View Full Version : The Leaded Bore From Hell...

February 13, 2000, 09:39 PM
I just acquired a very nice 1903 Springfield sporter, which has evidently not been cleaned since about 1903. :(
Some yokel shot about a billion rounds of cast lead through it, and never bothered to attempt removing any of it.
The rifling, once I could see it, still appears to be in great shape though.
I have spent the last five hours using Shooter's Choice Lead Remover, Shooters Choice Black Powder Bore Cleaner, JB bore cleaner, inumerable patches, and worn out four brushes. I filed an EPA statement for the pounds of toxic metal I must dispose of.
My arms are numb, and my wife is no longer speaking to me since I spent my entire day off on yet another gun project.
All this and the bore is still a major lead resource.

A few minutes ago, I corked the bore, and filled it with Shooter's Choice Lead Remover.
I intend to let it sit overnight as I meditate on the insidious revenge I will take if I ever run across the previous owner.
(To wife: Honey, HE's the one that caused me to spend what would have been our Valentine's Day *sniffle* on that over leaded bore! Get him!)

Any suggestions short of heating the bore to lead melting temperature and then sandblasting it?
All of my usual repretoire is getting me nowhere, and not even fast...

Art Eatman
February 13, 2000, 09:48 PM
Cork the muzzle and pour mercury down the bore. Let it sit for a day or two. Gay-rawn-teed. Makes a lead-mercury amalgam.

Don't drink it.

Precautions include the use of a funnel and tube while pouring, and resting the muzzle in some sort of container. Spilled mercury goes EVERYWHERE!!! And those eensy-tinsy little beads are hell to clean up!

:), Art

February 13, 2000, 10:17 PM
Additional precautions must be taken to preclude the local build-up and inhalation of mercury vapors. Ideally place the mercury-filled barreled-action next to an exhaust vent in the shop. Obviously, use gloves in the handling, and ensure it's all away from gerfinkerpokin kindermittens und kritterschnootz. Upon removal with a tornado brush, the amalgam will be softer and easier to strip out, but still constitutes two heavy metals, each with most of its respective toxic characteristics intact.

February 13, 2000, 10:48 PM
It sure is nice to have an Outer's Foul Out for problem bores. Really bad stuff like this might actually take a couple of nights to clean up, but at least you can let it just sit there and do something else. The outfit cost about $150, perhaps the down side.

February 13, 2000, 11:01 PM
I'll second the vote for Outer's Foul-Out. It works great for copper and lead. I have a couple pistols that I would dread shooting it wasn't for the Foul-Out sucking out the lead.

George Hill
February 14, 2000, 06:42 AM
Whats better that having that - is having a friend who has it... A borrowed Foul Out cost only favors in return and that 150 you saved can buy you more ammo to foul another bore.
Of course if you buy one and your the only friend in your circle to have it - well, you may never have to mow your own lawn again! And THAT can pay for its self in just a few summer weeks!

I mean, if I went around saying I was an Emperor because some
moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, people would put me away!

Rich Lucibella
February 14, 2000, 07:35 AM
Mad Dog-
If you want I'll bring my Foul Out kit with me on Friday....it will work.

February 14, 2000, 10:22 AM
Rich, your on! In the meantime, I am breaking every thermometer I can find to collect the mercury...
That mercury idea is a good one. I am surprised that I never heard of it before.
That is the great thing about these Forums!
Thanks, TFL!

February 14, 2000, 10:51 AM
Speaking of Mercury, does anyone know where/how it can be obtained?
I am way short on thermometers.
I need some to have on hand for this, and similar problems in the future.

Also, I presume that you save/reclaim the mercury that runs out of the bore afterwards, as it is still adequately potent to use on lead in the future, and the amalgammed lead/mercury left in the bore is just brushed out with solvent, correct?

One also presumes that the amalgam will reharden in time, much as dental fillings do, so it would be wise to begin the removal process soon after draining the bore of mercury.

Paul B.
February 14, 2000, 11:57 AM
Another solution, unfortunately no longer available thanks to out overprotective government, was a drug store remedy called Blue Ointment. It was sold as a cure for certain parasites that could infest the human body. The active ingredient was mercury. While it was available, I scrubbed out many a .357 mag. barrel with a patch generously covered with that stuff.
I can't think of the name of this product, but it is a cloth that is used to clean the burn marks off stainless steel revolver cylinders. A tight patch made from this cloth will do a pretty fair job of removing lead from barrels.
If you use mercury, you can strain it by pouring it through a piece of cloth, like an old bed sheet. It must be poured slowly and carefully, but it will get rid of most of the lead that has amalgamated with the mercury.
Shooting jacketed bullets to remove leading has been recommended for minor leading, but I think it just irons the lead into the barrel. Maybe, not so good an idea.
I just might get a "Foulout" myself. With all the lead bullets I shoot in both rifles and handguns, it might just be a wise investment.
Paul B.

Mal H
February 14, 2000, 01:12 PM
MAD DOG - Mercury is as expensive as it is dangerous. If you're careful with it and don't let any get away, it's safe to work with. But, the expense may change your mind, it runs over $200 per lb. You can buy it from Fisher Scientific (http://www.fishersci.com). You may be able to get a better price if you set up a commercial account with them, but I doubt it since you probably won't be buying chems by the truck load.

I would stick to the Foul Out system. I can get the lead out in big drossy globs with mine. As the wise old Herodotus said, historically it usually takes several runs to get all of it out.

Desert Dog
February 14, 2000, 01:18 PM
Ed's Red is amazing on lead removal. Lest you forget Ed's Red contains:

1 part odorless mineral spirits
1 part acetone
1 part kerosene
1 part auto transmission fluid

It WORKS... and it is CHEAP. Cork the chamber and fill the barrel up with Ed's Red... let it sit overnight, and the brush will take out all the lead on the first few passes the next morning.

"No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority" - Thomas Jefferson

Chad Young
February 14, 2000, 03:45 PM
First off - let me explain - I come from an engineering background and have had a significant quantity of chemistry hours with all manner of hazardous s%^t and heavy metals. Based on this, let me simply say:


Mercury is incredibly toxic. It can be absorbed through skin, through inhaling its vapor, and by ingestion. Even small amounts (I am talking a couple of drops here) constitute a hazardous spill in a laboratory. I found this out in high school when I spilled a thermometer full on the floor. We are talking hazard suits, gloves, etc. Stick to lots of Lead Away cloths and a foul-out kit. I cannot stress enough how dangerous mercury is, folks. It is also illegal to dispose of the by products of mercury use into a landfill.

Mercury poisoning is painful, debilitating, and can lead to death. Sufferers can expect years of localized paralysis, neurological impairment, and expensive treatment.

Seriously, folks, do not do this. It is simply too dangerous.

Do not believe me: go to http://vest.gu.se/~bosse/yfTAN93a.html

February 14, 2000, 03:56 PM
A couple of friends of mine chipped in and bought me the replacement chemicals for my Foul Out.(quarts)I cleaned a few guns for them and have enough left to clean mine many, many more times. Everybody is happy.


February 14, 2000, 06:56 PM
I am about to try the scrubbing again, now that it has sat with the Lead Remover in it for a day and a night.
Failing success with that, I will try the "Ed's Red" concoction. I have all of the components for it here, except the kerosene, and I can get that in a jiffy.
(By the way, do you use Dexron or Mercon for the ATF? Does it matter?)
If/when that doesn't work, we will give Rich's foul out system a chance.

Rich Lucibella
February 14, 2000, 08:01 PM
Ya know...if there's one thing I can't stand it's a guy with no patience. Some people just gotta have what they want...right now. I'll never understand it.

I'll be out there in a few short days with a simple, gentle, environmentally friendly solution (Foul Out).....but NOOOOOO, Mr Dog just has to have a clean barrel *today*. If it was me I'd...why I'd simply...err, I'd....
Have you tried steel brushes? ;)

[This message has been edited by Rich Lucibella (edited February 14, 2000).]

Art Eatman
February 14, 2000, 08:20 PM
Well, if it's a Chevy Springfield, use Dexron.

$200 a pound for mercury? I got $1,200 sittin' on my dresser? A 76-pound flask was only a couple hundred bucks, last time I looked. Guess I'll look again.

Yes, mercury can be dangerous, but only if you're careless. Back before we knew as much as all these modern folks, and we had real money with silver in it, a standard game was to "mercurize" a quarter so it would be real shiny. And lots of folks went through the hassle of picking up all those little beads when a thermometer got broken.

But we didn't eat it or drink it or let it get into cuts. We knew that it could be a Bad Thing. We didn't have the EPA to protect us; we protected ourselves with a little horse sense.

(Horse sense is what a jackass ain't got.)

If you do run across some mercury for use in de-leading, keep it in an airtight container. A flask with a rubber stopper is good, but glass breaks. The plastic containers the coin shops sell for a roll of silver dollars (the squared-off ones, not the thin-walled, round ones) work best.

Let us know how Ed's Red treats you. Those components are easily come by.


February 14, 2000, 08:30 PM
Just finished the latest round in the ongoing battle.
Got my butt kicked AGAIN.

The overnight soak in Shooter's Choice Lead Remover, which usually works great, failed miserably.
The patches are still coming out black as the ace of spades. There is, indeed, a buttload of lead in this barrel.

"Ed's Red" is next up to bat but I have little hope of it working given it's constiuent chemicals; then we will let Rich try his gizmo; then I will throw up my hands and rebarrel, or just shoot the damned thing with lead in it...
So much for the "instant gratification" of getting a new (to me) gun.

Al Thompson
February 14, 2000, 08:43 PM
Hey MD, watch it with the gizmo remarks. :)

Wait for Rich - that thing is high on my list of neat stuff to get!


James K
February 14, 2000, 09:32 PM
FWIW, here is a trick an old timer passed on. I have never used it, but what the heck...

Take a steel jacket bullet (M2 Ball), and file the base completely flat leaving the sharpest edges possible. Then load it backwards with a light load of powder and fire it. The sharp edges will scrape the bore clean of anything in there, I was assured. Like I say, I have never tried it and accept no responsibility for its use.


February 15, 2000, 01:32 AM
Kevin, you are one impatient fella. I'd have waited for Rich, acted confused, and had a cold beer while HE cleaned my rifle.

Ed's Red is great for powder fouling and general gunge. Ed Harris recommend Dexron for the mixture. It doesn't have anything in it to particularly help with lead or copper.

If I recall correctly, the Lewis Lead Removal is basically steel (or brass?) wool that you push through your barrel. Suppose it would work, but the Foul Out is so much more elegant.

Mercury is getting to be a bear to use, especially now that th EPA considers it hazardous waste. Ordinary metallic mercury is not particularly bad, but organomercuric compounds are remarkably toxic (ask those Japanese fishing villages). Even hospitals are getting rid of mercury thermometers because of the incredible hassles dealing with a broken tube. Kind of a shame. I loved playing with it back in high school. Course, maybe that's why the kids have twelve fingers?

Really, the Foul Out is the way to go. My only concern was whether or not the electroplating might damage the steel of the barrel. When my buddy with the Ph.D. in chemical synthesis told me that he had a Foul Out, had tested the unit, and wouldn't be without it, I bought one and haven't looked back. Just change the solution frequently and wipe with a brush inbetween if you have a badly fouled barrel.

George, I LOVE the lawn-mowing idea. I can tell that you're a professional. I've been giving it away for free! :D

Bud Helms
February 15, 2000, 05:36 AM
$200/lb for a Mercury? You'd have to be crazy!

.......................................... BOOM!
........................ :D

Mal H
February 15, 2000, 12:14 PM
sensop, I'm not sure if you and Art are calling me crazy or the person who would consider buying it. Check the price for standard tech grade mercury. It is about 15 times more expensive than it was in "our day".

February 15, 2000, 12:23 PM
Mal, I think sensop was talking about Mercury, not Hg... you know, paying $500,000 for a Cougar? ;)

"If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance."
-- Samuel Johnson

February 15, 2000, 01:52 PM
Sorry to reveal my ignorance, but what is Outer's Foul-Out? I gather it can be obtained anywhere you can get other Outer's stuff, but what makes it work?

Mal H
February 15, 2000, 02:39 PM
Coinneach - Oh! (Picture me slapping my forehead.)

T-Rex, the Foul Out system is simply a device to supply a trickle current from the barrel to a central rod through an acetate solution. It causes the metal to transfer from the barrel to the rod depending on the solution used. It has sensitive circuitry to determine when the current is flowing. When the current reaches a low threshold, it signals that the cleaning is done.

February 15, 2000, 04:58 PM
Mercury can certainly be bad news if not handled correctly.

All of this talk about mercury reminds me of an old gold miners tale (when I used to pan for gold in CO).

Mercury can be used to pick up the fine gold dust left in your pan that was too small to pick out by hand.

After the mercury was saturated with gold dust, it was placed in a small hollowed out cavity in a common potato and placed in the campfire.

As the potato cooked, the mercury leached into the potato leaving the pure gold behind. Then the potato was fed to the gold miner’s unfortunate partner.


Art Eatman
February 15, 2000, 05:13 PM
Skyhawk, I've heard that one, also. It's supposed to be why those who survived were a bit "off", as the saying went.

As far as getting the gold, yeah, it would work. I imagine the potato would be too hard and leathery to eat, though...

:-), Art

Art Eatman
February 15, 2000, 05:17 PM
Mal H: A buddy of mine gave me about six or so pounds of mercury, from some he'd smelted from one of the old mines at Terlingua. The last time I looked it up--three or five years back?--the NY Spot price was around $200 or thereabouts for a 74- or 76-pound standard flask.

I'd guess the insurance premium for handling the stuff from wholesaler to retailer to one-pound customer is a doozy!

:-), Art

February 15, 2000, 05:37 PM
Although we are straying further afield, topicwise, this is interesting.
The term "mad as a hatter" is also derived from the mercury poisoned antics of the tanners and hatters of Victorian England that used mercuric solutions in their processes.

We used to drill out the tip cavities and load hollow point varmint bullets with mercury and then cap them with wax just prior to firing them, so as to give the mercury as little time as possible to soak into the lead. The result was a dramatic increase in expansion and terminal effect due to the mercury vaporizing on impact.
We got the idea from the old movie, "Day of the Jackal".
Later on, we found that grease would do about the same thing, and was not nearly as much a pain in the butt to handle.

February 15, 2000, 05:46 PM

We use to coat the inside of the cavity with a thin layer of hot wax to prevent the absorption of the Hg into the Pb, then cap with a 2mm plug of lead-based solder. The solder tended to retard the release more than other less durable plugs, thereby increasing the dynamic effect of the mercury striking the forward confines of the compartment.

February 15, 2000, 06:08 PM
The easiest way to remove the lead from a bore is with bronze wool and Shooters Choice or Ed's Red (my choice-its cheap). Wrap the bronze woll around a jag of the proper size and scrub away. You can find bronze wool at your supermarket (pot scrubbers and don't get the kind with the soap in it) or order it from Brownells. I've used this method alot with no problems.

February 15, 2000, 06:14 PM
We tried the wax liner too, but it would melt in our pockets in the hot desert sun, then we would have mercury in our pockets.
That is why we went to loading them as we used them, rather than pre-dosing them.

This was all long ago, before we had things like portable solar powered thermoelectric ammunition coolers to keep our rounds all at a nice uniform temperature year round...

(Knowing Rich Lucibella, he will be looking all over the web for one of these by now.
Don't bother, I just made it up.)

...Come to think of it, somebody is making portable battery powered thermoelectric coolers, and you probably could do a 12 volt solar hookup...
Might be just the thing for those summer varmint hunts.

Vaseline disolve to the Gentlemen varmint hunters....

"Jeeves, get the 22-250s from the cooler, and pour me another dry martini, I believe that the beaters have flushed another ground squirrel. Can't have the hands shaking at a time like this, can we? Last time I was shooting sober, we lost nearly all of the beaters, Ha Ha, What?"

"Yes sir. Will there be anything else?
Pardon me sir, but I am having trouble getting the White Star and the Bombay into the cooler with all of the ammunition. Do you have a preference for which you want chilled sir?"

"Yes, Jeeves, I want all of it chilled. Pop over to the cooler mart in the helicopter and get another one right away. After all, we can't be expected to continue under these damnably oppressive conditions, under equipped as we are... and while you're out, find a masseuse, my shoulders are a little tight from all of this shooting."

February 15, 2000, 08:06 PM
Mad Dog, Given your established level of patience ( :D)I think you're on the way to making the first ever 1903 Springfield smoothbore in 35 Whelen! :D :D :D

"Keep shootin till they quit floppin"
The Wife 2/2000

Rich Lucibella
February 15, 2000, 09:28 PM
Mr Dog-
I wasn't even close to taking that bait...at least not after an hour spent searching the web on the phrases "portable solar powered thermoelectric ammunition coolers", "mad dog's secret recipe" and "he who has the most toys wins".

Actually, I remember Mykl's experiments as dealing with mercury fulminate? I do remember the samples I received being quite "effective" some three years later.

Art Eatman
February 15, 2000, 10:55 PM
Rich, are you trying to tell us that Mykl kept his old chemistry books? With the lab experiments to make Potassium tri-??????

"Better living through chemistry" ain't necessarily controlled substances...

:), Art

Bud Helms
February 15, 2000, 11:11 PM
OMIGOD, I've gotten in with a bunch of geeks!

Mal H
February 15, 2000, 11:26 PM
Alright! Who's got the key to the AV room? The last time I saw it, it was pinned to Mykl's pocket protector. Who has it now?

February 21, 2000, 01:12 PM
Rich came with his Foul Out system.
It is defective. Evidently there is a short in it, or some other problem. measurements taken with volt/ammeters showed that the battery powered device was not delivering much if any voltage to the weapon.

It was completely ineffective on lead removal, and only moderately effective on some very light copper fouling.

In the meantime, we scrubbed a lot more, and managed to get down to the late Miocene lead layer. Carbon 14 dating proved the lead to be older than the rifle!
We found wooly mammoth hair and bone fragments in the weapon as well.
There is still a buttload of lead in the barrel. I estimate that we need to dig at least 65 million years of lead deposits out before it is finally a clean bore. It is now clear that this weapon was used by a time traveler and spent many eons in service shooting the only available bullet material prior to the advent of copper jackets in the late 19th century. :(On the other hand, if we dig long enough, we may strike oil.

On a brighter note, the LURCR is working perfectly, and has a new set of Pachmayr flush mount hammer head swivels that I installed in record time on Sunday, just after Rich had pitched a snit about the perfectly usable sling swivels that were already installed on the weapon.
Immediately after they were PERMANENTLY installed and tested by His Supreme Lucibellaness, Rich realized that they were not as fast or as easy to use as the ones I had just removed.... ARRRGGGHHH!
Sheesh. Some people's kids

On an even brighter note, Rich Lucibella has started the Gunsite Rifle course today, and out of the blackness of my vindictive little heart I have arranged with the instructors to have him receive some very "special" treatment.
Heh heh heh...
It is pouring rain here as well, and I plan on taking my nice new Goretex suit that I loaned him away tonight.
After all, if I had known it was going to rain, I wouldn't have loaned it to him...

February 21, 2000, 02:14 PM
Maddog,,,,and they call me cruel...lol....after all what are friends for...lol....fubsy.

Mal H
February 21, 2000, 02:48 PM
MD, It looks like you're just going to have to trilobite the bullet and scrub it out.

Have you tried a Lewis/Hoppe's lead remover yet? I'm not sure if they make one for a 30 cal. But, with your machine shop you could whittle one down with a lathe.

On the Foul Out - it is working if you get approx. 1/4 volt with no load. It may go lower when set up in the bbl with solution, I didn't check that voltage.

It is very important that you have an oil/cleaning solution free barrel before you use the FO or you will get a false "clean" indication and it does nothing. Be sure to scrub the bbl out thoroughly with Outer's Crud Cutter or a similar degreaser.

February 21, 2000, 02:51 PM
We cleaned/degreased the bore with MEK prior to installing the Foul Out system.

"trilobite the bullet..."
Very funny.

[This message has been edited by MAD DOG (edited February 21, 2000).]

February 21, 2000, 02:57 PM
The Lewis lead remover only goes down to.38 caliber, so that's out. The little cookie cut screen doodads they use can not be turned on a lathe, I would have to had grind them into submission.

February 21, 2000, 03:18 PM
Mad Dog,

It sounds to me that you have angered the gods of shooting regarding some past sins.

Is there something you wish to confess?

February 21, 2000, 04:15 PM
Danger... DANGER Topic is approaching critical byte mass.


Lock and Load Part II????

GySgt, USMC(Ret)
NRA Life, Lodge 1201-UOSSS
"Si vis Pacem Para Bellum"

[This message has been edited by Schmit (edited February 21, 2000).]