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Plum color?
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RickC
January 13, 2021 - 7:05 pm

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Any metal or oxidation expert’s on here. I’ve read several articles on different forums and now wondering what others explanation is for the blueing turning plum color. I realize grey or silver is usually wear but I’ve seen a few guns in good condition that are completely dark plum coloured. Does a century of gun oil on the metal have an affect ? Brownells says it is sometimes the alloy, some times the temperature.??‍♂️

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Posts: 60
January 13, 2021 - 10:07 pm

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Not an expert by any means, but have noted the “plum” color on quite a few vintage arms…particularly Remingtons. 

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Wisconsin
Posts: 4259
January 13, 2021 - 11:23 pm

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Its the finish oxidizing.

Bob

WACA Life Member---
NRA Life Member----
Cody Firearms member since 1991
Researching the Winchester 1873's

73_86cutaway.jpg

Email: [email protected]

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Posts: 4517
January 13, 2021 - 11:29 pm

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As the gun ages it turns to a brown/plumb color.  It does not do this on guns that have been lightly used and well taken care of.  It does look a lot better than silver/grey.

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Posts: 1690
January 13, 2021 - 11:33 pm

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 When you shine a bright led light on old aged blue you see red in it, that’s the rust. As it ages it darkens, dulls, and can turn to a plum color then brown patna. The colors that old blue turn depend on the base metal, blueing method, and environment. Newer steels usually do not turn plum. Do not confuse the plum color with the purple you see in a bad re-blue job. My opinion, maybe not fact. T/R

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RickC
January 13, 2021 - 11:38 pm

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1873man said
Its the finish oxidizing.

Bob  

Yes I have to think the oxidation factor related to coastal States & area’s close to salt water environments versus mid west or northern climates has an affect on the metal after a century. I’ve seen well taken care of guns that are plum.

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NY
Posts: 6151
January 14, 2021 - 12:13 am

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Chuck said
  It does look a lot better than silver/grey.  

Not to me.  Nor to the makers of many high-grade guns that choose a French Grey finish over conventional bluing. The natural color of polished steel is attractive, I think, but can’t be left as is without rapid rusting.  Right now I’m trying to clean up the badly tarnished slide of a Lyman 48, & I already see that steel wool & oil won’t do it–going to require repolishing.

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Posts: 4517
January 14, 2021 - 2:21 am

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clarence said

Not to me.  Nor to the makers of many high-grade guns that choose a French Grey finish over conventional bluing. The natural color of polished steel is attractive, I think, but can’t be left as is without rapid rusting.  Right now I’m trying to clean up the badly tarnished slide of a Lyman 48, & I already see that steel wool & oil won’t do it–going to require repolishing.  

I was talking blued Winchesters.

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RickC
January 14, 2021 - 2:25 am

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Mark Douglas might be able to enlighten the subject with his recent & ongoing gunsmith training course.

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Posts: 294
January 14, 2021 - 11:01 am

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That plumb color is pretty common with older Dan Wessons. You’ll find it happening to some of the frames, particularly during the Monson production period. The thought is: frames were investment cast pieces and the silica from the mould, remaining on the metal, reacted differently with the blueing salts. Others think it has to do with temperature of the salts or contamination of the solution as time goes on. Several theories out there.

Technically, the glass is always full; half liquid, half air....

WACA #10293

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Great Basin
Posts: 486
January 14, 2021 - 1:17 pm

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RickC said
Mark Douglas might be able to enlighten the subject with his recent & ongoing gunsmith training course.  

When going through the tig welding course, our instructors cautioned us to use filler rod that matches the alloy of the base metal as closely as possible on parts that will be blued and visible when the gun is assembled.  Different alloys take bluing differently and may produce a different shade.  Sometimes it will show up in the bluing immediately or it may look good initially and then discolor over time.

It’s been mentioned in this thread that Remington and Dan Wesson are particularly susceptible to turning this plum color.  Where a certain model or make commonly turns plum, I think the interaction between the metal alloy and bluing process contributes to the color change.  If a firearm turns color and it’s not common among others of that particular model, it seems to me that it’s likely caused by environmental factors.

It all gets more complicated when you consider that many models of the same firearm were produced with different metal alloys and bluing processes over time.  Imagine the changes in manufacturing and finishing the Model 1873 saw over the course of its production.

I’ll soon be producing an episode or series of episodes on “The Cinnabar” where I will try to resurrect an early 1894 SRC with both tangs broken off (likely in a horse wreck).  I’ve ordered some nickel steel alloy welding rod for the project to try to match the alloy of the receiver as closely as possible so it will hopefully blue without any discoloration at the weld.  Wish me luck!   Mark

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RickC
January 14, 2021 - 1:25 pm

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Thanks for the reply Mark & look forward to seeing this episode some day.

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