Cheap/expedient rust removal?

TresMon

Gunny Sergeant
Dec 3, 2007
1,172
33
48
NW USA
#1
I was offered a crappy but good paying job. A guy inherited a bunch of rusty guns. He wants to pay me to "clean them all up" but not refinish them. I'm hesitant, unless somebody knows a good inexpensive trick for getting heavy (pitted) rust off guns that doesn't require a blast cabinet* or dip tanks. (* I'm in between air compressors at the moment...) Any tips or tricks that might push me over the fence regarding the job?

Thanks.
 

Ledzep

Chancellor
Jun 9, 2009
1,672
419
83
Black Hills
#7
Rust removers are going to remove bluing, too. I've used Birchwood Casey blue/rust remover and it is the worst smell I can remember... Besides a rotted cow that we tried to pull out of a stream that ripped in half instead of dragging out.... Mircroslick Cerakote, or any cerakote hardner is also pretty bad (not so much a bad smell, just a sharp heinous pain).

Anyway, steel wool and kroil for light spots.
 

Blutroop

Sergeant of the Hide
Oct 25, 2018
274
221
43
Alaska
#8
Read up on electrolysis. I did this to a old norinco ak that had rust. Used a battery charger, rebar tie wire, a piece of rebar and a plastic tub. Don’t leave it too long as it will eat away rust in the bottom of pits you didn’t know were so deep.
 
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KZP

P.L.O.
Mar 11, 2017
226
203
43
Raleigh, NC
#9
Never tried it on a firearm, but I put rusty parts in boiling water for 20 minutes. Creates a black oxide finish. May have to wipe it down and do it again depending on the rust severity and type.
 
Likes: ddavis
Apr 18, 2012
114
30
28
46
#10
The cheapest & most effective?
Molasses & water & let it soak,& soak for a long time.
If you’ve heavy pitting as you say,no matter what rust removal method you use it will require refinishing.
And if the metal parts are badly pitted,I dare say the furniture may need to be brought back to life too.
 
Sep 7, 2013
162
16
18
#11
I've only used KROIL and copper wool however I recently read a post (elsewhere) describing a product called Big45 frontier metal cleaner alloy. Reportedly they had good results with the product.
 

spife7980

Full Member
Feb 10, 2017
4,486
1,436
113
Central TX
#13
Read up on electrolysis. I did this to a old norinco ak that had rust. Used a battery charger, rebar tie wire, a piece of rebar and a plastic tub. Don’t leave it too long as it will eat away rust in the bottom of pits you didn’t know were so deep.
My father did this to some old cast iron pots, they were more orange than the University of Texas. Spent awhile in the vinegar with a battery charger and came out looking surprisingly nice. Not sure if the rifle steel vs cast iron is a problem but something to look into.
 
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ddavis

Sergeant
May 26, 2011
957
24
18
Texas
#14
Never tried it on a firearm, but I put rusty parts in boiling water for 20 minutes. Creates a black oxide finish. May have to wipe it down and do it again depending on the rust severity and type.
This is the process for old school rust bluing. You apply a chemical that causes the metal to rust. From there you can either card the loose rust off and have a "brown" finish or boil to create a blue finish. There is a YouTube channel ran by collectors who seem to know what they are talking about for restorations who recommend doing exactly as you say. Knock off the loose stuff then boil to basically blue the gun without removing anything that's already there.
 
Likes: KZP
Feb 15, 2005
168
62
28
Mission, KS
www.donttouchme.com
#15
I didn't mention anything about rust blueing because not cheap/expedient per my definitions. Pretty tedious, would have to make the steam tube, and it will take a fair amount of manual effort and time.

Cool to be able to do, cool look, but there's a reason it's from the old days when manual labor was cheap :)