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Any tips on cosmoline removal? It’s bad

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by beeenbag, May 14, 2019.

  1. sarge83

    sarge83 Member

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    I had an SKS like this and tried mineral spirits and direct heat with little success. I found the easiest way for me was to break it down as far as possible, get an old 5 gallon bucket and a gallon of distilled water and a steamer like you use to steam out wrinkles in clothes. The cosmo drips right off the metal into the bucket and it will pull it out of the wood as well.
     
  2. <*(((><
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    <*(((>< Luke

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    Make sure you clean out the firing pin channel well on SKS’s, that is a common problem with slam fires due to cosmoline and crud in the channel.
     
  3. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    Disassemble, place into a planter box filled with mineral spirits, and let it sit in there overnight. Finish up the next day with a toothbrush, rags, and air compressor. If this isn't possible, it can be done with brake cleaner, rags, toothbrush, and lots of elbow grease. I've done a SKS with 1 can of brake cleaner but that one looks like it may require 2.
     
  4. Clean97GTI

    Clean97GTI Member

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    No you don't. You just buy her a new dishwasher!
     
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  5. rb288

    rb288 Member

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    All the "surplus" rifles I have purchased have been cleaned with steam.
    I have a small steam cleaner that works just great.
    It just melts the cosmoline away, even from places you can't get to easily.
    It is a bit messy, but it works great and cleans very well.
     
  6. morcey2

    morcey2 Member

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    Listen to Gunny. He knows of which he speaks. I've cleaned of many horrifically cosmolined rifles following his advice and it has worked great. Make sure you get the exact Tilex that he's shown for the wood. I use other methods for the metal parts, but pretty much any decent solvent will work there (as long as it's not caustic or acidic). As he said, you'll never get all of the cosmoline out of the stock. I have a VZ-24 that has been in a black trash bag in the cab of my pickup all summer long and I was still getting cosmoline out if it. I'd put it in there in the morning and take it out at about 6 or 7 that evening, wipe it down and repeat the next day. By the end of the summer, there was a lot less coming out, but it was still there.

    Matt
     
  7. P5 Guy

    P5 Guy Member

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    DSC_0001.jpeg DSC_0024.jpeg DSC_0028.jpeg DSC_0008.jpeg

    All cleaned in an industrial dish washer. I did tape over the cartouches on the M1903A3.
    Just hot water, no dry cycle.
    I guess I'm just lucky? The K98 has a laminated stock and faired well, no separations.
     
  8. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    I would say that you have been lucky. I see seven rifles. I've cleaned hundreds over the years. I've also repaired many stocks that others have messed up due to lack of knowledge.
    A dishwasher is a shortcut when it comes to cleaning. The problem is that shortcuts can cause problems. K98 stocks are not cheap any more. The days of $50 and $75 K98 stocks are gone. Today an original K98 stock will run you $250 plus. I wouldn't want to give people advise that could cost them money.
    I repaired a K98 stock once that had been put in a dishwasher. The stock was a laminated stock and it was feathering after the owner cleaned it. It was sent to me to save. I was kind and his mistake only cost him $100.
    But there is more then one way to skin a cat and even more ways to clean a stock. Some ways are just not smart.
     
  9. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    Unlike Gunny who has probably next to rcmodel, seen and done most things firearm related, I came at stock repair from furniture making, flooring, and restoration which I have done on and off for about 40 years. One thing that you learn is that inconsistent moisture levels in your wood introduces warpage, poor joint fit, future joint issues, and so forth.

    Rifles shoot their best when properly fitted to a stock and a surplus military rifle has usually been bedded by an armorer at least, so that it will shoot true to the sights with the issue load. Finishes are applied to the wood stocks to freeze their condition at the time of the finish application. Changing those conditions such as changing the stock moisture levels affects the fit of the stock to the metal just as if you put a wood box with dovetail joints into the dishwasher and expected it would not affect the dovetails. It can also be an issue to get consistency across the item on moisture levels. If you do use rigorous methods to clean a stock, then be prepared to possibly have to refit the barrelled action to the stock by finish inletting it all over again.

    Cosmolene was applied to the stocks as well as the metal to protect both from harmful changes. Oil finishes, more or less, duplicate that protective coating for the wood to keep it consistent on moisture levels but have the problem of drying out over time. Thus, cosmolene was used because even when dry, it dried to a hard waxlike substance that kept oxidation and stock deterioration from lack of stock oil application at a minimum.

    Using harsh chemicals such as oven cleaner, submersion, etc. will affect a stock more or less depending on a whole host of variables. Gentle mechanical cleaning (wiping, scraping with soft instruments, and so on) followed by a mild solvent or gentle heat generally does no harm to the stock nor the metal unless the stock is badly damaged or an antique. On light cleaning of wood, something like Murphy's Oil Soap or some of the Green degreasers can do pretty well.

    In some badly drenched stocks with dirt mixed in with the cosmolene, one can use whiting powder with the proper solvent with very good ventilation if you cannot do the outdoor solar heating trick. In one case, a Spanish 1916 model, I had to repeat it twice plus a final cleaning with mineral spirits to get most of the cosmolene crud. IT is a dirty, nasty chore but useful if you want to preserve the stock.

    Occasionally, the dirt, cosmolene, and the finish such as shellac or varnish create an issue where you have to determine whether or not to try to save the finish. But, some solvents that are useful are very flammable and not recommended to mix with some things like high temperature heat. One solvent that is disappearing due to misuse by individuals (MEK) which is some truly toxic stuff that works incredibly fast. Proper disposal of rags etc. due to fire or toxicity issues also complicate things. Personally, I've found a product made from soybean oil that has very little odor and strips everything from the nasty japanese lacquer, polyurethane, varnish, etc. and does not dry out the wood (look up Soygel if you are interested). Aside from drinking or injecting it, it is pretty much non-toxic. It just takes longer and it is expensive.

    Steam will certainly help remove cosmolene and can work well on metal that does not have underlying corrosion issues/pitting. I am less happy about using it to deep clean a stock because after all when woodworking steaming the wood helps to bend the wood along with pressure to achieve a unique form, remove indentations in the wood, or in some cases to expand the wood in something like a loose wood dovetail joint that has been left dry for so many years.

    In the end, choose what method you will but as Gunny notes, there simply are not the endless stocks of yore to replace yours if it is buggered up. Even replica military stocks in many cases are drying up or made of unobtanium and having one made from scratch will set you back a pretty penny (or take you a very long time with some carving and woodworking tools). So my recommendation, just like working on the metal, is to be minimalist so as to do no harm if you can.
     
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  10. jak67429

    jak67429 Member

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    And don't forget to clean the inside of the bolt and firing pin. It's no fun when they start slam firing because of a stuck firing pin.
     
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  11. P5 Guy

    P5 Guy Member

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    Yes those shown are the firearms now in my collection, many have gone to others. And I have used the dishwasher method on a few dozen friends' rifles. All were satisfied with the results. Even the mummy wrapped SMLE#4 which was in three times its weight in cosmoline.
     
  12. stonecutter2

    stonecutter2 Member

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    I see little to no reason to aggressively remove cosmoline. It kept the firearm in decent shape until it got to you, so why not have some of it in place that you don't care about too much. Blasting it all off as quickly as possible never really made sense to me, personally.

    My suggestion: Be cautious, conservative, and enjoy the process. It's really quite satisfying to watch the rifle emerge from that gunk that kept it safe all those years.

    Steps (I've done this with about a half dozen firearms):

    Remove all metal from any wood or plastic (if applicable). Get rid of whatever cosmoline you can on the metal parts, then soak and wipe down with mineral spirits until clean. I use a cheap or old toothbrush to get in the little crevices. Apply gun oil generously, then wipe off excess.

    Wipe down the wood, to get loose cosmoline off, and then carefully apply heat via a blow dryer, waving it over the stock in wide stroke to evenly and slowly heat up the wood. Wipe the cosmoline off as it weeps off. Alternatively or additionally, if it's a warm sunny day, take the stock outside onto a tarp or garbage bag, and set it down in the sun. Wipe off the cosmoline when it weeps out. When you shoot the rifle, keep a disposable rag handy to wipe off cosmoline as it weeps. Eventually, the rifle will be cosmoline free enough to not be an issue.
     
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  13. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    like what gunnyusmc said, but i use simple green. works very good.
     
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  14. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

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    Simple Green is a good mild cleaner that is friendly to wood. The only reason I don't use it is , I just don;t like the smell. :)
    I know some that like to use Purpule Power. It's a good cleaner, but it's strong and can damage the surface if left on to long.
    You must be careful that you don't use anything that will cause the natural glues in the wood, that hold the fibers together, to break down.
    And like Stonecutter2 said, be conservative.
    Different types of wood react differently when it comes to cosmoline and oils. Wood like Elm and Chue wood love to soak up oil and don't let it go as fast as other woods. Beech is not as bad.
    Walnut is one of the easiest to clean. It will soak up oil but will let it seep out easily with a little heat.
    Birch doesn't soak up much oil and is fairly easy to clean.
    Years ago I cleaned up a cosmoline soaked Yugo Mauser stock. It was so soaked that the stock was orange. after cleaning there were a light of light colors streaks in the stock. This is common with Elm. I was told by a bunch of collectors that I had destroyed the stock. I tried to explain that the stock color would even out in a month or two, but they just kept telling that I didn't know what I was talking about.
    About a year later I posted new pics of the same gun on the same forum. The same people that had told me that I had destroyed the stock where now saying how nice the stock looked . I just love people that think they know a lot about things they know so little about.
     
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  15. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    i have had a few bad experiences with purple power, never used it for guns. we used if for spraying down tractors when we would clean before doing a restore. i learned to not use it on anything you care about lol.seen a guy use it to clean a beautiful very low hour perfect original paint john deere 730 diesel. destroyed the paint, it turned lime green. it must have removed some pigment from the paint. i think it pickles metal, kinda lie what vinegar will do.

    you right about the stocks, i cleaned up one for the gun shop i help at he was so worried about it. let the stock sit in the back room for about a mouth and it looked great. must be something about the air getting to it.
     
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  16. hps1

    hps1 Member

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    Remove stock and use mineral spirits on it. car wash works great on the metal.
    Varsol and a stiff bristle brush will also work on the metal.

    Regards,
    hps
     
  17. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I am already set up to boil my muzzle loaders so I just boil the cosmo off my firearms as well. After removing the stock that is! I clean the stock with the ever present Carb and Choke cleaner and a few rags. Spray it on an area or the rag and clean, then move a bit and clean there. Works well for me. Cleaning the stock twice seems to do the trick to get enough off the surface so it does not weep out any longer.
     
  18. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    Keep purple cleaner away from aluminum, it will etch it. I found a orange cleaner at Home Depot that works with wood. If you have an ultra sonic cleaner you can put metal parts with non-flammable mineral spirits
     
  19. P5 Guy

    P5 Guy Member

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  20. Mullo98

    Mullo98 Member

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    I personally just get brake cleaner or as others noted, mineral spirits. A tub or a bucket and take the whole rifle out the stock. Strip it completely and let it soak, clean gunk with a plastic toothbrush and a rag. For the stock, I just wipe it down. Never bothered get the gunk out of it. Don’t see the point but I’ve heard of people putting in a hot car dash.
     
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