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#782 - 09/11/06 12:57 PM Case Coloring Question
James M Offline
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Registered: 02/16/05
Posts: 7437
Loc: Arizona
I just finished cleaning one of my Colt SAA clones by Uberti which has a traditional blued and case colored finish. I noticed that the case coloring on this 15 year old gun is still pristine after thousand of holster draws and rounds thru it.
It is rare as we all know to ever find an original Colt or Parker with pristine case coloring unless it for the most part was an unused example.
My question is: Have they developed new and more durable forms of case coloring in the ensueing years?
Jim
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#783 - 09/11/06 01:06 PM Re: Case Coloring Question
Rocketman Offline
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Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 5885
Not really, but they have surely improved clear coat technology. I expect you are living proof that clear lacquor does a good job of protecting case color.

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#784 - 09/11/06 06:32 PM Re: Case Coloring Question
Chukarman Offline
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Registered: 01/02/02
Posts: 1406
Loc: Southeastern Arizona
perhaps it would be useful to note that 'case coloring' and 'case hardening' are sometimes interchangeable terms. Many 'case colored' guns today seem to be just that - colored. Makers use various chemicals (like cyanide) to obtain a certain color. Early Perazzi guns come to mind.

Case hardening in traditional use was to apply a tough outer skin to metal using heat and carbon, quenched to set the hardness, which resulted in the distinctive coloration.

May be my imagination, but case COLORING does not seem to be as durable as case HARDENING colors. Perhaps soem of the smiths and rocket scientists could enlighten me on this.
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#785 - 09/11/06 08:19 PM Re: Case Coloring Question
David Williamson Offline
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Registered: 02/04/06
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Chukarman, Not a smith or a rocket scientist but I agree with you that case-hardening is tougher than case coloring. The colors from case- hardening are the result of the process. In order to case-harden you are using low carbon steel and you have to increase the carbon content of the surface of the steel so that a thin outer "case" can be hardened by heating the steel to the hardening temperature and then quenching it. So the process involves two seperate operations.
Cyanide, Carburizing, Carbo-Nitriding and Nitriding are all processes of case-hardening, but Cyanide is the most common. The steels are brought to about 1500 deg.F and then immersed in a bath of sodium cyanide. The hardening then is only a few thousands of a inch deep, .002-.004. and the depth is controlled by how long it is left at the 1500 deg.f before quenching.
I believe the case-coloring is of the Carburizing process where the parts are packed in a metal container with a carbonaceous compound (bone meal) surrounding the steel objects, the heat is higher 1700 deg.F for a length of time depending on the extent of the carburizing action desired. Now the steel can be hardened and quenched like regular high-carbon steel, now if they leave this step out you would get case-coloring. IMOP. Dave
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#786 - 09/11/06 08:31 PM Re: Case Coloring Question
James M Offline
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Registered: 02/16/05
Posts: 7437
Loc: Arizona
I went to the Uberti site and they use the term "case hardening" to describe the process used on their firearms. Now: Does anyone know what process either Colt or Parker originally used?
Jim
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#787 - 09/11/06 08:34 PM Re: Case Coloring Question
tudorturtle Offline
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Registered: 08/31/05
Posts: 1583
Loc: NY
JDW,
No offense meant, 'cause I don't know the difference; but I thought the cyanide process provided the same kind of surface hardening as the bone charcol process, but usually throws a different coloring style as C-man mentioned the P-gun type tiger striping (Philistine that I am, I like it).

And I do know that many steel parts are case hardened without coloring. Browning SP recievers were case hardened with no coloring.

There's folks here that really do know and we'll get the skinny soon enough.

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#788 - 09/11/06 08:42 PM Re: Case Coloring Question
Ken Hurst Offline
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Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 1698
Loc: Robersonville, N.C.
Most color case hardening is done at 1400 ---1425 deg. The packing material is bone meal and wood charcoal. The more bone added the harder and the more charcoal added lowers the deg. of hardness. This also works with the colors --- brighter colors come from more bone, less bone gives less color. This is if the ratio of bone to charcoal is 60% bone to 40%charcoal.
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#789 - 09/11/06 08:47 PM Re: Case Coloring Question
David Williamson Offline
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Registered: 02/04/06
Posts: 3478
Loc: Eastern Pa
Yeti, it does, but there are other steps to do in order to get there. I don't belive that gun companies selling guns at the prices that they did at the turn of the century would invest that much time in the process.
In order to get the parts not colored, just polish the csse off, and then blue them.
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ADVICE TO DEMOCRATS, LIBERALS & LEFTIES:
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#790 - 09/11/06 10:28 PM Re: Case Coloring Question
2-piper Offline
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Registered: 12/31/01
Posts: 12743
Loc: Lynchburg TN
Critical temperature varies somewhat according to the carbon content of the Steel. According to "Machinery's Hadbook" low carbon steel is normally "Carburized" at temps of from 1650-1700°F while high carbon steel is sometimes "Pack Hardened" ie packed in a carbonaceous mat'l for protection of edges etc, in which case it should be heated only to about 1400-1450°F. As I recall the technique Oscar had worked out was to heat the part in the bone/charcoal mixture to somewhere around 1600-1650°F for carbon absorption then drop the temp down around the 1400°F temp which was still above the critical temp for the case which allowed it to harden upon quenching, but below critical temp for the low carbon core. This helped to reduce the warping tendency had the frame been quenched with the entire core above it's critical temp. Length of time at the higher temp in the mix controls the depth of case, but cyanide is normally not employed for other than a case of only a few thousandths of an inch thick. When greater depths are desired the charcoal mix is normally employed.
Miller
Note that much of this applies to industrial case hardening, wherecolor is of no concern. In fact machinery's Handbook does not mention "Color Case Hardening". The same general procedure applies though for the forming of the case & hardening it. The nature of the carbon determines the color I believe.
PPS Colt & Parker did use color case hardening as both used low carbon steel for their frames. They did "invest that much time in the process", but remember around the turn of the century "Labor" was cheap.
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#791 - 09/12/06 07:59 AM Re: Case Coloring Question
Rocketman Offline
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Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 5885
The hardening part of case hardening and the coloring are two separate steps. The carbon absorption occurs at higher temperature and the metal crystaline structure "set" by rapid cooling to below critical temperature (quenching).

The colors form on the metal surface from a thin, loosely bound layer of various "oxides and stuff." The "stuff" comes from the charcoal, bone, and quench water. Color formation is at lower temperatures and can be done independently of hardening.

Case hardening does not automatically produce a colored surface and a colored surface does not automatically indicate hardening.

The hardening is pretty much science. However, since people don't agree on the aesthetics of colors (brilliance, hues, etc.) and coloration patterns (stripes, pools, etc.), coloring is the domain of the artist.

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