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Old December 12, 2019, 12:49 AM   #1
dyl
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Does bluing rub off w/ paper towel?

So far, my ritual after getting a new blued firearm has been to sit down with it, put some oil (Ballistol) on it, and moderately rub the barrel or other blued areas with a paper towel or cloth (old but clean sock). Usually, the paper towel comes back brown or dark orange. I typically re-oil and do this again until nothing comes back. I always figured it was just some rust that occurred in storage and it was good to get it off.

But now I've got a Pietta 1858 black powder revolver (unfired) that I've noticed the blued finish is a bit lighter after doing this, revealing some streaks and smudges in the bluing. I'm thinking: best case scenario is that the dark red rust was giving it a nice dark appearance and after being removed what is left seems lighter.

But a thought occurred to me, what if I'm rubbing off some component of the bluing? I didn't think a paper towel was a danger. Sometimes I *can* see a red tinge like around the hammer in the Pietta that was removed with an oiled paper towel.

Anyways, thoughts? Should I never do this again?
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Old December 12, 2019, 01:37 AM   #2
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Bluing is a form of rust. The color comes from the chemicals used in the process. If done correctly the steel surface "rusts" (blues) to a certain point which then resists future normal rusting better than unblued steel.

It shouldn't "come off" but it can be removed. Regular gun oil shouldn't do it. Nor does the paper towel really matter. A rust remover "oil" could. Naval jelly will remove rust and bluing. There are other compounds that will also.
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Old December 12, 2019, 02:12 AM   #3
SGW Gunsmith
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When I do the old method involved with "Rust Bluing" the BLACK oxidation is formed after the parts have been treated with a rusting agent, and then boiled in distilled water for a certain amount of time.
After several coats of solution and then boiling are applied and the final result of color is achieved, then, and only then is the bluing coated with a rust stopping solution to prevent further rusting.
If, and when, this process is completed after around 8 or 9 applications, the end result will last much better than hot-dip bluing, like so:



I rust blued this Stevens 1915 Favorite over 10 years ago and it's held up just fine.

This Mauser 98 action was rust blued over 20 years ago and has held up just fine through 20 gun deer seasons without rubbing off:

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Old December 12, 2019, 11:46 AM   #4
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Agree !!!

Quote:
Regular gun oil shouldn't do it. Nor does the paper towel really matter.
I will quote Larry Potterfield;
Quote:
The use of 0000 steel-wool, should not damage a factory bluing.
Obviously, this does not hold true for "all" factories; especially foreign ones. I have a single-shot M/L derringer, made in Italy and have seen some bluing come off. I just lightly wipe it with an oily cloth.

Be Safe !!!
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Old December 12, 2019, 12:09 PM   #5
FrankenMauser
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Printer/Copy/Writing/Tracing/Drawing/Sketch paper -basically any paper with a 'finished' side - has abrasives in it.
It will slowly remove bluing.
It will, however, take some time.

Paper towels, toilette paper, and 'raw' finished cardboard generally doesn't have much in the way of abrasives in it, other than contaminants - unless it was made with recycled materials.
It shouldn't be an issue when used as you described.
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Old December 12, 2019, 01:42 PM   #6
dyl
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Thanks all, sounds like what I was getting on the paper towel really was a little bit of surface rust then. I have no regrets
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Old December 12, 2019, 02:01 PM   #7
T. O'Heir
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Hot bluing is a form of rust. Cold bluing is just a chemical based colouring. Either will rub off if you work at it.
Like FrankenMauser says, paper is abrasive stuff with or without the oil.
There's no need to "moderately rub the barrel" with oil or anything else. Just clean the rifle and oil it.
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Old December 13, 2019, 11:58 AM   #8
4V50 Gary
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Agree with Pahoo and disagree with Potter. We used to use 0000 to prep the metal (on some guns) prior to bluing. If I wanted to remove rust, its with coconut oil and a nickel (five cent piece).
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Old December 13, 2019, 04:22 PM   #9
tango1niner
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I did hot salt bluing for about 20 years with a set-up and chemicals sold by Heatbath Corporation. The chemical was a Nickel Pentrate salt and actually penetrated the steel about .0005"+ (1/2 a thousanth +). It was not a built up coating on the steel and did not change sizes or dimensions. It was a very durable and lasting finish.

4/0 steel wool will most definitely remove factory bluing.
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Old December 13, 2019, 06:13 PM   #10
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0000 steel wool will remove blue ...I've done it

I wouldn't think a paper towel would remove bluing but I had my eye doctor warn me about using paper towel on my new glasses ...he said don't as paper towels are abrasive and will scratch the lens .
For both blued guns and eyeglasses I use well worn T-shirt material or any other well worn soft cotton .

I have heard that 0000 copper or bronze wool will not remove blue but I've never tried it .
Gary
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Old December 13, 2019, 08:12 PM   #11
Dfariswheel
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Often a freshly blued gun or an old gun will have oxidized bluing that can come off.

One technique of cleaning an older gun's finish it to apply CLP Breakfree and let it soak a week, then wet a patch with CLP and gently wipe the metal.
You'll usually see some brown stains on the patch, which is oxidized bluing that's been removed.

Some custom gunsmiths wanting the best possible blue job will submerge the freshly blued metal in warm oil for a week.
A couple of times a day they remove the parts and gently wipe with a oil soaked patch to remove oxidization that dulls the shine.

Also, gun makers usually coat a new gun with some sort of rust prevention lube that when wiped off looks brown.
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Old January 11, 2020, 12:23 PM   #12
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Paper towels do have an abrasive effect - they can ruin a motorcycle windshield. Just saying.
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Old January 11, 2020, 12:31 PM   #13
Pahoo
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Agree !!!

Quote:
Often a freshly blued gun or an old gun will have oxidized bluing that can come off.
I agree and I proved this to myself, just last week and yes, it was and "Vintage" firearm. As soon as I saw what was happening, I changed my approach. …

Be Safe !!!
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Old January 11, 2020, 01:07 PM   #14
FrankenMauser
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Quote:
Paper towels do have an abrasive effect - they can ruin a motorcycle windshield. Just saying.
Polycarbonate can be 'ruined' by heavy breathing.
That's why higher end wind deflectors are laminated with acrylic on the outside and polycarbonate on the inside. Acrylic for better scratch resistance, polycarbonate for strength / shatter resistance.
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Old January 11, 2020, 03:39 PM   #15
Bill DeShivs
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If you are removing bluing with 0000 steel wool, you're doing something very wrong! Used lightly, and only occasionally, it should not harm bluing. If you bear down or use it weekly-yes it can remove bluing.
Same with paper towels.
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Old January 11, 2020, 08:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
0000 steel wool will remove blue ...I've done it
Clean and dry 0000 steel wool should not remove a blued finish.

That said, steel wool usually has a little bit of oil on it to keep it from rusting and if it's used to remove rust, the rust will stick to the oil and to the steel wool. Rust is iron oxide--an abrasive. If you rub steel wool that has been impregnated with iron oxide on to a blued finish, it will begin to take it off, but even then it shouldn't come off really quickly. You'll just be able to see the finish start to fade.
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