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hi yall interested to find out what method was used way back then and before keep their firearms in good order and from rusting up ? being exposed to rain/snow/dust/dirt/ ect.
 

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Old Timers Gun Care

Good cleaning with hot water, followed by oiling with whale or vegetable oil such as linseed, and greasing with tallow or wax. You have to remember that most earlier firearms were "browned" rather than blued, which was a controlled rusting process anyway, so smooth brown rust was the "in" thing. Boiling the iron parts will stop any chemical rusting action and coating with vegetable oil, tallow or wax will protect the surface. For fine guns, the wealthy people could afford sperm (whale) oil, which was the very best for lubricating delicate instruments and machinery. Use of petroleum-based oils didn't come into common use until the 1870s.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Ed, fascinating. I have wondered about this myself.

Without petroleum, how did they get any sort of heavy grease? Like for wagon wheel bearings - can you 'thicken' one of those oils to make grease, by additives or some sort of process? Just curious.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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I'm more than a little rusty on petroleum science, but grease is oil and a soap thickener. I'm not saying that you can mix your favourite gun or motor oil and a bar of Ivory and get a usable grease.

Keep the linseed oil out of the lockwork, or old Betsy will be seized solid. Oil based paints are mostly linseed oil and pigment. As a retired flaxseed grower I can tell you a few horror stories about it.

Bye
Jack
 

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Old Timers Gun Care

Jack is absolutely right on the linseed, use it to protect EXTERIOR surfaces only, though it does a good job there and was used to seal many browned metal finishes.

Sperm whale oil is and still would be the best for interior mechanisms, if we could get it. Any modern petroleum product is only a poor substitute. When I was at NRA Col. E.H. Harrison was still using a prized stash of U.S. Army sperm oil which dated from the 1870s and was still good. This was used on many fine old English and European pieces of the flintlock era in the NRA museum and the lockwork interiors were bright and clean inside with a slight oily film still on them as if they were cleaned yesterday!
 

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There are a great many natural oils, waxes, and greases from mineral, plant and animal sources. In addition, while many of the refined petroleum products were not around, raw petroleum ranging from natural gas to tar was known and used. The oil fields of Pennsylvania, Texas and Oklahoma started out as oil pools on the surface that were simply collected in buckets.
A common grease of that era would contain animal fat, wax, and graphite.
Since a great many people didn't have much access to commercial products they'd use whatever they had on hand. Bear grease or sheep's fat work quite well. Rendered sheep fat is practially odorless and doesn't spoil.
For you guys looking for sperm oil substitutes, jojoba oil is very similar chemically and actually superior for high pressure and temperature applications. Physically, jojoba acts just like sperm oil.
 

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Hi, Gents:
Here's more than most will ever need to know about petroleum based greases. Mr. Fennell is blowing his own horn, but there's no doubt that lithium based greases have replaced the other types in most applications.
I've been using FP-10 gun oil for half a year now and so far I'm quite satisfied with it, as a lube, cleaner and rust preventive. It doesn't replace the nitro solvents as a quick cleaner, but it will loosen up the stuff that's in the pores of the metal. So a patch run the next day isn't as clean as you'd expect if you'd just used solvent. It's compatible with black powder. FP-10 isn't compatible with some industrial greases, so clean off the grease before you try FP-10.

http://www.fp10.com/techinfo.html

Bye
Jack
 

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Tru-Oil glue...

Jack Monteith said:
I'm more than a little rusty on petroleum science, but grease is oil and a soap thickener. I'm not saying that you can mix your favourite gun or motor oil and a bar of Ivory and get a usable grease.

Keep the linseed oil out of the lockwork, or old Betsy will be seized solid. Oil based paints are mostly linseed oil and pigment. As a retired flaxseed grower I can tell you a few horror stories about it.

Bye
Jack
Had a friend who once brought me a very nice Browning Auto 5, saying it didn't shoot a ?$%%/&* even if he had oiled it to death... I just had to take a sniff to understand: some funny dealer had sold him Tru-Oil for gun oil! Had to completely dismantle that shotgun to clean the varnish inside!
Well, it didn't shoot but it didn't rust either! ;) PP.
 

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Don't know if this is true or not. I read once that firearms from this era were often stored on the mantle or on pegs driven into brick/stone chimneys. The air was always warmer near the chimney/fireplace, so moisture never had a chance to condense on the weapon, hence, no rust.

May or may not be true, but on the surface, seems to make sense.
 

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Dextron II and Dextron III Automatic Transmission fluid is a decent cheap substitute for Sperm Whale Oil. In fact, early automatic transmission fluid was sperm whale oil based before WWII.
 

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Absolutely! That's EXACTLY why we use ATF as a substitute for the sperm oil in the original receipe for Frankford Arsenal Bore Cleaner in Hatcher's Notebook to make Ed's Red!

For general purpose gun oil I usually take a Hoppe's bottle full of the ATF, K1 Kerosene mix from the first stage of mixing Ed's Red and divert that off from the batch to use as gun oil. In hot semi-tropical climates straight ATF is fine.

The Virginian said:
Dextron II and Dextron III Automatic Transmission fluid is a decent cheap substitute for Sperm Whale Oil. In fact, early automatic transmission fluid was sperm whale oil based before WWII.
 
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