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Neutralizing browning solution ?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by redneck, Apr 21, 2003.

  1. redneck

    redneck Well-Known Member

    Hey Guys
    I thought I had my GPR finished.
    Problem is that I'm still getting a little rust loosening up on the barrel. I did about 10 rounds with the browning, and its a dark smooth brown now. Afterwards I scubbed it with a rag soaked in a strong mix of baking soda and warm water. Then soaked the heck out of it in WD40 and rubbed out with a rag several times. Carded it with some 600 grit paper, then repeated the WD40 and rag wipedown.
    Now, after letting it sit awhile, if I rub my thumb down the barrel I get a few grains of coarse brown/black rust coming off.
    There doesn't seem to be any pitting and there is no red rust or oxidation that I can see. It just has little grains of rust coming loose. Is that normal?
    Do I need to do anything else to neutralize the stuff? I'm going to get on it with some rem oil, or something with a little more staying power soon. Just didn't have anything but WD40 on the workbench at the time and its the best thing for flushing away moisture.
    What do you guys think?
  2. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Well-Known Member

    I once built a Dixie Tennessee Mountain Rifle from a kit. I cold-browned the barrel. Once it was brown enough, I laid it on the ground outside and poured boiling water over it from a teakettle. I did this a couple of times.

    Boiling (not merely warm) water should flush off the remaining browning solution and should also evaporate very quickly.

    After the barrel cooled enough to touch it, I carded off the rough spots and then gave the metal a protective coat of boiled linseed oil. It came out looking really nice, authentic, and it did not rust any further.

    I'd omit the WD-40.
  3. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    Boiling water is the key as frodo said. I browned one about 1983 or so and it looks like a smooth finish to this day. Incidentally, WD40 is not a good lubricant, protectant, etc. Try something like Breakfree CLP to coat your metal. HTH
  4. redneck

    redneck Well-Known Member

    I guess I'll try some boilin water if things don't change here in a day or so when I get it oiled right. I know WD40 isn't a good protectant. Its very good for displacing water though, cheap enough to just spray the heck out of stuff and it drives the water right off/out. Thats what I was usin it for.
  5. Gerald McDonald

    Gerald McDonald Well-Known Member

    I remember reading somewhere on instructions for browning and they said do not use WD40. I dont remember why, just remember that I read it. Actually I have read so much bad news and had WD40 cause grief with gumming up knives I dont even keep it around anymore.
  6. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    I would wash it off with hot soapy water and then do the boiling water thing. The idea is to kill the chemical reaction that is taking place UNDER the oil. The water will evaporate in seconds because it is boiling hot. You can also stick the bbl in a 350 degree oven for a couple minutes to dry it out. Then, when you oil it up it will not rust any more. HTH
  7. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Well-Known Member

    Years ago my Mother kicked me out of the kitchen because I tied up all 4 burners on the stove boiling pots of water to neutralize the browning solution on my TC Hawken.

    I ended up building a fire in the back yard and using a metal 5 gallon paint can suspended over the fire to boil my water...

    When you're browning, you can never flood it with enough boiling water.

    And, when you get the part hot enough from the boiling water, they flash dry.
  8. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    I would strongly recommend you proceed with caution when using boiling water on a browned barrel, that is unless you want a somewhat splotchy brown with black spots. Boiling water can easily create a rust blue finish to your browned barrel. You shouldn't need to do anything more than wash the barrel in a solution of detergent and hot tap water, followed by drying and than oiling. This is the method that John Bivins, one of the countries finest muzzleloading gunsmiths, recommends and I've used it sucessfully for years.
  9. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    It's been years since I did mine, so Alex may have better info for you. All I know is you need to get the browning agent off the metal and water and soap will do it. The boiling water may be so that it dries immediately. Wash it off with hot soap and water and use the oven like I mentioned. The steel will have immediate surface rusting when you dry it but the coating of CLP will stop it and make it look great.

    My 20 year old brown finish looks just as good as any blue finish except it's a an attractive even brown color.
  10. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Well-Known Member


    Never had a lick of trouble with what you're describing in any of the several plumb brown jobs that I've done over the years.

    I've gotten consistently excellent results.
  11. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Mike, your lucky, I had a Kentucky pistol barrel I browned several years ago and flushed with boiling water, the surface was pockmarked with blue splotches and I ended up repolishing and rebrowning it. Believe me, it can happen and it's well documented. After all, how do you suppose somebody figured out how to rust blue in the first place?
  12. cracked butt

    cracked butt Well-Known Member

    I used th Birchwood casey brown solution on mine- and I have the stained concrete floor in my basement to prove it:eek: I just scrubbed it with steel wool and hot water and let it dry afterward. The directions for the solution said to use Birchwood casey Sheath (of course) which I did- the stuff seemed to almost soak into the finish of the barrel, I never had any rust except in small nooks and crannies on small pieces that I didn't thoroughly clean.
  13. redneck

    redneck Well-Known Member

    Thanks everybody. I scubbed it in the sink with detergent and water hot enough that it flashed dried for the most part. Then rubbed it down with rem oil. Nice smooth brown finish and no rust showing up :)

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