Probably still using a cyanide process, possibly charcoal but I doubt it.
February 4, 2013, 04:48 PM
The cyanide process is real color case hardening. Uberti has never done that.
The secret behind Colt's Royal Blue has more to do with the polishing than the actual bluing.
February 4, 2013, 06:10 PM
Uberti has never done cyanide case hardening???? That would be news to me and goes against what I have seen with my own eyes. I can recall some other guns with faux case hardening, but never anything like that on any of Uberti's percussion revolvers.
Trust me, I am not a fan of cyanide case hardening, but the Italian companies tend to do it because it is cheap and efficient, unlike true bone and wood charcoal casehardening that Colt, and the majority of other arms makers originally used. If you ask me it would be more work to simulate the colors than to actually do the process. Those that do, like Ruger, do it because the heat treatment process that they use is far superior to casehardening and they don't want to mess with that.
February 4, 2013, 06:15 PM
I've heard it both ways but never that Uberti used cyanide. Cyanide produces a very distinctive color pattern and I've never seen that on a Uberti. Far as I know, theirs is simply a chemical coloring process.
Ruger's parts are through hardened and case hardening would cause them to be brittle. Ruger did what they did because it was easier and cheaper than the real thing AND they could do it in bulk without specialized equipment or personnel. They could've easily farmed it out to Turnbull but it would've increased the cost by a couple hundred dollars. Case hardening is an old process but it's far from obsolete.
February 4, 2013, 07:05 PM
To my eye, Uberti's 'new' process looks identical to Pietta's. I'm 95% sure that Pietta uses cyanide, which does harden the surface, according to the online research I did. It's nowhere near as nice as Turnbull's, but it looks better than the old washed-out gray.
February 4, 2013, 07:08 PM
While some Uberti's come out with some nice colors, overall, I have to agree that whatever Pietta is doing looks better than your typical Uberti.
February 4, 2013, 10:10 PM
Cyanide can give the striped finish like you see on Stevens firearms, but it doesn't always look like that. The cyanide process, or the bone and wood charcoal process are the only two ways I know to caseharden and get colors. Both are authentic 19th century processes. I have done both in my lab and teach the bone and wood charcoal process to my manufacturing students each spring. I do know that if temperatures get too high the colors come out darker like is seen in the later picture of the Walker. the washed out finish can also happen due to a number of variables. I used to have a uberti 1849 with excellent colors on one side of the frame and washed out on the other side, it is not the first time I have seen this.
February 4, 2013, 11:56 PM
I did some work on my walker yesterday (that i got a couple of years ago) and i was actually surprised how well my cheapo files worked on the hammer. It was definitely not as hard as i was expecting case hardening to be and have heard about...
February 5, 2013, 12:52 AM
Case hardening can be very shallow and once you break through the case the steel is soft underneath. Many original arms have very superficial case hardening and the process was done more for looks it would seem. You can actually get very nice colors by quenching the parts under critical temperature yielding a pretty looking part, but without any appreciable hardening taking place, in other words, kind of a waste of time. I have case hardened parts where the carbon passed completely through the part essentially converting them to high carbon steel so you can definitely get deep penetration, you wouldn't be filing on those parts very long if you value your files.
February 5, 2013, 05:53 PM
I picked up my Uberti made Cimarron Type II Richards conversion today. It definitely has some deep blues in color case hardening; less of the muted grey than I've seen on older Ubertis (though I'm no expert). I'll try to get some pictures up soon.
February 7, 2013, 01:38 AM
I have seen a video showing Uberti frames being dipped into some sort of a bath to achieve their 'case hardening'. I do not know what was in the bath, but it did impart some color, and it does impart a bit of surface hardening. Clearly, they are not doing old fashioned charcoal or bone case hardening, which is a time consuming and expensive process. But the process they are using does impart colors and some surface hardness to their parts.
The colors of true charcoal or bone case hardening are fragile and will eventually fade, from harsh chemicals and even from exposure to sunlight. This Second Gen Colt was made in 1973. It's colors have faded over time and are quite muted at this point.
The colors of true Case Hardening are just a by product of the case hardening process. However 19th Century gun makers discovered that beautiful colors were very much in demand by the firearms buying public, so each manufacturer jealously guarded their Case Hardening process.
Compare the faded colors on my Colts to the spectacular colors that Doug Turnbull achieves. Turnbull puts a clear coat of lacquer over his Case Hardening. This protects the colors from scratching, and also gives them an almost 'liquid' appearance.
Achieving consistent colors lot to lot is difficult with the type of hardening that Uberti does. Compare the colors on this Cimarron Cattleman, made by Uberti, to the colors of my 1860 'iron frame' Henry, also made by Uberti.
The type of coloring done by Ruger was not case hardening at all. It was some sort of a chemical process, but it did not harden the metal at all, Ruger heat treats their frames so they are uniformly hard all the way through. The 'color case' treatment that they used to put on the Vaqueros tended to look kind of blotchy. Here are the colors of an 'original model' Vaquero and a New Vaquero.
What kind of case hardening is this? A Colt Sam'l Colt signature model.
February 7, 2013, 01:53 PM
If it's a Colt, it's real bone charcoal color case hardening, except the Cowboy model.
I never knew they made a fluted Dragoon. :)
February 7, 2013, 02:07 PM
Yep they made the 3rd Model Dragoon with the fluted cylinder, also the 1860 Army.
February 7, 2013, 03:13 PM
I knew about the 1860's and actually planned on getting a fluted replica. Just didn't know about the Dragoon. Learn something new every day.....or try to anyway. ;)
February 7, 2013, 03:37 PM
I have an old Replica Arms 1860 with the fluted cylinder. It was made by Uberti back in the 1960s.
February 7, 2013, 09:39 PM
the chemical they were dipping the frames in would have likely been potassium cyanide, followed by a water quench. Stevens used the same process and there were a few others who did as well. There are many ways to case harden steel and the process does not always yield colors. It takes a special technique and the right materials to acheive good results.
February 8, 2013, 10:08 AM
Here's the 1969 Uberti M1860 Army next to the Signature Colt Dragoon showing the size comparison and a bit of the color casehardening.
August 16, 2013, 07:34 AM
Here are some parts I color case hardened. Parts to a Stevens Visible loader.
I brought these polished clean parts up to 1800 degrees in a sealed stainless crucible, packed with bone charcoal and small strips of leather. I let it heat soak for about 4 hours then knocked the bottom off the crucible and let the entire contenets drop into a laundry sink full of cold water with air bubble agitation.