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Old May 11, 2009, 11:10 AM   #1
williamfeldmann
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Strippers!!!!!!

Now that I have your attention, I have a Pietta 1860 Colt model that is showing its age and use in the blueing department, and frankly this is not a good thing (kinda like a stray cat just looks, well, like a cat but also something not so nice). It's not really worth selling or trading as I use it often as a shooter.

I was thinking that taking it to white steel and giving it a good polish will look really really nice. I might even consider trying to do a fire blue or such, but baby steps are nice, and this is my first forray into this topic.

I can handle the polishing. I do a lot of furniture making and have used various metals ranging from steel to aluminum and copper and can easily put a high shine on the metal. However, I have not nearly so much experience with metal finishing, or in this case, unfinishing.

I want to strip the blue primarily from the cylinder and the barrel. The case coloring on the frame and loading lever is still relatively nice but has been fading especially near the edges from the holster, I would entertain the idea of polishing those parts as well.

What can I use around the house to strip the blue, I have heard vinegar?

How long should something like this take, and how much elbow grease needs to be used (I would like to keep sanding to a minimum to preserve the lettering and etching, not trying a defarb here)?

Should I try to remove the case hardening, (or is it even possible), as I don't know the toughness of the steel underneath?

Finally, are there any other precautions I should consider, toxic fumes, etc?

I know some of you have done such a thing and would love to hear your processes and see any steps you have photos of. Thanks.
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Old May 11, 2009, 01:04 PM   #2
mykeal
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There are several ways to remove the bluing, including some commercial products designed especially for that task. Vinegar will work very well; about a half hour's exposure is usually sufficient, but longer won't hurt if needed. Naval jelly is a good alternative to vinegar.

The color case hardening on the replica revolvers is cosmetic. Removing it is difficult but not injurious; the underlying material is generally hard enought to not require any additional measures. I have no advice on how to remove the color case hardening.
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Old May 11, 2009, 03:41 PM   #3
jcowan
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I just finished stripping my Pietta 1862. I left some blue on it to make it look worn. I followed scrat's method of soaking it in vinegar. It will remove all of the bluing with no trouble if you soak it for about 30 minutes. I soaked mine for about 5 minutes and it took off 90%. The case coloring came off very easily with a very light sanding. It came off so quickly I was suprised. About as easily as wiping it off.
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Old May 11, 2009, 04:37 PM   #4
CaptainCrossman
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use a very light grit sand, and sandblast it to white metal, you'll be able to do the entire gun in about 5 minutes

it will leave a nice uniform finish

then sand it smooth with 220 grit, then progressively light grits
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Old May 11, 2009, 10:34 PM   #5
madcratebuilder
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I have good results with naval jelly and 320/400 grit paper. If you plan to re-blue, use 320 and sand in one direction only. Color case hardening comes off with steel wool.
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Old May 12, 2009, 08:29 AM   #6
williamfeldmann
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2 of you have mentioned naval jelly. I have some around, just don't know how much or how old it is. Other wise I know I have vinegar.

Is it going to be neccessary to sand? I mean does the blue come off the gun by itself, or does the vinegar mostly remove the blue and sanding is neccessary to remove the last bit?

Since I am planning on taking it to a high gloss shine at least for the first bit, any and all scratches from sandpaper, even high grit, is going to stick out, so if I can avoid sanding, I want to.
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Old May 12, 2009, 08:38 AM   #7
madcratebuilder
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Quote:
Now that I have your attention, I have a Pietta 1860 Colt model that is showing its age and use in the blueing department, and frankly this is not a good thing (kinda like a stray cat just looks, well, like a cat but also something not so nice). It's not really worth selling or trading as I use it often as a shooter.
OK, now what am I going to do with all these one dollar bills???

Quote:
2 of you have mentioned naval jelly. I have some around, just don't know how much or how old it is. Other wise I know I have vinegar.
I brush it on with a 1" brush and let it soak for about ten minutes, then wash off with hot water. It well completely remove the old blue and leave a dull flat finish.

Quote:
Since I am planning on taking it to a high gloss shine at least for the first bit, any and all scratches from sandpaper, even high grit, is going to stick out, so if I can avoid sanding, I want to.
OK, assuming there are no imperfections in the steel you can sand with 600 grit paper. Work in ONE direction only. This raw finish is a 320 finish with 'used' paper. The finer the grit the better the polish. You can get 2000 grit paper that leaves a VERY smooth finish.


If you have a buffing wheel on a bench grinder you could buff with compound after you strip the bluing off and avoid sanding all together. You could try polishing by hand, but that well be labor intensive.

Last edited by madcratebuilder; May 12, 2009 at 08:53 AM.
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Old May 12, 2009, 09:02 AM   #8
williamfeldmann
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I thought I had mentioned that I was using a buffing wheel on a bench grinder. I use it on aluminum slats for my chairs all the time. I use a real fine buffing compound that we use for woodworking called rottenstone (really fine pumice slurry) that has very little abrasion, but really brings a shine. Thats why I said I can't really get by sanding scratches.

BTW is that pic of the little belly gun you had posted a while back with the walkthrough? That is sure going to look nice on the brass frame.
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Old May 12, 2009, 09:13 AM   #9
madcratebuilder
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Your in good shape, just use some naval jelly and buff that baby up to a nice shine.

This may be a good time to "defarb" this revolver, remove all the Italian markings from it. It's not that difficult to do. Use a draw file and take your time. If your comfortable working with wood you should have no problem with metal.

I'm going to do a electroless nickle plate on the brass frame. I need to figure out some type of mask I can cover the arbor with. The solution is 195* so tape is not going to work, plus it needs to be of a material that well not harm the chemical solution. I may have to order some 'masking agent' they sell.
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Old May 12, 2009, 02:10 PM   #10
mykeal
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Naval jelly or vinegar, then buff with rottenstone is a good plan.

Last edited by mykeal; May 12, 2009 at 04:27 PM. Reason: Deleted my rant against defarbing. Not on topic for this thread. Sorry.
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