Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the blue?

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by Max Heat, May 3, 2012.

  1. Max Heat

    Max Heat Well-Known Member

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    I hate to admit it, but I have a few rifles & pistols that haven't been adequately cared for, or "properly" stored. The issues are scratches & dings in the stock/forearm wood, and rusty spots/areas on the blued steel. I just ordered a de-humidifier (EV-500 model) for my safe (which is <8 cubic feet), so I should be good-to-go, after I tape/caulk all holes/seams, and install an adhesive foam door seal. So NOW is when I want to get everything that I keep in the safe into good cosmetic condition.

    Reconditioning the wooden stuff should be pretty straight-forward, I think. I bought a package of 220/320/400 grit sandpaper and a can of mohogany 225 stain. Then I plan to finish up with a few coats of urethane. I have also ordered a couple of soft cases (I already have 2 hard cases - 1 rifle & 1 pistol) so no more nicks or scratches occur on any firearms that are being transported/used, or otherwise taken out of the safe.

    The problem I am running into involves reconditioning of the blued barrels and other blued steel parts. Unfortunately, I have NO previous experience in this area. The products that I have purchased are "krudkutter" rust remover (it's water soluble), and "permablue" liquid gun blue (which I haven't tried yet, because I haven't gotten to that step yet). It is at the first step (de-rusting the steel), where I am faltering.

    Since I am at the beginning of the "learning curve", I started out on a spare clip for my 9mm, which had a few areas of light rust on it, with 1 spot being somewhat rougher. First I tried scotchbrite on the more lightly rusted areas. But I noticed that it was too abrasive on the blueing that I DO NOT want removed, leaving scratches and lightened-up areas on it.

    After reading the instructions on the rust remover bottle, I tried my hand at it, on the areas where rust was present, only to find that it instantly (and completely) removed all of the surrounding blueing, before even beginning to remove any rust. So I took another look at the bottle, now seeing the (very) fine print that states that if used on firearms, it WILL remove the blueing - Ooops!

    I am now looking at a clip that I'm not seeing any actual rust on, but is now covered with un-blued areas around where the light rust spots were, and where the solution ran. But after letting it soak for like a half hour, like it suggested for areas where the rust is thicker, there is now a black, rough-looking "coating" over it, reminiscent of the permatex "rust avenger" (also water-based) stuff that I have used in the past (but never on firearms) to form a "primer" coat on rusted metal that paint can be applied onto.

    What is the correct stuff to use to remove the rust WITHOUT removing any of the existing blueing? I am now at a standstill, waiting for some answers, before going on to the next step, of re-blueing only the spots where there was rust.

    Or does it come down to simply taping off the areas that do not need any re-conditioning, which probably accounts for at least 80-85% of the blued steel?
     
  2. elkaholic

    elkaholic Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    I'm not a gunsmith but maybe one will chime in, especially if you run the thread under gunsmithing, but here is my opinion. Once you have rust spots, you have already removed the bluing and have also left at least small pits! Short of stripping, finishing, and re bluing, anything else will be a bandaid and will never look right.
    If you choose to try to just stop the rusting, you might try some old fashioned naval jelly and rub "LIGHTLY" with 0000 steel wool, clean with alcohol and then keep your barrel wiped down with a silicon rag or occasionally light gun oil to prevent further rusting. You could use permablue first if you wanted, but it will not totally blend in to the old finish and will look "blothchy".........Rich
     

  3. Superzuki

    Superzuki Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    I used a penny and 3 in 1 oil. the penny is softer than the steel, but harder that the rust. It didn't
    permanently mark the b
    lue either. The marks came off when I rubbed it with a terry towel to get
    the oil off.
     
  4. green 788

    green 788 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    0000 steel wool and WD-40...
     
  5. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    Firearms bluing (black oxide) is a "controlled rust process". Any chemical that will remove rust will remove the bluing, too. green 788 had the best suggesion,,,,, WD-40 and 0000 steel wool. I've never seen a "cold blue" that matched up with factory bluing.
     
  6. Max Heat

    Max Heat Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    The blueing solution that I have is composed of selenium dioxide. Is that what the factory bluers run?

    Is the 4-ot steel wool less abrasive than scotchbrite? What about krinkled up AL foil? I have used that successfully on automotive wheels.

    But I guess none of that matters if I can't successfully blend the newly blued areas into the exiting blue. If I have to go with stripping and re-blueing the entire parts, will they look as good as the factory blueing did?
     
  7. Nimrodmar10

    Nimrodmar10 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    Go to the hardware store or home supply center and buy yourself some STAINLESS STEEL steel wool. It will look course compared to 0000 steel wool but pay that no attention. The SS steel wool witll remove the rust without removing the blueing. Use it dry then put oil on the area.

    This is an old Gun Show hookers trick. Buy a gun with surface rust, clean it up with the SS steel wool and then take it inside the show and resell it. Instant profit.
     
  8. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    I haven't tried them all, just a few. But any "bluing in a bottle" is nothing like a 'real' blue job. "Factory" bluing is done in a tank with the chemicals and water mixed, with the chemicals in such concentration that the solution won't start to boil until about 270 deg.F is reached. It then "operates", meaning parts can be place into the tank, at between 270F to 295F, at times depending on the the steel composition being blued, a bit higher. Besides being thermally "hot" the soultion is chemically "hot". Basic ingredients are sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide and water. Each bluing salts maker has other propriety chemicals added to their mix. There are several different formulas that will "blue". As can be seen, just by the quick review of the "factory" process, nothing in a bottle will do the same job. The only way to "restore" the finish that came on your guns/magazines is to strip the current bluing and rust off, remove the pits that are under the rust by draw filing with a mill bastard file, buffing/polishing, and the immersing them into the boiling solution. The 'salts' that accumulate in the nooks and cranies then need to be "boiled out" in a tank of fresh, boiling water and place into a tank of water displacing oil. Basically, a simple process , not counting the polishing, but not a process to take on at home for just a few guns. The best professional bluing shop I know of is "Glenrock Blue" in Glenrock, WY.
     
  9. Max Heat

    Max Heat Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    Shipping them out to be professionally reconditioned would be way too ambitious (I guess expensive is what I REALLY mean) of an undertaking for me to consider. So going "cold" on the blue is my only option at this time. Is there a particular "bottled" brand of blueing that is better (more potent concentration) than the others? The stuff that I have now seems to be kind of watered-down, or something. I'd like to try something that is more highly concentrated. And for improving the way it looks when done, I have found that it is better NOT to use any rust-stripper. The more of the original blue that remains on the metal, the better.

    I guess the moral here is to not allow the condition of the firearms to degrade in the first place. But dehumidifying my safe doesn't seem to be working out very well so far. After placing an EV-500 (supposed to be good for 500 cubic feet) in my 8 cubic foot safe a few days ago, I thought the humidity level would be kept at near zero, with the unit only needing recharging every other month or less. But when I checked yesterday, the humidity gauge in the safe read 55%. After waving the gauge around outside of the safe, it also read 55%. The crystals are blue, so I'm not sure why the humidity inside of the safe isn't lower. I have installed a seal around the doorway opening, but I have not sealed up the 2 lag-bolt holes in the bottom. Could that be the problem?
     
  10. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    All that can/will be done trying to "cold blue" from bottle is lower the value of your firearms. I know they advertise differently, but????? At the most, I use it to 'touch up' a screw head that's been boogered. Why not try a thin coat of "Rig Gun Grease" to keep the rust bugs away. Don't forget to coat the bore and other internals, too. ALL grease would then need to be removed from the bore before shooting it (clean it off everywhere, unless you don't mind 'wearing' some of it!). There just 'ain't no free lunch' in a bottle.
     
  11. Nimrod

    Nimrod Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    Order a bottle of OXPHO blue from Brownells, use degreased 0000 steel wool and follow the instructions to the letter.

    Will the guns look like new? No. They will look a sight better than they do rusted, when I had my shop I used a lot of OXPHO for touch up when the customer didn't want to fork out the cash for a re-blue. It actually looks pretty good if you take your time.

    Bob
     
  12. BillR

    BillR Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    Brownell's sells a soft stainless steel wool that is very course. It will not scratch the bluing like regular steel wool will. It will remove the rust though and of course the rust has removed the bluing underneath it so it will leave a spot where the rust was removed from but will look a heck of a lot better than the patch of rust.
    I use a bit of oil on the rust and let it set for a bit then take the soft stainless steel and rub it till the rust is gone.
     
  13. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    Re: Firearm reconditioning: How to remove rusty spots WITHOUT removing any of the bl

    Guys, I didnt read the entire thread so I appologize if this is a repeat. But once at a gun show and I watched a guy working a rifle over with a pad that looked like one of the old copper pot scrubbers or "chore boy's". The ones that look like a birds nest of coper threads. But, the one he had was silver. I asked him and he swore by it for removing rust and not harming bluing. It was designed, marketed and sold for this very purpose. I found them and bought one. I was impressed!! Now it would not take away pits, but minor rust was gone and the finish was left untouched.


    Also I have used a couple cold blues for touch up from a holster burn or whatever. The trick is to get all the oil off and apply several coats. I buff with a clean patch between coats. Not perfect but will sure make em look better.

    Jeff
     
  14. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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