Color Case Hardening Question
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  1. #1
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    Color Case Hardening Question

    I recently inherited an old Colt 1911 series 70 & a Browning Hi power 9mm.
    Both are well worn and well used after being carried all over Texas and who knows where for 40 years. They both were exposed to everything from rain, scorching Texas sun & dust, and who knows what else.

    I'm interested in redoing both with matching custom builds(as much as possible). Was toying with the idea of Color Case Hardening (bone & charcoal), both frames and slides on each.

    1st question is does anyone see any flaws in that idea?

    2nd question is who could any of you recommend to do this task? (Case Coloring only)

    I've been looking at the Firing Pin website. Any other suggestions?

    (BTW- building these for me, not restorations or collector concerns)
    Dr. Bob

  2. #2
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    I'm not sure about whether color case hardening would be safe on an automatic slide, but THE top color case hardening expert in America is Doug Turnbull Restorations.
    I think they do Colt's color casing.
    Costs are high for the best, but they do the best work.

    http://turnbullrestoration.com/

  3. #3
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    I think color case hardening is beautiful.

    Could color case hardening, done right, affect the strength characteristics of the steels in these pistols? I don't know but am asking.

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  5. #4
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    i dont think the CC will be an issue. OA offers some 1911s with that same finish. sort of looks funny imo. but i do love it on colts.

    but i would trust Turnbull for the work. If you havent seen any of his work, do so.

  6. #5
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    I had someone do a Colt 1909 Bisley a while ago and don't really like the CC hard job on the frame. Don't remember who though,...I'll live with it but it's not Turnbill. I have a Remmington Rol. block from Lonestar with turnbill hardning and it's beautiful. Ask to see a sample of the guys work before you go.
    NOW. IF you want to harden the hammer and smaller parts, I can show you how to do it. Real Bone hardening color , in your basement.
    I'll post it if anyone wants to try it. Small parts only though. I've never tried a frame. Don't have enought guts to get one bright red hot and find out it warps. guards and backstraps are a no brainer.
    Oh all right...here it is....

    you'll need Casenit from Dixie gun works.
    Potassium Nitrate, (from you drugstore) non poisonous, don't worry
    a source of heat. propane or fireplace for larger stuff.
    a blow tube, and a bucket of clean, cold water.

    clean and fine sand the part, then clean and don't touch again.
    heat the part well covered all over with the casenit compound.
    A couple of firebricks place at an angle work well.
    Keep it red hot for a few minutes.
    Then, in a bucket saturated with the water and saltlpeter
    place a blow tube at the bottom, and blow like hell to create
    a lot of bubbles. Then quench the red hot part in the water.

    You should get good, bone colors. You can only use the water once.
    for some reason, the colors go to grey if you try it a second time.

    The casenit is a carbon compound. You could try bonemeal (from the nursery in town, or burnt leather or whatever. Probably get the same results. Good luck and wear safety glasses. Ken

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    Does CCH the slide, also change the metallurgy in such a way that galling could take place as it reacts with the frame? I think one has to ask that question, as I know the hardness of Frame and Slide must be compatible to prevent galling.
    NRA BENEFACTOR MEMBER

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    I think one has to ask that question, as I know the hardness of Frame and Slide must be compatible to prevent galling.
    That's my understanding, too, though I'd appreciate it if someone knowledgeable about metallurgy could verify it. I believe one has to be harder than the other, though I couldn't tell you by how much.
    No tyrant should ever be allowed to die of old age.

  9. #8
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    Does CCH the slide, also change the metallurgy in such a way that galling could take place as it reacts with the frame? I think one has to ask that question, as I know the hardness of Frame and Slide must be compatible to prevent galling.

    Kid- I think you make a good point that I haven't thought of. Thanks for the input. Guess I was only thinking about how cool & different it would look.

    Guess maybe I should think about something else to do different with them.

    Thanks everyone for the input.
    Dr. Bob

  10. #9
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    About a year or two ago, on another forum, a member posted a picture of his 1911 that has color case hardened frame and slide. It might have been M1911.org, but I'm not sure, and I can't remember his user name. It looked very unique. I don't remember any conversation about the metallurgy and/or any problems with galling.
    LEO Firearms Instructor
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  11. #10
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    As far as the metal hardness, maybe that would be something to ask the place that does the work?
    This is America - You don't redistribute wealth. You earn it !! " Shoot em in the right eye - it spoils their aim!"
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