Thanks for the warm welcome everyone - I may ask some stupid questions, cuz I'm a greenhorn, so please be patient.... Here is my 1st:
Why is it a bad thing to put the whole serial number of a gun online when asking somebody for help identifying/dating a gun? What are the possible repercussions? I know it's a "bad" thing to do, but I don't know why.
What's the best thing to clean and protect a 50 year old nickel finish on a gun? Blued finish?
Is it ok to store an older gun in an Uncle Mike's gun rug?
Stay away from solvents that contain ammonia, for the nickel finish. If there are even tiny cracks/chips in the finish the ammonia can get underneath the plating and cause it to come off the steel. Non abrasive car wax works pretty good on nickel, to clean powder residue I'd use some Break Free CLP on it. Hoppes #9 contains ammonia and is not the stuff you want to use. Read the label of any powder solvent before you buy it, and ask the gun dealer if the product contains ammonia.
The same thing for the blued finish. Many of us just put a light coat of gun oil on blued guns and wipe to spread it around the finish. That Break Free stuff again is a good choice for this too. CLP stands for cleaner, lubrication, and preservative. The military uses a lot of CLP. You can get good gun oils/cleaners in any gun shop.
Finally, for long term storage you should stay away from the gun rug. They tend to trap moisture in the leather and will cause a gun to rust. Nothing worse than seeing an otherwise nice old 'Smith get badly rusted and pitted because of bad storage practice.