A couple helpful tips
Sealing CO2 guns and eliminating rust
by B.B. Pelletier
Two things drove today's blog topic - (1) the wind is still howling here, which prevents me from finishing the Walther Falcon Hunter report, and (2) there are a couple small subjects I want to cover that don't fit well anywhere. So here we go.
Crosman Pellgunoil really works
I think I've promoted Crosman Pellgunoil more than any other product throughout my writing career and for good reason. It works! It won't reseal a gun for you, but it will rejuvenate the seals in a gun that's been lying around a long time. How long? Well, I've used it on a gun that hadn't been shot in more than 20 years, and it kept the gun sealed for another two years of regular shooting. That was a flea market purchase that came out of the closet after a death in the family, which is how the dating was determined.
Accept no substitutes
The moment I give advice to use Pellgunoil, I'm hit with, "What can I substitute?" You'd think Pellgunoil was tied to gas prices, the way some shooters want to avoid it. What they really want is to be able to buy it at Wal-Mart, but none of the hundred or so stores I've visited carry it. Please don't write and ask me whether this or that can be substituted for Pellgunoil, because I really don't know. Heck, until last year I thought Pellgunoil was a synthetic!
What is it?
Crosman Pellgunoil apparently is a 20-weight, non-detergent, petroleum-based oil that has o-ring and seal conditioners added. That's what colors it red. Daisy used to offer their own brand of oil for the same purpose. When they stopped production, they simply told owners to use 20-weight, non-detergent motor oil in their guns. Of course, you don't get the seal conditioner when you do that.
What does it do?
Pellgunoil is introduced into the gun at the point where the pressurized CO2 gas flows in. It's then carried through the entire pressurized portion of the gun by the gas that flows through. If you lube a fresh CO2 cartridge and install it in a very dry airgun, before that cartridge is exhausted, you'll notice oil around the breech. That's from the oil-laden CO2 exhausting at the transfer port and leaving oil behind. Every seal and o-ring in the path of the CO2 will now have a coat of oil with seal conditioner.
As it flows through the pressurized system of the gun, the oil loosens and removes particles of dirt that are carried out the transfer port by the flow of gas. Guns that get oiled have far fewer incidents of seal damage due to dirt particles.
I didn't discover the benefits of Pellgunoil on my own. I was introduced to it by Rick Willnecker when I visited his shop in Maryland back in the 1990s. Rick is a Crosman and Benjamin repairman and has been fixing guns since the 1960s, when his stepfather had a gun shop in Baltimore. He kept a large bottle of the stuff on his bench and every gun he repaired - CO2 or multi-pump pneumatic - got a liberal dose of it as the new parts were installed. Once I started using it, I've have had far fewer problems with CO2 guns.
Getting rid of rust on guns - a smelly business
For many years, I've avoided using Ballistol because of the odor. It smells like fish, which I've been told is the anise in the formula. The late Joe Goulart ("Golden Joe" of Golden Toller Guns) was the guy who pushed Ballistol at me with a vengence. He sold airguns and black powder guns and was one of the nicest people in airgunning. But that didn't make Ballistol smell any better!
Then, a few years ago Van Jacobi, of Airhog told me he used Ballistol to clean the bores of all the new airguns that came through his shop and said I'd be surprised at the rust he got out of new Falcon barrels. I relented and tried some for that purpose. After seeing for myself, I never looked back. In fact, I pushed hard for Pyramyd Air to stock Ballistol because of its excellent rust-prevention and removal properties.
Let me show you what I mean. I recently bought a vintage Daisy BB gun that was originally nickelplated but had been attacked by rust over decades of attic storage. It was the perfect test subject for how well Ballistol works. I cleaned the rust from one side of the action, just to see if the change was that visible. I had hoped to show the other side as a comparison, but the Ballistol is also a penetrating type of oil and it crept around to the other side of the gun. So I stopped and took a photo of that side with as much rust as remained, then I applied Ballistol in three successive treatments. Just spray it on the surface and let it stand for 30 minutes to an hour. The longer it stands, the less work you have to do because the Ballistol has more time to bond with the rust.
Ballistol penetrates and neutralizes rust
Ballistol is a non-carcinogenic, biodegradable oil that penetrates rust. That allows you to wipe away a lot of it, but not all. The rust down in the pits that were formed does not wipe off, but it turns from red to black and will not continue to eat the metal. You cannot see the color change on a blued gun, but you can see the results on a white rag when you wipe it off. On my nickel gun, though, you can actually see the red rust leaving the surface.
You can see the white rag turn reddish-brown and can actually see the red rust being removed from the surface as you rub.
Will oil do the same thing?
Yes, regular petroleum oil will do almost the same as Ballistol, but not quite. Regular oil won't bond with the rust to the same extent Ballistol does, so you will have to work longer for similar results. Also, the rust in the pits may not be fully neutralized by regular oil, and the rusting may not be entirely stopped. Of course, the more carefully you work, the better your results will be.
What about using steel wool?
Steel fur, as our UK cousins call it, works well with Ballistol or oil on some surfaces but not on others. It works very well on a hot blued finish. The nickel finish I chose to show here is one surface on which you wouldn't want to use steel wool because it would rip up a large amount of the remaining nickel with the rust. Once a pit eats through the rust, the edges of the nickelplating are exposed. If a hard object such as a steel wire scrapes past, it can get under the plating and pull up more of it. On any plated surface, I use a cotton rag.
What do you get with this treatment?
You may remove and neutralize all the rust, but the pits are still there. All the finish that was removed by the rust will still be gone, so the gun may not look much better after a treatment like this. However, you'll know absolutely that the rust problem has been dealt with. If there are large patches of bare metal, this treatment will probably leave them with a brownish-gray color called patina. That's considerably better than the peppery-red color of active rust.
Besides rust removal, Ballistol is a great penetrating oil, good for light lubrication and as a wipe-down to prevent rust from fingerprints. Blackpowder afficionados even use it as a patch lubricant in ball-shooting muzzleloaders.