Black Oil Stains

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing Forum' started by SGWGunsmith, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. SGWGunsmith

    SGWGunsmith Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I look for older .22 rifles, like the Stevens Boys rifles and a specific few of the older "name brand" bolt action .22 rimfire rifles that could use some tender care.
    Quite often I'll find some of these riffles having black stains where the receiver or metal butt plates meet the stock wood. When stored these rifles most often were put away after oiling and then stood on their butt stocks until next needed. The oil then runs downward and eventually will find its way into the open capillaries on the end grain. The capillaries are what draw water into the tree wood when it was still alive, and it seems the tree doesn't realize that it's now a gunstock and no sap needs to be delivered to the leaves.

    When restoring an old stock, where you find those ugly black stains in an otherwise nice walnut stock, and you have the patience to do so, that dark oil can be drawn out of the with a little time..............and that old hairdryer when used during the "big hair" days.
    One method I use involves a powder called "whiting" that I get from Brownells. I'll mix this powder with mineral spirits into a fairly wet slurry and then brush it into all of the black oil soaked end grain. Then point the hairdryer onto the slurry and watch as it turns brown from drawing the oil out of the end grain. It's possible to get quite a bit of that soaked in oil removed, but in many severe cases, some of the wood will still have a grayish color involve that wood stain will cover before finishing.

    So, how do you know if you have ANY oil in the end grain capillaries of your stock? Just put your old hairdryer to work and put it on medium heat and point it at the end grain. If you see oil bubble out, you do.
     
  2. Dallas53

    Dallas53 Well-Known Member

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    very interesting information SGW! :)

    i have seen that whiting material in the Brownell's catalog, but didn't know what it was really used for. now i know. very good!
     

  3. BillDeShivs

    BillDeShivs Active Member

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    Drywall mud does the same thing, probably.
     
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  4. Chainfire

    Chainfire Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the tip SGW. I always considered the stain a permanent issue to be ignored.

    I wonder how kitty litter or "oil dry" ground to a fine dust would work. I may have to hunt up one of my old guns with the issue and try it.
     
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  5. Dallas53

    Dallas53 Well-Known Member

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    now, i'm wondering is the drywall material ground up itself might work. it's gypsum still isn't it?
     
  6. hiwall

    hiwall Well-Known Member

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    Rumor has it that "whiting" is white chalk. Dry laundry soap will also pull out the oil. Actually many things will. Stuff newspaper or any absorbent in the spot and lay the stock in the sun to warm. Works but this is a slow process. Most ways to remove the oil are a slow process that requires several applications.
     
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  7. BillDeShivs

    BillDeShivs Active Member

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    Whiting or drywall mud is water-based. As it dries, it pulls the oil from the wood.
    Since it's "painted" onto the wood, it works much better than dry compounds.
     
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  8. SGWGunsmith

    SGWGunsmith Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The "whiting", or whatever other concoction is substituted is only a means by which the evacuating oil is captured. Once the whiting turns brown, from the application of heat, and the mineral spirits dissipate, the brown, caked up powder will still need to be brushed away from the work surface.
    Don't recall recommending the use of any DRY substance, but instead using a "slurry" involving mineral spirits mixed with the whiting. Never ceases to amaze me how the written word can get hosed up.
    Repeating the process is often necessary, and may need to be done several times depending on how badly the buildup of oil is. This is a job that does require a modicum of patience.
    I have done this process just using the hair dryer, or a heat-gun and then daubing the oil as it comes out of the end grain with a section of Bounty paper towel. So, it's the "heat applied" that draws the oil out, nothing else.

    For me, the available jar of whiting is just another convenience, used as is, rather than adding another project concerning grinding up sidewalk chalk, kitty litter, or something else.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018 at 4:17 PM
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