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Thread: Requesting some restoration help

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    Requesting some restoration help

    A friend showed me this, when he handed it to me it was locked up tight - couldn't even get the magazine out. A lot of Break Free, a vise fitted with some protecting clothes and a hammer and a piece of wood later I finally had it into the parts shown. It needs some serious cleaning, although I do have the slide and the magazine moving fairly freely - still some work to do on those. From what I can tell it's firing as it's supposed to.

    My questions .... what's the best way to get this thing back in shape? It's a Colt .32, by serial number made in 1921, and frankly feels very good in the hands - although I've never shot a .32 and wasn't looking for a new caliber, I think it could be a good little shooter.

    How am I going to rid it of rust? In the one picture you can see some pitting and other blemishes along the slide rails, what's the best way wear those down so that the rails are smooth and the slide moves completely free? On the magazine there's a rusty blemish as well - any advice?

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    Senior Member msgt/ret's Avatar
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    0000 steel wool and Hoppes #9 will remove a lot of the rust without damaging the finish, sadly the is not much that can be done about the pitting.
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    I would try some CLP and soft cloth to start with, a few minutes work should get a lot of that off.

    Then lube it and cycle a bunch of times, inspecting for any wear points. Clean again.

    From there, It gets dicey... I might try some very fine steel wool or scotch-brite pad (not green, one of the finer colors) but proceed very carefully. And tape of the frame next to the rails for any of this, bluing is not very thick or hard.

    How is the barrel? Would hate to get a squib due to big rust chunks hiding in the bore.
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    Asst. Administrator ccw9mm's Avatar
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    If steel -- I'd try the Hoppes #9 and mild abrasive pad route, first; followed by Naval Jelly rust remover applications with scrubbing (with the pad) until gone. Once done and cleaned up, ensure it's well-lubed and that the previously rusty spots have a thin coat of oil on them.

    At this point, it's hard to know whether there is any pitting, but from the initial look of it (in the pics) it looks relatively minor. You ought to be able to stop the rust and remove what rust is there, but any damage beyond that would likely be something for a shop competent in metal treatment. If wanting to refinish, that'd be for a coatings/gunsmithing shop to deal with.

    IIRC, decades ago I restored an old 4130 steel bicycle frame that was in fairly bad (surface) shape, with rust all over. Using Naval Jelly and a stiff-bristle brush took care of all of that. Was left with pits here and there, as the rust had gone deeper than just the patina/surface level. Haven't had any antique/ancient arms or swords to restore, but I can't imagine that steel sidearms would be much different than the above tips, other than the final bluing or other finish you'd want.
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    I've removed rust from steel by using bronze wool, which is softer than steel and less likely to scratch it. I also use a combination of mineral spirits and oil, by dipping the wool into one or the other to get a balance between cutting speed and lubrication.

    One problem I see in your photos will be getting into the inside corners without rounding the outside corners. I've sometimes done this with extremely fine auto body paper wrapped on a thin slat of wood, and lubricated with the oil/mineral spirits blend. Be careful here, because you don't want to loosen the slide to frame fit.

    Please post additional photos as the work progresses!

    John W in SC

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    Asst. Administrator DogWalksWithMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John W in SC View Post
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    I've removed rust from steel by using bronze wool, which is softer than steel and less likely to scratch it. I also use a combination of mineral spirits and oil, by dipping the wool into one or the other to get a balance between cutting speed and lubrication.

    One problem I see in your photos will be getting into the inside corners without rounding the outside corners. I've sometimes done this with extremely fine auto body paper wrapped on a thin slat of wood, and lubricated with the oil/mineral spirits blend. Be careful here, because you don't want to loosen the slide to frame fit.

    Please post additional photos as the work progresses!

    John W in SC
    Excellent suggestion! Bronze is going to wear unrusted steel far less than steel wool. However, the rust itself is also abrasive, so keep turning to new material as you clean.
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    Tape it up and bead blast it.

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