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Thread: Trapdoor bright finish, what is it?

  1. #1
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    Trapdoor bright finish, what is it?

    How or what makes the bright finish on the Springfield Trapdoor rifles? What's involved in bluing a once bright finished rifle?

    It's not that I want to ruin a nice bright finish rifle but I have parts that were bright finished but now have rust and light pitting that I'd like to clean and blue.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    It depends on what the "bright finish" is? If it's simply bare steel that's been highly polished, then it's an easy job to correctly rust blue parts, and case the proper parts. But if it's some sort of finish over the metal, then you'll need to determine what that finish is first, and make sure it's completely removed.
    I would take a small piece of cotton cloth and soak some cold blue solution on it. Then touch some test spots on the barrel and action. If the metal reacts it's bare steel, and you can simply polish it up and then rust blue and case color the parts with no removal of finish.

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    “It depends on what the "bright finish" is?”

    Yes, that’s what I’m asking. Good suggestion on the cold blue test. I’ll try that, thanks.
    I thought it had to be more than just polished steel because it would rust too easy. Or am I wrong?

  4. #4
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    The lockplates on many trapdoors were repurposed from muzzle loading Springfields. Those MZ guns were not blued. If lockplate was made for a TD it was probably blued, otherwise, who knows.

  5. #5
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    M-96,
    The Trapdoors came in blued and bright finish. The bright finish is seen more in the earlier models from my experience. I have Trapdoor parts from various sources, some where blued, some were bright finished.
    Here are some links to bright finished Trapdoors. These were finished at the armory when made.
    https://www.joesalter.com/category/p...by-Springfield
    https://www.rockislandauction.com/de...rapdoor-rifles
    https://www.ima-usa.com/products/ori...nt=26169278661

    Not trying to promote any auction site, just the first good photos I could find on the interweb.

    Because I want to re-finish these parts blued, I’m curious what the bright finish is and how it was done.

  6. #6
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    I have an 1884 stamp rifle with ramrod bayonet that is in very nice original shape. However the lock plate and hammer appear to be nickel plated. I`m wondering if what I have is a ceremonial rifle for parade use only. Would changing out these bright pieces for original finished alter the value of the rifle?Robert

  7. #7
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbx-4 View Post
    “It depends on what the "bright finish" is?”

    Yes, that’s what I’m asking. Good suggestion on the cold blue test. I’ll try that, thanks.
    I thought it had to be more than just polished steel because it would rust too easy. Or am I wrong?
    No, bright finish on 1800's guns was not some sort of plating, and could rust if left uncared for, or out in the weather. But with normal wiping with a light oiled rag, it wouldn't rust. Have seen numerous 1800's guns with no finish on barrels and actions, and in spectacular condition. Also seen them left in a damp barn or shop and rusted heavily!
    If yours is an original factory "bright finish" rifle, I'd hesitate to anything more than a careful cleaning.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by marlinman93 View Post
    No, bright finish on 1800's guns was not some sort of plating, and could rust if left uncared for, or out in the weather. But with normal wiping with a light oiled rag, it wouldn't rust. Have seen numerous 1800's guns with no finish on barrels and actions, and in spectacular condition. Also seen them left in a damp barn or shop and rusted heavily!
    If yours is an original factory "bright finish" rifle, I'd hesitate to anything more than a careful cleaning.

    Exactly, polished steel when cared for properly is little more likely to rust than a blued finish, especially a cold blue finish which is very little (if any at all!) protection from rusting. Actually most any blue finish offers only a slight improvement over a bright bare steel surface, just my opinion but rust blue is probably the best of the blues with cold blue being the least protection and hot blue falling somewhere in the middle. Regardless of which blue process is used it must be protected by oil or some type of product to provide a barrier to the elements just the same as a bright steel part.

    I have a Colt 22 SA revolver that had the hammer and trigger polished to a bright nickle like finish over thirty years ago and it has no rust signs at all.
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  9. #9
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    Right, I figured "bright finish" wasn't any type of plating. So I underestimated polished steel as viable finish. Thought is was some kind of treatment to keep from rusting.

    And rust bluing is something I plan on learning.

    Thanks guys for clarification.

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