April 23, 2012
I have a 94 made in 1902, that has full coverage of very thin blue on both sides of the receiver, which gives it a nice appearance. Problem is there is surface rust on top of this thin blue. A friend suggests using fine steel wool with oil to remove the rust. I must admit I am scared to do this, as I really think I have made thin blue even thinner by polishing with an oily cloth on other antique Winchesters in the past? Any suggestions?
September 4, 2012
I’d suggest fine brass wool — harder to find, but less aggressive. Use a good amount of oil (I’ve even used WD-40 liberally with good results).
You could try a spot that’s not as visible first (bottom of barrel close to forearm?) and see how that worked.
I’ve never cleaned one up that had thin blue, but I did clean up some serious "freckles" off a Marlin .30-30 once using the brass wool and WD-40 and I was amazed at how well it worked and how the blueing looked good afterwards.
We can’t guarantee your results, so just be careful and work slowly.
Marine/boat shops sometimes are a good source for brass wool, by the way.
Good luck, and tight groups.
ps: The edge of a real copper penny works well with 3-in-1 oil on really tough rust spots.
June 11, 2014
I’ve used both brass wool and extra fine steel wool. My preference is extra fine steel wool with a drop of oil. I have used in on a variety of 100 year old Winchesters to remove a spot of rust and have yet to observe any thinning of the blue. However, I do it lightly and just enough to remove the rust, which is a lot softer than the blue. Brass wool often leaves a slightly brassy look, which must then be removed using some other method, at least in my experience.
April 15, 2005
The best combination in my learned opinion is fine mesh copper wool wetted with Kroil. Before using the copper wool, coat the rusty spots or area with Kroil, let it sit overnight, then gently scrub it with the copper wool. Steel wool (very fine 0000) can be used, but it requires a gentle hand.
WACA 6571L, Historian & Board of Director Member
January 24, 2013
I second or third the recommendation on bronze wool. My only other comment would be to get the bronze wool from a gunsmith supply house such as Brownells. The stuff you find in hardware stores and megamarts for use on pots/pans iw way to harsh, and actually its steel/stainless steel thats been copper plated.
Not sure about the stuff used on boats, it’s been a few years since I worke on a boat.
September 4, 2012
December 30, 2011
There are 100% copper scrubbing pads that you could buy at Menards or wherever for a couple of bucks. The particular ones I have are made by Libman and labeled "100% pure copper". I cut up some tiny pieces and could not get them to stick to a magnet. Cross section appears to be copper all the way through. They are only a few thou in thickness and I don’t have a microscope. I’m sure there are also other brands that are coated copper and I could see why you’d want to avoid them. Maybe all manufacturer’s products are coated now to save costs?
Used them once with oil to remove surface rust/etc., particularly on a magazine tube, and didn’t see any damage to the blue from it while under the spotlight or in sunlight. I worked with a very light pressure regardless.
I thought the pads having a 90 degree edge rather than a round edge would be effective with very light pressure. They also are cheap were readily available last time I bought some.
I’m sure copper or bronze wool would work as well or better. Sounds like the best professional approach based on Mr. Hunter’s comments and others. I haven’t tried fine steel wool either. Just my 2 cents on what worked for me.
April 23, 2012
September 9, 2011
They sell brass, bronze, copper, aluminum, steel and stainless steel wools. Look under the metallic wools category.
August 20, 2012
March 2, 2013
I just cleaned the receiver, barrel, and mag tube of a 1873, yesterday using mineral spirits and 1000 steel wool ( vary gently, just enough to break up the rust a little) and then a piece of denim from a old pair of blue jeans, which allowed a little more vigorous scrub due to the softer, yet course material of denim. Followed up with a wiping with a clean old Tee Shirt to wipe off the excess mineral spirit. After evaporation a light coat of gun oil.
My end result was no rust and no visible damage.
March 29, 2012
I have used 0000 steel fur for years for this but recently on a suggestion tried stainless steel scrubbing pads. These are available from gunsmith suppliers such as Brownells but can be found at significantly lower prices at the local Walmart. The pads us a soft curly form of SS and really works well with no damage to remaining blue. Always use lubricant during the process..I vote for Kroil…
January 18, 2013
March 1, 2011
I have dealt with this same situation on several guns of all makes.
My favorite way to handle it is to apply a light coat of KROIL to the area being careful to avoid letting it soak into any wood.
Let it rest for several hours or overnight…..then gently rub the area with 0000 Steel Wool.
Repeat if needed…..but keep in mind, there is most likely no finish under those small spots, and you will expose small areas of steel by removing the rust, but……you don’t want to leave that rust on that metal!!!
KROIL is amazing stuff and finds it’s way into every nook/cranny……so I feel that if you can get that worked into the affected areas you will at least prevent the spread of the rust……assuming you keep the gun wiped down and dry.
Best of luck!
Tom Graham - Prescott Valley, Arizona
January 19, 2013
Has anyone ever tried MAGIC ERASER to do the scrubbing with instead of any type of metallic wool?
Its a polymer type material that is similar to a sponge. Audiophiles use it to clean the "needles" on their turntables.
You can find it in almost any store that sells kitchen cleaning products.
it would be a step down on the abrasive scale from bronze wool and might be more for giving to the first time rust remover.
August 8, 2012
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Kroil soak for about three hr. then kroil saturated 0000 steel wool. Never dry wool. Works for me.
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