The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > The Smithy

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old February 23, 2008, 10:48 PM   #1
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 18,329
Removing rust on blued surfaces--do NOT use oil!!!

Use 0000 steel wool DRY.

The removed rust is an abrasive, if you put oil on the metal surface or on the steel wool, the removed rust is retained and rubbed on the surface which can damage the finish.

If you use the steel wool DRY, shake it out frequently and keep the surface of the gun dusted off the removed rust doesn't get rubbed around on the finish. Keeping the steel wool free of rust particle will minimize damage to the remaining finish.

You can oil the metal surfaces AFTER the rust has been removed but you want them to be as dry as possible while you're actually using the steel wool.

I'm posting this because I see a lot of people recommending the use of oil and steel wool to remove rust and I know from experience that is much harder on the finish. I used to have a friend with a gun shop and I would go over all the used guns each week to keep them oiled and rust free. Since they were out in the customer area, not behind the counter, they had been handled and some would build up light surface rust. I would oil them if they weren't rusty and remove the surface rust if they were rusted. It was easy to see the difference between using the steel wool with oil and without.
__________________
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old February 23, 2008, 11:32 PM   #2
Bill DeShivs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 7, 2006
Posts: 7,085
Good post, John!
And you are correct!
__________________
Bill DeShivs
www.billdeshivs.com
Bill DeShivs is offline  
Old February 24, 2008, 11:33 AM   #3
Shane Tuttle
Staff
 
Join Date: November 28, 2005
Location: Blue Grass, IA
Posts: 8,557
I'm not trying to argue, just trying to understand...

If you don't use oil with steel wool, aren't you basically damaging the surface anyway? I thought the use of oil provides a suspension, much like soap does when you wash your car. It keeps the dirt in suspension while the sponge does the cleaning. Then, it washes off taking the dirt with it without scratching the surface.

Is it different in the firearms world?
__________________
If it were up to me, the word "got" would be deleted from the English language.

Posting and YOU: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/posting
Shane Tuttle is offline  
Old February 24, 2008, 02:09 PM   #4
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 18,329
If one were to frequently rinse the surface and the steel wool with oil as one frequently rinses the sponge and surface while washing a car, one might be able to achieve a good result using oil.

But it's much easier and much less messy to simply use the steel wool dry and dust it and the surface off frequently to keep the rust particles from building up.

I can tell you from experience that using oil is definitely much harder on a blued finish than just using the steel wool dry.
__________________
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old February 24, 2008, 02:50 PM   #5
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,445
I don't use steel wool at all. Even the relatively soft steel wool can, and will, damage a blued surface as it is too abrasive. Unless the rust is so bad the finish is beyond recovery, I use bronze, copper, or brass wool, which won't scratch the surface or remove bluing.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old February 24, 2008, 08:31 PM   #6
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 18,329
That's also a viable solution, but I've had very good luck with steel wool. As long as it's used dry and the rust particles aren't allowed to build up, it's surprisingly hard to damage a blued finish with it. When used with oil, however, you really have to be careful.
Quote:
...it is too abrasive.
I understand what you're saying, but strictly speaking, steel is not abrasive. Steel wool works because the edges of the wool are sharp, not because the steel wool is abrasive in the conventional sense. Iron oxide (rust), however, is abrasive and even if you use a bronze/brass/copper wool, you still need to make sure that the rust particles don't build up in the wool or on the surface of the metal or the finish can be damaged by the rubbing.
__________________
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old February 24, 2008, 08:49 PM   #7
Shane Tuttle
Staff
 
Join Date: November 28, 2005
Location: Blue Grass, IA
Posts: 8,557
Thanks for the clarification, John. I just thought that if you keep the surface coated with oil as you use steel wool, the chance of the rust particles causing damage will be nil. I'll have to keep that in mind...
__________________
If it were up to me, the word "got" would be deleted from the English language.

Posting and YOU: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/posting
Shane Tuttle is offline  
Old February 25, 2008, 04:21 PM   #8
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,445
There is always the big wire wheel, but only if used dry.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old February 25, 2008, 11:58 PM   #9
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 18,329
Quote:
There is always the big wire wheel, but only if used dry.


If you used a wire wheel where the diameter of the wire was similar to the diameter of the steel strands in 0000 steel wool, I suppose that would work ok.

If you get coarse enough steel wool then you're going to have troubles with the steel cutting/scratching the finish. With 0000 steel wool, the strands are so flimsy that they're not going to damage the finish unless you're careless with it. Or unless you get an abrasive material embedded in it.

Having tried it both ways and noted a BIG difference, I thought it would be helpful to pass along the information. I'm not trying to convert anyone and I would encourage those who are skeptical to do a careful experiment on their own and do what works best for them. I will say that I've gotten some good feedback from those who have tried it as I describe besides the results I've seen myself.

Best,

John
__________________
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old February 26, 2008, 11:23 AM   #10
brickeyee
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 29, 2004
Posts: 3,342
Rouge is iron oxide, AKA 'rust'.
It will polish steel, if slowly.
If there are any contaminants in the rust (like salt) they will also act as an abrasive.
The lack of control on particle size does not help either.

I still prefer a brass brush, followed by oiling to prevent further damage.
brickeyee is offline  
Old February 26, 2008, 11:09 PM   #11
Hunter Customs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 26, 2005
Location: Osborn, Missouri
Posts: 1,789
One of the best smiths that I ever had the pleasure to meet was a firm believer in 0000 steel wool for the removal of surface rust on a blued surface.
This gentleman built some of the sweetest rifles that I ever had the pleasure to put my hands on. The bluing on the metal of these rifles showed your reflection like you was looking into a puddle of water, Colt and Smith and Wesson would have been jealous. More then once I watched him use 0000 steel wool on the metal of one that someone failed to wipe down letting the metal aquire some surface rust. If anything, when he was done the bluing looked brighter and I don't recall any damage being done to the bluing.
Regards
Bob Hunter
www.huntercustoms.com
Hunter Customs is offline  
Old February 27, 2008, 10:15 AM   #12
Alleykat
Junior member
 
Join Date: July 26, 2007
Posts: 3,668
I've used 0000 steel wool dry, when blending touch-up bluing. Never had the bluing scratched up yet.
Alleykat is offline  
Old February 27, 2008, 07:27 PM   #13
Tom2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 23, 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 5,648
It is all in the touch I guess. You can lightly work it on the surface carefully, or you can go to town and rub as hard as you can and presumably have a different outcome. I don't remember any problems with steel wool four ought on blued guns. As I recall, I have used it dry, but I pretty much have used it for spot touch up, not scrubbing down the whole gun. If the whole gun was rusty, I would not buy it in the first place, unless it was some collectable antique and they are typically in that condx. I agree something like brass brush or softer than steel should be tried first, as you can go harder if needed, but if you start too harsh, too late to go back!
__________________
Your gun is like your nose, it is just wrong for someone else to pick it for you!
Tom2 is offline  
Old February 27, 2008, 09:16 PM   #14
Ledbetter
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2000
Location: California USA
Posts: 4,535
Bronze brush is best, so is frequent wiping or flooding.
__________________
Regards,

Ledbetter
from thefiringline
TFL #4573
NRA for Life
Winchester Canyon Gun Club for Life
Ledbetter is offline  
Old February 27, 2008, 11:54 PM   #15
bfoster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 13, 1998
Location: N. of Fords Switch, OK, USA
Posts: 297
Steel wool, as it is usually supplied, is lightly oiled.

One very old method of removing light rust, by light rust I mean the haze that can form on highly polished steel, not red rust, is to use 0000 steel wool slightly dampened with turpentine.

Bob
bfoster is offline  
Old August 20, 2011, 04:33 PM   #16
Hunter Camp
Junior Member
 
Join Date: August 20, 2011
Posts: 1
Rust Removal

Thanks to all- I am trying to remove small ammt. of rust from 1831 Springfield- modified for Civil war use w. percussion cap. Also, do any of you know a good site to get a sale value for mid 1800's firearms?
Hunter Camp is offline  
Old August 22, 2011, 07:44 PM   #17
JacqueEagonSr
Junior Member
 
Join Date: August 21, 2011
Location: Dallas, conveniently located near Texas
Posts: 10
I do Cowboy Action Shooting (lead in the barrels) and own several old guns that needed rust removed. This stuff cleans barrels in a jiffy and won't harm a blued surface. I don't work for them and I don't sell their product. I just swear by it.

http://www.big45metalcleaner.com/
JacqueEagonSr is offline  
Old August 23, 2011, 03:59 AM   #18
natman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 24, 2008
Posts: 1,429
I'll agree that it is important to remove the rust as it comes off, whether wet or dry. Aside form that I politely disagree. Your argument seems to assume that if you use oil, you HAVE TO keep all the rust around forever. It's easy enough to wipe off the rusty slurry and apply fresh oil. If you don't use oil you're rubbing DRY rust on your bluing between cleanings.

I've done literally hundreds of guns and reasonable rubbing with 0000 steel wool and oil will not scratch bluing. Period.
natman is offline  
Old August 23, 2011, 08:34 AM   #19
Shane Tuttle
Staff
 
Join Date: November 28, 2005
Location: Blue Grass, IA
Posts: 8,557
*ahem* Hey, John. You wanna take this one? I mean, since this thread's been revived from the dead and all from 3.5 years ago, maybe you've changed your mind...
__________________
If it were up to me, the word "got" would be deleted from the English language.

Posting and YOU: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/posting
Shane Tuttle is offline  
Old August 23, 2011, 03:42 PM   #20
Old Grump
Member in memoriam
 
Join Date: April 9, 2009
Location: Blue River Wisconsin, in
Posts: 3,144
Scotch-Brite cleaning pads works for me. Surface rust on slide, frame or barrels and lead removal from inside the bore.

I have seen CERAMA BRYTE pads but never used them.

If you use a compound with the pads try Flitz

http://www.autogeek.net/flmepopare.html
__________________
Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern will, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
--Daniel Webster--
Old Grump is offline  
Old August 23, 2011, 03:52 PM   #21
chadstrickland
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 26, 2011
Location: alabama
Posts: 537
While I have never tried to simply remove one small patch of rust. At the gun shop we always sand blasted all the rust and paint and crap off a gun before we hot blued them
__________________
Two weapons that was designed by the same man still in use by the us military 100 years later...1911 and m2...is there anything that comes close.....lol annd maybe perhaps a sig sauer p226 tac ops edition..
chadstrickland is offline  
Old August 23, 2011, 04:34 PM   #22
Unclenick
Staff
 
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 10,247
Odds and ends:

The original Scotch-Brite was basically pads made of strands with sanding abrasive glued to them. You can buy it in all grades at industrial suppliers from coarse metal removal down to polishing grades, and in aluminum oxide, aluminum silicate (flint), and silicone carbide. More recently, though, the name brand has been applied to a wide range of products, including all natural fiber pads that aren't supposed to scratch at all.

The Lead Wipe cloths can remove rust, and they use roughly 400 grit aluminum oxide abrasive. It has a hard time damaging bluing, too. Rub it on aluminum, though, and you can see the scuff immediately. The aluminum oxide grains are less sharp than silicone carbide, which is why they don't scratch something hard so easily.

I'm not sure what to make of the dry steel wool idea. I thought the oil was mainly to help loosen the rust. Perhaps it causes larger pieces to get loose, increasing the size of scuffs. In that case, dry followed by wet might help get it all with less scuffing. The presence of oil will make the surface more transparent looking than a dry surface so you can see scuffs better, and that may be coming into play, too.

A good penetrating oil will let you wipe rust off with a rough brown paper towel. So will Gunzilla if you let it sit a little while.
__________________
Gunsite Orange Hat Family Member
CMP Certified GSM Master Instructor
NRA Certified Rifle Instructor
NRA Benefactor Member
Unclenick is offline  
Old August 23, 2011, 09:37 PM   #23
JohnKSa
Staff
 
Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 18,329
Quote:
There is always the big wire wheel, but only if used dry.
It's kind of funny that this thread came back up. I was just reading an article yesterday on rust blueing techniques and the author (Reid Coffield) mentioned that he used a wire wheel (soft thin wire) to card the blueing between "coats".
Quote:
Your argument seems to assume that if you use oil, you HAVE TO keep all the rust around forever. It's easy enough to wipe off the rusty slurry and apply fresh oil.
If you can keep all the rust off the surface and out of the steel wool, and still use oil then you may be able to keep it from scratching.

The point is that while steel wool is, at best, a very mild abrasive, iron oxide is a fairly agressive abrasive.

Rubbing with dry steel wool is pretty benign. Rubbing with rust is not, and using some oil doesn't help much if there's a signficant amount of rust retained in the oil unless you're careful to keep the surface and the steel wool flushed out. I find it's MUCH easier to keep the rust out of the equation by using dry steel wool. Then the loosened rust comes off the surface and falls away and it's easy to dust out the steel wool frequently to keep any from building up.
Quote:
I've done literally hundreds of guns and reasonable rubbing with 0000 steel wool and oil will not scratch bluing. Period.
I agree that 0000 steel wool and oil won't scratch blueing--in fact it takes some effort to scratch blueing even with unoiled 0000 steel wool. That's as expected given that carding/polishing with 0000 steel wool is part of some blueing processes.

On the other hand, I can demonstrate (and have seen many times) that 0000 steel wool and oil and rust will scratch blueing.

The bottom line is that I've done rust removal using 0000 steel wool with and without oil and find that it's much easier to keep the blue intact without oil--even when there's a significant amount of rust to be removed. I'm talking about light surface rust, not pitting.

I think that a lot of the disagreement comes from people who have tried it only one way and found ways to make it work. Sure, you can make it work with oil, but it's trickier to keep the finish intact if there's any significant amount of rust to remove as opposed to doing it without oil.

It's not like I have anything tied up in this. The only reason I pointed it out was because I have a good bit of experience trying both methods while it appeared to me that most people had always assumed that it should be done with oil and never tried it any other way.

I have no problem if people want to use oil, but I think if they try both ways they will almost certainly get the same results I did.
__________________
Did you know that there is a TEXAS State Rifle Association?
JohnKSa is offline  
Old August 24, 2011, 03:46 AM   #24
natman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 24, 2008
Posts: 1,429
Quote:
Quote:
I've done literally hundreds of guns and reasonable rubbing with 0000 steel wool and oil will not scratch bluing. Period.
I agree that 0000 steel wool and oil won't scratch blueing--in fact it takes some effort to scratch blueing even with unoiled 0000 steel wool. That's as expected given that carding/polishing with 0000 steel wool is part of some blueing processes.

On the other hand, I can demonstrate (and have seen many times) that 0000 steel wool and oil and rust will scratch blueing.
Oh, please. This is just playing with words. Seriously, do you really believe that the hundreds of guns I was referring to didn't have rust on them?

When you rub dry the rust doesn't magically disappear to rust heaven. It's on the gun, it's in the steel wool. If you want to delude yourself that dry rust is somehow less abrasive than rust suspended in oil, go ahead. But sorry, I'm not buying it.

I once tried to see if I could damage bluing on a scrap barrel by rubbing it with 0000 and oil. And, yes, it was rusty. I finally managed to get the bluing to fade slightly - after 10 minutes of white knuckle rubbing. If you can comprehend the phrase "gentle rubbing" you will not have a problem.

Last edited by natman; August 24, 2011 at 03:54 AM.
natman is offline  
Old August 24, 2011, 10:06 AM   #25
Pahoo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 16, 2006
Location: IOWA
Posts: 5,577
To each his own !!

At the risk of turning this subject, into a spitting contest I will only state what I do and will continue to do. In that, there are no absolutes and would sound opinionated as oppose to having an opinion. .....

I use a variety of petrochemical products in combination with the 0000 wool, with no noticeable ill effects. Have always been taught that oil, primarily does two things; it cools by reducing friction and it cleans. I've noticed that application of these products alone and letting them sit, starts to desolve and float away some rust. Wipe away the oil and you will see rust on the rag, without the use of 0000. in short, the oil will desolve, clean and float the rust. It's even one of the most effective liquids that you can clean your hands with. .....

I've used petrochemical product for more years than I care to mention and will continue to do so. .....

Be Safe !!!
__________________
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.

Last edited by Pahoo; August 24, 2011 at 11:05 AM.
Pahoo is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:37 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.12641 seconds with 7 queries