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» Trad Gang.com » Main Forums » The Bowyer's Bench » Bought a couple of vintage Longbows, looking for some restoration advice.

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Author Topic: Bought a couple of vintage Longbows, looking for some restoration advice.
M-Yeaton
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So, I've always wanted to get into traditional archery, but having four young kids kind of prevented time and resources from allowing me to make the initial leap. But as luck would have it I spotted two longbows just outside the door of an antique shop attached to my local gas station/coffee run.

Talked to the owner, they had been brought in the day before from an estate sale. They both looked to be in good condition, though they need a little TLC, and the limbs still have plenty of spring left in them. I think I overpaid, but seeing as they were there and both "born and raised" in New England, I picked the pair up for $150.

Both are stamped with a diamond mark that reads, "The Outdoor Sports MFG. Co Forestville Connecticut. One has a Stamp for R.D. McDonough Co. Sporting Goods Portsmouth, N.H.. The store itself is long closed, the last date I found for it online was 1961.

Pictures will follow as soon as I can figure out how to put them on here...

The first bow is carved from a single piece of wood with reddish/yellow coloring, 66" unstrung, with a '75' stamped into the belly.

The second is a yellow looking wood with a red veneer, not glass, backing, with a darker wood glued to the belly to form the riser. 64" long unstrung, with '4604' and '55'5 stamped on the back of the limb.

My questions are; do I strip or sand off the old varnish?

What Kind of varnish should I use to re-coat the bows?

And finally, will re-enforcing the tips of the limbs with a bit of epoxy or glass hurt the performance of the bows? The tips have a bit of wear, and the longer bow has a small crack in it about 1/2" long that doesn't go all the way through the wood. (Want to keep it that way.)

Plus I think I read somewhere bows like these can't support modern strings without re-enforcement?

Any help/advice I can get would be greatly appreciated! This will be my winter project, along with getting to the gym enough to be able to pull back 75# of string...

Also if anyone knows anything about the company that made them, I'd love to hear it. Found very little information online.

Posts: 4 | From: New Hampshire | Registered: Oct 2017  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
M-Yeaton
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Hope this works..

Posts: 4 | From: New Hampshire | Registered: Oct 2017  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
macbow
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Pretty nice looking old bows. You probably over paid but it is done.
If you plan to shoot these I would first string them, dacron string.
Then if that hurdle is met put them on a tillering tree with a rope and pull and slooly after many pulls get to your draw length.
Use the tillering tree for safety.

Only then do the refinishing using 100 to 220 grit sandpaper then finer.
Refinish with tru oil or poly.

Certainly can add tip overlays with minimal effect.

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M-Yeaton
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Thanks! I honestly didn't think about stringing them and getting them to draw length first, so you may have saved me some wasted time.

I will invest in the tip overlays first before stringing them, that crack makes me nervous and overlays don't look all that expensive.

I have a 28" draw while my wife has a 24-25ish" draw. When I'm working the limbs do I leave them pulled at various lengths working up or do I just slowly work them to draw length in one session?

And yes, I kind of knew I overpaid when I got them. Sadly I'm in a very touristy area so there was little wiggle room on price, but I liked their history in the area and would love to take a local buck with one!

Posts: 4 | From: New Hampshire | Registered: Oct 2017  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bob W.
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I think you got a couple nice bows, who cares what they cost, you liked them and bought them! Have fun and go slow on the initial pulling on the tiller!
Posts: 11 | From: Texas | Registered: Apr 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pat B
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I think the light colored bow is lemonwood, can't tell about the other. could be died hickory.
To get these guys shooting again you'll have to slowly and gingerly re-educate them to bend. Slowly extend the bend with lots of controlled exercise then let them sit at low brace for a while then extend that until you get to regular brace and slowly draw them out to full draw. If you try to rush it they may blow to pieces.
I have a few old lemonwood bows from back in the 1940's but I'd rather keep them as relics of archery history and just appreciate them for what they were and not try to resurrect them.

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Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!
TGMM Family of the Bow

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scrub-buster
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The darker bow is osage that's aged to a beautiful color.

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AKA Osage Outlaw

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Pat B
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I would think osage that age would be almost black.

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Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!
TGMM Family of the Bow

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Roy from Pa
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I agree with Pat. Asking wooden bows that age to shoot again could be a disaster. But you won't know till you try. Choice is yours. I would hang them on the wall above the fireplace.
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scrub-buster
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quote:
Originally posted by Pat B:
I would think osage that age would be almost black.

Maybe it was kept in a closet or something Pat. It sure looks like osage rings and grain structure to me.

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AKA Osage Outlaw

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Pat B
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The rings do look like osage. Maybe it was protected from the sun in a closet.

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Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!
TGMM Family of the Bow

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Bvas
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quote:
Originally posted by Roy from Pa:
I would hang them on the wall above the fireplace.

I don't buy cars so they can look pretty in the garage, and I don't buy bows to look pretty on the wall.
I say use them for what they were intended. If they blow up, then they become decorations.

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Some hunt to survive; some survive to hunt

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M-Yeaton
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I work at a school with a very knowledgeable woodshop teacher, and he helped confirm the larger bow is indeed Osage and not Hickory. The other bow he seems to agree is Lemonwood, but we can't tell what it's backed with, except that it's not glass. He also helped me test them on a makeshift tree. We were able to use a yardstick and 4x4 post to carefully bend the limbs down by hand to roughly a 6-7inch brace height with no audible cracking sounds. Sofar so good.

My next step will be to get a couple strings and g-10 overlays for the tips. By then I'll have a proper tree made and begin the slow process of re-training both bows to bend down to our draw lengths. If one or both fails I'll repair as best I can and hang them on the wall. The way I see it I'm at least giving them a chance to have life again as opposed to sending them into retirement without knowing if they can still hunt.

If they make it through the re-training I'll remove the old leather wraps on the riser and glue on and form better handles with some scrap Mahogany, carefully sand and re-finish while ATTEMPTING to keep the old stickers in place, and get to work re-learning how to shoot a traditional bow. (I've been using compounds for a few years now)

In the meantime I'm trying to get more history on the pair. All I know at the moment is the larger bow is older, but was put aside in favor of the lower draw weight of the Lemonwood bow after a season or two. Both have been stored in a dark closet since at least the 70's, but that's about all I know on the timing.

Thanks for the responses! I'll keep posting my progress throughout the winter, be it a success or failure.

Posts: 4 | From: New Hampshire | Registered: Oct 2017  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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