Author Topic: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!  (Read 5749 times)

lklawson

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If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« on: September 09, 2013, 10:25:07 PM »
Part I (because the forum software likes it that way, that's why.  ;)

OK, years back I bought a P11 in good mechanical condition but with significant holster wear on the stock Hot Blued finish.  Eventually I sent it off to Don "Golden Loki" to be professionally Duracoated.  He did a great job.  I asked for an "Aged Bronze" and that's exactly what I got.



It looked good but after some years eventually began to wear.  The corners and high points were beginning to wear.  I Cold Blued the barrel but, well, it's cold blue: Thin, quick wearing, and not particularly protective.






So because of the finish wear and because I'd decided I was tired of that color after these years, I started looking at my options.  After much reading and research, I eventually decided that I would try my hand at Rust Bluing.  Of course, I had to strip off the Duracoat.  It's epoxy based so I had to use a special stripper to remove it, as detailed in this thread.

I was, eventually, rewarded with a slide "in the white."  Doesn't look very white.  In fact, down right dark gray looking. 



Plus the media blasting that Don did left a surface rough enough to use as a fingernail file.  OK, so I'd have to sand it.  The rusting agent I'd settled on is Mark Lee's Express Blue #1, $20 + $10 S&H.  OK.  Anyway, Express Blue instructions recommended sanding to no more than 400 grit.  I pulled out the handy palm-sander.  Good thing too.  Block sanding would have taken forever.  Still took me an hour or more but eventually I was rewarded with a very matte slide, still in the white but a lot "shinier."



Then off we go to clean and degrease.  According to my research, degreasing is an absolutely critical step.



Now I was ready for the Rust Bluing process.  I got all the components ready.  Research (and the advice of friends) also indicated that distilled water is, again, absolutely critical.  Tap water may have minerals which would inhibit the process, or create blotchy patches (or worse).    Rain water is usually acceptable.  Unfortunately I hadn't collected any rain water so I bought 2 gallons of water from Wal-Mart and had it waiting for me.  When I got up that morning to start my project... it was raining heavily outside.  <sigh>



The manual directs that the piece be heated to between 175 and 200 degrees with a propane torch or the like.  I used a toaster oven set to 200.  No guess work on the temp.

Heat the piece, then wipe it with the rusting agent.  Always use clean cloth or similar gloves to prevent skin oils from contaminating the work.  A thin brown-red coating of rust will form almost immediately:



When a nice coat of rust has formed, put it into the boiling water for five minutes.



After 5 min., remove the piece.  The boiling water will have converted the brown-red ferric oxide to black ferro- ferric oxide.  Remove the piece, drain and dry immediately, and then "card" the loose black oxide off (rub it off).  A friend recommends carding with paper towel, but I had better luck with 0000 steel wool, which is also commonly recommended.




[end Part I]

lklawson

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 10:25:44 PM »
Part II

Lather, rinse, repeat.  The instructions specify 6-10 times.  However, my research indicated that best results were achieved by repeating the process until the rusting agent simply failed to create any significant rust when applied.  That's how I knew when I'd reached the final application.  For the slide, that was cycle number 7 (or maybe 8, I lost count).  After the final repetition, dry the piece and neutralize the rusting agent.  It is a mild acid (note: Mark Lee's Express Blue #1 is "Non Toxic" and has no mercury - good for the environment and safe for the kitchen but I wouldn't recommend drinking it anyway).  At the advice of a friend, I used Ballistol.  It was developed for use on firearms to clean corrosive residue left from corrosive ammunition.  The instruction booklet specifies a solution of baking soda but that is known to be messy and difficult to prepare.  The Ballistol was a superior solution to the problem.

The results were amazing to me.  Not a Ruger blue but, wow.  I never expected it to turn out so well for a 400 grit polish and looking so very dark, non-reflective, "matte" the whole time.  It's still not a mirror finish but it's no longer non-reflective matte.



I did the barrel too.  I had Cold Blued it with an old Birchwood Casey solution, which I didn't bother to sand off.  The rusting agent ate that off immediately, but oh what a replacement it left!



I will include "assembled" pics. I'll post them below.

While the process was comparatively time consuming, it was dead simple and fairly idiot proof.  Further, the sand and degrease steps are the same as what is recommended for Cold Bluing, as is heating the metal and repeating the application process multiple times.  Rust Bluing requires boiling and carding that Cold Bluing does not, but the results are vastly better in almost every way.

I will never Cold Blue again unless it is to touch up a small scratch.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
« Last Edit: September 09, 2013, 10:50:27 PM by lklawson »

lklawson

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2013, 10:26:32 PM »
Here's a few shots of the gun assembled.






Peace favor your sword,
Kirk

lklawson

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2013, 10:28:31 PM »
I added a bunch of pics to my picasa album.  Any of them laying flat on the white background or leaning against the Johnson Paste Wax can are new.  I hope they're high enough res. (couldn't get my wife's good camera to work - bad CF card).

http://plus.google.com/photos/102660776892698939832/albums/5905392746010187121

If you go to the picasa page and click the pics they will zoom a great deal.  There pics that I took no flash seem to be higher detail with no blurring even in zoom.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk

Offline GhostWarrior

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2013, 10:37:09 PM »
          Your weapon looks Fantastic! Thank you so very much for sharing that with us and I think I may actually try it myself at some point. Truth be told I'm still behind on most of the things I'm mentioned wanting to do, but I may actually get to do this bit.
 
         Thank you sir for everything you do and have done for this forum and it's members.
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lklawson

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2013, 10:39:44 PM »
Better pics:










Peace favor your sword,
Kirk

lklawson

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2013, 10:47:28 PM »
          Your weapon looks Fantastic! Thank you so very much for sharing that with us and I think I may actually try it myself at some point. Truth be told I'm still behind on most of the things I'm mentioned wanting to do, but I may actually get to do this bit.
 
         Thank you sir for everything you do and have done for this forum and it's members.
You absolutely can do this.  I wasn't joking when I wrote that if I can do it, anyone can.  The process is very easy.  I've done two more barrels since this.  One was another Kel Tec barrel and it worked great.  The other turned out to be stainless steel and it didn't rust blue at all (shocking, I know ;)

There are a number of well respected rust bluing agents.  Mark Lee's Express Brown works too.  Pretty much just like Express Blue.  After you brown (per instructions), boil & card.  Belgium Blue is another well respected product.  Same sort of cycle.  There was even another (can't remember the name) which is supposed to have a degreaser built in so you don't have to stress about fingerprints.  I like the Mark Lee's Express Blue because I can use my cooking utensils.

There's even a home-brew browning recipe floating around which is bathroom grade peroxide, kitchen grade vinegar, and table salt.  You can google the recipe easy enough but, for me, Mark Lee's totally rocks.  If I ever manage to use up what I bought, I'll buy it again.  :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2013, 10:52:46 PM »
         Great to know, I'll give it a try I hope at some point. and I will follow your instructions and recommendations in doing so. I strongly believe in not re-inventing the wheel if I can help it. And since you have so generously shared your project with all of us, I will use that for when I try it.
 
         Now if I can remember where I put my palm sander......................
If at first you don't succeed, then Skydiving is not your sport.

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lklawson

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2013, 11:00:31 PM »
         Great to know, I'll give it a try I hope at some point. and I will follow your instructions and recommendations in doing so. I strongly believe in not re-inventing the wheel if I can help it. And since you have so generously shared your project with all of us, I will use that for when I try it.
 
         Now if I can remember where I put my palm sander......................
My pleasure.

It was less of a "how to" than a "this is how I did it" documentation.

Oh, I didn't include it in this, but degrease the steel wool too.  It often ships with oil or similar on it.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2013, 11:56:15 PM »
        Thank you for that last bit. It never would have occurred to me to do that and I have used a lot of steel wool in my time, but never thought how they kept it from rusting away before it even got to the stores, let alone used. Doh!
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kneelingatlas

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Re: If I can Rust Blue, you can too!
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2013, 10:19:29 AM »
That's really fantastic!  I can't wait to try!