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Thread: Gun refinishing

  1. #1
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    Gun refinishing

    I admit that I am one of those evil people who improve firearms.

    It isn't like I take an 80% gun and try to make it look NIB to get over on someone, I have what I call "empathy buys" and either stabilize or rejuvenate to usable condition.

    Purist's absolutely loose their minds that people like me do this. Apparently it is more noble to need a tetanus shot before using them than to have some skill with cold blue.

    When I say "rejuvenate" I mean that I don't buff and polish all the character out of a gun and make it a mirror like "trap grade" finish on every piece. The harshest media I will use is medium grade steel wool so the factory milling marks are still visible upon completion. And I will not adulterate a historic piece. But you will be surprised at how many free or cheap items a person can pick up when they find out you will make a Lazarus out of them.

    My LGS owner even keeps an eye out just for things he knows I would like to bring back to life.

    For example, my latest "barn find" is a Winchester 37 red letter with the pig tail and small hammer, 12ga 30in barrel. The metal looked like a cinnamon powdered donut and the furniture was so dry it has checking on the butt. The only way to have this be a more desirable 37 is if it had the 32in barrel. The "Winchester" on the bottom of the receiver was barely legible and the writing on the barrel was totally obscured with rust but the bore showed promise (despite looking like it had previously doubled as a tomato stake) and the butt plate was original.

    Now it is time for my sales pitch. There is a company from Texas makes this stuff called "Blue Wonder" and they have the best multipurpose gun cleaning gel I have ever come across. It will clean the bore of a gun, removing the lead and copper with ease. And this stuff will remove rust but leave the blue. Using the medium steel wool and a tiny dab of this stuff and it will take surface rust off any finish without scratching, marring or wearing the finish thin. The rust will "melt" into the gel making it look like red mud. What is even more amazing is the same gel with a Scotchbrite pad will strip all the blue and rust off and take it to plain "white" metal.

    When I used the gel with the steel wool on the 37 all the writing on the barrel came back out. Using it on the receiver I found the original red was still in the lettering, and it is still there. The receiver cleaned up to only needing a fresh coat of the Blue Wonder blue over the old finish. The barrel needed to be taken down with the Scotchbrite pad and totally reblued with the Blue Wonder.

    I took the wood finish off with only a medium steel wool and elbow grease. I glued the cracks that needed it and will start applying tung oil in the morning. Pics will come when the furniture is complete.

    The reward is that if your work is fruitful, everyone will assume the gun was is near excellent condition before you started and tear into you for ruining a perfectly good firearm.

    I didn't take any "before" pics on this one but I can give you and idea of how "good" this gun was, when I am done I will have $120 invested...
    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous...

  2. #2
    Plinker

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    Looking forward to seeing the pics on this project.
    The older I get, the better I used to be....

  3. #3
    Grandmaster Leadeye's Avatar

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    Nothing wrong with helping old guns regain some of their previous appearance. Some people I know in the old gun business will see even the dirt as being part of the value, but I don't subscribe to this practice.
    Where's the Kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth shattering Kaboom.

    Marvin the Martian

  4. #4
    Plinker

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    Can you post a link for the blue wonder? Does it come with instructions for the techniques you use, or are the techniques you've developed?
    Never ascribe to malice or conspiracy, that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity...

  5. #5
    Plinker HKFaninCarmel's Avatar

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    It's your gun. Make it yours. I have a handful of Pythons that are mint and won't get a round chambered in them as long as I own them. Then I have one that was made shiny with super comfy grips and has some sights on it that would make most on coltforum shiver. I'm thinking of putting an RMR on it to really spruce it up. If it's good, keep it mint. If it's a shooter, then go to town. Love to see it!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwamplerusa View Post
    Can you post a link for the blue wonder? Does it come with instructions for the techniques you use, or are the techniques you've developed?
    Blue Wonder Gun Care Products
    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HKFaninCarmel View Post
    It's your gun. Make it yours. I have a handful of Pythons that are mint and won't get a round chambered in them as long as I own them. Then I have one that was made shiny with super comfy grips and has some sights on it that would make most on coltforum shiver. I'm thinking of putting an RMR on it to really spruce it up. If it's good, keep it mint. If it's a shooter, then go to town. Love to see it!
    This stuff is easy to use. The cleaner, the more uniform your metal surface will make for a better result.

    The biggest problem most people have is they are afraid they will mess up the existing blue so they rush in and just apply cold on the effected area. You have to clean the area and remove any distortion to the original surface before bluing.

    Their gun cleaner gel will make you confident that you won't go too far as it won't let the steel wool scratch your existing finish but will let the steel wool eat everything you want to get rid of.

    I use cotton balls for blue application but the cotton ball is only "good" for probably 3 square inches. You can try to use and reuse the same one but the result is a thinner and browner coat the further you go. So you wet, wipe and toss, get a new cotton ball and wet, wipe, toss.

    You feel like you are throwing away a lot of product but I have done this for years and trying to get the last drop out of the swab will only set you back by making a few minute procedure in to a few hour one and decrease quality.

    I also use a small propane torch to warm the metal, it doesn't take much. It is easy to get it too warm.

    The blue paper "shop towels" you find at Walmart are the best for wiping off the "frost" between applications. Never use a regular paper towel on any gun as they will scratch the finish for sure.

    Their web site has a video showing use that tells all the basics.

    When you get advanced you can learn to "pool" the blue on case hardened metal to bring it back to original color. Difficult, but it works.
    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by HKFaninCarmel View Post
    It's your gun. Make it yours. I have a handful of Pythons that are mint and won't get a round chambered in them as long as I own them. Then I have one that was made shiny with super comfy grips and has some sights on it that would make most on coltforum shiver. I'm thinking of putting an RMR on it to really spruce it up. If it's good, keep it mint. If it's a shooter, then go to town. Love to see it!
    I have a Colt that was stored in a leather holster... like, what could go wrong?

    One side had that deep blue Colt finish, the other looked like it was found in a sandbox. It was there long enough to pit the metal so we will just have to see how it turns out.
    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous...

  9. #9
    Grandmaster 1775usmarine's Avatar

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    Picked up a 311 12ga from a member here as I have a 20 and 16 from my great grandfather. It needs some work but will refinish the stock and have it torn down to the bare reciever to refinish. Got the parts I needed to repair it but I wouldn't trust myself to reblue it.
    “Son, when the Marine Corps wants you to have a wife, you will be issued one.” -Chesty Puller


  10. #10
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    This is it. Started two days ago so the furniture is a little rushed. When you use higher resolution it shows the imperfections under the blue.

    That is the original "red" I found under the rust.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous...

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