Copper Fouling

Discussion in 'General Firearms Discussion' started by lklawson, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    During my research for the Cheapskate's Guide to Gun Cleaning and Maintenance (yadayada), I repeatedly came across various claims that WWII and earlier, copper fouling was cleaned with an amonia solution. A supposedly German recipe was something like 80% Ammonia mixed 1:1 with water.

    Well, I finally found the post WWI era U.S. copper fouling removal instructions and the recipe for the U.S. ammonia solution:

    Rifle Marksmanship
    U.S. Government Printing Office, 1921
    War Department
    Document No. 1021
    Office of the Adjunct General

    161. Removing metal fouling.
    When the bore of the rifle is examined after cleaning and before greasing, as explained in the preceding paragraph, and metal fouling is found to be present, this fouling must be removed at once. Rust progresses very quickly under the flakes of metal fouling.
    Metal fouling will always be removed under the close and constant supervision of the supply sergeant, mechanic, or noncommissioned officer specially trained for this purpose. In addition to the supply sergeant and mechanics, at least two noncommissioned officers in every organization will be trained in the removal of metal fouling, the removal of obstructions in the bore, in the complete dismounting and assembling of the rifle, and in minor repairs.
    The standard metal fouling solution, or a solution made from metal fouling tablets, is used to remove metal fouling. The preparation of these solutions is described in paragraph 162.
    To apply the solution, the bolt is removed from the rifle, the chamber is tightly corked up by a rubber cork of the correct size driven in from the breech, and a 2-inch section of rubber hose is tightly slipped over the muzzle of the rifle so that it projects about 11/2 inches beyond the muzzle. The rifle is then stood, muzzle up, in a rack, and the solution is poured into the muzzle until the bore is full and the solution rises in the rubber tube, completely covering the muzzle of the barrel. Care must be taken in pouring in the solution that none of it is spilled and that it does not overflow, as it will burn the stock and is liable to rust the metal parts. This solution is left in the bore for 13 to 30 minutes, never longer than 30 minutes under any circumstances. The muzzle of the rifle is then depressed, the fouling solution poured out, the tube removed, and the cork driven out from the chamber by inserting a cleaning rod from the muzzle while the breech is still elevated, so that none of the solution which might be remaining in the bore will run into the breech mechanism when the cork is driven out.
    Immediately after pouring out the solution the bore will be thoroughly swabbed with flannel patches wet with water, three or four patches being used. It will then be further swabbed with a number of clean, dry patches until the bore is clean and thoroughly dry. The bore should then be heavily greased.
    When the solution is poured into the bore it is colorless. As it dissolves the metal fouling it assumes a deep-green color. The same metal fouling solution can be used in two barrels, but in no more. The solution is extremely corrosive to steel if permitted to evaporate on it or if allowed to remain in contact with it for any considerable length of time, hence the precautions about leaving it in the bore for more than half an hour and regarding spilling the solution. The rubber tube at the muzzle is used so that the solution will completely cover the muzzle, otherwise the solution might evaporate slightly and form a ring of rust at the muzzle. Metal fouling solution must never be used in a rifle that is still warm from firing, as it would ruin the bore in several seconds by excessive corrosion. Never use metal fouling solution or any kind of ammonia in a bore which contains oil or grease. The oil or grease makes the solution entirely ineffective.
    Used as directed, the metal fouling solution is perfectly harmless to the bore and is very effective in removing the metal fouling. In cases where a rifle has to be cleaned after firing and at once put away where it can not be again cleaned for the next three days, it should always be treated with the metal fouling solution. Properly treated in this manner, the bore is chemically clean. It then only remains to dry it perfectly and to protect it with heavy grease, when it can be placed away for any length of time with perfect safety.

    162. Preparation of solutions.
    b. Standard metal fouling solution.—Ammonium persulphate, 1 ounce, or 2 medium heaping spoonfuls*.
    Ammonium carbonate, 200 grains, or 1 heaping spoonful.
    Ammonia, 28 per cent, 6 ounces, or three-eighths pint, or 12 spoonfuls.
    Water, 4 ounces, or one-fourth pint, or 8 spoonfuls.
    Powder the persulphate and carbonate together, dissolve in the water, and add the ammonia; mix thoroughly, and allow it to stand for one hour before using. It should be kept in a strong bottle, tightly corked with a rubber stopper, and the bottle should not be more than two-thirds full to permit of expansion of the gas and prevent breaking the bottle. The solution should not be used more than twice, and used solution should not be mixed with unused solution, but should be bottled separately. The solution, when mixed, should be used within 30 days. Care should be exercised in mixing and using this solution to prevent injury to the rifle. The metal fouling solution must under no circumstances be left in the rifle barrel over night, because appreciable corrosion of the steel will take place. The ammonia must never be used in a warm barrel. An experienced noncommissioned officer should mix the solution and superintend its use.
    This standard metal fouling solution has no appreciable action on steel when not exposed to the air, but if allowed to evaporate on steel it attacks it rapidly. Care should therefore be taken that none spills on the mechanism and that the barrel is washed out promptly and thoroughly dried. The bore should always be cleaned before applying the metal fouling solution, as this permits a more effective and economical use of the solution. This ammonia solution is expensive and should be used economically.

    *Editor’s Transcription Note: The spoon referenced here is the “model 1910 spoon issued in the mess outfit.”

    Peace favor your sword,
  2. Rerun

    Rerun Supporting Member

    Lawson, When I read the title to this thread I thought You were going to be talking about Police Corruption...

    (Question: What did the goldfish say when she swam into the concrete wall? Answer: DAM!)


  3. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    A couple of other good recipes in there. One I'll add to the corrosive residue thread.

    Peace favor your sword,