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Thread: How to thin blueing?

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  1. #1
    Really Senior Member RobD's Avatar
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    How to thin blueing?

    I have an LEC 1 which is lovely in every respect except that some of the parts [magazine, nosecap, barrel band] have for no obvious reason been polished and deeply re-blued. Nicely done in a blueing tank... but all the other metal parts show the usual aged appearance of a well-used 120 yr old rifle, and the wood has a lived-in appearance, too.
    The re-blued parts look, frankly, like balls on a bulldog.
    So, my question is whether there is some chemical I could dab on a piece of flannel and gently rub away at the high spots and/or edges of the re-blued parts so they look slightly more worn-in? Would phosphoric acid [coca-cola], vinegar, barrel browning solution, etc do the trick?
    I look fw to suggestions.
    Rob


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    Advisory Panel Patrick Chadwick's Avatar
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    Yes, but go slowly

    "So, my question is whether there is some chemical I could dab on a piece of flannel and gently rub away at the high spots and/or edges of the re-blued parts so they look slightly more worn-in?"

    Yes, it ought to work, but an old engineering motto runs: it's easy to cut it off, but difficult to cut it back on again.
    In other words, you need to go very slowly when rubbing down the modern bluing. Your eyes will be fooled because the section that you are rubbing will be "wet" and you are trying to compare it with the "dry" parts, so you need to make all parts "wet" in order to equalize the reflective properties.

    Having recently had to remove some idiotic fake "browning" from an old barrel, I suggest you use citric acid. It works (for me, at least), without being so aggressive that you have no time to react. Wet the parts to be rubbed down AND wet the "reference" surface with which you want to compare the parts being rubbed. Like all such surface-altering procedures, try it out on an unimportant "out of the way" section first. And wash, dry and oil the parts immediately after reaching a satisfactory surface appearance - any chemical left on the surface will remain active and could give you a nasty surprise (over-etched surface) when you look again in a couple of weeks time!
    Last edited by Patrick Chadwick; 04-28-2019 at 02:00 PM.

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    Really Senior Member Sunray's Avatar
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    Citric acid is what's in vinegar. It'll strip any bluing to bare metal quickly. 0000 steel wool without any oil, maybe. Rubbing with a hunk of leather might work better though. Leather being what makes handgun lose their finish along the edges.
    "...done in a blueing(SIC) tank..." That's a different process/chemical from cold bluing. Cold bluing is more colouring than protection.
    Those parts are very likely new replacement parts. There's really no way to 'age' it to match 120 years of life.
    Spelling and Grammar count!

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    Advisory Panel Patrick Chadwick's Avatar
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    Vinegar contains acetic acid, not citric acid. But you are correct, in that it might be too fast-acting. The leather idea is intriguing - but how do you achieve the equivalent of 120 years of rubbing in, say, half an hour?

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    Really Senior Member Bruce_in_Oz's Avatar
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    Try rubbing it with PAPER.

    What? Yes, paper. This works (slowly) because almost every bit of paper these days is made from wood pulp. Trees draw up a lot of mineral stuff with the water they pull from the soil. These minerals accumulate in the cellulose fibres of the plant structure. If wood were pure cellulose, your saws would take a lot longer to go blunt. As usual, try the technique on a test piece or "hidden" surface FIRST, before going full throttle.

    NEVER use any of the commercial "rust converters" as these are spectacularly effective removers of blueing, be it modern Dulite or the traditional slow rust variant. Proper blueing is just fancy rust, anyway.

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    Advisory Panel Parashooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Chadwick View Post
    . . . how do you achieve the equivalent of 120 years of rubbing in, say, half an hour?
    With a moderately-fine steel wire-wheel on a bench grinder.

    Proceed judiciously on just the "high spots" at first (the areas where you would expect most handling wear), then continue to the more protected areas until the desired tone and gradation is achieved.

    Lacking power tools, some time spent with hand-held 1500-grit abrasive paper/cloth can do the job if you're patient.

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    Really Senior Member Woodsy's Avatar
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    The dinky little wire wheels in a Dremel work very well and give good control to produce 'wear' on sharp edges etc. A thorough degreasing of the parts and some time sitting with a film of salt water brushed on them will help to age the surface (a light rust coating) and then rub with oil and steel wool.

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    Over the years, matching up items for museums, I have found the best way is to use the super fine scotch brite pads that you can buy at the body shop supply
    They come in grades that are so fine you can rub your little heart out and hardly make a mark.
    Use the super fine grade with OIL...DO NOT FORGET THE OIL.
    Try it on something you do not care about first, but the results will amaze you.

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    Contributing Member muffett.2008's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce_in_Oz View Post
    Try rubbing it with PAPER.
    That made me smile Bruce, an image of an Aussie cricket player trying to shove a piece of sandpaper down his trousers jumped straight out of recent history.

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    Really Senior Member RobD's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    Thanks, folks - plenty of good ideas there.
    Rob

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