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Thread: Bluing to Browning

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    Default Bluing to Browning

    Is there sich-a-thang, as COLD Browning? (Like COLD Bluing, only BROWN.)

    Is that what "Plumb Brown", made by Birchwood Casey, available from Brownells is?

    Is there an easy way to remove the Bluing from a muzzle-loader barrel, so's I can "Brown" it, to make it look more authentic? AND, will the COLD stuff work OK?

    The gun has a Hooked Breech so the barrel comes right out, and there are some attachments on the barrel that probably could be removed without a lot of hassle.

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
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  2. #2

    Default browning

    Plumb Browning in a bottle leaves metal a little purplish brown hue to me. It is used by muzzle-loaders to brown rifles. If you want to use the traditional method just clean your barrel with a degreaser and use horse urine. Then let set in a humid environment. When it's set there for a while you card and wax.
    To remove blue you can use a extremely fine scotch brite pad. Or there's a cloth that is available from Midway that takes lead stains off stainless steel firearms. It will remove blue as well.
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    Thanks brav01

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Smitty,

    I have been playing around with this kind of stuff recently on that old Enfield that I bought. If your metal is blued, the Birchwood Casey “rust and blue remover” works… kind of. Not great, and certainly not fast, at least not in my experience. I have also read that vinegar will strip blue off rather quickly but have not tried it.

    The “Plumb Brown” that you are talking about is designed to go onto ferrous metal heated to about 270º F. As with any finish or coating, preparation is key here, and any contamination will totally botch the results (especially oil). After extensive experimenting, I have finally been able to consistently achieve consistent results with that stuff, and my technique is to chemically remove as much paint, blue, brown or what ever current finish the metal has, and then start in with mechanical (sanding and polishing) removal until I reach the desired base material finish. It’s important to remember that this “Plumb Brown” stuff is an acid that greatly accelerates the oxidation of the base metal leaving you with an even coating of oxidation, and once the process of oxidation, or rusting has been stopped (by cleaning with soap and water, drying and then carding with oil) you are left with rather durable finish that will resist further oxidation, is easy to maintain, and is according to some folks, esthetically pleasing.

    Here are a few pointers for you regarding “Plum Brown”

    1 don’t bother with polishing the base metal any more than you can get with 400 grit sand paper. The acids in the browning solution will naturally etch the base metal, and a highly polished surface will actually end up with a duller or more satin finish due to the etching action. 400 grit in my opinion leaves what I would call a “semi-satin” look that is “flatter” looking that semi-gloss, but not as flat as….. well, Flat. 200 grit leaves a finish that is “flat” to my eye. It is important to note that if a glossy or shiny finish is desired, Plumb Browning is NOT the way to go about it. You will be much better served with traditional bluing methods.
    2 Before applying the Plum Brown, clean the base metal with hot soapy water and from then on, only handle with gloved hands to preclude any oils from you skin making a mess out of the project. Use isopropyl alcohol as a final cleaning agent.
    3 Heat the base metal to about 270º F (a drop of water should sizzle when applied) with what ever heat source that you have. Larger items such as barrels and actions can be placed in the wife’s oven, heated with a torch or done in small sections. For smaller items an electric heat gun seems to work just fine.
    4 The key is to get it hot enough the first time. If the base metal is too cold and the Plum Brown solution does not sizzle and steam when you apply it, the results will be a copper or brass coloring that is most distressing and undesirable. If this happens, your best bet, and quickest remedy is to use 0000 steel wool and hot soapy water to card it back down to the base metal and try again.
    5 Do not concern yourself with the unevenness and blotchy look you will have after the first or second application. This is normal and will disappear after repeated applications of heat and Plumb Brown solution. Also, don’t worry about the small amount of rusty scum that is left after the application. The next application will wet it out and it seems to have no negative effect on the finished product. If it has accumulated to the point that it turns to black tar looking crap when you reheat, you can wash it off with soap and water after the next solution application. Chances are, that at this point you will have achieved the desired finish anyway.
    6 After several applications of the Plumb Brown solution to well heated metal, you will note that the finish has become uniform and even. Additional applications of the solution will be a waste of time from this point on, and you are now ready to rinse in hot soapy water. Some folks recommend using a water and baking soda bath to arrest the oxidation process, however I have not found it necessary.
    7 Once all the parts have been washed and dried it is time to card them down with the 0000 steel wool (degreased in isopropyl alcohol) and some sort of lubricating oil. Simply oil it up until it is well covered and lightly work the steel wool back and forth with very little pressure. All you are trying to do here is to remove outer layers of oxidized material that is not bonded to the base metal, and it doesn’t really take much effort at all. A roll of paper towels some oil and a bit of elbow grease is all that is needed. The plumb brown finish is far more durable that one would expect, and you are unlikely to remove it with this procedure. If you get down to base metal, something has gone awry in your process, and you may have to start over.
    8 Some inferior steels from off shore arms makers are reported to have impurities or defects in the alloy content of their steels that will make Plum Browning difficult or impossible to achieve with satisfactory results. I have experienced this myself with a pump action Rossi .22
    9 Repeated applications of oil to the finish over subsequent days or weeks seems to help the finish “take a set” and after a couple of weeks, a final coating with Johnsons Paste Wax seems to work quite well.
    10 To my eye, the “Plum Brown” finish is actually closer in color to coffee with a small amount of creamer…… a darkish brown. Perhaps that is indeed the color of a plumb…. I wouldn’t know as I aint much for eating plumbs….
    11 One final thing; don’t breath the fumes or steam that comes from the Plumb Brown solution. As it is acid based, I cant imagine that it is good for your lungs.

    Good luck!
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    I will try and take a few pictures of the browning process and post them before the weekend.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    I will try and take a few pictures of the browning process and post them before the weekend.
    Thanks Alangaq:
    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

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