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Blueing changes on Model 42 Winchester

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by ejohne, Feb 9, 2003.

  1. ejohne

    ejohne New Member

    Feb 9, 2003
    I saw a Model 42 Winchester shotgun from the 1930's today. The blueing on the front half (it's a takedown) was a deep dark blue like other Winchester's I have seen of its vintage. However, the blueing of the receiver was lighter and had a reddish tint. At first glance, I thought it was wear, but on closer inspection, the blueing was uniform, just not as deep and with a reddish tint. Is this a normal process that occurs with Winchesters of this vintage? Thanks!
    (also posted under rifle country).
  2. Red Label

    Red Label Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    I have an interesting story that might explain the condition. This story was told to me by a gentleman who works in the gun library of a Cabelas near me so I expect that it is true. Anyway the story goes that Winchester bought an old battleship from the government after WWI. They melted it down and used it to make recievers out of until the metal ran out somewhere before WWII. The ship had a high nickel content and blueing does not stick as well to nickel. This explains the wear on several of my guns and also explains why my M42 made in 1950 still has very nice blue on it. Some of these old guns were marked nickel steel and some were not. The marked ones usually show a lot of worn blue on the barrel also. Like I say, I don't know this to be true but it explains my guns.:cool:
  3. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Mentor

    Dec 22, 2002
    Below the Manson-Nixon line in Virginia...
    There's no record of Winchester buying an old battleship, but there's no doubt that it could easily come into a LOT of such steel on the secondary market.

    Between 1920 and 1925 the US Navy sold 17 of its pre-dreadnaught and dreadnaught battleships to ship breakers for scrap in response to the naval arms treaties that were being enacted.

    I think a similar number of cruisers were also scrapped, as well as several ships that were partially constructed.

    Here's the only problems I have with this scenario, though...

    Winchester was making barrels out of nickel steel as early as 1905.

    Armor plating of the time was nickle steel, normally face hardened using the Harvey Carburization process. Very high quality steel for the time, and VERY expensive, even on the secondary scrap market.

    Winchester would very likely have purchased such steel already blended to their specifications, and I really doubt that they'd go overboard in the nickle content, as that kind of steel is a LOT more expensive.

    The problem of receivers getting the funky bluing cast normally cropped up after 1964, when the manufacturing process was changed.

    What I don't get, however, is why Winchester woudln't have made the entire gun out of this steel, and I also don't see Winchester, or any company for that matter, laying in a 25-year supply of steel.
  4. Clemson

    Clemson Active Member

    Feb 17, 2003
    Greenwood, SC
    Up until sometime in the 1930's, Winchester used a rust blue process. They went to caustic salt bluing after that. It may be that you saw an early gun that someone had reblued in a hot salt blue process. The nickle steel blued well by the rust process but was sometimes persnickety in the caustic process.
  5. romulus

    romulus Active Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    on a glacial structure
    Could the heat treating have something to do with it? I have a savage shotgun barrel, the chamber end has a uniform reddish purplish cast, almost transparent, while the barrel proper is an opaque blue-black...is it that the harder steel won't take the blue as readily? If that's the case, maybe it's the harder receiver...

    Just axin'

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