View Full Version : Questions about bluing and removing bluing

August 11, 2009, 11:58 PM
1. Will vinegar completely remove a botched cold re-blue job? (I'm thinking about re-bluing an old Colt revolver with a cold blue and want to prepare for removing it from the gun if I don't like it.)

2. Can a revolver be cold re-blued without disassembling it? I'd like to avoid disassembly if at all possible. I may never get it back together. (Handgrips I can remove. )

3. I'm only considering cold bluing because everything I've read says that hot bluing is not for the do it yourselfer - yet when they tell you how to do it, it actually looks easy enough to do. (It sounds to me like hot bluing is basically immersing your gun parts in boiling lye? Is that it? Like great grandma used to wash clothes in in a a backyard tub?)

4. About 45 years ago a good friend of mine wanted to re-blue a WWII Luger. There were two hot blueing shops in this county alone. I went with him to a shop that did a great job (although it was a dump with dirt floors.) Now there's not a place to hot blue a gun within 50 miles. Is the reason that it's hard to find hot bluing places anymore because there's no demand, or no money in it, or because it's now seen as difficult/dangerous job, or because OSHA laws are too much of a hassle?

Bill DeShivs
August 12, 2009, 12:35 AM
Cold blue is not for refinishing complete guns, regardless of what it says on the bottle. It is for touchups only, and is not durable.
Guns should be disassembled for refinishing. If yours is worth refinishing, it is worth sending to a pro.

August 12, 2009, 12:09 PM
To answer your questions:

1- No, vinegar will not completely remove cold blue.

2- Cold blue is for touch-up, regardless of advertisements to the contrary. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of folks who have done it, but the results are pretty humble. And after rebluing with cold blue, the pistol will gradually fade and turn a greyish-brown.

3- Hot bluing is not for the do-it-yourself crowd. It involves polishing the gun down to the metal, degreasing the metal, then boiling in concentrated sodium hydroxide at 270-290 degrees F. I have seen it done on a kitchen stove, but never twice.

4- A few reasons you cannot find a rebluing shop within 50 miles are that it is hazardouos, you don't make that much money doing rebluing, the compounds are extremely hazardous and hard to dispose of, and the cost of the equipment. Did I mention that the compounds are hazardous?

August 13, 2009, 05:22 PM
Owing to the reactive nature of the chemicals involved, I find it hard to envision a scenario in which it would be OK to submerge everything whole in a bluing chemistry of any kind without messing up pins, trigger engagements, and other surfaces that need to be polished or smooth; nor without trapping solution in blind holes and the like. Disassembly is a must.

You probably will need a stripper like Iosso Quickstrip (http://www.iosso.com/MivaStore/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=A&Product_Code=00018&Category_Code=GunCleaning) to remove the cold blue safely. As stated before, cold blues don't usually do a good looking job in the end, and in addition to lacking durability, the best looking variants (darkest blue) often use nitric acid and suffer from after-rust, which you have to do some acid neutralizing to prevent. That said, I understand Johnathan Doege at Shooter's Solutions (http://www.shootersolutions.com/gunblue.html) has come up with a cold blue that is supposed to be significantly more rugged than past formulations. He likes to work with metal conversion chemistry, so this may be such a thing and may indeed be tougher than others. No idea about appearance, as I haven't tried it yet. It's sold as a concentrate to be diluted for submersion of the parts.

If you want genuine bluing and don't want to get into hot bluing (I recommend you don't for all the reasons cited earlier), you can still do rust bluing. I've had good luck with the Pilkington mixture Brownells sells. It's not cheap, but it works. There are less expensive chemicals available for the process, but I haven't tried them. They may be fine, too?

Rust bluing is a slow process that in modern form consists of applying the chemical to the steel surface, waiting a day for fine surface rust to appear, then boiling the part 10-15 minutes in distilled or deionized water (if you want to be sure to avoid problems like water marks). Boiling in water converts fine red surface rust to magnetite, the blue/black stuff. You "card" the loose black oxide off with a very fine steel brush (I use a stainless wheel with soft 0.002" wire bristles) or rub it off with 000 steel wool that's been degreased in a couple or three soaks in mineral spirits to remove the oil. This has to be repeated about 6 times before the bluing covers the surface completely, so it takes at least a week, but it makes a beautiful satin blue, and is the finish used on traditional shotguns. Not a black blue, but blue, and dark enough.