Cosmoline a Cast Iron Blank? At a Crossroads.


September 7, 2011, 05:02 AM
So I'm currently in the process of re-finishing my Turkish M38 Mauser. Why? The stock looked ugly as hell, dirty, dingy, and I'm not worried about collector value, I just want it to look good. They aren't worth much last I knew of anyway because they aren't actually German Mausers.

What I've done so far?

I've polished the bolt using "Barmans Best Friend" stainless steel polish, I've cleaned the action out and used brake cleaner to spray away the cosmo on the metal, and I've stripped and sanded the stock.

What am I working on now?

Getting the cosmoline out of the stock with a blow-dryer and a rag.

What am I having difficulties with?

Well it seems to me that this whole rifle was made with Cosmoline. :cuss: Well, at least the stock was... I've been applying heat for damn near 36 hours and I'm still pulling cosmo out of the stock. It's looking exponentially better as I move along, but can there really be this much cosmo in the gun? :banghead:

How long does it usually take you guys to pull cosmo out of the stock using this process?

How can I tell, other than applying heat and getting nothing, that the cosmo is out of the stock?

And furthermore, I want to do a red oak #219 (IIRC) stain, but I think the wood could be lightened up some, I believe it's a walnut stock but I could be mistaken.

How could I go about brightening up the stock?

Bleach and water?

If so, how much bleach to water?

Any tips would be appreciated, I've never had this trouble from my Mosin or my K31.

Thanks in advance,

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September 7, 2011, 05:11 AM
i would like to know about this as well. the stock on my mauser is practically black. i'm thinking about just replacing it.

September 7, 2011, 05:16 AM
I'll post pictures a little later, but when I first brought the rifle home, mine was too. I actually used a scotchbrite green scratch pad and old english to clean it up some, and I seen some of the brown come out, but couldn't get anymore without heat.

Tried heat, and took some more out. I only got so far before I stripped the stain though, and now it's coming out like no other. I'll post pics of the differences here after while.

Deus Machina
September 7, 2011, 06:56 AM
How bad are cosmo's fumes? Hang it from the oven rack at 175 or so for a while, then flip it?

September 7, 2011, 07:05 AM
Can still smell the fumes, but I can't fit the stock in the oven, too long.

September 7, 2011, 07:22 AM
Here's whats worked for me:
Use a water soluble degreaser(I like Purple Power). Be aware that most degreasers are chemically base. I spray the whole stock down, and watch the crud drip off. Rinse with water, dry, then wrap the stock in several layers of good paper towel - the more absorbent the better. Stick the mummy-wrapped stock into a large BLACK garbage bag, and put it in the sunniest part of your yard on a clear morning. Go to work, go shooting, etc. Take the stock out, dispose of the now cosmoline soaked paper towels, and repeat as needed.

September 7, 2011, 07:23 AM
What you've got is an oil soaked stock, not cosmoline. Once you get it all out, you might want to check out the Service Rifle Stain that I sell on this site, followed by an application of BLO or Tung oil.


September 7, 2011, 07:36 AM
This is my prescribed steps I'm following, according to the success of my Mosin and K31:

Strip stock using thinner

Remove cosmoline as necessary

Sand stock using 120 grit paper, then 180 grit

6 coats of Red Oak #219, letting set for 13 minutes each coat before wiping off, waiting 6 hours before applying next coat

Sand using 2000 paper

Apply 10 coats of Tung Oil, following prescribed procedures on back of can (Minwax)

However, I have been thinking about bleaching the stock before adding color. I'm not sure how to do this though, and would like to know the recommended mixture ratio of bleach to water, and if this would even be advised. It'd make the color of the stain stand out a lot better than the color of the wood now.

September 7, 2011, 08:05 AM
I like your technique but you left out the step involving soap and water.
post#6: Use a water soluble degreaser(I like Purple Power).

September 7, 2011, 08:10 AM
You have my sympathy. Last week I went through the same exercise with a M1 Garand just puchased from the CMP people. My rifle had about 3 pounds of cosmoline on both the metal parts and stock. After disassembling the rifle I wiped as much cosmoline off as possible after allowing the metal pieces to sit out in the hot sun for several hours. Outside, I took a plastic tub of gasoline, a tooth brush and a small 1'' paint brush (never use gasoline indoors or an enclosed area). The parts were soaked in the gasoline for about 20-30 minutes, removed and then scrubbed throughly with the brushes. All metal parts came out completely clean. Let them dry and lube all of the metal parts, remember they are all bare metal now and could possibly rust. Please dispose of the used gas safely. For the stock, I did the same thing by sitting it out in the sun and then wiping off as much cosmoline as possible with a dry rag I won't use gasoline on a wooden stock since it will be absorbed. Brownells sells a product call "Whiting" that is mixed with solvent and painted on the stock. When dry, wipe it off with a dry rag and all the old oil and grease comes off with the Whiting. Great stuff. I refinished off my Garand's stock with Tung oil and presto; an almost new stock. :)

September 7, 2011, 08:24 AM
I have never used soap and water, nor degreaser. Just a hair dryer on highest setting.

Hair dryer on highest setting works good, just time consuming.

I am thinking its cosmo because if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck... it feels like cosmo, looks and smells like cosmo, therefore it must be cosmoline.

LOL I totally hear ya there. It's coming out pretty good for what it is. I've cleaned the metal parts with brake cleaner and just a blow dryer and a rag for removal from stock. I don't like leaving parts outside so I'm doing it the hard way.

September 7, 2011, 08:29 AM
soap will take the grease out and lighten the wood prior to your applying stain.
Is there something about water that bothers you? ..just curious

September 7, 2011, 08:32 AM
never liked getting water on nekkid wood:o

September 7, 2011, 08:43 AM
thought so.
Water and heat will raise the wood grain, making a light sanding necessary

September 7, 2011, 09:02 AM
Yeah, and just the heating I'm doing now to remove the cosmo is calling for sanding anyways. lol.

Well, here is a link to the project's photobucket album.
You can see the before and during pictures.

September 7, 2011, 09:26 AM
so far the hair dryer method is working good stock is becoming lighter by the minute

September 7, 2011, 09:26 AM
I am thinking its cosmo because if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck... it feels like cosmo, looks and smells like cosmo, therefore it must be cosmoline.

Cosmoline is something that is applied to service rifles that are going into long term storage. It is not something that is routinely applied to rifles, and does not typically penetrate the wood to the degree that you are experiencing. What you have is a type of oil/grease that has been applied as routine maintenance over many, many years, and has almost penetrated the wood.

I went through the same exercise with a M1 Garand just puchased from the CMP people. My rifle had about 3 pounds of cosmoline on both the metal parts and stock.

Again, not cosmoline. I have been to the CMP North Store and bought several M1 Garands in the last couple of years. The Greek returns are slathered in a type of grease. Cosmoline is something entirely different.


September 7, 2011, 09:31 AM
Hm... Never heard of that, kind sir.

Either way, it comes out like cosmoline, so I'm not complaining too much.

September 7, 2011, 09:35 AM
Now, can someone explain to me the benefits of using bleach, should I decide to do the extra work in sanding involved? And the techniques would be nice to know as well.

September 7, 2011, 09:42 AM
I wouldn't bleach the wood. If you don't get it all out of the wood, it could turn your finish blotchy.

You're better off with hot water and degreaser and then sanding.


September 7, 2011, 09:45 AM
i kinda figured that could be a problem. My step dad mentioned that to me and I was hesitant on doing so. I'll just go without the bleaching process.

September 7, 2011, 09:49 AM
Also, let's make this interesting...

All I have is this Red Oak #219 stain and my Tung Oil.

Now, anyone have any "other" ideas on finishing this rifle? Budget is really limited, got laid off from work and looking for another job. This project is to keep me my sanity in check. I'm wanting to hear some other ideas before I put the finish on the stock.

Let's see what you guys can come up with.

September 7, 2011, 09:51 AM
I used Oven Cleaner to remove the Cosomoline on all my stocks. I removed as much metal as I could, put on a bib, protective glasses, and rubber gloves, went in the back yard and sprayed the oven cleaner all over the wood. I then used a toothbrush to get in the nooks and crannies. I found letting the oven cleaner dry on the wood will stain the stock. I use that toothbrush all over the thing, several applications of oven cleaner and water from the garden hose, and all, and I mean all grease, oil, is removed from the wood.

I will wipe down the stock, again to prevent stains, let dry naturally. I once tried to speed dry by sticking a stock inside a car on a sunny summer day. Sure dried quick, and cracked the stock. Won’t do that again.

After all oil is removed I go over the surface with steel wool, because the grain gets raised. After that I put in lindseed oil and let soak.

This process will remove any stain in the wood, if you want dark colors back you have to restain, or let the lindseed oil age for a couple of decades.

Someone made a unsubstantiated hypothesis that oven cleaner would cause rust because the oven cleaner would leach out of the wood. This is a testable claim and I pulled a rifle on which I had performed the oven cleaner process. This stock was cleaned up in the 80’s, at least. No rust.

September 7, 2011, 09:55 AM
I have thought about the oven cleaner, but don't have any right now. :o

September 7, 2011, 10:19 AM
oven cleaner is also a water-soluble degreaser, so we're back on the water thing?
If you were to use water, which doesn't bother me, I still would avoid bleach. Bleach damages wood fibers by breaking them down chemically. That is why cotton is destroyed by bleach

September 7, 2011, 10:26 AM
I realize that about the degreaser. I never said I was going to use it though, lol. Just thought about it. :cool:

September 7, 2011, 11:13 AM
When I did some greasy stocks I used brake cleaner fluid to get the worst off and then a SOS (soap impregnated steel wool pad) and hot water. Scrubbed the devil out of them with the pad. When rinsed and dried, a little light sanding, then stain and final finish. The hot water rinsing also raises dents out of the wood surface.

September 7, 2011, 11:19 AM
For what its worth, I have used oven cleaner and hot water to leach out the cosmoline on old garand stocks. Works very well, of course I had to sand them, which I anticipated and stained them prior to using tung oil to seal the grains. Just my .02

September 7, 2011, 11:21 AM
Stain before Tung is my prescribed method as well. It's the only way I've ever done it, and done right produces one helluva good looking rifle, such is the plan for this Mauser.

I've got the stock sitting in front of a hair dryer now, and it's looking prety good, but it takes forever.

September 7, 2011, 11:22 AM
Here's a couple of pics on how my Winchester turned out, after stripping it to the bare wood and applying my stain.


September 7, 2011, 11:24 AM
Definately liking on that Garand, but I'm not so sure how it'd look on the Mauser. Look for the link on the last page to my abum and you'll see why.

September 7, 2011, 01:45 PM
...I'm not so sure how it'd look on the Mauser. Look for the link on the last page to my abum and you'll see why.

Looks like walnut, and doesn't appear to be laminated, so no reason why it wouldn't look good.


September 7, 2011, 01:59 PM
I don't really think it would because of the grain... But I 'm thinking about doing Red Oak #219 which looks similar... Idk. I was laid off, I couldn't afford to buy anything else for the rifle anyway, I'm just using up stain and oil I had from the Mosin and the K31

September 7, 2011, 02:40 PM
I'll bet when you finish it looks great.
remember to post pics for your gun-nut buddies

September 7, 2011, 03:43 PM
Well, good news, I applied the first coat of stain about 40 minutes ago and so far it set up great. Around 6 I'll put the second coat on. Tommorrow will see the 3rd, 4th, and possibly 5th coat. And Friday will see the 6th coat, plus a fine sanding, and first application of Tung Oil, and 10 days after, it should be ready to go.

September 7, 2011, 08:14 PM
I went through the same exercise with a M1 Garand just puchased from the CMP people. USSR:
My rifle had about 3 pounds of cosmoline on both the metal parts and stock.

Again, not cosmoline. I have been to the CMP North Store and bought several M1 Garands in the last couple of years. The Greek returns are slathered in a type of grease. Cosmoline is something entirely different.

It definitely was cosmoline, I've cleaned enough M1 and M2 carbines in the service to know what cosmoline smells like. My rifle was not a Greek return but a "correct grade" SA Garand. Furthermore it came with a 4/55 dated unfired National Match barrel. Eat your heart out!

September 7, 2011, 10:33 PM
My rifle was not a Greek return but a "correct grade" SA Garand.

You do know, that all current CMP Correct Grades are basically unissued rifles that were returned from Greece? All the M1's from U.S. inventory were gone many, many years ago.


September 8, 2011, 11:51 AM
LJMosin', a word about wood stains. A lot of them are pigmented with coloured particles. If it looks like thin paint when stirred up, hell if the instructions even say to stir well, then it's a pigmented stain. There's two types of stains used for wood finishing. Tinted oils and fine pigmented stains. The ideal one to use is the tinted oil because it won't fill in the grain and make the wood look like you just smeared mud on it and wiped it off. The tinted oil stains look more like tea in a glass. The pigment stains look like tea with milk.

If this makes it sound like I hate pigment stains you're right. They darken the wood but it's basically like applying thin paint to it. Because of the pigment they muddy the wood at the same time as they are darkening it. On the other hand you won't get as dark a finish with the tinted oil but the grain of the wood will sparkle and stay sharp looking. So pigmented stains are good for mostly covering up the wood and hiding the grain while tinted oil stains are best for showcasing the wood grain while making it darker.

If you can't find tinted oil stains another option that I've used is leather dye. It's an alchohal base tinted stain so you need to flood it on and then wipe off the excess quickly. But like the tinted oil style stain it colours the wood without making it look muddy.

The tinted stains don't get as dark either. So if you want a dark finish start with a darker tint than you think you need.

You're also likely going to find that as you apply the tung oil or other drying oil finish that it lifts a lot of the colour out of the wood when you wipe the excess oil off the wood. This will lighten the finish a bit.

September 8, 2011, 12:15 PM
I wrote up that bit about stains and then went to look at your photobucket page.

If the last few pictures are of the stock before you put the first coat of stain on it I've got some advice for you.

I see that theres still a LOT of pressure dented areas. You can sand the wood down to even them up but that's a LOT of sanding. What you want to do is "heal" the dented parts by pouring boiling water from a kettle directly onto the stock. Do the whole stock once then boil up another kettle's worth and do it again.

The heat and moisture will swell all the wood for sure. You'll need to finish sand the wood after it dries. But the heat and moisture will "pop" the dented areas more than the rest and you'll find that the wood will be much easier to sand back to an even and smooth surface. And in fact many of the shallow dents will pop back up even with the surrounding wood and be totally gone.

Don't worry about using boiling water on the wood. With an application of this sort and given the oil or cosmo still in the wood the water won't penetrate that far. 24 to 36 hours later it'll be bone dry again and ready for sanding down the raised grain and evening out all but the worst dents. Even the worst dents which don't pop all the way will now be a LOT smaller.

And if you wish you can further pop the worst dents back out using spot applications of more water on the dented area and a clothing iron set on medium to medium high to make the water turn to steam in the dented area. This water and hot iron trick will pop back out all but the worst dents completely. With a little time and patience you could well end up with a factory new look.

Keep in mind when looking at the colour that the tung oil will darken the wood a bit. To see the colour you'll get just from the oil you just need to wet a small spot of the wood with some water on a finger.

As for not using water on the wood here's something to think about.... Your rifle obviously saw a fair amount of field time. Do you think it never saw days of rain at a time or got dropped in some mud? I wouldn't worry at all about a couple of further applications of water in the name of restoration.

September 8, 2011, 12:52 PM
I also have used a wet cloth laid over the dented area and a heat source to "steam" the dent out. The OP is very reluctant to use water for some reason. He will get his expected results, we all have preferred methods of doing things.

September 8, 2011, 01:15 PM

Thanks for the kind words, and so far so good, the expected result is already coming to fruition. I just applied the 3rd coat of stain (got side-tracked yesterday) and it's already looking beautiful.

I was amiss when I said the stain was Minwax Red Oak 219. It's actually 215. And I'm not sure if it's oil or pigment, but as finished on the Mosin and K31, the grain still shows through remarkably, and it's doing the same for the Mauser.

Now, my qualms about water. I do not like getting it on the wood, and will simply refuse to do so. I'm not sure why I'm so against it, but I can do the whole process without it with just-as-good results as with. Just never really cared for getting naked wood wet. Yes, I have hunted with all three of the rifles mentioned in this post, and have gotten rain on all of 'em. But my applications of Tung Oil has kept the damaging effects out of the K31 and the Mosin, and the amount of Cosmoline (USSR says it's oil, but I'm going to say cosmoline because it looks, smells, and feels just like cosmoline; if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...) was keeping it out of the Mauser.


I like the dents in the wood, they've given the rifle character that I don't want to change. The color of the wood? Sure. It looked like crap. But the dents, to me, make the rifle. I'm sure it has seen field use, being made at the K.Kale factory (I'm assuming it's a factory, seeing threads on here saying K.Kale Turks were the better ones [If anyone has some information for a good read on this, I would love a link]) in 1940, it's probably seen field operations somewhere. I remember reading somewhere back in the 6th grade (quite a few years ago) that the Germans used whatever they could find. And being made in 1940, I'm sure that either they, or someone had gotten a hold of this rifle and put it to it's intended use sometime in it's life.

My Mosin M44 has five burns in the stock under the bolt. I think they might have been made with a hot, deformed stripper clip, or more likely whatever they could find, to mark kills. That's what I like to believe. Because this rifle, being made in 1944, and definately not too late to have been issued to a Red Army soldier, I'm willing to bet that those marks were made to tally kills.

You may say it's in the finish? No. It wasn't in the shellac. It was burned deep into the stock, from what I can tell. When I stripped the Shellac off, these marks stayed, along with a marking on the butt stock by the sling hole (of which I believe to be an arsenal mark). Even after sanding these marks remained.

I like the look of the rifle so far, it's looking good to me. I'm sure others here will approve. I'm reaching the expected results, and the project is coming together spectacularly. There's going to be updates coming, one today in fact, to show you guys the progress.

September 8, 2011, 04:54 PM
Well, I just put the fourth coat of stain on, it looks like it's going to be all I need stain-wise. Stock isn't getting any darker, and doesn't seem to be absorbing much stain anymore, but it's looking damn good so I'm going to hold off with four coats of stain. Tomorrow morning I will sand using 0000 steel wool and apply the first of ten coats of Tung Oil, though I may not need that much.

I have pictures in this update, first set is just before application of the fourth coat, and it looks good:

And here are pics just after application of the fourth coat before wipe-down:

I really don't think these pictures are doing the rifle justice. Could be my shoddy picture-taking skills, or something else. I'm looking forward to seeing what she'll look like when she's done.

These pictures are in the album previously linked in this thread, feel free to browse and see the transformation for yourself.

September 8, 2011, 05:23 PM
I used one of those household steam cleaners on my M44 and 91/30 and it worked great. I don't know about using it on the wood though.

September 8, 2011, 05:35 PM
Steam cleaner worked great on my M44's barreled action in getting the cosmo off, but since I couldn't find it to do the mauser, I just used break cleaner.

September 8, 2011, 05:36 PM
Fair enough. And I personally applaud your wanting to just clean it up rather than restore it to as factory like as possible. I misunderstood how far you wanted to go with the work when reading your first few posts.

It's very normal for any stain to only darken so far if you're applying it and then buffing off the excess in the correct manner. The exposed grain can only soak up and hold so much before it's saturated. Once at that point you spread it on and end up wiping it all away since the wood just won't soak up any more.

And the tung oil finish you'll be using is a pretty good solvent to semi dried stain. To reduce the oil finish from lifting the colour out of the wood as much as practical you'll want to set the stock pieces aside for a week to 10 days or at least until you can't smell the oil anymore. In fact setting them out in the sun as much as practical so the heat and UV can dry and polymerize the stain oils more will go a long way to reducing the amount of colour that the tung oil lifts out of the wood.

Depending on the tung oil finish you're using you may find that you don't need 10 coats to get a nice finish. I find that with about 3 to 4 I'm at the point where the wood has a very nice smooth glow without looking "varnished". So be flexible and review after each coat cures for a few days in the sun. Speaking of which if you're using a true tung oil finish it takes a good 3 to 4 days to properly harden inside and a good day in the sun to do the same. Basically smell the stock after buffing off the excess from the first coat and note the smell. Don't re-oil until the smell is greatly diminished or gone. Otherwise the new oil will just dissolve and float the previous coat away.

Sorry if this is old news to you which you already know. If so it may help out some other folks reading in.

September 8, 2011, 05:56 PM
Indeed, I'm aware of the stain-lift potential of Tung Oil. Following the directions on the back of the can (Minwax) the previous rifles mentioned came out fine. All I did was after last coat, wait until the next day rolls around to start applying it Never noticed the stain lift with Minwax though on the first two rifles finished. I always started with an old, clean torn up T-shirt segment with each coat, and no discoloration from the Tung Oil. Just my experience.

And yes, a complete restoration isn't my cuppa. I love the character of a semi-beat up warhorse. Just show's they've been somewhere. Somedays I look at them wondering what they would say if they could talk.

I attempted to get into contact with the soldier my K31 was issued to, but no avail.

The history in these rifles is what attracts me. Which is why I own them. I won't own a Mitchell's Mauser, because they're too "new" for me. They don't show any character, and I've never really been one to start fresh, if you follow me correctly.

As far as amount of coats for Tung goes? It's similar to stain. The wood can only absorb so much before it stops taking it in. Eventually it gets to the point where you're wiping off what you just put on. I'm optimistic with this stock. I quoted 10 coats with this stock being conservative, taking the Mosin and the K31 into account. But seeing as the stock wouldn't take anymore stain since the third (fourth coat on now, but not much more difference) I'm estimating half as many coats as the M44 and K31, as they already took half of the prescribed coats of stain, I'm expecting it to be fine around five, but we'll where things go.

Hope y'all stay tuned.

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