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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey guys,

I recently received a 3rd generation SAA from Colt after about an 11 month wait. I'd had it engraved back in 1984 (not by Colt), but the re-blue was only mediocre and I'd been wanting a factory refinish for a long time. My instructions to Colt were to case harden the frame and hammer, and to finish the rest of the parts in Royal Blue. They said "no problem, send it in".

Now, the bluing looks very similar to my Python's Royal Blue, both in level of polish and depth of color. However, I'm pretty sure the case colors were NOT done in-house by Colt. I have several 2nd and 3rd gen Colt single actions and I KNOW what Colt's case colors look like. I also have a couple of Ruger single actions that Turnbull refinished with case hardened hammers and frames (and charcoal blue on everything else).

Thing is, the colors on the SAA I received from Colt's looks JUST like the colors on the two Turnbull Rugers! Right down to the lacquer that Turnbull uses on their case colored parts. There was no indication on the detailed invoice about sending the parts out for off-site work. Also, during several phone calls with the Colt reps, no mention was made of using an outside vendor.

Don't get me wrong, the gun was beautifully finished in every regard. Just not with Colt's signature case colors, which are unmistakable.

I also understand about Colt's current financial and operational challenges - so this isn't really a criticism. Still, it would have been kinda nice to have been informed of the decision up front, though. Just thought I'd throw this out for general dissemination, and see if anyone can shed additional light on this...

Thanks,
LongColt

PS I did search this Forum but couldn't find anything recent on this.


5.JPG

A Turnbull Ruger for comparison:

Capture.JPG

2nd Gen Colt New Frontier:

Capture 1.JPG
 

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Welcome to the Forum. You may be right about your gun; however, there is quite a bit of variation in case color. Therefore, without verification from Colt, it may be difficult to conclusively state who did the work.

For instance, here is a very green, milky finish on a couple of New Frontiers that were advertised in the last two years. This looks nothing like "traditional" Colt color.





In comparison, here is an SAA that was manufactured in the last few years. Note the colors look far more tradtional.



And here is a 38 special made in the last few years that looks more like Turnbull's work.

 

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I spoke with Turnbull's recently about the current Talo "last Cowboy" model SAA to verify that they did not perform the "case colors" on that. They did not.
I've also purchased A USFA blackpowder gun in the last few years that was a late '90's USFA gun. The gun has some tremendous case colors and bluing appeared to be like USFA's "Armory blue" which was the more expensive bluing job that looked like Turnbull's work. Turnbull verified via serial that it came through there in 1998.

Turbull keeps serial number record of guns they perform work on. I'm sure they will know and can probably verify if they did work on a Colt gun.
 

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Bobby Tyler from Tyler Gun Works in Texas stopped by the shopp about a month and a half ago. He is doing case hardening for Henry and he said he was doing special production run of a couple hundred SAA's for somebody that were also being engraved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thanks for the replies, guys.

what would you say: Good idea! So I called Turnbull and gave them the serial number, and guess what? They DID do the color case hardening on my 1979 SAA. In September 2015. The lacquer applied over the colors were a dead giveaway for me, not to mention the striking resemblance to my Turnbull Rugers. Guess that answers that question.

Hopalong: I agree, there has indeed been variations in the colors produced my the Colt factory over time. Both from generation to generation, and within generations. Many possible variables can be at play, including the availability of the materials used and changes to the formula (recipe) of those materials, the equipment used, the techniques applied and, of course, the skill and experience level of the craftsmen. Additionally, time pressures combined with schedules for doing case hardening, and/or loss of skilled labor and budget constraints could also drive these decisions. And while I don't have any original photos of the 1979 SAA, the colors on it were remarkably similar to those on the "traditional" Colt you posted.

Here are the colors on my 1977 New Frontier Buntline .22
d.JPG

Mikebiker: Thanks! The spalted maple seemed very appropriate for western style sixguns. Here is are the matching grip sets on the flattop Blackhawk Bisley .44 Special and on the Super Blawkhawk.

rb.JPG rb2.JPG

1915colt: Too bad Mr. Tyler didn't say who was having the work done on the SAAs - that would have proven interesting ...
 

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Thanks for the replies, guys.

what would you say: Good idea! So I called Turnbull and gave them the serial number, and guess what? They DID do the color case hardening on my 1979 SAA. In September 2015. The lacquer applied over the colors were a dead giveaway for me, not to mention the striking resemblance to my Turnbull Rugers. Guess that answers that question.

Hopalong: I agree, there has indeed been variations in the colors produced my the Colt factory over time. Both from generation to generation, and within generations. Many possible variables can be at play, including the availability of the materials used and changes to the formula (recipe) of those materials, the equipment used, the techniques applies and, of course, the skill and experience level of the craftsmen. Additionally, time pressures combined with schedules for doing case hardening, and/or loss of skilled labor and budget constraints could also drive these decisions. And while I don't have any original photos of the 1979 SAA, the colors on it were remarkably similar to those on the "traditional" Colt you posted.

Here are the colors on my 1977 New Frontier Buntline .22
View attachment 399281

Mikebiker: Thanks! The spalted maple seemed very appropriate for western style sixguns. Here is are the matching grip sets on the flattop Blackhawk Bisley .44 Special and on the Super Blawkhawk.

View attachment 399297 View attachment 399305

1915colt: Too bad Mr. Tyler didn't say who was having the work done on the SAAs - that would have proven interesting ...
What species of wood is that???? Extraordinary figuring!!
B50
 
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Spalted:

ADJECTIVE


  • (of wood) containing blackish irregular lines as a result of fungal decay, and sometimes used to produce a decorative surface.

 

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What year did Turnbull start doing the case hardening for Colt.
Was this done by Colt or Turnbull? It was made in 1995.
Thanks.
20170913_164901-1024x576.jpg 20170913_164823-1024x576.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
SnakeGunner: To my eyes, those colors are definitely Colt factory colors. They are somewhat faded at this point, which in my experience is attributable to two main causes (and in this case, possibly both):

1) Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. This would be the primary cause, in my opinion.
2) Vigorous rubbing with strong solvents, Gunscrubber-type degreasers, etc. A contributing factor.

While the protection of the steel from rust which is provided by the casehardening process remains intact, the ravages of age and much use will fade those colors. Just look at almost any black powder era SAA, which don't often show rust or pitting of the frame, but which also rarely display much (if any) of the original coloring.

As a case in point, my 1962 New Frontier still exhibits strong colors, whereas my 1977 New Frontier's colors have faded by comparison.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
By the way, I also asked Turnbull if they did the bluing on the '79 Colt. They said they did not. So, Colt apparently did the Royal Blue in-house, but sent out the frame and hammer to Turnbull. I should call Colt about all this.

And yes, the Ruger grips are maple and they are spalted. The "zone lines" of the spalting are very cool. On my grips, as is often the case, the spalted maple has been "stabilized" to harden the wood in preparation for shaping and to prevent further fungal decay.
 

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Thanks for the replies, guys.

what would you say: Good idea! So I called Turnbull and gave them the serial number, and guess what? They DID do the color case hardening on my 1979 SAA. In September 2015. The lacquer applied over the colors were a dead giveaway for me, not to mention the striking resemblance to my Turnbull Rugers. Guess that answers that question.

Hopalong: I agree, there has indeed been variations in the colors produced my the Colt factory over time. Both from generation to generation, and within generations. Many possible variables can be at play, including the availability of the materials used and changes to the formula (recipe) of those materials, the equipment used, the techniques applies and, of course, the skill and experience level of the craftsmen. Additionally, time pressures combined with schedules for doing case hardening, and/or loss of skilled labor and budget constraints could also drive these decisions. And while I don't have any original photos of the 1979 SAA, the colors on it were remarkably similar to those on the "traditional" Colt you posted.

Here are the colors on my 1977 New Frontier Buntline .22
View attachment 399281

Mikebiker: Thanks! The spalted maple seemed very appropriate for western style sixguns. Here is are the matching grip sets on the flattop Blackhawk Bisley .44 Special and on the Super Blawkhawk.

View attachment 399297 View attachment 399305

1915colt: Too bad Mr. Tyler didn't say who was having the work done on the SAAs - that would have proven interesting ...
The greatest variable in case colors is the quenching water temp. When Colt re-introduced the SAA with the 2nd gen production, they had problems with case colors and had to confer with retired employees to get it right. For one thing, they found out that correct summer water temp was different than winter temp.
 

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Colt never used lacquer on their frames past or present, if done in house. But they contract with outsiders for services. This one just happened to go to Turnbull. If you don't like it, send it back to Colt and ask for something other than Turnbull's color. They have other vendors.

JP
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The greatest variable in case colors is the quenching water temp. When Colt re-introduced the SAA with the 2nd gen production, they had problems with case colors and had to confer with retired employees to get it right. For one thing, they found out that correct summer water temp was different than winter temp.
That is good and interesting information, Jim, as usual. Thanks.
LC
 
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