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Discussion Starter #1
I'd like to hear what people are doing to clean up their guns without destroying it's value. I'd like to clean my collection. I just don't want to trash anything and I'm not familiar with any methods or safe chemicals. Also, how do you steam out the dents? Thanks.
 

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Mineral spirits has always worked good for me. May help to know exactly which rifle you plan to do some cleaning or steaming of. A refurb 91/30 and if you are going to refinish the stock go ahead. But something nicer or more collectible, probably shouldn't do any steaming anyways. It will greatly devalue a rifle. Mineral spirits worked great for me with a soft bristled brush, toothbrush or sloshed on to a rag for a stock wipe down if it's got cosmolene on it. Could even use it to wipe down any stock that's dirty for that matter. Shouldn't hurt any shellac or finish, never did to any of the countless refurbs I used it on once upon a time. Do yourself a favor and get the odorless version. And it works fine on the metal too. Won't hurt the bluing, never had any issues with mineral spirits and getting the cosmolene off the metal either on those once upon a time refurbs I used to have.

As for steaming out dents, I never tried it without it being a complete stock reconditioning project I was undertaking, where I stripped a finish and restained or refinished it otherwise. If it's a gouge, don't count on the steaming method to help too much, since the wood is already gouged out and missing. But for a dent, a wet rag or Tshirt and hot iron should do the trick. Put the shirt over the dent, and hit it with the iron. Could even use the steam function if you have it. May help to raise out a dent a bit. May not make it flush like new. Just have to experiment really, and find out.

Hope that helps a little, and others will probably chime in. But also, don't be surprised if they say don't do anything! Unless you have a lot of rust causing pitting, then you may have to take drastic action. But for my collection, I put some oil and do as much as I can to help prevent rust if it's present or showing signs. And if it's already there, just try to mitigate it as much as possible if it won't go away completely without ruining any finish. And feel free to PM any time if you can think of anything else too. Always happy to help, you or anyone, for that matter if there are ever any questions.
 

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I wipe mine down with a 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. It dissolves a lot of the crud. Then wipe them dry with paper towels. A little will soak in but never seen it cause a problem and wont do anything to a shellac finish that a lot of things will degloss.
 

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My 'motor rag' I carry in my boat or snowgo, you know them red 'shop rag' types.

Spit and rub, thats worked well when the rag alone didnt get 'er done.
 

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Ah, just wipe them down with a soft clean cloth, with some Ballistol on it. It's good for the metal...
This is good advice. I’m unaware of any military stock finish that would be damaged by a light wipe down with Ballistol. There’s no need to do so on a regular basis and I wouldn’t use any petroleum product on unsealed, open pore wood surfaces.

I would very much advise against applying linseed oil or any “drying” oil that polymerizes to form a layer on the wood. Applications of these oils, which inevitably affect appearance by increasing reflectivity, should be considered a refinishing process as far as I’m concerned. Definitely not something to be done to any stock worthy of preservation in its original condition.

Steaming dents is not quite as damaging to collector grade wood as setting it on fire or dropping it from a tall building but it’s not far behind. Beloved by those who have never encountered a gun that they can’t “improve” and recommended in countless gun magazine articles and You Tube videos, steaming dents is merely one leg in the triathlon of destruction along with applications of Easy-Off oven cleaner and submerging stocks in the dish washer.
 

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Clean them why exactly ? What is on your stocks that they need to be cleaned ?

I sometimes get Vegemite on mine.
 

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Clean them why exactly ? What is on your stocks that they need to be cleaned ?

I sometimes get Vegemite on mine.
Not the original poster, but I've cleaned yak fat off stocks (preservative grease) and grime from sitting in an unsealed environment for 100+ years. But, those stocks didn't have original finish anyway. My regular guns, just a paper towel with a little oil on it.
 

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Lemon Oil and a paper towel. You will be amazed at how much dirt/oil comes off your stock. Will temporarily shine it up a bit but once dry, will not leave a sheen.

Edit. Get Renaissance Wax and apply it inside the stock along with on your gun metal. You can thank me later. You can even apply it outside on the stock but it's expensive so it's up to you.
 

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Ah, just wipe them down with a soft clean cloth, with some Ballistol on it. It's good for the metal, and a leather sling too.
I use Ballistol, depending upon what I'm cleaning/lubricating. What has your experience been with using Ballistol on light colored leathers? Does it darken the light colored leathers?
 

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Depends... are we talking straight out of the crate, slathered in cosmoline or just your average old rifle?

For the former I have a parts washer in the shop full of paint thinner. All the metal gets a nice soak in that, it cuts the cosmoline off quick. A rag soaked in thinner or mineral spirits will clean up the stock after scooping out the big chunks. After all the cosmoline is gone, I clean the bore as I do after shooting and then soak the metal with Ballistol and wipe off the excess - paint thinner evaporates quickly and leaves metal open to rust! The stock is left to dry, and I give it a gentle wipe with the Ballistol rag. Reassemble and wipe down with a clean rag.

Anything else just gets wiped down with Ballistol and oiled as usual... no need to do much else. I have used plenty of other sprays and stuff too but this has been my go-to for a while now.
 

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Go to your nearest Lowes and pick up a can of Restor-A- Finish. The product will pull the grime out of the existing finish without removing it. I've successfully used this process on more stocks than I can remember. It's quick and easy and if your dealing with excessive grime apply the Restor-A-Finish with 4/0 steel wool. If your stock is slathered in cosmoline use mineral spirits to remove this first.
Let us know how it turns out.
Jim
 

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Yes. If that's a problem for you, then don't.
If you are responding to my question, thank you for the reply. I am perplexed by what appears to be a hostile component in your reply after the "yes". It is a given if it were a problem, based upon the nature of my question, that common sense would dictate I would not, most likely, use any product that would darken a light colored milsurp leather. Unfortunately, on the Internet we can't determine the inflection of any post "words" and their intent. If finesse and tact are normally lacking in your posts, I get it, I really do.

Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
 

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If you are responding to my question, thank you for the reply. I am perplexed by what appears to be a hostile component in your reply after the "yes". It is a given if it were a problem, based upon the nature of my question, that common sense would dictate I would not, most likely, use any product that would darken a light colored milsurp leather. Unfortunately, on the Internet we can't determine the inflection of any post "words" and their intent. If finesse and tact are normally lacking in your posts, I get it, I really do. Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
WHOA! Easy now, I had NO intention of sounding hostile. Look, I was once upon a time a shoe salesman. Certain customers went ballistic if a shoe care product, that I had sold to them, darkened the leather on their brand new swad shoes. So in painfully remembering that, I was merely trying to convey, that if you don't care for the darkening effect, using Ballistol would have on your leather, then I would recommend, that you do not use it. Okay now? :)
 

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Go to your nearest Lowes and pick up a can of Restor-A- Finish. The product will pull the grime out of the existing finish without removing it. I've successfully used this process on more stocks than I can remember. It's quick and easy and if your dealing with excessive grime apply the Restor-A-Finish with 4/0 steel wool. If your stock is slathered in cosmoline use mineral spirits to remove this first.
Let us know how it turns out.
Jim
Jim:

I don’t have any first hand experience with Restor-A-Finish but I am always very concerned and skeptical about the use of mass-marketed wood and furniture products on the stocks of collectible firearms.

The MSDS for “R-A-F” notes the following list of ingredients:

Distillates (petroleum), hydrotreated heavy paraffinic 50-75%

Petroleum distillates, hydrotreated light 25-50%

Isopropyl Alcohol 5-10%

Acetone 5-10%

Butanone 5-10%

The heavy and light petroleum distillates are probably nothing to worry about and I’d bet that the same or similar compounds are found in virtually every common gun cleaning product from simple 3-In-One oil and Hoppes Gun Oil to Ballistol. These petroleum products may not be theoretically good for wood but in reality they are not harmful when used lightly and infrequently to clean grease and grime off a stock.

The remaining ingredients are solvents of varying strength that may pose a risk to the original wood finish. Isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol, is a relatively mild as solvents go and its presence in R-A-F probably won’t harm any of the common stock finishes other than (possibly) shellac. Denatured alcohol will instantly strip shellac off a stock but isopropyl alcohol, especially when diluted, requires a bit more work and longer exposure. While it may not completely strip the shellac I’d be very concerned about the possibility of it turning the shellac finish a muted white color.

Acetone and butanone will definitely strip shellac and most other wood finishes but the concentrations present are probably weak enough that R-A-F can be used to clean a stock without an immediate and dramatic change in appearance. I believe however that it’s unwise to assume that the original wood finish is not be affected to some degree. Any solvent strong enough to perform a “deep” cleaning is undoubtedly removing some of the wood finish along with any dirt or grime on top of that finish.

I have a couple of very simple rules for the care and cleaning of old guns or collectibles the first of which is to do no harm or make any irreparable changes. Secondly, never use any product or process that is stronger or harsher than it needs to be to do the job.

I have no doubt that R-A-F will do a “better” job of removing what lies on top of a gun stock than a more mild product such as Ballistol or mineral oil. And that’s the problem. If after using any cleaning product or process it looks like you have a new or different stock, that’s a problem. Part of doing no harm is making no change in the age appropriate finish of the wood or metal. What many sadly believe to be grime and dirt is actually an honest, time wrought patina that should be respected and preserved.

To repeat, I have never used R-A-F but I sincerely believe that it’s strength as a cleaning product makes it unsuitable for use on any gun worthy of preservation.


 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you for that in-depth response. As It gave me a clearer picture of ingredients not to use. Can you recommend anything safe?




Jim:

I don’t have any first hand experience with Restor-A-Finish but I am always very concerned and skeptical about the use of mass-marketed wood and furniture products on the stocks of collectible firearms.

The MSDS for “R-A-F” notes the following list of ingredients:

Distillates (petroleum), hydrotreated heavy paraffinic 50-75%

Petroleum distillates, hydrotreated light 25-50%

Isopropyl Alcohol 5-10%

Acetone 5-10%

Butanone 5-10%

The heavy and light petroleum distillates are probably nothing to worry about and I’d bet that the same or similar compounds are found in virtually every common gun cleaning product from simple 3-In-One oil and Hoppes Gun Oil to Ballistol. These petroleum products may not be theoretically good for wood but in reality they are not harmful when used lightly and infrequently to clean grease and grime off a stock.

The remaining ingredients are solvents of varying strength that may pose a risk to the original wood finish. Isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol, is a relatively mild as solvents go and its presence in R-A-F probably won’t harm any of the common stock finishes other than (possibly) shellac. Denatured alcohol will instantly strip shellac off a stock but isopropyl alcohol, especially when diluted, requires a bit more work and longer exposure. While it may not completely strip the shellac I’d be very concerned about the possibility of it turning the shellac finish a muted white color.

Acetone and butanone will definitely strip shellac and most other wood finishes but the concentrations present are probably weak enough that R-A-F can be used to clean a stock without an immediate and dramatic change in appearance. I believe however that it’s unwise to assume that the original wood finish is not be affected to some degree. Any solvent strong enough to perform a “deep” cleaning is undoubtedly removing some of the wood finish along with any dirt or grime on top of that finish.

I have a couple of very simple rules for the care and cleaning of old guns or collectibles the first of which is to do no harm or make any irreparable changes. Secondly, never use any product or process that is stronger or harsher than it needs to be to do the job.

I have no doubt that R-A-F will do a “better” job of removing what lies on top of a gun stock than a more mild product such as Ballistol or mineral oil. And that’s the problem. If after using any cleaning product or process it looks like you have a new or different stock, that’s a problem. Part of doing no harm is making no change in the age appropriate finish of the wood or metal. What many sadly believe to be grime and dirt is actually an honest, time wrought patina that should be respected and preserved.

To repeat, I have never used R-A-F but I sincerely believe that it’s strength as a cleaning product makes it unsuitable for use on any gun worthy of preservation.


 

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Jim:

I don’t have any first hand experience with Restor-A-Finish but I am always very concerned and skeptical about the use of mass-marketed wood and furniture products on the stocks of collectible firearms.

The MSDS for “R-A-F” notes the following list of ingredients:

Distillates (petroleum), hydrotreated heavy paraffinic 50-75%

Petroleum distillates, hydrotreated light 25-50%

Isopropyl Alcohol 5-10%

Acetone 5-10%

Butanone 5-10%

The heavy and light petroleum distillates are probably nothing to worry about and I’d bet that the same or similar compounds are found in virtually every common gun cleaning product from simple 3-In-One oil and Hoppes Gun Oil to Ballistol. These petroleum products may not be theoretically good for wood but in reality they are not harmful when used lightly and infrequently to clean grease and grime off a stock.

The remaining ingredients are solvents of varying strength that may pose a risk to the original wood finish. Isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol, is a relatively mild as solvents go and its presence in R-A-F probably won’t harm any of the common stock finishes other than (possibly) shellac. Denatured alcohol will instantly strip shellac off a stock but isopropyl alcohol, especially when diluted, requires a bit more work and longer exposure. While it may not completely strip the shellac I’d be very concerned about the possibility of it turning the shellac finish a muted white color.

Acetone and butanone will definitely strip shellac and most other wood finishes but the concentrations present are probably weak enough that R-A-F can be used to clean a stock without an immediate and dramatic change in appearance. I believe however that it’s unwise to assume that the original wood finish is not be affected to some degree. Any solvent strong enough to perform a “deep” cleaning is undoubtedly removing some of the wood finish along with any dirt or grime on top of that finish.

I have a couple of very simple rules for the care and cleaning of old guns or collectibles the first of which is to do no harm or make any irreparable changes. Secondly, never use any product or process that is stronger or harsher than it needs to be to do the job.

I have no doubt that R-A-F will do a “better” job of removing what lies on top of a gun stock than a more mild product such as Ballistol or mineral oil. And that’s the problem. If after using any cleaning product or process it looks like you have a new or different stock, that’s a problem. Part of doing no harm is making no change in the age appropriate finish of the wood or metal. What many sadly believe to be grime and dirt is actually an honest, time wrought patina that should be respected and preserved.

To repeat, I have never used R-A-F but I sincerely believe that it’s strength as a cleaning product makes it unsuitable for use on any gun worthy of preservation.


Thank you for your in-depth response. I'm not going to refute any of it I'm simply stating the R-A-F works and works very well. I've used just about every type of finish restoration technique known to man over the past 40 years. If a lot of chemicals is a turn off for you then there's precious little in the restoration arena that can be accomplished. Why don't you give R-A-F a try, perhaps on a stock that you don't think is valuable and draw your own conclusions?
Jim
 
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