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Restoring Rusted Firearms


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My grandfather passed back at Christmas time, and I recently inherited his arsenal, there are (4) Ranger 22s, several Remington 870s, 1100s, a VERY old Semi auto Remington and a few Ithaca Model 37s.. But the majority are quite rusty, from not being used and out of sight out of mind as my grandfather hasn't hunted or shot them in many years. The receivers and barrels on all of them are rust covered. I'd like to bring them back to life some, but have no clue where to start and how? So I want to ask you Gun Gurus the proper process or just a good process to clean these up some. They still function but i have not shot them.. Rather clean them up and replace seals first. They don't need ot be perfect but in better condition would be great.   What would be a good process to do so? My intentions are asking my grandfather in law ( big gun guru as well) if he would have interest in cleaning these up in his free time. As I really don't have the time to tinker with them and cant pay the gun shop fees at the moment. I'm sure my GFather in law has a way he would clean them but would like to know some of your opinions or ideas/processes, So they don't get ruined beyond repair or even worse i should say.. 

Thanks in Advance.. 

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I cleaned up an old Remington this past summer with liberal amounts of CLP and some 000 Steel Wool. A lot of the rust was just surface stuff that came off very easily and it had a good amount of bluing underneath. 

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As someone who's collected historical military firearms, I recommend you do very little to maintain value of old firearm as long as it functions.   A light steel wool and a good oil.  You will be surprised as what comes back to life.  The rest consider patina like the salt and pepper grey presently on my head.  It comes with age. 

I cry every time I see a historically reverent gun that has been "Bubba"     And they "fixed" it.

Cold blue doesn't work well and tends to look like crap.

If the bores are heavily pitted start with wire brushing.  You won't eliminate it and bores will always be a pain to clean but you can lessen it.  As a last resort use a mild abrasive bore paste on a patch.  If they aren't pitted, I would still start with good wire brush a follow up with a bore solvent that can get copper like Sweet's or Butches Bore Shine.   I warn you though, they both stink to high heaven.

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The best stuff I have come across for removing rust is Evapo-rust, it is a liquid that you soak your rusty items in and it will dissolve the rust with zero effect to the metal itself. I use plastic tubs for soaking and put enough of the Evapo-rust in to submerge the parts whatever they may be. It might take a few days depending on how severe the rust is but it will get it off eventually leaving bare metal.

I think the best way to refinish badly rusted guns once they are rust free and polished up is with something like duracoat, some can be do it yourself or it can be farmed out to a gun shop that provides that service.

One more thing about Evapo-rust, it can be used over and over again, just strain it through coffee filters and put it back into it's container until the next job.

Al

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On 4/25/2022 at 3:24 PM, hueyjazz said:

As someone who's collected historical military firearms, I recommend you do very little to maintain value of old firearm as long as it functions.   A light steel wool and a good oil.  You will be surprised as what comes back to life.  The rest consider patina like the salt and pepper grey presently on my head.  It comes with age. 

I cry every time I see a historically reverent gun that has been "Bubba"     And they "fixed" it.

Cold blue doesn't work well and tends to look like crap.

If the bores are heavily pitted start with wire brushing.  You won't eliminate it and bores will always be a pain to clean but you can lessen it.  As a last resort use a mild abrasive bore paste on a patch.  If they aren't pitted, I would still start with good wire brush a follow up with a bore solvent that can get copper like Sweet's or Butches Bore Shine.   I warn you though, they both stink to high heaven.

I agree completely. I'm not looking to make them look brand new, if it happens and they function and look good, great. But I'm ok with some defects or minor rust.. IT is an old gun. So i do follow and agree there. It just hurts, looking at a few of them as it almost looks like the stock and receiver are all one piece due to the color..   

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On 4/25/2022 at 4:58 PM, airedale said:

The best stuff I have come across for removing rust is Evapo-rust, it is a liquid that you soak your rusty items in and it will dissolve the rust with zero effect to the metal itself. I use plastic tubs for soaking and put enough of the Evapo-rust in to submerge the parts whatever they may be. It might take a few days depending on how severe the rust is but it will get it off eventually leaving bare metal.

I think the best way to refinish badly rusted guns once they are rust free and polished up is with something like duracoat, some can be do it yourself or it can be farmed out to a gun shop that provides that service.

One more thing about Evapo-rust, it can be used over and over again, just strain it through coffee filters and put it back into it's container until the next job.

Al

2022-04-25_164414.png

I willl check that out. Sounds great for all general use! Thank you!

 

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Not to change the subject from rust, but when you mentioned a VERY old Remington semi  shotgun,  a Model 11 came to mind,  which was a humpback made from John Browning's patent..  As far as I know, that the only Rem semi shotgun made until the Model 48 / 11-48  which came out in 1948, followed by thier gas guns, the 58 , 878, and finally the 1100 around 1963... So which one is it..??... Feeble old inquiring minds want to know...Hehehe...

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On 4/28/2022 at 10:22 PM, Pygmy said:

Not to change the subject from rust, but when you mentioned a VERY old Remington semi  shotgun,  a Model 11 came to mind,  which was a humpback made from John Browning's patent..  As far as I know, that the only Rem semi shotgun made until the Model 48 / 11-48  which came out in 1948, followed by thier gas guns, the 58 , 878, and finally the 1100 around 1963... So which one is it..??... Feeble old inquiring minds want to know...Hehehe...

I got sick with Covid right after making this post, and I have yet to check as today is my first day im really back on my feet a little. IT does have the humpback. When I get around today I will try to check it out. IT was my grandfathers uncles gun and i will say its certainly an older gun. Sorry for the delay.. its eating me up that there is a dozen old remingtons laying there, looking for attention and i have yet to give it to them lol..   

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, LET EM GROW said:

I got sick with Covid right after making this post, and I have yet to check as today is my first day im really back on my feet a little. IT does have the humpback. When I get around today I will try to check it out. IT was my grandfathers uncles gun and i will say its certainly an older gun. Sorry for the delay.. its eating me up that there is a dozen old remingtons laying there, looking for attention and i have yet to give it to them lol..   

I love my A5 Brownings, and those old Remington 11's are great examples of that patent. Good luck with your recuperation from Covid and getting those old guns cleaned up. I'm looking forward to seeing photos!

Edited by Splitear
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As others have said, try soaking them with a good penetrating oil and use a clean rag to wipe them down to assess them before doing anything drastic.

Assessing the firearms will be a good project to take on while your recovering from covid.

Having restored many of the firearms you mentioned to working order myself, most parts are available, so you can get them working and pass them down to the future hunters in your household.

Get well.

 

 

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On 4/28/2022 at 10:22 PM, Pygmy said:

Not to change the subject from rust, but when you mentioned a VERY old Remington semi  shotgun,  a Model 11 came to mind,  which was a humpback made from John Browning's patent..  As far as I know, that the only Rem semi shotgun made until the Model 48 / 11-48  which came out in 1948, followed by thier gas guns, the 58 , 878, and finally the 1100 around 1963... So which one is it..??... Feeble old inquiring minds want to know...Hehehe...

The "humpback" has no model on it anywhere, Just the standard Remington stamping with the factory location and such, So I'm guessing its a model 11 as the google images look identical to it. There's also a sportsman 58 and an immaculate 1100 30" Full barrel 12ga as well. Then several 870 pumps and Model 37 Ithaca in 12 and 16 gauges.   

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A softer steel wool and good amount of regular motor oil will fix them up.  Rub them down with the steel wool and then wipe them clean with a cloth.  Repeat if necessary.  Two old guys who run gun shops turned me on to this and it works.

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When you get to the stage of needing to take apart the gun, I highly recommend you research the procedure.

As a kid that took apart a lot of alarm clocks which none of which went back together, I can say I learned.

Gun Parts & Firearm Accessories | Numrich Gun Parts (gunpartscorp.com)

This is a great website for old parts, but its real value is the is the free online detailed diagrams of all the parts of a particular gun.  For an old semi-automatic is lightly the gas system will need some work.  Seals, pistons and springs.  Old ammo was more corrosive so some pitting could be present.

Many here have recommended a use of a rust remover which is a mild acid.  Keep in mind the bluing is a form of rust.  It is an oxide.  Of the hundreds of guns I've worked on, it has never been used.  But its your gun and it is up to you what you want to achieve.  As far as stocks, research what was used there as a finish.  It was never polyurethane.  Usually shellac, boiled linseed oil or tung oil.  But here again, unless the finish is destroyed just leave it alone.

I came from a background of restoring antiques.  When I started with guns I maintained the same attitude.  Do no harm.  Every gun I ever worked on was a project which at the end gave me satisfaction.

And I shot every one of them.  And oh, and this is important.  Only take apart one at a time and you aren't supposed to have any parts leftover.  Start over if you have to.  I find guns logical but a puzzle at times.

A good start for any gun cleaning project is a good wipe down with a rag lightly soaked in mineral spirits.  It won't hurt anything and will remove the rocks and boulders of dirt.   If needed an old toothbrush is good here too.   Follow it with a dry rag and then follow the finer areas of cleaning and rust removal. 

Go slowly, that old finish has value.  You don't want a new gun.  You want Grandpa's old gun.

Good luck and this is a good get well project.

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13 minutes ago, hueyjazz said:

When you get to the stage of needing to take apart the gun, I highly recommend you research the procedure.

As a kid that took apart a lot of alarm clocks which none of which went back together, I can say I learned.

Gun Parts & Firearm Accessories | Numrich Gun Parts (gunpartscorp.com)

This is a great website for old parts, but its real value is the is the free online detailed diagrams of all the parts of a particular gun.  For an old semi-automatic is lightly the gas system will need some work.  Seals, pistons and springs.  Old ammo was more corrosive so some pitting could be present.

Many here have recommended a use of a rust remover which is a mild acid.  Keep in mind the bluing is a form of rust.  It is an oxide.  Of the hundreds of guns I've worked on, it has never been used.  But its your gun and it is up to you what you want to achieve.  As far as stocks, research what was used there as a finish.  It was never polyurethane.  Usually shellac, boiled linseed oil or tung oil.  But here again, unless the finish is destroyed just leave it alone.

I came from a background of restoring antiques.  When I started with guns I maintained the same attitude.  Do no harm.  Every gun I ever worked on was a project which at the end gave me satisfaction.

And I shot every one of them.  And oh, and this is important.  Only take apart one at a time and you aren't supposed to have any parts leftover.  Start over if you have to.  I find guns logical but a puzzle at times.

A good start for any gun cleaning project is a good wipe down with a rag lightly soaked in mineral spirits.  It won't hurt anything and will remove the rocks and boulders of dirt.   If needed an old toothbrush is good here too.   Follow it with a dry rag and then follow the finer areas of cleaning and rust removal. 

Go slowly, that old finish has value.  You don't want a new gun.  You want Grandpa's old gun.

Good luck and this is a good get well project.

Thank you sir. I started one last night with just a rag and mineral spirits and they aren't as bad as I thought. They look terrible, but its not as far gone as I initially figured. And you're right, I don't want a brand new gun, I just want them cleaned up a tad and not looking like they came back up from the bottom of the lake. 

I have the Numrich catalog on my work bench at work. has to be a couple thousand pages deep. And i frequent the online catalog often. I will keep this in mind. Thank you! I'm not one for using special chemicals and removers to begin with. Old guns aren't supposed to look brand new. Most of the time anyways.  

Thanks again!

Bryan

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Firearms like what you have are my favorite projects. Happiness is an afternoon breaking down, cleaning, tinkering, and reassembling old firearms. My only advice is to start with the most non- collectable, make sure you have good fitting screwdrivers (if not, buy a set of gunsmithing screwdrivers and punches), plenty of oil and start the soaking!

 

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I redid my father’s Remington 1100 a few years ago. It was his only shotgun so it got used a lot. It’s my favorite gun to date. I know you a tool/die guy,but if you need the staking wrench or socket to take the stocks off hit me up I’ll mail them to you as long as you send them back when your done.
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Good luck it was a lot of fun.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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On 5/4/2022 at 9:38 AM, hueyjazz said:

You don't want a new gun.  You want Grandpa's old gun.

I am just the opposite, while I still would want the sentiment of Grandpa's old gun  I want it to be like the day he brought it home new. Any gun I am going to keep for and use myself I want in the best possible condition both mechanically and cosmetically, I try my best to make them look and function like the day they came out of the factory.

Al

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Airdale

I have several military rifles that are over 100 years old.  Mostly 1903 Springfields and 1917 Enfields from WWI.  They are all mechanically and cosmetically perfect for guns that are over a hundred years old.  My hobby is making it so by replacing any worn parts and making sure it functions optimally.    And they shoot as well as Sgt. York did to prove it.

But for me, re-bluing the metal or stripping a stock is equal to painting a Chippindale.  Or putting purple metal flake on a Porsche.    You just don't do it.  You destroy the value and history.  Both actual and sentimental.  And once you remove the patina it never comes back until the next generation.

But I accept its your gun and yours to do as you see fit

 

DaveBoone

I'm 100% with you on your strategy.  Plus, I research the crap out of it before disassembly.  Many good resources on web now.  When I started, it was all books which still work too.  

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 4/28/2022 at 10:22 PM, Pygmy said:

Not to change the subject from rust, but when you mentioned a VERY old Remington semi  shotgun,  a Model 11 came to mind,  which was a humpback made from John Browning's patent..  As far as I know, that the only Rem semi shotgun made until the Model 48 / 11-48  which came out in 1948, followed by thier gas guns, the 58 , 878, and finally the 1100 around 1963... So which one is it..??... Feeble old inquiring minds want to know...Hehehe...

Remington 870 16 gauge & Remington model 58 12 gauge

Remington 1100 12gauge & Remington Model 11 12 gauge 

Remington 22 Scoremaster 511 & Wards Western Field 22lr 

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19 hours ago, SportsmanNH said:

Those old guns now have a new life ! Very nice work LMG ! They came out great ! 

Thanks, Wish i could take credit but thats owed to my grandfather in law.. The bores of all the barrels were cleaned and polished as well. I am in the process of getting him around a Thank you gift. As it means a lot to me that he did this for me, as my life is hectic at the moment still lol.   

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