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Thread: Marlin 122 "Auto-Safe" Returns from the Dead. (Lots of pictures!)

  1. #1

    Marlin 122 "Auto-Safe" Returns from the Dead. (Lots of pictures!)

    Here is a project rifle I started on last week. It's a Marlin 122 "Auto-Safe" .22 single-shot. Less than 6,000 of these were made under the Marlin brand, but it would seem that thousands and thousands more were made for Sears Roebuck& Co. under the J.C. Higgins brand. Someone let me know if I have the Sears name wrong...

    Anyhow-- Here's the rifle. I got it on the cheap at a pawn shop at $95.00 dollars. Considering the damage, the price was high IMO, but there wasn't anything wrong with it that couldn't be fixed-- that's the key to finding a project rifle!

    Here is a photo that is largely representative of the stock before I started working on it... Whatever it was that was on the stock previously, was looking pretty nasty. It all had to come off anyway, what with all the other repairs that I needed to do-- so out comes the stipping agent.




    Anymore, I would recommend doing this in a room that is away from the rest of the house and in a place that you can shut the door. That, or do it outside (on a warm day) with some no-kidding hard-core stripping solution. The low-odor and indoor-safe sripping chemicals just aren't really worth the extra elbow grease IMO.




    Here are the old sling swivel mounting locations. I am fairly certain that these are not factory original locations, and if they were, they needed to be filled in and repaired anyway because they are both torn-out and stripped-out. The rear sling mount location looks like the previous owner tried to install a new sling swivel mount-- and failed badly. I didn't have anywhere on the stock to make a cutout-plug that I would feel comfortable drilling at, so I used a cutout-plug from a different piece of hardwood. It's never going to fully match the stock, but I think it better than trying to fill it in with epoxy/wood shavings that are perpetually too-dark in color. I made some cutout-plugs for the other two holes using material from the barrel channel area.







    Next came the metal work. I used Birchwood-Casey do-it-at-home cold-blue kit, and if you follow the directions and the S.H.I.T. WORKS. The aluminum trigger guard was painted with high-gloss black rustoleum oil-based enamel, and the rest of the metal pieces were done up with the Birchwood-Casey blueing kit. The red safety-ring on the bolt needed to be re-done as well, so I used high-gloss red rustoleum oil-based enamel. It catches a little bit on the receiver during firing, so I think that explains why the paint is chipped/scraped off in two spots on the top of the bolt. I may re-do that bit. It was masked off with electrical tape to protect from over-painting.










  2. #2
    The plastic butt plate was also broke, and the toe was missing. I repaired that missing bit with some high-strength repair epoxy. I used PC-7 Epoxy. It's available at most Ace Hardware stores and is nice in the way that it is one dark/black/gray color all the way through. It can also be sanded and cut after it has fully cured which makes it nice for these sorts of repairs.











    There is also a large crack that runs about four or five inches on the right side of the stock. Of course, I couldn't see this until I got the rifle home and removed the old finish-- so I'm stuck with it. I don't know if there is much that I can do for hair-line cracks like this, but I did my best at reinforcing the area that I did have access to. The very-thin part of the stock that the safety rides behind was cracked fully through, but no material was missing. I reinforced it with DevCon 2-ton epoxy and fiber glass cloth. The crack may not be very clear in the first photo, but it runs pretty deep and is clearly visible in the second photo.






    I finished the stock with 400 grain wetsanding and after drying I gave it a sanding-filler from Varethane. Once the sanding-filler was dried and sanded back to smoothness, I applied Formby's high-gloss "Tung Oil Finish" (which is actually a varnish...). The directions say that a person should NOT sand between coats, but... You HAVE TO sand between coats if you want it to come out evenly.








  3. #3
    Boolit Master





    EMC45's Avatar
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    Well done! Like the work with the buttplate. Now let's see some targets! Or at least a grinning little kid getting some trigger time.
    Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God

  4. #4
    Boolit Master


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    The finish really does bring out the crack, doesn't it? I have one of the Sears rifles, it was our first rifle. Nice to know it's made by Marlin. I had none of your problems refinishing mine. Mine has a rather nondescript piece of birch for a stock.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by EMC45 View Post
    Well done! Like the work with the buttplate. Now let's see some targets! Or at least a grinning little kid getting some trigger time.
    Thanks for the kind words, but it's not likely that I'm going to get any photos of it at the range anytime soon. The rifle is already on display for consignment sale. If it hasn't sold by the time that some warmer weather comes back around, I'll take it out to the range and get some photos.

    These project rifles that I keep working on have a funny way of never making it to the store front for consignment sale, and I need to start getting back some of the money that I've spent on tools, consumables, and on the rifles themselves.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Marlins rebranded for Sears were marked Glenfield (I traded one away long ago that I wish I had back). J.C. Higgins was sold at either Western Auto or Montgomery Ward (I don't recall which).

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Mk42gunner's Avatar
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    Good job on the restoration.

    Going from memory here, but IIRC the typical store brands were:

    Sears-- Ted Williams

    Montgommery Wards-- J.C. Higgins

    Western Auto-- Revelation

    I have also seen Sears branded guns that were labled Sears with a model number that looked like the national debt.

    I remember checking one Sears shotgun into the armory that was a Winchester Model 120 or 1200. When we tried to tell the guy that owned it that Winchester made it, he was adamant that it was made by Sears.

    Robert

  8. #8
    Boolit Man
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    Nice job!
    I don't recall the Auto-Safe being made w/the Glenfield or other trade names on it, but it's entirely possible.

    The Auto Safe was only around for 4 or 5 years and not many of them.
    IIRC the 'Glenfield line was started in '65,,about when the Auto/Safe was gone.

    Glenfield has been discontinued and some of the Marlin Model numbers have been deleted and changed to the older Glenfield model numbers they used to copy. Very confusing.

    Marlin used 'Ranger' as a trade name up untill WW2. They dropped it's use after the War.
    Stevens also used the 'Ranger' trade name, so some confusion can exist when figuring out who made what model firearm.
    Same thing exists with other trade names.

    Sears was one of Marlins largest customers from early on. Marlin even set up the early Model 39 lever action w/a 'scope sight to
    Sears specs (the side mount drilled & tapped into the bbl) at their request.
    Many think those D&T's side mount bbls on early 39's are aftermarket,,but they are the indication that the gun was retailed thru Sears,, if it's factory done.

    In the 60's, 70's, ect,,big box stores succeeded in getting their store brands onto the rifles. We had rifles w/ Coast to Coast,,JC Penney,, Target,,Sears,,all sorts of retailers names on them going out (and coming back!).
    Some had small cosmetic characteristics the individual retailers asked for in the build, but eccentially the rifles were the same as the Marlin branded product.
    The biggest difference would be a hardwood stock (usually birch stained to walnut tone) instead of Am Walnut wood.
    Other small differences in trigger color (plating), sights, checkering patterns (impressed),,the butt plates carried the different designation of course or none at all.

  9. #9
    Boolit Bub
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    J.C.Higgins was a Sears brand along with Ted Williams.The JC,s were a cheaper line than the Ted's. I cannot remember how Mongomery ward branded theirs. Western Auto was indeed Revalation and when napa Auto parts sold guns the did so under the Belknap label

  10. #10
    Boolit Master


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    Hummh, I'll have to go look at it more closely. It was purchased at the Sears in Bangor, ME sometime around '63 or '64 and was a Christmas present for my brother and me. I'm not sure it is called an "autosafe" but every time you open the bolt it puts it on safe. That's why I'm thinking it is an autosafe. I never knew they were rare.
    Wayne the Shrink

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  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by PULSARNC View Post
    J.C.Higgins was a Sears brand along with Ted Williams.The JC,s were a cheaper line than the Ted's. I cannot remember how Mongomery ward branded theirs. Western Auto was indeed Revalation and when napa Auto parts sold guns the did so under the Belknap label
    You are correct about Sears and the J.C. Higgins/Ted Williams line. Montgomery Wards used the Western Field name for quite awhile.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master


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    Mine says: Sears, Roebuck & Co
    Modl 41 DLA 301.275 .22 AutoSafe with a larger JC Higgins

    Mine has a chromed trigger guard and an almost nice walnut stock. I guess I misremembered it being birch.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  13. #13
    Boolit Mold
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    So glad I found this thread and a recent one at that! I purchased the same gun from an older gentleman at a gun buy back here in Atlanta for $70.00. It's a great shooter, but today I attempted to fully disassemble and clean it including rust removal on the barrel. I should have left the bolt alone, but I wanted everything cleaned and inspected. Now, I cannot get the bolt back into the sleeve. The screw will not line up, it's a fraction of a mm but I don't want to force anything. It's obviously not meant to be forced in. I've been working at it for over 2 hours now and still can't get it to work work. Any tips?


    Last edited by scandmx5; 02-26-2013 at 12:32 AM.

  14. #14
    The bit that has the threading drilled into it, where the screw threads in, is part of a bushing that is separate of the firing pin/bolt shroud assembly.

    It can be rotated around the bold body independent of the bolt shroud, and that is the reason it isn't lining up correctly, for re-insertion of the screw. It's no big problem, it just takes a second.

    Take the firing pin/bolt shroud assembly out of the bold body and rotate that bushing so that when the firing pin/bold shroud is fully seated into the bolt body the bushing will be properly aligned for re-insertion of the screw.

    When the two are mis-aligned, it will appear that it is not "going back together correctly," but it is only because the bushing is mis-aligned relative of the firing pin/bolt shroud assembly position while it is fully seated in the bolt body.

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomBulls View Post
    The bit that has the threading drilled into it, where the screw threads in, is part of a bushing that is separate of the firing pin/bolt shroud assembly.

    It can be rotated around the bold body independent of the bolt shroud, and that is the reason it isn't lining up correctly, for re-insertion of the screw. It's no big problem, it just takes a second.

    Take the firing pin/bolt shroud assembly out of the bold body and rotate that bushing so that when the firing pin/bold shroud is fully seated into the bolt body the bushing will be properly aligned for re-insertion of the screw.

    When the two are mis-aligned, it will appear that it is not "going back together correctly," but it is only because the bushing is mis-aligned relative of the firing pin/bolt shroud assembly position while it is fully seated in the bolt body.
    Thanks but that's not it. That's what I was doing for over 2 hours last night. They will not line up...however, when I originally unscrewed the screw holding the two together, it kind of popped out like it had pressure behind it. Hell I even drove the retaining pin out of the firing pin/bolt shroud and it went back together simply.

    In the picture I posted above- that's as close as I can get the two taps. They're not lining up vertically, horizontally is fine.
    Last edited by scandmx5; 02-26-2013 at 04:18 PM.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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  17. #17
    Boolit Mold
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    I just bought a model 122 last night. I was told that my stock was shortened as a youth rifle years ago. If yous is full size, could you take a few measurements for me so I can determine how much it was cut down.
    1. Butt to front of stock
    2. Butt to trigger
    3. Butt to takedown screw.

    Yours looks great. I'm going to do much what you did. I have a gunsmith that will do the blueing. Wood work I can handle myself

    Many thanks

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by biglou13 View Post
    I just bought a model 122 last night. I was told that my stock was shortened as a youth rifle years ago. If yous is full size, could you take a few measurements for me so I can determine how much it was cut down.
    1. Butt to front of stock
    2. Butt to trigger
    3. Butt to takedown screw.

    Yours looks great. I'm going to do much what you did. I have a gunsmith that will do the blueing. Wood work I can handle myself

    Many thanks
    I can't do any measurements for you because I sold it months ago.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    those store brand guns are great finds, and there getting a little harder to find, in good shape. i may be wrong, but i think one day they will be worth more than the standard grade guns. just cause they don't make them no more, but it also depends on what kind it is too!

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