View Full Version : Bluing advise ?

October 24, 2007, 08:07 PM
I have a 54 year old Marlin 39A. A gunsmith shop reblued it for me about four years ago and it was absolutely beautiful. After about two years I noticed on top of the receiver a small (1/4") spot that was sort of purple looking. Over the last year the rest of the upper receiver has developed this purple tint especially visible with the light just right. The lower part of the receiver and barrel still look fantastic. Talked to him today and was told this is not unusual on Marlins. The half that is changing is a hardened steel, different than the half that still looks good. Said we can redo it but it will just happen again and again because bluing chemicals evidently aren't what they used to be. This gun is kept clean and coated with oil and stored in a dry safe with my others. Thinking about calling Marlin but what do you guys think? Anyone else experience this? Can some type of cold bluing be used over this to darken it?

October 24, 2007, 11:02 PM
Cold blue will only ruin what you have. DON'T DO IT.

I strongly question the business about the purple color caused by the metal, in this case.
I'll be blunt: Most of the time when I hear these stories about odd bluing colors, it's from a part-time bluer trying to explain away a bad job.
People who only run a bluing operation once in a while simply don't develop the skills to the level needed, and you often see either over-polished steel with rounded off edges and waves in the flats, or you see odd colors.

What causes metal to take on a purple or reddish color is one of two things:
First, the steel "can" cause it, either due to the type of steel, or the hardening.
Gun makers are WELL aware of this and don't use those steels, and take extreme care during heat treating not to have problems with bluing later in the manufacturing process.
If it was the steel or the hardening, the rifle would have shown purple colors BEFORE it was re-blued.

Second, and BY FAR the most common is a bluing operation that's "off".
Usually the bluing tank chemical mix is off, or the temperature is not under control.
Temperature is the single biggest cause of purple and reddish colors in bluing.

As for the business about the chemicals not being what they used to be.....BS.
Modern hot salts bluing chemicals were developed before WWII, and they are the best ever right now, simply due to better manufacturing control.

I'd suggest you talk to either Marlin, or just as good, one of the top re-finishers about this.
I'm sure they can explain this better, and can do it better.

I HAVE a re-blued Marlin 39-A and have seen a good many more over the years.
I've never seen one that was turning purple that wasn't a defective blue job.
If it was the steel, or "bluing chemicals aren't what they used to be" ALL of them would be turning purple.
They aren't.

Here's some professional re-finishers to talk to:




October 25, 2007, 06:17 AM
Thank you. That kind of reinforces what I was thinking and tells me there is hope for it to look the way I want. The one thing that is curious is the upper half of the receiver was supposedly blued with the barrel attached and the barrel still looks beautiful which seemed to support what I was told, that the steel is somehow different.

October 25, 2007, 02:42 PM
The steel in the barrel and receiver almost certainly are different as well as the receiver is heat treated differently.

Still, this won't cause the receiver to turn purple.

Again, if it was the metal or the heat treating, ALL Marlin 39's would be turning purple.
They aren't, which leaves the bluing process as the culprit.

Again, talk to Marlin or one of the better commercial re-finishers.

October 25, 2007, 05:32 PM
Thanks again. Very much appreciate the help.

One more question please. I assume you're familiar with these companies and would recomend them?
Any one over the other?

October 25, 2007, 06:44 PM
Marlin's web site says they charge $125.00 and up fro a re-blue.
I'd be seeing them first.

My second choice would be Ford's which start at $190.00.

I personally think a factory refinish is better than an aftermarket.

October 25, 2007, 08:03 PM
I was going to Marlin's site next. Sounds like the way to go. I think maybe since it's a Marlin and if they do the job, they would probably stand behind their work and fix it if there were another problem. Thanks.

George R
October 26, 2007, 06:45 PM
Actually, there is a third source of reddish or plum colored receivers. If there is more than 1/2 of 1% of silicone in the steel it often will turn reddish a few weeks after blueing. I've seen it in Ruger 77s, Mausers, Stevens 311s and a lot of others, but never in a Marlin. I'm sure every refinisher has his cure for this. Mine is to slowly up the temperature from a normal 285 to about 305 degrees. If that doesn't work, a reblue in Dulite 3-0 salts will work every time. Well, almost every time.

October 26, 2007, 09:21 PM
I don't know what to think.:confused:

What Dfariswheel said makes sense about the original blue not being purple. When I took it in the barrel was rusty but the receiver looked good and it was 51 years old. Now over about three years time (maybe four) the upper receiver and bolt are turning purple but the rest of the gun looks beautifull. Barrel, mag.tube, lower receiver, lever all look perfect.This is my favorite 22. Just something about the old lever gun I really like and would like to get it like new.
Anyway, I don't think I'll do anything with it till probably early spring but I saved your link and may be contacting you then. Thanks for the info.

geezer in NH
October 27, 2007, 01:03 AM
Even Ruger had this problem. Look at the early 77 bolts and their red-purple actions.

To get rid of this we uses an ice water qinchin between the Dulite steel coat 2 bath systems.