Advice on Cleaning this Burnside

Johnny676767

Private
Joined
Nov 30, 2020
Hello,

I just bought this 5th model Burnside carbine because it appears truly in attic condition. I want to clean it up, though. Maybe “restore” is a better word. I’m not trying to get it in shiny, refinished condition. I just want to get rid of dirt and rust and hopefully keep any patina or original finish underneath. I think there’s a critter or two living in the bore.

I‘ve asked on this forum about this before when I was working on a Springfield musket I got. That one wasn’t as bad as this one, though. On that one, I used soap and water, Kramer’s Best and finished with Renaissance Wax. It came out nice, but I’m not sure that will handle this rust.

This is my 3rd CW gun purchase, so I’m pretty new. I didn’t break down the others to clean, nor have I cleaned the bores yet. This one is looking like it may need to be disassembled, though.
I thought I’d ask for advice on this specific one before I jump in. I appreciate it.

00B12031-626E-4DA2-9687-A3A610B84ED2.jpeg


3C4F9350-7ADF-4459-864D-B61AD09F8536.jpeg
E901966F-9AC8-4988-9A30-2F1084F98917.jpeg
BEA00F73-76E1-477F-A187-094C3BE8E6D3.jpeg
6BFC4510-69A5-416E-8617-0057233CAF15.jpeg
39E19CDF-9AD0-4786-BCF4-C5108EBE84EA.jpeg
0435B40C-43AF-4E66-A270-1792C7CA4C13.jpeg
2867F7B9-E946-4934-82E5-4DAD92AEC111.jpeg
637C6C2A-FE2E-4CAF-A883-4873517C3D00.jpeg
 

29thWisCoG

Private
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
this guy has a pretty good vid on breaking down a musket, but his cleaning is much lighter than yours:


if you check his channel he has some other good musket cleaning vids

this one is pretty good as well from midway usa
 
Last edited:

Mikebiker

Cadet
Joined
Jun 1, 2021
I am quite new to this forum but cleaning up old guns like this is basically what I do for a living. The wood looks blacker then usual and I suspect it may have hung over a fireplace for many years. You have 2 routes here. You could oil it and good and wipe it down very aggessivly a few times and leave it as in found condition. That would free up the internals and loosen a lot of the rust but in the end it still will be dirty. In the right hands it could be cleaned up quite nicely while retaining nearly all the patina and what finish remains. If you send me a private message I could tell you what I would do but it would take forever to type it all out. The old oil and steel wool just are not enough for that type of rust.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Oil and steel wool takes off too much in my experience, and will not retain any patina. For the more lightly to moderately rusted areas, I have used a popsicle stick (lighter rust) and/or bamboo chopstick (cut to a square edge; use for moderate to heavy rust) and oil to "scrape" the rust. As I proceed, I wipe the oil frequently to see what the cleaned surface looks like to ensure it is to my satisfaction. Try this on an internal surface so that you can see if you like the results of this method. I might have some pics of a lockplate I cleaned up last year...I'll post "before and afters" so you can get a sense of whether the final finish is what you are trying to achieve.

EDIT: Here are the "before and afters". Note that the surface crustiness has been removed but the original character/patina is preserved. It looks just as antique as it did before (I don't like the "polished bright/brand new" look; and if any cleaning at all makes ucvrelics cringe, going to a "polished bright" look would break his heart), but now all the lock parts are smooth enough to function like they should.

Before:
20201007_172622-before.jpg


After:
20210610_102247-after.jpg


Before:
20201007_172616-before.jpg


After:
20210610_102326-after.jpg


Before:
20201007_172729-before.jpg


After:
20210610_102137-after.jpg


Apologies....some of the angles are slightly different so the surfaces caught the light a bit different (most noticeable in the last two pics)...but I think you get a good enough idea.

EDIT2: One more "after" pic from a different angle...
20210610_102235-after.jpg
 
Last edited:

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
It is now an untouched "maiden" but once you fondle and rub it, it can never (in your lifetime) regain its virginal status.
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
True, but the fondling and rubbing can really bring it to life!....errrrr......ummmmmmm.....perhaps we better not go further along this tangent.... :eek: :giggle:

Keep that up, and I'll send you a link to that 1940s Spade Cooley song "Shame on You" which ends with this verse:

Shame, shame on you

Shame, shame on you

Can you hold your head up high

Look your friends right in the eyes

No you can't, shame on you
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
Old rust is just old rust and will only get worse with time; personally, I'm all in favor of removing as much of that sort of "patina" as possible! On Confederate or other potentially "rare" and valuable items I apply a different standard than to regulation Union and most other pieces; however, even on those I try to remove any sort of active rust and grime: Brasso, steel wool, and machine oil are my usual go-tos for the metal surfaces and a light coat of linseed oil for the wood.
 

rob63

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Location
Indiana
I am someone who normally does as little as possible, preferably nothing at all, to the guns I acquire. However, I am 100% in agreement with the above, that gun needs maintenance. I wouldn't leave a shovel in that condition, let alone a historic firearm.

I would take it completely apart just to make sure I get the internal rust taken care of too. Proceed slowly. Use penetrating oil on the screws and give it time to work. Make sure you have good hollow ground screw drivers that fit! I didn't watch the videos posted earlier, but I would guess they likely cover these things.

One thing I have surprisingly found works well with stocks like that is a product called Simple Green. It will remove the finish, so it's not something you would use on anything in decent shape, but it does a good job of pulling the crud out of something that far gone without being harmful to the wood.

I think there is a very nice gun hiding under the muck, looks like a nice cartouche in the wood.
 

Johnny676767

Private
Joined
Nov 30, 2020
As I said, I’m new to collecting, but even I know that the rust will continue to eat away at the metal if nothing is done. I’ll start by wiping it down with Ballistol (picked up some yesterday) and maybe a scrubby type pad to start. I’ll then move to brass/bronze wool if needed. Guy at the gun shop said let the oil soak in a bit and don’t rush it.

it does have 2 nice cartouches. I don’t know if all of these were blued. I can see a bit here and there but on close inspection, it looks like a silver colored barrel.
 

29thWisCoG

Private
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
what would you guys do to remove some of the black patches shown here on the lock plate, like what i have circled?
blatch patches.jpg
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
what would you guys do to remove some of the black patches shown here on the lock plate, like what i have circled?
View attachment 404432
I don't remove those, cuz they give great character to the gun. Also, they are embedded deep. You would have to remove alot of metal, leaving a noticeable divot, which would then require you to remove even more metal overall to reduce the divot. Basically, you'd be chasing a "polished bright" look and you will have ground off most stamped letters/images and the defined edges on the gun...not adviseable since it would greatly reduce the collectibility/value of the gun....but I am not here to judge, and others could perhaps better explain how to achieve a "polished bright" look if that's what you want.

I've never used it, but you could apply "naval jelly" on those individual spots to eliminate the black, but the parts that have been jellied end up with a weird silvery-white colour/patina. If you don't naval jelly the entire gun, then those spots stand out starkly. Having seen guns that were entirely treated with naval jelly, it's not a pretty look....you end up with garish looking bright metal. Sorry, I wish I had a pic to illustrate what I am describing.
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
what would you guys do to remove some of the black patches shown here on the lock plate, like what i have circled?
View attachment 404432

Those black patches are iron oxide, and if you can find a way to remove it, you will end up with bright metal with deep pits, and that's not a good look.
I think it would look better if you would rust back the shiny metal to a darker color which is closer to the black pits.

I would note that the lockplate should fit snugly against the bolster - something is wrong with this combination of parts.
 

Similar threads

Top