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Old 12-20-2017, 07:30 PM   #1
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Default Stevens VL pump .22

I recently inherited a rifle that's been in the family over 100 years. It probably hasn't been used (or cleaned) in the last 50. There's some light cracking in the wood, a couple missing screws, and the mag tube seems gummed up. S/N is V184. I don't want to mess with it until I know more about it.

It's a very cool looking rifle. It would be a shame to doom it as a wall hanger. What is the collectives opinion regarding restoring the rifle to shooting condition? Haven't taken it to a smith yet, since I just got it. Will it cost more to fix it than it's worth? Anyone specialize in vintage rifles? TIA
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Old 12-20-2017, 09:41 PM   #2
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Nyeco will know much about it.
Stevens isn't a high end manufacture so I would do what I did to grandpa's Stevens shotgun that hadn't been cleaned or shot in ~45-50 years. I tore it completely apart, cleaned it and refinished the wood. I then went out and shot it... twice. Second round locked it up solid (bad round, out of spec size).
Haven't been out to shoot it since, one of these days.
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Old 12-20-2017, 11:19 PM   #3
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In good working order, it is worth $100 +/-.

They are shooters and if it was mine, I'd take it apart and fix.
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Old 12-21-2017, 01:55 AM   #4
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Your little Stevens "VL" for "Visible Loading" is a nice little pump, also known as the Stevens Model 70.

They are a fun little gun to shoot, although a bit quirky in their operation.

They were made between 1907 and 1934 if memory serves me.

New in the box it would fetch between $550 and $600, in 60% condition, it is still worth $200-$250, folks like them and will pay for one that operates well and is in good shape mechanically and visually.

Most had a 22 inch barrel and open iron sights, the ones from the factory with different barrel lengths and different sights (peep sights, Vernier adjustable sights, etc. ) will bring a bit to a good bit more than the above prices.

Some Parts are available from Numrich arms, unfortunately the screws tend to be the most sought after parts and they are often out of stock of many of the different screws used on the gun.

Brownells, Jack First, Bob's Gun Parts, and the Old West Scrounger are all sources of parts for these guns.

By the way, most of the parts for the Model 70 VL also interchange with the
Stevens Models 70-1/2, 71, 71-1/2, 72 and 722 as I recall.

The inner and outer mag tubes and springs and follower are no big deal, Numrich and others have them, and if they didn't, they can be made with the tubes available from Brownell's just for that purpose.
You could buy Brownell's mag tube kit (you just need to know the inner and out diameters of the two tubes so that you can order the right kit) and with simple hand tools, you could make either or both tubes, spring and follower yourself.

The screws can be made also, by anyone with a metal lathe and a bit of skill, even easier if you start with a Brownell's Screw Blank instead of making the entire screw from Drill Rod.

For some folks , disassembly and reassembly of these little pump guns is a nightmare, I knew several gunsmiths who wouldn't do it, they either refused the work or sent them to me. I never thought they were all that bad, at least not after the first one, but then the two old guys who taught me the trade had worked on them when the guns were still fairly new and in production, so they showed me the tricks to make it easy.

IF you take it apart carefully however, and (easier today!) take pictures as you do so, you can get it back together correctly without too much trouble.

Most of the complaints with these little guys back in the day were misfires, because they had been shot a bizzillion times, usually the firing pin had gotten too short (they were kinda soft on the hammer end and would flatten down) so you could either replace it with a new one (if you could find one) make a new one out of drill rod, or just build up the hammer end of the old one with hard face weld and then grind to shape and length.

Sometimes they had head space issues if the owner took them apart and didn't get the barrel back on correctly (it's held on by a odd shaped brass "cam pin" about 3/4" of an inch or so back of the barrel / receiver junction. IF you get the pin in with the "cam" surface out of place the head space can be out as a result. Use a brass punch and be careful if you take this out, I wouldn't advise it though. Oh, and it's hidden under a couple of "dummy" screws by the way.

Another source of misfires was the cartridge lifter getting in the way of the firing pin, the lifter in proper operation moves the firing pin back as a cartridge is chambered, if the lifter is binding up on the firing pin that will cause light strikes.

There was something odd about the ejection of these guns, they don't eject the last round out of the magazine, because it uses the next round in the magazine to push the previous round out, so you have to manually eject the last round.

It's been at least 30 years since I last worked on one of these so take all this with a 50 pound bag of salt.

Another problem we used to see a lot of with these guns was chambers that were eroded from having shot lots of .22 Shorts, CB Caps and BB Caps. so if you fired .22LR in it, the rough portion of the chamber would really grab the brass and make extraction dang near impossible.

Used to fix those by boring out the chamber end of the barrel (if the bore and rifling were in good shape) and sleeving that area, then cutting a new chamber with the proper reamers.

I should also mention that these guns went out of production before the advent of high speed .22 LR, and they really should be fired ONLY with standard velocity .22 LR ammo.

There are some parts in there that really won't stand up to the battering that modern .22 LR high velocity ammo will give them.
A good part of the case head is not supported (where the extractors are), and using modern HV ammo will cause the case to swell there and make extraction difficult at best.

The locking piece, particularly on early guns, was pretty thin and only engaged a small milled recess in the receiver, if you fire HV ammo in it, it will eventually fail, and finding one of those, or a gunsmith with the skill to make one, will be very difficult.

That's about all I remember about them, they were an attempt to make a repeater out of an action similar to (at least in appearance) the little Stevens Favorite.

They earned the nickname "Miserable Loader" though, because of all their "quirks"!
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Old 12-21-2017, 06:50 AM   #5
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Thanks, I knew I'd get good info here. I'm no machinist, nor have access to a machine shop. I'm also old and have arthritic hands/fingers. I took it to Chris today at Green Valley Range in Henderson, to disassemble and degrease. Hopefully, he can replace the missing screws also. He's a good kid and loves gun smithing. I will pass this info on to Chris. I have my fingers crossed.
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Old 02-05-2018, 05:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NASA View Post
Thanks, I knew I'd get good info here. I'm no machinist, nor have access to a machine shop. I'm also old and have arthritic hands/fingers. I took it to Chris today at Green Valley Range in Henderson, to disassemble and degrease. Hopefully, he can replace the missing screws also. He's a good kid and loves gun smithing. I will pass this info on to Chris. I have my fingers crossed.
How did it turnout?
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Old 02-11-2018, 03:06 AM   #7
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As of today we're still waiting on a couple parts to show up. He did strip and clean it. Chris said that its in real good condition considering its age. It should be a shooter when reassembled. Can't wait to try it out.
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