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Makin' Home Brew


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Makin' Home Brew
« on: April 18, 2013, 06:43:20 AM »
Fellow Weathbyterians,
   It was Zonie who did a couple of posts about home grown bore cleaners and oils and such a while back.  I became interested in brewing up some Edís Red bore cleaner.
   This interesting mixture was popularized by C.E. (Ed) Harris, who used to write articles for the American Rifleman.  According to Ed, this stuff was cooked up while he worked at Ruger.  The Southport folks needed a cheap industrial cleaner to soak up to thirty barreled actions at the same time.  Later Ed Harris published the formulation so everybody could use it, as long as it was labeled as Edís Red to give him credit for it.
   The four basic components of Edís Red are mineral spirits, Dexron transmission fluid, acetone, and K1 Kerosene in equal proportions.  He said he got the idea from General Julian Hatcherís writings.  The Hatcher formula listed the ingredients as mineral spirits (turpentine), sperm oil, acetone, and Prattís Astral Oil. 
   Going to sea and whacking a sperm whale is frowned upon these days, so Ed substituted Dexron for the sperm oil.  He claims that Dexron is about like a synthetic sperm oil anyway.  Where to find Prattís Astral Oil?  Well evidently the stuff is kerosene once sold under a fancy name.  Ed decided to use K1.  This stuff comes in my state either in its natural clear coloration or dyed with a pink dye so you canít use it for road grade diesel fuel.  K1 is used in space heaters.  I can get the clear stuff (for $4.78 a gallon, yikes), and I would rather not have dye in my bore cleaner.  Be your own judge.
   Hatcher said he wrote down the formulation in 1920, and its proper name was Frankford Arsenalís Nitro-Solvent Bore Cleaner Number 18.  To its original mineral spirits, sperm oil, acetone, and Pratts (kerosene) formula the Frankford Arsenal dissolved lanolin.  Ed says you can add lanolin or not, it doesnít help much.  He also said that you can leave out the acetone, but it wonít clean plastic wad residue out of shotgun barrels quite as well.  More on that later.
   I started wondering just how old this formula is?  I found it again listed in a work by Dr. W.G. Hudson from 1903.  He gives the formula as two parts Astral oil to one part sperm oil with one part turpentine and one part acetone.  Just a little different.  He claims that it was an old standard even at that time for a smokeless powder cleaner and had been whooped up to clean the fowling from WA powder.  Whistler Aspinwall powder was the standard powder for loading the dear old 30-40 Krag.  Enough history.
   Since I had all the ingredients on hand already, I decided to whip up some Edís Red.  I didnít want a gallon of it.  I mixed up about an ounce each of K1, mineral spirits, and Dexron transmission and put it in an empty Hoppeís bottle.  I put on an appropriate label and shook it up.  Now for the big question.  Will it work?
   First I polished the rust from an old scrap of steel that would rust if you even looked at it.  Then I painted a big X on the top with Edís Red and left it in a window sill.  Days later there was no rusty X on top.  I might add that it is very humid here most of the time.  Nobody wants to use a bore cleaner that CAUSES rust, right?  Then I tried it on a rifle. 
   As many Vannie owners know, the steel used by Howa in their rifles enjoys rusting.  If you handle one and donít wipe it off, or put one in a wet case the lovely thing will reward you with a rich red patina of corruption.  The Edís Red cleaned powder fouling very well.  At least as well as Hoppeís, and probably better.  I wiped it off and left the metal bare on the test rifle, and had no rust problems either. 
   I did make one alteration to Edís basic formula.  I left out the acetone, since I donít like dangerous organic solvents and donít intend to use it on shotgun barrels anyway.  Ed claims it works just as well as a rifle bore cleaner without the acetone.  It is a fine bore cleaner, and you likely have the ingredients lying about already.  It does smell a little, even without the nasty acetone scent.  It also is red colored hence the name.  I mixed mine in a plastic Hoppeís container, but you might want to use glass.  This stuff will dissolve some plastics, especially if you intend to add the acetone.  Naturally you donít want to soak synthetic or wood rifle stocks or painted surfaces with it.  You can use metal brushes, since it doesnít seem to be a big copper solvent.  It does clean primer and powder residue quite well.  Often the copper cleaners don't touch carbon from firing anyway, and removing the baked on carbon fouling is important too.  I have been using it for a month or so now, and have had no problems.   
   Here it is again if you want to try.  Equal parts of mineral spirits, Dexron transmission fluid, and K1 Kerosene.  Add the acetone last if you decide to use Edís full formula, or leave it out for safetyís sake like I did.  Best wishes.
your pal,

P.S. Be sure of your own ingredients and be careful if you mix your own.  Naturally old imr isnít responsible if you mess things up.  You might want to research it on line a little first.  imr