ITHACA 37 Restoration

Recently I became involved with all things “Shotgun”….. Shooting Trap, Bird Hunting, Sporting Clays.

This led to the purchasing of a few different types of shotguns over the summer months.

My search for a 20ga Pump Action shotgun led me to the very fine Ithaca 37 model. This shotgun has been in production for nearly a century and there are probably millions of them available. These were working guns. Used hard and put away wet! Finding a pristine copy was difficult at best. The Ithaca Gun Company is still in business in Ohio and they will build anything you want for an incredibly reasonable price of about $1000. But that was much more than I was willing to invest. Used gun would be my direction.

I wanted a 20ga. Hunting Quail in New Mexico requires a sub caliber. I really wanted a 28ga but so far I’ve not been able to find a reasonable used example.

I did find a nice 20ga at a local gun shop for a very good price. But it lacked two key features…..removable chokes and a ventilated rib….We’ll have to do something about that!

First was to send the barrel out to Michael Orlen in Amherst Massachusetts to have choke tubes installed. Amazing fast turn around time, excellent work and the price was on the side of ridiculously low! At the time of this article , 2018, $135 got me a threaded barrel, three choke tubes and shipping back to me!

I made up a label for the choke tube box I bought on Amazon

Next was a ventilated rib

If you have read any of my other articles at

You would know that I’m a devout Tinkerer… I love learning new things. I’ve never installed a ventilated rib before so I needed to search the internet for advise.

I bought a rib for under $10 at Gun Parts in Hurley NY. A few folks on the internet shotgun forums suggested that a high quality silicone type adhesive would do the trick. I bought some Permatex product and attached the rib… shot at the range and it flew right off!

Next was JB Weld. We all know JB Weld is a magical adhesive. I roughed up the area where the feet of the reib would attach and secured the rib with the JB weld……This lasted 5 shots!!! And the rib cane flying off again!

It had to be soldered. I was avoiding this because the barrel was nicely blued and I didn’t want to mess it up. But the receiver had a few rubs and handling marks so refinishing was not a bad option.

Using Brownells Hi Force 44 solder, Brownells flux and a simple propane torch I soldered that bad boy on for good. Having never done this before I think it came out quite nice! I used HiForce 44 because it has a melting temperature of 475 degrees. I would be using a baked on, high tech, finish that needs to bake at 325 degrees. So soft solder would not be an option in this procedure.

Once the soldering was cleaned up, I disassembled the receiver and bead blasted the whole gun. Sprayed it with KG Gun Kote in Semi-Gloss black, put it in the over at 325 degrees for two hours.

I installed a brass bead:

and here is the result:

The stock and forend were in excellent shape and needed no attention.

The KG GunKote has teflon in it and spraying the action, inside and out, and the magazine tube, made the action slick as snail snot! These Ithaca 37s are noted for their smooth action, but this gun is as smooth cycling as I’ve ever experienced!

So, how does it shoot? I took it to the trap field. Only the fourth time I’ve ever shot trap. And it turned in a 21! At that time, this was way better than I had ever shot with a coupler of other shotguns.

Now I need to find a 28 and a 12 to complete the set……


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3 comments on “ITHACA 37 Restoration”

  1. Bonasa Umbellus Reply

    Beautiful job.

    One Q: you mentioned you bought the rib from Gun Parts Corp, in West Hurley, NY. Was this an Ithaca rib or some other brand? It looks to be a wide, target-style rib, with beautifully wide-spaced posts.

    Again, congratulations on a very nice restoration project.

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