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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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  #1  
Old 03-21-2020, 05:50 PM
xfabianromerox xfabianromerox is offline
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Default Need help dating a rusty old revolver

Hi all, just wanting to find out a little more about a rusty old revolver has lying around. Here are some pictures. I only know it's .38 long nose.

Need help dating a rusty old revolver-screenshot_20200321-174242-jpg

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Old 03-21-2020, 06:50 PM
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Welcome to the forum what a tragedy you have there. It is a 32 Hand Ejector Model Of 1903 5th Change Target model made between 1910-1917 serial number range 102501-263000
Where on earth was it found?
Also if both grips are in good shape they have some value.
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Old 03-21-2020, 07:08 PM
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Welcome! I moved the post to the Revolvers 1896-1961 subforum.

I think Randy has the ID correct. A .38 on this size frame (the I) would have only fit five rounds in the cylinder and this one has six. A similar gun to this was made in .22 LR but the firing pin on these was in the frame, not on the hammer.

Suggestions as to how to remove the rust will be forthcoming. It may look surprisingly good underneath if the rust and pitting aren't too deep into the metal.
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merl67 View Post
Welcome to the forum what a tragedy you have there. It is a 32 Hand Ejector Model Of 1903 5th Change Target model made between 1910-1917 serial number range 102501-263000
Where on earth was it found?
Also if both grips are in good shape they have some value.
It was apparently found during a home demolition. Maybe some sorry guy forgot to remove it from his floor board stash before selling the house. The grips are in fantastic condition minus some nicks on the bottom. So is this thing really over 100 years old?
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:06 PM
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How many hunnerd dolla bills in that stack?

Dale
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murphydog View Post
Welcome! I moved the post to the Revolvers 1896-1961 subforum.

I think Randy has the ID correct. A .38 on this size frame (the I) would have only fit five rounds in the cylinder and this one has six. A similar gun to this was made in .22 LR but the firing pin on these was in the frame, not on the hammer.

Suggestions as to how to remove the rust will be forthcoming. It may look surprisingly good underneath if the rust and pitting aren't too deep into the metal.
I don't know too much about guns in general, but from what you're saying I'm assuming the 6 round for this model is uncommon?

Also, I'd love to give her a nice cleaning if my father would let me. It doesn't look too bad.
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:26 PM
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No, .32 caliber I (small) frames were all 6 round.
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xfabianromerox View Post
I don't know too much about guns in general, but from what you're saying I'm assuming the 6 round for this model is uncommon?

Also, I'd love to give her a nice cleaning if my father would let me. It doesn't look too bad.
Yes over 100 years old.
It is not uncommon for a 6 round fixed sight model yours is a target model which is a bit more uncommon. I would start by trying to remove the grips a few drops of penetrating oil on the grip screw both sides let set for at least a day. If the screw wont turn repeat as needed it will eventually turn do not rush. When you do get the screw to loosen unscrew it unt it is almost out then tsp on the screw head to push the opposite grip loose Do Not Pry Grips once you have the first grip off push the other one off from inside. Then if you can make up a mixture of one half Acetone and one half automatic transmission fluid in a metal or glass container that has a lid use enough fluid to completely cover the gun drop in let soak for several days remove use bronze wool to clean up rust
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:05 PM
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Welcome to the forum!
That's quite a disaster, but apparently the interior is better than the outside since the action seems to work and you can cock the hammer. That's a good thing.

I presume there's no cartridges in the cylinder chambers.

Yes it's a hundred years old, the serial # which is the #157XXX does not lie. Guns of its age are shot and enjoyed every day in this country.

The cartridge roll mark on the barrel of that vintage actually reads: ".32 Long CTG" and it's still available. All of these take 6 rounds. But it's a premium model because it's a target model with adjustable sights, that makes it a bit rare.

I'm happy to hear that you would like to clean it up and hope dad gives his permission (after reading your thread here, perhaps). But the next move can either ruin it or rescue it.

The worst thing you could do is start physically cleaning; no steel wool, wire wheeling it or scraping off the rust!

The 1st thing is to put a little lubricant on the ends of the two grip screws, let soak, and then remove the screws and grips, and set them aside.

The 2nd thing is to immerse and soak the entire gun in rust remover (do not attempt to disassemble it!). The two best products are:

1. A 50/50 mix of automotive transmission fluid (ATF) and acetone. The soaking container must be sealed or the acetone will evaporate very quickly.

OR

2. "Eastwood Rust Dissolver"


Don't waste money on any other products.

3. Soak until all visible rust is gone. Try the action in both single and double action. If that works, attempt to swing out the cylinder from the left side by pushing the cyl release button on the left side forward. If either one or the other doesn't work, soak again.

4. Once the parts will work: Rinse away remaining product with water, squirting it into the action thru all openings. Wipe it dry and let the inside drip dry. Then spray with an aerosol gun lubricating product from a gun or hardware store, Walmart, or Amazon on-line if there are no stores open in your area.

5. Report back here with some photos and we can walk you thru some next steps like safety checks or further restoration before you shoot it.

Have fun and don't be in a hurry.
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Old 03-22-2020, 11:18 AM
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I hope you get permission and definitely update after following the advice given.
That is one may well be "worth" restoring.
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Old 03-22-2020, 01:11 PM
xfabianromerox xfabianromerox is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
Welcome to the forum!
That's quite a disaster, but apparently the interior is better than the outside since the action seems to work and you can cock the hammer. That's a good thing.

I presume there's no cartridges in the cylinder chambers.

Yes it's a hundred years old, the serial # which is the #157XXX does not lie. Guns of its age are shot and enjoyed every day in this country.

The cartridge roll mark on the barrel of that vintage actually reads: ".32 Long CTG" and it's still available. All of these take 6 rounds. But it's a premium model because it's a target model with adjustable sights, that makes it a bit rare.

I'm happy to hear that you would like to clean it up and hope dad gives his permission (after reading your thread here, perhaps). But the next move can either ruin it or rescue it.

The worst thing you could do is start physically cleaning; no steel wool, wire wheeling it or scraping off the rust!

The 1st thing is to put a little lubricant on the ends of the two grip screws, let soak, and then remove the screws and grips, and set them aside.

The 2nd thing is to immerse and soak the entire gun in rust remover (do not attempt to disassemble it!). The two best products are:

1. A 50/50 mix of automotive transmission fluid (ATF) and acetone. The soaking container must be sealed or the acetone will evaporate very quickly.

OR

2. "Eastwood Rust Dissolver"

YouTube

Don't waste money on any other products.

3. Soak until all visible rust is gone. Try the action in both single and double action. If that works, attempt to swing out the cylinder from the left side by pushing the cyl release button on the left side forward. If either one or the other doesn't work, soak again.

4. Once the parts will work: Rinse away remaining product with water, squirting it into the action thru all openings. Wipe it dry and let the inside drip dry. Then spray with an aerosol gun lubricating product from a gun or hardware store, Walmart, or Amazon on-line if there are no stores open in your area.

5. Report back here with some photos and we can walk you thru some next steps like safety checks or further restoration before you shoot it.

Have fun and don't be in a hurry.
Thanks for the rust removing advice! And thank you all for being so helpful and welcoming.

Started cleaning it a bit with some WD-40 (just rubbing it with a cloth to clean the surface a bit) and it's not as bad as the pictures show it to be. It's got some shiny black under a little bit of rust and you can actually see the .32 LONG CTG on the barrel much more clearly. I guess that's good sign? Also, the firing mechanism and hammer move fine and feel study. Same with the chamber hinge.

Last edited by xfabianromerox; 03-22-2020 at 01:12 PM. Reason: Wording
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Old 03-22-2020, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
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I hope you get permission and definitely update after following the advice given.
That is one may well be "worth" restoring.
Most definitely will be restoring now that we know more about her.

Is professional restoration worth the costs? From what some of the other members are saying, it doesn't seem particularly difficult, with patience of course.
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xfabianromerox View Post
Most definitely will be restoring now that we know more about her.

Is professional restoration worth the costs? From what some of the other members are saying, it doesn't seem particularly difficult, with patience of course.
NO! - unless you are made of money and cost is no object. You can buy another one in much better condition cheaper. My favorite method of removing rust is soaking in diluted Hydrochloric acid (Home Depot has it, or any swimming pool supply shop). Much better than Naval Jelly (which is basically a jelled Phosphoric acid). There are also electrolytic methods which will convert rust back into steel, not just dissolve it. Do a search on that, as it does work very well.

Last edited by DWalt; 03-22-2020 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xfabianromerox View Post
Thanks for the rust removing advice! And thank you all for being so helpful and welcoming.

Started cleaning it a bit with some WD-40 (just rubbing it with a cloth to clean the surface a bit) and it's not as bad as the pictures show it to be. It's got some shiny black under a little bit of rust and you can actually see the .32 LONG CTG on the barrel much more clearly. I guess that's good sign? Also, the firing mechanism and hammer move fine and feel study. Same with the chamber hinge.

If you're finding signs of bluing still left (the shiny black), I would use the ATF/acetone soaking. It will not remove bluing! Don't use the Eastwood, Naval Jelly or acid products, they will remove any bluing that might still exist. Bluing is a controlled rusting process. We don't want to get too aggressive at first.
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:54 PM
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I would remove the wooden grips and submerge it in Evaporust for a few hours. Might be in better shape than you think.
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:57 PM
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I agree with Jim that rust removers will take the finish to bare metal. That may be the ultimate decision down the road, but I would try to save what bluing is left and just remove the surface rust. Bronze not steel wool after soaking in ATF/acetone should be the first method to try. Evaporust and all other commercial rust removers will strip every bit of bluing, as would any other acid rust remover.

Unless you are very familiar with how mix and use diluted HCL, also known as muratic acid, do not use it! Hydrochloric Acid will and does attack steel as quickly as rust, so you can not only remove rust but erode steel as well. Also be careful of fumes from HCL, as will rust any metals around an open container or tank. That is why you do not find this material in almost all commercial rust removers. Phosphoric acid is much more aggressive with rust than steel, so should be the preferred method, but not until you get done with the earlier process.

Personally, I have had great success with Naval Jelly, but I am not trying to remove a heavy rust scale and it is available most everywhere. After watching the video, however, I will be trying Evaporust in the near future. These products do not cost that much money, so you do not need to experiment with home-made concoctions.
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:53 PM
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I just watched the rust removal video pretty impressed. The Eastwood Rust Remover hands down. I will have to find some, not something I would use in every instance, but in cases where no finish is left would be a labor saver...
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:55 PM
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NO! - unless you are made of money and cost is no object. You can buy another one in much better condition cheaper.

My opinion differs but I'd like to see where you get with the acetone ATF mixture first.

32 target guns aren't common or cheap it may very well benefit from a refinish by Fords if needed
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Old 03-23-2020, 10:38 PM
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Here are some pictures after a little more WD-40 polishing. The rust isn't as bad as it originally seemed!

What's the best way to spiff her up?
Need help dating a rusty old revolver-img_20200323_191906-jpg

Need help dating a rusty old revolver-img_20200323_191919-jpg

Need help dating a rusty old revolver-img_20200323_191957-jpg

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Need help dating a rusty old revolver-img_20200323_192027-jpg

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Old 03-24-2020, 12:05 AM
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Wow! It was mostly just surface rust.

The ATF/acetone will get the rust out of all the cracks and crevices. Agitate the sealed soaking container often.

You'll want to get all the WD-40 off of the gun, it's not a good regular gun product because it dries and leaves a shellac like coating that's a poor lubricant. Good long term internal gun lubricants include Breakfree, Mpro-7, Kroil and a ton of others.

When done cleaning you can polish with Semichrome, Flitz polish or Mother's Mag Wheel polish, and then wax with Renaissance Wax.
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Old 03-24-2020, 02:02 AM
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Quote:
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Here are some pictures after a little more WD-40 polishing. The rust isn't as bad as it originally seemed!

What's the best way to spiff her up?
Attachment 440671

Attachment 440672

Attachment 440673

Attachment 440674

Attachment 440675
It's definitely looking better. But remember to do nothing else until you get those grips off the gun.
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Old 03-24-2020, 05:09 AM
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Very happy for you.
You will have a project to be proud of when you are done.

Take those grips off and do the acetone ATF bath. Do not try and skip it.
I hope you and your dad get to shoot it when done. You'll then have a great heirloom piece.
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Old 04-03-2020, 09:22 PM
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Very happy for you.
You will have a project to be proud of when you are done.

Take those grips off and do the acetone ATF bath. Do not try and skip it.
I hope you and your dad get to shoot it when done. You'll then have a great heirloom piece.
Well, here's what we've done so far with the acetone/ATF mix soak. Still waiting on bluing polish and the bronze wool. Let me know what you guys think the next step is!

Need help dating a rusty old revolver-img_20200403_183929-jpg

Need help dating a rusty old revolver-img_20200403_183921-jpg

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Old 04-04-2020, 01:13 AM
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Put it back in the ATF mix for few more days. It doesn't look like you submerged it.
As said above, take the grips off and let it sit and soak in a tub of the mix.
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Old 04-04-2020, 04:23 AM
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The reason the ATF and acetone solution does not take off the bluing is because it doesn't have the aforementioned acids in it, therefore it needs weeks to a month to remove the rust.

Solution for rust removal and freeing rusted parts

As shown below, the scientific test proven top solution is not an off the shelf rust or corrosion product, and in fact exceeds them all. And off the shelf products are far from equally effective. Kano Kroil tops them all in testing and some are just a flat waste of money.
Just a few representative tested products quoted in test results including the hands down winner: 50/50 mix of ATF and acetone. Cruddy guns are a piece of cake to clean with this solution.

Average load (Lbs) to release a rusted/corroded test bolt and price per fluid ounce:

W/O penetrant.................516 pounds $0.00
WD-40.............................238 pounds $0.25
PBBlaster ....................... 214 pounds $0.35
LiquidWrench ..................127 pounds $0.21
KanoKroil ........................106 pounds* $0.75
ATF-Acetone 50/50 mix.....53 pounds**.. $0.10


* Im not aware of KanoKroil removing bluing but may remove patina.
**Note: 53 lbs. was the load required to release the pre-corroded testing device. Recognize the ATF will not remove bluing.

SOURCE: April/May 2007 edition of MACHINIST'S WORKSHOP scientific test of penetrating products to remove rust and measure the force required to loosen rusted-solid test devices. 2007 edition of MACHINIST'S WORKSHOP - Google Search

They are all inferior to (well down the list in test results as can be seen above), and more expensive than ATF, good old tranny fluid. None of the other products have or will ever have the years and level of research and engineering to remove crud and/or rust, keep spotless, and sustain the life of a $4000+ and higher, piece of high tech equipment; your automatic transmission! It's also the least expensive product.

So if you have two parts cruddy or corroded together solid and want them apart, the only thing better than ATF, again as test proven, is a 50/50 solution of ATF and acetone. Nothing approaches its efficacy and performance, nothing. Just soak and agitate, period!

I became a believer when given a Sharps percussion carbine relic to "fix"; you know, a relic relative to firearms is a gun dug out of the dirt after years and years, a corroded chunk of steel, as in a bunch of parts frozen solid. That Sharps is now operational with new springs and wood, and the owner shoots it regularly. Factory stampings not completely rusted away are now readable again. It was soaked for two months in a sealed container that was also agitated by being driven around in the back of a pickup. The only thing that would speed it up is an electro vibrator.

Acetone has very 'light ends', in plain English that means it evaporates readily as we know. And will need replenishing unless the part with soaking solution is in a sealed container. A piece of schedule 40, 4" plastic drain conduit with end caps glued on both ends, long enough for the barreled action. Fill the container as full as possible to eliminate air space and evaporation. I also made the tube a little longer than needed, so after cutting off the cap to check progress, if not soaked long enough I could glue on another cap. Once it's sealed, confirm it won't leak.

The guy I restored it for actually bent the lever trying to work the action open when it was frozen/rusted solid! The action didn't budge. So I still marvel at how smooth it operates after the soaking treatment. The metal is so clean, a plain bare gunmetal gray. Like when Naval jelly is used to remove surface rust.
Then I fixed the bent lever.
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Old 04-04-2020, 11:04 AM
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I certainly recommend following Hondo44’s advice.
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Old 04-04-2020, 12:03 PM
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I certainly recommend following Hondo44s advice.
What he said. Jim is one of the most knowledgeable persons on this forum.
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Old 04-04-2020, 12:41 PM
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Do not restore this
Simply soaking it in the correct solution will clean away the rust...
i would suggest removing the grips first gently and I would not suggest rubbing on the finish with wd40...
Less you mess with the finish the better it will look in the end
Listening to Hondo44 would be my best recommendation
Pitting will still be pitting but gun should clean up well
Very nice old gun you found
God Bless and thank you for sharing it with us
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Old 04-04-2020, 01:21 PM
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My advice to add the the long ATF/Acetone soak in a covered vessel given above is spend some time researching how to disassemble the revolver, as soon after the exterior is cleaned up according to Hondos advice, you are going to clean the interior parts.

Be careful following advice on YouTube, some of those guys are hacks. A gentleman that goes by Gunblue490 or something similar has a good S&W disassembly/reassembly video. Also consider the purchase of the Kuhnhausen S&W revolver shop manual.
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Old 04-04-2020, 02:28 PM
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The side-plate screws look to be in very good condition.
If you decide to remove the side plate at some point, do NOT use a regular screwdriver. Doing so will damage them.

Make sure to use a proper gunsmith screwdriver that fits the screw correctly.
There are likely several YouTube videos that can walk you through this.

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Old 04-04-2020, 03:30 PM
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As bulletslap said, buy the Kuhnhausen S&W shop manual.
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Old 04-04-2020, 04:02 PM
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I know it'a eating you up but if you can, do the 50/50 thing and
let it wait for a month before you really clean it. Shake the
container a couple times a week. You will be absolutely amazed
how nice it will be if you do that before cleaning it.

You have a real treasure there. Take the time to care for it right.

Be sure and post pictures when you get done. We love seeing
old goodies like this brought back to life.

And Welcome Aboard.
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Old 04-04-2020, 04:53 PM
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Not really adding anything that hasn't been said but the acetone atf mix when left for a good duration of time will soften that rust really well.

It will be like it just melted off.
Patience is a virtue.
BTW I'm in Mass and if your close by the first rounds can be on me....pun intended.
I'm betting a bunch here would also help you two out.
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Old 04-06-2020, 04:10 PM
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This is one of the best threads I have ever seen. Love the way members took the time to help a young man restore an old treasure. Or maybe we have been cooped up too long and are needing something to do?!
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Old 04-06-2020, 04:38 PM
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I am looking forward to the cleaned up story
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Old 04-06-2020, 05:12 PM
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The more you **** (mess) with the finish, the worse it is going to get. Soak it in oil, let the rust dissolve, gently clean it with an old tooth brush, and that's it. It would be a shame to destroy what is left of this cool old gun.
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Old 04-10-2020, 08:31 AM
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Great advice here, but I'll add that Flitz/Simichrome or any other polish are abrasives, though mild ones. They WILL remove bluing, every time. I know this through unfortunate personal experience. The dark stuff you see on a cloth when you use it is bluing.

Any use on a blued gun should be very minimal and extremely gentle--even at that I'll never use it again.
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Old 06-22-2020, 05:00 PM
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Hi all, haven't been messing with the gun for a while due to life getting in the way, but I recently double bagged the gun in Ziplocs and dumped it with ATF and acetone again. I'm gonna let her really soak this time. She's been in for two days, just added some acetone. It's in a plastic container. Will be updating with pictures soon! And as Oscar101 said, I really do appreciate all the wisdom and advice from all of you!
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Old 06-22-2020, 05:42 PM
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Glad you did and will do on updating.
Kudos to you.
We definitely look forward to the end result.
And shoot that puppy....no nevermind I'm a dog guy.
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Old 06-26-2020, 11:17 PM
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Need help dating a rusty old revolver-img_20200626_230420-jpg

Need help dating a rusty old revolver-img_20200626_230426-jpg

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Need help dating a rusty old revolver-img_20200626_230445-jpg

Well, here's what she looks like after 5 days of soaking. Looks noticably cleaner and has more shine to it. Should I throw her back in? Or should I maybe start with the lube and polish?
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Old 06-26-2020, 11:20 PM
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Old 06-26-2020, 11:34 PM
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It's getting there, but I'd give it another week or two in the ATF/acetone mix. It's not like you can "oversoak" it. Just give it a little shake every day to keep things moving along.

When the last of the surface rust is gone ,including inside the chambers & barrel, then it's time to move onto the next step.
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Old 06-27-2020, 12:31 AM
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That is coming along very nicely. In the first pictures you posted, it really almost looked "relic" condition. It's always amazing how much original finish can be saved by simple patience and sympathy.
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Old 06-27-2020, 08:14 AM
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great job, This gun is going to look great in the end.
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Old 06-28-2020, 04:49 PM
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Looking much better some more soaking in the Trans/Acetone solution will help.
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Old 06-28-2020, 06:49 PM
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Very informative thread!

Have you gentlemen heard of using molasses and water to remove rust? Ive done this with motorcycle parts; it is quite gentle. Usual method is mix 10% molasses to 90% water and submerge parts for a month or more. I was wondering if this would work on firearms and would it affect bluing?

We cycle guys know the atf/acetone mix as a penetrating oil. Used liberally with maybe some heat-cycling to help draw it into threads is the shizzle for getting decades-abandoned bikes apart.
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Old 06-28-2020, 07:15 PM
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Which ever solution one uses, the real secret is constant agitation, in a case tumbler, back of a pickup, or the best, a vibrating cleaning machine.

ATF, good old tranny fluid:

None of the other products have or will ever have the years and level of research and engineering to remove crud and/or rust, keep spotless, and sustain the life of a $4000+ and higher, piece of high tech equipment; your automatic transmission! It's also the least expensive product.
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Old 06-28-2020, 08:27 PM
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I been watching this thread since the beginning. I give the op credit for being patient and doing this restoration the right way. Almost there. That little gun is a beauty and well worth the effort. It will pay off in the end with a beautiful semi-rare well functioning piece from the past. Good job!!!!!
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Old 06-29-2020, 12:16 AM
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When done cleaning you can polish with Semichrome, Flitz polish or Mother's Mag Wheel polish, and then wax with Renaissance Wax.

Any crevices that still have rust showing can be cleaned out with the above polishes using a tooth brush. Cut the bristles shorter if too flexible. If you have a stubborn rust spot like inside the cyl chambers or barrel bore, you can resort to 0000 bronze wool (no steel wool) wrapped around a handgun barrel cleaning brush and rod using the polish.

Great work so far!
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:17 AM
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And will end up with a fun revolver to shoot that is likely worth well over $1000.

The OP has done a nice job so far, and thanks to all of the members here who have offered their advice.

I buy and renovate houses and all I ever find is tax returns from 1981 and old bed parts in the attic...

Robert
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