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Old April 10, 2006, 06:48 AM   #1
Svet
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Restoring antique rust pitted guns - methods of the Pros? Alternatives to Gun Kote?

Hi guys,
I am trying to restore a revolver that was heavily rusted.
I scraped off the rust with a soft rotary brush and now the surface is rust free but there are thousands of rust pits all over it.

Here is a photo of the surface. Some of the pits are qute deep and wide in diameter.


And the revolver - you can clearly see the deep pitting.


I want to make this revolver look like new.
I want to restore it.
Do you know a remedy for this problem? Apparently, the pits must be filled with something and after that everything must be sanded smooth.

I know that some people use MIG welders to fill the pits but in my case that would be impossible because of the small size of the project and the details - there are several fine grooves and ridges that would be destroyed if a welder is used. Also the stamps and serial numbers would be lost forever.

Some restorers sand the whole surface down so to take the pits out, others simply mat the surface through sand blasting so the pits become less visible...
I think that these two methods are extremely lame and that they compromise the original shape and look of the gun. They sound like extra-ruining the piece to me.
Plus they do not offer a real solution to deep pitting.

I thought of using automotive putty to fill the pits but the revolver has to be finished by blueing, so it won't work too...
Is there somekind of a metal putty that can be blued?

I think that the best method would be using a soldering iron and tin solder for filling the rust pits.
The problem is that I don't know how to blacken the tin so to make it the same color with blued steel. I guess it will react in a different way to blueing solutions and the final result would be a spotted revolver.
Or am I wrong? (I hope I am)

A guy on a forum suggested that I use "Gun Kote" - it is a ceramic paint that emulates gun bluing and has great protective qualities. Problem is that it is impossible to find the thing in East Europe and no online store ships it internationally because of a forbidden sunstance that is contained in it.

So, Gun Kote is not an option for me. How to finish a revolver that has its rust pits filled with tin solder?

Is there any common paint that can emulate the look and color of real gun bluing that would do the job?

Have you ever restored rust-pitted blades, guns or other metal objects? If yes, how?

THANKS!
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Old April 10, 2006, 07:27 AM   #2
Mac's!
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Is it going to be a shooter or just a wall hanger? What do the insides look like? Is it safe to shoot? The answers to those questions will determine what kind of restoration job it will require.
I would not do the soldering iron/tin fill method for several reasons. A soldering iron will not get hot enough and it will very difficult to smooth out afterwards.
If it's going to be a shooter, just abrasive blast it and use a "shake and bake" finish. If it's a wall hanger, I would suggest a steel epoxy to fill the pitting..something like JB Weld. But be forewarned of several things: It's going to take a LOT of filling and sanding and time. You will loose the emblems, serial numbers, etc. so check your local laws in your country. You will have to use a "paint type" finish over the fill.
You may be able to re-machine some of the surfaces but that will weaken the structure. Judging strictly from the photo's, it looks in rough shape and may not even be safe to load. You may be better off buying one in better shape. Good luck, Mac.
Mac's Shootin' Irons
TUff-Gun Finishes. The Name Says It All.
http;//www.shootiniron.com
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Old April 10, 2006, 07:36 AM   #3
Svet
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Thanks, Mac.
It is going to be a wallhanger but I want to make it look like it is capable of firing a few rounds.
In biref: I want the pits healed and I want a natural looking finish - one that emulates its original dark blue blueing.

I have experience in soldering tin to iron/steel, so the tin part is not a problem with me. I will do the finishing by hand - have a lot of spare time to make it right. the problem is the final finish - what kind of a paint should I use to make the thing look like it's been blued?

What is "steel epoxy"? Is it an epoxy glue that can be blued just like steel?
Thanks!
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Old April 10, 2006, 02:43 PM   #4
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Old April 10, 2006, 02:43 PM   #5
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Old April 10, 2006, 02:44 PM   #6
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Svet,

He is referring to a steel-filled epoxy that has fine steel particles in it. Because they are surrounded by the epoxy resin they do not react with plating solutions correctly. Their main advantage is they have nearly the same linear temperature coefficient of expansion as steel, so they adhere to it well and don't tend to pop loose.

You are correct that solder does not blue by traditional methods. Traditional methods react with iron to form ferric ferrous oxide (magnetite) to get the blue/black colors. Solder has no iron in it to make this chemical reaction. There are cold blues for solder, but if you can't import GunKote, the chemicals, which include selenic acid, are not going to be easy to import either.

The restorers use TIG (not MIG) welding for filling steel. This is slower and at lower temperatures than other forms of welding, but gives the most control and allows you to choose the filler material. So you can buy steel wire of the same type alloy (or close to it) as the original gun metal and get good similarity of color later. The filling will overflow the pits, and you will have to have a means of reducing the surface back down to original dimensions. This is easy to do on the flat surfaces by gluing sandpaper to plate glass in successively finer grades to restore the desired finish. It is more difficult on cylindrical objects without a lathe. Cylinder flutes and your barrel contour might require grinding points on a milling machine to profile correctly. It is a lot of careful work.

If I were you, and didn't want to put a lot of money into it, I would consider finding an electroplating company who can lay a thick plate of soft metal evenly on the surface, then file and sand that flush with the original surface. The soft metal is to make it easier to file and shape. Have them use copper or brass or some other metal with a color you can distinguish from steel, so you don't go too deeply with your material removal. When you have the surface the condition you want, have them plate it with nickel, so it looks like an original nickel plated version of the gun. If you don't like nickel, you can get a black nickel or a black copper plate put on at the end.

If that proves to be too much expense where you are, then all I can suggest is using the steel-filled epoxy and sanding it flush, then painting it with an air brush using a 2-part flat black epoxy paint that you can bake hard afterwards. All slow-setting epoxies seem to respond well to baking at about 60-65°C overnight to harden them. You might be able to get some blue to mix with the black to take the "soot" appearance down. You would need to experiment with this on a sample. Many boat and marine suppliers have 2-part epoxy paints, as do “hobby” shops for model builders in this country. This may also be true where you are? All U.S. made spray-on gun finishes are likely to have too many nasty solvents for shipping overseas. MEK(methyl-ethyl ketone) is a common one. The only exception I can think of is some form of powder coat finish, but you need the right oven for that, and it wouldn't resemble any original gun finish from your gun's historical period.

Good luck with it.

Nick
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Old April 10, 2006, 02:51 PM   #7
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I've seen a number of attempts to fill pitted guns, usually without success.

The best job I ever saw used silver colored fill material. I think this was a "Liquid Metal" type material.

The reason for the silver fill material, is to conceal it when the finish is applied.
The silver material was at least a fair match for the steel, better than the usual gray or white color material.

It worked MUCH easier and actually did a better job than the first attempt with soft solder did.
Soft solder tends to build up on the metal too much, and requires a lot of sanding to level.
All this sanding usually degrades or removes the stamping.

Since no standard chemical bluing or blacking process can color any fill material, including solders or automotive fillers, the coating used was a very dark blue-black automotive lacquer paint.

The multiple-layered automotive paint gave a "deep" appearance similar to a chemical gun blue.

While a close inspection revealed the filled spots, as a wall hanger it looked pretty good.

The job took a LOT of time, and several coats of airbrush-applied lacquer paint, but since it was a family heirloom that was to be enclosed in a glass-fronted frame, it didn't matter.
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Old April 10, 2006, 03:10 PM   #8
Svet
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I intend to fill the pits with tin solder, then sand the excess tin off untill smooth surface and then ELECTROPLATE the whole thing with copper, electroplate it again with iron and chem-blue the freshly obtained layer of iron.
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Old April 10, 2006, 05:39 PM   #9
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If you have good examples (pictures or another similar gun) of the markings, you might consider having them "re-engraved" after the surface refinishing.

Dean
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Old April 10, 2006, 09:39 PM   #10
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Svet,

Good luck with that. Iron plating is not at all ductile and will only be thin, so any indentation into the solder will crack it, so you have to be careful. I hope they can give you enough thickness to blue.

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Old April 11, 2006, 02:28 AM   #11
Svet
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I didn't know that, Unclenick. Iron is kind of ductile while hardened steel is not.
You can't electro-cover things in steel anyway. But who knows, maybe iron plating chips off easily... Will experiment on scrap stuff first.
Thanks!
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Old April 11, 2006, 11:43 AM   #12
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TIG welding is the ONLY method that can be used.
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Old April 11, 2006, 03:42 PM   #13
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Svet,

I read about the ductility problem in a site discussing iron electroplating. If you find Mete on this site, he is a metalurgist and may be able to explain it. I will take a guess that because ductile iron solidifies in a mass, the crystal structures can grow as a group or even overlap, but are intimately attached to one another. In plating, the atoms are stacked in the direction of the anode off the cathode surface. They may form microscopic straight needle grains that are packed together like thick hair growing outward from the surface, but are not well attached to one another. I've seen that grain pattern in photomicrographs of black plated tungsten. Also in vacuum depositions of aluminum, which, unlike aluminum foil, won't stretch over about 4% without cracking.

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Old April 22, 2006, 04:40 PM   #14
Svet
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Thanks, Unclenick.
I will contact the dude pretty soon. Home electroplating is fun.
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Old April 22, 2006, 05:29 PM   #15
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hot salt bluing will eat anything you tin and black irn coating won't be thick enough. plating will look like crap on those pits, been a smith for 35 yrs, pits like those if able to draw file them out will still not be complete removed due to the depth. best thing to do is dura coat and be happy, sorry but that weapon is beyond " new restoration"
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