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Guest TheRoz

Leather Washer Oil

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Guest TheRoz

Hello to all from a forum virgin. :unsure:

Newbie to the sport here

I've got an ancient BSA Light air rifle which I'm renovating at the mo, and being a tight sod would like peoples advice on alternatives to Leather Washer Oil.

If it needs a good soak in something before reassembly, what do the panel recommend?

And are there things to look out for when putting the whole lot back together.

It did come apart surprisingly easily - due possibly to there being a broken mainspring!

 

TIA dudes

 

TheRoz

 

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I used Abbey SM 50 on leather washers. It's not exactly 'period' but silicone oils do seem to penetrate the leather ok, given some time, and the moly content may help lubricate the leather too. I have made seven or eight leather washers now, they've all been soaked in SM50 and all seem fine.

 

Silicone is better as mineral oils can cause the leather to disintegrate over time. I have got some neatsfoot oil, but it seems to have a high water content which may not be good for the metal parts of the rifle over extended periods, especially if they're not used often. Silicone also won't cause deiselling.

 

If you use silicone, soak the washer for as long as you can, at least a couple of days, then dry it off with a cloth or kitchen roll before refitting it, as you don't want silicone getting onto the metal parts of the rifle.

 

One good tip for making leather washers is to use this solvent stuff that you can get from Cobbler's shops, it's called 'Leather Stretcher' but it actually softens leather and allows you to mold or form it easily. It is sprayed onto the leather washer liberally, allowed to soak in for a few seconds, then you can shape the washer as necessary. If I'm making a cup washer, I fit the leather discs onto the piston, then use jubilee clips to squash the flat disc into the cup shape, keeping the leather moist with 'leather stretcher', then gradually tighten the jubilee clip up until the cup is the right size for the cylinder. Then you leave it overnight to dry, when you take the jubilee clip off twenty-four hours later, it should retain its shape. Then apply the SM50 (put the jubilee clip back on if the SM50 softens or swells the leather to the extent that you think it might not go in the cylinder). Once the washer and piston are refitted in the cylinder, reassemble the rifle but avoid the temptation to shoot it straight away! If you can leave the new washer in position in the cylinder and under spring pressure it will slowly and gradually conform perfectly to the shape of the cylinder, this will help it to last a long time. If you fire it straight away it will be formed to shape very suddenly and might start to disintegrate, or may have a much reduced life.

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On the subject of lubricants, I would give it a full service with modern lubricants... Molybdenum paste wasn't around when it was made but is superb stuff. Motorcycle chain wax and/or Molybdenum Grease on the spring will damp out twang on firing, and moly paste on the trigger parts will make the trigger smoother and lighter but still reliable and safe.

 

Some like to use 'period' lubricants on old guns but the life of the gun will be preserved and extended if you use modern lubricants. If these lubricants had been invented when the gun was made you can bet that the manufacturers would have specified them!

 

I would put SM50 on the leather washer as described above, rub moly paste well into the cylinder, inside and outside of the piston, on any spring guide, onto the ends of the spring, and into the trigger parts too. It's rubbed well in as if you're polishing the parts, but really the molybdenum is sticking to the metal and filling the tiny scratches and pits in the metal's surface, making it more slippery, giving it a long-lasting lubrication that will prevent wear and make the rifle last longer. Then I'd spray the spring with motorcycle chain wax, and put a little moly grease on top of that. This will make the rifle sweeter and less twangy on firing. Nowadays I only use gun oil on pivots and hinges that are riveted together, and for wiping the outsides of my airguns. If the pivot points can be unscrewed I put moly paste on those too, since it works better than oil when the metal is under pressure. If the cocking linkage moves in a slot, that gets Moly paste rubbed into it too. Moly paste is superb stuff!

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Guest TheRoz

Thanks Rob M for the reply,

I went to a local gun shop this morning to get the moly grease (my 9 year old son told me where the shop was - I had no idea it was there!) and the chap behind the counter basically repeated what you had said.

Gun is now assembled and looks pretty good but compression is vv poor compared to a Walther CP88(?) air pistol, but miles better than it was.

It's now a working old air rifle, useful for shooting tin cans off a wall, but nothing more serious.

Thanks for the advice.

The Roz

 

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Neatsfoot compound for me. Worked a treat on my Webley MKIII and costs peanuts compared to gun products. I just left the new leather seal to soak in the stuff overnight.

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Guest Tenuc

 

 

I second that!!! I've used it for more years than I can remember for reviving leather washer, and on new. Never had any problems, and still using the same tin. :)

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Neatsfoot Oil, or Neatsfoot compound is a concoction for softening leather, I have used it a lot on walking boots, and it does seem to work well there. However, traditional neatsfoot oil was a product derived from abattoir leftovers, 'neat' being an old country word for a calf (IIRC). Old-fashioned neatsfoot oil was recommended in years gone by for softening airgun leather washers.

 

I think that the product sold as 'Neatsfoot Oil' that we get nowadays is much different though. It's largely water for a start and is possibly derived from fish, rather than calves or cows. I don't believe it's the same stuff at all. I bought a quality brand of Neatsfoot oil, but it seems to be dirty stuff, looks like it has some dirt and dust in it and also seems to have lots of fishscales floating in it! Not stuff I'd want in the cylinder of a cherished air rifle that's for sure!

 

I have done two Webley Mk3s with SM50 Silicone oil on leather washers that I have made myself out of sole leather, one was done about six years ago, the other about three and both are running fine. The one I did about three years ago gets a lot of use and seems pretty good though I say so myself, it's fairly powerful and consistent.

 

I'm convinced that SM50 is better than 'Neatsfoot Oil', for one thing, the Neatsfoot Oil we get now seems different to the stuff that was recommended by airgun experts many years ago, secondly, the silicone will never dry out (unlike modern neatsfoot oil which seems to be largely water, so much water that I'd worry about it causing rust on the piston head or cylinder) so it will keep the leather soft for a long time, plus, while I'd never use silicone lube in a metal-to-metal situation, it does seem to make the leather slippery, and it doesn't deisel either.

 

If you want a bit more power out of your old rifle Theroz, I would investigate getting a new spring and maybe making a new leather washer for it, most cobbler's shops will give you off-cuts of sole leather and it is pretty easy.

 

I wouldn't go trying to get eleven foot/pounds out of it though, I would call John knibbs and see if he can sell you an 'original spec' spring for it. It was probably doing eight or nine foot/pounds when new, trying to get extra power out will cause it to wear out more rapidly.

 

Rob M

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Rob,

you may have a point about Neatsfoot, I have no idea what it's made of but the possible problems you've mentioned are not something I've encountered in my MKIII. I still don't fancy putting silicone oil any where near my rifles. I can't see how I could stop any excess from being squeezed out of the leather at the end of travel and back onto the piston head where it contacts the side walls of the compression tube. That would mean metal to metal contact being lubricated by silicone oil and the scary possibility of galling. Each to there own but it's not for me.

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Fair point about the silicone in a metal-to-metal area Sam, that would be really bad!

 

The leather I use for piston head washers is new sole leather, which is quite hard and dry to start with, and after I have soaked the washers in SM50 for at least a day, they're taken out, any excess taken off with kitchen roll, and left a bit longer (usually a day or two) before replacing in the rifle, so that the silicone has time to spread into the leather, away from the surface, that way it's even less likely for any silicone to be squeezed out under spring pressure.

 

If you're happy with your neatsfoot oil that's fine, it may be completely different stuff to the stuff I bought! :) Does yours seem to have fishscales floating in it? The stuff I got is a grey, translucent, watery liquid. What's yours like? Perhaps you got the genuine stuff, not "Neatsfoot Style Oil" like me.

Edited by Rob M

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The stuff I have is Carr & Day & Matin - Vanner & Prest Neatsfoot Compound in orange tin with black writing.

The liquid seems to be a yellow/orange colour, looks and smells suspiciously like cod liver oil. I'll be -swearword-ed if I'm tasting it! :awink::abiggrin:

 

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Forget oil, use graphite, doesn't clog things up.

 

It's of little use on a leather washer though. :awink:

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Guest Tenuc

Fair point about the silicone in a metal-to-metal area Sam, that would be really bad!

 

The leather I use for piston head washers is new sole leather, which is quite hard and dry to start with, and after I have soaked the washers in SM50 for at least a day, they're taken out, any excess taken off with kitchen roll, and left a bit longer (usually a day or two) before replacing in the rifle, so that the silicone has time to spread into the leather, away from the surface, that way it's even less likely for any silicone to be squeezed out under spring pressure.

 

If you're happy with your neatsfoot oil that's fine, it may be completely different stuff to the stuff I bought! :) Does yours seem to have fishscales floating in it? The stuff I got is a grey, translucent, watery liquid. What's yours like? Perhaps you got the genuine stuff, not "Neatsfoot Style Oil" like me.

 

The 30 years old stuff I've got is called Henry's Genuine Neatsfoot Oil. It is a dark brown thin oily liquid and smells - disgusting!!! The tin is pale yellow with a bit of rust on the outside, as it lives in the shed. Inside is just bright shinny metal with no sign of rust.

 

Regarding SM50 silicone oil, I thought the MoS2 included in the brew made it work as a metal to metal lubricant as well. I use it on triggers and pivot pins for some time and have had no problems. The advertising blurb says "Recommended for high velocity moving parts where sliding friction is encountered"???

Edited by Tenuc

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The Moly added may make it more suitable for metal-to-metal use, but having seen just how bad silicone can affect metals in contact I'd rather not trust it. I'd rather use a molybdenum paste, rubbed well into the working parts and supplement that with a mineral oil or grease if necessary.

 

It may be suitable (as they put it) for a while but who knows, long term?

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Hi all, I alway,s use " Slick 50 " !!! As regards Silicon oil, it is very difficult to combust, ( I am not talking about excessive dieselling here )

But as Cardew said, Some dieselling takes place, ?

And I personally like to see a " Trace/Wisp " of very light smoke, And as we all know, PTFE is the slippiest substance, Known to man ! Cheers,

 

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Guest spart

It's of little use on a leather washer though. :awink:

It works very well on 3 old leather washered guns I have. I know of gunsmiths who've had to struggle to get the piston out because they're so bunged up with congealed oil and dirt and consequently will use nothing else. This is the 21'st century and the chip fat and dripping that you use in Yorks is considered absolute nowadays. Regards. S.

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It works very well on 3 old leather washered guns I have. I know of gunsmiths who've had to struggle to get the piston out because they're so bunged up with congealed oil and dirt and consequently will use nothing else. This is the 21'st century and the chip fat and dripping that you use in Yorks is considered absolute nowadays. Regards. S.

 

 

So you aren't talking about graphite at all. Graphite on it's own is a dry powder that doesn't soak into anything. I presume the stuff you are talking about must have some sort of oil carrier if it does soak into leather? :dunno: I don't dispute the lubricating properties of graphite in any way, I've used it in spray form and added dry powder to moly myself, but we were talking about stuff to soak leather seals in.

Your stereotyped final sentence does you little favour unless you want me to believe what anyone from Nottinghamshire says about the sexual peccadilloes of those from Derbyshire. :thefinger:

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Guest spart

So you aren't talking about graphite at all. Graphite on it's own is a dry powder that doesn't soak into anything. I presume the stuff you are talking about must have some sort of oil carrier if it does soak into leather? :dunno: I don't dispute the lubricating properties of graphite in any way, I've used it in spray form and added dry powder to moly myself, but we were talking about stuff to soak leather seals in.

Your stereotyped final sentence does you little favour unless you want me to believe what anyone from Nottinghamshire says about the sexual peccadilloes of those from Derbyshire. :thefinger:

Yes it is Graphite, it is a lubricant and who said it had to soak in. Does engine oil have to soak into the piston of an internal combustion engine instead of providing a lubricating film? And, if anything I made a "stereotypical" reference, I did not construct a "stereotyped final sentence......." And it is "peccadillos" not "peccadilloes" But then we have schools in Derbyshire. Best Wishes.

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Quote: "Yes it is Graphite, it is a lubricant and who said it had to soak in. Does engine oil have to soak into the piston of an internal combustion engine instead of providing a lubricating film?"

 

It doesn't have to soak in to provide surface lubrication, but this discussion was about products that soften leather washers and make them flexible, not just slippery!

 

 

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Yes it is Graphite, it is a lubricant and who said it had to soak in. Does engine oil have to soak into the piston of an internal combustion engine instead of providing a lubricating film? And, if anything I made a "stereotypical" reference, I did not construct a "stereotyped final sentence......." And it is "peccadillos" not "peccadilloes" But then we have schools in Derbyshire. Best Wishes.

 

Quite, mine obviously failed to teach me to spell correctly while yours failed to teach you to read properly. :abiggrin:

 

PS Thanks Rob. :awink:

Edited by Sam Vimes

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Guest Big Gee

Neatsfoot oil is a yellow oil rendered and purified from the feet and shin bones (not the hooves) of cattle. It is used as a conditioning, softening and preservative for leather, and remains liquid down to a low temperature. In the 18th century, it was used medically as a topical application for dry scaly skin conditions.

 

Neatsfoot oil is produced much less than it once was. Currently, the shins and feet of cattle are usually rendered along with the rest of the body. Also, many products sold as neatsfoot oil are actually diluted with petroleum oil, which is bad for leather.

 

The best quality neatsfoot oil comes from the legs of calves. The fat in animals' legs generally has a lower melting point than the body fat, which means that it is more fluid and easier to use at lower temperatures, making it more effective for treating leather.

 

'Neat' in the oil's name comes from an old term for animals of the genus Bos, especially cattle.

 

quote : Wikipedia

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Guest Nigey42

I know nowt about this but I read in, I think, AGW recently that a very very minimal smear of fish oil was good for leather washers, or nothing at all since they'd pick up what little lubrication they needed from residues on the inside of the cylinder.

 

Cheers

 

Nigel

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And it is "peccadillos" not "peccadilloes" But then we have schools in Derbyshire. Best Wishes.

 

'Peccadilloes' is a correct spelling. The original word is Spanish but has been adopted into the English language so the English convention of adding an 'e' to plurals of words ending in 'o' is correctly used.

 

The OED also lists 'peccadillos' as an acceptable plural so it comes down to taste. Personally I have a stylistic objection to this spelling, as the ending looks like it should be pronounced '-oss'

 

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