The Test Material:
The ideal test system would use a barrel, but since I didn't have a spare one, I used test pieces made from two types of steel, mild steel forged from common nails and hard, polished spring-steel strips. The nails were heated to bright orange, hand-hammered to about 1/32" thickness and finished by wet surface grinding on a soft alumina wheel, which gives a slight "nubbly" surface which has a lot of crannies which helps to hold residue. The hard steel was cut from thick, flat spring stock and hardened, annealed and polished to an "armoury-bright" surface.
The pieces were first thoroughly cleaned and degreased. Then, a thin layer of 4F Goex was placed on a flat surface,the test pieces were placed on the powder, and then the top surface was also covered with about 1/16" of powder. After ignition, there was a uniform layer of powder residue on both sides of the test strips. The strips were then gentlywashed by holding each one under a thin trickle of cold water and blotting dry on a soft tissue. The object was to simulate a minimal washing. After drying, the lubes were placed on a piece of patch material which was firmly rubbed across the surfaces to simulate wiping a bore with a lubricated patch. The test pieces were then placed in a (100%) humidity box in a stand so that they would not touch any surface and kept in a warm environment for two months.
The Lubes And Their Results:
The following lubes were used; the letter codes refer to the photograph:
- (LV) Lehigh Valley Lube (now apparently Shenandoah Valley Lube...) - A water/alcohol soluble patch lube.
- (FP) FP-10 - A very good gun oil.
- (AH) "Airgun Honey" - An unusual patch lube with high slickness.
- (WL) Good old Wonder Lube.
- (EZ) EEzOx - A gun preservative which leaves a waxy deposit after application.
After about a week in the box, the pieces treated with Wonder Lube were the first to show rust spots. The "airgun-honey" was next to go, after about two weeks, and the FP-10 held off the rust for about a month. Only the Lehigh Valley Lube and the EEzOx completely prevented any rust spots from forming during the test period. The polished steel strips (not shown) showed the same relative results, although the rust spots were much smaller.
I was quite surprised by the results. Lehigh Valley Lube is advertised as being very effective at preventing corrosion, but since it is easily washed off by water, I didn't expect it to do so well. I was also quite surprised how badly the Wonder Lube performed, since it is an oil/wax mixture. I expected the EEzOx to do well since solubilized waxes are known to be very effective and are used by many armour conservators.
My opinion of Lehigh Valley Lube went up another notch, and I will no longer feel bad about leaving a uncleaned gun barrel overnight if I field-clean it with a wet LV patch (Note: Assuming it's still the same material as the original...). I will still use EEzOx for a final coat, and I will never leave a gun stored for a long time with nothing but oil on the metal parts.
This test left me with a few ideas for the next experiment, where I will test other lubes, such as Ballistol, and some "home-made" Lehigh Valley equivalents.