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Old 08-22-2009, 10:12 PM
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What causes bluing to turn " Plum "?? What causes bluing to turn " Plum "?? What causes bluing to turn " Plum "?? What causes bluing to turn " Plum "?? What causes bluing to turn " Plum "??  
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Default What causes bluing to turn " Plum "??

I have just accquired a 28-2 that the barrel has turned "Plum", just the barrel not the rest of the gun.. looks perfect.. but plum??
Can anyone tell me why? this happens.. I have seen it once or twice on other Smiths..
THX
Sal
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Old 08-22-2009, 10:32 PM
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Per my learned collegue (johnlevick ) the cause is properly attributed to silica in the steel..


"that plum coloration is a result of a slight excess of silica in the steel,and not WD40. "

The Internet has also spawned the WD-40 caused it..

I share John's skepticisim about that particular cause..

I've used it extensively as a wipe down agent without a problem.
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Old 08-22-2009, 10:35 PM
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Default bluing turns plum

Hot tank bluing in nitrate salts is a controlled rusting process where the desired dark blue/black color is achieved by carefully controlled temperatures and solution concentrations. If the operator deviates even slightly from these controlled temperatures and solution concentrations, the result is plum or reddish color that can change as it ages. Bluing solutions wear out or get contaminated when used. Contamination occurs from drippings from rinse and cleaning baths. Improper temperature maintenance can leave the black oxide layer porous and subject to further microrusting as it ages, with resulting color changes. Worn out solutions come from failure to carefully monitor solution chemistry or rushed production where the bluing bath is pushed beyond normal use.

Since S&W (and other manufacturers) do batch bluing of parts, not complete guns, there will be the occasional mis-match of blued parts. Usually not enough to cause inspection rejection or make customers howl, but enough to notice.
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Old 08-22-2009, 10:37 PM
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I bet it's plum purty.
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Old 08-22-2009, 10:39 PM
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Gunsmiths journals and references indicate strong connection between using WD-40 as a rust prevenative on unblued steel to erratic coloration after bluing. It's the silicone oil in WD-40 and not "silica" that is the culprit. Silica is the main ingredient in common beach sand. What is it doing in steel?
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by john traveler View Post
Gunsmiths journals and references indicate strong connection between using WD-40 as a rust prevenative on unblued steel to erratic coloration after bluing. It's the silicone oil in WD-40 and not "silica" that is the culprit. Silica is the main ingredient in common beach sand. What is it doing in steel?

Silicon - MSN Encarta


Silicon, symbol Si, semimetallic element that is the second most common element on Earth, after oxygen. The atomic number of silicon is 14. Silicon is in group 14 (or IVa) of the periodic table (see Periodic Law). It was first isolated from its compounds in 1823 by the Swedish chemist Baron Jöns Jakob Berzelius. The element’s name comes from the Latin word for flint, a mineral that contains silicon.

Silicon is prepared as a brown amorphous powder or as gray-black crystals. It is obtained by heating silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), with a reducing agent, such as carbon or magnesium,

Silicon is used in the steel industry as a constituent of silicon-steel alloys. In steelmaking, molten steel is deoxidized by the addition of small amounts of silicon; ordinary steel contains less than 0.03 percent of silicon. Silicon steel, which contains from 2.5 to 4 percent silicon, is used in making the cores of electrical transformers because the alloy exhibits low hysteresis (see Magnetism). A steel alloy, known as duriron, containing about 15 percent silicon, is hard, brittle, and resistant to corrosion; duriron is used in industrial equipment that comes in contact with corrosive chemicals. Silicon is also used as an alloy in copper, brass, and bronze.

http://www.azom.com/Details.asp?ArticleID=1114

Most silicon is produced as a ferroalloy either ferrosilicon or silicon manganese, which is used exclusively in steel making. Silicon, as ferroalloy, is the most important deoxidiser in steel making. Semiconductor silicon is made mostly by reacting powdered crude metal with a gaseous mixture of hydrogen and hydrogen chloride in a fluidised bed. The main product SiHCl3 is fractionally distilled then reduced by hydrogen and is then deposited on a pre silicon filament, which is heated to about 1150°C. Further purification may be done by zone refining if required. Dopants are generally added subsequent to crystal growth.




John,

Respectfully, I hope this answers your question.
Patrick

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Old 08-22-2009, 11:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ditrina View Post
I have just accquired a 28-2 that the barrel has turned "Plum", just the barrel not the rest of the gun.. looks perfect.. but plum??
Can anyone tell me why? this happens.. I have seen it once or twice on other Smiths..
THX
Sal

ditrina/sal ,

Just for the record( and as a side note) WD-40 is not my 1st choice for any firearms applications.
I use it as a quick wipe for a wet gun in the field..always seems to be around .
That being said: it is not IMHO the culprit in the the plum color on most smiths.
Others respectfully will disagree..

Thanks.
Patrick.
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Old 08-23-2009, 12:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john traveler View Post
Gunsmiths journals and references indicate strong connection between using WD-40 as a rust prevenative on unblued steel to erratic coloration after bluing. It's the silicone oil in WD-40 and not "silica" that is the culprit. Silica is the main ingredient in common beach sand. What is it doing in steel?
John
I don't believe there's silicone in WD 40 as it's made from animal fats. WD 40 is ~ "Water Displacement 40th attempt". I use it as a cleaner and not for lubrication.

This is off their website:

(quote)
What does WD-40 contain?
While the ingredients in WD-40 are secret, we can tell you what WD-40 does NOT contain. WD-40 does not contain silicone, kerosene, water, wax, graphite, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), or any known cancer-causing agents. (quote)

Y Model 12's were known for the receiver turning plum and some believe the plum color is an indication of a possible re-blue. I've saw cylinders on a few S&W revolvers that were a tad plum color and was doubtful they were reblued. There's probably no and iron-clad rule to the plum color. It seems to appear years later??

Regards:
Rod

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Old 08-23-2009, 01:41 AM
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Default Plum Crazy

I noticed my model 29-3 unfortunately had a plum colored barrel when I bought it last year.
The price was right and its not a show piece but a shooter. (Although it is in excellent condition).
What can I say?....Im Plum Crazy.
BTW, in ordinary incandescent light it is virtually unnoticeable.
Some bright lights and flash photography bring it out.

Here are a few shots of the same gun , It really shows in some. Others not so much.
They were all taken with the same camera on different days with different backgrounds.
It is all a mystery to me.
Cheers








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Old 08-23-2009, 05:56 AM
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I have a model 17-4 that has some plum color on the cylinder. The gun was in 99% condition when I bought it and quite frankly I wasn't bothered by the slight coloration.
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Old 08-23-2009, 06:04 AM
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as you can see from the picture(3rd one down)that this 17-3 has a plum cylinder. i like it, from what i can tell it left the factory that way...
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Old 08-23-2009, 08:35 AM
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I sent a friend to a refinisher I knew to have his Pre-War Heavy Duty refinished. A Year afterwards, it's cylinder started turning Plum in color. My friend told me of it, I contacted the refinisher and he refinished the cylinder again so now it match's his revolver. I asked the refinisher why this happened and he explained the bluing salts got just a little too weak and the fact they must not have had the cylinder Hot enough when they blued it, is what attributed to it's Plum color. He shared with me that the Older S&W revolver's had much more Nickel content in their steel and this is very hard to penetrate with Modern Bluing slats if they are off, or the part is not hot enough to accept them fully... Hammerdown
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Old 08-23-2009, 08:54 AM
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WD-40 wouldn't explain why my old model Blackhawk has a plum-colored rear sight. Rear sight only!
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Old 08-23-2009, 09:16 AM
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WD-40 wouldn't explain why my old model Blackhawk has a plum-colored rear sight. Rear sight only!

Hello Enfield
Interesting you would mention this about your Ruger. A good friend of mine was visiting the other day, and we were discussing his Older Flat gate Single six revolver. He shared with me that the frame of it has some "Red streaks" through it which he explained to me that they Looked Like Lightning Bolts in nature and he was told by Ruger to send it back and they would re blue it. I guess he elected not to, but asked what would cause it ? Ruger responded telling him, that early on they took the Hot Cast Investment Ruger frames and Placed them in The Silica Sand when they were cooling them prior to Bluing, They somehow Picked up some of the sand and kept it in the steel. Once they were blued these Red streaks appeared. Somehow my Friends Gun made final inspection and got out the door without being noticed. The Silica sand Process was some how changed to eliminate this Red streak issue since... Hammerdown
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Old 08-23-2009, 09:27 AM
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I had a Beretta pocket pistol, WW2 era, that had the blue frame and the slide was most definitely plum colored. The finish was a bit worn at the time, I elected to have it reblued. When I got it back the finish was perfect but the slide more or less retained it's plum thru the refinishing effort. I was told it was due to the hardness of the steel but it could just as well been from some impurity in the steel, otherwise wouldn't the refinish have changed it? I notice all the Beretta pistols of that era have the plum slide, except for perhaps the 4UT German contract pistols which have a true blue slide.
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Old 08-23-2009, 10:50 AM
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First thank you all for the input..this place is great!!

Engine49guy..the picture of the Model 29 is EXACTLY what my 28-2 looks like.. even color.. no streaks.. no marks.. just PLUM..

It appears that there is no "harm", just a color variation.. I can live with that..
Thank you all again..
Sal
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:05 PM
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Seems like some are confusing silica , silicon , and silicone , 3 different things. Hi-silicon content alloy steels are used in hi-stress applications. It also helps molten steel fill molds in investment castings , but makes bluing tough. Bill Ruger adressed this in the book , Ruger and his Guns. It tends to take a plum/purple hue.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:27 PM
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I've also been told by many knowledgeable people that a "plum" color on any blued steel S&W meant you were looking at a non-factory re-bluing job. Recently, I purchased a used 150 series Ruger Security Six (the 150 series was the first edition of the Security Six line), and there are definite plum highlights on the frame and barrel - though I seriously doubt this pistol has been reblued by anyone.

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Dave
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Old 08-24-2009, 06:20 AM
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Funny how different folks view guns.

Generally speaking plum colors on a older model Ruger single action is a desirable feature. Hammerdowns friends gun with the lighting strikes would get many collectors drooling, as it is both uncommon and sought after...

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Old 08-24-2009, 04:50 PM
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Chrome-moly steel with a slightly higher chrome content will take a different tone too. I once made some scope bases at work using a few pieces of scrap A-2 tool steel. One piece was actually D-2 tool steel , a steel with a higher chromium content. That too took a plum/purple color compared to the other pieces.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:17 PM
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HKP7 slides have a tendency to be plum, some more than others. This is one of mine, one of the B grade's I purchased. The P7 forum had lots of technical discussions on the "plum" as well. Seems like there's two schools of thought one saying it's the type of steel, the other saying it's in the bluing process.

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Old 08-25-2009, 11:14 PM
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My Model 10 has a plum barrel, sometimes noticeable, sometimes not depending on the light. Looks just like the one pictured earlier in the thread.
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:22 PM
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Having been in the refinishing business for many years as well as doing work for some of the gun companies through our shops, all of the points ,views above ( except for the WD-40 comments) can and will be 'true" ,,,,this happens at times for ALL of the companies, and usually MORE of an issue with the Rugers, as they are "cast" 4140 chrome-moly and the batches made for these castings,MUST be "perfect" or the parts will 'plum' or 'streak as noted above.....nature of the beast...yes, for the MOST part,one must carfeully look at the gun,or the parts as this is a "fault" found all too often in aftermarket ,rebluing by many shops...have to look carefully (inspect) that the gun was NOT "improperly reblued"....
yes, the terminology of the wording for "sand" are all to often twisted, but for the most part,mean the same thing...its their application that changes for the process of the steel making itself, or the casting.......
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenpofan View Post
Per my learned collegue (johnlevick ) the cause is properly attributed to silica in the steel..


"that plum coloration is a result of a slight excess of silica in the steel,and not WD40. "

The Internet has also spawned the WD-40 caused it..

I share John's skepticisim about that particular cause..

I've used it extensively as a wipe down agent without a problem.
Huh. I get quoted in the first reply, and this is the first time I've looked at this thread! Looks like most of the queries have been answered. I'd just add that while I'm not a metallurgist, the effect of silicon causing the "plum" color was originally explained to me by an old gunsmith who does some of the most beautiful hot bluing I've ever seen, and was confirmed by folks at Essex Arms and Caspian, both of whom manufacture cast 1911 frames. I originally asked the question after my old gunsmith friend blued an Essex frame for me, and it came out of the tank plum colored. Other parts of other guns, including the forged slide I'd fit to the Essex frame, coming out of the same tank at the same time, came out a beautiful, deep blue. Obviously, it's not the bluing salts. It had no WD-40 applied, so it's obviously not that either. And no, WD-40 has no silicone in it, nor silicon, for that matter.
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Old 08-30-2009, 04:55 PM
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When some one figures it out , please post it I might want to turn some of mine purple .
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:13 PM
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Default WD-40 on Guns

I have been using WD-40 on my guns since about 1970 exclusively. I use it for cleaning and lubricating, and I clean my guns after every range session. Guns I have had since that time still show the the original blueing without fading or discoleration.
One must take care to reduce or eliminate the WD-40 inside carry guns as it can penetrate the primers. I have a small air compressor to blow unwanted WD-40 off and from the inside of the firearm. I also use WD-40 for long term storage and have never had any problem with rusting on any gun.
For lubrication of the slides on my semi automatics and on the inside of my revolvers I use Break Free CLP.
Just thought you would like to know.
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:59 AM
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I have been using WD-40 on my guns since about 1970 exclusively. I use it for cleaning and lubricating, and I clean my guns after every range session. Guns I have had since that time still show the the original blueing without fading or discoleration.
One must take care to reduce or eliminate the WD-40 inside carry guns as it can penetrate the primers. I have a small air compressor to blow unwanted WD-40 off and from the inside of the firearm. I also use WD-40 for long term storage and have never had any problem with rusting on any gun.
For lubrication of the slides on my semi automatics and on the inside of my revolvers I use Break Free CLP.
Just thought you would like to know.



Hello
I was told at Lowes Department store by the Lock Smith, to never use W-D 40 On a Key Lock. He shared with me that W-D 40 has a certain amount of Water in it's Chemical make up. I don't know if this is true, but I started using "Corrosion-X" What I use on all My revolver's and never had a problem after that... Corrosion-X also straightened out my Grandfather Clock that quit chiming and it has run flawless ever since. My vote goes to Corrosion-X Products..Hammerdown
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:44 PM
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My newly acquired K frame 3 inch model 13-3 has a plum barrel. I didn't even notice it in the shop. I observed it last night with a flashlight while he was having his bath.

It's ok...I still love him regardless of his little purple snout.
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Old 09-02-2009, 09:39 PM
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I use WD40 as a solvent and sometimes penetrant but not for lube or preservative/anti-corrosion. I don't think WD turns blueing plum though.
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by gizamo View Post
Generally speaking plum colors on a older model Ruger single action is a desirable feature. ... giz
Figures that Ruger Collectors would persue manufacturing defects....
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Old 09-04-2009, 02:09 PM
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Since WD-40 has come up in the discussion, the chemical composition is shown here:

http://www.wd40.co.uk/media/adobe/WD...0datasheet.pdf
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:23 AM
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None of my smiths show a plum color, yet. However, I had a GI M1 carbine Blued (I know, they're supposed to be parkerized...mea culpa) and the lower receiver came out bright....plum. Saw another sinner with a GI UPM M1 Carbine that had also been reblued and surprise, surprise, it, too had a plum colored lower receiver! As far as we know, we have different smiths and we both asked why the plum color. Common answer: the lower receiver (trigger guard to mag well) are made of harder steel.
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:03 AM
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Default plum color

Just my two cents worth. At one time I had a model 94 that had been reblued and was the plum color you spoke of. My gunsmith, P.O. Ackley, a noted barrel maker and author on "Guns&Ammo, said the plum color was due to taking the part out of the bluing tank too soon. He reblued it again, and the '94 came out a beautiful dark blue/black. I guess there are more than one answer to this condition.
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:44 AM
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I think that all of the answers point to one common problem but not WD 40. Bluing of steel is a difficult process. The bluing salts get weaker with age, the temperature of the steel has to be correct and the grade of the steel varies from gun to gun or part to part. If any of these factors enters into the process, the bluing is affected and the result is eventually a plum looking color.

Actually, bluing is an incorrect term. The process was originally referred to as browning. Basically it is a controlled rusting process that was applied to firearms going back to the 16 or 1700's. The purpose was to remove the shine of the steel on hunting guns and to retard the normal rusting process. It is the combination of chemicals or salts used that causes the gun color to go from a brown to a dark black. Smith and Wesson changed their "bluing" process and this is why the older guns have that deep dark black blue finish that is not seen in the modern guns.

The plum barrel and cylinder condition is a result of an error in one of the process steps. The steel takes on more of the brown color which makes the blue look plum.
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Old 10-03-2009, 02:43 PM
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i seen a pre model 27 at the local shop that had a plum cylinder
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Old 10-03-2009, 03:23 PM
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I have assisted my gunsmith with the bluing of many guns over the years. Occasionally a part comes out of the tanks purple. As we do the bluing in batches, I cannot attribute the color to anything other than the formulation of the steel. We may do multiple 1911 frames, and once in a while one comes out purple. The parts that can usually be counted on to turn are Essex frames and O3A3 receivers. My first Bullseye pistol that he built for me had a deep blue Remington slide and a purple Essex frame. They were both prepped and blued in the same batch. By the way, after the parts come out of the final fresh water rinse, we immediately hose 'em down with WD40. I have rifles we blued 25+ years ago that are the deep rich blue today that they were when they came out of the tanks.
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Old 10-03-2009, 03:34 PM
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I think the 'plum' color just indicates that it is ripe, just like the fruit, and ready to be gathered in for the winter.
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:32 PM
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Alloy differences and heat treat is what I understand. The first Wby Mk V I had was straight from Roy Weatherby himself in the 50's. I had it barreled to a 270 Win. (yes it was a standard bolt face) After bluing the receiver was a real pretty plum. If I remember someone there said the nickel content did it.

Also there is a plum spot on my Anschutz 1413 at the harder lug lock area.

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Old 10-03-2009, 10:55 PM
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I have a Smith 27 with a slightly plum cylinder, it has not been refinished.
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:02 PM
H P Bushrod H P Bushrod is offline
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I've got a pre-model 15 Combat Masterpiece (1954 manufacture) that has a plum cylinder. Definetely different.
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:04 AM
nachogrande nachogrande is offline
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IF a complete/scientific explanation, on the molecular level is given , you may be asleep by the 3rd sentence. The readers digest answer IN LAYMENS/SIMPLETONS terms PLEASE.
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Old 07-15-2018, 11:47 AM
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A lot of things can cause it.
I can attst to heat treatment changing how steel blues. If I do a blade in such a way that I only harden the edge by using a controlled depth quench, the hardened edge will blue much darker than the spine area, if I blue it. If I harden the whole blade then draw back the spine of the blade to a softer temper that blade will color differently than the edge quenched one. If I use 1095 high carbon and 15N20 (3%+ nickel) to make damascus the high carbon will blue deep and dark and it will hardly effect the high nickel content 15N20.
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:08 AM
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And this thread died nearly 9 years ago. Just sayin'.

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Old 07-16-2018, 09:30 AM
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The thread may be dead in the eyes of some, but it's quite like reopening a cold case homicide, the issue still has really not been put to bed.....
I will add that a plum color on a piece is not necessarily an indication of a reblue, but for me, it is a red flag that goes up and I must look much closer to see if there are any other signs of a refinish. I have seen many refinished pieces show plum - I have owned several that were that way out of the factory door.

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  #45  
Old 07-16-2018, 02:35 PM
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My recently purchased 10-5 snub has a bit of plum showing on the cylinder and barrel. Only shows in strong outdoor sun light.
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:21 PM
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Many years ago I had a neighbor who Blue guns once a year. He took an Iver Johnson 410 that I had for my son. It was old then. After trying three times to get the receiver to go black he gave up. He was so sorry it didn't work out. Well the bbl. and the hammer an trigger were beautiful black. The receiver was very plum. Very pretty gun !!!!!!!
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:43 PM
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Well... I had several of my N-frames from the late 70's and early 80's where the barrels went plum on me after I put them in silicone impregnated bore stores for storage in my gun safe. And on portions of the frames, a milky looking haze developed that will not come off with any conventional gun cleaner I've tried.

The guns were continuously in the bores stores for about 6-8 months until I went though everything in my safe to do my usual pre-winter inspection and "winterizing" regimen.

Needless to say, I've long since discontinued using the bores stores.
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:47 PM
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You guys have already answered the long standing question and the "plum" color comes from you shooting the wrong variety of PLUM, or being too close, so back off to 25 yards.

There are 3 types of Plums, American (Blackamber), European (Seneca), Japanese (Satsuma). ALL are grown throughout the USA. Quit shootin at the Jap and Euro on the trees, and either pop for some regular targets, or switch the Blackamber American and that "oversplatter" won't cause you "no mo plum parts".

Tongue in cheek of course, but if the original manufacturer and designer of the actual plum fruit tree could not figure out what caused different color variations.....how is this Forum going to answer it for metal?
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Old 12-29-2021, 11:45 AM
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Default Hmmm...

I have been smithing for some time, and I have experienced some contradictions to the comments in this thread about plum coloration. Just yesterday, my wife and I blued a batch of rifle parts. This morning when I wiped them down, I saw what I have seen before randomly over the years. The bluing on the vast majority of parts/barrels/actions/bolts, etc., turned out quite nice...deep dark black. However, three parts plummed.
- All parts were in the same bluing process (in the tank at the same time for the same length of time).
- Temp and salt mix was consistent throughout.
- I do not use WD-40.
I will not claim to know the answer to the plum dilemma, otherwise I would have taken action to remedy it if possible. BUT, I will say that I have witnessed particular parts on particular firearms plum more than others. For example, Mauser extractors, front sight ramps on many older (military and civilian) rifles, H&R Topper receivers to name a few. While I understand if the bluing recipe is skewed or temp is off, the desired effect will likely not happen, but my experience has shown that consistency in bluing also produces the undesired plum effect. I put little solidarity in the WD-40 theory (if you believe it may have some effect, it certainly is not the only culprit). My belief now, as it has been, is a difference in the steel. Parts to a single gun do not come from a single piece of steel. Is Silica the culprit....is Nickel....is it something else? Smarter folks will be able to determine that. My degree is not in metallurgy, my intelligence in that subject is decent, but not exceptional. A second rebluing has, on occasion, has provided slightly better results with an adjustment to temp, but not always.
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Old 12-29-2021, 12:29 PM
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Older Ruger revolvers, such as this "flat top" .44 mag Blackhawk from 1957, were rife with plum parts. Check the loading gate on this example. I've been told that the plum color had something to do with the composition of the steel rather than the bluing process. At any rate, the plum colored parts are indeed desirable on these guns as proof of era authenticity if nothing else.

By the way, the Sambar stag grips shown are are original. Both stag and ivory were extra-cost options at that time.

John

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