Removing rust without excessive finish damage?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by bigj, Nov 10, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. bigj

    bigj Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4
    I just got a chance to look at some guns my dad has neglected. The have varying degrees of rust from light specs to some that surely have considerable pitting. I'm going to clean the bores for now but what about the outer surface and interior of the receivers? I don't want to do ANY damage that I can avoid. I've read that 0000 steel wool with oil is good, then I read that the oil is bad because it keeps the rust there and that steel wool is too aggressive. What about brass or copper wool? What about special pads like THIS ONE? What about using electrolysis? It seems pretty easy, just a battery charger and some basic materials.

    The guns are 2 Westernfield lever action 30-30s, one Winchester Model 94, 1891 Argentine Mauser, Universal M1 carbine, a couple shotguns and some 22LRs. It's a shame he let them sit for so long and they went through a flood...
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    59,076
    Location:
    Eastern KS
    0000 Superfine grade steel wool & oil is not too aggressive.

    It is what re-finishers who re-blue guns use to clean the red bluing salts residue off the parts and expose the shiny blue left underneath.

    If the rust is just light surface stuff, use Flitz metal polish first.

    If that doesn't do it, use 0000 SF grade steel wool & oil.

    No,NO,NO to electrolysis, scouring pads, etc.

    Bluing is rust. Just a different color rust.
    Anything chemical, or electrical that will remove rust will also remove all the bluing.

    rc
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  3. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Messages:
    4,434
    I have a rimfire rifle that is c1950 which I don't think was ever cleaned or ever oiled. There was rust on the barrel in certain spots, the rest of the barrel was a kind of blue with a touch of brown (rust).

    After degreasing with alcohol, I used 0000 steel wool to remove the major rust. Then I didn't have any bluing right off, so I darkened the bright, new metal with sweat from my brow, over the course of several days, wiping my perspiration onto the new metal. I did this several times a day.

    About a week later, I got some Birchwood Casey Bluing, regular and super-strength. I removed the oils again and proceeded to lay on bluing, let it evaporate under a spotlight, lay on more, etc. When I thought it looked dark enough, it was really kind of patchy-looking, that is, until I wiped the entire gun down with Break-Free! Suddenly, what looked patchy was gone and one could not tell now just where I touched the gun up! In fact, the new bluing has a patina, kind of look, just like the rest of the gun metal!
     
  4. aminyard

    aminyard Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2011
    Messages:
    62
    I would use Kroil rather than plain oil, it leaves a superior corrosin resisting film and helps desolve the rust.
     
  5. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Messages:
    20,252
    Even 0000 (soap less) steel wool can remove the blue. Use a piece of brass or cheaper, a pre-1983 copper penny. Put a little oil on the rust and scrape with the penny.
     
  6. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Messages:
    3,824
    Location:
    At The Range
    Another vote for Kroil. Kroil is advertised as "The Oil that Creeps" and can get under minor surface rust and loosen it to allow it to be removed. A buddy of mine who can't clean a gun to save his life brought me his rusty 870 that he uses in the duck blinds. I removed the wood and coated all the metal parts with Kroil over the weekend. Monday evening I wiped it down with a T-Shirt and the T-Shirt was solid rust colored when I was done, with virtually all of the surface rust gone. Takes a while but removed the rust without abrasives.

    Just my .02,
    LeonCarr
     
  7. natman

    natman Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Messages:
    3,836
    I've heard the "oil will trap rust and scratch your blue" theory too. All I can say is that I've done literally hundreds of guns with oil and 0000 steel wool and have yet to scratch a single one.

    I once tried to scratch the bluing on a rusty scrap barrel. I finally managed to get the bluing to fade slightly, but only after 10 minutes of white knuckle rubbing. If you have the slightest understanding of the phrase "gentle rubbing" you won't have a problem.
     
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    59,076
    Location:
    Eastern KS
    +1

    And to those suggesting copper wool?

    I find it pretty ineffective, and getting the copper rub-off off the bluing is about as hard as getting the rust off in the first place.

    As I said before, gun bluing shops use 0000 steel wool and oil to do the final carding after the parts come out of the bluing tank.

    If it scratched bluing, those guys would sure not be using it on a brand new rebluing job.

    rc
     
  9. bigj

    bigj Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4
    Thank y'all for the help, 0000 steel wool and Kroil it is.
     
  10. Uniquedot

    Uniquedot Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Messages:
    924
    Location:
    Alabama
    I too have always used 0000 steel wool and oil. It doesn't seem to harm even the cheap cold bluing formulas and in fact it is what one is instructed to use to card the cold blue formulas.
     
  11. 45crittergitter

    45crittergitter Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2003
    Messages:
    2,590
    Location:
    Mississippi
    I use bronze wool and oil. A fringe benefit is it doesn't rust in storage and lasts forever.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice