Cleaning antique pistol

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Slugger9, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. Slugger9

    Slugger9 New Member

    Mar 14, 2012
    I have a 1904 Iver Johnson .32 revolver. It is in desperate need of a good cleaning as it has not been seen or touched in 2 decades. How should I go about cleaning this antique firearm? How much improvement to the original look can be expected? I am new to the handling of antiques such as this and any information would be greatly appreciated.

  2. whirley

    whirley Member

    Jan 27, 2008
    I have a nickel plated hammerless 5 shot top break S&W in 32 cal. My father carried it before WW1 as a bank messenger. Totally neglected, broken firing pin. I took off the grips, gave it a good brush with Hoppes using a toothbrush, then cleaned the bore and cylinders with patches and Hoppes. Bought a new firing pin and spring from Numerich arms. Bought a box of S&W .32 short cartridges, and it shoots fine. I was surprised that the bore and cylinder cleaned up so well. The nickel plating is well worn, and I wouldn't carry it even as a backup, but even today at 10 feet, it's better than nothing. I'll stay with a more effective modern pistol.

  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    Get a plastic container with a lid, that is large enough to put the gun in. It would be better if it was large enough to lay the gun down on its side.

    Remove the grips.

    Lay the gun in the plastic container, cover it with kerosene. Put the lid on.

    Go do a load of clothes, and when the washing machine starts the spin cycle, set the container on top of the machine and just hold it in place.

    The vibration of the machine going through its first and second spin cycle will slosh the kerosene around and vibrate just about anything out of the gun. You should end up with a gun lying in some really nasty-looking kerosene, and a bunch of crap in the bottom of the bucket.
  4. Slugger9

    Slugger9 New Member

    Mar 14, 2012
    The gun is in good mechanical condition. Though I have no intention of firing the pistol, as it is a gift from my grandmother who received it from her older brother who received it from... you get the idea. I am wanting to place it in a display case, restored to it's original appearance as best as possible.

    Keroseen is an interesting method. Is this used often in the restoration of antique firearms? this is the first I have heard of using this product. After the keroseen treatment, what other steps should be done? is modern gun oil safe for the old metal?

  5. ignats

    ignats Member

    Dec 18, 2011
    I think you will find that kerosene is used in Hoppes and other commercial cleaners for firearms. I've used it many times will no adverse effects. Here is the recipe for Ed's Red cleaner. I mixed up a batch a long time ago and still have quite a bit left.

    Equal parts of Kerosene, Acetone, automatic transmission fluid, and mineral spirits. The original formula, which can be found in Hatcher's Notes, contained sperm whale oil (try and find that) so we now substitute ATF (I like Dextron) stick with regular K-1 Kerosene, it's real easy to find. Mineral spirits and acetone are in just about every hardware store. Mix and store in a metal container. The acetone will break down plastic ones. If you buy a quart of each item, it will last you a very long time.
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Most of those guns were nickel plated and restoring one would require removal of the old nickel by an electric process, polishing the parts, and then re-plating. It is not expensive or difficult but it is tedious. In most areas there are shops that specialize in plating and replating; talk to one and get an idea of cost and what is involved. If they don't do guns normally, sound them out over the phone, don't just waltz in with gun in hand. It helps if you take the gun apart yourself or work through a gunsmith as the plating folks probably have no idea how to disassemble a gun.

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