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Best Way to Remove Rust From Bluing?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Load Master, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    Made a holster and dyed it with a home made, vinegar based, leather dye. My impatience, caused the still damp dye to strip whatever it is Ruger uses on the GP(regular bluing it is not, more like paint.) right to bare metal(that is totally unpolished.) while wet forming the holster.
    0000 steel wool(does not and never has scratched the rest of any firearm I've ever worked on. The idea is to lightly and gently remove the rust, not try and remove a layer of steel.) smoothed the edges and light oil removes any surface rust(and does NOT bother the rest of whatever it is Ruger put on), and regular Outer's cold bluing applied as per the bottle directions re-blued it and it's unnoticeable now.
     
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  2. CaptTripps

    CaptTripps Member

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    I have used burlap with great success, although it takes a lot of elbow grease. Soak the parts in your favorite penetrating oil, apply RIG all over a burlap pad about the size of a deck of cards, and scrub away. I just cleaned up a M1897 this way.
     
  3. grampajack
    • Contributing Member

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    I hesitated to mention this for fear of ridicule, but what the heck...

    If you mix a high iodine vegetable oil (i.e. rapeseed) with oleic acid it will dissolve anything, including rust and carbon, and doesn't hurt any finish that I know of. Oleic acid is commonly found in any science lab, so if you know anyone who works for a school they might be able to get you a little. It's very cheap.

    I've left guns submerged in this concoction for months with no effect other than the rust and carbon just wipe right off after they come out. I can't say it works better than MC2500, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper that's for sure. Obviously you don't want to soak wood in it, but I used it topically on a pistol with wooden stocks once without removing them and it didn't hurt them.
     
  4. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    Since rust (iron oxide) is harder than steel, this statement can not be true.

    I'm not saying that the bronze wool won't remove the rust particles, but that doesn't mean that it's harder than the rust, it just means that the rust particles aren't firmly attached to the surface.

    By the way, since rust particles are harder than steel and are abrasive, it is also true that regardless of what is used to remove the rust particles a blued finish can be damaged if the removed rust particles are rubbed around on the finish.

    At one point I did a lot of volunteer work for a guy in a local gunshop. One of my chores was cleaning the rust off the used guns that were set out in a rack in the middle of the store where they were handled a lot. I tried a variety of methods and this is the best one I found.

    Use very fine steel wool--I used 0000--and use it gently without any oil at all. Some steel wool is already pretty oily, and if that is the case, it might be worthwhile to hit it with a degreaser spray. Dust the steel wool out frequently to keep any rust particles from building up in it. When the rust is gone, put a light coat of oil on the surface.

    Yes, I tried the steel wool with oil, but it was harder to keep the bluing intact. I believe that is due to the fact that the oil retains the rust particles and turns the steel wool into an abrasive pad which removes the bluing if it is rubbed against it.

    As far as the steel wool damaging the surface, it's unlikely as long as the surface is free of dust and the steel wool is fine (I recommend 0000) clean (doesn't have dust or other abrasive particles in it) and as long as you don't go crazy with it. One of the final steps of the blueing process is polishing the surface with 0000 steel wool. This is even true of some cold blues which, according to consensus, are not as durable as hot blues.
     
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  5. pbearperry

    pbearperry Member

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    My method is to oil the spot and let it sit for a while.Next, lightly rub the rust spot with a copper penny.Cold blue if necessary.
     
  6. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Bluing is a controlled rust. Museum standards today call for conserving the object in its present condition. Removing the rust is done without disturbing the underlying patina and then the piece is treated with Renaissance Wax.

    I would shy away from steel wool. It will abrade the bluing around the rust and the patina. As Curator suggested, use bronze wool and oil. I use a brass. Both are softer than steel.
     
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  7. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

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    Oil, 0000 steel wool for the surface rust, go lightly. Now for any low spots or pits, I used a piece of 12 gauge copper wire, cut to a point and gently lifted up the rust from the pits that way. Don't want to go scratching or digging with it, but with a little patience, I was able to clean up an old Remington Rand that had been left I a sock drawer for 30 years.
     
  8. grampajack
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    grampajack AR Junkie

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    I wouldn't use steel wool on anything that could conceivably end up in a showroom or museum somewhere. There's definitely a big difference between the conservation of a valuable collectible, as opposed to taking some rust off the old pea shooter.
     
  9. Odd Job
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    Odd Job Can probably X-ray it

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    I advise not using steel wool. I had light rust on an R55 barrel and used oil and 0000 steel wool to get rid of it successfully. However it also lightened the bluing.
     
  10. Scooter22

    Scooter22 Member

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    Forget steel wool, especially the Chinese crap that around today. It will scratch and remove blueing. Get a Big 45 pad. Thats all I use now. I pick up a lot of old .22 rifles and many have some rust spots. several were completely covered with surface rust. The Big 45 removes it and won't hurt the blue. They last a very long time so one probably will be all you'll ever need. It IS NOT a stainless steel pot scrubber Get some Vans cold blue. It blends beautifully. Good luck.
    http://www.big45.com/
    https://vansgunblue.com/
     
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  11. stoky

    stoky Member

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    My bad :oops:
    good catch
    I assumed the OP intended to follow up with cold blue.
     
  12. boom boom

    boom boom Member

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    Blue Wonder (try Brownells), Bronze wool on collectibles, and Kroil. Use the Blue Wonder first, scrub, then use mineral spirits to clean. Then use the Kroil. Works for rusty barrels too but of course will not fix pitting.
     
  13. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

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    As noted by others,0000 steel wool with a little oil will get the job done . Surface rust of course.
     
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  14. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    I use 0000 steel wool and WD-40. I buff the rusted area vigorously and have never scratched the existing bluing. I flush the area with WD-40 to remove the residue. It's worked great for me since the late 1970s-early 1980s.I use this same method on newly blued firearms straight out of the bluing tanks.
     
  15. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Since rust is bluing and bluing is rust, how does a "magic mixture" remove one and not the other?

    Jim
     
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  16. M100C

    M100C Member

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    Jim K is right. I wish I had as much gun knowledge as most here, but ... I am a chemist! I can suggest a good method!

    First, bluing is a form of rust (oxidation state of iron) that forms a lattice. In short, it lays down on the steel. Common rust is also an oxidation state, and it is the preferred state due to available oxygen and water in the air. Unfortunately, the bond angles create a three dimensional molecule with more volume, and it does not lay down. Further, it is subject to catalytic reaction: it forms a hydrate, which hastens oxidation and new oxide formation, which forms a hydrate, etc. So, the only safe way to remove rust from bluing is physically, not chemically.

    As opposed to starting with 0000 steel wool (depending on the amount of rust), it is best to derust with simply nylon bristles. The bristles knock off the rust as opposed to trapping in the steel wool. For small amounts of rust, this will probably be too little.

    When I use steel wool, I try to use one-pass only. Next is to dehydrate the steel before treatment (assuming one is not rebluing). I start with a hairdryer and heat the gunmetal to hot to touch. I have removed the barreled action, and actually orient the hairdryer to blow down along the barrel and action, and walk away for 30 min or so. I prepare two pads: one with WD40 and one with Breakfree CLP. The WD40 will displace any remaining water, and is miscible with CLP.
     
  17. loose noose

    loose noose Member

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    0000 steel wool, it is much softer than gun steel, along with a little WD-40, been using it for ages and have never had any visible scratches, for just surface rust mind you.
     
  18. broken

    broken Member

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    Learned from a oldtimer on greybeard years back,to use a Nickle and w atever oil I had around. Usually sewing machine oil..havent used steel wool since..put plenty towels or paper down..cleaned a few real rusty mausers..if not pitted..works..
     
  19. entropy

    entropy Member

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    I use whatever light oil is handy, and fingernails. Absolutely will not harm the bluing, and it keeps my fingernails down.
     
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  20. crackshot258

    crackshot258 Member

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    Any US penny dated before 1983 is copper. After that, they are copper plated zinc.
     
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  21. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Except 1943. Those are steel.
     
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  22. Magnum2394

    Magnum2394 Member

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    First, I would like to acknowledge that this post is late in the life of the original, but I have to share this experience.

    Tonight I had my first experience with Oxpho Blue. I have an Mauser 98 (Brno made, 1943) that had seen better days with it appearance. It had been sporterized in the 1950s, per my estimation, and I wanted to upgrade the sights. I had it tapped for a pic rail, and installed a Redfield Golden 5 Star 6-18 on it. The metal left a lot to be desired, so after doing some research, I ordered some Oxpho Blue.
    In the past, I had experimented with some Birchwood-Casey products, and was always left desiring. They never worked out, always streaked, etc.
    Tonight, I took the old Mauser apart and took it to the garage where I initially stripped it with some 320 grit paper to get the chunks off. Then, using an old 3M headlight polishing kit, I put the 500 grit wheel to work on a cordless drill for a few minutes. That brought the metal to a white shining gleam. There were several darker marks left in the metal from marring, and the original manufacturing, but I just disregarded the things I couldn't entirely polish out without extensive labor and time.
    I then wiped the barrel and action down with some off brand window cleaner with a paper towel, and let it dry. I them put of some cheap rubber gloves and applied the oxpho blue with a paper towel. I rubbed it until it was all dry, then applied two more coats, rubbing in the same fashion. The 3 coats appeared to be plenty. There were distinct differences in the end product in places. Those places are where I had spend a little more time with the 500 grit disc attached to a cordless drill. Those spots were distinctly more electric blue, while the other places were a darker black / blue.
    I was in a hurry, so the who process took me less than an hour to complete. Knowing what I know now, I might have spent a little more time with the 500 grit to get a better shine on the metal. When I decided I was complete, I wiped the whole mess down with a paper towel that had some Husky air tool oil applied to it. The end product just gleams, and of course is a far cry better than where I started. The appearance is close to new, as there are a few places that the bluing did not take as well. However, that is what I wanted anyway. I didn't need perfect, I just needed respectable. This old Mauser gleams near what a factory new rifle does now. This rifle is an elk slayer, and will continue to function as such, except it will be much finer to look at.

    Oxpho blue is well worth the investment to refinish an old firearm. Easy to use, just be patient and get the high grit paper to polish it with. If you want perfection, take your time with the preparation. The use of the power drill is invaluable in achieving the shine you need before applying the oxpho blue. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you wont be disappointed. This stuff is easy to use.
     
  23. hdwhit
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    hdwhit Member

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    During 1982, the composition of the penny was changed to copper plated zinc with a composition of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. Since the changeover occurred during the year, pennies from 1982 may be copper or copper-plated zinc. Any penny older than 1982 will be predominately copper with a small percentage of alloying metals.
     

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