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  #1  
Old 03-28-2021, 10:27 PM
fugawe

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Aluminum Tank?



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I'm getting ready to try my hand at rust bluing using Mark Lee Express Blue. I plan to use an aluminum tank for heating and boiling the parts. Will the tank material affect the process? I plan to use distilled water of course.

Last edited by fugawe; 03-29-2021 at 01:35 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-30-2021, 07:32 PM
2152hq

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Aluminum tank is fine for Rust Bluing,
I use an aluminum 'Bread Pan' to rust blue small parts on the kitchen stove top and have done so for many many yrs.
My large tank for actions and bbl's is stainless steel,,that also does not effect Rust bluing.

Never use Aluminum with HotSalt bluing. It will eat right through aluminum like it eats up any aluminum gun parts that might be placed in the salts for bluing.

Stainless Steel isn't the best for the Bluing tank either with Hot Salts. It can cause some speckles on the parts due to some sort of chemical/electro happening.
Not always, but I never did want to find out the hard way.
I don't HotSalt blue any more and strictly Rust blue now and have done so for the last 45 yrs.

Mark Lee's is a good Express Rust Blue formula. I use that for Quick Rust.
For Slow Rust bluing I use Laurel Mtn Rust Brown. Of course it turns blue/black when boiled.

The old Belgian Blue was an Express Rust Blue. Herter's sold it
It had Mercury BiChloride in it as most all the older formulas did. Even Birchwood CAseys Quick Bbl Brown for Muzzle Loader builders had that in it into the 70's. That worked real nice to quick rust blue also.
Then the EPA came down on the mercury content and everything got changed. B/Casey formulas changed and no longer have the merc in it.
Herter's Belgian Blue went off the market.
Then in the 90's, Brownells brought the Belgian Blue back on the market. I was kind of surprised it was adv as the same as the orig. (with mercury?)
I bought a small bottle and gave it the test for merc, Swab some of the stuff on a piece of copper or brass that has been warmed up. If the mecr is there it will 'plate out' on the brass or copper surface. Sure enough it had mercury in it. You could smell it too. A very distinctive odor of the hot Bichloride of Mercury when it hits a warm surface.

Never used that bottle again. Enough merc in my system I figure. I've been doing this since the early 60's..and the Mark Lee stuff works just fine for Express Blue.

Good luck with your bluing. Have Fun.
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  #3  
Old 03-30-2021, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2152hq View Post
Aluminum tank is fine for Rust Bluing,
I use an aluminum 'Bread Pan' to rust blue small parts on the kitchen stove top and have done so for many many yrs.
My large tank for actions and bbl's is stainless steel,,that also does not effect Rust bluing.

Never use Aluminum with HotSalt bluing. It will eat right through aluminum like it eats up any aluminum gun parts that might be placed in the salts for bluing.

Stainless Steel isn't the best for the Bluing tank either with Hot Salts. It can cause some speckles on the parts due to some sort of chemical/electro happening.
Not always, but I never did want to find out the hard way.
I don't HotSalt blue any more and strictly Rust blue now and have done so for the last 45 yrs.

Mark Lee's is a good Express Rust Blue formula. I use that for Quick Rust.
For Slow Rust bluing I use Laurel Mtn Rust Brown. Of course it turns blue/black when boiled.

The old Belgian Blue was an Express Rust Blue. Herter's sold it
It had Mercury BiChloride in it as most all the older formulas did. Even Birchwood CAseys Quick Bbl Brown for Muzzle Loader builders had that in it into the 70's. That worked real nice to quick rust blue also.
Then the EPA came down on the mercury content and everything got changed. B/Casey formulas changed and no longer have the merc in it.
Herter's Belgian Blue went off the market.
Then in the 90's, Brownells brought the Belgian Blue back on the market. I was kind of surprised it was adv as the same as the orig. (with mercury?)
I bought a small bottle and gave it the test for merc, Swab some of the stuff on a piece of copper or brass that has been warmed up. If the mecr is there it will 'plate out' on the brass or copper surface. Sure enough it had mercury in it. You could smell it too. A very distinctive odor of the hot Bichloride of Mercury when it hits a warm surface.

Never used that bottle again. Enough merc in my system I figure. I've been doing this since the early 60's..and the Mark Lee stuff works just fine for Express Blue.

Good luck with your bluing. Have Fun.
How's Mark Lee compare to Pilkington's??
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  #4  
Old 03-30-2021, 09:57 PM
fugawe

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Thanks for the reply 2152hq!
The directions say to coat three times, boil then card.
Others say to card after each coat. Is there any advantage either way?
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Old 03-31-2021, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by fugawe View Post
Thanks for the reply 2152hq!
The directions say to coat three times, boil then card.
Others say to card after each coat. Is there any advantage either way?
Most directions will tell you to put a very light first coat on....

Don't listen to that. you need to put on for the first coat a relatively heavy coat on...only for the first coat.

After boiling and carding, you then put on very light coats. The solution both puts on the rust bluing; but also removes any previous coats. That's why it's better to put the first coat on relatively heavy, but all other coats are put on very lightly.
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Old 04-04-2021, 06:59 PM
2152hq

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Mark Lee's soln is an Express Rust Blue.
Pilkingtons is a Cold Rust Blue or sometimes called a Slow Rust Blue.

Two different methods to get the same results. Though the final look may be as different to your eyes as day and night depending on technique, temps, rusting times for the Slow Rust soln, ect.

Pilkingtons is like Laurel Mtn Soln. both are slow rust/cold rust solns.
You apply the coating to the metal and set the parts aside and let them rust naturally.
It can take anywhere from a couple hrs to 24+ hrs. It all depends on the temp and humidity. Steel alloy also plays into it.

This is where the use of a 'Damp Cabinet' comes into play. You can artificialy boost those factors and make the parts rust quicker. You can do more rusting cycles in less time that way.
Get the humidity too high and you can ruin the finish with water droplets dripping down the parts draging your bluing son with it.

When I use the Slow Rust method (Laurel Mtn) I simply steam up the shower and plug the tub to save the hot water. Hang the coated parts in the room and keep the door closed. A nice even coating of rust is formed in about an hour sometimes a bit more.
You don't need a real heavy rough rust coating to produce a color layer. Just able to see some red rust color on the metal is enough. Then boil, let cool and then card them. The recoat and back to rusting again.

I dump the water in the tank after 3 or 4 boiling cycles. By then it usually brown with rust and usually has a little oil floating on dispite best efforts to degrease parts and keep contaminates from the system.
I use AC condensate I collect during the summer as the water. Works great and have been using it for 35 and more yrs. Some people can get away with using local municipal water, many can't Too many chemicals in it that leave mineral specks and marks on the surface as it evaporates. It also gives less than nice colors to the 'bluing'

It may take anywhere from 3 to 6 cycles to get a finish you are pleased with. Softer steel,,easier to get a finish.
If the first 'rusting doesn't seem to take well at all,,it wants to rust is some areas and not in others,,,take plain scotchbrite (green or grey) and lightly polish the parts. Try not to touch them with your fingers. A light coating of some rust will come off and you can polish right back to bright steel again if you want. Then recoat with the soln and back to rusting.
Take that piece of scotchbrite and dispose of it.

When coating parts, don't over saturate the surface. Just enough soln to wet the surface. No runs or drips. Those will dry and show under later coatings. Don't go back over dried coatings of soln and try to tidy up some small missed streaks or spots. Leave it. You'll get them the next time. Going back over the dried soln will only cause blotches and streaks.

If you do get a blotch or streak in an otherwise good looking finish, don't panic. Take your scotchbrite out again,,a clean piece and scrub the bad area down till the damage is gone. You will remove any blue around the streak of course but blend the area back in with the good finish around it. Now you have a near bare steel looking patch where the streak or blemish was.

Recoat the entire part again and let it rust just like another cycle. Then boil and card. The blemish should have recovered in color to nearly the color of the surrounding finish. Do another cycle on the entire bbl (don't try and just touch up that repaired area itself). The second cycle after the scotchbrite polish should bring everything back to normal.
Now you can call it good or continue to add more coatings.

With Express Blue such as MArk Lee and the old Belgian Blue,,you heat up the parts first and then coat them with the bluing soln. Doing that instantly rusts (Express Rust) the parts leaving them with a brown/black coating of rust.
The parts can then be put right into the boiling water tank to turn the brown rust to blue/black oxide color. That takes 5min or more. I usually leave parts in to boil for about 10min.

Take them out one by one. Take them right to the carding wheel and card them. If the part is of any size it will still be hot and you can then reapply the next coating of Express Blue Soln. The part must be hot when the soln is applied. The soln must evaporate immediately on the part and form the brown coating.
If it does, you can put the part right back into the boil water tank and pluck another from the water and do the same treatment.

If the part is small and cools off quickly, warm the part back up after carding. I use a small propane torch (plumbers soldering torch) to warm the part. The soln just needs to evaporate on the surface when applied. If it sizzles and spatters when applied, the part is a bit too hot, but it'll still work OK. The extra hot surface will give a slightly matted look when finished as the chemical etches the steel when applied that hot.

The old style method to doing this was to simply card all the parts and then place them back into the boiling water to heat them up. The 212*F of the boiling water is plenty warm for the soln to work. It's still not a bad way to do it.
You can also place a small amt of bluing soln that you are working with in a separate jar and hang it inside the bluing tank so it gets warmed up by the water.
The warmed soln applied sometimes helps rust stubborn parts especially hardened ones.
Be careful doing any of this and eye protection is always needed.
One of the early rifle makers, Schaulk, or George Schoyen lost an eye while doing this very thing when some of the bluing soln boiled up and got in his eye.

Do as many cycles as you see as necessary. Use the same technique to make small streaks go away.
First coatings of Express Rust Blue can also sometimes be made w/ an application done with steel wool instead of using a cloth swab or brush.
De-oiled steel wool of course. The steel wood seems to scour the surface perhaps and makes it easier for the soln to bite on some steels.
That piece of steel wool gets hot! especially when running it up and down the warmed up bbl so take note.

For regular applications on parts during Express Blue & Slow Rust I like to use a small artists paint brush. Seems to work better for me than a swab of cloth and it never gets hot in your hand.
But for bbls and large parts like magazine tubes I use a cloth pad.
I can do an entire bbl with the cloth pad loaded up with soln w/o stopping and starting on the part because it runs dry and I have to recharge the pad.

I've always boiled and carded after every rusting cycle doing Slow Rust Bluing. Just the way I've done it for the last 50+ yrs.
SOme people I've read apply multiple coats of rust soln and card when dry as if Rust Browning. Then Boil the part after the multiple rust coatings have been applied.
It will give you Rust Blue that way. One is Ferric Oxide, the other is Ferris Oxide (I don't remember which is which!) The boiling water does the transformation.
I just like boiling every coating and being able to control the final look.
Hope this helps

Last edited by 2152hq; 04-04-2021 at 07:12 PM.
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  #7  
Old 04-06-2021, 02:20 PM
fugawe

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Thanks 2152 and Flintlock! Exactly the answers I was looking for!
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  #8  
Old 04-08-2021, 08:10 PM
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I uses a 4' section of gutter from Home Depot for my rust bluing "tank". Worked just fine.

Mals
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