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Old December 3, 2012, 02:48 PM   #1
Exibar
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gun blueing small parts by dipping?

hi all!
any thoughts about dipping small parts into clod blue solution such as Birchwood Casey's or hoppes cold blue?
I've had some good success, but it seems wasteful as I wind up throwing away what was in the little dipping cup :-( Can I just pour that stuff back into the bottle without worries?

thanks all!
Mike B
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Old December 3, 2012, 02:49 PM   #2
Exibar
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oh yah, anyone have any cheaper alternatives to Birchwood Casey and Hoppes blueing? any DIY alternatives that work just as well?

thanks again!
Mike B
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Old December 3, 2012, 02:58 PM   #3
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Well cold blue is a chemical reaction between copper sulfate and the acid in the bluing solution.
The copper sticks to the medal and the acid blackens it.
Any DIY solutions are formulas for rust bluing not a cold blue.


As for application of cold blue I use swabs or clean patches/rags/paper towels depending on the area being covered.
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Old December 3, 2012, 03:14 PM   #4
wyop
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Do not pour unused blue solution (any type of blueing solution - cold blue, rust blue, etc) back into the bottle.

Do not apply cold or rust blue solutions from the bottle. Pour some into a small container and apply from there.

If you pour back unused solution or apply by dipping your application q-tip, pad, etc into the main bottle, you'll contaminate the rest of your blueing product.


There are alternatives for cold blueing to Birchwood Casey or Hoppes. Look in Brownells for additional products, and Caswell Plating for other bulk product.

If you're really interested in making your own blueing solutions, the book to get is "Firearm Blueing and Browning," by R.H. Angier. You can get it in a bunch of places on the 'net, or directly from Stackpole Books, who have a bunch of gun books.

Angier's book was written in the 30's, and uses some archaic chemical names, which you might have to 'translate' into modern chemistry. Some of the chemicals used in Angier's book aren't exactly friendly stuff - like cold, fuming nitric acid, or potassium ferricyanide, picric acid, etc.
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Old December 3, 2012, 03:26 PM   #5
Exibar
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I've used q-tips in the past, and cotton rag/ patches to apply the cold blue, but the dipping really gives the parts a nice dark blue / black color with out having to re-apply a couple times. So I like the dipping part, I just don't like the tossing out the old after I dipped a few parts.
I guess part of my question should have been if dipping a part in would contaminate the cold blue solution so tossing it out is the proper thing to do if it's not used in a short amount of time.
Each time I'm tempted to pour it back into the bottle, but right now I think I'll keep the used solution in a separate container and see if it keeps doing the trick. I'm not talking a ton of it, just a couple cap-fulls... but it's a lot more than using a q-tip even after 3 applications LOL

I want to stay away from rust bluing for now... and just stick with the cold blue

thanks!
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Old December 3, 2012, 03:30 PM   #6
Exibar
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cool, so far I'm doing the right thing then.... I've always been afraid of contamination and never dipped the q-tip back into the bottle once it's used. I always grabbed a new one.
I'll also curb my craving to pour the used dipping cup into the bottle as well... the stuff, while not brake the bank expensive, isn't cheap :-)

so, lets say I keep the dipping cup and pour it into an old pill bottle or similliar glass or plastic sealed container... do you think I could re-use it out of there? or should I just plain suck it up and keep disposing of it when I'm done and try not to pour WAY too much into the little dipping cup? LOL


thanks all!
Mike B
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Old December 3, 2012, 03:54 PM   #7
wyop
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Rust blueing is what I'd recommend on larger areas of a gun - not the small parts. This is because to get a good blue using rust blueing, you typically need to make several applications, then you let the rust grow in the right environment of humidity and heat, then you boil the red rust that forms in boiling water to turn it to black rust, then you "card off" the part with 0000 de-oiled steel wool or a very fine steel brush, then re-apply the rust blue chemical and repeat.

Rust blueing is used on high end guns, especially guns with solder work like custom hunting rifles with sweat-on sights, or double-barrel shotguns or rifles with soldered-on ribs. These types of guns should never be hot salt blued, because the salts attack the solder and (in the case of older double shotguns) get under the ribs and can't be flushed out. I've worked on double barrel shotguns where some yahoo had dunked the whole action/barrel setup into the hot salt blue tank and never boiled out the salts - there were salts in the action, which led me to start flushing the barrel ribs out. I could never get all the salts out by flushing, so I had to pull up the lower rib on the barrels and then remove all the salts, then polish out the barrels, sweat the rib back on and polish off the solder. Then, finally, I could re-blue the barrels.

By the time I was done, I was thinking that whoever pulled the stock off this nice old shotgun and just threw the entire, assembled action and barrels into the tanks should have been charged with criminal mischief. What a dismal mess.

For some small parts in some applications, I use nitre blueing - you get some potassium/sodium nitrate salts, you heat them up in stainless steel tank until they turn to liquid. Keep a thermometer in the tank of salts to make sure you keep the temps in the right range. You dip your parts into the tank for, oh, a minute to two minutes and they turn blue. I like using this on flat springs that I'm making because it both tempers the spring and blues it a nice color all at the same time. Sometimes, I'll use nitre blueing for small parts, especially screws, on a gun - but you can't do just "one or two" of the screws - you have to do all of them, because nitre blueing has a more blue hue (whereas most blueing is actually black). Done properly, it makes the screwheads on a high end gun "pop" as you look at it - but you have to take into account the overall effect here.

Here's a video by Larry Potterfield about nitre blueing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vF3zKiUIkY

And a Brownells article:

http://www.brownells.com/userdocs/le...g%20Bluing.pdf


You could get a similar effect if you're really good with a propane torch and you have a nice, light touch on the heat - but most people don't, and they over-heat the part. This is why you want the thermometer in the nitre salts to keep the temperature at the 570 to 650F or so area. As steel heats up, it changes colors. When we gunsmiths are making chisels and screwdrivers, we talk about tempering the hardened tips of these tools back to a certain color - the lower temps (higher hardness) are the straw range, and purples and blues happen at higher temperature tempers (leaving the steel a bit softer) until finally you get into the pale blue/silver range, when you're taking quite a lot of hardness out in the tempering.

One of the things you can do to increase the effectiveness of cold blues is to clean the parts by dipping in acetone, let dry, then heat the parts before you dunk them in the solution. It doesn't have to be much - like to 140F. After you dunk parts in cold blue solutions, rinse them off, then dunk them in water displacing oil (like LPS-2, or WD-40) and let them sit there for an hour or so. Pull the parts out of the oil, put on a towel and don't handle them for a day.

You can keep using the cold blue solution you've got in some little container, but as it becomes more contaminated, there will come a point where you don't and won't get the results you want. At that point, might as well chuck it and get some more solution from the clean bottle.
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Old December 3, 2012, 04:39 PM   #8
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Exibar, if you're going to dip small parts, I highly recommend Oxpho-Blue from Brownells.

Here's how I use it...

1. Set up a small work area, with the following stations: 1. A bit of denatured alcohol. 2. A boiling pot of water. 3. A small glass container, or bowl.

At the end station, you should have some crumpled up paper bags, and some WD-40.

First, clean the part off thoroughly. After it is clean--down to bare metal--you can head to the next step. Do any polishing or flaw removal before going into the actual bluing process.

I also recommend the purchase of some large forceps or surgical clamps to move the piece from station to station. After cleaning, you should not touch the piece with your bare hands again until the work is complete.

Now, saturate the part in denatured alcohol. Wiping the part off will ensure that it is clean--just do it with a cloth or non-lint generating item.

Go straight from the denatured alcohol to the boiling water. Here is where the forceps come in handy--you'll want to hold the piece under the boiling water for at least 30 seconds. This will remove all traces of the alcohol, any remaining dirt, and also will gently heat the metal. You'll want that. Make sure the work does NOT touch the sides or bottom of the pot. (Word of advice--do NOT use any good cookware for any of this--your wife or husband will NOT appreciate it....)

Now, at the third station, you'll have your glass container with enough Oxpho-Blue in it to completely cover the part. Move the piece from the boiling water, give it a good shake or two, and then place it in the Oxpho-Blue. You don't have to leave it in there long--about 3 or 4 minutes will do nicely.

Now, remove it from the blue solution, and get all the excess stuff off. Don't panic--when you first pull it out, it will look like mold grew all over it. Simply wipe it away.

Here, I highly recommend the use of a fine, soft wire wheel to card the surface, and even out the blue. If you have small parts, it's not necessary--but if you have larger parts, you'll want to do this to even out the bluing job.

You should have to do this only once--Oxpho Blue gives a superior depth and finish to steel. After wiping it down, immerse the part in WD-40 for about 3-5 minutes, then let it air out. A quick lube with good oil, and the job's done.
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Old December 3, 2012, 05:42 PM   #9
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For small parts where strength or hardness is not a factor, just heating the part with a torch or on a hotplate is perfectly OK. You just have to be sure to get it safely away from the heat when it is at the right color. (A friend - not me, honest - would also advise not to drop a hot part on the linoleum floor of the kitchen unless you want to spend a lot of money on a new floor.)

Jim
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Old December 3, 2012, 06:06 PM   #10
Exibar
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wow, thank you all very much for the info! I'm going to digest the info and I think maybe alter my process a little bit. From what i'm reading from you guys, I'm not too far off with what I'm doing...

from prepping the parts with acetone (although I have used that CRC natural degreaser, I think I prefer the acetone the CRC degreaser (blue labeled spray can) has a funky smell to it that really lingers a long time), to the dipping. I have not been heating the parts though in the boiling water..... I'll give that a try and compare the results.

thank you again! I have my weekend planned now :-)

Mike B
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Old December 3, 2012, 06:19 PM   #11
Powderman
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Exibar, there is one great advantage to heating parts by boiling water for this purpose: As long as the work doesn't touch the sides or bottom of the pot, you will never run the risk of overheating.

@James K: Of course! None of us would EVER do anything like:
a. Cast bullets on the kitchen stove;
b. Punch holes in a cooking spoon to skim the melt with...
c. Try to anneal parts on an electric burner;
d. Clean a particularly dirty and big bore rifle on the dining room table, with the muzzle over shag carpet while using Sweet's.....



Of COURSE I'd never do anything like that.....
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Old December 3, 2012, 08:36 PM   #12
Bill DeShivs
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No matter what process you use for cold bluing, it's going to wear off very quickly. It's just a very thin, blackened copper plate. You can't change that.
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Old December 5, 2012, 04:48 PM   #13
guncrank
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For dipping I use a small pill bottle as I get them from my wife and father (they take a lot of pills)

That way you can use it and reuse it until it goes bad.

Also heating up the part works.
For dipping pots I use shot glasses
And chemistary evaporating dish.
And a rather large coffe mug I bought a dollar store.
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Old December 16, 2012, 01:56 PM   #14
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Oxpho Blue is very long lasting. I use it by heating the cleaned, degreased part on an old upside-down iron set on about 200 degrees, cleaned off with alcohol. I wear nitrile gloves to keep skin oils off. Then I rub oxpho blue on with a piece of paper towel. The oxpho blue dries really fast and you can put a good thick layer on this way, a little at a time. I "card" the part with dry paper towel until only black is left, and then oil the part. Done. Water will bead up on a 1911 slide I did this way.
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