I use a product called Sta-Brite to protect blued hardware. It is a clear coating for brass lamps, beds, etc. You can buy it from most woodworking companies, such as Constantine's, Woodcraft, etc. It also has UV protection, which you need to keep the oxidized color from fading from the sun light. (Dave LeClair)
I blued ferrules and a reel seat for the first time yesterday, and would like to share the process and some thoughts for those who have never done it.
I used plain Kodak fixer mixed as per the package directions. I mixed the fixer according to the package directions, and followed the ferrule preparation recommended by Elser and Maurer. Light polish with fine steel wool, then acetone, then alcohol, then a rinse in fresh water.
The Bellinger reel seat components darkened within minutes to a pleasing blue/black. The Bellinger ferrules sat there for hours. When they began to darken, the tone was uneven and splotched. This caused some major panic but I simply left them in the solution for much of the afternoon. Eventually they darkened evenly, but ended up slightly lighter than the reel seats. Not quite as dark, and the tone had less of a blue cast. Probably could have left them soak longer, but it seemed that they were no longer changing color. The color difference was enough so you could see it if you held the components side by side, but it would take a person with a good eye for color and some experience with bamboo to see much of a difference after they were mounted on the rod. Bottom line is that it worked better than I thought it would, with low cost compared to commercial bluing agents. However, were I making rods professionally, I would experiment with commercial bluing agents and try and match the color exactly. The only thing I would do differently is to forget the steel wool, and first polish with Meguires or one of the 3M compounds. I may have put a few minute scratches in end cap. Or they may have been there before, but the bluing made them more visible. (Jeff Schaeffer)
Probably, no matter what bluing agent you used, you would not get exactly the same color on your various pieces. Nickel-silver is funny stuff (well, not so damn funny when it comes to bluing), as it all seems to take the color differently. I don't know why, but I suppose it must be because not all 18% nickel silver is actually the same overall alloy - or something. Anyhow, nickel silver is goofy stuff when it comes to bluing.
I use a product from Brownells, called "Dicropan IM." This has worked well for me over the years, but what I have found is that bluing goes best when you give the process a little "jump start."
I always clean the piece with acetone or lacquer thinner, and then apply the bluing agent with a tiny piece of #0000 steel wool, rubbing somewhat vigorously all over as I go. The steel wool quickly becomes blackened (because of the bluing agent), and this leaves an already-deeply-colored liquid on the nickel silver. This seems to start the reaction more quickly and more uniformly.
Rub pretty hard with this first application, but for no more than perhaps only 15 seconds, and then wipe the piece dry with paper towel, that is, while it is still uniformly wetted-out. Do not allow any area to become dry, because oxygen will soon begin to create those cruddy looking splotches. The paper towel will absorb the remaining liquid, and rubbing with the moist paper will burnish the surface slightly. This begins to blend the color, minimizing the areas where color has "taken" unevenly. But the color will not yet be nearly as dark as you want it.
Let the piece "cure" for a couple hours or so. Additional applications of bluing are now needed to darken the color to the degree you wish. BUT TAKE HEED! Bluing agents will remove existing bluing as surely as they lay on deeper color. So, no more slathering it on with steel wool!
What you want to do for ALL SUBSEQUENT coats is to use only a few drops of the bluing on a piece of paper towel--only enough to make the paper "sweaty," but not at all saturated. Now wipe the nickel silver piece firmly and quickly with the moist paper towel. If you have the proper amount of bluing on the paper, there should be only a minute moisture film left behind on the surface, one that evaporates almost as soon as you see it. This action will slowly deepen the color without removing previous applications.
If you see that the color is being removed, you have applied too much liquid. At worst, you only need to go back to the steel wool technique to get started over again. It's not a big deal. You'll get used to this quickly.
Do this as often as you wish, allowing each "coat" to cure for an hour or so between applications. But remember, less is better on these follow-up applications. You only want to rub on a barely moist film, one that acts on the surface of the metal perhaps more because of humid fumes than because of actual liquid.
The great advantage of this technique is that you are burnishing color into the surface molecules without laying on an actual coating. But remember, too, that bluing nickel silver is not at all like bluing steel or iron. Regardless of bluing agent or technique, the blued film is always delicate (at best), and it needs the protection of lacquer or varnish. (Bill Harms)
I blue with photo fixer and hardener, and have done for some time. I am very happy with the results, and have posted several times on the method I use.
A couple of comments. Without any appreciation of the chemistry involved here, I am sort of subjectively convinced the whole thing goes better if I use a dab of hardener added to the fixer.
I like to wash them in soapy water, rinse well, and defat and dry off with 70% alcohol. Used use ether until someone on the list pointed out how dangerous that stuff is. No adverse effects since switching.
The "mottling" that you describe is quite a common phenomenon, but the really weird thing is that it always seems to right itself, and I don't ever leave it any longer than a few minutes in the bath. I just get it out, rinse it and put it aside to dry, and it comes out OK.
I also, like you, notice a pretty consistent difference in "take" between ferrules and reel seat components, but again, in NEARLY every case, mine always seem to sort themselves out before they are dry. Any irregularities can be swabbed up with a Q-tip dipped in the solution. (Peter McKean)
What is hardener? Is this also a photo developing solution or something used in gun metal bluing? (Jon McAnulty)
Hardener in fixer hardens the photographic emulsion on the photo paper. It has no effect that I know of on its use in darkening nickel silver. Does fine with or without hardener. If you have a fixer with the hardener in a separate bottle or package, just omit it. If (like Kodak Fixer powder) it has the hardener included, don't worry about it. None of the chemicals involved are dangerous, especially in the small concentrations involved. (Barry Kling)
Photo chemical; additive to fixer solution. In photo work its function is related to the protein/gel emulsion on the film- which is why I say I have no earthly idea why I think it makes a difference in bluing nickel silver. (Peter McKean)
I've used the powdered Kodak Fixer (hardener is part of the formula) at normal working strength and it worked fine. At first it looked patchy but it gradually became very consistent. I just rubbed it on with a paper towel soaked in fixer. (Barry Kling)
How well can fittings be touched up using Kodak Fixer, and what the procedure?
This would be in the context of:
- a reel seat cap that has been blued/darkened by immersion in the Kodak Fixer solution, then
- the above reel seat cap is then pinned, and the wire filed/polished flush with the fitting but now the pin hole area needs to be blued/darkened again for touch up. (Kyle Druey)
I haven't had exactly your situation, but I've darkened them by simply rubbing the solution onto the surface for several minutes. I mixed my fixer double strength last time, but regular strength works, too. (Barry Kling)
Just swab the stuff on with a cotton bud - "Q-tip", I believe you know them as: move the solution around, and rinse it off under running water when you have got the darkness you need. Couple of minutes, tops.
Buy Ilford fixer. It's liquid, and saves a lot of buggering around mixing it up.
Now we get to the heresy bit. I KNOW all that has been said about the function of Hardener in the photo process, and how it's supposed to function to toughen the protein phase of the surface emulsion of film, and I KNOW how it cannot therefore have any effect at all on bluing nickel silver, and I KNOW that anybody who thinks that it does or can possibly improve the bluing must be (a) stupid (b) mislead (c) inept (d) in cloud cuckoo land (e) a wanker, or (f) all of the above!
But it does! (Peter McKean)
Exactly. I don't bother bluing ferrules until they're mounted now. It's too much bother to try to clean up the tabs without messing up the bluing. I just swab on the fixer before I wrap them. (Robert Kope)
And it doesn't mark the cane? (Dave Norling)
I just did some up last night. No, it doesn't affect the cane. Although I don't know if it will do anything to the epoxy I mounted the ferrules with. (Mike Canazon)
As others have said, it doesn't seem to mark the cane, though I've always been careful to try and keep the fixer off of the cane while bluing, and rinsed it thoroughly with water when I reached the shade I wanted. (Robert Kope)
OK, let's get this straight. Only a stupid wanker (etc.) would say the hardener HELPs the bluing. But what am I if I've used Kodak powdered fixer (mixed double strength), which includes a hardener, and found that it still works OK? I kind of like the sound of "Wanker" but am unsure where I stand. (Barry Kling)
Now that's really interesting!
The Kodak product contains hardener, does it really? I have spoken to so many people who use the Kodak stuff, and they have very consistent results.
I started to use it because the bluing kit that REC sells contains Part A and Part B, which are fixer and hardener. They were helpful enough not to sell me any, because they thought it was a little silly to be sending fixer across the world, but just told me what the parts were.
I used the Ilford product, because I have heaps of their X-ray fixer and hardener always on hand. I get the feeling that Kodak has probably got a less firm grip on the market here than in the US, so it is as easy to get one as the other. And fixer is pretty much fixer.
Now I am going to have to go out and get some of the Kodak stuff to try, aren't I? (Peter McKean)
As you'd be aware there are quite a few different products made by Ilford including different fixers and hardeners as well as films and papers so what is recommended for one is not necessarily recommended for all and the requirements vary depending upon the task required. To add to that some chemicals are recommended for negatives, some for prints and also some will do both.
In Peter's case of developing x-ray pics these are basically negatives that will be experiencing a lot of handling so the resin, medium and processing are all geared that way and the use of a hardener is required. As you'll read below if you get that far using a hardener is not recommended in some cases because it doesn't actually add anything to the hardness of the neg and in some cases is not compatible but it all depends on the required end result and I very much doubt Ilford are making this stuff to blue NS ferrules.
So, even though REC use a two part mix for their blue and Peter uses a two part mix that does not necessarily mean it's required but it does depend on what fixer you use. I'm using Ilford Hypam Rapid Fixer which I've always used for photography which is a non hardening fixer that fixer can be added to for negatives though it's not recommended for Ilford paper prints. No matter what it does seem to me that the hardener only really hardens the coating of the paper or resin and not the blued effect on NS BUT in Peter's case using chemicals designed for use with x-rays it could be different.
IMHO you don't need to use hardener if you varnish over the blued bits and pieces. (Tony Young)
I think it's very clear that hardener in fixer does NOTHING to harden nickel silver. It's made to harden a gel-like emulsion of silver nitrate and other stuff on the surface of a negative or photographic print (not the silver itself, just the emulsion in which it is suspended) once it has dried. The only question is whether the hardener interferes with the darkening of the metal. (Barry Kling)
Now that Tony Y. has educated me about wankers, let me say that there are various chemicals used as hardener in fixers, which may have different effects on bluing. Any fixer with the traditional fixing compound (I believe it is sodium thiophosphate, but so-called rapid fixers use a different thiophosphate the rest of which escapes me at the moment, I can look it up if anyone cares) should work. Have you found that the liquid hardeners actually interfere with the bluing, or merely don't help? My guess would be they simply don't help but do no harm, but I'm not clear on what you experienced. Did you use rapid or regular fixer? The Kodak powder I used is a regular fixer, but they also make two-part liquid rapid fixer with separate hardener. Ilford chemicals are readily available here, too, by the way. An on-line source for any of these is www.calumetphoto.com, for anyone who doesn't live near a photo shop selling darkroom supplies. (Barry Kling)
It's sodium thiosulphate.
Rapid Fixer is ammonium thiosulphate.
Just thought I'd clarify in case any chemists out there thought about mixing some up. No idea what thiophosphate would do. (Bill Hoy)
For a long time I have been a user of photo fixer to blue my nickel silver hardware, and with one exception I am very happy with the results.
The exception is that when bluing the Garrison-type pocketed butt caps I get from REC, I have very mixed results with the final bluing effect achieved. I don't know whether this is a result of the work hardening that occurs in the process of extrusion, whether the alloy is different, or whether there is a factor operating here of which I am totally unaware.
So I managed to get some Birchwood Casey Brass Blue to see whether the effect was better with that.
I have heard several of our list members say that they are very happy with the product and with the results, but I am personally buggered if I can get the color to stay in place.
It produces a lovely dark blue to black, but it just wipes off! From my point of view, the photo fixer is a vastly superior product
Comments? (Peter McKean)
This is the only way to use Brass Black. Polish the NS with #0000 steel wool, wash with a denatured alcohol saturated cotton ball, rinse with water, dry the NS over a heat gun, while still warm swab on the Brass Black with a cotton swab rubbing the BB into the NS, wait a min. or so and rinse with water, polish lightly with a tissue and coat with lacquer. I have never had a problem doing it this way. (Marty DeSapio)
My results were similar. I have never tried the fixer, but I never liked the Brass Black. I like Dave LeClair's formula. It is the best by far, and it is less finicky in my opinion with oil, residue, and such. (Bob Maulucci)
I always thought this could not be done, but in poking around a metallurgy book I turned this up. I think the question has come up in the past, so here's the answer.
I would personally not do this at home. Hot acids and their vapors are very dangerous, and I would want the full facilities of a chemistry lab, and the assistance of someone who knows how to mix such a solution safely. In short, If you don't know what you are doing, and aren't trained to understand the dangers, don't do this.
- 180 parts sulfuric acid
- 50 parts potassium bichromate
- 200 parts water
Heat the solution to 190-210° F and put in the stainless parts for 20-30 minutes. Rinse the parts thoroughly with water (Tom Smithwick)
This is for those of you that have purchased MegaBlue from me (now supplied by Joe Byrd). I discovered quite by accident that MegaBlue works not only on NS and Steel, but also works on Stainless Steel.
I have a roll of 304SS wire that I started using for hooks to dip parts in the MegaBlue and I noticed today that my dipping wire was jet black. I cut a few pieces of the 304 wire up and twisted them on an old Snake Maker I have and guess what... 2 minutes exposure in the MegaBlue and the SS Wire is black as coal. I rubbed on it with everything but sandpaper and steel wool, and it's pretty durable!
Sorry about the commercialism, but I've sold about 40 bottles of this and thought this would be easier than trying to find everyone's email address. (Bob Nunley)
Just thought I'd say thanks to John Channer for a great tip he passed along a few weeks back. I just ground down a handful of bronze Snake Brand Guides to the shape I like, which is just a touch different than Mike supplies them. Touched them up on a Cratex wheel to polish them (Thanks John Zimny). To restore the color to the ground guide feet, I just dipped a Q-tip in Dave LeClair's bluing solution, and dabbed a little on the feet. Rinsed with water, and you can hardly tell the feet were ground at all. (Harry Boyd)
I have been experimenting with some different bluing agents and thought I would share some observations.
Kodak fixer mixed according to package directions. Tried it, hated it. Works slowly unless you heat it, which makes it smell worse and it still works slowly. I had major problems with ferrules and reel seats coming out different shades due to variation in composition. About the only thing going for this method is that the stuff is often available locally at photographic stores so you can get it in hurry. Note that I have not tried this at higher strengths, and some list members use it that way.
Birchwood Casey brass black. This stuff works on NS far better than fixer. It quickly produces a deep black finish that to me lacks any hint of blue. Does not work at all on ferrous metals. It is perfect if you like or want a finish that is close to jet black.
Megablue. Sold by Bob Nunley (now supplied by Joe Byrd). This stuff is impressive. It works on both ferrous metals and NS. You dip the part for 5 seconds, rinse, let dry, and buff with a cloth. Everything I have tried comes out a uniform bluish black with a pretty luster. The look is closer to a gun finish than anything else I have seen. Not quite as dark as with brass black, but my first thought after buffing the first experimental piece was "this is EXACTLY the color I have been looking for".
There is one thing about Megablue (now supplied by Joe Byrd) that you should know. More is not better. You dip for 5 or 10 seconds, then stop the action with a rinse in water, or water with a bit of baking soda. Leaving the part in the solution longer is counterproductive. This is detailed in the directions, but the short working time makes me view this product as something that would work best for dipping parts before they go on the rod (at least when used at full strength).
There are several other bluing agents that I have not tried, mostly because I can not get them via mail or ups. They are too caustic or toxic to ship. This is not a problem with Megablue (now supplied by Joe Byrd).
No financial interest, although Bob is a good guy and has helped me out of a number of panic situations. (Jeff Schaeffer)
Any ideas out there as to how to clean the epoxy and binding thread bits from mounted, blued/blackened serration tabs without wrecking the blue job? (Bill Bixler)
The easiest way of course, is not to blue them until after they are glued to the blank, the second easiest way may be to thoroughly clean with alcohol after binding the freshly glued ferrules letting your binding string absorb lots of alcohol which will let the string release more cleanly after the epoxy dries. The third easiest way may be to use a dental tool to scrape out the epoxy crud between the tabs and wipe down with steel wool or paper towels, which of course, may lead you back to the easiest way and re blue again after gluing! (Mike Shay)
If you have a dental pick, you can very carefully pick the epoxy off. Otherwise, you might want to try pushing hard on the epoxy that's on the ferrule with the edge of an old credit card. Sometimes, if there's not a whole lot of pressure, the epoxy doesn't bond as well to metal as it normally does. If all else fails, you can scrape it off with and Exacto knife, then touch up the scratched metal with a black sharpie. (Mark Wendt)
Do what you have to do to get the excess glue off, then just redo the bluing. I don't blue the tabs myself, the color thread I use looks better over bright tabs even if the exposed part of the ferrules is black. (John Channer)
I've never found a good way. In my first attempt I wound up cleaning off the ferrules, polishing them with 0000 steel wool, and re-bluing them on the rod using a Q-tip. Now when I want blued hardware, I blue all the other hardware before mounting, but don't bother with the ferrules until they're on the rod. (Robert Kope)
Don't blue the ferrules till after they're mounted. That way you can clean 'em up before bluing. (Hank Woolman)
I cover the blued part with masking tape and then use waxed dental floss to bind the ferrule taps down, if you use enough floss almost all of the glue is brought to the surface of the floss. Very little clean up after removing the floss, waxed does not stick. (Chuck Irvine)
Just finished bluing some guides from Denver Dave using MegaBlue from Mr. Nunley (now supplied by Joe Byrd). What are people using to protect the bluing? (Scott Grady)
I use spray brass sealer, it's just clear lacquer. Works well, and pretty durable, without a lot of buildup. (Greg Kuntz)
I use Krylon "ColorWorks Epoxy Enamel". In several thin coats, it dries quickly, deepens the luster, and seems tough as nails. It comes in a red aerosol can, I got it at Home Depot here in Canada. (Shawn Pineo)
I use a product called Sta-Brite. It is a clear lacquer, made for brass. Lamps, beds, etc. It also has a UV protection, which you want, otherwise, the bluing will fade over time, from the sunlight.
Any of you who haven't tried Bob's MegaBlue (now supplied by Joe Byrd), should give it a try. I just got some recently and tried it on a reel seat. It works fantastic. It doesn't give the Black color that my Oxidizer did. It is more of a deep blue/black. I think it looks sharp and it is very easy to use and is a lot less toxic than the Oxidizer. (Dave LeClair)
When bluing "rod jewelry", is lacquer the very best coating to prevent "wear-off" of the dark color? I'm bluing up some stuff and thought if someone had a different idea, I would give it a try. (Dewey Hildebrand)
The stuff to get is called Aero Gloss. Its used by the remote control airplane folks to coat their engines and such. Its fire and fuel (not fool, well maybe!) proof. I unintentionally verified this for myself when I had to removed some blued ferrules recently, the flame from the alcohol lamp did nothing to the Aero glossed surface... tough as nails and easy to apply with a Q-Tip. (Kyle Druey)
I have heard that most of the ordinary bluing agents we use are UV sensitive on nickel silver, and need protection. Will Aero Gloss provide this, do you think? Or, have I heard wrong? (Bill Harms)
The best protection I have found is Sta-Brite, the clear gloss brass lacquer that is designed for both interior and exterior use. Recommended by Dave LeClair and is really gives the ferrules a tough coat. (Jerry Young)
Where do you find Sta-Brite? I battle the same problem and constantly reblue. My last dip/drip I usually varnish ferrules and all. Don't know how this will work though. (Bill Bixler)
I use Aero Gloss and you can find this in the airplane department at Hobby Lobby. This stuff works great. (Dave Henney)
I get my Sta-Brite from Woodcraft. (Dave LeClair)
I am thinking of bluing my ferrules and reel seat for my first rod. I have tried to read the archives but they are just too confusing with what is available. What do you all recommend? And can you blue chrome guides? (Andrew Chan)
I've tried three or four different solutions and Nunley's secret sauce is by far the easiest to use and the most effective. Its called MegaBlue (now supplied by Joe Byrd), I think its some sort of Okie concoction using the slime from a frog, car battery acid, and a few feathers from a baby chicken. I am not sure exactly what is in the solution but it is great stuff. (Kyle Druey)
Without a doubt, MegaBlue from Bob Nunley (now supplied by Joe Byrd). I've used his MegaBlue a couple of rods now, and it really is easy to use, (if you follow Bob's directions... Don't ask how I know) and the bluing is a very pretty color. (Mark Wendt)
I have used Bob Nunley's MegaBlue (now supplied by Joe Byrd) on ferrules and seat hardware for three rods thus far. Great stuff and really simple to use. (even for a dummy like me) Second, I took Kyle Druey's advice on the Aero Gloss to coat the blued hardware. Really nice finish. Dries in fifteen minutes or less. I blued some extra pieces I had around, coated with Aero Gloss and heated, then tried to chip, and so on. As the saying goes, no drips, runs, or sags! Thanks, Kyle! (Dewey Hildebrand)
I have been using Megablue (now supplied by Joe Byrd) and love the stuff. What can I spray on it after the bluing to keep it looking so good. (Mark Dyba)
Aero Gloss or any clear lacquer works. (Dave Henney)
I use Sta-Brite, which I "think" is nothing more than clear lacquer (gives the same kind of high when using it in unventilated areas), but I'm definitely going to try the Aero Gloss after what Dewey said about it. (Bob Nunley)
I've been told that Krylon's spray lacquer works very well. But I have also been told that these bluing agents require UV protection against gradual fading. Does anybody know about that? And would lacquer have any UV protection? (Bill Harms)
Both Sta-Brite and Aero Gloss are clear lacquers that are formulated for outdoor use -- Sta-Brite originally used on outdoor brass fittings and Aero Gloss on model airplanes.
Sta-Brite is available in spray only and states that it has UV inhibitors. Aero Gloss comes in both liquid and spray forms but I haven't seen any claims for UV inhibitors. However, I'm willing to bet it has some given its intended use. I don't think you can go wrong with either as a protection for blued components. (Rich Margiotta)
I wanted to blue aluminum and was wondering if anyone had experience and could suggest what to use to make some aluminum reel seat rings look a little snazzier. (David Ray)
To the best of my knowledge, there is no bluing prep. for aluminum. There are, however, a number of coatings that might be used, but apart from anodizing, all are unsatisfactory as they are not very permanent.
I sure would appreciate being corrected if anyone happens to know better. (Bill Harms)
Birchwood Casey makes a bluing for aluminum and it works great. (Dave Henney)
My experience has been that this is just another of the coating products that does not last. (Bill Harms)
Aluminum Black leaves a less than desirable finish. The one bluing agent that makes the Al look decent is Nunley's MegaBlue, leaves a deep rust/brown type finish that looks nice but its difficult to get even. (Kyle Druey)
Birchwood Casey makes an "aluminum black" formula, the same type of solution (though a different chemical composition) as their "brass black", and available at the same type of shops. (Chris Obuchowski)
Birchwood Casey, the maker of Brass Black has a product called Aluminum Black. I used it with limited success. I think results depend on the alloy used. (Marty DeSapio)
The only thing that really lasts on aluminum is anodizing. Anodizing is creating the layer of aluminum oxide at the surface (which is harder than aluminum and will eventually appear if you anodize or not) and dyeing it whatever color you wish. Caswell Plating sells small, hobbyist kits to do this. (George Bourke)
As usual, it always pays to look at McMaster-Carr or Brownells. OK, so McMaster-Carr does not sell anything in this instance. Brownells does offer several products, from the blackening compounds mentioned to paint type products. Short of anodizing, which is by far and away the best and most permanent solution, as George indicted, you might take a peek and see what they have. (Larry Blan)
How about trying Lindsay Books? (Art Port)
At one time Lindsay Publications had a book out on color anodizing aluminum for artists, etc. It might be worth checking to see if they still have it. I don't have their contact info with me, but I think they are in Chicago. (Tom Smithwick)
I'd beware of following any methods in Lindsay publications. They reprint old (expired copyright) books and many of the methods presented are dangerous or illegal today. They even have a disclaimer to that effect in their catalog. (George Bourke)
Good point on the safety issue. I never bought the book, because I'm just not comfortable keeping strong chemicals around the house. I worked in a chemical lab some years ago, and learned to err on the side of caution. A little knowledge really is dangerous when dealing with some of that stuff. (Tom Smithwick)
Fortunately, you PROBABLY won't find a safety issue with old anodizing instructions, it generally involves electricity and organic dyes (even Ritz will work). But, I don't know what is in the book you suggested, so just be careful and check things out first. (George Bourke)
Another group of people that do a lot of anodizing are amateur astronomy types: have a look here. (Mark Brown)
I have got the job of restoring a very old aerial reel this involves making a new front flange. Does anyone on the list know of a substance I can treat the aluminum with to age the new parts? The stuff I use for brass and nickel silver does not work. There has to be something out there to tarnish it. (Barry Grantham)
Just did a web search and one of the results came back talking about a fellow who put aluminum headers on the exhaust manifold of his car (admittedly a bad idea) and was complaining that after the maiden test drive his fingerprints were memorialized in an oxidized state.
So, I wonder if some sort of oil/acid smears heated on a test piece of aluminum would yield your aged look?
Another way to go is to ask someone who anodized aluminum fairly often... They’ll probably know how to put you on the path to “old”. Might try firstname.lastname@example.org. His site suggests to me he knows his way around aluminum. (Gerald Buckley)
Birchwood Casey makes an "Aluminum Black" as well as their "Brass Black". I don't know if it would be what you're looking for. I think I got mine from Dixie Gun Works, but it was a while ago, so not sure. (Neil Savage)
When you blackening ferrules do you also blacken the serration tabs of the ferrules. So the serration looks after winding and varnishing black like the rest of the blacken ferrule. Or do you wrap the serrations with masking tape when blackening and you can see after winding and varnishing the shine of the nickel sliver through the silk? (Olaf Kundrus)
I do not blue the serrations. Personal preference. (Marty DeSapio)
I blue tabs, serrations, and all. Personal preference <g>. (Harry Boyd)
Rod #4 was a 2/1 Dickerson 7012 that I donated to a local fishing club as a raffle item. The only thing that I wasn't proud of was the bluing. I used Casey's brass black on NS hardware, and got a really nice color that blends well with the rest of the rod. However, after the rod was handled, the sliding ring, and butt cap blue, (everything that didn't have a coat of varnish over it) started rubbing off. I have never done any blue work of any kind, and didn't know that I needed to coat it with a protective seal of some sort.
With #5 (7012 ) I'm hoping to blue the hardware. This one will be for my own use, so I can stand to play around a little. I have blued the ferrules and it looks good. Put a light dusting of Helmsman spray varnish on, waited about an hour and a half and dusted it again. Now here is the problem, it's been three days and the stuff has yet to dry. It's still very sticky. I have dipped the rod sections, and I'm waiting for the ferrules to dry so I can put them on the rod. I'm thinking about just stripping the varnish and blue off and starting over, but I want to get it right this time.
On to the questions....
1. What would you guys recommend as a coat to put over the blue to protect it?
2. On the band and cap, would this coating need to be a little tough? So that it doesn't wear off as easily?
3. I'm guessing that it will need to be a light coating of something in more than one layer, don't want any runs on the hardware.
BTW, can't recall who recommended the seaweed silk tipped in highland green,(that's what GW calls them anyway) but that stuff really looks good clear, and on a honey colored rod. Thanks! (Robert Hicks)
The Helmsman will probably never dry properly. I have used Sta-Brite Spray lacquer for many years, over my Oxidizing with very good results. You can get it from some of the wood worker companies. I can't remember the name of the company I get it from. They sell mainly sand paper and supplies.
It is used to spray over brass, lamps, etc. It is hard and also has UV protection, which is important, as this will help keep it from fading over time. One good coat does it. (Dave LeClair)
You can buy some clear Lacquer in spray can, or I use Aero Gloss you can find it in a Hobby shop in the airplane department. (Dave Henney)
Woodcraft carries Sta-Brite. Try Woodcraft. Look under finishes. (Dennis Higham)
You may want to consider Minwax fast dry spray polyurethane (or any other spray poly) over a blued finish. It does not have to be lacquer. What I have heard is that lacquer starts to turn white after repeated exposure to moisture, and the poly doesn't. I have no idea if this is true, but the poly worked well on some caps I made recently. And you can find it at any hardware store. (Jeff Schaeffer)
Should I apply a finish over blued NS ferrules. I don't know how durable this type of bluing is. (Lee Orr)
Alas, no bluing technique is all that durable on NS. We can sort of dye the surface with our various processes, but the lasting effect isn't at all like bluing steel -- which becomes more-or-less permanent, since the bluing process actually alters and fixes the chemistry of the surface molecules.
Bluing on NS will always rub off over a rather short period of time. Actually, I've often wondered if UV exposure itself might not be responsible for the fading color. In any case, applying lacquers or varnishes will help prolong the life of the NS bluing. (Bill Harms)
Yep. Spray something clear on 'em. (Brian Creek)
You should always apply a clear coat over blued nickel silver. I use a product called Sta-Brite. It is a lacquer finish made for brass. It also contains a UV protection, which is needed to keep the bluing from fading from the sun light. (Dave LeClair)
I've seen lots of posts about blued finishes but what about Japanned finishes? Does/did anyone use these on ferrules and guides? How are they applied -- just black lacquer? (Larry Puckett)
Heddon japanned the hardware on many of their midrange models, all it amounts to is black lacquer. (John Channer)
Japanned finish is often used to describe the finish on the Stanley planes. I wondered if it was also referring to the knurled finish on the metal also? I tried to look up Japanned and couldn't find a reference. (Scott Turner)
Bernard Hills from Heddon always sprayed black lacquer on the ferrules. I will try and ask his widow exactly what it was, or maybe Winston might know. (Bret Reiter)
Japanned finish refers to the black lacquer only and I believe it is derived from the black lacquer boxes made in Japan. It also was applied to classic reels. (Larry Puckett)
I asked another rod restorer about 7 years ago how he was making the Heddon ferrules real dark black, and he told me india ink. So I tried it and it works you also need to spray a couple coats of clear lacquer over the ferrules. Then you just dip rod sections clear up to end of ferrules. Seems as though the Heddon rods were famous for the Japanning ferrules. (Dave Henney)
Do you guys blue your ferrules before or after mounting them on the rod?
I recently blued and varnished a set before mounting and found that it was kind of a pain to get the excess glue off of the tabs after they were on the rod. I was being especially careful not to ruin the finish or color, so perhaps I was being too careful and it isn't really an issue, but I'm wondering how others deal with it.
I dipped in Mega Blue for the color and then dipped 2 coats of Aero Gloss for the finish. (Chris Carlin)
I Oxidize my ferrules after I have them installed on my blanks. After I have the tabs all fitted, I wrap the blank with masking tap right at the end of the tabs and then dip the ferrules, rinse them and dry them. Then I spray a coat of Sta-brite clear over them to protect them from scratching and fading from UV rays. (Dave LeClair)
Is it possible to heat color (heat treat like one of my shotguns) nickel silver? That is without ruining parts. (Jim Christman)
On a graphite board, I think it was FAOL, someone talked about changing the color of nickel silver reel seats by heat treating in an oven. I have no idea if this would adversely affect the properties of the metal that make it good for ferrules. (Henry Mitchell)
Years ago, someone wrote to the list that you could impart a casehardening like color to nickel silver by boiling it in automatic transmission fluid. I boiled some ferrules for about half an hour and could detect no color change. Too good to be true, I guess. I'd certainly like to hear of some successes. (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)
If you win the lottery, you could afford to plate the ferrules in iridium - it has a nice "iridescence" to it.... Or, I suppose you could just buy a sheet of holofilm and glue it on. (Claude Freaner)
I recall an old post about coloring NS by heating it in car transmission fluid. Sorry, I don't recall the details. (Darryl Hayashida)
To the best of my knowledge, no. The color casehardening treatment of steel (or iron) requires temps that would melt nickel silver and solder. But actually, it's the quick plunge-quench in (furiously) bubbling water that imparts those beautiful blue, green, red and straw colors to the shotgun.
The process begins by packing the steel in a mixture of ground leather and charcoal inside a specially constructed iron box (or case). The whole thing is then subjected to extremely high temps for an extended period of time, then removed quickly from the case and plunged immediately into air-entrained, distilled water. It's a process requiring ferrous metal in the first place, since the outer skin of the object must become carburized from the packing material during the heating stage. When the operator determines this has taken place, then the heightened oxygen-levels in the water will act upon the surface to produce the colors (and its extreme hardness).
Lastly, the steel is tempered two or three times to return the metal inside to normal "malleability," while the highly carburized (and colored) outer skin remains in its hardened state. A tremendous amount of experience is required to do this well, as different steels, packing formulas, temps and duration will cause different reactions. This is almost an art form in itself, and one needing great familiarity with both metallurgy and chemistry. Additionally, the danger of warpage always exists, and the case-hardener needs to know how to avoid it.
Now, how one would go about attempting something similar with nickel-silver is beyond me. (Bill Harms)
If the heat treatment changes the color of the metal why would it need to be clear-coated?
It doesn't worry me with reel seats, but would heat treating change the metallurgical properties enough to cause it to be a problem with ferrules? (Henry Mitchell)
The clear coat dresses it up a bit plus the "finish" will scrape off but seems to be more durable than cold bluing. Maybe someone else can comment on ferrules because I don't heat blue my ferrules. (Gary Williams)
I blue reel seat hardware with a torch and get great results. I never could get good lasting consistent results using chemicals on screw locking hardware, but the torch method is wonderful. I just buff the parts on my high speed buffer after they have cooled down. Buffing them gives a bright shiny blued look that I really like. I don't use any clear coat on top of the hardware.
For ferrules, I use a chemical. Even on machined ferrules, the torch method alters the tolerances slightly. I also blue ferrules after the tabs are tapered and they are attached to the rod. I get a much cleaner look this way and I don't think I'd want to heat a set of ferrules to red hot while on a rod! (Jeff Fultz)
My knowledge of this comes from my jewelry making experience. Nickel silver is considered a cheap metal mostly for costume jewelry.
Nickel silver, like most other nonferrous metals act opposite of iron or steel as far as annealing or tempering. To anneal (soften) NS it is heated to red hot and quenched quickly - dropped in water. To temper or harden NS is heated and allowed to cool slowly or is work hardened - drawn out in wire, formed into tubing, rolled into sheets, etc.
Work hardening NS usually hardens it more than heating and slow cooling does, so if the ferrules were constructed out of drawn tubing, heated and cooled slowly I would guess that the ferrule is a bit softer than when you started, but this type of ferrule is soldered together, and the solder will melt and your ferrule will fall apart, so I wouldn't try it with this type of ferrule. If the ferrules were machined from rod stock and were not heat hardened previously, the heat coloring process would tend to harden it. If the ferrules were heat hardened previously, the heat coloring process probably wouldn't change anything.
P.S. Heating and allowing to cool slowly accelerates the tarnishing process along with tempering NS. I suppose that is the color they are talking about. (Darryl Hayashida)
Anybody have a good way to blue a Mildrum stripper? Nothing I have seems to touch it. (Neil Savage)
You can blue Mildrum stripping guides with a torch. Heat them till they are red and then let cool. I buff mine after for a nice shine. (Jeff Schaeffer)
This stuff is about the best for color & durable I've ever used. It's called 44/40. Wipe it on, and then buff it off, that's it. (Jake Andrews)
I'm interested in bluing ferrules and already have the bluing solution. What is the best sequence for bluing? Before gluing on the blank, after gluing on the blank; if pinning the ferrule, does that change the sequence? How about when to lap the ferrule - before or after bluing, before or after gluing? (Walt Hammerick)
Opinions will vary but this is how I do it:
1. Cut ferrule stations on rod blank
2. Crown ferrule tabs
3. Mount ferrules and bind tabs
4. Clean up any squeezed out glue from tabs
5. Lap male slides
6. Tape up male slide and plug female
7. Prep surfaces
8. Blu, oxidize, etc...
9. Spray or dip in clear lacquer, acrylic, etc...
10. Remove tape and plug.
Of course, if you use TRU-BLU all of this effort will end with a beautiful deep, dark color on your nickel silver components. For reel seats, I blue the hardware and then glue the parts on. (Jeff Fultz)
How much of the ferrule do you blue? From your process described below it sounds like you dip and blue the whole ferrule, crowns and all. Does the Tru-Blu have any effect on the cane that is exposed in between the crowned tabs? (Larry Puckett)
Yes, I blue the entire ferrule except for the taped off slide portion on a male. I think it is especially important to have the crowned tabs blued when using transparent or translucent wraps. TRU-BLU will not effect cane, glue, wood, varnish, etc....(Jeff Fultz)
I have a rod in process that I want to use blued/oxidized hardware on. In addition, I want to pin the ferrules. Should I blue the ferrules off the rod, glue and pin and then re-oxidize the ferrule where I put in the pin? Or, should I mount and pin the ferrules and then blue the ferrules while mounted on the rod? My concern with bluing ferrules while mounted on the rod is the possibility of getting the bluing solution on the rod.
I plan to use Joe Byrd's new Super Blue solution to blue the ferrules. I thought I saw somewhere that Super Blue will not leave any color on the cane if it comes in contact with the cane? (Bob Williams)
I would suggest bluing the ferrule after it is mounted on the rod and pinned. I'm sure Joe will chime in but I doubt the bluing solution will have any harmful effect on the cane. (Jeff Fultz)
I don't think you have to worry about the bluing agent affecting the bamboo.
I have used, for most of my rods, a strong solution of photo fixer, and have frequently had to touch up the color prior to wrapping and finishing Currently I have bought some of Jeff's Tru-Blu (it is such an Aussie name, I had to) but have yet to use any, though this week probably. Jeff tells me the same applies to his product.
Just to be on the safe side, I do rinse the chemicals off as soon as I can, but so far no problems at all.
Be a devil; chuck a piece of cane into a bit of the stuff and leave it a few days to see how bad it can get. I'll bet nothing happens. (Peter McKean)
I normally do all my bluing with the ferrules mounted on the rod. The bluing solution will not harm the cane. (Joe Byrd)
This is a question for you all I have never been at all sure about as perhaps there is no definitive answer:
When do you Blue your ferrules,
a) on the rod and why?
b) off the rod and why? (Paul Blakley)
I've been doing mine on the rod, since by the time I get around to doing it, the ferrules have been fitted and lapped, and I no longer have to worry about redoing part of the bluing. Blue it, put some clear lacquer over it, and start wrapping. (Mark Wendt)
I use the LeClair formula, so I do it off the rod. It is a bit caustic to get near the rod. (Bob Maulucci)
Caustic it is, but I have had not problems bluing on the rod with some well-aged LeClair's. My hair might fall out, but the ferrules seem to stay on OK. (Jerry Madigan)
Yes, it's true, I have never had a problem when I had to do that. I just figure it must be nasty stuff, so I limit the times I get it near the rod or varnish. My hair is falling out no matter what I do! (Bob Maulucci)
I blue mine after they are mounted on the rod and fitted. Then I blue them and clear coat them and don't have to worry about putting any scratches on them while I fit them.
I blue the ferrule, including the tabs. (Dave LeClair)
Having tried blue before fitting and blue after fitting but before finishing I now do the bluing as the last item after completion of all varnishing. Mask off the ferrule wrap to protect from wire wool then remove for degreasing and bluing. Finish with Jade oil and when dry apply one coat of Incralac.
You will gather I deliberately do not blue the ferrule tabs and I mask off ferrules when dipping the shafts. (Gary Marshall)
This is a question for all of you who have blued hardware.
Is there a way to polish parts after you have blued them, and the follow-up question is does one need to polish blued parts before sealing with a lacquer?
Also, has anyone successfully blued stripping guides (esp. the Mildrum type), and if so how did you go about it
I'm getting ready to tackle some parts and would like to hear from those with experience before I dive in myself (I don't want to ruin anything if I can prevent it). (Chris Obuchowski)
I had some success on a Mildrum stripper with 44-40 gun blue. None of the other bluings I had on hand would touch it. (Neil Savage)
Jeff Fultz's TruBlu gives good results on NS hardware. Dip for 60 seconds, run it under water, polish with a soft cloth and then coat with a sealer. I just need to find a harder sealer then the acrylic coating I've been using. (Tim Pembroke)
Harry brought this up some time ago. He recommended Nyalic - a polymer coating used on spacecraft, airplanes and cars etc. I've tried it on NS reel fittings after dipping them in undiluted photographic film/paper fixer as recommended by Peter McKean and others, and while having had no wear so far, the finish on these items is excellent. (Sean McSharry)
I've used Birchwood-Casey cold bluing, with success, on several projects.
Anyone have comments on using it to blue NS ferrules? (Terry Kirkpatrick)
If it's for bluing steel it may not work on nickel , or it may be too hot to work right. Try Brass Black, it works very well on ferrules. (John Channer)
More than a few people use B&W fixer with success. Clean the ferrules well using your preferred metal cleaner, I use metho and don't touch them with your fingers again. Mix the fixer with some water in a bowl, a stronger solution that you'd use for film is good. Extra points are given for imaginative vessels used to hold the solution BTW. Peter McKean uses a Bunikins bowl which is a nice touch and hard to improve on IMHO.
Drop the ferrules into the vessel and keep it all moving so you don't get blotchy bluing. The result is very nice and quite permanent. Completely so if you varnish the ferrules. (Tony Spezio)
All our bluing products are meant for steel. Nothing in our nickel silver alloys really accepts bluing in the true sense, and none of our products does more than lay down a superficial deposit of an oxide - some with good tenacity, some lousy.
I haven't used the Birchwood Casey product on ferrules - though I imagine it works - and prefer Brownells "Dicropan IM." In all cases, the nickel silver must be absolutely free from any kind of film. I rub with lacquer thinner and steelwool first, followed by alcohol on a paper towel. Then, I put a few drops of Dicropan on a little patch of steelwool and rub the ferrule (or whatever) vigorously. While still wet, rub it dry immediately with a paper towel. The surface will become coated with a pretty stable coat of gray, though it may be a little "splotchy." (The blued steelwool provides an oxide that almost seems to "dye" the surface of the nickel silver.)
In a second step, fold a paper towel a couple times into a tiny square. Apply one drop of Dicropan to the folded corner, squeeze out any excess between your fingers and swipe the moistened patch repeatedly all around the surface. (The patch MUST NOT be wet, and if done properly, you're probably working more with very moist fumes than with actual liquid.)
The color deepens gradually as you swipe the surface; the splotches all begin to blend; and you control your final results slowly and easily. When satisfied with the color, allow the metal to "gas-out" for a day before coating with varnish or lacquer. (Bill Harms)
I am looking to try my had at bluing some nickel silver reel seat parts this weekend. I was wondering if anyone has use Brownells Oxpho-Blue solution and can offer any helpful tips, cautions or anything that might help improve my chances of success. (Will McMurrey)
I have tried them all and I can tell you that the Oxpho-Blue won't do the job that you want it to. I have made up an Oxidizing solution for many years, that was made especially for nickel silver, but I can't ship it any more, because of shipping regulations. They have gotten very tight after 911.
I would suggest that you contact Jeff Fultz, He makes a very good oxidizing solution and he can ship it with no problems. I am sure you would be a lot happier using Jeff's solution instead of Oxpho-Blue. This is coming from over 30 years experience as a licensed gunsmith and cane rod maker. As I said, I have tried them all. (Dave LeClair)
I will take Dave's advice and Pick up some of Jeff's magic elixir. Now I remember the accolades for the stuff just didn't remember it at the time I ordered the Oxpho-Blue. (Will McMurrey)
I suspect nobody has posed this question before, but this list is amazing in so many ways...
I want to blue 2 stripper guides for a pair of sexy flamed rods. Here's the catch -- they are both Agatine (synthetic agate). I am wondering if the bluing I am using will adversely affect the center ring.
I am using Brownells Oxpho-Blue "Contains phosphoric and Selenious Acid, Cupric and Nickel Sulfate."
No idea what the agatine is.
Probably no worries, but I would hate to end up making these things melt or become brittle or something. This is the kind of thing I lie awake then fall asleep thinking about, so the imagination gets the best of me. (Carl DiNardo)
Agatine is a red German made glass. Bluing shouldn't affect it BUT I don't want to be the one responsible for causing you to ruin them. What I've done a few times that seems to work pretty good is "japan" them for lack of a better description. In other words I've colored them with black PERMANENT magic marker(just like you do to cover any grinding marks on guide feet) and then when dry sprayed with clear acrylic. The agatine was covered with small circular pieces of masking tape while using the marker. I have one done like this on one of my rods and after 3 years it hasn't faded or chipped yet. (Will Price)
Okay. I hold nobody responsible for anything happening to the guides (except, of course, myself), and I am going to go ahead and blue them. I don't quite know when I will get to it, but I will report back for the interest of info sharing when I do. (Carl DiNardo)
Agatine is glass. Blue away!
By the way, when the frame is blued, it can darken the appearance of the agatine. (Leonard Baker)
Just a picture to brighten (or maybe darken?) your day and let everyone know that all went well bluing the previously mentioned agatine stripper guide.
I am pleased with the result, and like the darkening effect it has on the red agatine, too. (Carl DiNardo)
Does the agatine really darken, or is it an optical illusion due to the darkened frame? Or can you tell? (Neil Savage)
It is the darkened frame causing the effect. If I hold them straight on and look into a light they are the same. And I am blind. (Carl DiNardo)
See what happens when you don't listen to your weird ol' uncle Len? I told you agatine was glass.....
Thanks for the insight, I was hoping for a way to tone down the brightness. Now that you are vision impaired, mayhaps some kind maker will make you a bamboo cane. (Leonard Baker)
I have just finished oxidizing some ferrules on a rod I am finishing, I once again used Jeff Fultz's oxidizer. As usual I am amazed how well this stuff works. I also use his Browntoner and this is another product that works like a dream. I also know that he has taken the time and effort to make this available to anyone who want to use it. This takes more effort than it is worth and I for one feel we owe Jeff a big collective thanks for his efforts. (Joe E. Arguello)
So, I have had success with bluing, but I am now faced with a finish situation. I have sprayed my ferrules with clear finish. Tried a water base and a solvent based finish (Krylon etc.) Neither finish adheres very well. In fact, I went to mask off a ferrule, and the tape lifted the finish right off! Any tips? (Paul McRoberts)
Gudebrod Rod Varnish Part #822. (Joe Arguello)
I have better results by applying a coat of Birchwood-Casey gunstock wax to my blued furniture; I suspect that any good grade carnuba-based auto hard wax would do as well or better. It's just that I happen to have the B-C wax on hand. (Peter McKean)
You can protect the bluing on ferrules by spraying them with Minwax quick drying polyurethane. Works way better than lacquer. (Jeff Schaeffer)
Can you blue chrome guides? (Tom Key)
I would like to blue some guides and ferrules and think I remember a thread that led to my conclusion TruBlu is the stuff to use - correct? Is that something I can pick up at my local Ace or Home Depot? (Tom Key)
Only if Fultz happens to be in there. :^) Try Jeff’s web site. As usual no $$ interest, wouldn't get any out of him anyway. (Darrol Groth)
Looking for some Payne bluing fluid.
Please let me know if anyone has some available. (Larry Tusoni)
Dave LeClair used to make it, but if I remember correctly, it can't be
shipped across a state line, you might have to go get it. (John Channer)
John is right. I do have a batch made up, but I can't take a chance shipping it. It is illegal to ship this stuff and I would probably pay a big fine, if I got caught. I am only selling it out of my shop in Elbridge, New York. If you don't live too far away from me, you can pick it up at my shop.
I know George Maurer has a lot of it for sale at his shop, if you are closer to PA , you should contact George. I'm not sure if he will ship it or not. Sweet Water Rods. (Dave LeClair)
Is the formula for this concoction available somewhere? Or is it a trade secret and we would all have to die if it was revealed? (Duke Normandin)
Unless you've gotten some off list responses, I'm taking it you are having as hard a time as I had finding some a couple of months ago. I found two good folks who had some. It can't be shipped. I had to drive to get it. I live in the "Phoenix" area of AZ. I drove to NoCal to pick up on bottle and to Denver to get another two. That makes approximately 6 oz of fluid cost about $1000.00 (Fuel, motels, etc.) Oh sure I had some fun while I was at it but it was strictly a "business related" trip. LOL
Best of luck!
As an aside, you might contact Bruce Howell in Grants Pass. He has an excellent formula similar if not the same as the Payne formula that Dave LeClair makes. He might part with some. (Mike Shay)
I have 2 bottles of some kind of bluing, not marked Payne however. One called "Original Formula Silver Oxidizer" by The Fly & Rod Room and one marked "Mega Blue" by R.L.Nunley, Maker, with the instructions still attached. You're on your own with the Silver Oxidizer.
I'm willing to part with both and the Mega Blue has never been opened but the Original Formula is missing a very slight amount that I used. First one first served. I don't even know how I liked the one used or if I did a decent job. I did at the time decide that black ferrules and guides were not for me. One deciding reason was that the bluing did wear off at spots, especially the wear at the guides and the reel seat hardware. Maybe I didn't blue things correctly. (Jack Follweiler)
The Silver Oxidizer was sold by Dave LeClair. I think I still have a bottle somewhere. As I recall it's toxic, so if you do have some take care when using it. (Dennis Haftel)
Has anyone tried Birchwood Casey's Brass Black? (Ron Larsen)
Yes it works fine providing the NS is properly cleaned, dark blue gray color. (Gary Marshall)
I used it on my last set of ferrules. I got a nice gun metal gray, good even finish. Did about 5 rounds of the Brass Black with a Q-Tip. It looks really good, but no where near black. If you've seen some of the SIC guides the plastic guys use, it's about that color. In my case, it was the color I was looking for. (Rob Holland)
Brass black and cold gun bluing solutions don't work very well on Nickel Silver. I've tried them all. Most cold gun bluing works by laying on a fine coating of copper onto the metal and then the solution turns it dark. So it is building up a coating on the metal. If the coating is too thick, it will come off. The only solutions I have found that really work good on Nickel Silver, are the solution I make up, which was made especially for Nickel Silver and Jeff Fultz solution. (Dave LeClair)
I used Brass Black quite a bit before Jeff's stuff came out, it works very well and gives a nice black color if you do it right and coat it with something when you're done. I just varnish over everything I blacken when I varnish the rod. I gave up on blackening reel seat hardware because no matter what I did it always wore off, black hardware in front of the grip and bright cap and ring seats have become part of the "look" of my rods now. (John Channer)
Since we are on the subject, what will blue or blacken Duronze? Has anybody that has made Duronze hardware tried to blue it? (Scott Bearden)
Since Duronze is aluminum bronze, when a well prepared ferrule is dipped Brass Black works instantly to produce a uniform "charcoal" patina. TruBlu seems to have no affect on aluminum bronze. (Paul Franklyn)
Jeff Fultz's TruBlu is awesome stuff. Before I use it I scrub the parts with acetone and 4/0 steel wool, then clean with acetone. Then I'll use a cotton rag to repeatedly wipe the True blue on and dry it off. I scrub lightly when I dry it off. Then when I get the color I want I rinse the part with alcohol. I've got a rod that I blued the ferrules on 3 months ago and never coated, still looks great.
TruBlu also works great on Duronze. (Mark Shamburg)
Glad to know it works on Duronze. I already liked the fact that it is less toxic than other formulas. So if Jeff is reading this, I will be buying some soon. (Scott Bearden)
The Birchwood Casey Brass black works great on the older brass ferrules (yellow brass) like some of the South Bends and other production company rods. Even though nickel silver is white brass I have not had very good luck using Brass Black on them so I only use it on restoration work. I have had decent results on nickel silver using Birchwood Casey gun blue. (Will Price)
I, on the other hand, have had great success with Brass Black both on ferrules I have machined myself (18% NS), and with some I had purchased in the past. You do need to polish then clean and dry the ferrules (wet acetone or any other solvent on the ferrule with inhibit the oxidizer from working uniformly).
It's currently what I prefer (I've used Super blue before, but never Megablue).
Go figure. (Chris Obuchowski)
Interesting, Will. I had just the opposite? How did you prepare the ferrules for the gun blue? I've got some spare male ferrules and some gun blue. I might give it another shot. (Terry Kirkpatrick)
I probably should have used the words acceptable to me, as decent could mean that the results were close to the blue/black that one would expect of properly blued ferrules. Just as Dave LeClair stated cold bluing products do not work well on nickel silver. It was all I had on hand at the time so what I did was thoroughly clean and scuff up, for lack of a better description, the ferrule with 4/0 steel wool and denatured alcohol. I didn't time the soakings but it took approximately 1/2 dozen lengthy soakings (if I had to guess, I would say 1-2 minutes each time) followed by rinsing off, drying and looking at the results. Finally arriving at a very dark gray/light black that I can only describe as the result you get when laying a pencil on its side and rubbing a shaded area on a piece of paper. Since the rod was for me and I thought the ferrules looked OK, on the rod they went. That was a little over 2 years ago and I still think the results are acceptable. (Will Price)
There a book "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas, Processes and Trade Secrets" on page 682 there gun bluing. (Rich Westerfield)
I just got around to trying Jeff Fultz's stuff and achieved a very pretty Root Beer color that I like a lot. I don't think his stuff is too toxic to ship.
Usual disclaimer - no $$ interest. (Darrol Groth)
I am using Jeff Fultz's TruBlu, and am very happy with the results. Once the piece is blued, I apply Birchwood Casey Gunstock Wax over the surface and polish it to a dull gloss. That makes it pretty durable, but even if it does wear, it is dead easy to refinish with nothing more complicated than a cotton bud (Q-tip).
However, human nature being what it is, I would love to try some of the Payne formula to see if it is any better/different. Living where I live, there is quite obviously no chance of my ever getting my hands on any by purchasing some; so, should anybody actually know what is in the formula, would you please consider telling me, so I could have an industrial chemist make some up. Obviously, you would not be missing out on a sale by doing this, nor is it even remotely possible that I would be able to sell back into the US market, even if I wanted to do so.
As far as the toxicity is concerned, well, things are toxic only in proportion to the carelessness with which they are handled.
Probably a storm in a teacup, after all, as the Fultz product is very good! (Peter McKean)
Yes, you can use sodium thiosulphate alone for bluing. It's Kodak photographic fixer. It sucks. Takes forever, and I never could get sufficient darkening. I experimented with different bluing agents, I settled on Bob Nunley's Megablue (now sold by Joe Byrd). Fast, and it gave consistent results. I still have a tiny bit left, and will likely go with the Jeff Fultz formula when I run out. (I think bob no longer is making it).
I personally believe that rodmaking is dangerous enough without cooking up mass quantities of noxious chemicals - it might be worth it if there was a discernible difference between a ferrule blued with the original Payne formula and one blued with one of the safer products. So far, no one has shown me a difference, or convinced me that it matters. But I admit that I don't restore vintage Paynes, so it may be VERY important to some.
Someone mentioned trouble with blued reel seat components losing their color. Try spraying them with Minwax spray polyurethane instead of lacquer and see if that gives you better longevity. (Jeff Schaeffer)
Also clear acrylic enamel works very well in protecting bluing. (Doug Easton)
I used photographic fixer to blue ferrules for years.
Because I have heaps of the stuff, I used Ilford X-ray Fixer, and I had extremely good results.
I never found it to be slow, but the thing that eventually made me give it up in favor of TruBlu was that it had a less than ideal bluing action on work-hardened nickel silver - reel seat caps, for example.
As with most things in this business, you need your preparation to be spot on, though. You need clean, dry and smooth surfaces. But you need that in any case! (Peter McKean)
I personally believe that rodmaking is dangerous enough
Rodmaking isn't nearly dangerous enough! If it was there would certainly be more entries for the coveted Nunley Award! I'm still pluggin' away and my life long ambition is to one day stand on stage and thank my supporters as I accept the award. Hard to beat anyone who's dunked there wife in the cold Canadian water out of a canoe though. I think the guy is lying about injuries he's suffered after that! He obviously doesn't know how much some of us need the award to justify our own existence.
Anyway, both Dave's "Payne Formula" and Jeff's TruBlu are fine products. They both work VERY well. Much better than photo chemicals IMHO. I never did try any of Bob's stuff. I wish I had. BUT, there is a difference. If you are after that pearl black finish, you want Dave's juice. BTW, I don't redo old Payne's. I just like that look. It's why I drove 4 thousand miles to buy three bottles of it. But that's just me. And now I'm destitute! But I have 6 oz of the stuff! (Mike Shay)
I do quite a bit of photography involving the use of raw chemicals like lead acetate and a lot of others just as bad and worse and it's bad news and best avoided if you don't have a fume flue and the proper breathing gear and gloves just like Homer Simpson wears to work.
You also need to take into account what to do with the waste. You also may have trouble getting the raw materials.
Now I've tried Dave's formula and it's great but since nobody out of continental USA can get the stuff unless you plain want to play at Heath Robinson B&W fixer or the brass "blues" will get the job done and done pretty well. (Tony Young)
I have to second - I have been using Heico fixer with great results - Soak times vary - some of my hardware less than three minutes- but time can be extensive (I'm at 3 hours for my ferrules) but the results are superb. (Rob Smith)
Don't agree at all. Provided you clean the ferrules properly and don't touch them again it works perfectly well and gives a very dark gun barrel black blue to the NS. I use methylated spirits to clean the ferrules I use liquid Agfa B&W fixer at about 1:1 fixer to water and agitate till I see the color I want which takes about 5 minutes. It wont etch the NS like the stuff that'll eat through almost everything it touches so you need to varnish the fittings to maintain the color unless you want them to patina with use. (Tony Young)
I don't mess with cosmetics like ferrule bluing very much, but I did have some spare time and a couple of rods laying around so I gave it a try. I cleaned off the ferrules real well with paint thinner on fine steel wool. I had some ordinary black spray enamel from the hardware store that I use to touch up goose decoy heads so I coated the ferrules with it.. Then I coated them with spar. It looks pretty nice and has lasted a lot of fishing. The caveman strikes again. (Bill Fink)
I picked up a few bottles of Birchwood Casey's Antique Brown M38 a while back and I've used it with very good success on ferrules, agate guide frames and n/s reel seat hardware,. You can get pretty much any tone from a gentle darkening to near black. It does require a lacquer overcoat as it doesn't darken too deep.
It won't touch any of the snake guides I've tried and isn't easy to find in small quantities. I've kicked around the idea of getting a gallon and breaking it up, but Alaska isn't the best place to be running a shipping warehouse from. ;) I ended up picking up a few semi-diluted bottles from Arizona Sculpture.
Mike McCoy still makes and sells bronze snake guides, and with a bronzed agate and PacBay's bronze tips you can have the whole package. (Chris Carlin)
Could you point me to a source for the Pac Bay Bronze tip tops? I have been looking for them and have yet to turn any up. (Scott Bearden)
I get mine from a distributor I work with, but you can get them retail from Mudhole, though they aren't cheap! (Chris Carlin)
Yeah, but where do you find the bronze stripping guide? (Wayne Kifer)
M38 works just fine on n/s stripping guide frames, though the solder joints are slightly off color, and PacBay also has a Mildrum-style stripping guide in Bronze. (Chris Carlin)
Started making my own Duronze hardware not long ago and had given a bit of thought to Chemical treatments to develop a nice patina without having to wait for it to do so on it's own. A local friend had taken a bronze casting class not long ago and mentioned the instructor treated his finished castings to darken them. At my request he spoke again with the guy and came back with the following info.
"Sulferated potash is probably the way to go to blacken it. Heat the bronze and dissolve the potash in hot water and either dip or brush on. He also mentioned ferric nitrate if you wanted to bring out the golds, reds and browns. He said he has heard soaking in milk overnight will darken it but has never tried it himself. Also he said that you need to put some sealer on it after it has darkened. He usually uses wax but other things might work also."
Thought I'd share this with those who are, or want to, make Duronze hardware. Anyone had any experience with these chemicals? Opinions? Alternatives? (Wayne Kifer)
I've used Birchwood Casey's M38 for a number of ferrules and agate guides. Ferrules come out great but the solder joints on the agates are a bit discolored. It is fairly minor though and I've been very happy with how the stuff works so far.
I purchased mine semi-diluted from Arizona Sculpture.
Here is a photo of a few items I bronzed using the M38. You do have to coat the finished items with lacquer or some other protection just as if you were using a bluing solution. (Chris Carlin)
Sorry, I should mention that I've only used the M38 on nickel silver but I suspect it'd work fine on Duronze as well. (Chris Carlin)
"Mikes Stuff", what ever that is, works wonderfully. (Bob Norwood)
I have used Birchwood Casey Brass black which gives a good dark finish but takes a bit longer than with brass or nickel silver.
I have also used "liver of sulphur" which is potassium sulphide aka sulfurated potash. It requires patience but can give a range of shades from brown to black. Lots of information on the web about its use in patination.
The subject of Bronze patination goes way back, you are barely scratching the surface, there are some very obscure mixtures out there often used with heat or in successive applications.
The liver of sulphur is easy to get hold of as it is used to darken "art clay" so it is a good starter. (Gary Marshall)
I just completed my first rod with blued hardware and am getting ready to dip - should I cover the blued hardware, prefinish with lacquer or acrylic, or dip it bare into the varnish? (Tom Key)
It depends on what final color you are locking for. Lacquer, or clear enamels like Rustoleum clear enamel, which I use, impart little color but they tend to make the color a bit deeper. Varnish will impart some color and it depends on what varnish you are using. The more UV blocker in the varnish the darker amber tone they will add. How this will affect the final color is hard to tell. (Doug Easton)
Can you blue snake guides or do you buy black or TiCH guides if you want dark guides? (Greg Reeves)
Buy black ones. Hard chrome snakes do not take bluing. (Will Price)
As long as they are not stainless steel, you can blue them. You can't blue stainless. (Dave LeClair)
I tried to purchase a SuperBlue Kit from Joe Byrd but haven’t been able to get a reply from him. I made the purchase on the 5th using PayPal and the money still hasn’t been claimed. Does anyone know if he is still selling SuperBlue? I have tried calling, emailing, and sending comments from his web site but have had no response.
What would be your choice for blueing? I chose SuperBlue after reading through all of the comments about it on the tips page. (Greg Reeves)
I use the Jeff Fultz's Tru-Blu. Easy to use and for me is a very good product. (Marco Giardina)
Brass Black works at least as good if not better than anything else. I've tried everything there is except OxphoBlue, I have 5 or 6 barely used bottles of stuff laying around, except for one bottle I sold to somebody, and the only one I've replaced in 10 years is the Brass Black, at least after Dave LeClair had to stop shipping his stuff. (John Channer)
I really like this stuff.
The color seems to be more blue/black than the straight black you get with Brass Black. (Rich Margiotta)
Here is the next thing I've been wondering about. What is presently the best bluing solution to use? At one point according to the archives there was a Payne formula available. Anybody still making that one or have the formula to share? The other three options I found are Brownell's Oxpho Blue, Birchwood Casey Brass Black, & Birchwood Casey Gun Blue. There is also a Birchwood Casey Super Blue that is supposed to be double strength. OH! and Bob Nunley once had a Mega Blue he was selling. He doesn't show it on his site as for sale now though.
So what are you using? (Floyd Burkett)
I like Brass Black. Dave LeClair used to make the Payne stuff and it was great, but he can't ship it any more due to new hazmat regulations. (John Channer)
Me, too, and I've tried all three Birchwood Casey solutions. (Steve Yasgur)
Let's see if Jeff Fultz chimes in he's got the best stuff out there. (Joe Arguello)
Brownell's Oxpho Blue & Birchwood Casey Gun Blue are for steel. You can use Birchwood Casey Brass Black and the result is a deep black finish. Personally, I use and I like the Jeff Fultz's Tru-Blu: it produce a very nice deep blue finish. (Marco Giardina)
I use Jeff's stuff. Here's his web address. (David Bolin)
The best bluing solution is what a lot of the old makers used, and I believe it's called Arsenic TriChloride... Dangerous stuff, but it does a great job... forget getting it shipped. I used to buy it from a chemical house in NYC, but they can't ship it these days. I quite using it, because it was somewhat hazardous and that's when I started using the Mega Blue.
A couple of years ago, Jeff Fultz was at the shop and I got a bottle of TruBlue from him. Really nice stuff and it gives a deep blue black.
Now, these days, I use a two stage bluing process that gives me a VERY deep BLACK BLACK color. First, I do a couple of 3 second treatments in Mega Blue (Mega blue is somewhat caustic and more than 5 seconds exposure and it starts to eat away the NS). I rinse with cold water to stop the MegaBlue then put the part in Tru Blue for anywhere from 2 to 3 minutes and it's done.
BTW, I do still mix Mega Blue, it's just that it cost almost as much to ship it UPS as it does to buy it, so I just don't mess with it unless someone just asks about it. (Bob Nunley)
I am currently using Jeff's stuff. On some rods I am using the dark brass colored Snake Brand guides. If I dip in Jeff's solution for only 30 seconds or so, I get almost a brassy color to my ferrules and reel seat hardware.
Good stuff! (Jim Sobota)
I use a product called 44/40 instant gun blue that someone on the list recommended some years back. I don't remember who suggested it, but I thank them. You can find it at your local gun shop, it's not expensive, as I recall it was less than $7.00 and it is easy to use. I clean the surface with 0000 steel wool and then with alcohol and rub it on with a scrap of cloth. It works almost instantly. Then I wipe it off with a clean cloth scrap. Since I always have Tru-Oil handy I just wipe a coat of the Tru-Oil on after it is dry and that seems to protect it sufficiently. This is not as professional a finish as many rodmakers like, but it is cheap, quick and easy and those are my criteria. You can find it locally and try it for pocket change and see if it suits you. If not, you're not out much. I hope this helps. (Hal Manas)
Does this product work on brass and ns in a similar way, color wise? (Mike Monsos)
I can't say for certain as I have never used it on brass, however nickel silver is a form of brass so it should. OK, I went down to the shop and found some ammunition and I tried bluing one round. It works and it looks just slightly different from one of my blued ferrules. The ferrule is an old Orvis step down ferrule that I got from another rodmaker last summer. I blued it then so that may have something to do with the difference, but I think that the difference is just the difference in the color of the underlying metal. They have to be right next to each other to see any difference. I hope this helps. (Hal Manas)
Thanks Hal for doing that for me. That’s just what I was hoping to hear. I might give the 44/40 a try as a experiment on my next rod. I have a gun shop nearby that I should be able to get some when I need it. I like the simplicity of you application method. (Mike Monsos)
I don't have any mega-blue or Jeff's stuff. The only thing that I had (the Birchwood-Casey products) wouldn't touch a Mildrum guide, but the 44-40 gun blue worked. Just FWIW. (Neil Savage)
Thanks for the endorsements guys, I don't know if Tru-Blu is the very best stuff (the Payne formula rocks) but it is the safest and it's available and easy to ship. (Jeff Fultz)
Jeff's Juice is great stuff - this is an endorsement! Not quite sure what I'd do with 16 oz though? I've dipped quite a few parts and the level of the 8 oz bottle has barely gone down. At this rate is will evaporate through the bottle long before it will be used up. That should make it's half life several hundred rods. (Tom Key)
Thought I’d change the subject a bit. I just got a bottle of Oxpho Blue bluing agent. Has anyone used it and have any tips on using it on brass (Ferrules) and chromed guides to get a near match? (Mike Monsos)
I have used it on ferrules and it works well on nickel-silver ferrules. Just be sure to follow directions for preparation so the metal is clean. Otherwise results can be blotchy. On chrome plated stuff it is a bit more difficult and my results were somewhat mixed to poor and I just gave up. It does nothing to stainless steel. Maybe that's why its called stainless? (Joe Hudock)
I'm about to attempt two things I haven't done before: pinning and bluing. I'm actually more interested in pinning the cap of the reel seat than the ferrules, but it mandates bluing after mounting. What tape or other material do you use to mask the slide of the male ferrule? (Henry Mitchell)
I've used Teflon tape to get a crisp clean edge that's held on with blue masking tape. I think I read about using it on the tips site. (Joe Hudock)
I just use blue painter's tape. Just enough tack that it removes easily enough, and also seals the male barrel from the bluing solution. (Mark Wendt)
I don't bother, just blue the whole thing, the bluing wears of the male slide, or "clean' it with 0000 steel wool. (David Van Burgel)
Couple questions regarding bluing. I have some non-blued guides and agate strippers from Snake Guides. I would like to blue them using TruBlu (just placed an order). I don't foresee a problem with doing the guides, but am wondering if I can do the strippers? Will I harm the agate? Will the stripper take bluing evenly? I was not sure if the solder would take the bluing the same way the NS wire does.
Next issue, anyone ever try using Birchwood Casey's Super Blue? I tried it on some Rush River ferrules yesterday and was getting spotty results. I buffed with 0000 steel wool, wiped down with alcohol (not the drinking kind) and then dipped for 30 sec before rinsing in cold water. I assumed that Super Blue is meant for steel and not nickel silver. This is why I went ahead and ordered Jeff's TruBlu. (Matt Fuller)
Matt, my experience with the Birchwood Casey products is that they’re fine, but technique affects results. I used to hang parts in the stuff for a minute and pull them out nice nd dark. When I tried to wipe them off, the blue came off in flakes. Personally, I prefer the aluminum black to either the gun blue or super gun blue. The technique is to get the part absolutely degreased (I use acetone) and then shake the bottle up, hold a folded paper towel or piece of cloth over the mouth, shake it again, and twist/rub/polish the part with the dampened applicator. NO MORE THAN TEN SECONDS! Rinse in hot water. Dry with a clean cloth towel. You’re actually drying/polishing. Examine your part. It’ll be about 15% blued. Actually, it’ll just look “not well-cared for.” Repeat the rubbing with the damp applicator. Ten seconds maximum And so forth. This time, the part will go to about 90% blued, and it’ll be a deep blue-black. You may well need a third application, and you may need to rewet the applicator before you do it, but short, repeat applications are the trick.
See Bob Nunley’s recent thread combining a couple of treatments and TruBlu. Also: No financial interest in Birchwood. I recommend Krylon clear acrylic as a spray-on coat after you’ve blued the parts. So far, not a single agate stripper has perished at my hands. Bear in mind that, sprayed or not, the stripper will come in for a lot of “contact” from hands, loose line coils, etc. (I’ve wondered at times whether Flex Coat, thinned, wouldn’t be a better choice for the strippers, but that’s just a private musing.) (Steve Yasgur)
Also: I have since taken to buffing metal on a cloth wheel with Simichrome or other very fine polishing compounds and THEN doing the degrease/blue/coat routine, and the polishing seems to have no discernible effect on the metal bluing evenly. So . . . another finishing step. I should also add that I usually blue after the ferrules are on the rod. Reel seat hardware, checks, and the stripper I do before they're on the blank. (Steve Yasgur)
I don't know if the bright Snake Brand guides are chromed or nickel plated, if nickel they will blue fine, if chrome they won't blue at all. I know their strippers will blue very well and you won't hurt the agate at all. Super blue is heavy duty bluing meant for hard steel, it is great for bluing tip tops, but too strong for ferrules and reel seats, I prefer Brass Black for those. If TruBlu doesn't work on the guides, try Super Blue, it might do the trick. (John Channer)
I would like to blue the hardware on my next rod. Can anyone suggest a bluing/oxidizing solution? If I was close I would pick up the oxidizer from Dave LeClair but I live in the North West so that is not an option. Does someone in the Oregon/Washington area mix a similar solution and if not what is the best alternative. (Ray Taylor)
You can get Brass Black at most gun shops and many Walmarts, it's made by Birchwood-Casey and works very well. (John Channer)
Having used Photo fixer for bluing the hardware on 50 or 60 rods, with pretty much success, I changed to TruBlu as made by Jeff Fultz, and I am delighted with the results.
One of the problems with the photo fixer (I used X-ray fixer, actually, same stuff) was that there were some bits it just would not oxidize effectively; I came to believe that these were bits that had been work-hardened. Garrison style butt caps, for example, would go a dirty sort of grey-green and that's it!
But the TruBlu works just fine on all these.
I don't like to varnish over my bluing, so what I do is wipe it over with Birchwood Casey's Gunstock Wax and polish it off, and that seems to prolong the no-fade period adequately, and one is spared the glitter that you get with varnishes, and also the chipping and peeling.
I have the Payne formula, but frankly the chemicals are mildly unpleasant, and the TruBlu works so well that I am not tempted to make it up. (Peter McKean)
Has anyone blackened Duronze? What did you use? (Grayson Davis)
Birchwood Casey Brass Black. It works great, and is available in most gun shops. (Tom Smithwick)
I have never blackened any Duronze that I have used. I don't know how well Duronze takes to this, I'll let those who've blackened it answer but here's something to think about . Winston Rod Co. used Duronze ferrules and they just overwrapped the ferrule with thread. I've seen some rods that Chris Carlin has over wrapped the ferrules as well and I think it looks better than bluing the ferrules. 'Course it takes more time to do it that way. (Will Price)
Has anyone used Black Magic bluing solution? If so, have you been cutting it with anything? Right from the bottle the stuff is almost too strong. (Matt Draft)