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Salvaging a rusty bore

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by high path, Jan 9, 2011.

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  1. high path

    high path Member

    Jan 8, 2011
    My girlfriends father just passed away, and I'm now storing some of his old rifles. One, his boyhood .22 is in rough shaped. Its a Winchester model 1890 22 short, made in 1903. I couldn't get the action to open at first. Sprayed oil into every crevice I saw and was eventually able to get it open. There was some rust, but nothing too bad, mostly it was just bone dry. I cleaned it up, oiled the hell out of it, and kept working the action. Now it cycles fairly well.

    The bore is another story. Oiled patches were tough to push through the bore on a jag, but I did it. They came out very rusty. Eventually I found my .22 bronze brush and pushed that through. There was a fair amount of rust residue between the bristles of the brush. I've been alternating hoppes #9 patches and the brush. Now the brush goes through with little resistance, which I don't necissarilly take to be a positive thing. A proper sized bore should make enough contact with the brush to offer some consistent resistance.

    I have no experience with this situation. I appreciate advice on the following questions.

    1.) As the bore has been enlarged and ruined by the rust I assume accuracy an velocity will be seriously compromised, but is it even safe to try to fire this rifle?

    2.) Can the barrel be drilled out, and a liner fitted, to make the gun safe and functional again (it is a heavy octagonal barrel).

    3.) Are replacement barrels (of the same configuration) available anywhere? About what would it cost to get one put on?

    4.) Could the rifle be converted to .22 long rifle by going to a new barrel or is the action itself incapable of loading/ejecting anything but a short casing?

    Thanks for the help
  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Dec 24, 2002
  3. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Kalif Kollective
    Get a strong light and look at the bore from both ends. I have taken a dozen bronze brushes to an old .22 bore with LOTS of penetrating oil and gone back and forth for an hour, or more. You have a ways to go.

    This is it was probably shot with corrosive ammo and never cleaned. Do what you can and try it out. If it's all over the paper, time for a re-lining. 22's are the best as they never really stress the relined barrel and they shoot fine :)

    I concur that rifle may only take shorts. Cool old gun though :)
  4. Sniderman

    Sniderman Member

    Dec 18, 2010
    The Republic of Vermont
    You need a bore light, more brushes, more oil, more patches, and more time.
    Try using mineral oil, about $.99 a pint in any drugstore, Machinists use it for pulling rust out of steel.
    I wouldn't think about rebarreling until I fully cleaned, and shot, the original.
    And yes, you're probably lokced into .22 short.
    Sounds like a great heirloom gun. Be Happy! :D
  5. alemonkey

    alemonkey Member

    Nov 22, 2007
    Lincoln, NE
    A lot of old .22's shoot better than new after being relined.
  6. nyresq

    nyresq Member

    Jul 4, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Use a new brush and see if its still pulling out rust and coming out loaded up. If it is, keep brushing! If its not, take a look down the bore and see if there are any spots where the rifling is gone, if there is, its probably not worth trying to shoot. But if you can see the grooves from breech to muzzle, go shoot I and see where it prints.

    Either way you still have an old rifle with some nice history to go with it. Hang it up over the fire place and just admire it.
  7. PapaG

    PapaG Member

    Sep 12, 2010
    One more thing to try before going to the expense of rebarreling/relining. Get a jar of JB bore cleaner (fine lapping compound), Brownell's sells it, and follow instructions. It will take some work.
    I was given a 93 Savage in 17hmr with a badly rusted bore (as well as all other metal) from water/smoke damage in a fire. I broke the first 17 cal rod I tried to push through (a bare rod, no jag/tip/brush). I'd plug the bore, fill with Kroil/Shooter's Choice blend and let sit overnight. Several applications of this and I could run a bore snake through. Rough! I could see the hint of rifling. Went to the tight patch and JB paste. Fifty strokes. Change patches and repeat. Full length strokes with a wall behind to stop the rod from coming out the muzzle. Five or six of these and I had it down to a couple tight spots, one next to the muzzle. Worked on the tight spots. One final patch, fifty strokes, a good cleaning and a trip to the range.
    Fifty yards, five shots in one ragged hole. Rifle salvaged. Some day soon, I'll clean up the outside and give it to my left handed grandson.
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