Home DIY bluing a grip frame

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hutchman

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
865
I am in the process of installing a Bisley GF on a 4 5/8 Super. I traded for this one, fitted it to the gun, and polished it. Today I tried my own home brewed bluing porcess....

I thought about this for a while and researched on the internet before I started. My theory was to heat the GF prior to applying the bluing solution as kind of semi hot blue process. After internet research I decided to use boiling water to heat the GF and a phosphate solution to help develop the bluing. Today I went to the store and bought supplies:

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Birchwood Casey Super Blue, Non chlorine brake clean, denatured alcohol, and premixed Fleet enemas.......4 of 'em. Supposedly the phosphate in them helps develop the blue. Next time I'll probably use a strong solution of Tide.

Here is the grip frame before I started today.....

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Can't really see it in this image, but it has a pretty decent shine and I thought it would really sparkle....but, next time I will polish it some more. It is OK, but not as shiny blue as I wanted.

Here is the setup......one pan of boiling water, one pan of simmering enema solution, and a hospital puke pan with bluing solution.

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I cleaned the grip frame with the brake clean and denatured alcohol. Once the GF was in the brake clean, I no longer touched it with my skin. I used medical gloves to both protect me from the chemicals and to protect the metal from body oil.

Once the GF was degreased, in the boiling water it went to heat it up.

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I twisted some bailing wire and formed a dipper to move the GF in and out of the hot water.

Once the GF was heated, about 3 or 4 minutes in the boiling water, it then went into the bluing solution. I kept it wet, either submerged or with a soaked cotton swab for at least two minutes each time. From the bluing solution, it went into the hot phosphate solution for 3 or 4 minutes.

After the phosphate, it went under the tap water and was steel wooled with 0000 to knock the oxidation off.

This is what it looked like after the first pass through my system.

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I was not very enthused.....

However, I did carry on and the GF made 10 trips through my system and ended up looking like this:

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The first image does not look as good as it does for real. The second is much closer to reality. And here it is after a heavy coat of oil:

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All in all, I am very pleased. I have about 10 hours fitting this to the SBH, sanding for polish, polishing, and bluing. It is probably not quite as good overall as a new Ruger, but it is as good in most areas. There is some splotching and I did not get EVERY scratch out, but I am happy with it.

What would I change next time? I would polish it more. I am not sure the enema solution did much.....next time I will use a strong mixture of Tide. My guess is that it will be as good. I am not ever sure the phosphate bath helped, but I read it on the internet so it must be true!

From what I read, I would need to have it in the bluing solution 4 or 5 times.......it took 10. Might have taken less if I had opened the second bottle of solution and used it after about the 5th time.....dunno.

So I did ask myself would I do it again and the answer is yes. It is a fairly simple process, but it takes time.
 

WOB

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
98
Next time after degreasing, dip the metal in a 50-50 solution of muriatic acid( hardware store) and water. Let soak for 30 sec to a min. Pull it out and sling off the excess solution. Immediately swab on the blue generously with a foam paint brush. It will turn black instantly and then you can rinse it off with water. Then rub down with 4/0 steel wool. Hit it with WD-40 to get all the water out of the holes and then you are ready to assemble. Should take no more than 10 min. to do the whole job. Hint: Brownells Oxpho Blue is superior to any other cold blue on the market and works like a charm with this procedure. Birchwood Casey's cold blue is similar in chemistry and should work as well but I have not used it. YMMV

WOB
 

hutchman

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
865
Does the muriatic acid open the metal up so the blue works better?

And FWIW, I found that the internet reviews gave both Oxpho Blue and BCSB excellent reviews.....I chose the Super Blue because it was supposed to be a blacker blue.
 

WOB

Bearcat
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
98
The acid chemically cleans the metal by removing the oxide film and other miscellaneous dirt on the surface. You can't see the film, but it is there. If you let a piece of polished steel lay around a few hours, the film gradually forms. It is so thin it is transparent, but it's presence inhibits the chemical reaction that takes place when the blue solution touches the steel surface. The reaction is an autocatalytic plating process and if you want good uniform coverage, the metal must be uniformly clean.

You can achieve much the same effect by glass bead blasting the metal and immediately bluing. The only problem is the satin finish that blasting leaves may not be what you want. Polished steel surface is not materially changed by brief acid treatment, but the oxides are removed leaving an ideal surface for cold bluing.

Many people apply cold blue with a 4/0 steel wool pad and rub it in. The reason this works is the steel wool removes the oxide film, but the steel wool uses up some of the solution's bluing potential so it takes much more solution to do the job.

WOB
 

hutchman

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
865
Thanks to WOB for that information. I will try that next time....that sure beats the 2 hours I spent on this one.
 

Biggfoot44

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 6, 2009
Messages
681
I Have tried the Birchwood , and the Brownell's is better . You hear more about the BC because it is on the shelf at every LGS and Big Box store .

I've tried both the Oxpho Blue and the T-4 , and I prefer & recommend the T-4 . Yes , yes , the Oxpho is the Most Durable- ist , but the T-4 gives better , more even coloring , and within 10% of durability .
 
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