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Thread: Slow Rust Bluing?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Slow Rust Bluing?

    I have been reading and watching videos on slow rust bluing and I think I would like to give it a try on some of my sorrier looking guns. I just have a few questions.

    1. Seeing as multiple coats and time in-between coats is required for the desired appearance it will probably take a few weekends for me to finish. How do I keep the gun from getting to rusty through the week?

    2. Once the desired appearance is achieved how do you halt the bluing/rusting?

    3. For future cleanings and maintenance of the gun are standard oils and solvents okay? Or will they remove the bluing seeing as it is basically rust?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    You can use an "Express" blue formula like Mark Lee's or Belgian blue so there is no waiting on the rust to form, just heat the metal with a hairdryer or heat gun, apply the solution then boil and card. Repeat this process until the desired color is achieved. The slow rust blues are considered by some to be easier to get more even color but others may tell you the Express blues work just as well, I had no trouble at all getting an even color with the Mark Lee Express blue from Brownells. To try to answer the questions if you use a slow blue,

    1- Just keep it dry after carding and it will be ok.

    2- A couple of ways to do this but simply rinsing with a room temperature solution of baking soda and water works just fine, after rinsing just dry and oil.

    3- Rust blue is toughest of the bluing types and in addition to being very resistant to wear you would probably have to use an acid solution or rust remover to remove it! Just oil it and treat it as you would any factory type finish and it will last just about forever.


    You might find this interesting,

    http://www.hobbygunsmith.com/Archives/Aug03/HowTo.htm

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    If you use a sweat box, ie: rusting cabinet, for rust bluing you can speed up the process a bit. I find I can get 4-5 coatings in a long day- and sometimes that's enough. I usually end up doing 6-8 coatings which means a second day. I just let it sit after carding and pick up where I left off the next day. I don't see where leaving it until the next weekend would hurt anything. Just keep a watchful eye on it so it doesn't 'take off on its own'.

    Be careful when utilizing a sweat box. Time/heat/moisture variants can spell the difference between a fine velvety coat of red rust versus real rust. Go slow at first and develop a feel for your particular environment. Easy peasy.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by gnoahhh View Post
    Be careful when utilizing a sweat box. Time/heat/moisture variants can spell the difference between a fine velvety coat of red rust versus real rust.

    True and something else I would like to add is that placing a cold part into a hot humid box can cause condensation in the form of water droplets on the surface that can cause pitting, I discovered that one the hard way! Neither situation should be a problem however since just warming the part before placing in the box and keeping an eye on the progress of the rusting is all it takes to produce a nice even coating.

  5. #5
    Grouchy Old Curmudgeon

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    I use a tank to boil the gun after treatment. I use Pilkingtons rust blue from Brownells. I've rust blued most every rifle I own and a couple pistols as well as doing a ton of others for a Gunmaker. Of all the methods I prefer the Pilkington's but you do need a tank to boil the water in. As far as time....you can coat the gun in the morning and go to work....boil it when you get home and "card" it off with 4/0 steel wool. I generaly give it 5 to 6 coats and in the later coats I let it sit all day anyway. The rusting action stops after boiling and carding so no worries there. It is extremely durable and the classic Gun metal gray finish as opposed to a high gloss black like a hot blue. Regular gun oils are fine...you wont rub it off and as a side benefit to rust bluing....as it wears a gun looks better....not a black finish with worn areas look. I have numerous pics of my guns I did using this method of you care to see a few. A beautiful finish that wears like iron.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by shooter93 View Post
    I use a tank to boil the gun after treatment. I use Pilkingtons rust blue from Brownells. I've rust blued most every rifle I own and a couple pistols as well as doing a ton of others for a Gunmaker. Of all the methods I prefer the Pilkington's but you do need a tank to boil the water in. As far as time....you can coat the gun in the morning and go to work....boil it when you get home and "card" it off with 4/0 steel wool. I generaly give it 5 to 6 coats and in the later coats I let it sit all day anyway. The rusting action stops after boiling and carding so no worries there. It is extremely durable and the classic Gun metal gray finish as opposed to a high gloss black like a hot blue. Regular gun oils are fine...you wont rub it off and as a side benefit to rust bluing....as it wears a gun looks better....not a black finish with worn areas look. I have numerous pics of my guns I did using this method of you care to see a few. A beautiful finish that wears like iron.
    What kind of tank do you use? I have been thinking about getting a tank, but they seem rather pricey if one finds that he should have gotten a different kind. I'd rather not try twice in this case.

    Edd
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    It's always been my experience that once you've started the slow rust bluing process, you are committed till the end. When I was working, I would get up an hour or so early, boil and card the night's accumulated rust, coat the parts again, hang them up and go to work. When I got home, it was time to do them again after dinner. Twice a day for about five days was what it took for me. I hung the parts in drycleaner's bags with a wet sponge or two in the bottom to keep the humidity up. If your humidity is lower than this, you might be able to do one pass a day, in the evening, and let the rust accumulate for longer. But there is a limit to how long you can let the parts go before the rust gets coarser and starts leaving pits in the metal surface.

    If you stop in the middle of the process, it would have to be after the boiling stage at the end of a pass. But now the metal is chemically clean, and will start to rust again by itself, certainly if left for a week. This would be the "bad" rust, the coarse type that makes visible pits.

    The way I stopped it, at the end of the campaign was to boil the parts as usual, dry them and wipe them down with an oily rag. When the finish got a glossy look, I would leave it overnight, then wipe off any excess oil.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    I have to disagree with not being able to leave a part for extended periods and I have left parts for over a week on several occasions, this was done because I only had the weekends available to do the job and it was never a problem at all. After carding the rust just put the barrel or whatever part/parts that are being blued into a dry area and they will be fine BUT THEY MUST be carded first! If left too long with fine rust on them without carding they will pit no matter if stored dry or not but if carded and kept from a humid environment it should be no problem, seriously I have done this a bunch of times.

  9. #9
    Grouchy Old Curmudgeon

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    I had a stainless steel tank made that will hold two barreled actions at a time. I heat it with electric water heater elements but may switch to propane. I knew I was going to be doing every gun I had built and I often rust blue for a Gunmaker here so it was well worth the cost to me.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    If you dont polish it after the 3rd or 4th time through and just oil it will the metal retain the dark matte blue/ black look?
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  11. #11
    Grouchy Old Curmudgeon

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    RU it always needs carded off but atleast for me using the Pilkington stuff the bluing is never glossy. It's not matte either....it's just....perfect....smiles. Sort of hard to describe without posting a couple pics but it is a beautiful and very durable finish worth the work involved. metal isn't ever buffed but rather polished with abrasive paper. 320 grit is plenty fine for the Pilkington brew. I've also found that by using super fine glass beading that I can match that finish with much less hand work....again you cannot tell the difference between the glass beading and the hand polishing.
    Last edited by shooter93; 12-19-2012 at 10:20 PM.

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