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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am posting pages from the book Rust Bluing and Browing By R.H. Angier published in 1936 but I believe the author was writing the book circa 1920s or a little earlier.

The appendix H.1. Temper Blue, is Colt's, Smith and Wesson's, and Savage's and maybe others method of finishing the firearm using the charcoal temper blue technique. As you read, the insert from Major D. B. Wesson, Vice President of Smith and Wesson, you see the description of the ovens used to blue the pistols. For the record, "CARBONIA" was Smith's and Wesson's gun finish based on a product mixture made by the American Gas Furnace Company and sold exclusively to Smith & Wesson.

H.2. Nitre Blue (Niter Blue), is Niter bluing giving the fire blue safety, pins, and trigger accents. The H.1. temperature chart is the same range for dipping parts into boiling potassium nitrate achieving the desired niter blue accents. A stainless steel pan and burner can achieve the boiling point. The reason for the submersion is better control of achieving the desired color's temperature. Also, I found a clip on deep fryer thermometer 750° F at Walmart called "King Kooker 5 inch thermometer Model # S15" distributed by Metal Fusion, Inc Jefferson, LA King Kooker Outdoor Cooking Products

The ingredient, Potassium Nitrate is Spectracide Stump Remover; the crystals are 100% and clean as I dissolved them into hot water, ran through coffee filter strainer and found no debris in 3 packages which will dissolve in a quart of boiling water; and then recrystallized by refrigerating / freezing the crystals which you then spoon out into a Pyrex rectangular (case you warm in oven to dry) and allow to air dry stirring occasionally. You really don't have to dissolve the crystals yourself as they are pure, but it really is fun DIY home chemistry. Try it with your kids because watching the crystals form and sink in the water is cool, and it happens fast as the hot water cools. Check YouTube for some videos on solubility recrystallization of potassium nitrate. As for the manganese peroxide, I believe it may either add in a more durable niter bluing surface coating or was used to reduce the boiling point of the potassium nitrate. I hope a knowledgeable chemist will respond with their expertise. Manganese peroxide can be bought in pure form on Ebay.

H.3. Nitrite Black, I am certain is the early process of "Hot Salt Boiling Bluing, the method that is now used for gun bluing today. Interestingly, one reason I believe this book to be written earlier than 1936 because it was in the early 1900s the hot salt bluing may have begun to be perfected and much later implemented therefore the rudimentary instructions.

H.4. Ignore, it was part of the page printing.


Firearm Browning Blueing by Angier 1.jpg

Firearm Browning Blueing by Angier 2.jpg

Firearm Browning Blueing by Angier 3.jpg

Firearm Browning Blueing by Angier 4.jpg

Colt S&W American Furnace.jpg

Notice the upper photo of Colt's factory and the belt drive power; and the lower picture Smith & Wesson's the American Gas Furnace Company's rotating oven has been converted to an electric drive motor mounted on the sides. Until, I came across these photos, I never realized the company's were running the number of ovens as shown. Also, the gasoline used to clean the pistol parts, I read was heated to 160° F. Can you imagine the EPA, or OSHA today allowing these processes? Plus, look at how the man is handling 600° F parts pulling them from the ovens and resting the reels on the stands. You can understand why this method was phased out eventually. Tempered carbon charcoal bluing truly allowed for a lot of variation in finishes and color of the Colt and Smith and Wesson pistols. The lower picture, shows some ovens not gas pipe connected as in the top photo ovens. Also, the lower photo, with bucket below oven doors seems the men in backgound may be cleaning out the units.

I hope this information especially the description of the Smith and Wesson's gun finishes which Colt's was the same process allows people to know the correct method and finishes.





 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Great info. Thanks for posting. Now we need to find someone that uses these techniques.
So, the pre oven Colt's were placed in a trough of smoldering charcoal and bone ash mixture, and periodically (a few minutes at a time) then rubbed with oakum (tar soaked rope) and whiting (chalk) which I believe removes organic material from the parts and aids in carbonization of the surface. Steps were repeated up to 6 times. Also, an electric kiln is easy source to just temper the finish, and I believe Turnbull has a charcoal box and injects oil to replicate the finish. There were always reasons companies did things, so know the steps help back engineer the process. I think for the novice like myself, I am going to try the charcoal pans of my smoker and test some pieces of high strength steel I have salvage.
 

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There is good information on the process Colt used in bluing their pistols by both the charcoal and gas oven process in Clawson's "Big Book", taken from Colt records in the Connecticut State Library.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Observing the upper Colt factrory photo; I see partial opened gas valve on the vertical pipes, and some at 90 degrees angle being closed. Also notice all gas vertical gas lines on all ovens appear connected.

On the lower S&W photo, the mean appear to be shoveling out the charcoal & bone ash mixture as each oven has a large steel bucket beneath the oven doors. Only the only the rearward ovens close to where the men are working have gas line connected. The closest oven has no gas lines connected to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
There is good information on the process Colt used in bluing their pistols by both the charcoal and gas oven process in Clawson's "Big Book", taken from Colt records in the Connecticut State Library.
Is that the full name of the book? And Arthur? Thanks, I copied your info and re posted on the Pyhthon page. http://www.coltforum.com/forums/python/100491-python-refinishing-3.html

As a newer collector, I did know how the earlier finishes were done, etc. It was an industrial art that should be shared just for the knowledge.

I had the Rust Browning and Blueing for PC Kindle for a year reading rust blue recipes when I stumbled upon the index, I just now found the picture you posted. These steps are not as difficult as people might think. Just like learning you can tocuh up rust blue, but your rust blue formula need to match and that takes time and testing but not impossible.
 

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All the blued Pythons were finished in hot caustic blue. The gas oven bluing was discontinued when commercial production halted in WWII. When production resumed in 1946 the change was made to hot caustic blue.

Before changing to hot caustic blue Winchester heat blued the receivers and rust blued the barrels and magazine tubes. Color casehardening was an extra cost option over the standard blued receiver.
 

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So, the pre oven Colt's were placed in a trough of smoldering charcoal and bone ash mixture, and periodically (a few minutes at a time) then rubbed with oakum (tar soaked rope) and whiting (chalk) which I believe removes organic material from the parts and aids in carbonization of the surface. Steps were repeated up to 6 times. Also, an electric kiln is easy source to just temper the finish, and I believe Turnbull has a charcoal box and injects oil to replicate the finish. There were always reasons companies did things, so know the steps help back engineer the process. I think for the novice like myself, I am going to try the charcoal pans of my smoker and test some pieces of high strength steel I have salvage.
I'm also a learning freak when it comes to this stuff and I have a ton of AGI gunsmithing videos. Of them, I have a whole folder on machine shop processes, some of which include Professional Metal Re-Finishing & Hot Caustic Bluing, Slow Rust & Niter Bluing Course, and Heat Treat Carbon Steels & Case Harden Metal Gun Parts.

If interested I may be able to share them with you. Not sure if they have any based on the old time bluing but probably not. That became about obsolete a long time ago.
 
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Is that the full name of the book?
The full name of the book is: "Colt .45 Service Pistols Models of 1911 and 1911A1". The author is Charles W. Clawson. The author also published a smaller collector's guide, thus the "Big Book" to differentiate the books. I forget that everyone here might not be familiar with Mr. Clawson's books.
 

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BLUING METHOD I used couple times I've never seen mentioned --- I have a container of lampblack I got from Brownells over 40 years ago to color epoxy, (labeled Epoxy Black Pigment net wt. 4 oz.) about a pint for 3 bucks. I put a few polished screws on a piece of sheet copper bridging the open jaws of my vise, covered them well with lampblack & burned the lampblack away. Cooled & clean the screws were beautiful. Again later same result. Next time I didn't have enuf so I just used the torch, still using the Black in tiny amounts for epoxy, gun grips, etc. Recent years I found their price was up for a fractional amount -- OK to color epoxy it only takes a speck you pick up on a small screwdriver. Been intending to order a batch of lampblack now about $5 for 4 oz on ebay & experiment further with the 'lampblack immersion burn off procedure' but old age has force me to give it #377 of items I'll never do. I think the burning lampblack, pure carbon, has its effect & it covering the screws kept oxygen away. ----->
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
BLUING METHOD I used couple times I've never seen mentioned --- I have a container of lampblack I got from Brownells over 40 years ago to color epoxy, (labeled Epoxy Black Pigment net wt. 4 oz.) about a pint for 3 bucks. I put a few polished screws on a piece of sheet copper bridging the open jaws of my vise, covered them well with lampblack & burned the lampblack away. Cooled & clean the screws were beautiful. Again later same result. Next time I didn't have enuf so I just used the torch, still using the Black in tiny amounts for epoxy, gun grips, etc. Recent years I found their price was up for a fractional amount -- OK to color epoxy it only takes a speck you pick up on a small screwdriver. Been intending to order a batch of lampblack now about $5 for 4 oz on ebay & experiment further with the 'lampblack immersion burn off procedure' but old age has force me to give it #377 of items I'll never do. I think the burning lampblack, pure carbon, has its effect & it covering the screws kept oxygen away. ----->
Interesting, I am going to look into this product and the reaction taking place. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There is good information on the process Colt used in bluing their pistols by both the charcoal and gas oven process in Clawson's "Big Book", taken from Colt records in the Connecticut State Library.
I suppose for its rarity, and demand by collectors that book is very expensive. Rock Island had it with a group of Colt books which most could found on Ebay, the auction was estimated for $300 to $500 sold at $1035.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
A Century of Achievement 1836-1936 Colt; pgs 70-74; Polishing, Coloring Steel w. Heat

I am updating the post with a few pages from a book published by Colt Firearms on the tempered carbon charcoal bluing. Here is where it gets very interesting about the charcoal bone ash mixture touching the actual parts and I can only assume that both Colt and Smith & Wesson used the same ovens made by the American Gas Furnace Company.

In Smith & Wesson's description (see above Angier's pages), "...as drum and shaft rotate, the mixture is continually lifted and drops on the parts".

Verse Colt's description, "All the coloring is done by heat, no particle of bone ever touches the parts being blued."

Now let's consider the pre oven Colt's circa 1916 and earlier that were trough finished, which the descriptions state the parts were covered by the charcoal bone ash mixture. Speaking from examples that I own, there is a variation in the color with a blue undertone that comes through the finish but overall there is a blacker finish color compared to oven finished Colt 1903s that have a distinct silver blue grey reflective color, but also appear black. In my opinion, the oven finished Colt's finish color is much more consistent and show much less variation in color than the prior trough finishes.

When tempering steel, to my knowledge and from research, there is no way of getting black colored steel from just pure tempering. That being said, Colt's description states "...bring the inherent carbon of the steel through the opened pores". In my opinion, you cannot get the "black" color without additional carbon, the smoke, acting on the surface. The only time I have ever gotten a black finish on steel is when it is quenched in motor oil, especially used motor oil with a lot of carbon. So, getting the black from the inherent carbon of the steel seems Colt maybe protecting a proprietary step because there is not enough carbon in the actual steel to color the surface of the steel black in the first place.

However, when considering both Colt's and Smith and Wesson's description, it seems the American Gas Furnace oven may have optional setups which more research is needed. Even better yet, finding an old oven would help.



Colt A Century of Acevement page 70.jpg


Colt A Century of Acevement page 71.jpg


Colt A Century of Acevement page 72.jpg


Colt A Century of Acevement page 73.jpg


Colt A Century of Acevement page 74.jpg
 
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