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Author Topic: How were the originals finished?  (Read 2004 times)

Offline Joel

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How were the originals finished?
« on: January 07, 2011, 08:36:32 PM »
How do you think the originals were finished like Leech & Ridgon? I am thinking the nice slow rust blues, color case hardening, and all the traditional finishing methods they were probably less equiped for, less skilled at, or in too much of a hurry to do? Charcoal blued from the forge maybe? Some attempt at case hardening by heating and sunking in water or oil? Anyone know anything definite based on old guns?
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Offline Smokey

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Re: How were the originals finished?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2011, 08:34:13 PM »
There were three bluing procedures that I know of:
Rust browning: put saltwater on the metal until it rusted then steel wool it off and do it again and again until the metal was a brown color.
Nitre bluing: hot chemical blue created by potassium nitrate  or potassium nitrate and sodium hydroxide.
Heat bluing. Steel goes through color changes when heated, blue being one.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 09:59:38 PM by Smokey »
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Offline Joel

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Re: How were the originals finished?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 11:21:23 PM »
I know there is rust bluing (or blackening) where the part is rust browned then dropped in boiling water which converts the brown to blue/black. However rust bluing is a long process requiring treating the part with a chemical that promotes rust, allowing an even scale to form, carding it off, and repeating the process over a number of days. Add in boiling and rust bluing becomes a fairly time consuming process I don't think (but do not know) was suitable for Confederate factories.

If I understand correctly percussion Colts were a combination of charcoal blued and color case hardened.

Charcoal blueing is a form of heat bluing where the part is completely covered in fine charcoal and then held at heat for a perriod of time then oiled before being allowed to cool. If I understand correctly the charcoal keeps the oxygen of the steel which keeps scale from forming and possibly some of the carbon from the charcoal may bond with the steel but i am not as sure about that last part..

Color case hardening is similar except instead of being allowed to cool slowly the part, charcoal and all, is dropped in cold water or some type of amonia containing liquid. The charcoal used is a combination of wood and bone charcoal and depending on the time, heat, quench, and other factors the beautiful marbeled colors were formed. The quench had the added benefit of hardening the steel unlike the charcoal blue process which annealed the steel and somewhat softened. This is why frames, hammers, rammers, were case hardened and barrels and cylinders blued.

Such is my understanding based on what I have read anyway.

I have been looking at pictures on the web of original Confederate manufactured revolvers like the Leech & Rigdon and trying to determine what methods were used for them. But all the examples I have seen pictured were so aged it is hard to tell. I am thinking they were most likely finished in imitation of the Colts they copied, with charcoal blued barrels and cylinders and case hardened frames, rammers, and hammers, except perhaps without the rilliant colors the original Colts had
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