This is our goal, 2 clean, ready to run Ruger Old Armies. These are from the first year of production of the 5.5" Stainless series
This is what we're starting with. This ROA has been shot 8 stages using Goex 2f loads. The cylinder, hammer slot, and recoil shield were wiped off between stages because the cylinder was removed and reloaded in a cylinder loader
The cylinder looked like this. The nipples were quite dirty
The bore was dirty
The hammer, hammer slot, and recoil shield were covered in cap residue. Cap residue can be hard to remove. I have tried every magic cleaning agent or lube I could find, and nothing will remove cap residue from nipples but brushing. Several otherwise trustworthy shooters have recommended everything from carb cleaner to unicorn grease. Nothing has worked. Coating the recoil shield, hammer slot, and hammer has made cleaning them a bit easier (see below), but a stiff brush is still needed.
Spray the cylinder with the magic elixir, in this case Windex with Vinegar
You will need a good stiff brush. This is a mil-spec brush. You need stiff nylon bristles and one with stainless steel bristles if you have a stainless gun
You also need a good nipple wrench. This is the best I've ever seen, and you can't have it. Larsen E. Pettifogger made it on his milling machine using a 1/4"
drive Craftsman deep socket wrench. He made several for his friends who shot Frontiersman. Second choice is one sold by The Possible Shop:
The wrench is reversible.
Every other nipple wrench I've seen is in last place.
Brush the nipples clean on the outside. With your nipple wrench loosen the nipple 1/2 turn. Clean that side, then re-tighten the nipple. Do not over tighten. Finger tight is okay. The nipples were installed using anti-seize compound. There are people who say that they never remove the nipples and they remain easy to remove years later. I have not found this to be the case. I left them in for a few months and had to make a jig to get them out, destroying several cheap nipple wrenches. Gunsmith Rowdy Yates (Lee's Gunsmithing) said he had had to remove several on occasion and used a drill press and an easy-out. Not having a drill press in the mobile shop, I almost had to send the cylinders to him, but I managed with my jig. Now I to the half-turn exercise every time I clean them. I still pull them off occasionally, brush them clean on a jig and clean the threads of the sockets with Q-tips and reinstall with anti-seize compound.
Nipples after cleaning. SliX-Shot nipples are hard stainless steel and clean easier than Treso nipples. Generally I can get them clean with a hard bristle nylon brush, but sometimes a stainless brush is needed.
Spray the cylinder from the front to clean out the chamber
If you hold the cylinder up to the light and cannot see through the holes in the nipples, then you need to use compressed air
The cylinder is covered by the cleaning rag because the compressed air will dislodge black residue. Put the nozzle of the compressor into the front of each chamber.
Now when you hold it up to the light you can see through all of the nipples. If the gun is stainless, you can leave the cylinder dry, no oil in the chambers. Then, when you get to the range and hold the cylinder up to the light, if you can see through the nipple holes, you can skip the popping of caps before loading. If, on the other hand, there are smokeless shooters who are annoyed by caps popping, then it's worth the effort.
The empty chamber is painted red with a Sharpie
Spray the hammer slot with Windex and use a Q-tip to clean it out. Brush the hammer and the recoil shield to get the cap residue off. It gets pretty hard on those areas.
Now the hammer slot is clean. The hammer still has some cap residue on top that must be brushed off using a stainless brush
I put lube on the hammer, the hammer slot, and the recoil shield. I find that cap residue is easier to wipe off between stages if these parts are lightly coated with One Shot Cleaner and Dry Lube.(Yes, I've tried Ballistol, Break Free CLP, RemOil, and several more. Still looking for something magical). I'm currently experimenting with Rand CLP on these parts and like it even better so far. I also lube the base-pin, the mainspring, the base of the hammer, the trigger pin, the pawl the cylinder stop, and the ram lightly. Since the guns are stainless, I leave them dry otherwise.
I use a Bore Snake on the bore. Usually one pass is sufficient, especially with American Pioneer Powder
This is after one pass with a Bore Snake after 8 stages using Goex 2f loads and Wonder Wads. Yes, we occasionally shoot 8 stages in Phoenix to accommodate the number of shooters who show up before Winter Range. The front of the muzzle needs to be wiped off.
Finished, reassembled, and Brasso used on the brass front sight