Axle on an old butterfly cutting string

So I bought this on Ebay to use. Had a really old grimy string on it that I had to yank off to remove. I put a new string on it and it snapped after about five throws. I’m assuming the axle is compromised somehow. Maybe rust. Any tips to cleaning and smoothing the axle without taking the whole thing apart?

What I do to smooth out axles is to get some thicker packaging string about 2 ft. long, wrap it around the axle a couple of times, leaving a good amount on each side and pull it back and forth a few times. While I normally do this on wood axles, it will probably work on metal axles as well, though I’d finish off with applying a bit of WD-40 than pull through a few more times for a rusted axle. Then put on a clean piece and pull it through again.

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I’d recommend getting yourself some 1800 grit sandpaper and gluing a strip of it to the end of some thick cardboard. You could slide it in the gap and sand off the rust that way.

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I’m curious, were you able to fix up the axle here? Was it rust as you suspected?

I used a folded fine sandpaper and got it useable. I looked in the gap and it doesn’t look perfectly clean but no string issues.

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