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Dug Relic Preservation Advice Needed


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#1 SDC

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 07:09 AM

I was given the M1 pictured recently by a friend in Europe. It was left behind on Mt Belvedere Italy, circumstances unknown, as the 10th Mountain Division moved through the area during combat in February 1945. No markings are visible other than one serial number digit. This was my father's unit so I'd like to display it somehow, but first wanted to know what I should do to stop any further deterioration. Thanks

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#2 EasyRed1944

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 09:53 AM

Is there still rust on the M1 rifle ? if yes...fully remove it with sandpaper and fully spray it with a protective spray.
Here i use a spray that oils/protects/cleans/makes things loose...
If no.. just spray it or use a protective oil used for handling wood ( it doesnt harm iron ).

#3 Bluehawk

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:13 AM

The rust issue can become pretty serious... obviously.

One added idea I'd try first would be to see how much, if any, of the rust scale I could remove by gently chipping it off... before using anything as drastic as sand paper or emery cloth - which WILL remove at least some of the basic metal. This is especially handy in the tiny corners and tight spots. A simple exacto knife is handy for the purpose.

Conservators would, most probably, try the chipping way initially, combined with some kind of loosening solvent (even WD-40 would work fairly well) to dissolve adhesions of scales... even something as simple as plain water helps lubricate the scales OR other rust/corrosion build-up.

If no scales or accretions of rust are present, then emery cloth is preferable to even light grade sandpaper because it is less likely to gouge or scratch.

Key thing is working it down ssssssllllllllllooowwwwwwwwwllllllyyyyyyyyy, taking away as little of the actual metal, and preserving as much of the original finish, as humanly possible.

#4 SDC

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:47 AM

Thanks Gents - I've been poking at the obvious loose stuff with a dental pick and a bristle brush, and will do some more of that before giving it a shot of WD40 to see if any more loosens up. I was thinking of then using a new brass brush, lightly. Is the white material corrosion? If so what about a spray such as you might use to clean car battery terminals?

#5 Bluehawk

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:58 AM

Thanks Gents - I've been poking at the obvious loose stuff with a dental pick and a bristle brush, and will do some more of that before giving it a shot of WD40 to see if any more loosens up. I was thinking of then using a new brass brush, lightly. Is the white material corrosion? If so what about a spray such as you might use to clean car battery terminals?

Anything whitish is almost always corrosion, created by two dissimilar metals touching, IF it is corrosion and not some other accretion (e.g. paint, clay, etc.).

If a brass brush, then really really really REALLY lightly... with lots of lubricant. If emery cloth, then with lots of water.

Not familiar with the battery terminals spray, but it is designed for use on lead... not steel or brass or bronze etc. I'd be hesitant using that... metals CAN be "stained", in effect, by strange chemicals. In fact, that is exactly how bluing or other patinas are done... a bit of liquid of various kinds, and some high heat.

If patient, it'll be gorgeous when done.

#6 gpw_42

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 12:10 PM

Interesting project, and GOOD LUCK!

If you're friends with local police, you might be able to get the serial number using whatever forensic methods they use for pulling them from weapons with the s/n filed off. I've never done that, but it might be a neat rabbit hole to pursue.

#7 Peace

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 12:15 PM

Hey SDC,

if your question is, how can you stop it from further deterioration, then the answer is. Keep it in a stable inside environment with a normal humidity level. Rust only forms in combination with moisture and OČ. Take one out of the equasion, and you wont get rust. Actually, a rusted surface like yours prevents further deterioration since the rust forms a cake on the metal, wich seals it from most of the oxigen. The old ways of 'browning' and 'blueing' are derived from that; using a form of rust to prevent the metal from corrosion. (fighting fire with fire)

If your question is; How can I make the rifle look better? Then the answer is not so simple. You have to decide wether to keep the rifle in 'as found' condition, meaning 'do nothing', or do you want to get it rustfree, and maybe partially functional. That is a personal matter.

When I face this dilemma I look and see how far gone the item is, again personal preference. If too far gone by my means, I use a process called 'electrolysis'. This is a method that removes rust, but nothing but the rust. Simple electrical circuit with the item suspended in a solution to guide the current. A process you can do in your backyard, with just household products. After a few hours the rust on the object will be transformed into an easily removeable black crud. Scrape and brush that off thoroughly, and you'll get to the base metal, wich will be pitted. Surface will show a light grey, darker then a sandblasted surface. A lot of times original markings reappear from below the rust, and stuck parts will be removeable.
Judging by just that one picture, I'm pretty sure I could get that rear sight removed and functional.

I hope this helps,

Stijn

#8 SDC

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 03:33 PM

Thanks for the ideas, but if you could see this firsthand you'd see there's no chance of it ever being functional in any way. My only goal is to preserve it without further deterioration, and to display it recognizing I live in a fairly humid part of the country. I do like the idea of perhaps raising some of the markings, but do not want to do anything that might harm the piece as I'm pretty sure I'll never have another one from my father's combat area. A couple more closeup pictures below.

DSCN1178a.JPG DSCN1179.JPG

#9 Bluehawk

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 04:23 PM

Thanks for the ideas, but if you could see this firsthand you'd see there's no chance of it ever being functional in any way. My only goal is to preserve it without further deterioration, and to display it recognizing I live in a fairly humid part of the country. I do like the idea of perhaps raising some of the markings, but do not want to do anything that might harm the piece as I'm pretty sure I'll never have another one from my father's combat area. A couple more closeup pictures below.

DSCN1178a.JPG DSCN1179.JPG

Classic white corrosion there seen...

Looks like the body of metal has become disfigured by having been eaten away. In those cases, the museological solution is to get the crud off and leave it as it is then with a dab of typical gun oil.

Seeing it closer up I can now suggest the use of a soft (i.e. not wire) buffing wheel with MILD abrasive (such as toothpaste or something less than Ajax), either one on a drill, or a Dremel for those hard-to-reach areas - after scaling.

#10 6th marine

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 07:56 PM

Classic white corrosion there seen...

Looks like the body of metal has become disfigured by having been eaten away. In those cases, the museological solution is to get the crud off and leave it as it is then with a dab of typical gun oil.

Seeing it closer up I can now suggest the use of a soft (i.e. not wire) buffing wheel with MILD abrasive (such as toothpaste or something less than Ajax), either one on a drill, or a Dremel for those hard-to-reach areas - after scaling.

Cleaning civil war iron relics such as bayonets and gun barrels....we use an eloctolisis method to remove rust and stop the rusting process. Get a metal container and fill it with water. Put the gun in the container completely under water. Get a car battery charger and hook the possitive side to the gun and the negative side to the metal container. Pore some regular table salt in the water to help with the electrolisis process. Make sure the possitive clip is attatched to the gun in a place that you might have to file a little to make good contact. Plug the battery charger in and you should see some tiny bubbles comming off the gun shortly. Pore in a generous amount of salt and stir it good in the water. Let this process work for about 8 to 10 hours. The rust will be removed. Thats all you will need to do to it. It works really good on iron civil war cannon balls and other items too.

#11 6th marine

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 07:59 PM

Cleaning civil war iron relics such as bayonets and gun barrels....we use an eloctolisis method to remove rust and stop the rusting process. Get a metal container and fill it with water. Put the gun in the container completely under water. Get a car battery charger and hook the possitive side to the gun and the negative side to the metal container. Pore some regular table salt in the water to help with the electrolisis process. Make sure the possitive clip is attatched to the gun in a place that you might have to file a little to make good contact. Plug the battery charger in and you should see some tiny bubbles comming off the gun shortly. Pore in a generous amount of salt and stir it good in the water. Let this process work for about 8 to 10 hours. The rust will be removed. Thats all you will need to do to it. It works really good on iron civil war cannon balls and other items too.

Filing , sanding, chipping will harm the object. The best way to remove the rust and stop the rust is the electrolisis method. trust me it works.

#12 Bluehawk

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 08:20 PM

Filing , sanding, chipping will harm the object. The best way to remove the rust and stop the rust is the electrolisis method. trust me it works.

Truly, it does... if the stuff is available, it does work.

#13 earlymb

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 02:30 AM

When I face this dilemma I look and see how far gone the item is, again personal preference. If too far gone by my means, I use a process called 'electrolysis'. This is a method that removes rust, but nothing but the rust. Simple electrical circuit with the item suspended in a solution to guide the current. A process you can do in your backyard, with just household products. After a few hours the rust on the object will be transformed into an easily removeable black crud. Scrape and brush that off thoroughly, and you'll get to the base metal, wich will be pitted. Surface will show a light grey, darker then a sandblasted surface. A lot of times original markings reappear from below the rust, and stuck parts will be removeable.
Judging by just that one picture, I'm pretty sure I could get that rear sight removed and functional.


Hey Stijn,

could you make a seperate topic on this, perhaps with some pics or plans? I've heard about this method before but never tried it myself. Do you use salt water as solution?

Greetz ;)

David

Edited by earlymb, 19 November 2008 - 02:31 AM.


#14 BEAST

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 02:59 AM

Cleaning civil war iron relics such as bayonets and gun barrels....we use an eloctolisis method to remove rust and stop the rusting process. Get a metal container and fill it with water. Put the gun in the container completely under water. Get a car battery charger and hook the possitive side to the gun and the negative side to the metal container. Pore some regular table salt in the water to help with the electrolisis process. Make sure the possitive clip is attatched to the gun in a place that you might have to file a little to make good contact. Plug the battery charger in and you should see some tiny bubbles comming off the gun shortly. Pore in a generous amount of salt and stir it good in the water. Let this process work for about 8 to 10 hours. The rust will be removed. Thats all you will need to do to it. It works really good on iron civil war cannon balls and other items too.


Let me see if I have this straight. Attached the positive clip of the car battery charger to the relic, attach the negative to the metal tub and submerge the positive clip underwater? Does it matter what type of metal the tub is made of?

Also, if there is a round in the chamber, how will that be affected by the electrical current?

#15 Bluehawk

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 05:19 AM

...Also, if there is a round in the chamber, how will that be affected by the electrical current?

:blink:

#16 jgawne

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 06:30 AM

electrolysis is tricky, and my great hint i to use a model railroad transformer as a power source. You can adjust it to exactly where you want the current to be.

That being said, I have found that while it does remove all the rust, it pulls the rust up out of pitting and leaves it with a lot of small holes you had never seen. And some people really dislike this look.

And when someof the rust is actually helping keep a weak object together....well, you end up with paper thin metal.

I would STRONGLY suggest anyone trying this method play with other unimportant things first. The "science" bit of hooking the rig up is pretty easy, but the "art" section of it comes with knowing how much juice ot give it, and how long o treat it. The normal error newbiesmake is to crank the power so they see lots of bubbles. It is a lot better to let it work slower so you have more control over the effect.

#17 Blake_E

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 06:57 AM

Yes electrolisis/reverse electrolisis all the way, that is the proper scientific way to do it and it will get EVERY SINGLE piece of rust off, even out of pits etc, look it up

#18 SDC

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 07:29 AM

This is a great, educational discussion for me at least, thanks to all. I have several recovered M1 clips so may try my hand at electrolysis on one of those first. I like the idea of the model train transfomer, any particular amp level (I think my old one is only 45-ish)? One added question - the gas cylinder and lock are still attached, will electrolysis harm the stainlees steel at all?

#19 Peace

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 09:41 AM

To answer a few questions;

no, electrolysis will not harm stainless steel. An eventual remaining black finish on the gas tube would be removed.

Here is a VERY good link wich explains the electrolysis process.

http://www.htpaa.org...cle-electro.php


do not use salt in the solution, the bubbles in this solution create hydrogen & oxigen gasses, but also chloric gasses, wich are of course harmfull for humans.
Better to use baking soda for the solution. if you use soda, first heat up the water to ease solving the soda.

Using a stainless steel tank is the cleanest way, but this creates chromates in the solution, wich are harmful too. Better to use a suitable plastic container, and use rebar as anode.

Jon has a point too, you like the result, or you dont. thats a personal preferance. Thats why I try to avoid the process whenever possible. IMO there is nothing wrong with the rust finish, as long as its not a thick crud.

Regards,

Stijn

#20 Peace

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 09:44 AM

A quick note;

I read somewhere that the electrolysis proces is NOT good for spring steel. Heard it takes the tensile(?) strenght out of the spring, or could eat it completely. I think it has something to do with the high carbon count in spring steel.

#21 teufelhund

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:15 AM

Hello...
Just a question...
How did you manage to get this item in the US????
I want to ship a WWI 1917 Enfield rifle and bayonet ( RELIC CONDITION) from Europe to a forum member,
His greathfather was in the 91st Division and this item has been recovered on HILL 263 near Exermont in the Argonne region
The 181st Brigade ( 91St USID) came in support to the 1st DIUS in the vicinity of Montrefagne Hill ( HILL240)
I am very scared that, once I have shipped the item it will be witheld at the US customs and that both of us will therefore be in trouble,
Teufelhund

#22 Bluehawk

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:21 AM

A quick note;

I read somewhere that the electrolysis proces is NOT good for spring steel. Heard it takes the tensile(?) strenght out of the spring, or could eat it completely. I think it has something to do with the high carbon count in spring steel.

That^, among other reasons, is why the patient manual working down method is used when conservators are not 100% certain of the exact materials involved in an artifact.

#23 SDC

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:42 AM

Simply put, I checked it with my luggage. When asked I said it was an antique, rusted piece of metal which in fact it is. In my mind it's no longer a weapon of any sort, other than maybe a club. The barrel was also plugged to comply with Italian laws. I was going to send it home via UPS from Rome but they wanted 96 Euros, too much. So the friendly UPS guy helped me pack it in a UPS box and as I said I checked it with my bag. Leaving Italy was no problem. When arriving in the US I was again asked what was in the box and I gave the same answer. The CBP agent remarked that I could get rusted metal in this country just as easily. My response was "not from a battlefield upon which my father fought I can't". All he said was "understood".

Hello...
Just a question...
How did you manage to get this item in the US????
I want to ship a WWI 1917 Enfield rifle and bayonet ( RELIC CONDITION) from Europe to a forum member,
His greathfather was in the 91st Division and this item has been recovered on HILL 263 near Exermont in the Argonne region
The 181st Brigade ( 91St USID) came in support to the 1st DIUS in the vicinity of Montrefagne Hill ( HILL240)
I am very scared that, once I have shipped the item it will be witheld at the US customs and that both of us will therefore be in trouble,
Teufelhund



#24 gwb123

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 05:30 PM

Hello...
Just a question...
How did you manage to get this item in the US????
I want to ship a WWI 1917 Enfield rifle and bayonet ( RELIC CONDITION) from Europe to a forum member,
His greathfather was in the 91st Division and this item has been recovered on HILL 263 near Exermont in the Argonne region
The 181st Brigade ( 91St USID) came in support to the 1st DIUS in the vicinity of Montrefagne Hill ( HILL240)
I am very scared that, once I have shipped the item it will be witheld at the US customs and that both of us will therefore be in trouble,
Teufelhund


Check with your local shipping company... DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc. Ask them how an item should be declared to pass through customs. If the item is a certified relic, there should be a classification that can be used that will allow it to pass. You might have to generate some documentation but a shipping company should have somebody on staff who can answer this question.

#25 doyler

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 05:41 PM

Nice relic.I have seen a new productavaiable locally called EVAPO-RUST.It is a liquid and I understand is re-usable and user friendly.It is also reportedly used by the military.I dont know how well it will work on your project but here is a link if you are intrested in checking it out.You could try it on a clip and see how it works.

www.evapo-rust.com/

RON

Edited by doyler, 19 November 2008 - 06:02 PM.



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