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Gold Bullet Member and Noted Curmudgeon
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If it is inside in a climate that isn't humid (unlike mine - relative humidity today is 36% - lower than it often is - at 103 degrees Fahrenheit), I'd say leave it alone, it will (as others have noted) be stable as is.
 

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Gold Bullet Member and Noted Curmudgeon
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I have several cannon shells and the best method I have found is to heat them in boiled linseed oil. I have an old hot plate that I put the pot on in the middle of the back yard.
The heat drives out the water and the oil replaces it. With out this treatment, If left sitting on the shelf the ball will slowly flake away.
I think that would be fine for solid shot (including grape), but not for shell, not unless I was certain they were well and truly emptied. In that day, shell would normally have had a bursting charge of black powder and heating that can get - exciting...
 

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Gold Bullet Member and Noted Curmudgeon
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I have seen a lot of old tools that were BLO treated. And forged beat traps. Real collector iron that have had much value lost with that old crap coating. it is OK for coating junk that has no value now and never will be worth anything in the future. BLO is not for objects of any merit. There was another treatment with some rust converter that could be painted on. Similar look, more damaging than BLO.

The most difficult thing for many to do it is "LEAVE OLD STUFF ALONE" . Just becasue it is "not a gun" should not open up the floodgates of bubba-restoration options.
Find myself disagreeing. BLO may not be the best possible treatment for metal objects, but it is what Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre used on the stock of my Superposed - and that is surely an object of merit...

I am unwilling to oven-roast (or otherwise subject to heat) projectiles UNLESS i am certain they aren't explosive-loaded.
 

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Gold Bullet Member and Noted Curmudgeon
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Agreed. BLO is wonderful, good and proper for wood. It was the original finish on many rifles and very nice in that it can be reapplied without running a risk of getting called a refinish or a restoration.

My Belgium Browning shotgun came with a very glossy hard finish that really did not appeal to me. Had they used BLO, I expect, I would have been happy. Eventually, l stripped it off and hand rubber on an oil. Probably killed the resale. Anyone lives long enough, he will regret some improvements made to his guns. Then they call us Bubba :) I guess that makes me a reformed bubba.
Probably French Polished, which is hard, shiny, and uses BLO and a LOT of rubbing with real thin coats.

Oh - apparently USN, in the days of wooden ships, iron men and cannon balls propelled by sacred black from muzzle-loading guns (and carronades...), used shiny black paint to preserve cannon balls. And the guns themselves. Oil-based paint, not sure of the pigment
 

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Gold Bullet Member and Noted Curmudgeon
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101,492 Posts
One of the metal detecting guys om u-tube pulls the fuzes and unloads them. Then boils them in wax. When cool he rebuffs them to get more wax off. I believe he sells them after all that. May not be High explosive rounds. Seems yp dig them up from creek beds and from streams. Frank
If cannon balls (shells, they called them in the day), explosive filling was Sacred Black. What the charge was doesn't matter that much as long as it is removed before cleaning. One of the methods of rendering UXB safe during WWII was to use steam to liquify TNT so it would run out of the bomb. Actually, earlier cylindro-concoidal shells (up until c.WWI) used BP for the explosive charge. Then picric acid was discovered to work, though it also turned out to have some problems in general use. Among them (after a period in storage) reacting with the steel or iron of the shell body to form picrates that were extremely sensitive. I wouldn't want to molest a century+ old picric acid-filled shell myself.
 
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