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Old January 3, 2011, 11:46 AM   #1
Hardcase
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"Case color"

I picked up a .357 Cimarron Model P last night for what I thought was a pretty good price, $230. I agonized between it and a New Vaquero, but my new year's resolution was to try really hard to not introduce any new calibers this year, so I passed on the .45LC.

Anyway, the Cimarron, a Uberti gun, is in great shape, with a 4.75" barrel and an extra set of Gunfighter grips. But the imitation case colors are quite faded on one side of the frame and maybe half gone on the other. Now, it's not a huge deal to me because the price was right and it's not exactly a collector's gun. But is there a way to redo the coloring on the frame that won't break the bank or require a degree in chemistry?

Oh yeah, I know the rule: pictures or it didn't happen. I'll post 'em tonight. And if the mercury breaks 30 this week, I might even shoot it!
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Old January 3, 2011, 12:21 PM   #2
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I don't even remember what 30 degrees feels
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Old January 3, 2011, 12:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
is there a way to redo the coloring on the frame that won't break the bank or require a degree in chemistry?
Color case hardening is not just a coloring process, it is a heat treatment process. Re-doing the color case hardening requires complete disassembly of the firearm, barrel, screws, pins, etc, right down to the frame. The parts to be heat reated are wrapped in metal foil or placed in a crucible, covered with bone pieces or charcoal, then put in an oven for heating. There is another process that requires the parts to be heated, then quenched in ferrocyanate, but due to the chemicals used it has fallen into disuse.

There are several commercial outfits that do color case hardening, be it bone or charcoal process. There are no current commercial heat treaters that use the old cyanate process, as far as I know.
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Old January 3, 2011, 01:35 PM   #4
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Color case hardening is not just a coloring process, it is a heat treatment process.

True. But a lot of the Colt clones use other processes to make it look like the gun was color case hardened. I don't know who can re do those kinds of treatments. Mark
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Old January 3, 2011, 01:39 PM   #5
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The alternative method, IIRC, uses cyanide to replicate the colors.

As for having it done, you might try asking Doug Turnbull's group - they are the best at it
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Old January 3, 2011, 01:42 PM   #6
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Yes, the "case coloring" on my gun is just cosmetic.
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Old January 3, 2011, 02:02 PM   #7
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Turnbull once quoted me about $400 to CCH the receiver on a Ruger #1. Not a bad price for the right gun, but I don't think I'd want to spend more money on redoing something cosmetic than I did on the gun itself.
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Old January 3, 2011, 02:14 PM   #8
Hardcase
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After poking around a little bit, I see that it's one of those processes that comes out a whole lot easier and cheaper when there are a whole bunch to do at once. It looks a little out of the reach of li'l ol' me on one at a time basis.

horseman308, you're right, spending twice the price of the gun for the work isn't my cup of tea.

By the way, I saw a couple of ~1900-1910 Colt SAAs at Cabelas the other day that Doug Turnbull restored. Gorgeous. And spendy. But gorgeous, just the same. And in the next cabinet over they had the most beautiful Henry .44 rimfire rifle with a beautifully engraved receiver and lovely persimmon stock. Just $81,000. My wife said no.
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Old January 3, 2011, 02:34 PM   #9
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Just as well, Walmart seldom ever has .44 Henry Flat ammo on sale.
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Old January 3, 2011, 03:16 PM   #10
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Uberti and Pietta still color their frames using cyanide which is OK but not as pretty as true bone/charcoal color case. Classic firearms in Illinois does a great job of true bone charcoal color case and a single action army would be under $200 with postage both ways.
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Old January 3, 2011, 03:40 PM   #11
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I'd strip it with Naval Jelly and blue it.
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Old January 3, 2011, 03:51 PM   #12
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I'd leave it alone and tell tall tales about all the places I had carried it to wear that much finish off.
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Old January 3, 2011, 04:34 PM   #13
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I'd leave it alone and tell tall tales about all the places I had carried it to wear that much finish off.
I'll start notching the grips tonight
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Old January 3, 2011, 04:36 PM   #14
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There's a book called "Double Guns" on redoing side by side shotguns. The author was Hughes or Haines (can't remember) but he gave a formula on color case hardening. If I recall, all case hardening was sort of grayish hundreds of years ago but when the part was quenched some oils etc added color that folks liked and then the color case hardening got going. In any event try asking around on the net in shotgun forums- someone may have or remember the book.
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Old January 3, 2011, 09:17 PM   #15
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The methodology for bone/charcoal case hardening is not complex but the required equipment is generally outside the realm of the hobbyiest.
This is how it is done. The well polished parts are packed in a curcible with a 50/50 mix of charred bone and wood charcoal. The cruciblle then goes into a heat treat oven at 1500deg F for about 40 minutes. The parts are then dropped into a water quench that has an aerator that bubbles up the water. Once cooled the parts are dried and oiled. That's all there is to it but it does require some serious equipment.
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Old January 3, 2011, 10:17 PM   #16
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I know how the traditional case hardening is done and I definitely agree that it's outside of my comfort zone, if not ability.

In the end, I'm pretty doggone happy with what I've got.

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Old January 3, 2011, 10:22 PM   #17
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I just had a thought - I have a good friend who has a couple of kilns that he fires glass in. I know that they'll go to 1500 F and above. Now it's got me wondering...

I may have to do some research and buy a couple of beat up old frames to experiment with. Oh joy, another project.
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Old January 3, 2011, 10:27 PM   #18
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You better post pictures if you do.
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Old January 3, 2011, 10:50 PM   #19
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What you have to be careful about is warping the frame when you heat it to that temperature - most old SxS shotguns needed to be filed some more to true them up. You also don't want to mess up the heat treatment by doing it wrong
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Old January 4, 2011, 12:15 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oneounceload View Post
What you have to be careful about is warping the frame when you heat it to that temperature - most old SxS shotguns needed to be filed some more to true them up. You also don't want to mess up the heat treatment by doing it wrong
For sure. I have plenty of research to do, I guess. If I didn't have this stupid job, why think of all the things that I could get done!
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Old January 4, 2011, 02:47 PM   #21
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Actually I think the gun looks pretty good just the way it is. If you start looking at big numbers maybe it would be best to nickel plate it.
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Old January 4, 2011, 02:58 PM   #22
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Hardcase, I'd leave it. That gun's just starting to get a bit of character!

There is a guy does the big gun shows over here and sells a case hardening compound - don't know whether it's liquid, paste or solid but I seem to think it's only a few bucks.

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Old January 4, 2011, 03:05 PM   #23
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case hardening compound
It might be a coloring effect for a few bucks, but it isn't a hardener - that comes from heat.
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Old January 4, 2011, 03:27 PM   #24
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That product is probably Kasenite. It is for case hardening but not in color. Case hardening is heating low carbon steel coated with a high carbon content material such as charcoal or kasenite so that the surface absorbes carbon a few thousandths deep. Quenching from the critical temperature hardens the skin of the part leaving the interior softer. This process does not impart colors but leaves the surface a gray color.
Case hardening in color requires the specific types of high carbon material and the quenching bath has to be aerated which imparts a differential rate of cooling trapping the colors.
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Old January 4, 2011, 04:11 PM   #25
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Case Coloring comes from the heat treating processes as others have said Either from the bone and charcoal method or others but they are all semi-permant in that they don't just wash off with a chemical. I used to have one of the original Ruger Vaqueros and they only had a color treatment put on top of the steel. I was able to disolve it off uing a chemical (this was to make the gun look 'aged' long before you could buy them that way). As far as I know the Italian copies use arsenic to harden the heat treated metal. This works but is not as good as the method that Colt etc used which is packing the reciever in a combination of bone and other organics into a metal container and heating and cooling it in a precise way. The only other factory that uses that method that I know of is USFA which makes a clone that looks as good as the Colts. You can case color steel by using things like kasenite but it is made for hardning and does not give a results that is predictable as far as coloring.
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