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Thread: ATF for cleaning or lube?

  1. #1
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    Default ATF for cleaning or lube?

    I have run out of clp, and while checking my stash for more, I noticed that I have almost a gallon of ATF around, both type f and dextron. I guess I got them for some car thing I was doing and never used them. Are they any good for any firearms application? I figured the detergent might make them a cleaner, and the viscosity might help for lube. I am worried the color might stain wood it gets on though. Any insight? Could I cut it with something?
    "A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that." -- Shane




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    IMHO ATF won't give you much more cleaning quality than WD40 or something you probably have on hand. You know to stay away from water based anything. As for oiling after the cleaning, standard lawn mower motor oil will work in a pinch.....Just saying but I would get the real deal gun cleaners and lube when ya get the chance...
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  3. #3
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    I noticed that I have almost a gallon of ATF around
    It's a key component of "Ed's Red", and you've got enough on hand to mix up a lifetime supply. I would be little hesitant to use it as a stand alone cleaner or lube though, at least without researching it more thoroughly. If you've never tried Ed's Red you should use a little bit of your gallon of ATF and mix up a quart or so, it's great stuff.


    Ed's Red article and recipe: http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=9

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    Well Shoobedoo, I learn something every day...Thanks for the link on ED's...I will have to give it a try.
    NRA LIFE MEMBER
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  5. #5
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    I have heard first hand reports of using ATF during a CLP crunch in Iraq. I'm a stateside civilian, but I've used it on AR15 locking lugs and camming pin and it worked fine. The detergents made it easy to clean off fouling. I didn't use it as an actual oil for preservation purposes on external metal though. It seems a little thin for that.

  6. #6
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    I use ATF, Mineral Spirits (Paint Thinner), and Lamp Oil - which is just pleasantly scented kerosene. But I also spray with an automotive throttle body cleaner before a first scrub, instead of using Acetone. That's because Acetone is VERY volatile, and also attacks plastics and stock finishes, even in the Ed's Red mix. Throttle Body Cleaner is a lot easier on finishes and plastics, but will clean out the same gunk as Acetone or Carburetor Cleaner.

    The cost of the whole mess is minimal by comparison to commercial cleaners so you can afford to do a really good job. For any ammo I believe is corrosive I still do a hot water and a little hand dishwashing detergent scrub and that plus Ed's Red will take care of everything but metal fouling which, in my experience, either needs a lot of scrubbing or an "electronic" cleaning as todays wimpy chemicals aren't very good at it.

    BTW, the ATF isn't really good for any long term storage rust protection, too light. Wipe with a greased cloth, RIG or Penn Reel Grease.
    I swear by Jupiter Optimus Maximus .... in the army of the consul Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and for 10 miles around it I will not steal anything worth more than a sestertius in any one day.

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    In some of the recipes for Ed's Red the Acetone is optional, it still works well but doesn't attack the carbon fouling as aggressively or quickly as it would with the acetone in the mix. Most of the concerns about acetone in Ed's Red center around the fumes, which I personally don't worry about too much because I always use it in a well ventilated area and keep the bottle tightly capped when not in actual use, but acetone can eat some plastics, so it's advisable to restrict it's use to metal parts as much as possible. Anyway, Ed's is intended specifically as a bore cleaner, and as such it's as good or better than many commercial preparations at about 1/8th of the cost.

  8. #8
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    "ATF, Mineral Spirits (Paint Thinner), and Lamp Oil" You mix these equally JJK? and you use them for what? Is it a bore cleaner, a preservative, or what? I knew a guy that used to use deisel fuel and 3 in 1 oil as a bore cleaner, since both leave an oil behind and are pretty heavy. Deisel is not as volitile as gas, and I thought something like atf and deisel might work. Mineral spirits is kind of like deisel in the oily residue it leaves behind. I'm not sure that I like the deisel fuel option. JJK, what you mention seems like it would be a good cleaner, almost like a parts cleaner fluid mix for greasy parts, but will it have any lube/preservation value?

    THanks
    "A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that." -- Shane




    Who is John Galt?

  9. #9
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    FWIW in one of the other forums a couple of years ago a chap posted that his company had tested penetrants for their own use.
    They found that Kroil was maybe 10% more effective than Liquid Wrench.
    They also found that a 50/50 mix of ATF and Acetone was about twice as effective on loosening frozen parts than Kroil.
    I haven't tried it myself but the big advantage would be prce and availability I suspect.

    Regards,
    Jim

  10. #10
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    Never tried ATF on anything but I buy Advance Auto Parts Carb & Choke Cleaner by the case. Best cleaner and carbon remover I ever found, and won't harm plastic or wood.
    Plain 10w40 motor oil for lubricant and preservative.

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    "ATF, Mineral Spirits (Paint Thinner), and Lamp Oil" You mix these equally JJK? and you use them for what?
    It's the basic recipe for Ed's Red (check the link above for Ed's Red) minus the Acetone, the "lamp oil" being kerosene, the purified "1K" kind used in household heaters, which you can buy at most Walmart stores. Yes, it's equal parts of ATF, Kero, and odorless mineral spirits, acetone is optional but it's more effective with the acetone than without, and yes it's a bore cleaner.

    It should be noted that there are a number of variations to the basic Ed's Red recipe (ATF, Kero, Mineral Spirts, & Acetone) some add Kroil, Ammonia, etc. and it's kind of up to you what your final recipe will be. The basic recipe works great for me.
    Last edited by Shoobedoo; 02-13-2012 at 01:31 PM.

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    Google Ed's Red, finally made some, made the low odor copper eater (if you can call ammonia low odor)
    used Murphies oil wood soap and detergent, and WOW, maybe not the most bluing safe product out there, but it got a 100+ stevens .22's bore to shine.
    not bad for some witches brew made for (once pennies) a few dimes.
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  13. #13
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    I have ATF and lantern fuel ( kerosene). I am hunting for mineral spirits in the shed today. I was planning on equal parts ATF, ms and kerosene, but leave out acetone. If I can't find ms, I might try the ATF and kerosene mixture to check its lubrication and storage potential. I have an old vinegar jug around here I can clean up for mixing. What do you guys think? I had a bad experience once with acetone spilled on a ruger p97 one time. That incident actually led to me finding gb i think.
    "A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that." -- Shane




    Who is John Galt?

  14. #14
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    I am hunting for mineral spirits in the shed today...
    It's cheap and can be found pretty much anyplace, ie. Walmart, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, etc., AKA "paint thinner", the advantage of the odorless variety is it stinks less, especially if used in poorly ventilated areas. Acetone will eat thru some plastics, the poly jugs used for milk, car window de-icer etc, won't work. If you want to store a concoction that contains Acetone for any length of time you'll need the harder "PETE" type plastics of the "1" recycling symbol kind, or glass. If you plan to whip up a batch of Ed's Red, use the Acetone, it works much better/faster, and the fumes really aren't that bad if you just use common sense, and yes it's flammable, so don't light cigarettes nearby and you'll be OK.

  15. #15
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    The reason I ask is that one of the eds red recipes, one that mentions being overseen by some chemical expert, says that one should keep the kerosene and ATF mixture separate for gun lube on rails and the like.
    "A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that." -- Shane




    Who is John Galt?

  16. #16
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    Don't know, I'm not a chemical expert, I use Ed's as bore cleaner only, and it's excellent for that. There are lots of good general purpose lubes like CLP, Hoppes gun oil, Birchwood Casey Sheath, etc., but they aren't very good bore cleaners. Bottom line... there really is not one product that will do everything, homemade or otherwise. For me, I use Ed's or Hoppes #9 for normal bore cleaning, Hoppes Benchrest for copper fouling, and a light coat of the lube of your choice in the bore after cleaning and before storing.

  17. #17
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    I used ATF for many years for lubing until switching to Remoil and grease for lubing.
    Laugh hard and often.

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  18. #18
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    So I mixed it sans acetone, it came outa hair thinner than the Lucas gun oil I picked up a couple months ago, and the same color. It did as good a job as clp on cleaning several actions and barrels that I used it on, for pennies on the buck of clp. It did a great job on the Cosmo caked on a Sks. I'm going to give it a go, and see how it holds up as a rust preventative on a couple peices, and the rest will get a film of Lucas before hitting the safe.

    Thanks
    "A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that." -- Shane




    Who is John Galt?

  19. #19
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    ATF works pretty good cleaning up a crusty bore.Let it sit for a day or 2 run a patch and reapply.
    Turbo charger rebuilder and waste veg oil burner

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by shucks View Post
    "ATF, Mineral Spirits (Paint Thinner), and Lamp Oil" You mix these equally JJK? and you use them for what? Is it a bore cleaner, a preservative, or what?

    THanks
    Equal parts. Diesel is pretty close to kerosene, lamp oil, and even JP-4 jet fuel, almost identical except for additives and sulfur limits but the smell of all but lamp oil is a turnoff.
    Ed's Red is a cleaner and also leaves a light lubricant suface. For much longer and better protection and lubrication wipe with a cloth containing a grease with a lot of corrosion protection additives like RIG or Penn Reel Grease.
    Best for storage, but NOT FOR SHOOTING is wax and that's what museums use for displays. Boeshield T9 is an easier way to apply a mix of light oil and wax, VERY effective in my experience, lubricates some, but you will need to clean bore, bolt and magazine parts before shooting a firearm that was sprayed with it.
    I swear by Jupiter Optimus Maximus .... in the army of the consul Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and for 10 miles around it I will not steal anything worth more than a sestertius in any one day.

  21. #21
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    sick

    Gents: Do note that all of which you talk about can or may harm some finishes on weapons or
    degrade rubber grips or polymer type frames. Plain old CLP over 3 yrs has degraded my Hogue
    rubber grips and I have tried to wipe it off when it gets on them. Acetone will do a number on wood
    finishes.

    Aggressive cleaners have a down side: watch you lanes on this.

    Ventilation is an issue to watch and adjust for as well as leaving cleaning patches / rags full
    of such cleaners improperly disposed of and the fire hazards associated with that.

    Just think it all through.

  22. #22
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    it was Willy wipes in the 80's at gun shows all over east coast... all ready on a rag set to go, botteled... good smell...he looked like Rodney Dangerfield worked for railroad running a bridge, switching station in the north...NY OR ? i stil have one of his wipes left!
    atf, acetone, mineral spirits, kerosene....not for long term storage....
    cleaning quick work on trading guns......
    keep off stocks just for safty sake never seen any harm?
    GOD<><SAVE THE CONSTITUTION / STATES RIGHTS><>NRA

  23. #23
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    For copper removal, I've tried about everything on the market over the past 35+ years. While I've still got plenty of partially filled jars, tubes, bottles & cans , the stuff that impresses me most today is the Outers Foaming Bore Cleaner.

    It's non-flammable, non-toxic, & unfortunately doesn't have the charming smell of the old Hoppes containing Benzine, but it removes copper like nothing else on my shelf of elixirs. It's a small spray can with a snorkel tube, but it goes a long ways.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by DK PHILLIPS View Post
    it was Willy wipes in the 80's at gun shows all over east coast... all ready on a rag set to go, botteled... good smell...he looked like Rodney Dangerfield worked for railroad running a bridge, switching station in the north...NY OR ? i stil have one of his wipes left!
    atf, acetone, mineral spirits, kerosene....not for long term storage....
    cleaning quick work on trading guns......
    keep off stocks just for safty sake never seen any harm?
    You're close. It was "Wally's Wipes" and it seemed like he set up at every show in NY but I haven't seen him in a few years. He was quite the shuckster and his spiel about the wonders of his snake oil grated on me like finger nails on a black board.
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    G96



    fiveshot

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    Richard....i set up in Roanoke VA next to him...saw him for years!

    after you got past the pushy "hype looking like Rodney Dangerfield"....
    he was kinda a nice old guy..
    but your right....... HE HAD TO GET TIRED, SLOW DOWN FIRST AT THE DAYS END......

    there is this "new guy" showed up at BECKLEY WV show.... said was his friend,
    uses the same mix smells the same....yellow label too just different name still was $3.00- now $5.00.....

    said he could get all the ingredients at the dollar store at little start up cost make gallons ...rag, tag and profits off the scale.....
    he was surprised as i'm of you knowing him personally.....
    i'm sure he said he passed away? but got the secrete formula!

    i'll ask next time didn't know he was that known!.... that was a long long time ago.....1980's.
    ya thanks old frend for the memorys<><dk
    GOD<><SAVE THE CONSTITUTION / STATES RIGHTS><>NRA

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