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Dug Relic Preservation Advice Needed

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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,




This may not be exactly the information for you, but it's a good starting point. This page is designed for US military in Germany. Where it will help the individual is the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) forms.

retired USAF - 3C071

resident pack rat.... I'll collect almost anything until the wife gets mad! :)

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This may not be exactly the information for you, but it's a good starting point. This page is designed for US military in Germany. Where it will help the individual is the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) forms.

I concure. My son shipped several firearms to me by USPS from Germany. Need the ATF papers and custom papers and there were no problems. This was after 911 and during Clinton Gun Ban




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Couple of things-


1. if you do go down to metal with electolysis, you really should coat the result with something like microcrystaline wax which will protect it against further damage, and should someday some amazing product become available you can remove it. Often an item looks a lot better after being waxed, sometimes not. try it on something you do not care about first, and then on a small lesser seen area.


2. I brought a rusted M1 home from France. I packed it in a checked bag as best as possible to cushion it. I did not say anything to anyone about it as it was a rusted peice of metal (one of many I have brought home) and it did not fall into any catagory of declarible items that I could see. If you looked at it on an e-ray I am not sure you would be able to tell what it was. Anyway no one said anything at all. I also had a friend bring a rusted WW1 enfield home. He told the US customs guy that he had a WW2 rifle in his bag, but that it had been in the ground for 75 years and was just a hunk of rust. The customs guy waved him through.


3. evapo rust, and there is something else new and really (really expensive) in the conservation field that is similar. I've found them to be OK, but $$$ and they get crudded up really fast so it ends up being far more expensiv that you planned.

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Excellent advice ^ - microcrystalline wax is, by far, THE best metal preservative.


If all else fails, that wax can be found here:


HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC

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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.



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.







Thank you for this article, it's convinced me to give it a try. One last question though - is there any particular ratio of anode (i.e. rebar) size to the size of the object. More simply, how big a piece of rebar should I use for this M1? Thanks gain, I'll post some pictures of the finished product in a few days.


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You can use any metal you have, as long as its clean healthy metal to begin with. The cleaner it is, the better the conduction in the water. Keep in mind the metal will degrade fairly quickly, so dont expect to reuse it for something else. I suggest using a few pieces of rebar of maybe a pinky finger thick.

Actively looking for demolition related items from WW2. Anything!


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