Thoughts on light restorations?

3rdTennCo.C

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I know that restoring a gun or even toughing some guns diminishes value, I have my $100 Belgian double shotgun from around mid 1850s that is in good condition but has a layer of rust on all the metal (bores are fine). What are some thoughs on using like vinegar to remove just the top layer of rust, yet keep any natural darkening of the metal, removing Only the rust? I want to bring it out to reenactment but have it look closer to an original look for the time. Im not looking to fully restore it, or polish anything
 
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Frederick14Va

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Many different trains of thought on this topic. Lots depends on how far you desire to go with it. Many prefer a light preservation/conservation steps to retard the active rust. Full restorations tend to make it appear brand new. Most tend to prefer to do as little as possible on anything historical that one can get away with, without harming its value and look. Lots of different methods to remove rust in varied degree's, but be aware many of them will also strip it to bare metal including taking off existing patina. Not having photos to reference the degree of rust thats present I would be cautious and not rush it. In most cases if its just some chaulky fine surface rust, a good oiling with a very light handed rub down with #0000 steel wool will usually take off most of the surface rust while only lightly (if any) affect to the existing patina.
 

Frederick14Va

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Additional side notes... Vinegar does remove rust, but it also normally requires the item in question to be submerged and soaked for a certain degree of time for it to do its work. Gun barrels tend to be problematic unless you have a suitable trough to put it in. A simple rub down with it usually doesnt do much. However vinegar will also start to eat the base metal if left in it too long. I run an antique and restoration business, so have a wide variety of different methods to remove rust, corrosion, grime depending on what the metal is, severity of corrosion as well as what the desired end result is being sought after. Depending on what Im working on I frequently make use of Citric Acid, Oxalic Acid, Electrolysis or Ultrasonic tank dunking, amongst others. Of course there are other corrosion eaters out there thats cheaper and more readily available that others use such as Vinegar, Molasses or Lye baths.. Each has their own pro's and con's to be aware of.

Ahh.. now see the pics uploaded.. If it were me I would be inclinded use the oil/steel wool. Another option in this case since the rust only appears to be superficial on the surface. There is a cleaning product called "Bar Keepers Friend"... comes in both a powder and a liquid form. Its a micro grit cleaner marketed for metalwork and countertops, however it also contains Oxalic Acid that does very well in handling and disolving minor rust issues. It also does great on brass, bronze, copper as well without turning it pink. Used with an old tooth brush in a circular motion works well. You can also see the effects its doing as you go along so less likely to accidently take it too far than you want too. (We use the same stuff on our bronze 12lb Napoleon when we want a good shine on her... however not with a toothbrush in this case!)..
 

3rdTennCo.C

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would using a soft bristle steel brush be alright to use? Im thinking about the tight crevices in between the double barrels
 

Frederick14Va

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would using a soft bristle steel brush be alright to use? Im thinking about the tight crevices in between the double barrels
I mentioned using the toothbrush since it helps getting the product down into crevices. A soft steel/brass brush should be ok, just be careful that it doesnt dig/scar/scratch into the metal too much.. especially if you want to preserve the patina.
 

Jobe Holiday

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The end view photo of the breech shows a hole between the barrels leading in under the upper rib. You don't want to get any vinegar or other solvents in there because it could cause the ribs to come loose. IMHO, the majority of these old percussion doubles after 150 years is that they are barely stable to begin with. No matter how nice the bores may look, its what you can't see that is the danger when it comes to firing them.
J.
 

3rdTennCo.C

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This gun will not be fired, but I know some people clean guns with certain products, but religiously use different things for outside and inside the bores
 

3rdTennCo.C

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I used the oil and steel wool with a bit of soft steel and brass bristle brushes, cant see it too well in the pics but I managed to keep a good amount of natural patina and dark marks in the metal. I don't think I did but I hope no one thinks I ruined this wonderful shotgun. I feel like now it looks as though its 160 year old and such but was taken care of. Also during cleaning I had noticed some more stampings on the barrels near the proof marks, gonna do some looking up on those tonight.
 

zburkett

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This may be considered blasphemy, but, I hunted with reproduction rifles for a couple of decades. They sell a product called "Bore Butter" that I find just smear it on and then rub it with a course cloth and it keeps the patina and protects the gun in even the worst conditions. Buy it at most gun stores and Walmart. Any solvent including vinegar concerns me on an old double because of the solder between the barrels.
 

frankconrad

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I worked with V.M Starr in the early 1960, the ML shotgun man of the time , your Belgian shotgun barrels are brazed togather.
one thing about Belgian double barrel shotgun barrels do not come apart. Regardless how cheap.
 

3rdTennCo.C

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I worked with V.M Starr in the early 1960, the ML shotgun man of the time , your Belgian shotgun barrels are brazed togather.
one thing about Belgian double barrel shotgun barrels do not come apart. Regardless how cheap.
So nominal chance of barrels coming apart due to vinegar?
 

frankconrad

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So nominal chance of barrels coming apart due to vinegar?
If they ever come apart it will take more than vinegar. Starr had had never seen one, or knew of one.
If it was my gun, I would quit where you are, it was never a high class gun, to go farther to make it look as new would mean stripping it , browning it to bring out the Damsscus. It would look like cobble to almost anyone, much better to look like honest working gun.
 

WJC

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Great job! It looks great, and I wouldn't go any further! Thanks for sharing it with us!
 

3rdTennCo.C

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I wasnt intending to make it look new, old and worn yet not rusting away. High class gun or not I still probably would have restored it a bit if it was ruating away. To me personally, Id restore just about any quality of gun, they are all old, have a story to tell, and its an accomplishment for these thongs to still be here kicken after 150+ years! They all deserve to shine a lil bit again
 


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