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Old 05-13-2017, 02:48 PM
Varel Varel is offline
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Default Removing leading by electrolysis

Recently I removed leading out of my uberti single action .357 using electrolysis.
I was surprised by the effectivnes. I saw a video of it on u tube and wanted to try it myself. Since my local gun shop was out of lead remover and my ballistol was not softening it ...
I use: a wax ear plug, a cell phone charger 5 volts output, vinegar, water and a stainles steel rod, and the rubbers of a couple 1cc syringes .
Vinegar and water 50/50 in the plugged barrel. Positive on the frame and negative on the rod. The rubbers on the rod to ensure there is no contact between the barrel and the rod.
Since its cheap, easy and effective I was wondering what's the catch?
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Old 05-13-2017, 07:19 PM
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The catch is that vinegar is a BIG no-no for guns with a blued finish. At one time Outer's made a kit called the "Foul-Out" which could be used to remove severe fouling; both lead and copper via reverse electroplating. Worked great and you'd be surprised how much crud you could actually remove from a "clean" bore.

Bruce
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Old 05-13-2017, 09:21 PM
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What about baking soda or Arm & Hammer washing soda as a replacement for the vinegar?
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Old 05-13-2017, 09:43 PM
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And what about Stainless guns, will the vinegar damage the gun beyond repair?
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Old 05-13-2017, 10:06 PM
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You don't need50/50 vinegar or washing soda either. All that is needed is just enough vinegar (or for copper, ammonia) to make the water a conductive solution. The electrolysis proceeds as a reverse electroplating, and deposits the fouling on the rod as elemental lead or copper. I used it on a S&W 1917 that I( thought had a ruined barrel. It removed enough lead to show the rifling, and when retreated for copper, left me with a shootable (yes it was still pitted) barrel. You need to be cautious about spilling vinegar solution on blued surfaces - it will strip blueing very quickly.

The process should be done with a low voltage (ca. 5 volts) and a low amperage ( no more than 100 milliamps ). Be patient, expect to spend several hours and several changes of fluid. And when the process slows down, remove the rod and wipe off the deposits and then put it back in.

John
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Old 05-13-2017, 10:48 PM
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What about stainless, will it damage stainless?
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Old 05-13-2017, 10:53 PM
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And what about Hoppe's Bore cleaner?, Is it conductive enough to be used?
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:33 AM
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What I read about solutions with baking soda or washing soda is that they are being used for removing rust from an object by elektrolysis. I think the polarity is different then.
I don't know if it works in the same way as the vinegar for removing lead from the barrel. If the added ingrediŽnt in the water is just to make it conductive it should, but the solutions seem to be different for different objectives. I don't know the physics/chemistry as to how and why different solutions are needed.
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:38 AM
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If the set-up is good and you are careful not to spill and you anticipate for solution bubling up from the barrel there shouldn't be a problem with stainless on the outside . But spilling is easy and I haven't tried vinegar on stainles to see what is does inside or outside the barrel.

Last edited by Varel; 05-14-2017 at 04:15 AM. Reason: adding
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDBoardman View Post
You don't need50/50 vinegar or washing soda either. All that is needed is just enough vinegar (or for copper, ammonia) to make the water a conductive solution. The electrolysis proceeds as a reverse electroplating, and deposits the fouling on the rod as elemental lead or copper. I used it on a S&W 1917 that I( thought had a ruined barrel. It removed enough lead to show the rifling, and when retreated for copper, left me with a shootable (yes it was still pitted) barrel. You need to be cautious about spilling vinegar solution on blued surfaces - it will strip blueing very quickly.

The process should be done with a low voltage (ca. 5 volts) and a low amperage ( no more than 100 milliamps ). Be patient, expect to spend several hours and several changes of fluid. And when the process slows down, remove the rod and wipe off the deposits and then put it back in.

John
I did a 1917 as wel:
Here are some pictures (note: the red wire on the rod in this case is connected to the negative and the blue to the positive).
The lead on the screwdriver i used as the stainles steel rod is the build up after two minutes.
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Old 05-14-2017, 09:21 AM
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I have the Outers Foul Out unit. It worked great when I was shooting lots of lead SWCs in IPSC. Had a friend who insisted lead could be removed from his 1911 by shooting a couple of FMJs. The Foul Out proved him wrong. I believe it's still available from Midway. Not cheap, but I'd trust it over anything I rigged up on my own. Others are probably smarter than I am and able to effectively build their own device.

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Old 05-14-2017, 09:58 AM
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If leading is that bad, you need to study harder the art of cast bullets. I almost exclusively shoot cast bullets and almost never clean the boar and I shoot a lot of 44s and 500s.
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:05 AM
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I have the Outers Foul Out unit. It worked great when I was shooting lots of lead SWCs in IPSC. Had a friend who insisted lead could be removed from his 1911 by shooting a couple of FMJs. The Foul Out proved him wrong. I believe it's still available from Midway. Not cheap, but I'd trust it over anything I rigged up on my own. Others are probably smarter than I am and able to effectively build their own device.
They do not make it anymore. It still shows on Midway as discontinued. Must be a reason it did not "catch on"

Heck I have enough "electrolysis" on my outboard engines in salt water Aluminum alloys and salt water do not mix well. Have sacrificial zincs to get eaten up first.

(not my boat)
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:46 AM
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When a barrel is badly leaded , don't just blame the cast bullets . Figure out why ? There is a " procedure " necessary to shooting cast w/o leading a barrel badly . I shoot from " mild to wild " , no gas checks and don't lead up my barrels badly . I don't feel that if I take out a few specks of lead that the barrel is leaded . It's when I have strips 1" long , then I have a problem and need to address . I still say that a piece of pure ' Chore Boy " wrapped around an old bore brush does a very effective job of removing lead . I don't / won't use harsh chemicals to clean a barrel .
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Old 05-14-2017, 11:33 AM
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When a barrel is badly leaded , don't just blame the cast bullets . Figure out why ? There is a " procedure " necessary to shooting cast w/o leading a barrel badly . I shoot from " mild to wild " , no gas checks and don't lead up my barrels badly . I don't feel that if I take out a few specks of lead that the barrel is leaded . It's when I have strips 1" long , then I have a problem and need to address . I still say that a piece of pure ' Chore Boy " wrapped around an old bore brush does a very effective job of removing lead . I don't / won't use harsh chemicals to clean a barrel .

And there you have it. As has been discussed many times, the correct size of bullet along with correct BHN will pretty much eliminate leading. If one has a leading issue then something is wrong.

Actually there are really no gun cleaning chemicals that will "dissolve" lead (despite the claims of all the snake oils out there.) Yes, there is an acid one can mix up but that is extreme, Manual "elbow" grease with a brush, Chore Boy Lewis lead remover works the best. I bet a lot of folks do not relace their bore brush often enough.

Same with copper fouling, only 2 or 3 solvents actually work well.
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Old 05-14-2017, 01:24 PM
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I've used Electrolysis to clean cast iron cookware with great success. I never thought about putting a gun barrel in the tank. I used a plastic barrel with a stainless dryer tub and washing soda. It does work great for that application.
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Old 05-14-2017, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Varel wrote:
...I was wondering what's the catch?
You just primed your gun to rust.

As described, you set up a tank to electroplate the lead from your barrel to the stainless steel rod. But when you set up an electrical gradient to move the lead from clinging to the surface of the barrel to now clinging to the surface of the stainless steel rod, what replaced the electron "holes" on the surface of the barrel that had previously been occupied by the lead?
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Old 05-14-2017, 03:18 PM
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If I can't brush it out I will just use my Lewis Lead Remover.
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Old 05-16-2017, 10:57 AM
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Run something like Butch's Boreshine or any other solvent and let it sit a few minutes. Wrap a brush with COPPER ChoreBoy and run it through until until clean. Won't take very long. Usually a dozen or so passes. Repeat if needed. Don't use the copper coated steel ChoreBoy. Advantage to the Lewes Lead Remover is the finer copper mesh but I don't use mine anymore.

Only gun for me that leads is my 40 M&P and XD. Never did get that solved in spite of sizing to .402. Just something about those 40's. Only shoot my own cast bullets in my pistols. With free lead it only cost me about $4 a 100.
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Old 05-16-2017, 12:12 PM
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For lead removal I use mercury..no I don't play in it..don't heat it etc etc. It really isn't dangerous to use. It actually does a vey good job. I also have a Foul out and it works very well on copper. I used the lead remover on the foul out on a couple of shotguns... and have never had a rusted or pitted bore from any of the chemicals. I had so much lead in the choke area of 2 Win M-12 Pigeon grades that they shot full choke patterns out of a skeet bore 12 and a 20. Foul out took it right out.
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:33 PM
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I was interested in the "Foul Out" system because I have a couple military surplus rifles with really dirty/fouled barrels. I couldn't find anything on the Outer's kit, finding it's discontinued, so I checked google and found a lot of info;homemade electrolysis bore cleaner - Google Search

I also have used Wipe Out foaming bore cleaner with very good results; it removed 2.74 lbs of gunk out of a 70+ year old #4 MkII barrel. Also cleaned up some Hi-Tek fouling from a 1911 barrel rather quickly...
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Old 05-18-2017, 10:07 AM
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For lead removal I use mercury..no I don't play in it..don't heat it etc etc. It really isn't dangerous to use. It actually does a vey good job. I also have a Foul out and it works very well on copper. I used the lead remover on the foul out on a couple of shotguns... and have never had a rusted or pitted bore from any of the chemicals. I had so much lead in the choke area of 2 Win M-12 Pigeon grades that they shot full choke patterns out of a skeet bore 12 and a 20. Foul out took it right out.
Absolutely true. Mercury is without a doubt the best way to remove lead (and copper) deposits from a bore. It amalgamates them. I have about six ounces of Mercury I have carried around for many years for that purpose. Only problem is that Mercury is almost impossible to find today. There is really nothing hazardous about as long as you are very careful to not spill it. Best used outside.
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Old 05-18-2017, 11:22 AM
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I actually have about 12 pounds of the darn stuff. It was given to me by an old Geologist. He used it in his work. The neat thing about it, it was in two very thick bottles in a military tool box off of a B-29 from WWII. He had been a bombardier. He had a registered magnum and he loaded his ammo with a Lyman tong tool. He gave me the tool box with the loading tools and cleaning stuff. I bought a Pre-64 M-70 and a Parker Trojan grade shotgun from him..The 357 was given to his son. I keep trying to buy it. The ol fellow was pretty smart. He had a little kit he used to boil off the mercury with a mercury separator and collected the mercury in another bottle..just like an alcohol still. I never saw him use it but he told me he had used that same mercury for at least 40 years. There is a small medicine bottle in the tool box with mercury and lead amalgum. When he passed he had some what I have always heard called sponge gold that he had acquired here on "field trips" in Wyoming. Not much..but I sold it for his wife. He was a very smart fellow. He had a spot to look for gold in the late 40's through the 70's and told me he only did the gold thing when he really needed money. Said it was way too much work!!
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Old 05-18-2017, 12:00 PM
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Absolutely true. Mercury is without a doubt the best way to remove lead (and copper) deposits from a bore. It amalgamates them. I have about six ounces of Mercury I have carried around for many years for that purpose. Only problem is that Mercury is almost impossible to find today. There is really nothing hazardous about as long as you are very careful to not spill it. Best used outside.

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Old 05-18-2017, 01:05 PM
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We played with mercury on our desks in 4th grade. The whole class and all at once. Then it was collected and put away for the next class.
Jim
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Old 05-18-2017, 07:41 PM
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The stories about the toxicity of liquid mercury are very much overblown, as elemental mercury in liquid form is not absorbed by the body. Mercury vapors can be toxic, but unless heated, mercury volatilizes only very, very slightly at room temperature. The real toxicity problem results from ingestion of soluble mercury compounds. At one time, I had a job that involved my wading in large sumps of liquid mercury - tons of it. I never had any health problems, and that was over 50 years ago. Even earlier, I was a lab technician running mercury nitrometer equipment in a smokeless powder factory, and there was a lot of mercury involved in that testing also. I remember we had a large number of steel flasks of mercury stored in the basement of the lab building which had been taken from a captured WWII Japanese submarine. Their subs used it for ballast.
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Old 05-18-2017, 10:00 PM
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appreciate the tech notes; probably won't build my own electrolysis unit.

would like to learn the mercury/lead out trick and acquire a little working sample;

If anybody wants to learn how to remove blue finish instantly from your pistols, the basis are ultra simple: 2 nectarines in paper sack in front seat; put pistol in sack, drive around 2 days....uh...."a friend" told me this.....*kaff*kaff*......
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Old 05-18-2017, 11:05 PM
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Foul Out was great.
Solutions were lead acetate or copper acetate in water.
Have short (pistol) and long (rifle) SS rods.
Someone has to bring it back out.
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Old 05-19-2017, 12:26 AM
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I still have 2 pints of each solution...Got 'em at a yard sale..no foul out rod or anything else. Handguns don't take so much
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Old 05-19-2017, 12:49 AM
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Another vote for the good ol' Lewis lead Remover.
Simple and effective.
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Old 05-19-2017, 01:10 AM
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Default Question....

If the lead and copper migrate to the other electrode, does the gun metal migrate as well?
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Old 05-22-2017, 03:41 PM
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If the lead and copper migrate to the other electrode, does the gun metal migrate as well?
Not at the voltages and current available from the Foul Out rectifier.

If you are using other sources and chemistry it might be possible.

Stick to low concentration of vinegar and don't raise voltage above 5 volts and you will never see a problem.

Like all the other procedures mentioned here it works best when you follow instructions and understand the limitations of the process.

be safe
Ruggy
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Old 05-22-2017, 03:54 PM
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The stories about the toxicity of liquid mercury are very much overblown, as elemental mercury in liquid form is not absorbed by the body. Mercury vapors can be toxic, but unless heated, mercury volatilizes only very, very slightly at room temperature.
Yeah, the problem comes when it's heated. Industries that used Hg like that, hatters, photographers etc. were badly affected.

I suppose if you handle mercury, like manufacturing thermometers and stuff in the old days. You are bound to get some on your hands and then into your mouth, which can be bad.

We had a lab procedure that used mercury and it was often dropped on the floor. The guy that did it rigged up a little vacuum cleaner out of a flask and rubber hose and sucked it all up between the vials. He did this for many years and never showed any effect.

Which goes to say, if using Hg just make daggone sure that you don't get it on your hands or in your mouth.

I used to keep my own little ball of mercury to play with, my Dad got it out of batteries where you could pick out tiny balls and roll them together into a ball about the size of a small buckshot. Who knows? Maybe that's why I've had some of the problems that I do.

PS This reminds me of the ladies that painted watch dials with Radium and they would point the brushes in their mouth.
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Old 05-22-2017, 04:06 PM
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The ancient Romans reportedly drank liquid Mercury as a laxative. It was probably very effective in forcing everything out of their intestines, but not a good idea.
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Old 05-23-2017, 03:32 AM
Racer X Racer X is offline
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Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
The ancient Romans reportedly drank liquid Mercury as a laxative. It was probably very effective in forcing everything out of their intestines, but not a good idea.
done until the early 20th century. AKA calomel purgative
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Old 05-23-2017, 06:10 AM
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jake1945 jake1945 is offline
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I've never had a bore leading problem even with full power 44 mag lead bullets. I load Missouri Bullets. I do keep a wad of Choir Boy copper handy tho.
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Old 05-23-2017, 09:40 AM
Thomas15 Thomas15 is offline
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Originally Posted by hdwhit View Post
You just primed your gun to rust.

As described, you set up a tank to electroplate the lead from your barrel to the stainless steel rod. But when you set up an electrical gradient to move the lead from clinging to the surface of the barrel to now clinging to the surface of the stainless steel rod, what replaced the electron "holes" on the surface of the barrel that had previously been occupied by the lead?
I have been mentally pondering this whole leading issue and how best to safely solve the problem. Just thinking out loud...

I guess the real question is, is there a chemical bond between the lead and the barrel steel? I don't think there is. Due to the valence shell of Pb and it's oxidation state Pb is fairly stable. Does melted lead bond to an iron melt pot? It might be true that some of the lead melts in the barrel but none of the steel melts. If it did I think an alloy would form which would not be a good thing. So I don't think the barrel will have any holes from the now missing Pb (because there is no bond ie: valence electron sharing or stealing) but I do think that the acid solution in the electrolysis could allow some of the barrel steel to enter the solution and migrate.

As far as chemically dissolving lead goes, I think Pb would be a Lewis base so to dissolve it would require an acid such as HCl or HNO^3 which I don't think is a good idea to use in a gun barrel. How do you control the reaction? If I'm right and there is no chemical bond between Fe and Pb then what is needed is something that will coax the Pb from the grooves to which it has formed a mechanical bond. That is the job of a copper or bronze tool which is harder than Pb but softer than Fe. Scrub long enough and you will wear the Pb off the barrel! Get an oil between the Pb and the Fe and break the mechanical bond. I could be totally wrong here though.

Fe is actually more reactive than Pb. Given that we are trying to break a mechanical bond I see no good reason and a lot of negatives to using Hg to solve this problem. Good discussion here.

Last edited by Thomas15; 05-23-2017 at 10:08 AM.
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