Monday, August 13, 2012

Shooting: The Naptha Cure

It's an old trick for cheap watches: thing stops running, you take the back off and lay it in a saucer of lighter fluid, move it around a little. (Don't try this with an modern watch! ETA: or most older ones, see Sevasteen in Comments.) The volatile petroleum distillate washes out the gunky old oil, dust, etc. Advanced practitioners would add a drop of sewing machine oil.

My balky Iver Johnson top-breaks got a version of that prior to going to the range Sunady afternoon: several drops of Ronson fuel down each side of the hammer. I worked the action (controlling the hammer!) multiple times and then followed with some proper oil ("FP-10," I think) and some more working. The older one, with a stiff hinge, got the same treatment there.

And what do you know -- it worked! Both worked much better today. They could still use a professional going-over but in the case of the Supershot, it made a huge improvement.

I shot my High Standard Sentinel, too, and the H&R 623 just 'cos it is so darned much fun. I saw -- and should have photographed -- an immaculate 622, the blued version; this one had a 6" barrel, a nice holster and cartridge belt (for .22s!) and a story: an elderly gentleman drove up and asked Guy (the range boss; also, he practices law) if he could drop off a gun he no longer wanted. ("My business partner convinced me to buy it a long, long time ago and it just makes me nervous to still have it around.") This was a bit of a surprise. Even after Guy pointed out he could instead take it to a gun store and turn it into money, the man was sure he wanted to give it away there and then. He just wasn't comfortable having it. Evidently, his story was found plausible, and when the firearm in question was revealed, there it was: a little pull-pin .22, a back-yard can-plinker. Naturally, the rangemasters didn't want to see it go unwanted... (I've shot it. It needs cleaned, lubed and maybe a new mainspring, but it's almost 100%). Made sometime between 1968 and 1970, depending on who you believe about H&R date-coding.

With my guns, I got off to a lousy start but found the center soon enough. The Sentinel is a particular treat; once I have got my head in the game, it's a magic fun machine, "Boom! in the black. Boom! In the black," over and over.


pdb said...

Serendipitously enough, I just rehabilitated the trigger pack on my Remington 541T in the same way. Soak the bugger in Kroil, then repeatedly back out and turn in the adjustment screws, and voila, the crud or nanodemons preventing the sear from consistently holding the striker back (and occasionally dropping it with the operation of the safety!) were exorcised.

Can't wait to take it to the range to try it out.

Ken O said...

PDB, I do not know the vintage of your 541, but I urge caution and a closer look. At some point Remington used a plastic plate for the safety in the model 700. Ours and many others wore through and would fire when moving the safety. We had the problem fixed, more than once, and my father eventually sent the gun to Rwmington to be destroyed. Shortly thereafter, my father was subpoenaed; someone had died as a result of the faulty safety. Remington, to their credit, finally went back to metal and some three years later sent us a new 6mm that is a real tack driver. While the best safety is between our ears, would deem it foolish to tolerate an arm that fired unexpectedly.

Sevesteen said...

For most old mechanical watches, the naphtha trick works temporary--but is likely to cause much more severe damage due to washing away the oil that keeps the mainspring from rusting. (Timex is an exception--they used a solid coated mainspring, and their official procedure was pretty close to "take the dial off, swish the movement around in solvent and oil the pivots")

Anonymous said...

The best lubricating oil for watches used to be sperm whale oil. It wouldn't go gummy/sticky over years, had a high temperature breakdown point and was all-round good lube for tight mechanical tolerance issues.

In light of recent shrub-snuggers' campaigns against whaling (the other white meat), I've found that a mixture of ATF (either Dexron or Mercon), Mobile-1 synthetic motor oil, some Marvel Mystery Oil, some Kroil and you get something that seems to work reasonably well on guns and intricate widgets.

Wayne Conrad said...

Anon, Your mixture sounds like a relative of Ed's Oil (which ingredients are a proper subset of Ed's Red). Ed's Red is ATF, kerosene, mineral spirits, and optional acetone. Great gun cleaner. Ed's Oil is just the AFT and kerosene.

I started using Ed's Red and Ed's Oil on firearms when I realized that someone buying industrial solvents and lubricants, mixing them up, and putting them in a tiny bottle with a fancy label did not justify charging me an arm and a leg for it. No reason I can't mix industrial solvents myself for a whole lot less.

I've experimented, for slides, with lithium grease, gear oil, and just about anything else that has some stay-put-ness. It seems that pretty much anything works fine business there.

So, of course, since I have it in abundance (it's cheap and easy to mix up in quart batches, or larger), Ed's Red and Ed's Oil get used on everything in the house now that's even remotely machine-like. Door locks, squeaky hinges, whatever. Ed's Whatever is now my version of the Big Fat Greek Wedding's Windex. It cures whatever ails ya.