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1873 Winchester metal cleaning
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July 15, 2023 - 8:15 pm
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I have a 1873 carbine in 38/40 from 1898 and all the metal finish has turned brown. It is not rust but the blue has turned brown. Should I leave as is or do light cleaning with Kroil and bras wool? I have a Cody letter just for me and when my son gets it someday. Just want to do what’s right to preserve for the future. I have cleaned it but not aggressively.  Thanks

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July 15, 2023 - 8:31 pm
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I would surely not do anything beyond what you have done.  It sounds like the metal on your rifle looks exactly the way it should at this point in its life.

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July 15, 2023 - 10:37 pm
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Thanks. That’s kinda what I thought.

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July 15, 2023 - 11:40 pm
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Brown guns are better than silver guns. Some forms of bluing are actually a form of rust, a brown gun is an honest gun. 

 

Mike

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July 16, 2023 - 12:21 am
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TXGunNut said
Brown guns are better than silver guns. Some forms of bluing are actually a form of rust, a brown gun is an honest gun. 

I much prefer “silver,” or rather “gunmetal,” a term used to describe other objects, my eyeglass frames for ex.  It’s what happens when the blue is worn away by ordinary usage, but the steel is protected from rust by oil or a dry climate.  When it isn’t protected, a brown gun is the result.  But the brown can also form from a chemical change in the original blue itself, a process I don’t understand, because it happens to some, but others just like it stay blue.  Must have something to do with storage conditions, humidity, chemicals in the air.  But turning brown is most certainly not to be “expected” merely with the passage of time.

The “gunmetal” finish is sometimes created artificially, esp. on engraved guns, because it shows off engraving better than a blued finish.  Boiling steel is a logwood solution is one way to do it, but there are numerous formulas to produce similar results.  French Grey is another, produced with an acid solution. 

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July 16, 2023 - 1:34 pm
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I’d have to see it before commenting further.  There’s a lot of variability in, “brown” guns.  Some have a heavy or thick chocolate type appearance – which is not a gun for me.

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July 16, 2023 - 5:18 pm
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I tried some Kroil on a side plate where some initials were scratched in. I scrubbed on it pretty good with brass wool. No brown coming off but it did feel smoother. I am not a member so I can’t post any pics. For $1500 it’s pretty good.  it has a decent bore with rifling. I will shoot it.

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July 16, 2023 - 5:27 pm
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 As old antique blue ages red grains appears in it. This is easily seen with a LED bright light. As time goes on it turns blue to purple and then a brown/red even patina. This is natural and not to be confused with smooze, cold blue, browning solutions, or rusty metal with a texture.

 In my book natural patina is more desirable than a gray or silvered gun. It indicates the gun has been used but not abused. Newer bluing methods are more likely to go gray or silver than rust blue. I have no interest in smooze. T/R 

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July 16, 2023 - 6:32 pm
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RockyFord said
I tried some Kroil on a side plate where some initials were scratched in. I scrubbed on it pretty good with brass wool. No brown coming off but it did feel smoother. I am not a member so I can’t post any pics. For $1500 it’s pretty good.  it has a decent bore with rifling. I will shoot it.

  

You send picture to me at the below address and I will post them.

Bob

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July 16, 2023 - 6:37 pm
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TR said
 As old antique blue ages red grains appears in it. This is easily seen with a LED bright light. As time goes on it turns blue to purple and then a brown/red even patina. This is natural and not to be confused with smooze, cold blue, browning solutions, or rusty metal with a texture.

 In my book natural patina is more desirable than a gray or silvered gun. It indicates the gun has been used but not abused. Newer bluing methods are more likely to go gray or silver than rust blue. I have no interest in smooze. T/R 

  

But you commonly see guns just as old as the brown ones with strong blue remaining, if they haven’t been subjected to much handling.  That’s why I can’t believe it’s a natural, inevitable, process, or EVERY gun beyond a certain age would be brown, & that clearly ain’t the case.

And why would you say a much-handled gun that had turned silver/grey (that is, returned to the natural color of polished steel) merely by friction with human hands, or maybe holsters or scabbards, had been “abused”?  On Winchesters, rust-bluing of rcvrs ended pretty early, by about 1880 I think, if not before, but continued on brls much longer. 

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July 16, 2023 - 7:41 pm
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Just wipe it down and leave it as it is, don’t mess it up and regret trying to ‘clean’ the gun. 

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July 16, 2023 - 8:07 pm
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clarence said

TR said

 As old antique blue ages red grains appears in it. This is easily seen with a LED bright light. As time goes on it turns blue to purple and then a brown/red even patina. This is natural and not to be confused with smooze, cold blue, browning solutions, or rusty metal with a texture.

 In my book natural patina is more desirable than a gray or silvered gun. It indicates the gun has been used but not abused. Newer bluing methods are more likely to go gray or silver than rust blue. I have no interest in smooze. T/R 

  

But you commonly see guns just as old as the brown ones with strong blue remaining, if they haven’t been subjected to much handling.  That’s why I can’t believe it’s a natural, inevitable, process, or EVERY gun beyond a certain age would be brown, & that clearly ain’t the case.

 

  

 Yes I agree with you Clarence, but guns go to different climates. They are exposed to sun, humidity, and temperature in open environments at different levels of exposure. They do not all go to a patina condition. But if I had a choice I would pick natural patina over gray/silver no finish.

 I have proudly owned several natural patina guns, these guns were not messed with in any way, not to be confused with Bubba smooze. T/R  

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July 16, 2023 - 8:38 pm
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TR said

Yes I agree with you Clarence, but guns go to different climates. They are exposed to sun, humidity, and temperature in open environments at different levels of exposure. They do not all go to a patina condition.

Well, that’s exactly what I said previously–different storage conditions lead to different stages of finish preservation.

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July 16, 2023 - 10:46 pm
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Here are the photos.

Bob

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July 16, 2023 - 11:06 pm
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Thanks for posting those.

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