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Old March 15, 2020, 01:34 PM   #1
NobodyJones
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Removing surface rust from rifles

My son has some rifles that suffered rust damage while in storage. It appears to him to be surface rust. What is the best manner for removing this? I thought maybe a very fine steel wool and some WD40 for lubricant.

Help a guy out!!
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Old March 15, 2020, 02:00 PM   #2
T. O'Heir
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0000 steel wool and light oil. Not usually WD, but that'll work too. Whatever oil you're using on your firearms will do it nicely.
Plan 'B'(and much faster) is a light touch with a fine, brass, wire wheel in a bench grinder. If you have a bench grinder. Eye protection is mandatory. It'll take surface rust completely off without bothering the rest of the finish.
Then look for pitting. Pitting doesn't mean the rifle is destroyed. Just that some metal is gone.
He should look into where he had 'em stored too. It's damp or has inconsistent temperatures.
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Old March 15, 2020, 02:08 PM   #3
NobodyJones
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Thank you. I will tell him 0000 steel wool and his normal gun oil.

Burst pipe in his basement caused this.
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Old March 15, 2020, 02:14 PM   #4
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I've used bronze wool and oil with good results.
https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-t...-prod7391.aspx
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Old March 15, 2020, 05:46 PM   #5
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I have never heard of bronze wool.

I will tell him.
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Old March 15, 2020, 07:34 PM   #6
Bill DeShivs
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0000 steel wool will work fine- but don't use it with oil.
Rust is iron oxide. It's harder than the steel. If you mix powdered rust with oil, you create a very efficient polishing compound that will remove bluing. Use the steel wool dry-wiping the loose rust away as necessary, then oil the gun.
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Old March 15, 2020, 09:14 PM   #7
NobodyJones
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I passed that on to my son.

Thanks for the info.
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Old March 16, 2020, 08:39 AM   #8
Hal
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Quote:
0000 steel wool will work fine- but don't use it with oil.
As an FYI only - all steel wool is sprayed with oil during it manufacture. It's done so it deters rust. If you wish to remove the oily residue from the steel woo, dunk it in mineral spirits, then flush the mineral spirits out with alcohol - since mineral spirits itself has a lot of oil in it.

As mentioned - there is also Bronze wool and copper wool - neither of which have any oil at all & are much softer than steel.

My personal method of rust spot removal - on a firearm - is to wipe it with pieces of a brown paper bag. It's finer than 0000 wool.
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Old March 16, 2020, 08:53 AM   #9
blackhawk45
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A wheat penny and any type of gun oil works great, but it must be a penny made of copper, newer pennies that contain zinc will not remove surface rust ! Try pennies made before the 1980s.
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Old March 16, 2020, 12:07 PM   #10
natman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill DeShivs View Post
0000 steel wool will work fine- but don't use it with oil.
Rust is iron oxide. It's harder than the steel. If you mix powdered rust with oil, you create a very efficient polishing compound that will remove bluing. Use the steel wool dry-wiping the loose rust away as necessary, then oil the gun.
The rust will be rubbed against the bluing regardless. The only question is whether it will be rubbed against the bluing dry or lubricated by oil.

I used to work in a shop that sold consignment guns and have done hundreds with 0000 steel wool and a light oil without removing any bluing. I once tried to damage the bluing on a scrap barrel and after 10 minutes of white knuckle rubbing - far harder than I would ever really do it - I got the bluing to fade slightly.

0000 (four zero) steel wool - light rubbing - light oil.

YMMV.
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Last edited by natman; March 16, 2020 at 12:21 PM.
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Old March 16, 2020, 01:48 PM   #11
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Whatever you guys think.
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Old March 16, 2020, 09:36 PM   #12
NobodyJones
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Thanks for all the advice.
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Old March 16, 2020, 11:41 PM   #13
JohnKSa
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The rust will be rubbed against the bluing regardless. The only question is whether it will be rubbed against the bluing dry or lubricated by oil.
If oil is used, the rust particles will form into a slurry with the oil that sticks to the surface and the steel wool and that will act as a lapping compound.

If the steel wool is used dry and shaken out frequently, the rust particles will fall away as they are removed rather than being rubbed around on the surface.

I had an opportunity to clean rust from a number of blued guns some years ago and experimented with various techniques. I found that the least damaging to the finish was to use dry steel wool, only applying oil to protect the finish after the rust removal was complete.

I've provided advice based on my results a few times and always get pushback. All I can say is that I've actually tried it both ways and it was clear which way worked better.

Use a light touch and as the rust comes off, dust it away immediately so it doesn't get rubbed against the finish any more than is absolutely necessary.
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Old March 17, 2020, 02:21 AM   #14
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What do we know, JohnKSa?
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Old March 17, 2020, 06:33 PM   #15
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I used to use bronze or steel wool, but after using Miracle Cloth I've never looked back.
https://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Cloth.../dp/B000C0B3E0
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