View Full Version : Box of old pistols

April 25, 2012, 02:22 PM
I just got a box of old pistols from my grandfathers collection. Just over 60 years ago when he died, his collection was broken up around the family. The pistols that were in the box were some of his "seconds" or those that he got and chose not to display. Recently my elder brother, perhaps getting softheaded just past his 70th birthday, gave me the box that essentially had not been touched for 60 + years. All were filthy dirty, rusty, jammed up with congealed grease / oil. After some gentle cleaning and oiling here are the 6 pistols. Ranging in age from the 1860s to perhaps 1920.
Clockwise starting from top left,
Smith & Wesson 1st model AKA Baby Russian .38 S&W.
(IJ) Iver Johnson model 1900 .32 rimfire, (Owl looks forward)
US Revolver (Iver Johnson) .38 S&W,
Iver Johnson third model .32 S&W (Owl looks out)
Velodog, 6mm (+/-) Belgian
Belgian caplock two barrels that unscrew for loading, .38 (+/-).
All are now in firing order, that is their actions work properly and they lock
up properly.
And yes the S&W Baby Russian does not have its correct grips, but the right ones are hard to find and expensive.


April 25, 2012, 07:20 PM
Nice pistol assortment. Inherited guns are special.

Here is what the original "Baby Russian" grips look like...:D


April 25, 2012, 07:51 PM
I love that Velodog, It almost looks likes a kids toy, Any chance of you showing the barrels of the Belgian caplock open for reloading?? Is it cartridge or black powder????

April 26, 2012, 05:34 AM
What a great score.

April 26, 2012, 08:28 AM
Indy 1919;
The Belgian caplock used loose black powder & ball. The barrels thus far have not come free in spite of being soaked for weeks in Kroil.
I admit however, that I have not tried very hard to remove them, assuming 100+ years of blackpowder fouling and mercuric percussion caps causing corrosion is holding them in place.


4V50 Gary
April 26, 2012, 08:44 AM
A cornacopia of forgotten firearms that pleases the eye.

Mike Irwin
April 26, 2012, 09:08 AM
"The barrels thus far have not come free in spite of being soaked for weeks in Kroil."

Take the grips off, wrap it up well, and stick it in the coldest deep freeze to which you have access.

Cold is a great help for getting frozen parts to unseize.

April 26, 2012, 09:15 PM
oooooh I like that freezer treatment. Do you then try to move the part while its Cold or wait till it warms up after freezing???

Mike Irwin
April 27, 2012, 06:08 AM
You can try it either way.

One thing I tend to do is leave it in the freezer for a day or so, take it out long enough to hit it with a good dose of penetrating oil, and sock it back in the freezer.

I've gotten a lot of gunked up, rusted, or otherwise stuck parts loose like that over the years, and not just on guns.

I gave the freezer to the original 1903ish cast iron porch lamp on my Mom's house. I was afraid that if I put any stress on the screws they might shear off.

Two days in the freezer with regulard doses of WD-40 and the screws just slid out.

April 30, 2012, 07:29 PM
Thanks for sharing,

May 1, 2012, 10:09 AM
I have a folder with that title. This thread has been bookmarked into that folder.

Liquid Wrench/Kroil and, maybe, heat, I wouldda thought of. Not super cold.

Many thanks,


May 1, 2012, 02:23 PM
For frozen or rusted parts, what I have found what works best is to use heat and not cold. Find a pan that is large enough to hold your rusted together items, remove any wood, put in the pan and cover with Kroil. Bring the temp up to 300 degrees and let it "cook" for about 3 hours. Remember to keep an eye on the heat because all petrolium products have a flash point. This will allow the pores of the metal to open up and also thins down the oil so that it penetrates better. It will soften the rust. You might have to do this several times depending on just how extensive the problem is.

Mike Irwin
May 1, 2012, 04:40 PM
" Remember to keep an eye on the heat because all petrolium products have a flash point."


I hope to hell you're not doing that in the house!

Kroil's flash point is 150 degrees F!

And you're 50 degrees OVER the boiling point!


What you're doing is dangerous as hell if you're doing it indoors. Hydrocarbon vapor in the quantity that a pot full of 300 deg. F kroil would put out would play living hell on your lungs.

And if you're doing on a gas stove, your ready source of ignition for one HELL of a fire is right there.

May 1, 2012, 04:54 PM
It was once upon a place sometimes, I listen to myself
Gonna come in first place
People on their way to work say baby what did you expect
Gonna burst into flame
Go ahead

Burning down the house
My house, is out of the ordinary
That's right, don't want to hurt nobody
Some things, sure can sweep me off my feet
Burning down the house

May 4, 2012, 12:16 PM
Relax gentlemen. My hot tanks and all my heating equipment are away from any buildings and under a carport like structure. Sides and ends open up to provide ventilation and shade. When not in use, they close down to protect from the elements. There are also proper extinguishers located throughout the building.

Mike Irwin
May 5, 2012, 06:43 AM
Well that's good to hear! Remember, not everyone has that kind of set up so we've got to be a little careful when we're recommending more advanced techniques and processes.

I don't even want to think about how ugly a pan full of boiling kroil on the home stove would be.

Oh, and pores in metal...

Given what happens to metal when it expands through heat, wouldn't any openings in the surface of the metal (pores, fissures, cracks, etc.) CLOSE, not open?

The only way I can see them opening is if they get cold.

May 5, 2012, 02:56 PM
Given what happens to metal when it expands through heat, wouldn't any openings in the surface of the metal (pores, fissures, cracks, etc.) CLOSE, not open?

Expanding metal would make the pores bigger. Contracting metal makes them smaller.

May 6, 2012, 06:52 AM
Just my HO, but I think Mike is correct in this! Giving the barrels are thinner metal, they would contract faster than the breach, thus breaking the grip of the rust and gunk, using the freeze method.
Heat cuases metal to expand, thus closing cracks. If the barrels where off of the breach, then heat would show the cracks, but they are currently constricted buy the breach, they have no place to expand too, so any cracks would close!
When welding engine blocks, each pass with the welder required cool down time before the next pass, or the block would cool and split the weld.

Mike Irwin
May 6, 2012, 09:21 AM
I don't buy that hog. The metal around the void would contract away from the center point of the cold effectively making it larger.

A simple test would be easy. Take a piece of mild steel and drill a shallow hole in it say 3/32 of an inch.

Measure the hole with a caliper.

Then throw it in the freezer for a day and measure again.

Then allow the piece to come back to room temp. Measure it again as a control, then throw it in a 300few deg. Oven for a couple of hours and then measure the pore again.

May 6, 2012, 07:44 PM
Have at it, just make sure one end is clamped in a much thicker peice of steel to make it like the pistol! After all, that is what we're talking about!
And going by the contraction when cold, and we know thin metal would freeze faster than thick metal, then freezing would be the way to go? Thus the barrels would freeze and shrink(contract) away from the breach, making them easy to unthread?

Mike Irwin
May 7, 2012, 07:11 AM
"just make sure one end is clamped in a much thicker peice of steel to make it like the pistol!"

Clamped in?

What are you talking about?

That should have absolutely no bearing on what we're talking about, especially on the "pore" level.

"we know thin metal would freeze faster than thick metal"

EITHER heat or cold can be an effective method of breaking adhesions between separate pieces of metal.

Heating the pieces will squeeze them more tightly together, essentially crushing the adhesions. When the metal cools and shrinks, it opens up spaces that were formerly filled by the adhesion.

Super chilling the parts, wether through a freezer or through use of dry ice, makes them shrink and pulls the adhesions apart.

Sometimes using both is indicated (a shell casing stuck in a die is often best removed by chilling, then quickly heating the die so that it expands and pulling the shell case before it gets warm enough to expand.)

May 7, 2012, 08:37 AM
1st off, I agree with you Mike!
Clamped in, "what are you talking about?" We where talking about the barrels on the pistol! He cant get them to unscrew from the breach. So to make your test accurate, you would need a similar set-up! If your test is for a flat peice of steel, then go get a cast iron pan, read the directions on how to cure it, they will tell you to heat the pan, so the pours open up, then treat with oil!
The pistol barrels are not flat, and one end is screwwed into a thicker peice of steel! Thus the reaction would be different! Plus, my anology was for cracks, not pours! On a round tube, such as a barrel, with one end clamped ( or screwwed into a breach) heat would close the crack, not open it!
Thus my anology of welding the engine block, heat would cuase the edges of the crack to EXPAND, thus closing the crack,while welding, so we had to wait for the block to cool, there by, reopening the crack so we could reweld it!
The only time we heated the entire block was to pop out the old sleeves, and put in the new ones, which where sitting in dry ice waiting to go in!
Your very last sentance, in your last post, proves we are both talking the same thing! Throw the pistol in the freezer, then pull it out and use a heatgun to heat the breach while unscrewwing the barrels!
I love your thing about the dog as a gift, its so true!

May 7, 2012, 01:22 PM
Clamped, frozen, baked, drilled, soaked, hammered or what.
That ~140 year old pistol sits unmolested in its shadow box with
a small note describing it, XXX Goex gunpowder glued
over a formed piece of epoxy to resemble a pile, a ~40 caliber
lead ball and a percussion cap all in the box. It'll hang on the wall
of my brothers Adirondak "camp" for the next 140 years. (God willing)
A small powderhorn is hung from the bottom of the box just for because I
have several, not because it is original to or for the pistol.



Mike Irwin
May 8, 2012, 06:10 AM
""He cant get them to unscrew from the breach."

Ah. OK, sort of lost the bubble.

I don't think I'd need to make a mock up because I've frozen large parts that have been screwed together, or which have large bolts running through them, and have had more than considerable success over the years.

A few years ago my Mother wasn't particularly happy to open her deep freeze and discover the alternator for the garden tractor. The blind bolts holding the casing together simply refused to budge. Three days in the freezer at 20 below, along with lots of Liquid Wrench, resulted in three of the four bolts breaking loose fairly easily, with the fourth requiring only a few taps on the wrench handle with a hammer.

Another freezer success story was this light fixture:


It had hung on the house from 1903 until the 1970s when my Grandfather replaced it with some ugly non-period coach lantern. Mom found it in the basement, quite rusted and in need of rewiring.

To do so I needed to get it fully apart, which included the arm, held in place by two long carriage bolts, and four screws holding the backing plate in place. That one was a real challenge due to it being very difficult to get penetrating oil to where it would do any good, but after several days in the freezer, all of the screws and the two bolts released easily.

A little rehab, rewiring, some paint, and the proper light now hangs back where it should.

The only real failure I've ever had with cold sinking was on an engine block to an old John Deere tractor. But, to be fair, heat failed on that one, too, and we had to drill out 7 of the 12 bolts and chase the holes.

May 8, 2012, 07:41 AM
The light looks great! Kudoo's! My wife used to flip when she would find parts in the freezer, now she is used to it! :) The last being the bearing race for my Geo! The outter and inner bearing is one peice, that needs to be pressed in/out! Heat to the hub, peice of cake!
Velocity, thats a great display! I love hunting in the northern woods, I just hate living in N.Y.!
One thing I've found for breaking loose rusted bolts, acetone and tranny oil(or Marvel mystry(sp?) oil) mixed 50/50,! Start using it a couple of days before you need to take something apart, works better than PB Blaster or anything else!