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Old December 3, 2014, 02:52 PM   #1
Magnum Wheel Man
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Durability of case coloring ???

I'm curious really how durable to wear is case coloring...

I have a pair of 51 Navy's that have been converted to 38 Long Colt... with a custom cylinder & recoil plate... instead of using / building a loading gate, the shield & frame were slotted to load the new cylinder... doing it this way leaves the slot tight enough, that it'll be a wear surface, by both my thumb / finger, & the brass rims rubbing in the slot...

I'm trying to figure out if I should have the frames re-case colored, or ??? the machined out area is currently cold blued... wondering if the case color will wear acceptably enough to justify the cost of re-case coloring, ( the guns were new replicas, & otherwise are quite striking ) or will that area wear quickly enough, that I'm better off leaving it cold blued, & touching it up as it wears ???

thoughts ???
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Old December 3, 2014, 03:05 PM   #2
aarondhgraham
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I'll add another question to this thread,,,

I have two case colored cowboy revolvers,,,
I think they are very pretty guns.



Is there any thing that can be done to protect the color finish?

I was thinking of maybe a paste wax?

BTW,,,
What is the proper terminology anyways?

I've heard case hardened, color case hardened, and a few other variations.

I wonder where the term came from and what is the proper term.

Aarond

.
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Old December 3, 2014, 03:10 PM   #3
Magnum Wheel Man
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my understanding...

originally the color came from surface hardening, but today it is often more about the color, than the surface hardening... ( heard if they aerate the cooling solution & add a surfactant, that is how they get the crazy beautiful colors )...

I've also heard that case coloring is to an extent damaged by UV rays, so the pretty guns should not be displayed where the sun shines on them...
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Old December 3, 2014, 03:28 PM   #4
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There are different methods to color metal parts. Some use oils dripped onto heated metal parts to impart the coloring. The old fashioned way was to use bone charcoal and heat the metal parts in an oven/kiln to give the coloring. Turnbull uses this method and it's a hardening process with the applied heat. These colors are covered with a clear coat to help protect the color finish after the process is complete. Over time these colors will fade and the applied finish can wear off or be stripped off using cleaners that wear away at it. Turnbull suggests using G96 silicone on a cloth to wipe off the metal parts. I have a couple of guns Turnbull did for me and the finish is a work of art...literally. The color will fade over time but may take most of your lifetime to do so if protected properly. The upside is that it can be repeated again and will last another lifetime. Doing it the "right" way with the bone charcoal isn't cheap but it is beautiful. I'm not sorry I've spent the money on having it done. I hunt with my guns and I'm careful to wipe the guns off when done for the day. So far they look as good as new. FYI, I was using G96 on all my guns for years before Turnbull mentioned using it. It's the best metal protectant I've ever used. I've never has any rust on any gun I own.
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Old December 3, 2014, 08:35 PM   #5
Dfariswheel
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Color case hardening is fragile at best.
Many older companies used to apply a coat of a varnish to help protect it from being worn off too fast.

It will also fade in direct sunlight.

As durable gun finishes go..... it isn't.
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Old December 3, 2014, 09:57 PM   #6
James K
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In the older guns, the frames were made of wrought iron, which is not very hard and can't be hardened by tempering. So makers case (surface) hardened both the internal parts and also the frames to protect against the wear from those parts. The color was originally a byproduct, but was later seen as a cosmetic feature. When frames came to be made of steel, which can be hardened, many makers (e.g., Winchester) eliminated case hardening in favor of the cheaper bluing. Others, like Colt, continued using color case hardening for cosmetic and identification reasons on some of their line.

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Old January 9, 2017, 09:20 PM   #7
Oliver Sudden
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I do color case hardening mostly as a hobby. It can be durable in color and is resistant to corrosion. It's real value is it makes the surface of steel or iron quite hard and wear resistant. Many replicas have a very thin case job done and these can easily be filed off. A proper case color harden part will ruin a file on the first try. There is a lot to this work and not all types of steel should be cased. I've worked on 1851 colt replicas and the case is very thin so I re polish and shape them before color case hardening. This original Remington was in sad condition with dings and rust. It's shooting again.
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Old January 10, 2017, 06:27 PM   #8
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Oliver Sudden, all of a sudden. Are you new on the forum? Every once and a while heat treating comes up and it is quite a debate. "Not all types of steel should be cased". I tend to agree with that. Every now and then I see color cased receivers that are high carbon steel or 4140. I did color hardening years ago and used water as a quench. I don't see how you can safely do that with high carbon steel. Is there another way? What say you?

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Old January 10, 2017, 06:52 PM   #9
mete
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My reproduction RRB was made of 8620 , 'color case hardened 'by Turnbull .
That would be more suitable than 4140. Some of the "CCH" is painted on I've heard !!.A good job is not easy ,much more art than science. Turnbull is the Master !
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Old January 10, 2017, 08:37 PM   #10
Oliver Sudden
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Gunplummer, yep I'm new here. Old retired guy wasting my idle time on the net.
There's a bit of science to heat treating and the first thing to find out is the alloys critical temperature. That has a lot of bearing on the quench. 4140 can be quenched in water with good results. Turnbull has done it as well as others.
mete is correct that 8620 is ideal for color case. It was developed for that.
Here's a Ruger I did last summer.
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Old January 10, 2017, 09:17 PM   #11
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8620 is low carbon steel designed for a deep case (Up to .060). 4140 is high carbon steel. Seems kind of dicey to quench in water. There is not much control using water. I never knew any other quenching method to color case. I know 4140 can go up to 70 RC under the right conditions quenching in water. Maybe salt brine? There are military receivers made of high carbon steel but none I know of are case hardened. That seems odd because of the wear factor. I suspect a strength problem is involved there. I heard rumors that a Chech or Polish Mauser used tool steel in the receiver, but I never nailed that down.
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Old January 11, 2017, 11:41 AM   #12
Oliver Sudden
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8620 is a low carbon steel but 4140 is classed as a medium carbon steel. The carbon content in each being .20% and .40% respectably To induce the carbon into the surface of the metal it must reach it's critical temperature or greater. The amount of carbon in the carburized zone will be .85% to 1.15% the depth being controlled by temperature, time and compound used. There fore the temperature at quench is determined by the surface carbon and the core is below it's critical temperature on cooling.
As a side bar I have never achieved in Rockwell testing a reading of 70 C with any material that was treated in normal manner. Some case hardened surfaces reached 62 C after drawing at a mere 300 degrees.
I have done oil quench in testing for color case hardening and although there are colors they were rather cloudy looking.
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Old January 11, 2017, 05:00 PM   #13
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Take a piece of 4140, heat it up cherry red, and then throw it in water. That is my point. I always used water and air to quench color cased parts. How do you water quench 4140 and keep it stable? I'm talking about thin steel like the walls of a receiver. There is a big difference between 8620 and 4140. You have to introduce carbon to the 8620. That is where the color comes in. Are you saying that you carbon pack 4140 to color it? I never had 4140 attain any colors from normal heat treating and it is loaded with carbon. No other tool steel I used either.
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Old January 12, 2017, 08:13 AM   #14
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Much of the question of case hardening durability probably comes from Ruger's failed use of inks to simulate the look. Of course, these revolvers when exposed to any amount of normal handling would end up looking like crap. Ruger wisely gave up on the whole idea and the affected pistols are greatly devalued.

Case hardening today is considered somewhat exotic but 100 years ago was quite a common practice.
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Old January 13, 2017, 09:14 PM   #15
4V50 Gary
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Dfariswheel is correct in that the color in color case hardening isn't very durable. Very attractive to the eye, but must be handled gingerly. If you want something with a lot of handling, blue it (or nickel if it's a SAA).
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