Not exactly about gunsmithing, butÖ
I wanted to post about a good experience with Mark Lee Express Blue. This is a rust blue formula designed for double barrel shotguns that canít be exposed to the heat of a hot nitrogen blue for fear of loosening the soft solder joints.
So hereís my story.
I need to reblue a Security Six. Actually, there are several things that need new blue, but the Security Six was the catalyst. Iíve been disappointed with the wide range of cold blue formulas out there, so I sent a note to Brownells asking about their Oxpho blue or any other products. The tech wrote back and said that Oxpho was fine, but for large jobs I might find the Mark Lee product gives better results and it is, in his opinion, the easiest to use of all the rust blues.
Easy sounds good to me, so I ordered a bottle. Then I read the instructions (gasp).
Metal prep is standard. Strip off old finish. Polish to 320 or 400 grit, and no finer. Degrease. Degrease. Heat to 200 degrees with a propane torch (I used an electric heat gun), swab on two coats of the solution. Boil for 5 minutes. Card off with fine steel wool. Repeat 6-10 times until desired finish is obtained. Neutralize in a solution of 1.5 pounds baking soda to 1 gallon of water. Well, more or less thatís what the instructions say.
Well, I get credit for reading the instructions anyway. So now, off to that Security Six. Well, errr, not so much. Thatís a big project and I have this 1911 slide that needs to get blued, so lets start with that. Slides are easier than whole revolvers. So, off to work on the poor slide.
I sanded the slide down to 400 grit. Now that doesnít really sound like polish to me, but Iím following directions here. Then I degreased with brake cleaner. A quick scrub with simple green and hot water to be sure (I like simple green for detailed gun cleaning). Then a bath in MEK. While I was at it, I degreased two pads of OO steel wool for carding (not in the instructions, but I learned this the hard way using cold blues). Of course, I used rubber gloves during this cleaning process to keep my greasy finger prints out of the final finish.
Next step. Put on clean cotton gloves (itís in the directions after all). Heat part and swab with solution. Twice This went just fine, though if you try it use a tiny amount of the solution at first cause it runs everywhere. (Good thing for me I put some saran wrap and paper towels down on the counter first.) The slide began rusting immediately. I bright orange rust that scared the heck out of me. Alas, I neednít have worried. Into the pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. It became apparent that I needed a fixture to keep the part off the bottom of the pot because holding it with tongs was going to get old quick.
After 5 minutes, I pull the part from the water to find a nice thick black oxide with some orange spots. OK, this is progress. With my clean cotton gloves on, I carded off the oxide Ė donít be afraid to scrub to smooth out the finish. Not too hard, just enough to get an even finish with no spots. Ok Ė looking good. Now, off to the garage to degrease some iron wire leftover from a project. Armed with my ďfixtureĒ of bent wires to hold the slide, itís back to the kitchen. And no, my wife wasnít home.
Put on cotton gloves. Heat part. Swab two coats. Boil for 5 minutes. Card. Repeat. I put on 4 coats and was very satisfied with the color. Could have done more, but I decided to quit while I was ahead.
The last step is to neutralize. Again, I followed instructions, but I sure couldnít get that much baking soda to go into solution and stay there. At best, it was a suspension that precipitated out whenever I stopped stirring the pot. So much for instructions.
Rinse, Dry and oil. I oiled with a great product called CorrosionX. I like this stuff a lot. I goes on easy, stays put (relatively) and works good for steel mold blocks, dies, and guns. It wonít replace Edís Red, but it works well for a lot of things that Edís doesnít.
So thatís it. Good results for less than $20 and a couple hours of my time. It actually looks a lot like the blue on older Colts Ė deep blue, with a little tinge of grey somewhere in the background. Now I just need to get after that Security SixÖ
Below are some before and after pictures (the frame is stainless). Not great pix, but you get the idea.