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Cold Bluing Surprise!

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Roamin_Wade, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. Roamin_Wade

    Roamin_Wade Member

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    I have an old Stevens Model 15-A. It was one of my father-in-laws (RIP) single shot .22’s that he used to teach his DeMolay boys to shoot with. It’s been in the back of the safe since 2013 when he passed. It had a very blotchy looking barrel and so I decided to try and fix it up a bit and maybe donate it to the local DeMolay club in perpetuity. I wanted to try a cold blue so after some research I chose Brownell’s Formula 44/40. After spending 2 days sanding on it I blued a little spot and I wasn’t very impressed. I sanded some more and then finished it by polishing with some #4 steel wool. That stuff really shined up that naked steel barrel and it did it quickly! I then prepared everything and did the whole barrel which only took about a minute. I rinsed and took a look and it was a bit blotchy looking again so I took some steel wool to the now-blued barrel and out comes a really decent looking blued barrel! I am THOROUGHLY impressed with how good that cold blue worked! It’s not a deep bluing but it is blue AND it’s fairly glossy to boot!

    Anyone else had a decent turnout with cold bluing? Anyone not pleased with it? What brand did you use, etc.?
     
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  2. LoneGoose

    LoneGoose Member

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    Good fortune for you.

    Members sharing experiences and lessons learned - that's what makes THR rock.
     
  3. Olon

    Olon Member

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    OP, could you show us a picture?
     
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  4. Scooter22

    Scooter22 Member

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    I've heard good things about the 44/40. I've used Brownells Oxpho Blue on some milsurps. Mainly I use Vans Cold Blue. Great stuff. But good metal prep is the most important part as you found out.
     
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  5. rbernie
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    rbernie Member

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    I have had the same experience, and I have reason to believe that using steel wall (ferrous wool) helps the cold bluing process in some way more than just polishing.
     
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  6. Mn Fats

    Mn Fats Member

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    I've heard excellent things about Laurel Mountain browning solution. I'm not entirely sure if they make a blue though.
     
  7. MihiT

    MihiT Member

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    I am staunchly anti-"cold-bluing".
    They're usually selenium dioxide. They don't treat the metal at all, they're basically thin paint. I would not waste the time or money on it.
     
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  8. Roamin_Wade

    Roamin_Wade Member

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    Let me try to attach some pics. I never could figure out how to upload them on The Firing Line. It would say something about how my phone doesn’t format the same as what was used there or something like that.
    It looks like they are uploading. That’s good! F9C50E81-56A5-415D-AD57-8EED061EBD3F.jpeg 60A38C49-4D51-41A7-92AD-E8F86890326F.jpeg 5729FA76-A954-4FF9-8946-A697A0E67D13.jpeg
     
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  9. Roamin_Wade

    Roamin_Wade Member

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    Here we go. You can see the stampings in the last shot. When I was in aviation maintenance school we learned about Ospho which will turn the surface of a ferrous metal into a protective layer using the corrosion left from the chemical exchange. I saw the Oxpho stuff from Brownells and figured it probably wouldn’t be a blue. I figure it would be more like the cold browning that can be done.
    MihiT, I hear what you are saying but I figured I’d like to do it with the cold method just to be familiar with what I can do and what it won’t do. I have to admit that I am VERY pleased with my project even if it will have to be touched up every so often. F3778F7E-0C60-4411-BAA5-3116CABF84B2.jpeg 4926E8A3-1232-4C41-938E-18A50776D8FA.jpeg ADDDA0A9-44C6-4000-8D0C-C77503D751FF.jpeg 651C7097-4CF6-4EA9-942C-57DECC1063A6.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  10. Roamin_Wade

    Roamin_Wade Member

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    Rbernie, I feel the same way about that steel wool. It polished the naked steel and it made the bluing much prettier by lightly polishing right after the bluing. I almost didn’t buy any steel wool when I was at the getting place. If I had not I think I’d be very disappointed with the outcome and this post would be about how I’m not impressed with cold bluing.
     
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  11. Roamin_Wade

    Roamin_Wade Member

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    One can also see the need I have to get the other parts (sights, trigger guard, bolt handle) reblued. I’m hoping the Birchwood Casey Blue and Rust Remover will chemically strip them clean. Will it do it without needing any sanding, etc.?
     
  12. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    For simply coloring metal I think it's fine.

    I've done a number of barrels and a few complete rifles in cold blue. I use a heavy non-detergent engine oil to keep the thing from rusting. It works well enough until the oils wiped off.
     
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  13. boom boom
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    boom boom Contributing Member

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    Roaming_Wade, you did a good job and your prep work was demonstrated in the evenness of your final product. Insufficient prep work shows up in the final product as streaking, blotching, uneven coloring, etc. and I see none of that.

    The birchwood product you named should do fine at removing the bluing or what's left of it for the remaining parts as long as they are blued steel. Make sure to follow the directions.

    Regarding cold bluing, it is not sold as a rust proofing product and it is for cosmetic purposes as a stain. But, really hot caustic bluing is not that great as a rust preventative and quality differs on the bluing. Rust bluing is a bit tougher but expensive if you have it done by others due to the time involved--it has a learning curve if you DIY and some relatively inexpensive tools to do it. Both of traditional bluing methods still require keeping the firearm oiled on a regular basis if in a moderately damp or worse climate. Caustic bluing is advanced DIY requiring both knowledge and experience to produce good work. It also requires some nasty chemicals and relatively expensive equipment. Most people can do as the O/P did and produce a pretty good looking rifle in return for minimal expense using cold bluing products.

    That being said, Brownell's 44/40 and their OxPho cold blues have surfaces that are pretty tough as far as wear and if you keep it oiled, then you should be fine even with moderate handling. It is also relatively easy to retouch up if necessary on high wear surfaces such as the bolt handle.
     
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  14. Olon

    Olon Member

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    That looks good. You've got me considering a cold blue for one of my guns... I kinda like the patina too though. Tough call.

    It's a Winchester model 12 16 ga. The wood is a little homely and the bluing is faded and splotchy. No collector value but my grandad gave it to me so it's one I cherish. I'll have to think it over. Maybe try it out on a less precious gun first I think.
     
  15. Roamin_Wade

    Roamin_Wade Member

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    “You can see the standings” should be “you can see the stampings” and that’s where the barrel is stamped with make and model.

    Olon, I’m glad you’re impressed but I don’t think I’d cold blue an heirloom like your shotgun. That model is a classic too. It deserves to be brought back to how it came. However, if you want to cold blue it you should be able to do a good job because shotgun barrels are usually without difficult areas to sand and prep.
     
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  16. icanthitabarn

    icanthitabarn Member

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    I had huge success using three of the popular brands, all at once, in layers. One was Oxpho.
     
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  17. Catcar67

    Catcar67 Member

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    I know cold bluing isn't as good as hot bluing but I've used the Birchwood Casey on 7 or 8 guns. I'd do the steel wool polishing then add bluing then re-polish with 0000 steel wool, clean and blue again. Sometimes I'd do it a third time to get a nice color. I may have to re-touch in 5 or 6 years but I have to do something in the winter anyway.
     
  18. gunsmither

    gunsmither Member

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    I use very fine ScotchBrite to apply cold blue. White is the color of it. It works way better than steel wool in my experience. I like Birchwood Super Blue the best, when used with the ScotchBrite.
    I also like the OxphoBlue Creme, and 44/40. They all work better with the ScotchBrite. It blends all the streaks in very well, and gives a more even blue.
     
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