Vaquero Case Coloring????

Help Support Ruger Forum:

BearStopper

Blackhawk
Joined
May 16, 2008
Messages
787
Location
Oregon
Just curious about the Vaquero and all other brands of the cowboy action type revolvers out. Is the coloring authentic via a hardening process or is it just for show?
 

Del J

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 17, 2007
Messages
462
Location
Delaware
All of my New Vaquero's and Six Singles with case hardening finish has started to wear. The Sinlge Six .32's are the worst. These are used in CAS shooting weekly. Alot of holster wear. As other brands go I am sure of. I believe Ruger has dropped this finish.
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 25, 2007
Messages
699
Location
Land of the Pilgrims
Howdy

Ruger has recently ceased putting their 'color case' finish on their single action revolver frames and has gone to blueing the entire gun.

The Ruger 'color case' finish was not true case hardening, it was simply a cosmetic chemically applied finish. Unlike true case hardening, which only hardens a thin skin on the outside of the metal, Ruger frames are hardened all the way through the metal, so there is no need for case hardening. The 'colors' were just for show. I have several Rugers with their 'color case' finish and have never had any problem with any of them, but many owners reported rust problems with the 'color case' finish, and that is probably why Ruger ceased using it.

Single Action revolvers made by Colt and USFA do have genuinely Case Hardened frames. I'm not too sure about Uberti. The frames and other parts seem to have some hardening on the outside, but it may not be true bone or charcoal case hardening. It may be produced by casenite or some other similar process.

Regarding the colors wearing, that is normal. Even with true case hardening, the colors are fragile, and unless the metal is protected by a coating of lacquer, the colors will fade over time. Harsh chemicals and even bright sunlight will cause the colors of true case hardening to fade. Vinegar will wipe them right off.
 

JimMarch1

Blackhawk
Joined
Feb 19, 2007
Messages
525
Location
Tucson, AZ, USA
Ruger's fake-case process was a travesty. For starters, in too many cases it appeared to *attract* rust. At a minimum it never protected the gun as well as Ruger's standard blue job which is actually quite decent. Cosmetically it was just tragic...my 2005-era New Vaquero was a smoky gray mottled mess like a robot puked on it.

When Ruger did the John Wayne commemorative New Vaquero they didn't dare put a fake case color process on it. It was all-blue with tasteful engraving. Had they dared desecrate that gun, Mr. Wayne would have come shambling back from the grave and kicked their collective butts.

They've now eliminated it completely, thank the deity of your choice.
 

powder smoke

Hawkeye
Joined
Aug 16, 2005
Messages
6,496
Location
Milo Maine
Had they dared desecrate that gun, Mr. Wayne would have come shambling back from the grave and kicked their collective butts.

I think your right. ps
 

w5lx

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 25, 2002
Messages
334
Location
North Texas
I agree with all the above who point out that Ruger's CCH is very delicate, and am glad they eliminated it on the current models. I still find it attactive on my Vaqueros and keep a coat of Renaissance Wax on them in an attempt to preserve the delicate finish.

A_Pair_of_Vaqueros_small.jpg
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 25, 2007
Messages
699
Location
Land of the Pilgrims
Howdy Again

At a minimum it never protected the gun as well as Ruger's standard blue job which is actually quite decent.

Of course it did not protect the steel from rusting! Neither does real Case Hardening! Case Hardening is not meant to be a rust protective treatment. It is simply an old fashioned hardening technique. The colors were just a byproduct of the process. The steel is still bare steel with no protective coating and will rust unless protected by a film of oil or a coat of lacquer. Same with Ruger's fake color case. The steel is still bare steel and will rust unless isolated from atmospheric oxygen.

Old fashioned Case Hardening was a method of producing a very thin layer of hardened steel on the outside of ductile steel. As I said before, Ruger hardens their steel completely all the way through the metal, there is no point to giving it a true Case Hardening treatment. So they simply gave it a cosmetic chemical treatment to make it look like the colors of true Case Hardening.

And yes, Ruger's blue is a very robust rust preventive treatment, much more robust than a lot of old fashioned blue jobs.
 

w5lx

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 25, 2002
Messages
334
Location
North Texas
The Cimarrons made by Uberti have a color case hardening finish that looks identical to the Rugers. Does anyone know if their finish is also "fake?"
 

varminter22

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
260
Location
Nevada
So, when the fake colors on my Single Six .32 go 'bad', will I be able to have it blued? In other words, will it accept bluing?

What other options do we have when the fake CC colors go bad?
 

Old Judge Creek

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 1, 2001
Messages
320
Location
1881 Ranch, Nv & Northern Ca
w5lx":jygvpm1w said:
The Cimarrons made by Uberti have a color case hardening finish that looks identical to the Rugers. Does anyone know if their finish is also "fake?"

I have several Uberti pieces. Their case coloring is real case coloring... but no where near as attractive. The Ruger "paint-jobs" look more like the Colt case hardening. Too bad it's just "paint".
 

JimMarch1

Blackhawk
Joined
Feb 19, 2007
Messages
525
Location
Tucson, AZ, USA
>>So, when the fake colors on my Single Six .32 go 'bad', will I be able to have it blued? In other words, will it accept bluing?

What other options do we have when the fake CC colors go bad?<<

Absolutely the fake case can be removed and any normal finish can be applied - blue, hard chrome, NP3, Robar, etc. No problem there.

I *think* Ruger is actually doing full blue jobs for free for anybody who complains about fake case. Call and ask. I can't do that, because my gun is too heavily modded to ever see the inside of the Ruger plant again. So I'm seriously considering hard chrome :).
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 25, 2007
Messages
699
Location
Land of the Pilgrims
The Cimarrons made by Uberti have a color case hardening finish that looks identical to the Rugers. Does anyone know if their finish is also "fake?"

So, when the fake colors on my Single Six .32 go 'bad', will I be able to have it blued? In other words, will it accept bluing?

What other options do we have when the fake CC colors go bad?

Howdy Again

The term 'Case Hardening' actually encompasses several slightly different processes. Generally speaking, Case Hardening was used on parts that needed to be slightly ductile (soft), so they would not shatter under impact, but still needed to have a hard outer surface so the parts would not wear out quickly as they rubbed against each other. Modern steel alloys are simply hardened all the way through the metal by heat treating, which is what Ruger does with their frames. But in the 19th Century when Colt and other revolver manufacturers were in their heyday, those alloys had not been developed yet. So manufacturers would Case Harden their parts.

Generally speaking, a part made of relatively soft, low carbon steel is packed in carbon rich materials and heated in a furnace to a specific temperature. The carbon bearing materials were often pulverized bone and charcoal. Sometimes a combination of leather, hooves, urine and salt. These materials were probably readily and cheaply available at slaughterhouses. When the proper temperature is reached, some carbon will migrate from the carbon rich materials directly into the surface of the steel. The carbon does not travel very deep, just a few thousandths of an inch, maybe a little bit more, depending on the process. This extra carbon infused into the outer layer of the steel raises the carbon content of the outer surface, basically forming 'high carbon' steel at the surface. Since it is a very thin layer, it is often called a 'case', hence the name. The part would then be removed from the furnace and quenched in a water bath. The result was a part that was strong and ductile at its core, but hard and resistant to wear at the surface. Perfect for moving parts like hammer, triggers, etc, that need to be strong, but are continually bearing against other parts as they move. Revolver frames were good candidates for Case Hardening because the ductile core would absorb the pounding of recoil, while the surfaces presented wear resistant surfaces to the hardened, moving, internal parts.

The colors of Case Hardening, however have nothing at all do do with the process, or the durability of the parts. They are simply a byproduct of the impurities in the carbon bearing materials. Indeed, it is completely possible to Case Harden parts with no colors at all. And it is also very easy to 'wipe off' the colors of Case Hardening, but the hardness of the outer layer will remain because the extra carbon is now chemically locked into the steel. But during the 19th Century the public became enamored with the brilliant colors of Case Hardening and each gun manufacturer came up with proprietary processes to bring out the most brilliant colors possible. Each manufacturer jealously guarded their process.

True Case Hardening is a labor intensive process. It must be carefully monitored. It is also very easy to warp parts in the furnace, rendering them completely useless. Today their are a few artisans like Doug Turnbull who specialize in beautiful Case Hardening with brilliant colors.

While I agree that Uberti does perform some sort of rudimentary hardening on some of their parts, I doubt they are spending the money to do old fashioned, expensive, bone Case Hardening. There are other commercial preperations available today that impart a hardened outer case to low carbon steel. Parts can be heated in a bath of sodium cyanide and then quenched and rinsed. This is a much quicker, less labor intensive process than bone Case Hardening. I would not be surprised to hear that Uberti was using something similar to this. I have several Uberti revolvers and rifles, and the 'case hardening' on them does not look like bone Case Hardening to me.

As far as bluing a previously 'color cased' finish is concerned, yes it can be done. But you will have to take the gun completely apart, including unscrewing the barrel. Then the surface is cleaned to remove the fake colors and it can be blued. If you send the gun back to Ruger they will do this for a reasonable fee.
 

captainkirk

Blackhawk
Joined
Jul 30, 2002
Messages
538
Location
Abilene, TX
JimMarch1":30r7u8fm said:
>>So, when the fake colors on my Single Six .32 go 'bad', will I be able to have it blued? In other words, will it accept bluing?

What other options do we have when the fake CC colors go bad?<<

Absolutely the fake case can be removed and any normal finish can be applied - blue, hard chrome, NP3, Robar, etc. No problem there.

I *think* Ruger is actually doing full blue jobs for free for anybody who complains about fake case. Call and ask. I can't do that, because my gun is too heavily modded to ever see the inside of the Ruger plant again. So I'm seriously considering hard chrome :).

Here is one with Metalife Hard Chrome. I was very pleased with how it came out. (Top image of Vaquero, Super B is stainless)

New458ss2-1.jpg


captiankirk
 

TiteGroups

Blackhawk
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
513
I was under the assumption that since the ruger frames are invesment cast that they could not be truly case hardend and that was why the colors were applied the way they were. I think the Colts are forged frames. Can you case harden something that is cast? I'm not a metalurgist. Are they aluminum or steel? I'll look for a magnet.
 

c.r.

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 23, 2008
Messages
436
Location
Texas
TiteGroups":3jdwwd4s said:
I was under the assumption that since the ruger frames are invesment cast that they could not be truly case hardend .

many folks have their Rugers CCH'ed by Turnbull so i don't think the investment cast makes it a problem.

~c.r.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
Messages
7,808
Location
Ohio , U.S.A.
titegroups, the alloy used in the casting of /by Ruger , is a 4140 chrome moly, and as such is a "complex" metal, and NOT for "color case HARDENING< yes, there are folks out there that can and do offer a variation of "color case" and at lower temperatures or such, and get some GOOD ,really nice" coloring", a bit pricy,but more durable,and nicer looking than the "inking' Ruger used to do..........
we have seen some Rugers ,years ago that were "color case HARDENED" and yes, they cracked, we saw one actually crumble apart in spots, NOT GOOD, 4140 chrome -moly becomes 'brittle" ?? ( for the lack of proper wording...) and some companies will FLAT OUT REFUSE to even work on any Ruger to finish in'
"color case".......................Ruger won't do it............
 

gobe

Bearcat
Joined
Nov 24, 2007
Messages
94
Location
Eastern MO
The fault could be caused by hydrogen embrittlement .... something we have to be wary of when heat treating anything in the aviation industry. It is defined as follows:
"The mechanism starts with lone hydrogen atoms diffusing through the metal. At high temperatures, the elevated solubility of hydrogen allows hydrogen to diffuse into the metal (or the hydrogen can diffuse in at a low temperature, assisted by a concentration gradient). When these hydrogen atoms re-combine in minuscule voids of the metal matrix to form hydrogen molecules, they create pressure from inside the cavity they are in. This pressure can increase to levels where the metal has reduced ductility and tensile strength up to the point where it cracks open. High-strength and low-alloy steels, nickel and titanium alloys are most susceptible.
Steel with an ultimate tensile strength of less than 1000 MPa or hardness of less than 30 HRC are not generally considered susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement. Austenitic stainless steels, aluminum (including alloys), copper (including alloys, e.g beryllium copper) are not susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement along with few other metals." Wikipedia
 

Latest posts

Top