1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Restoring Nickel Finish

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Adventurer_96, Mar 10, 2003.

  1. Adventurer_96

    Adventurer_96 Well-Known Member

    I have a nickel Single Action Army and there are some small areas of the frame and cylinder which have become cloudy, for lack of a better term. I read this thread about nickel finish care, but before I do anything I'd like to find out some techniques for getting rid of a cloudy patch. I'm considering a mild polish, like a chrome polish from an auto or motorcycle shop, as a first step.
  2. romulus

    romulus Well-Known Member

    You might want to test the cloudy area to see if it's the base metal "popping through" the nickel plating. If it is, the only way to restore it is to replate...

    just passing on info I've received

    Good Luck
  3. Ledbetter

    Ledbetter Well-Known Member

    Flitz is an excellent polishing product for use on nickel plated guns.
  4. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Well-Known Member

    If you have to have it re-nickeled, you might want to consider electroless nickel instead of "normal" nickel. It is supposed to be more wear resistant than normal nickel, and should still look "right."


    Hard chrome is probably a better finish, but might not look right color-wise.
  5. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Well-Known Member

    Depending on the age and rarity of this gun you may want to leave the finish alone.

    Sometimes folks polish the value right out of a very valuable antique.

    If its new or common and a shooter then it does not matter, if it was made in 1890 you could destroy its value, by polishing or refinnishing it, and you may be better off buying a new one.

  6. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Repeat: If this is a First Generation SAA serial number up to 357859 at start of WW II; or a Second Generation SAA, serial number up to 82,000SA made 1957 - 1976; LEAVE IT ALONE. The Blue Book shows an example of a blue SAA with the backstrap only polished to remove tiny rust freckles at a reduction in value of about $400.
    If it is a Third generation made 1977 or later you are on your own, but if you cut through the nickel and expose the copper layer it will be ugly with a capital UG. I had a 1911 '70 that the dealer had tried to buff the nickel a little brighter on and exposed the copper. I got it cheap. It still shot well and I am sorry to have sold it but the appearance was worse than the cloudy appearance by a long shot.
  7. Adventurer_96

    Adventurer_96 Well-Known Member

    It's worth mentioning that this is a factory nickel 3rd Generation in .357 which has been shot. So, for me it's a shooter, and if I can just polish out the finish then I'll be happy. Otherwise I may just keep it "as-is."

    Would a refinish job be able to get a new-looking, uniform nickel finish if (heaven forbid) it's required? I've never had a nickel plated firearm, so this is a learning experience for me.
  8. Ledbetter

    Ledbetter Well-Known Member


    Nickel is a pretty hard metal, but must NOT be exposed to ammonia-containing cleaners, including Hoppes #9. If there are tiny cracks or nicks in the finish, the Hoppes will get underneath the nickel and attack the copper underneath. End result, the nickel will flake off as the copper oxidizes.

    Flitz claims to be "non-abrasive." I agree wholeheartedly that a nickel gun should never be buffed with a wheel (shiver).

    Nickel is a very hard metal. Are the cloudy places in locations you would normally expect to see holster wear? If so, that may be the cause. Hopefully, only the surface finish has been affected and gentle effort with Flitz might restore its shine.
  9. Adventurer_96

    Adventurer_96 Well-Known Member

    After a closer inspection, I'm thinking that the nickel finish is deteriorating. The problem is, after I disassembled it tonight, I think it's unfired! :( While taking it apart, there was some green grease around the front of the cylinder, where it rotates on the pin, and in a few other nooks and crannies around the front of the frame. At first, I thought it was copper fouling, but then when I examined the cylinder and the chambers, there were no indications it had ever been fired.

    Maybe Colt will refinish it as a kind of warranty work, since it's never been fired? :)
  10. romulus

    romulus Well-Known Member

    It may have seen little or no use, but it still may have been carried in a holster, with consequent wear to the nickle finish. The wear, as Ledbetter suggests, may be marginal, and a little rub down with Flitz is not a bad idea. It could at least tell you if the deterioration is serious or just skin deep...
  11. Ledbetter

    Ledbetter Well-Known Member

    Use CLP to clean the grease off. Not hoppes. (See above)
  12. Adventurer_96

    Adventurer_96 Well-Known Member

    It's not holster wear, there's none around the end of the barrel or other places where you'd normally see that kind of wear. I'll give the Flitz a try and see how it goes.

    Thanks to all who have replied, there's a lot of great info in the responses.
  13. Adventurer_96

    Adventurer_96 Well-Known Member

    It's clean now! The only thing that's been affected permanently is the hammer, there are a few small pit holes on it from where there was actually rust, but it's barely noticeable now that it's cleaned up. Here's the story.

    I took it to a gunshop today whose owner is a big Colt revolver fan. Before I could say anything, he took a dab of Simichrome polish and put it on a nondescript part of the frame. It removed the cloudiness, and then he tried it on the cylinder. It removed it there as well, and every other place on the revolver! I have to go over it again once more because I didn't want to spend an hour in the shop for every nook and cranny, but it took off all of the major markings and now it looks like a new revolver. I know, it was a risk, but I didn't think I had anything to lose as it was a mild polish.

    One other interesting thing, the S/N is pencilled inside the grips, but the last number is off by one digit. Strange!

Share This Page