Water Damaged Firearms


September 18, 2009, 07:29 PM
A friend gave me three rifles some weeks ago that were water damaged by Hurricane Ike flooding last year. One of the three is a shotgun that only needed a good and complete tear down and cleaning to make operational again. I fixed it and returned it to her.

The other two are a bit more complex. One of these is a Remington 742 in .30-06, and it has sustained a LOT of rust and corrosion damage. If you cared to re-blue it, I am certain it could be made to work again. It probably needs small parts like springs and such due to rust, but it could probably be made to function if you didn't care what the gun looked like. I haven't fully assessed it, so I can't say for sure, though. This gun needs help and I don't know really what to do with it since it's not a very valuable gun and may only be good for parts.

It's worth mentioning that the third gun was given to me by the owner in exchange for working on the other two. It is a very collectible 1916 vintage Winchester model 1892 saddle ring. It has sustained very minor damage externally, but needs some help internally since the action is frozen. I do not expect heavy scale on the inside of the gun based on overall external condition. No telling until I start to work on it. In the meantime, it's been coated in Break Free.

So what to do with the 742?

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September 18, 2009, 09:20 PM
I'm sure a lot of tinkerers would like to mess with it. Myself for example.

I'll send you a PM.

September 18, 2009, 09:45 PM
I just realized this thread is worthless without pictures. I'll post some up as soon as I can.

September 19, 2009, 11:51 PM
Here's some pix of the poor 742. As you can see, while not a complete rust bucket, she needs help. Wood is actually pretty good, but internals look sick. Other than for the tinkerer, is this thing really worth fixing or is time to sell for parts?

(Sorry I couldn't post more pix - the pix are too big and exceed bandwidth. You can see them at the links at the bottom though.)





September 20, 2009, 12:47 AM
that really does not look that bad. junk the scope. lubricate everything with penetrating oil. soak the inside of the barrel for a couple of days then take it apart and lubricate everything might need a light brillo pad. looks mostly like surface rust. may remove some of the bluing on the outside but it can be saved.

1911 guy
September 20, 2009, 01:04 AM
Agreed. Toss the optic. Strip everything down to component parts that you can. Soak in something like kerosene or WD to displace whatever moisture there may be remaining. Clean with scothbrite or very fine steel wool (I prefer scotchbrite) and refinish.

For the bores, I'd soak them with WD to drive out any moisture, dry them with patches, then begin working coarse patches made of either steel wool or tufts of Scotchbrite through the bores to get the surface rust out and make any pits visible. Just don't pull a stunt like putting the cleaning rod on a power drill "because it's faster". Faster, yes, but also very hard on your rifling. I say this because I personally know someone who did this to an otherwise fixable rifle. Accuracy is barely pie plate at 50yd now. He used steel wool and Black & Decker.

September 20, 2009, 02:01 AM
"...needs some help internally since the action is frozen..." Unfortunately, it's not a high value 'very collectable' Model 1892 saddle ring any more. 19th Century metallurgy wasn't what metallurgy is now. Steels were softer. The rifle is likely worth about half what it was before Ike.
A light touch with a fine brass wire wheel in a bench grinder will fix the 742. It's not as bad as you think. Eye protection is mandatory. 0000 steel wool and some oil if you don't have a bench grinder. A wire wheel will clean up the outside of the Winchester too, but if it's rusted shut, it's collector value is gone.
Ditto for the scope. Take it off the rifle, of course.
The internal parts can be cleaned with any rust remover. Might need some new parts
What's the bore look like?

September 20, 2009, 11:09 PM
As a collector and hobbyist who restores old milsurp rifles I give the following opinion:

That rifle is barely rusty at all! A little work with a brass brush, and brass or bronze wool (dry, don't use oil which will turn the rust into an abrasive paste) will remove 95% of the rust with minimal damage to the bluing.

You might be able to avoid a re-blue. The gun will surely look well used, but it is nowhere near a parts gun.

Edit: DO NOT USE CHEMICAL RUST REMOVERS! Damage to the finish, etching of the steel, and destruction of springs is the inevitable result. Use good old elbow grease, and you should have the gun rust free after a few evenings of work.

September 21, 2009, 12:29 AM
I agree, it looks fine. I expected much worse.

BTW, you know you have asked twice if you should just sell it for parts. I sent you a PM friday about a sale if you should decide to. Would have been nice to get a yes/no, maybe, go to hell, or something.

Good luck.

September 21, 2009, 12:47 AM
pull the wood off and soak the action in atf over night that will help loosen up the rust and free up the action

September 21, 2009, 10:22 PM
I have restored firearms that were in MUCH worse shape than that. Take your time and use the advice above. I like to use 0000 steel wool dry to get the rust off. That thing will be fine with a little elbow grease invested. You will be amazed how little the bluing is damaged after a good cleaning. Please show us "after" pix also.
I like PB Blaster for removing rust when parts are "frozen".

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