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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:25 am 
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Bearcat

Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 51
Location: KY
I've read many articles on various gun forums regarding gun bluing, most often cold bluing but seldom any information on how to properly hot blue. I'll share this information for those that would have a notion they might like to attempt this at some time. Please remember safety and never attempt mixing salts indoors unless you have some extremely good ventilation. Also remember that you should not do this unless you are competent in fully disassembling the firearm to be blued. NEVER PLACE AN ALUMINIUM PART IN BLUING SALTS. Also, post 64 Winchester lever action receivers will not blue without a special activator.

The process is not as difficult as it may sound and with practice, can be done exceptionally well without a lot of equipment costs. The key to any bluing job is the polishing done prior to it being blued or if you prefer a matte finish, it is bead blasted prior to bluing. Preferably, practice using a gun that isn't worth a lot.

Equipment needed:

USE EYE PROTECTION AT ALL TIMES

Of course you can purchase pre-mixed salts or you can do as myself, make your own. The following recipe is as, if not more, durable than any mfg that I have tried and the color is what you would typically find on older higher end pistols/revolvers.

USE EYE PROTECTION AT ALL TIMES

Salt recipe: 1)Sodium Hydroxide (e.g. lye, caustic soda) can be bought at any chemical supply and some cleaning supply houses. 2) Ammonium nitrate which you can buy at most farm supplies. 3) Distilled water. The mixture is 2:1 sodium hydroxide/ammonia nitrate. For small tanks/pans, 2lbs/1lbs mixture should do it and in a standard long tank, 5lbs/2.5lbs will do. When the two are first mixed and just enough distilled water added to moisten the chemicals, there will be an extreme chemical reaction reaching boiling temp and creating a very powerful ammonia smell that will subside within about 5-10 minutes. However, it is IMPORTANT that when first mixing, you do this outside in a very well ventilated area. After the reaction occurs, the salts will cool and the fumes will be minimum and you then add more distilled water until you have about 2" of water above the salts.

This solution can be used numerous times. Just keep it covered when not in use

Metal (Steel, NOT CAST IRON OR ALUMINIUM) pans large and deep enough to completely submerge part in leaving about 2" from top of pan. For long gun barrels, etc, a bluing tank can be purchased from brownells for reasonable cost. I've used commercial grade stainless steel rectangle shaped pans like you find on a food serving line and they work as good as any and have a nice lip all the way around.

metal wire for suspending parts and small baskets made from steel window screen to place screws etc in.

A heat source that you can control the amount of heat. Gas burner(s) or electric hot plate, old stove, etc

Thermometer that will register to at least 300*f. A good cheap method is to buy a glass candy thermometer.

gloves

4x steel wool

Dawn dishwashing detergent.

WD-40 or the cheap Wal-Mart brand will work fine.

Aluminium Oxide automotive grade sand paper in various grits up to 1000 grit.

The process:

After disassembly of the weapon to be blued, place all parts such as springs and aluminium parts into a container (zip lock will work) and put aside.

Polishing. Here is where patience comes in. The best bluing jobs are and always will be hand polished. If you choose to do this with a buffing wheel (not to be confused with what you would find on a Dremel tool), I use Felt Wheels (Brownells) and have never seen anything much better than utility grade jobs coming from Muslin wheels. Also, if you use wheels, avoid the lettering, screw/pin holes and sharp edges on the piece being polished. Here's what I recommend. Depending on the condition on the metal, start with coarse Aluminium Oxide paper in the 100 range. Using wood or padded blocks, place the piece in a vice snug enough to hold it, using a shoe shine method, begin polishing the rounds (barrels, top of frame/slide, etc) until it is uniform. Depending on the condition of the metal, you may notice what looks like fine black marks/pits in the metal. If so, continue polishing until the steel is uniform and free of imperfection. Progressively work up using finer grits of paper to polish. When you get to the 500 grit range, you can stop as the finish will at least rival anything on what was once seen on older S&W's. For Python like finish, work up to 1000 grit. For just a good looking finish, stopping in the 300 grit range will be superior to most any weapon sold on the market today.

For the flats, I use a flat table and a smooth marble 18"x18" tile. Lay the paper on the tile and work the piece across the paper keeping it flush and progress to the grit paper you desire.

For a matte finish, plug all chambers and barrel (I use spent cases in the chambers and lead bullets to tap into the ends of barrels: remove before placing in bluing) and use a good grade of masking tape to cover any areas you do not wish to matte. Blast with a fine grade of glass bead until uniform.

Bluing: ALWAYS USE EYE PROTECTION & DO NOT PLACE ALUMINIUM IN SOLUTION, IT WILL DESTROY IT. Keep distilled water handy and add to mixture as needed for evaporation loss. Add it between batches and let solution get back to proper temp before continuing.

Heat needs to be constant. Going above 315*f, 310*f on some, will almost always result in "exotic colors" such as the often seen purple (plum), reds, and greens.

Heat bluing salts to 295*-305*f, stir the mixture with a steel ladel to insure heat is continuous throughout solution. Suspend piece(s) completely submerged in tank for 20 minutes. Remove and place in a pan of water. Using 4X steel wool and dawn detergent, scrub piece completely, examine and if it isn't perfect, rinse and place back in solution for another 20 minutes and clean again with steel wool. After scrubing and the peice is satisfactory, spray with a heavy coat of WD-40, set aside and finish other parts. When finished, for best results, boil all parts in clean water with 1/2 cup baking soda per gallon of water (I know both baking soda and sodium hydroxide are bases, but it works) and while rinsing, use a toothbrush in any crevis. Dry and spray/wipe down with a quality lube, Breakfree CLP works fine. Re-assemble your weapon.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:22 pm 
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Hunter

Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2004 2:01 am
Posts: 2068
Location: Topock, AZ
for those who might try this, I ran it past my son. A college boy with knowledge about chemistry. He liked to had a heart attack. Dangerous fumes can kill you. High temps can burn the bejesus out of you. Best if you can find a chemical plant tank cover.

All which are covered in the article.

JUST BE VERY DAMN CAREFUL AND KEEP AWAY FROM THE GOOD STUFF, AND OUT OF DOORS.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 8:40 am 
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Single-Sixer

Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:01 am
Posts: 197
Location: Wheatland WY
I usually use a chemical mask when blueing. The mix for the salts you mention can be found in Roy Dunlaps book on gunsmithing. It gives the hardest surface finish I have ever used. One thing, depending on the elevation that you are blueing at, you may need to start at a lower temp. 285 degrees F. When I started blueing my father-in-law was a chemical engineer. One of my daughters has a masters in chemical engineering, and works for ATK. I have had a lot of input on blueing over the years. Brownells has good information also.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 10:53 am 
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Single-Sixer

Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 10:49 am
Posts: 115
Location: Ft. Morgan, CO
I realize there is no such thing as a stupid question just stupid people, but should a rifle be blued with the barrel attached or removed? :?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:20 pm 
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Single-Sixer
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Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:01 am
Posts: 445
Location: Los Angeles, California
^^^
Just from my limited experiance, I'd say removed assuming that it's easily removeable, so you could blue the barrel and action separately.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:16 pm 
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Bearcat

Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 51
Location: KY
if it is a barreled action, e.g. barrel screwd to the receiver, blue it it as one piece. Make sure you clean it well afterwards and pay attention over the next week or so to where the barrel fits to the receiver to make sure no bluing creep developes. If it does, wipe it off, keep oiled, and no harm done.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:24 am 
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Buckeye
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Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:01 am
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Location: Ft Hood , Tx area
WEAR GOGGLES OR SHIELD . TWO FRIENDS BOTH LOSS SIGHT IN ONE OF THERE EYES FROM BLUEING.. THERE NO FLUSHING IT OUT ONCE IT HITS YOUR EYE YOUR DONE


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 12:17 pm 
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Bearcat

Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 7
Location: Palmdale, Ca. USA
FWIW; most of the gun company blueing on rifles is with the action and BBL together.
LG


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:48 pm 
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Single-Sixer
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:42 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Douglas, AZ, USA
Doesn't placing gun parts in such high temperatures run the risk of damaging the tolerances of the metal? I once bought a do-it-yourself parkerizing kit and parkerized a 1911 slide. When I was done and put it back together the slide fit sloppy - ruined it! this was only in boiling water temperatures! I have a Blackhawk I want to blue and was thinking of trying this recipe, but I'm afraid to ruin it!

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 5:28 pm 
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Bearcat

Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 51
Location: KY
Temper isn't usually affected until at least 800*. When nitre bluing (fire blue), it is limited to non-stressed parts as the temp will meet or exceed 800* to get a brilliant blue. Not sure what happened with your adventure, maybe the gun was cleaner than it had been or was bead blasted improperly prior to being parkerized........your guess is good as mine but I do know that the steel in a 1911 isn't going to be affected by parkerizing temps (usually done around 180*). I've parkerized 100's of 1911's and never had an issue.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:09 am 
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Bearcat

Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 1:01 am
Posts: 19
Location: MI
FWIW to anyone who may be thinking about trying this , I went recently to the farm CoOp to see if I could buy some ammonium nitrate fertilizer. The lady behind the counter looked at me as if I had two heads when I asked if they had any I could buy. Almost the first thing out of her mouth was "you know that's what they use to make bombs don't you?"
I assured her that wasn't what I wanted it for and further befuddled her by trying to explain what I did intend to do with it.
Anyway,she said they didn't have it and with the paperwork involved, no one bothers with it any more.

Take care, Ron


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:23 pm 
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Blackhawk

Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:04 pm
Posts: 549
As a chemist, I must strongly advise against the OP procedure. It is NEVER a good thing to have all of your starting materials "react at once" to create an "EXTREME" reaction that reaches boiling temps. Just my .02.


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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 7:21 pm 
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Single-Sixer

Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 361
Location: charlo mt. usa
There is nanouther reason for the slop in the 1911 heck it will get that hot just shooting it!!!!!!


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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 7:17 pm 
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Ruger Guru
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Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2002 2:01 am
Posts: 17128
Location: Ohio , U.S.A.
I think you'll find that oil alone does not 'neutralize' the salts, any parts that are threaded together and blued ,together, needs to be "boiled" out ( hot water bath/rinse...........) to keep it from "bleeding".........
placing a barreled action into the hot tanks is a very awkward and dangerous proposition...must angle it and do this facing "away" from you, as it can and will shoot 'solution' ( bath) out the open, upper end....seen it happen MANY times..........\

as for the slide on a 1911 warping from the temperature of a 'salt bath' or better yet any parkerizing bath, I find hard to belive that to have happened.......but, who knows what the metal was "exposed" to BEFORE....

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:11 pm 
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Moderator
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Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:26 pm
Posts: 6447
Location: Illinois
Aren't come of the chemicals mentioned also used to make meth?

Why do I remember something about ammonia nitrate?

Might be quite difficult to get some of the mix.


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