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Blueish steel

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BOB BLACKSHAW24/05/2021 18:19:29
425 forum posts
104 photos

I've made three copies of a antique pistol, I want to give them a blue finish. I've cleaned up the steel to a dull finish with emery cloth,they look OK but will rust eventually. I was thinking of heating up the parts and putting them in oil, or is there any other way I can do this, I don't have the equipment for any better finish other than emery cloth.

Thanks Bob

Oily Rag24/05/2021 18:28:25
460 forum posts
147 photos

Gun blueing compound from a local gunsmith. In a paste form and you just wipe it on, leave for 4 hours and then rinse off. One of the best is an American bluer (whose name escapes me ) but I believe it is banned from the postal services so you have to collect in person.


Grindstone Cowboy24/05/2021 19:15:27
679 forum posts
58 photos

To make them look good, you really need them as polished as possible. Like nearly everything, preparation is key - grease is your enemy!

As they are antique pistols, you might prefer a browned finish - basically the same process, but use something like Birchwood Casey Plum Brown.


JohnF24/05/2021 22:26:05
1092 forum posts
166 photos

Bob, The American gun blue is also Birchwood Casey, but have a look at UK Phillips professional gun blue, it's a liquid and easier to apply than the paste types, your local gun shop will almost certainly be able to supply.

If you wish here is a youtube I came across doing a quick rust blue, never tried it so usual caveats ! all the ingredients are household chemicals **LINK**

A finely polished -- not buffed -- finish will give the best results, what you strat with you will finish with !


Nigel Graham 224/05/2021 22:47:44
1666 forum posts
20 photos

I used Birchwood Casey Gun Blue on my Worden T& Grinder parts, and had no problems buying it by mail-order.

Chronos sells something similar but for some reason appear to be the only model-engineering supplier to stock such compounds.

NB: These compounds do NOT protect against rusting. Their own instructions, and the Chronos catalogues, tell you that and advise a laquer, oil or wax over the finish. I used furniture polish since oil or grease would inappropriate on a grinder.

BOB BLACKSHAW25/05/2021 10:04:05
425 forum posts
104 photos

Thanks for the replies, two ways have been given, I will try the youtube method first on some scrap, Burchwood Casey liquid or paste I will price that up.

The original pistol that I have copied must be of mass production as its crudley engineered not a very good quality ,seems the parts are fitted to fit the body, but has a really smooth action.

Just got to make the pistol grips, a hacksaw when out walking looking for a few branches of the shape.


Mick B126/05/2021 11:36:02
2003 forum posts
114 photos

This 1/10 scale 24-pounder was blued with G96 paste in 2002. It still looks the same now. Wash steel in very hot detergent water and apply the paste whilst still hot. Wash off thoroughly, dry off and oil up.


BOB BLACKSHAW31/05/2021 09:57:58
425 forum posts
104 photos

The finish on your model looks just the job, great looking cannon. Ive ordered this paste I hope the guns come out as good as yours Mick.


Nigel Graham 231/05/2021 10:26:16
1666 forum posts
20 photos

As Mick shows - and as I found the wrong way - the secret of success is cleanliness.

The steel has to be absolutely clean for these compounds to work. So much so that I noticed the inner surfaces of small holes not reached by the Blue were beginning to rust within the time it took to complete the process.

To apply it on small parts I used cotton buds.

Russell Eberhardt31/05/2021 10:34:32
2694 forum posts
86 photos

I've found Abbey blue gel to be effective and long lasting. I've used it on an old Laguiole David knife that a visitor had put in the dishwasher and removed the original blueing! After use they should just be wiped down with a drop of red wine to clean and sterilise them. Just dip your finger in the wine that accompanied your steak!


SillyOldDuffer31/05/2021 11:19:35
7476 forum posts
1648 photos
Posted by Mick B1 on 26/05/2021 11:36:02:

This 1/10 scale 24-pounder was blued with G96 paste in 2002. It still looks the same now. Wash steel in very hot detergent water and apply the paste whilst still hot. Wash off thoroughly, dry off and oil up.


Skilfully made, good looking model Mick. I have a soft-spot for ye olde artillery!

Just reading 'The Evolution of Naval Armament' by Frederick Leslie Robertson, who was an Engineer Commander RN, and is better than most historians on 'why' technical details. Quite a long section on the 'Truck Carriage' , and why such an apparently crude device lasted so long in service.

The carriage isn't quite as crude as it appears. It features several clever compromises. For example, the diameter of the axles was adjusted to help control recoil by increasing friction, ideally set so that on firing the front wheels would skid briefly. This also depended on positioning the trunnions relative to the bore axis to increase downward forces through the axles rather than expecting the ropes and hull fixings to absorb all the recoil shock. Inspector Meticulous would have a field day with this sort of information!

A few other interesting Truck Carriage observations from the book.

  • Cannon were often moved during voyages and needed to be controllably mobile at sea. Unless action was expected, cannon were normally swivelled sideways against the hull to make more room for the crew. To improve sailing qualities some would be temporarily lowered below to stiffen the ship while others were moved fore/aft and from side to side to adjust trim, which varied with sailing conditions and stores consumed.
  • Tactically, it was important to attack from the leeward side. Then the ship's deck sloped so recoiling cannon ran up hill, absorbing unwanted energy, but downhill after being reloaded, saving the crew much effort. Other way round, downhill recoil much more dangerous, and the crew soon became exhausted heaving the cannon uphill.
  • Firing a cannon on a moving ship made it difficult to judge where recoil would take the carriage within a couple of feet. To maintain a high rate of fire the crew had to carefully manage where they stood!
  • Victor Hugo's Novel 'Quatre-vingt-treize' (Ninety Three) features the high drama resulting from a cannon breaking loose at sea during a storm. So far I've not found a free copy in English!


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