What role, if any, did the Lime Away play in the process? I'm always looking for a new product to try out.
I use it to remove the bluing and to treat the intergranular corrosion below the surface of the metal. It also can be used to etch the metal to provide a "tooth" for the rust bluing process. In this case, I had to remove the pitting by draw filing with jewelers files and polishing up to 220 grit wet or dry with a set of rubber backing blocks that had the necessary straight, inside radius, and outside radius profiles.
I layout a couple of layers of paper towels the length of the barrel and action, and saturate the middle with Lime-A-Way. I spray both sides of the barrel and action, lay it down, and wrap it in the paper towels as shown. Then I saturate those and leave it for about 20 minutes. The Lime-A-way contains hydrochloric acid and sulfonic acid and usually leave the surface of the metal with a dull gray appearance.
The metal prep usually takes days to weeks. But rust bluing usually only takes an hour or two. I do not use a damp cabinet.
We have very hard water here. I use a Zero Water pitcher to quickly make the water I use to degrease and rust blue the barrel and action in a homemade 3" PVC pipe "tank". It's reduced down to 1" female pipe thread on the bottom and attached to a wooden stand with band clamps. It has a 120VAC electric water tank heater element installed that is used to bring the water to a boil. It uses less than 2 gallons for a typical long gun. I use a piece of old mop handle and some baling wire to hang the action and barrel in the water. Then I remove it and allow it to flash dry before I apply the rust bluing solution with a cotton ball. I usually use Mark Lee's Express Blue or Art's Belgian Blue. I put it right back in the water and allow it to soak for 3 minutes. When I take it out, I wait for it to flash dry. Then I card it with a carding wheel (from Brownells) that I have attached to a hand drill. While it's still hot, I apply the next coat of bluing solution and put it back in the tank for another 3 minutes. I plug the heater back in from time to time to keep the water scalding hot.
The finish is usually completely black after the 3rd pass and almost always stops turning rusty after 6 passes. At that point, all of the exposed iron has been converted from red oxide of iron (Fe2O3) to (Fe3O4) the black oxide of iron.
When you are done, the action flashes completely dry and is carded again or rubbed down with an old towel or flannel rag. I usually run an oily patch down the bore and wait 24 hours to wipe down the new finish with oil. I boil the small parts in a cheap Walmart Mainstays stainless kettle on an electric hot plate, and use a heat gun from Harbor Freight to bring them up to temp before applying the solution. I either use the carding wheel or use oil-free Briwax 0000 steel wool to do the job by hand when the parts are too small.