts: 1996 | Location: Mpls., MN | Registered: 28 June 2014Reply With Quote
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I found that warping can be eliminated...or at least minimized by bolting thick steel bolster to the underside...Keep it back of the feed ramp
 
Posts: 2131 | Location: Phone: (253) 535-0066 / (253) 230-5599, Address: PO Box 822 Spanaway WA 98387 | www.customgunandrifle.com | Registered: 16 April 2013Reply With Quote
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You haven’t really provided the necessary information to make a educated recommendation. You have the information, what does it say?

Saying it was heat treated is like saying I got the oil in my truck changed. Is it safe to drive? Well, I don’t know, if they put 5qt of 0W20 in my Cummins, I won’t get far down the road. 3gal of 15w40, I can run it till the wheels fall off.

So what do the specs say?

For reference, when the 1909’s were built, the Argentines specified an operating pressure of 3000 ATM. This was later increased to 4000 ATM, and while it doesn’t directly correlate, that is essentially 60k psi.

From my research with Mr. Speed and Mr. Webster, the Argentine 1909’s used the same steel and heat treatment as every other Mauser 98 of the day. I have yet to see lug set back, beyond minor wear, on any other contract rifle besides the 1909, EXCEPT rifles that have other damage evident, namely most have a minor bulge in the barrel. 1909’s I have seen what I consider excessive lug setback even without evident damage. What was the cause? Domestic ammo production? Excessive pressure? excessive wear? There are a lot of variables and we don't have enough information to really pick a cause. I have a really nice 1909 in the shop, still in military trim, the bore is excellent, and it has excessive lug setback.

I am a bit curious as to the line of questioning. You bought a rifle from a ACGG gunmaker, with documentation showing it was rehardened, and you still don’t feel comfortable shooting it? What makes you uncomfortable?

In my opinion, lug setback is OK. Mauser made thousands of spare receivers for almost every contract. Just like in the US, the receiver was a wear item. The alternative. . . Well the alternative is what scares me.


Nathaniel Myers
Myers Arms LLC
nathaniel@myersarms.com
www.myersarms.com

I buy Mauser actions, parts, micrometers, tools, calipers, etc. Specifically looking for pre-WWII Mauser tools.
 
Posts: 1030 | Location: Ohio | Registered: 06 June 2010Reply With Quote
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Fal Grunt:
You haven’t really provided the necessary information to make a educated recommendation. You have the information, what does it say?
So what do the specs say?

For reference, when the 1909’s were built, the Argentines specified an operating pressure of 3000 ATM. This was later increased to 4000 ATM, and while it doesn’t directly correlate, that is essentially 60k psi.

I am a bit curious as to the line of questioning. You bought a rifle from a ACGG gunmaker, with documentation showing it was rehardened, and you still don’t feel comfortable shooting it? What makes you uncomfortable?


FG,
Fair enough. Your reply of 3000ATM that was changed to 4000ATM which is around 60K PSI is what I was trying to communicate. I had thought I remembered reading that these older actions should be backed off about 25% from actions with new modern steels. I am not sure if proper heat treating allows one to safely run these actions to around 60,000PSI.

The heat treating specs were case depth .010 - .020 . Required hardness 35-37 HRC and bolt 45-47 HRC.
 
Posts: 198 | Location: Western USA | Registered: 08 September 2018Reply With Quote
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Maybe someone can help me out here. Years back I used a heat treater in (I believe) Washington state that did a thing called the "Burgess treatment"

I discovered that for the most part it was a .010 case depth treatment. I modified it to a case depth of .030 and a harden and draw to (equivalent)35 Rc

While I doubt that any of these receivers required it, I did it anyway because of the cost involved in sporterizing one. They were all 1938-1940 VZ-24 receivers. I did not heat treat any bolts!

The heat treaters did as I requested and not one of the receivers were warped upon return.

What was the name of the company????? and are they still in business?


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Posts: 28803 | Location: western Nebraska | Registered: 27 May 2003Reply With Quote
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Pacmet. I don’t think they do actions anymore.
 
Posts: 328 | Location: Australia | Registered: 01 February 2013Reply With Quote
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Quote Fal Grunt
“What was the cause? Domestic ammo production? Excessive pressure? excessive wear?”
Tom Burgess’s opinion was that the 1909’s with lug setback had fired high pressure machine gun ammo.
 
Posts: 328 | Location: Australia | Registered: 01 February 2013Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by 4WD:

FG,
Fair enough. Your reply of 3000ATM that was changed to 4000ATM which is around 60K PSI is what I was trying to communicate. I had thought I remembered reading that these older actions should be backed off about 25% from actions with new modern steels. I am not sure if proper heat treating allows one to safely run these actions to around 60,000PSI.

The heat treating specs were case depth .010 - .020 . Required hardness 35-37 HRC and bolt 45-47 HRC.


Heat treating and metallurgy is a very complex subject. If you have concerns with the safety of the rifle, you need to contact the person who built it.

quote:
Originally posted by metal:
Pacmet. I don’t think they do actions anymore.

They do not.

quote:
Originally posted by metal:
Quote Fal Grunt
“What was the cause? Domestic ammo production? Excessive pressure? excessive wear?”
Tom Burgess’s opinion was that the 1909’s with lug setback had fired high pressure machine gun ammo.

That could be. I do not know anything about Argentina's machine guns or machine gun ammunition.


Nathaniel Myers
Myers Arms LLC
nathaniel@myersarms.com
www.myersarms.com

I buy Mauser actions, parts, micrometers, tools, calipers, etc. Specifically looking for pre-WWII Mauser tools.
 
Posts: 1030 | Location: Ohio | Registered: 06 June 2010Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by metal:
Quote Fal Grunt
“What was the cause? Domestic ammo production? Excessive pressure? excessive wear?”
Tom Burgess’s opinion was that the 1909’s with lug setback had fired high pressure machine gun ammo.


When discussing lug setback in Argentine 1909's, the 1891's have always bothered me. Left something uncertian about the whole affair. Not to argue with Burgess, I respect his opinion, but if the 1909's exhibited lug setback due to high pressure machine gun ammunition, arguably, the 1891's should exhibit it, if anything, MORE.

I would have to check my log books, but I would guess that over the last 10 years, I have handled close to 100 1909's receivers. More than half exhibited SOME FORM of lug setback, albeit the majority minor. Say for round numbers, 50 of the hundred exhibited lug set back, 40 were very minor, 8-9 were moderate, and 1 or 2 were considerable.

In that same time frame I have handled 30-40 Argentine 1891's. None have exhibited any form of lug setback.

In light of the conversation it reminded me that I have a 1909 with considerable setback sitting in the rack. I will tear that down and send it to my heat treater for analysis, along with a Chilean 1912 and a Argentine 1891 for comparison. Neither the 1912 or the 1891 exhibit any setback. I will also pull my documentation on the 1909 contract and reach out to Speed and Webster and see if they have any other information concerning the 1909 receivers.


Nathaniel Myers
Myers Arms LLC
nathaniel@myersarms.com
www.myersarms.com

I buy Mauser actions, parts, micrometers, tools, calipers, etc. Specifically looking for pre-WWII Mauser tools.
 
Posts: 1030 | Location: Ohio | Registered: 06 June 2010Reply With Quote
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The only ones I have seen with setback were rechambered to 30-06 by Ye Olde Hunter; when left in 7.65, the ones I have had and seen, didn't.
I suspect, just an opinion, that the original case hardening specs were just adequate for the 7.65 ammo, (and 7mm for the 1908s also made at DWM and Lowe) aud it was not foreseen that over 100 years later, anyone would be using them for 60K psi ammo.
Everyone seems surprised when this happens. I don't get it.
 
Posts: 12335 | Location: USA | Registered: 02 August 2009Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by vapodog:
Maybe someone can help me out here. Years back I used a heat treater in (I believe) Washington state that did a thing called the "Burgess treatment"

I discovered that for the most part it was a .010 case depth treatment. I modified it to a case depth of .030 and a harden and draw to (equivalent)35 Rc

While I doubt that any of these receivers required it, I did it anyway because of the cost involved in sporterizing one. They were all 1938-1940 VZ-24 receivers. I did not heat treat any bolts!

The heat treaters did as I requested and not one of the receivers were warped upon return.

What was the name of the company????? and are they still in business?


Pacmet was the name, they don't heat treat actions any longer and the "Burgess Method" specified a process that resulted in an average depth of case of .032" in the lug seat area.




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Posts: 4678 | Location: Lakewood, CO | Registered: 07 February 2002Reply With Quote
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