Making the Surplus!
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|Recently I met a reader
of Surplusrifle.com and tried to help install a scope mount on his
Mauser rifle. To make a long story short - I didn't install the mount. For a "no-gunsmith
required" type scope mount, it came with one of the most
complex set of installation procedures I had ever seen (in my
entire life). You had to remove the rifle stock's butt plate
and attach a 4"x8" piece of plywood in its place (this part is
completely true). Next, you had to spin three times while standing
on your left foot (this part is a slight exaggeration). It
also required you to modify the stock. I feel comfortable performing
this task on one of my own rifles, but not on someone else's. I
really think possibly learning to drill and tap the receiver with
the telekinetic powers of my mind (as limited as they may be)
would have been an easier task - but this is a story for another
Later, as we were
talking, he told me about a project he
recently completed . He said that he had wanted
to purchase one of the electronic bore cleaners that are available
on the market and had been searching around on the internet and
came upon the instructions to build one. Build one? I asked.
Not only was he able to make one - but it actually worked!
He told me it was made from a cleaning rod and a flashlight. I was
a faster and easier way to clean rifles has become somewhat of a
pastime for me. Combine that with the fact that in my early years
I had been an honest to goodness, electronics technician.
The thought came to me - I
possibly make one of these gadgets
for myself and it actually might work.......
I searched the internet and sure enough I found a set of instructions
that told me how to build the device using simple plumbing washers,
a cleaning rod, and a cheap flashlight.
In comparison the commercial equivalent of the device cost anywhere
from $69 to $129.
Description of the Commercially Available
The Foul Out III bore
cleaning system's electrochemical process strips lead or copper
deposits from your bore without harming barrel steel. The new
Foul Out design is more compact and quicker to use than previous
models. Thanks to new technology, the in-line control unit cleans
barrels faster than ever before. Accuracy and barrel life are
improved. Foul Out III is AC powered. Comes with: Foul Out III
control unit, electrode, assorted bore plugs and O-rings, Cop
Out Plus and Lead Out Plus solutions, dispensing cap, and AC
So, one Saturday I went on an adventure to gather all of the
parts needed for the project.
|00 Beveled Washers 1/2" Pkg
|Stainless Steel - One Piece
|Plastic Radio Shack - Flash
|Package "D" Cell batteries
|Test/Jumper Leads - w/Heavy
|Household White Vinegar
|Syringe or Oven Baster
|General Cutting Knife
|Cleaning Solution Mixing Container
||Everything was pretty
easy to find except for the beveled rubber washer. You need to find
a washer that will both fit over your cleaning rod tightly as well
as fitting into the bore of the rifle making a good enough seal
to keep the chemicals inside.
||I settled on the Danco,
Stem Repair, 00 Beveled Washers 1/2" (shown in figures
1, 2, and 3). The washer was too large to fit the bore,
so I had to trim a little off.
||The beveled washer slid
over the cleaning rod, but was still tight enough to stay in position
and also prevent leakage (as shown in figure 3).
|Figure 4 shows the basic design of the bore cleaner.
The flashlight works as both the power source and operational indicator.
The cleaning rod must rest on the beveled washers and be isolated
from the barrel. If the cleaning rod shorts to the barrel the flashlight
will burn bright at full power.
The instructions I found stated that you would need to place
small rubber washers the length of the cleaning rod to prevent the
rod from contacting the barrel. The cleaning rod I used must be
larger in diameter. When I tried placing the small washers the length
of the rod I found it prevented me from filling the barrel with
the cleaning solution. I suppose if the barrel was a larger caliber
then this would be necessary.
The negative contact of the power source connects to the cleaning
rod, while the positive contact connects to the exterior of the
The barrel is plugged at both ends and contains a mixture of
water, Ammonia, and Vinegar.
As the electricity flows through the barrel, the copper and other
metals inside the rifle bore are drawn to the cleaning rod and away
from the barrel.
||The Test/Jumper Leads
that I purchased had large alligator clips at each end. I removed
one alligator clip from each set and tinned the bare/exposed wire
with solder (twist the wire together and then heat it quickly
while applying a bead of solder to it). Tinning the wire will
help make the soldering tasks easier.
||Cut a small hole in the
flashlight cap (above the threads).
||Insert the tinned end
of the red wire through the hole.
||Solder the red wire to
the back of the metal reflector (as shown in figure 8).
||Solder the black wire
to the negative contact at the bottom of the flashlight.
||Insert the batteries and
assemble the flashlight.
||Connect both red and black
leads together and the flashlight should light full brightness
(as shown in figure 11).
||The recipe for the
cleaning solution is -
2 parts Water
1 part White Vinegar
||1 part Ammonia
||I inserted the cleaning
rod with the trimmed beveled washer into the receiver of the rifle.
I then pushed the washer snuggly into the bore.
||Fill a syringe or a kitchen
baster with the cleaning solution (as shown in figure
||With the crown of the
barrel pointing up, fill the barrel with the solution (as shown
in figure 16).
||Slide another beveled
washer down and push into the end of the barrel (as shown
in figure 17).
||Wrap electrical tape around
the barrel, beveled washer and the cleaning rod (as shown
in figure 18). The electrical tape will hold the washer
and cleaning rod in place and also seal the end so the cleaning
solution does not leak.
||Set the barrel down on
a level surface, like a cleaning stand.
Attach the alligator clip of the black (negative) lead
to the (as shown in figure 19)
cleaning rod .
||Connect the red (positive)
lead to the front sight post.
||The flash light should
only light dimly when everything is installed and connected properly.
If the flashlight lights full power than you have shorted the cleaning
rod to the barrel.
Let the barrel sit while cleaning for no more than 45 minutes.
||Remove the leads.
While holding the barrel over a bucket, remove the electrical
tape and the beveled washer at the crown of the rifle barrel.
||Pour the bore cleaner
out of the barrel and into the bucket (as shown in
Note: Inside the bucket in figure 23 are small
rubber washers that I thought I was going to need. Also note the
amount of the black grime floating in the cleaning solution.
Before using the electronic bore cleaner again, you will want
to steel wool the cleaning rod lightly to remove any copper or metal
|After removing the cleaner, clean the rifle barrel like
you normally would with patches, solvent, and so on. The patches
that came out of the bore were really grimy and it took me over
a dozen patches soaked with solvent before I saw a clean patch come
out the end of the barrel when pushed through.
The barrel was very clean. I tested cleaning the bore with traditional
copper solvent to see if there was any remaining copper. I passed
three soaked patches through and not once did I see a patch turn
Conclusion: It actually did work. It did not speed things
up, but it did really get the built-up grime out of the bore.
Updates from Readers!
your electric bore cleaner, you can make the project a little easier
for those people not wanting to solder up an old flash light. Use
and electricians continuity tester flash light.
for an example. You can usually find these around a lighting or
electrical supply outfit.
Fulton Continuity Tester Flashlight is $13.50
You should be able to find these at your local electrical supply
house (Graybar, All-Phase, Ackerman Electric, etc) for less then
Continuity Tester Flashlight (only 1-1/2volts) is $6.50
(might work), about $15.00
R. Ted Jeo
I put a set-up together using your plans but substituted a plain
steel rod, from a hardware store, instead of a stainless rod. The
system I put together worked GREAT, to say the least, using my mild
steel rod (they are cheaper also, plus, come in three diameter sizes).
The differences in my project were:
1. I used a rubber stopper (from chemistry class) to plug the
breach end completely.
2. I sharpened the rod to a point and then ran it down to the
rubber stopper and jabbed it in to hold it in place and in center
3. I used the same beveled washers you did, but I didn't seal
the muzzle end, nor did I run the set up horizontally. Instead I
ran it vertically, wrapped several paper towels around the muzzle.
Mostly I did this because if you completely seal both ends of the
barrel, you pressurize the set up and it will leak. The reaction
causes a gas build up and it has to be allowed to vent somehow.
It did work. And it worked very well. I attached a picture of
the gunk that I dumped out.
I had cleaned up a recently purchased MAS36 a few weeks ago using
the traditional scrub-brush-swab-patch method. I thought, at the
time, that I did a good job. Well, let me tell you, after 45min
of the electro cleaner, geez, you would have thought that I didn't
even run a single patch down the barrel!
In any case, I am very pleased with the results.
I spoke to metallurgist bro-in-law and he said that system with
a mild steel rod should work the same as a stainless steel rod.
The difference between types of steel is that mild steel is probably
all iron except 0.2% carbon or so. Stainless has like 85-95% iron
and a mix of other metals including chrome etc. to help with corrosion.
The stainless would rust also, eventually. He didn't think that
the mild steel rod would corrode while it has the charge on it,
as anything that came off the rod would not go anywhere with the
electrical charge on it. It may be a little harder to clean off,
but I figure you use some 000 or 0000 steel wool and then wipe it
down with some acetone or some degreaser and you'll be as good as
new again. Or, spend another $1.50 and get another rod.... So there,
it seems that mild steel is okay.
I think that your quote of "really grimy" is an understatement!
Sludge comes to mind. In any case, I have to agree with you.
Submitted by Jeff
|First, in talking with another guy who had built
one, I didn't go with the flashlight idea--which you really
don't need anyway (this will be explained later). I got:
A selectable transformer from Walmart (3vdc-12vdc).
A normal (non-stainless), 3/16"X4' steel rod,
28 gauge galvanized safety wire,
3/16" innerX1/4" outer diameter lock washers,
A 1' length of nylon reinforced hose (5/8" inner
diameter--depend on cal of gun cleaning but works good for .30
A hose clamp (to fit hose),
5/32" inner diameter X 1/4" outer diameter o-rings,
And a couple of the 00 beveled washers from Ace,
Assorted package of corks from Walmart's housewares section,
And the electrolyte mix from the Grocery store.
All costing around $20.
I took the rod and cut it down to fit my rifle. Took one end of
the rod and drilled two holes about 1"-1.5" apart in the approx.
diameter of the wire. Drilled a hole (just a smaller diameter
than the rod) in a cork to fit the chamber end of the rifle. Put
a lockwasher on the barrel/small side of that cork and wrapped
1-2 wraps of the wire around the rod to keep the lock washer
from moving forward. Put the cork on the rod and put one of the
beveled washers, big side towards the cork, with one of the
o-rings between washer and cork on the rod. Then secured beveled
washer with wire in aft hole. This is so that you can achieve a
tight fit in the chamber by pulling the rod and then be able to
remove the whole assembly without the cork being stuck in the
To clean I put the hose (cut down to about 1.5-3"--depends on
how straight the hose is) on the end of the barrel and secure it
with the hose clamp. I have another cork with a hole in it that
functions as a centering device for the rod that will just snug
into the end of the hose. The hose assembly is is for overflow
of electrolyte when power is applied and to ensure you are
cleaning the whole length of the barrel. You will need to check
this every 10-15 minutes, and refill as neccessary. Thus, there
is no need for a light to let you know when it is done. With my
set up I could put a light on (which WAS the original plan), but
I just don't want to mess with it.
This set up works "as-is" for bolt actions. For semi-auto's you
can flip the rod so chamber end is sticking out end of barrel
and drill another hole (again smaller than the rod diameter
about 1/4-1/2) in cork that would be in chamber--do not drill
all the way through the cork--bad day will ensue and you will
have to do it over.
T.J. Harrell III
|I enjoyed the page about the electronic bore cleaner
and decided to build my own. I wanted to keep it as simple (and
cheap) as I could get away with, so I went to Home Depot
yesterday and got the following parts:
1 4' section of 1/8"
1 rubber stopper
1 pack of 20-21 AWG heat-shrink tubing
Forgot the household ammonia so I picked up a half-gallon at
Total cost for the materials was about $6 including tax.
I decided to test it out on my beater VZ-24 rifle from Big 5
with a dark, grungy bore that had resisted all efforts to get
clean. I deviated from your plans by using heat-shrink tubing
instead of rubber grommets and O-rings. I also used just one
stopper in the chamber, requiring the rifle to stand muzzle up.
Also, I skipped the vinegar and used straight household ammonia.
Apparently vinegar can remove bluing if given the chance, though
on this rifle it wouldn't have mattered!
I also skipped the light part, figuring that I could use a
multimeter to check for shorts before I started.
The heat-shrink tubing came in an 8-pack of 4" pieces. I took
three of the pieces and cut them into 1" quarters. I then washed
the rod with dish soap and a Scotchbrite pad to get all the
protective grease off of it, then took one of the small pieces
and put it over the end of the rod. I shrunk it in place and
snipped off some, but not all, of the excess. Then I shrunk the
other pieces on the rod at somewhat even intervals, leaving
enough surface area for the rod to work but giving enough
coverage to prevent shorting to the bore.
I dropped the stopper in the chamber and tapped it a couple
of times with the end of a cleaning rod. Then I stood the rifle
on its buttstock and dropped the rod into the barrel. I marked
where the rod would contact the crown, and shrunk a piece of
tubing at that point.
The rod was now complete, and the barrel plugged. On to the
I decided to keep the power supply as simple as possible. I
had a half-spool of two-conductor DC power supply wire on hand,
so I cut off two or three feet and stripped the wires at both
ends. For power, I resisted the urge to use my Astron 7A 12V
power supply. Instead, I used 2 AA batteries installed in a TV
remote control that wasn't being used at the time. The positive
and negative wire ends were sandwiched between the batteries and
their respective spring contacts. I put the rod in the barrel
and checked for lack of continuity with a multimeter. Satisfied
that there were no shorts, I filled the barrel with ammonia. The
positive wire was secured to the screw of the front sight
protective cover, and the negative wire was just wrapped around
the rod. As soon as the negative wire made contact with the rod,
the ammonia started foaming.
I topped it off half an hour later, and after an hour had
gone by, I disconnected the power and removed the rod. Yecch. It
was caked with powder fouling residue and some copper fouling
residue as well. When I poured the contents of the barrel into a
bucket, it was black and full of copper fouling. The rod cleaned
up easy enough with dish soap and a Scotchbrite pad, though, and
is ready for use again.
I'm still in the process of cleaning this barrel, but the
electric bore cleaner has already removed more crud from the
barrel than I ever could. I may add a short length of plastic
tubing and a funnel to slip over the muzzle end so I can get
full bore coverage without worrying about spillage.
Maybe later I'll even build the deluxe version and use a
battery holder with gator clips!
T.J. Harrell III
Submitted by Bryan
|I tried out your homemade electronic bore cleaner
and got amazing results. I did mine in a simpler fashion:
Project Gun: 1937 Mauser Karabiner 98 Kurz. Made in Oberndorf,
I used a #00 rubber stopper for the breech end. I used a punch
to seat a 4 foot 1/8" steel rod in the center of the rubber
stopper. I then fed the rod/stopper through the receiver of my
rifle and lightly pressed the stopper into place. Then I marked
where the rod exited the muzzle and removed to rod. I put a 2"
strip of electrical tape around the mark to prevent shorting out
the electrode. I then replaced the rod and taped a funnel over
With that part complete, I soldered two alligator clips on two
lengths of wire. For a battery, I chose one of several 4.2 volt
rechargeables that I had. I used a multimeter to test the
battery charge and double check for shorts. Everything looked
good so I mixed up a solution of 2/3 water and 1/3 ammonia. I
poured this down the barrel slowly and until it was about 1/2
deep in the funnel. When power was applied, the ammonia started
foaming. (I wonder what gas this is?)
After 1 hour of treatment, the electrode was covered in grime,
the solution had turned blue, and copper fouling was floating in
The bore looked rather good, so I cleaned it and gave it another
hour of electrochemical treatment. By the way, the first battery
had lost almost all of its charge, so I had to use a second one.
Total costs were very reasonable, as I purchased all of the
following for 24.25:
1 qt ammonia
3 rubber stoppers
4 foot steel rod
goo b gone
johnsens floor wax
It was pretty much everything you need to get any milsurp rifle
I just wanted to post a little write up
about the electronic bore cleaner. Yesterday I decided
to go to Lowe’s and The Dollar Store and got all the
materials for about 10 dollars. This is a great little
device, and I think I am going to give the barrel a
second cleaning with it later. The flashlight idea
works great, but I really like the idea of the pre-made
continuity tester/flashlight combo.
If you need to buy a soldering iron or
other tools, then the price may be a little higher; I
picked up a soldering iron for about thirteen dollars
because my old one has disappeared in a recent move.
When I got home, I began the project by soldering single
strand 14 gauge wire to the flashlight contacts and to
the alligator clips. Lowe’s didn’t have any more of the
large clips, so I had to use the smaller ones. No big
deal though; they transfer electricity just like the big
ones. I recommend multi-strand wire because it is much
easier to maneuver than the single strand. The whole
process to drill and solder the flashlight took about
Then I began working on the steel rod.
For this application, I chose a 1/8 inch rod because it
will also fit in .22 and .17 caliber barrels. In the
plumbing department I found some tiny o-rings with an
inside diameter of 1/8 inch, and they are small enough
not to seal the inside of the barrel on my 30-06. This
means fluid can flow around them.
I read that the Foul Out III can be used
on .17 caliber guns, but that no plug comes with the
product for that size bore. I found on a website that
you use Teflon plumbing tape to build a plug for these
smaller guns, so I did the same for the 30-06. You just
wrap it until it is thick and pull it through the bore.
It should fit snugly. The method is very cheap and
absolutely water tight.
I stood the barrel up vertically and did
not seal the both ends. To keep the rod from touching
the barrel, I put a little Teflon tape around it. I let
it work for about 45 minutes and the cleaner got a good
bit of stuff out. After it finished, I had to run about
20 patches through the barrel to get it to come clean,
but now it shines very nicely. Later I will do the
process again to make sure I got all the fouling,
although Hoppes 9 isn’t turning anything green in there
right now. Also, I may run some barrel polish through
it because the gun probably hasn’t been this clean in
about twenty years.
I hope this helps somebody.
One 1/8 inch rod (not threaded! About $4)
Small o-rings with 1/8 inside
diameter ($1.27 for ten)
Teflon plumbing tape (five
rolls for about $3)
Copper wire (10 cents per
Flashlight ($1 at the dollar
D-cell Batteries (4 for $1 at
the dollar store)
Alligator clips (2 for $1)
As far as the homemade bore cleaner is concerned, I used a
small 6/2 amp dual rate battery charger. I left it on the
lowest setting and it worked great. Most of the rifle that I
shoot are either some version of .30 caliber or 8 mm. I
bought a dry firing device from Fulton Armory that fits the
bore of a .30 caliber rifle. This device actually plugs the
chamber shut. I wrapped some plumbers tape around it and it
sealed it shut. Before doing so, I drilled a hole in to the
device so that the steel rod would fit perfectly. This
prevented the rod from touching the sides of the barrel. I
did not seal the top of the muzzle off. When the current was
turned on, you could see the pressure build up. I didn't
want ammonia spraying everywhere. I had the bore cleaner on
an old 1917 Enfield that was very dark. I couldn't believe
it when it was done. Because the battery charger give a
stronger current, I only had it on each rifle for about 20
minutes. The crap and sludge that came from each of the
older rifles was amazing. I plan on doing it at least once a
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