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Old June 15, 2009, 11:11 AM   #1
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rust blueing vs. Dicropan IM

I have a a gun I want to reblue myself, and am trying to decide between rust blueing or using Brownell's Dicropan IM. A tech at Brownell's told me they were very similar but rust blueing would give a slightly darker black finish. Has anyone used both, and how do the results compare? Which method is easier and more forgiving? I don't mind spending the required time, so that's not really a factor.
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Old June 15, 2009, 04:09 PM   #2
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I have used both. Dicropan is a very nice shade of black when done according to the instructions, really very easy. Rust blue is a bit more time-consuming and everything has to be done just right, but the results are very nice. I would not hesitate to use Dicropan, definitely try the Dicropan before trying rust bluing.
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Old June 15, 2009, 07:06 PM   #3
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I have used rust blueing with chemicals from Brownells. You daub on this stuff from a bottle and it rusts the metal, then you boil it and card off the rust or such, I have not done it for awhile. Gives a nice finish but I have only gone as far as doing parts, I am too skeered to strip some nice gun down and do the whole thing, afraid of getting streaks or spots or something. Might be unfounded but you gotta handle it carefully. But it sure is nice looking on the parts I did use it on. Frankly if a whole gun needs blued, I am sending out somewhere, but I suppose if you want to cut the cost of the job to a minimum, you could do the disassembly and stripping/polishing yourself as the prep work is alot of the cost of a blue job.
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Old June 15, 2009, 09:41 PM   #4
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There may in fact be a difference in color, but the one gun I did showed no difference. My Son in Law picked up an Old Belgium Browning that was pretty well worn out finish wise, both stock and metal. I stripped it down and cleaned and polished the barrels and all the other parts. I used Brownell's Dicropan on the barrels but sent the receiver, trigger guard,safety and lever out to a buddy that simply dipped my polished parts.
I can't remember how many times I had to apply the Dicropan, but I doubt it was more than a couple of times. Following the directions it is pretty simple and the "blued" parts and the barrels looked the same, even in AZ. sunlight.
I'd use Dicropan again.
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Old July 4, 2010, 02:16 AM   #5
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rust blueing vs. Dicropan IM

Sorry guys but I have to disagree, I had better results with rust blueing than the dicropan method. Dicropan gives a poor finish with blotches on it you could see it inside the shop and outside. Believe me I have read the directions and followed them step by step I use distilled water and never handle parts without gloves dowels I evan smoothed out small pairs of vise grips to firmly hold parts.I called the brownells tech dept made sure my tanks were clean and still a very poor finnish so now i use rust blueing and I am going to experiment with hot blueing.
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Old July 4, 2010, 02:33 AM   #6
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No contest for me.
Rust bluing is the finest type of blue for any firearm.
I've used the Pilkingtons solution from Brownells and not only was the result beautiful but it was easy as well. Time consuming yes, but I had zero problems with streaking or blotching.
Get the good Dixcel 2 row fine wire wheel and a couple of hand wire brushes from Brownells for carding and you'll have a blue job the equivalent to that on the finest custom rifles anywhere.
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Old July 5, 2010, 01:02 PM   #7
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My experience matches the last two posts. I think the blotching problem with Dicropan IM has to do with the steel alloy. It seems to do much better with some than with others. When you are done, though, you've got a fancy version of a cold blue that will not wear as well as real rust blue.

Rust blue is the cat's meow for appearance. Because the super fine surface rust microscopically pits the surface, it is not a high polish blue, but rather has a very slightly satin sheen. It is bluer than, say, S&W hot bluing which, I believe, has some nickel or other additive salts to make it blacker. Rust blue is the classic custom shotgun finish.

Getting the wire brush is the way to go if you have a buffer. But if you are just doing one gun, you can degrease 000 steel wool by soaking it in a couple or three rinses of virgin mineral spirits, and use that for carding. I strongly recommend you do your boiling in distilled water. I've had the experience of very hard water pH preventing the conversion from succeeding, and you still need distilled to prevent water spots. So I just buy enough distilled water at the big box store to use fresh distilled water for each boil. It always works.

The Pilkington solution works well, but is expensive. The Mark Lee solution is much less expensive and was written up as successful in American Gunsmith awhile back. It was out of stock last time I tried to get some to try, so I can't say anything from personal experience with it. If you have the time and patience and access to nitric acid, you could also make an old fashioned steam box, but that always seems like too much trouble to me.
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Old July 6, 2010, 01:07 AM   #8
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I never tried the dicropan method, so I am not sure what is involved there. I used rust bluing exclusively, with very good results. A plus is not having to deal with large quantities of caustic chemicals and it will not attack soft solder. The coloration is pretty much controlled by the solution applied. I have not ordered anything from Brownells in a while, but they used to sell a book that was full of formulas for different shades and types of bluing. It is really a handy book to have if Brownnels still sells it.
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blueing , reblueing , refinishing , rust blueing

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