Cosmoline Removal for a P38 - WaltherForums

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Old 01-06-2013, 04:05 PM   #1
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ppqp38 .22
Cosmoline Removal for a P38

Hello All,

I am new to the Walther Forum and thought i would probe the community to see if anyone has any experience removing cosmoline from a P38. I have removed cosmoline from other surplus pistols but am a little more cautious in my approach with the P38 as I received a 1943 model in excellent condition and want to perserve it the best i can.

Please let me know what you have done that has worked well in perserving the grip, bluing, etc yet removing that nasty cosmoline.

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Old 01-06-2013, 05:05 PM   #2
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Fishtick .22
I've used brake cleaner and mineral spirits. Both work very well at removing cosmoline. I believe mineral spirits is a bit more gentle on the finish, although Ive never had an issue with either harming bluing. Not sure if I'd use brake cleaner on parkerized finishes like the P1 has, but you have not worries there with yours being all blued steel. Remove the grips. I'd clean those with hoppes if I were you. It doesn't react with bakelite at all. Hope this helps.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:27 PM   #3
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AoxoMoxoA .22
Get a large pot of boiling water going.

Remove magazine.
Remove grips.
Remove slide.
Remove barrel.

If you're comfortable disassembling the gun further, do so. If not, that's OK too.

Make a hook with a coat hanger and one by one immerse the cosmoline laden parts in the boiling water and leave there, maybe 5-10 minutes, or until all the cosmoline has floated to the top. Upon removing the parts, the hot water will evaporate and you will have totally degreased and cosmoline free parts.

Immediately spray everything down with WD-40 to displace any remaining water. Make sure to get into all the internals.

Blow the gun parts off using an air compressor until dry.

Repeat the above, but use Rem-oil, or a light spray oil instead of WD-40.

Blow off again, in and out with the air compressor. Lube as normal. Wipe exterior off with a rag and reassemble.

Last edited by AoxoMoxoA; 01-06-2013 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:32 AM   #4
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il.bill .22
AoxoMoxoA has the safest procedure well detailed. When the cosmoline floats to the top, if you take a little extra time to skim most of it off the boiling water the exterior of each part does not get recoated with a film of it when taking them out of the pot. One note of caution: if you are married, make sure you use the 'right' pot if it is from the kitchen.

Fresh mineral spirits is my favorite for cleaning cosmoline out of mil-surp firearms, but safer would certainly be better with a collectable WWII piece. If you ever use spray brake cleaner, which works great on a non-painted weapon, the NON-CHLORINATED formula is kinder to ferous metals on a molecular level, I believe.

The original Bakelite stocks would be the one area that calls for extra caution. This forum is a great resource and has many knowledgeable members who are very generous with helpful suggestions. Congratulations on your acquisition - pictures (both before and after) are always nice to see.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:44 PM   #5
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artmccann .22
Welcome to the forum.
+1 on members suggestions. Regarding the grips, I clean with a mild dish washing soap, pat dry and then let air dry (can be expedited with compressed air). After dry, I put Mother's canuba liquid wax/cleaner, for clear finish on autos, with a soft toothbrush and cloth, let dry and wipe off (follow the directions but do not get aggressive. I do this a couple times to bring out the colors, then put back on. Note if planning to shoot, buy a set of post war P1 grips to save your originals from any damage; good luck; art.
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:40 AM   #6
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ppqp38 .22
Thank you all for the helpful tips and techniques. I have used mineral spirits with my other guns in the past and may try that again. I have a couple other weapons I am going to de-cosmoline first and then I am going to get to crown jewel of cosmoline drenched weapons the P38. I will post a couple pictures of before and after.

I have been reading up in a couple other places and have heard mixed reviews on the rem oil. I heard the Birchwood Barricade product was much better. Does anyone have good bad or indifferent opinions on oil's?
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:02 AM   #7
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Fishtick .22
I've mainly used Remoil and Hoppes. I think I love Hoppes so much because I like the smell. Reminds me of my dad and his old muzzle loaders.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:03 AM   #8
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Fishtick .22
Looking forward to the pictures.
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:00 AM   #9
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BoyerBros .22
Boiling, boiling, boiling. The only way to go. I once had a guy tell me to put parts in the oven. Bad idea. My house stunk like an old Russian barracks for three days. And, you'll be sleeping on the couch for sure because everything your wife bakes for awhile will taste like a can of Sterno.

I was trying to remove cosmoline from some old Mosin Nagant oilers. A few of the solder joints fell apart. I must have had the temperature too high. Again, the oven is a bad idea.

On the grips, use Dawn liquid detergent. It is excellent. I collect and restore old grips. It is so good at cutting the molecular bonds of grease and oil that road crews use it to clean up highway spills.
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Old 06-09-2013, 11:37 PM   #10
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Deputy .38
Furgetabout boiling. You aren't cleaning dinner dishes for the wifey. Mineral Spirits works great and you don't have to worry about rust forming in the nooks and crannies where water WILL collect. BTW...most of the coating on guns you buy ISN'T cosmolene. Especially the Russian imports. It's just plain ol' gun grease. REAL cosmolene is a ***** to get off.

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