Heat and Gun Parts

This is a discussion on Heat and Gun Parts within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Hope this is the right forum, mods please move if otherwise. A few months ago, my neighbor gave me an old Winchester Model 94 that ...

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Thread: Heat and Gun Parts

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    Ex Member Array myrkr's Avatar
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    Question Heat and Gun Parts

    Hope this is the right forum, mods please move if otherwise.

    A few months ago, my neighbor gave me an old Winchester Model 94 that was rusted completely shut. Apparently it had caustic cleaning agent poured all over it, and the wood was ruined while all the outside parts were covered in rust. Its since been a while, but I've cleaned it up and am ready to reassemble. But one thing I'm not sure of is if I ruined the heat treat/temper on the rifle. I used a small butane torch to remove the locking bolt and some screws on the receiver. Would heating up the spots I did weaken the rifle in any way? Also, how much surface pitting is acceptable? Thanks in advance.

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    I would best guess that you would be OK on the receiver. I am basing my "best guess" on the fact that the Yellow Boy had a solid brass receiver and I would think that any steel receiver even a completely annealed one would have more inherent strength than a brass one.
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    It depends on just how much heat was used, I’m no metallurgist but if it was heated over red-hot then I believe the original heat-treating has been compromised. As far as the pitting that will be a judgment call on your part as to how much metal you are willing to remove to achieve a smooth surface.
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    You have to be careful with heat. Much over 450 degrees can change the temper on heat treated parts. Heating to red hot and letting air cool is annealing, making the metal softer than it needs to be. If you do that, continual shooting will see the parts stretch and wear prematurely and in some cases it can be downright dangerous because the heat treated parts are weaker than they need to be. A gun with improperly heated parts can turn into a grenade if fired.
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    I would best guess that you would be OK on the receiver. I am basing my "best guess" on the fact that the Yellow Boy had a solid brass receiver and I would think that any steel receiver even a completely annealed one would have more inherent strength than a brass one.
    Hah that is one way to think about it. It definitely wasn't annealed, just heated to maybe 500 (should've checked in retrospect) to help loosen the screws.

    Msgt, I basically just ground the rust off and will either blue-in-a-bottle it or paint it. The looks of it aren't very concerning, just wanted to know if the pitting would weaken the integrity of the thing. But if QK is right, then the receivers of these old guns arent very high-stress so its a moot point. I appreciate the prompt response guys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    You have to be careful with heat. Much over 450 degrees can change the temper on heat treated parts. Heating to red hot and letting air cool is annealing, making the metal softer than it needs to be. If you do that, continual shooting will see the parts stretch and wear prematurely and in some cases it can be downright dangerous because the heat treated parts are weaker than they need to be. A gun with improperly heated parts can turn into a grenade if fired.
    From what little I know of heat treatment and tempering, I couldn't have heated it much past the lower tempering temps (I'm guessing 500F) in only a few spots. So maybe tie it to a bench and test it with a string?

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    Youd probably be alright, but tying it down for a shot or two and then inspecting it couldnt hurt. You only have one face. Might as well keep it pretty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Youd probably be alright, but tying it down for a shot or two and then inspecting it couldnt hurt. You only have one face. Might as well keep it pretty.
    Alright that was my original plan so hopefully it works well. Does loading a "proof load" for it sound like a good idea? It's a .30-30 by the way.

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    Normally this would never be a question that should be Internet Answered but I feel pretty confident that he will be fine.

    Another reason would be that older Winchester steel receivers were often factory color case hardened.

    Color Case Hardening provided the Steel with a tough incredibly thin surface layer of higher Carbon steel but the extremely high heat of the case hardening process left the entire underlying remainder of the receiver completely annealed. AKA NOT hardened at all.

    So I doubt that Winchester receivers even go through a factory hardening and tempering back process.
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    Normally this would never be a question that should be Internet Answered but I feel pretty confident that he will be fine.

    Another reason would be that older Winchester steel receivers were often factory color case hardened.

    Color Case Hardening provided the Steel with a tough incredibly thin surface layer of higher Carbon steel but the extremely high heat of the case hardening process left the entire underlying remainder of the receiver completely annealed. AKA NOT hardened at all.

    So I doubt that Winchester receivers even go through a factory hardening and tempering back process.
    I agree about the internet answering what could be a life-threatening question, but luckily you and I think alike, because if I had remembered about all the brass lever guns chambered in .30-30, I'd have had no qualms about testing it. Still sticking to plan A where I stand a great distance back behind my truck, just to be safe.

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    I'm was assuming that you used one of those Butane type small lighter type torches to do a bit of spot rust busting on some frozen screws.

    Me personally I would pop on a glove and a good pair of protective shooting glasses and I would test shoot it.

    And if I ended up not needing any stitches I would be a happy camper and so would my Wife.

    Colts old Carbona bluing process ran at 600 degrees so I doubt you're going to do any damage at an estimated 500 degrees.
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrkr View Post
    Alright that was my original plan so hopefully it works well. Does loading a "proof load" for it sound like a good idea? It's a .30-30 by the way.

    No. A proof load sounds more like a bad idea. How does one go about making meaningful proof loads? I have some ideas how do do it but why unnecessarily abuse the rifle, even if firing it remotely with a string on the trigger? Just use some standard factory loads and observe the fired cases for backed out primes and case heads swollen more than .01".

    Besides, the initial testing may not determine anything if the steel has been rendered soft (which I don't happen to think has happened based on the description of the heating). The receiver would stretch with cumulative firing and improper headspace would develop gradually. How gradually? Who knows?

    Another way to tell if the '94 Whichester action has the potential for headspace issues is the bolt will rock minutely but discernibly when one pushes down on the rear of the bolt with his thumb while the action is closed.

    I played with an ancient Model '94 .32-40 years ago that would back out primers and exhibit swollen case heads and would also stretch cases due to excessive headspace. Also once had 1965 vintage .30-30 94 carbine that had the same trouble to a lesser extent. With both rifles, pushing down on the rear of the closed bolt with the thumb would result in an audible noise and a small amount of movement could be detected.

    A sound Winchester 94 will be tight and the bolt won't rock when the action is closed in the firing position. At least in my experience.

    Sometimes it's best to have patience when trying to bring about a result while doing home gunsmithing. I speak from experience. Soaking the action in Kroil would have likely given the same results in a day or two without resorting to the more immediately gratifying but more radical application of what could have been excessive heat. Not fussing at you at all but just speaking from a "been there, done that" point of view. Heat, Dremel tools, and a "bigger hammer" have all brought me to defeat in my younger days.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    No. A proof load sounds more like a bad idea. How does one go about making meaningful proof loads? I have some ideas how do do it but why unnecessarily abuse the rifle, even if firing it remotely with a string on the trigger? Just use some standard factory loads and observe the fired cases for backed out primes and case heads swollen more than .01".

    Besides, the initial testing may not determine anything if the steel has been rendered soft (which I don't happen to think has happened based on the description of the heating). The receiver would stretch with cumulative firing and improper headspace would develop gradually. How gradually? Who knows?

    Another way to tell if the '94 Whichester action has the potential for headspace issues is the bolt will rock minutely but discernibly when one pushes down on the rear of the bolt with his thumb while the action is closed.

    I played with an ancient Model '94 .32-40 years ago that would back out primers and exhibit swollen case heads and would also stretch cases due to excessive headspace. Also once had 1965 vintage .30-30 94 carbine that had the same trouble to a lesser extent. With both rifles, pushing down on the rear of the closed bolt with the thumb would result in an audible noise and a small amount of movement could be detected.

    A sound Winchester 94 will be tight and the bolt won't rock when the action is closed in the firing position. At least in my experience.

    Sometimes it's best to have patience when trying to bring about a result while doing home gunsmithing. I speak from experience. Soaking the action in Kroil would have likely given the same results in a day or two without resorting to the more immediately gratifying but more radical application of what could have been excessive heat. Not fussing at you at all but just speaking from a "been there, done that" point of view. Heat, Dremel tools, and a "bigger hammer" have all brought me to defeat in my younger days.
    Trust me the heating wasn't immediate satisfaction by any means. I only broke out the torch after it had soaked in PB Blaster for a few weeks and the impact driver wasn't working. The relatively small amount of heat really helped loosen the screws. And honestly, when I first got the thing, I thought heat treating was only for hard tools and swords, I hadn't considered that heating it up would have any negative effects. Only now, months after the fact , did I think "Oops, that might've been a bad idea." I already learned the bigger hammer, Dremel and torch lesson the hard way

    I do appreciate the description of improperly headspaced 94s, that will help greatly with determining if I shoot it more than once, if at all. If it is ruined, and I can determine so quickly enough, than I'll only be out the whopping cost of 5 bucks so I won't kick myself too hard for breaking it. The proof load idea was just asking opinion, I wouldn't know where to begin (and stop) loading an overpressure round for this old beast. Must just be late-night whimsical ideas

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