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Duplicating Hamilton late 992B "Black" hand bluing

deviceman

Registered User
Jun 29, 2012
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0
1
I am adept at conventional steel heat bluing. I am trying to get the Black color Hamilton had on their watch hands. It must have been a chemical process. Has anyone the recipie?

Thanks a bunch.
 

JazzDrummer Chris

Registered User
Jul 19, 2021
7
2
3
Hamburg, Germany.
Country
I have never tried it but found some instructions:
Clean hands with ethanol first, then take a heat resistant glass bowl, fill with vinegar, drop the hands into the bowl; heat up for 15 minutes and it should be done.
Here is a German instructional video clip, looks easy enough. Actually I have a set of rusted 992B hands, will try myself soon.


That may not shine yet... car polish should be able to do that.

Otherwise just google "gun-barrel oxydizing" or "steel browning" and see what you find.
 

JazzDrummer Chris

Registered User
Jul 19, 2021
7
2
3
Hamburg, Germany.
Country
Surerly an alternative, but won't be the same. You want hands blued, not black. I am not sure what it is, could be that blanc (silver) steel shines through which makes the difference. Any gun shop probably could help, they do that too.
 

JazzDrummer Chris

Registered User
Jul 19, 2021
7
2
3
Hamburg, Germany.
Country
... the opening post was for "steel heat blueing". Didn't know that later 992B hands were black, thanks for that one.
 

measuretwice

Registered User
Jul 28, 2019
135
40
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Toronto
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One of the processes is called slow rust blueing, might help with searching. The blueing (cold or slow rust) despite the it being called blueing, results in something fairly black/brown in colour. Not sure the look you're after but like Karl says it might work. There is also cold bluing, just wipe it on, sold by gunsmith supply places. Gets to a similar colour, but not as nice a finish is is cherished by the gun types. I suspect like most finishes, the the underlying finish on the steel will have a great impact on results
 

Betzel

NAWCC Member
Dec 1, 2010
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There is also cold bluing, just wipe it on, sold by gunsmith supply places.
Well, I've used Bownell's Oxpho-blue. Not easy to use, IMHO, but works. Practice makes perfect, and (maybe just for me) it takes a lot of practice. The results depend on the alloy, previous blueing or whatever, metal finish, cleanliness, heat and a blend of saturation times, rub-downs afterwards (oil, rag, steel wool, etc.) and number of rinse and repeats.

NB: it eats the previous finish clean off, turns unprotected fingers brown, the vapors will damage anything within wafting range on your bench and beyond, and it stinks...But, it will not temper super-hard steel! :)

IMHO, the best finishes with this product are on old-style, high carbon steel, warmed up, but bare metal with a clean finish that is not perfect, but slightly matte (like a well-used scotchbrite pad leaves on polished steel). It has to be beyond clean each time, and for me, leaving it on longer as you go makes for a better result, so go quick at first, rub with a q-tip and repeat then let it soak in more deeply as you go. #0000 steel wool will take it clean off in a hurry, so go slow if you use it. Works well to lighten areas that got too dark somehow for a more even look. If you can't touch it while you're doing it, it's too hot, but oil on fingers leaves prints anyway, so...A blow-dryer or intense 1PM sunlight work pretty well. Maybe 150 degrees F? No harm in rubber gloves!

I have also heard of oil-burning to get carbon black. I think it's like an even 400 or so degrees and slowly drop it in used(?) motor oil.

You have to love something to do a good cold blue. By the time you are good at it, you would rather never do it again?
 

karlmansson

Registered User
Apr 20, 2013
2,857
215
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Linköping, Sweden
Country
Well, I've used Bownell's Oxpho-blue. Not easy to use, IMHO, but works. Practice makes perfect, and (maybe just for me) it takes a lot of practice. The results depend on the alloy, previous blueing or whatever, metal finish, cleanliness, heat and a blend of saturation times, rub-downs afterwards (oil, rag, steel wool, etc.) and number of rinse and repeats.

NB: it eats the previous finish clean off, turns unprotected fingers brown, the vapors will damage anything within wafting range on your bench and beyond, and it stinks...But, it will not temper super-hard steel! :)

IMHO, the best finishes with this product are on old-style, high carbon steel, warmed up, but bare metal with a clean finish that is not perfect, but slightly matte (like a well-used scotchbrite pad leaves on polished steel). It has to be beyond clean each time, and for me, leaving it on longer as you go makes for a better result, so go quick at first, rub with a q-tip and repeat then let it soak in more deeply as you go. #0000 steel wool will take it clean off in a hurry, so go slow if you use it. Works well to lighten areas that got too dark somehow for a more even look. If you can't touch it while you're doing it, it's too hot, but oil on fingers leaves prints anyway, so...A blow-dryer or intense 1PM sunlight work pretty well. Maybe 150 degrees F? No harm in rubber gloves!

I have also heard of oil-burning to get carbon black. I think it's like an even 400 or so degrees and slowly drop it in used(?) motor oil.

You have to love something to do a good cold blue. By the time you are good at it, you would rather never do it again?
The oil method creates a polymerized layer of burned oil on the surface. More or less like when you are seasoning a carbon steel frying pan. I’ve used it for steel parts that are going to get handled a lot. It behaves, and chips, like a laquer if scratched and it is certainly not a very decorative finish... Very difficult to get an even layer.

I think the most controllable and good looking under magnification should be cold blueing or rust blueing.
 

sharukh

NAWCC Member
Oct 10, 2011
377
18
18
Mumbai, India
Country
The oil method creates a polymerized layer of burned oil on the surface. More or less like when you are seasoning a carbon steel frying pan. I’ve used it for steel parts that are going to get handled a lot. It behaves, and chips, like a laquer if scratched and it is certainly not a very decorative finish... Very difficult to get an even layer.

I think the most controllable and good looking under magnification should be cold blueing or rust blueing.
Hello Karl,

What oil do you use ? And how do you go about it ?

I've attempted this a few times with forgetable results.

Sharukh
 

karlmansson

Registered User
Apr 20, 2013
2,857
215
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Linköping, Sweden
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Hello Karl,

What oil do you use ? And how do you go about it ?

I've attempted this a few times with forgetable results.

Sharukh
I’ve used canola (rapeseed) oil. I know it to create a pretty durable coat from using it on frying pans before so it seemed like a logical choice. It still ran and got pretty uneven. Browned rather than blackened in some spots and the layer is very hard to get even. I’ve used it mostly on knurlings and it’s difficult to get the oil running evenly through the valleys.

I heat the part with a torch and quench it in oil and then keep burning the oil on the part, dunking again as I go. The oil will catch fire eventually but I think it’s rather the heat in the part that will cause the oil to adhere and polymerize.
 

LarFure

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Nov 30, 2003
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In all the hands that I heat blued I only had one set come out as shiny black instead of the deep blue I was looking for. Never did figure out how it happened, and never had it happen since.
 

Jim Haney

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Sep 21, 2002
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In all the hands that I heat blued I only had one set come out as shiny black instead of the deep blue I was looking for. Never did figure out how it happened, and never had it happen since.
When you were not looking someone painted them. :eek:

I am convinced that these hands are painted black. They used them in the 1950-60's towards the end of production and would not have spent the extra time & money on a Heating process........

I have looked at them under a scope and they look like paint to me....

You can continue to speculate, but show me some proof:whistle:
 

Thomas Sanguigni

NAWCC Member
Aug 22, 2018
478
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If they were painted, it had to be a fine brush for sure. Spraying a watch hand would send it to another realm. I have used gun blueing on clock hands, but you have to polish out the blueing with steel wool. That could be equally difficult on watch hands.
 

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