Cleaning grungy guns with water, then placing in oven?


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MatthewVanitas
November 20, 2005, 07:24 PM
This seems to be something some of the BP shooters do, and I'm a bit curious about trying it on my heinously dirty 1953 Marlin 39A. I just traded for it at a gunshow, and I estimate it was last cleaned in 1954 or so. There were actual lint balls under the extractor, and a no-kidding pellet of congealed fouling rattling around in the receiver. I really want to get out all the gunk and re-lube it from scratch, especially to ensure that the rust/dust/varnish/sawdust gets out of the spring coils and other inaccessible places.

So, I was thinking I could just break it down, wash it with really hot water and dish detergent in the tub, then put it in the oven at a very low heat, then heavily relube to replace the grease leached from the pores of the metal.

Good idea, bad idea? What oven setting?

(We'll avoid the obvious jokes by pointing out that the gun will not be loaded when it goes into the oven) -MV

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Boss Spearman
November 20, 2005, 07:28 PM
I used to have a muzzle loader I did that too. I never put it in the oven afterward however. I'm not that well versed on long arms, but why would you need to put it in the oven?

zahc
November 20, 2005, 07:31 PM
to evaporate all the water.

If you clean it with very hot water the hot steel will dry itself off very fast. But putting a gun in the oven will cook the water out of the crevices and subassemblies.

AJ Dual
November 20, 2005, 07:32 PM
I've done it to dissasembled Mil-surps after a thourough de-greasing, or to melt any residual cosmoline out of crannies too small for my tools or cleaners to get into.

Don't be insulted by stating the obvious, but you never know when a "noob" is reading a thread, so NO PLASTIC/POLYMER or wooden parts, of course! If you can't get plastic/polymer or wooden parts off the gun easily, dry it with a hair dryer on low, or use compressed air to blow the water out of any crevices.

Keep it under 200 deg. or as low as your oven goes, about 170 or so, so you're not messing with the metal's temper, although by "a low setting" it sounds like you already know that. Since you're trying to "dry" parts you've washed, you probably wouldn't do this, but don't ever try to cool any hot parts off with water etc. you could warp parts so they won't fit.

One other benifit, is that warm clean metal takes oil, very, very, well, getting into all the little places you want to protect, but might not be able to reach with a squirt bottle, or via gravity.

Also, you can achieve similar results with a paint stripper heat gun. Works well for things too big for the oven, like barreled actions, or if you've just got a small area to dry out.

One other thing to try, boiling water. It melts away all sorts of crud, is actualy used in the cleaning regimen to rinse the metal salts from mil-surp ammo's corrosive primers, or black powder residue, and is "self drying" from it's own heat.

EddieCoyle
November 20, 2005, 07:46 PM
The soap, water, and oven thing might be a good start. Then I'd clean it conventionally. Don't set the oven any higher than about 250, and don't put the gun anywhere near the heat source (usually near the bottom of the oven). The reason for this is that if you get it too hot, any hardened metal parts will be annealed (softened) if you bring the temp any higher. A temp of 250 will be more than enough to vaporize any residual water, but not high enough to anneal.

Matthew, I don't mean to pick on you but I've seen similar statements many times and it really really bugs me. Repeat after me....

METAL HAS NO PORES!!!!!

If you have a gun that is made of metal that soaks up oil or grease like a sponge, you shouldn't be shooting it. Guns are forged steel (or investement cast), they do not soak up oil. Oil is a surface coating. Even with cast iron pots, "seasoning" is simply a greasy conglomeration of fat that prevents rust and fills the surface imperfections to make eggs not stick - it is a coating only. The metal does not soak up oil. Not even cast iron soaks up oil. If you don't believe me, cut Grandma's old frying pan in half and look at the cross section. It'll show a coating of nasty grease, and nothing but clean metal inside.

Before any of you motorheads (and I use that as a term of endearment) get on me about how "seasoned" engine blocks are better than those from the factory (they are). It is not because the old blocks have soaked up oil. It is because the countless times that an engine block has been gradually heated and cooled is a long-term annealing process that partially turns the grey cast iron into white (malleable) cast iron, which is more machinable and less brittle.

METAL HAS NO PORES!!!!!

EddieCoyle
November 20, 2005, 07:51 PM
One other benifit, is that warm clean metal takes oil, very, very, well, getting into all the little places you want to protect, but might not be able to reach with a squirt bottle, or via gravity.

Warm oil flows better than cool oil. See my previous post about oil being absorbed.

Also, you can achieve similar results with a paint stripper heat gun. Works well for things too big for the oven, like barreled actions, or if you've just got a small area to dry out.

Careful here. If there are any case-hardened parts (kind of a mottled, rainbow-y bluish color) a heat gun can get hot enough to soften the case hardening. Case hardening doesn't go deep - it only hardens the surface of the metal. A heat gun is hot enough to locally soften (and therefore ruin) case hardened parts.

MatthewVanitas
November 20, 2005, 11:03 PM
Dumb questions follow:

--If I put the parts in my sink with detergent, and pour a kettle of boiling water over them, will that untemper any of the metal parts (100 Celsius water?) ?

--The lowest setting on my toaster oven (receiver fits in there) is 150, is that hot enough to get the water out of the crannies?

--Do I put the receiver face-down so the water can drain, or face up so the steam can rise? Or first one, then the other?

Thanks for the warning on case hardening, though not applicable in my case. It is presumably possible that, at some point in the 1950's when this rifle had a finish, that it may have been case-hardened, but that's moot now.

Not what I need to be doing during finals season, but it's either clean rifle, surf THR, watch DVDs, or study...

Hypnogator
November 20, 2005, 11:13 PM
Back in the olden days when the only stainless gun made was the S&W Mod 60, an acquaintance who had one used to clean his by removing the stocks and putting it in the dishwasher. Claimed all he had to do after that was lube it and load it! ;)

Azrael256
November 20, 2005, 11:33 PM
pour a kettle of boiling water over them, will that untemper any of the metal parts No. That would be just fine. 150, is that hot enough to get the water out of the crannies? Yes. Actually, 150 is about what you want. It should do fine for steel parts.

As for positioning it... The water is going to start evaporating real quick once the metal heats up, and the position isn't going to be all that important. Bake it until it's nice and crispy because at 150 degrees, you can leave it in there quite some time before anything happens to it.

Obviously, hot metal things can be dangerous, so exercise great caution in handling the pieces. If you have a camera, a picture of you holding the receiver in an oven mitt would be pretty funny.

removing the stocks and putting it in the dishwasher Yeah, I wouldn't do that. The frame is stainless, not the whole gun. I suppose if your friend got it hosed down with WD-40 right quick the internals wouldn't be damaged, but then you'd have to clean off the WD-40 to put on a proper gun lube. I'm gonna call BS on his story.

EddieCoyle
November 21, 2005, 12:39 AM
Thanks for the warning on case hardening, though not applicable in my case. It is presumably possible that, at some point in the 1950's when this rifle had a finish, that it may have been case-hardened, but that's moot now.

Boiling water won't anneal. The minimum temp at which steel will start to soften is about 325F (and that is only on certain steels).

OTOH... Case hardening is much more than a finish (don't confuse it with bluing). In fact, you can carefully buff off the coloring from case hardeneing without changing the physical properties of the steel. That whole cool-looking case hardened finish is a case of form following function:

Certain parts only needed to be hardened on the surface for wear resistance rather than deep-hardened for strength. Case hardening was the quickest/cheapest way to do this. It was also quick/cheap to leave the coloring on the case hardened parts. If one were to remove the case hardening - either through heat annealing or overly aggressive grinding, the parts will wear out quickly. This is why many home trigger jobs go awry.

Not what I need to be doing during finals season, but it's either clean rifle, surf THR, watch DVDs, or study...
Study.

mbs357
November 21, 2005, 12:53 AM
I just have to stop and say that they DO show MASH these days.
There's one channel that shows them most of the day some times...
Great show.

benEzra
November 21, 2005, 12:02 PM
Hair dryer will also work very well for drying parts (combination of heat and air movement).

Generally speaking, though, water is a lousy solvent for gun grime, which is mostly nonpolar stuff that detergent doesn't even clean up. I once tried the hot water/soap/lots of scrubbing approach for a very, very bad case of powder fouling that got nowhere. Then I broke out a bottle of Hoppes #9 instead and wiped it right off...

Water is good for cleaning up guns that have fired corrosive ammunition, because the corrosive residue are potassium salts that are extremely water soluble. But for other gun crud, it's generally not nearly as good as your nonpolar solvents.

A regimen of Hoppes #9 and Gun Scrubber will take care of almost anything.

Doug B.
November 21, 2005, 12:27 PM
I have found that, after removing stock and forearm, automotive break parts cleaner really busts up crud. I follow that with an application of Break Free and this works VERY well on all my firearms. I do keep my firearms really clean so this is a proceedure that I don't have to do very often at all.

esheato
November 21, 2005, 12:32 PM
I took a receiver and boiled it once. I made a hook with a hanger and lowered the receiver into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Got it hot enough so that when you pulled it out, the remaining water in it just evaporated. Cleaned it right up with no adverse effects.

Ed

waterhouse
November 21, 2005, 12:39 PM
If you do this, please post a follow up on how well it worked.

BTW, congrats on picking up a fine gun. I had a heck of a time getting a manual from Marlin, so if your gun didn't come with one here is a pdf version:
http://www.again.net/~steve/pdf/marlin_39a39m.pdf

MatthewVanitas
November 21, 2005, 10:28 PM
I tried it during a studybreak today, and not much success. It got out some sawdust and assorted gunk, but even with the dishsoap a lot of the grease just sat there until q-tipped. I chucked it in the toaster oven for about 45 minutes on 175 (ah, the joys of bachelorhood).

If anything, I'm worried that it may have rusted during this process, though the whole thing only took about an hour total. Maybe it just made previous rust more visible? Anyway, it's drenched with RemOil now, and that's displacing some of the older dark grease. The mechanism is very cool in its simplicity, so it's fun to see how the insides function.

Besides the whole brassbrush and oil thing, anything else I need to do to bust rust?

-MV

Johnny_Yuma
November 21, 2005, 11:13 PM
Dumb questions follow:

--If I put the parts in my sink with detergent, and pour a kettle of boiling water over them, will that untemper any of the metal parts (100 Celsius water?) ?

I generally avoid washing lead dust out in the sink. Next time you clean veggies there you may pick up some brain damage.:what:

Man, I read about some pretty, er, creative ideas for cleaning firearms on this board. I get along pretty well with some old rags, brushes, and Kleen-bore or Hoppes.:D

Farnham
November 21, 2005, 11:57 PM
Two words--

Q-Tips

:D

The hot water outta my sink is enough to take cosmoline off when used with the sprayer head, and the metal dries quick. Gotta do it when the wife's at work, but hot water never hurt anything. I wouldn't use the oven, just because it's unnecessary.

Hot water, BreakFree, Q-tips. Then, Hoppes, brush, more Q-tips. Then, BreakFree and Q-tips. Brought a few C&R's back to life that way.

S/F

Farnham

MatthewVanitas
November 22, 2005, 12:02 AM
I generally avoid washing lead dust out in the sink. Next time you clean veggies there you may pick up some brain damage.

If I were that worried about lead poisoning, I'd stop putting lead shot in the bottom of my port wine bottles. Helps the flavor, makes it last longer, and hasn't done me any damage ytjf1 sgdf farm asyt I'veas segwdn.

(Seriously, Victorian Brits used to do that to their port...)

Good point though, I did give my sink a good scrub before and after cleaning gunparts. In the interests of caution, I did move the WD-40 soaked receiver and stack of newspapers a little further from the hot water heater as well.

jrhines
November 22, 2005, 12:04 AM
Here is how I do it. Detail strip the gun & set the wood aside. Put the parts in a shallow pan and spray with Simple Green spray cleaner & let sit for 10 mins. At that point I put them in an ultrasonic cleaner with hot (160 F) water for 10 mins or so, but you can do the same thing with a parts brush. Rinse them in water untill they are to hot to hold & let dry. Blow them off with a hair dryer on paper towles. They now have no oil or lube on the parts and will rust very fast. I spray them with Breakfree CLP, wipe dry and reassemble. This works very well on 39As as I just did a pair of them for a client, along with making a shell stop spring from scratch. This is the standard clean and relube I give every customers gun and I have had no complaints and charge $35. This is also the method that Bob Dunlop uses on his smithing videos, not a bad model for openers. I used it on a clients A5 that had not been cleaned (except for a swab through the bore) since the Truman administration. If it would clean that mess, it will clean anything.

Cosmoline
November 22, 2005, 12:19 AM
I would worry about causing rust issues. With metal parts, it only takes a few minutes to remove the water and you can remove any residual soap in the process. Just apply a thin layer of CLP and clean the bore as usual. Putting your iron in the oven is both pointless and dangerous.

Beach
November 22, 2005, 02:30 AM
The frames of my Glocks have been through the dishwasher. Not something I do often at all, but its a good deep clean. Normally I just wipe the frame down, not much oil is needed.

MatthewVanitas
November 23, 2005, 01:05 AM
Worked a whole ton better. Let the receiver sit in a baggie of SG for about 30 min, then poured a kettle of boiling water over it. It was nearly dry and extremely hot after the kettle, so I let it sit a sec, then coated it in oil to displace any water that hadn't evaporated.

That got a ton more of the gunk out, though there was still some junk in tiny nooks and crannies, and new oil still flushes out murky older oil. It's quite acceptably clean now, but I'm annoyed that even that measure did not render it absolutely purified. I was hoping for white-glove clean, but maybe that's just not really practical (or necessary) with firearms. The mainspring is nice and shiny clean now, and that was the hardest part.

Most importantly, I discovered that the oven idea didn't work so hot.

-MV

mindpilot
November 23, 2005, 06:20 AM
never woulda thought of that at all!:eek:

Stainless Chili
November 23, 2005, 07:48 AM
30 years ago I read an account of a frountier life.

Papa boiled a hugekettle of water, plunged the barrel in it, and scrubbed it very quickly.

In the boiling water.

NavajoNPaleFace
November 23, 2005, 08:11 AM
Quite often I will spray my handguns down with Simple Green and scrub them after shooting.

I then put them in a WARM oven of around 120-140 degress for a reasonable period of time to help them dry out.

For those concerened about case hardening, etc. the oven setting I use is actually cooler than the inside of my parked truck in July and I have a handgun in there all the time.

blackguns
November 23, 2005, 09:44 AM
I have learned a lot from this thread. I never have heard of or thought of using water to clean a firearm.:what:

I am not any kind of expert so i'm gonna ask....why is water better than say a strong solvent for cleaning?

I use the GunSlick products, they have a spray cleaner that is very similar to brake cleaner. It cuts EVERYTHING besides metal fouling and it evaporates very quickly. This stuff will degrease and de-gunk your actions and I even like using is on bolts and trigger groups because you can spray it in without having to take everything apart.

Then you lightly relube and your good to go.

Why use water vs. something like that?

Just trying to learn.

benEzra
November 23, 2005, 09:50 AM
Regarding Simple Green--I have read that Simple Green is NOT for use on aluminum.

Geno
November 23, 2005, 10:04 AM
One person stated that metal has no pores. Regretably, that is not correct. Metal is a pourus material. I personally would not clean the firearm with soapy water for that very reason. The best cleaner I have used, and I have tried dozens, is the M-Pro 7 set of cleaners. There are no harsh smells, but it cleans even into the pores. That is precisely its purpose. Then, the M-Pro 7 cleaner/lube/protectant penetrates into the pores to prevent microscopic rust and forms a protective barrier between barrel and projectile greatly, and I mean GREATLY reducing how hard subsequent barrel scrubs have to be. Ultimately, you own it and can do as you choose. But, for my fine arms, no...they do have pours and microscopic rust can develope. Even if you bake it, the residual of the soap is still in the pours and can promote rust.

Doc2005

MatthewVanitas
November 23, 2005, 06:31 PM
We seem to have reached a critical question. Is anyone here a, um... metalologist?

Also, even if soap "remained in the pores" despite pouring gallons of boiling water over the metal, how would soap cause rust? Does soap contain oxgen molecules?

This is all pretty over my head. -MV

dpotter58
November 23, 2005, 06:54 PM
OK, first thing don't laugh and no, I do not do this.
I just bought a new Springfield Loaded and when I was talking to the dealer about cleaning it before I shot it, he told me he knows an older gentleman that cleans all of his hand guns by soaking them in 2 cycle gas then letting them air dry. Claims the gas breaks up the gunk and when they dry, the oil lubes them.
Again, no, I'm not trying it...

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