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DateOriginal Topic
17th April 2004Cleaning a Martini Henry
By James Garland
I have just bought a Martini Henry Mk2 and it is covered in an oily/waxy substance. I believe it originated from atlanta Cutlery consignments from Nepal.
Can anyone tell me how it should be cleaned without removing the patination? Also, once it is clean what should I use to preserve its condition?
18th April 2004Adrian Whiting

Without knowing exactly what your rifle is preserved in, I would suggest you use hot water with a little detergent. It will be essential to dry your rifle thoroughly afterwards, and for this purpose it is best to strip it right down in order to clean it. Metal parts can be ensured dry by placing in an airing cupboard or similar (albeit that I find it best to gain early permission from my CO - Home Command, before she discovers such things for herself!). It is best not to place wooden items in such conditions as it is all too easy to overdry them and this leads to shrinkage and cracking.

If the preservative is really stubborn then a local gunsmiths ought to be able to recommend a proprietary solvent, which would be safe.

MHRs were originally wiped with Rangoon Oil as a preservative. This is still available and is a good oil to use for storage. I use a wax based polish on the woodwork of my MHRs. Some people prefer a stock oil (as opposed to a French Polish) and this is also contemporary.

I imagine you are well pleased with your acquisition !

18th April 2004James Garland
Thanks for the advice. I will look up a local gunsmith and get some Rangoon Oil. You're right I am very pleased with the rifle. It is a very elegant weapon. Fitted with a bayonet it would give far greater reach than a Zulu would have had. It feels quite heavy as well. I dare say the defenders at Rorke's Drift would have had sore arms at the end of the day.
19th April 2004Neil Aspinshaw
I had a very helpful e-mail from Jason Adkin who's site's the master of sites), especialy on field stripping etc.Jason recommended for me to use a very fine steel wool,lubricated with WD40, whilst this has abrasive qualities, it does not seem to affect the blueing, but is does remove rust and oil fouling. As it is abrasive I would not use this treatment regularly but as an initial clean up.
As for the woodwork, I have a relative who is a specialist in wood cleaning and treatment, he recommended I use a 50/50 boiled linseed oil/vinegar mix. well shaken, the linseed emulsifies. The cleaning properties of the vinegar brings out any grease. It worked better after I had warmed the gun first in the greenhouse as the grease softened and was absorbed very easily.
As Adrian wrote though, go with what you are happy with. These old girls do need TLC, (don't they all!).
21st April 2004James Garland
Thanks for the info. Following your recommendation I have just looked at the site and it is brilliant.