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#4536156 - 10/07/17 11:53 AM Cleaning nickel revolver
podan Offline


Registered: 08/25/12
Posts: 24
Loc: New Orleans
I recently got a nickel plated Colt Cobra (1974 production). It's in pretty good shape, but the previous owner appears to have shot it and put it away a LONG time ago. So I am looking for something I can clean the whole thing up with that will not damage the finish. I don't imagine my brake cleaner would be safe although that's exactly what it looks like it needs. Then possibly polish to remove some of the cloudy spots. Any suggestions on cleaner/lube/polishes?

Thanks!

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#4536196 - 10/07/17 12:36 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: podan]
Oro_O Offline


Registered: 09/20/14
Posts: 1351
Loc: Seattle-ish, WA
Sounds like a nice piece.

I've spent a long time maintaining a couple of early '70s nickel S&W revolvers, a '70 19 and '70 29. A few things I've learned are that solvents are OK and a mild polish won't hurt.

The admonition about not using a solvent on nickel goes back to pre-WWII when a different nickel plating technique was used. A copper substrate was laid down on the metal first to promote nickel adhesion. Modern techniques don't do that at all, and it's that copper substrate that was the worry, not the nickel itself. Industrial applications haven't done it since before WWI (I believe), but since aftermarket chromers used it a long time after that date, it was still a concern with aftermarket finished guns, though not factory ones. So don't worry overly about solvent on it; just like with any other type get it off quickly. If it is newer non-chlorinated brake cleaner, don't worry.

A fine polish is also a great idea. I use Mother's Mag and Wheel and find it an excellent compromise of gentle and effective. You can vary the pressure you rub it with to get the desired results. I've used it with an angle grinder on vintage chrome motorcycle headers to get amazing results, and with light finger pressure on guns to get a mirror finish. Do not use it on case-colored pieces if your trigger or hammer is finished that way. Those are far too soft and thin to tolerate any kind of polishing at all.

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#4536267 - 10/07/17 03:03 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: podan]
podan Offline


Registered: 08/25/12
Posts: 24
Loc: New Orleans



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#4536273 - 10/07/17 03:13 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: podan]
CT8 Offline


Registered: 10/09/14
Posts: 10920
Loc: Idaho
Just call the look of the finish patina and leave it alone.
_________________________
"Don't let your preconceived notions get in the way of facts."Geoff Metcalf"

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#4536280 - 10/07/17 03:18 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: podan]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13466
Loc: Chicago, IL
Mild paste wax applied by hand, like the Mothers stuff mentioned above, should be fine. Nickel is fairly resilient but you don't want anything too abrasive. Someone once told me about the "car paint rule" that Smith & Wesson uses: if you would feel safe using it on your car's finish, it's safe for your gun.

I have heard that anything with ammonia shouldn't be used on nickel as it will cause the nickel to flake off due to the reaction with the underlying copper. You should double-check if there's copper underneath -- I'm sure any of the big gun owner websites can clue you in.

I'm no chemist or metallurgist, so I will defer to the more experienced people. I have never cleaned a nickel-plated gun.
_________________________
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#4536281 - 10/07/17 03:19 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: CT8]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13466
Loc: Chicago, IL
Originally Posted By: CT8
Just call the look of the finish patina and leave it alone.


I am somewhat inclined to agree, assuming it isn't disgusting and hideous.
_________________________
2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

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#4536401 - 10/07/17 06:02 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: podan]
ZeeOSix Offline


Registered: 07/22/10
Posts: 17762
Loc: PNW
Lots of hits with a Google search: LINK

Definitely want to stay far away from certain cleaners/chemicals from what I'm reading in some of the links in the search.

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#4537675 - 10/09/17 06:27 AM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: podan]
Toros Offline


Registered: 04/22/05
Posts: 264
Loc: Chadds Ford
Once you've cleaned and polished to your liking, you may want to consider this stuff as the final coat of wax to protect it. Pricey but it works great and a tub will last you a long while.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0012S1XBO/ref...la-343196555194

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#4537678 - 10/09/17 06:37 AM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: podan]
billt460 Offline


Registered: 03/30/15
Posts: 4371
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
One thing you want to stay away from with Nickel plated firearms is Ballistol. And there are several other similar products that can damage the copper plating underneath the Nickel.


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#4538241 - 10/09/17 04:21 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: billt460]
HouseTiger Offline


Registered: 04/16/17
Posts: 183
Loc: Georgia, USA
Just my opinion, but using Ballistol to clean the gun is one thing, to slather that on a nickel plated anything to store it is another.

Nickel plated guns, like the older Colts and S&W, can be safely cleaned with solvents such as Hoppes. But after they're cleaned, they should be completely wiped dry. I will use a clean cloth with some rubbing alcohol on it to get the last bit of residue off the metal, and sometimes a bit of Simichrome polish to get the last bit of 'dirt' out of the nickel, especially on the front of the cylinder face.

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#4538407 - 10/09/17 07:20 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: billt460]
Oro_O Offline


Registered: 09/20/14
Posts: 1351
Loc: Seattle-ish, WA
Originally Posted By: billt460
One thing you want to stay away from with Nickel plated firearms is Ballistol. And there are several other similar products that can damage the copper plating underneath the Nickel.


This is a 1974 Colt factory nickel finish. Why do you think it has nickel underneath? (It does not.). If it were a 1st gen SAA, that might be relevant...

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#4538419 - 10/09/17 07:32 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: Oro_O]
billt460 Offline


Registered: 03/30/15
Posts: 4371
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Oro_O
This is a 1974 Colt factory nickel finish. Why do you think it has nickel underneath? (It does not.). If it were a 1st gen SAA, that might be relevant...


It has copper plating under the Nickel. All Nickel plated firearms do. It doesn't matter when it was made. The base metal is copper flash plated before it receives the Nickel. This is to allow better adhesion of the Nickel to the base metal.

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#4538652 - 10/10/17 01:58 AM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: billt460]
Oro_O Offline


Registered: 09/20/14
Posts: 1351
Loc: Seattle-ish, WA
Originally Posted By: billt460
Originally Posted By: Oro_O
This is a 1974 Colt factory nickel finish. Why do you think it has nickel underneath? (It does not.). If it were a 1st gen SAA, that might be relevant...


It has copper plating under the Nickel. All Nickel plated firearms do. It doesn't matter when it was made. The base metal is copper flash plated before it receives the Nickel. This is to allow better adhesion of the Nickel to the base metal.


No, they don't. You can do some research, even read what Colt has to say on the subject.

Roy Jinks, the S&W historian, wrote a very effective letter on this topic. I do not have it to hand, but it can be found on the web. I have letters from him on some of my guns, but not on this topic. You are wholly mistaken and arguing against a point the finest historians of firearm metallurgy are in complete agreement upon. You are also arguing against those of use who have done this for decades on our own guns, and not providing contrary empirical evidence.


Edited by Oro_O (10/10/17 02:10 AM)

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#4538787 - 10/10/17 07:35 AM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: Oro_O]
billt460 Offline


Registered: 03/30/15
Posts: 4371
Loc: Glendale, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Oro_O
You are wholly mistaken and arguing against a point the finest historians of firearm metallurgy are in complete agreement upon. You are also arguing against those of use who have done this for decades on our own guns, and not providing contrary empirical evidence.


I'm not "arguing against" you or anyone else. I am basing what I'm saying on a career spanning over 45 years in the metals industry. Not a letter from a historian you have tucked away somewhere, that you can't seem to find. Or some article you read once upon a time, somewhere out there in Cyberspace. You can believe and do whatever you want. It doesn't matter to me in the least. I'm not trying to convince you of anything. I am simply telling you it is standard practice in the plating industry to flash plate steel with copper before applying Nickel, in any type of electro plating operation. I don't care if it involves motorcycle parts, car bumpers, medallions, or firearms.

The reason for this is as I stated. It allows for much better adhesion of the Nickel to the base metal it is being applied to. It also prevents any type of oxide, (rust), from forming underneath the Nickel. If it should be compromised or violated, by a scratch that penetrated through the thin Nickel plating itself. Without the copper base, flaking of the Nickel will occur much faster. And over a much broader area. The copper base is also much more conductive to the electro process involved in applying the Nickel. Which allows a much better, and more uniform thickness application of the Nickel itself. This is very critical when uniform buildup is required on closely fit parts. Like many that firearms are comprised of. Which is one of the main reasons Nickel plated firearms should not be cleaned with any type of copper removing solvent like Ballistol or Hoppes. This is simply common sense.

I'm not saying or suggesting there are not Nickel plated firearms out there where this procedure has not been followed. Any process can be shortcut to save cost. Or else done improperly. Is it possible for firearms, or anything else made of steel be Nickel plated without a flash copper base?.... YES. Will the results be of the same enduring quality?..... NO. If you talk to any respectable firearms refinisher in the trade today, like Ford's or Robar. They will tell you the exact same thing.

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#4541491 - 10/12/17 07:17 PM Re: Cleaning nickel revolver [Re: podan]
podan Offline


Registered: 08/25/12
Posts: 24
Loc: New Orleans
In the end, I completely disassembled the revolver. I cleaned it with M-Pro 7 cleaner and lubed it with M-Pro 7 LP. After reassembly, I used a tiny bit of Flitz, applied by finger and wiped off with microfiber cloths. I finished up wiping the whole thing down with a silicone cloth. A lot of the discoloration came off, and I cam certain if I had not been "chicken" and rubbed more I could have gotten more off.

Next decision grips - elk antler or wood crazy


Edited by podan (10/12/17 07:18 PM)

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