To rust brown a new barrel or leave it in the white.

Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by Aussiegoldsmith, May 14, 2019.

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  1. May 14, 2019 #1

    Aussiegoldsmith

    Aussiegoldsmith

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    Needing some feedback. Building another Kibler Colonial rifle and was thinking of not rust browning the barrel. Thinking of leaving it in the white. Any thoughts in keeping with authenticity.
     
  2. May 14, 2019 #2

    Gene L

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    I would brown it. I think (don't know) MOSTLY military guns were left in the white. A Colonial rifle, designed mostly for hunting, doesn't need to shine.
     
  3. May 14, 2019 #3

    Aussiegoldsmith

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    Thinking of a French grey patina
     
  4. May 14, 2019 #4

    tenngun

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    Guns were sold blue,brown,and white back in the day. Your pick. You can gray the white barrel too. I left my last gun white and slightly gray with naval jelly. I’m still oiling the stock and it’s not ready to shoot yet. Another few weeks.
    If it’s too hard to keep I can always brown later. Blue was popular then, but I just can’t bring my self to blue a ml.
     
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  5. May 14, 2019 #5

    Aussiegoldsmith

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    Naval jelly seem like the way I’m leaning now. I rust browned my last Kibler kit. Looks awesome. Wanted something different.
     
  6. May 14, 2019 #6

    Loyalist Dave

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    The problem (imho) with a lot of browned rifles today, is that the builder just blued the factory finish, especially the rough surface left on the cast parts. Nothing "authentic" about that (again imho). The external lock parts and the barrel, having all been forged and filed, would've been polished free of file marks, and then browned, from what I've read and seen.

    In my case I polished my barrels, both on muskets and on rifles, "armory bright". Not like a chrome Chevy bumper, but shiny. THEN after degreasing, I applied a layer of yellow mustard. The mustard gives you the ability to judge the thickness and consistency of the layer applied. Then as it dries, the vinegar stains the metal, giving it a patina, and the mustard goes from yellow to brown as it dries. I knock it off with a tooth brush, maybe add some water if it's tenacious, and repeat. When done I leave it as is, or "polish it back" some. The military musket barrels do especially well, and when polished with oil and 220 grit emory paper, get gun metal gray. with darker areas in the hard to reach spots.

    LD
     
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  7. May 15, 2019 #7

    Rodd Boyer

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    LD,
    do you have any pics of a rifle that you've done with the mustard?
    It sounds very interesting. ...

    Thx,
    Rodd
     
  8. May 15, 2019 #8

    Sidney Smith

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    I hunt with my muzzleloaders so no way I'm taking an in the white gun deer or turkey hunting. They'd spot it a mile away.
     
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  9. May 15, 2019 #9

    Grenadier1758

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    Well, you certainly don't want an in the white gun armory bright. Let it go to a gray patina and there is little likelihood of spooking any game.

    Its interesting. The coloring for the 1804 Harper's Ferry is browned barrel, blued lock and screws, and polished brass.

    Bluing or the dull gray/white would have been more common than brown when the rifle is new.

    Ah, the mustard treatment. Its a good quick way to dull the barrel. If the finish is mottled, then you have French's Damascus.
     
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  10. May 15, 2019 #10

    dave_person

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    Hi AG,
    I interpret Jim's colonial rifle to represent a gun made around our Rev War period (1770-1785) with a mix of German-Pennsylvania and British influences. During that time, gunsmiths usually did not brown or blue their barrels. There is some evidence of occasional charcoal bluing but it does not appear to be common. There is no mention of browning or bluing solutions in the few shop inventories that still exist in contrast to those from later in the 19th century. Certainly British gunsmiths were starting to brown their barrels at the time but that does not seem to carry over to the American colonies. You can produce a nice tarnish by painting the barrel with instant cold bluing and then rub it back with Scotch Bright pads. You can also start browning and then rub that back with the pads. Both methods produce a nice tarnish on an otherwise bright barrel.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    dave
     
  11. May 15, 2019 #11

    Loyalist Dave

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    Well we're not talking about "in the white" or "armory bright".

    Here's the finish after I "polished it back" a bit
    MUZZLE and STEEL.jpg

    Sure didn't scare away this doe during squirrel season:
    DEER.jpg

    And this one in January was 11 yards from me when I fired ;):D..,
    DEER 2019.jpg

    LD
     
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  12. May 16, 2019 #12

    tenngun

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    Brass was the go to metal for so many hunting guns, and the big brass patchbox of very late eighteenth and early nineteenth century is well known. nineteenth century would see the rise of silver mounted guns and very ornate at that. Patch boxes became cap boxes but still a big hunk of brass or silver.
    Inspire of the ‘iron mounted plains rifles myth’ that mountain men and western explorers/merchants didn’t want to spook game or alert Indians with shiny metal, most plains guns were made in brass and silver.even ol Jake and Sam turned out lots of brass and a few silver mounted guns.
    I just don’t think they scared off too much game or alerted too many Indians.
     
  13. May 16, 2019 #13

    Artificer

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    I'm not so sure about that.

    Almost anything that shines in the woods is foreign to the woods and that will give one away to Turkeys and other humans, at least. It can also be surprising how far away the reflected shine will give one away. While it is true that movement more often gives one away than anything, it is mainly because that was/is more common than light hitting the surface and reflecting off shiny parts.

    I know I have read where frontiersmen in the 18th and 19th centuries deliberately rubbed various plants on the shiny brass parts of their new rifles/guns to begin the corrosion process and stop the easily reflected light from shiny brass parts. Of course the problem is I don't remember where I read it, since it made so much sense when I read it.

    Further, having many years experience having to shine brass in the military, I also know that within a few days to a week or so, shiny brass loses its shine and thus won't easily reflect light in the woods or frontier. Since I doubt almost anyone on the frontier worried that much (if at all) about shining the brass parts of their guns, it would not be long before the brass naturally dulled enough not to be a problem. Once the brass parts dulled naturally, then no problem on them reflecting light in most cases.

    Gus
     
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  14. May 16, 2019 #14

    Artificer

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    I shudder every time someone mentions putting Naval Jelly on a rifle barrel, as I saw way too many nightmares happen back in the 1980's when people used it to strip bluing off UnCivil War period repro's - trying to get them to an Armory Bright finish. When Naval Jelly is left even a tiny bit too long, the resulting surface of the metal looks nothing like the barrels looked like in the period. I realize some folks successfully use it before browning, but there are better ways to get a period finish to the metal prior to browning.

    Just my opinion....

    Gus
     
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  15. May 16, 2019 #15

    Artificer

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    I'm watching this thread with interest, as frankly I'm a frustrated neophyte concerning traditional finishes of 18th century rifle barrels in the American Colonies.

    Back in the early 1970's, when first beginning to research this topic, I purchased a copy of "Firearms Blueing & Browning," by R. H. Angler. This book was originally published around 1936 and has loads of forumala's, but none that were documented to the American Colonial period.

    I have also purchased the series of Volumes of "The Journal of Historical Armsmaking Technology," but those too have left me with a lot more questions than answers.

    I have also wondered how much difference there is between the period soft Iron barrels and modern steel barrels, in regard to finishes, as soft Iron doesn't rust as easily as steel.

    I know from studying period gunsmithing techniques that rifle barrels were filed and sometimes scraped to a smooth finish. but that is where the documentation I have been able to accrue, pretty much ends.

    Sorry this post dos not contain anything of real value to help the OP.

    Gus
     
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  16. May 16, 2019 #16

    tenngun

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    You could be right, I let my brass tarnish naturally, hasn’t seemed to scare much game. I guess the same could be said for factory white barrel, that it soon would be gray and no doubt some faint brown patches pretty quick in the field.
     
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  17. May 17, 2019 #17

    Sidney Smith

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    I'm not concerned with authenticity with my finishes. I brown my barrels and locks to my liking, but mostly to make the rifle appear more stick like to a deer or a turkey. My turkey smoothbore has a brown barrel and lock, with the steel furniture (buttplate, trigger guard, thimbles, toeplate, and sideplate), all darkened using super blue, which produces an almost black finish. Its dulled up with steel wool just enough to reduce the shine. My deer rifle has its brass parts tarnished so as to not shine.

    I know turkeys will spook at a bright barrel. The sun hits the woods, and it glares off the barrel of shiny gun at the wrong angle ,and old Tom picks up on it, and he's outta there. Watched it happen to my buddy one year.
     
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  18. May 17, 2019 #18

    Artificer

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    Just remembered something else from reading probate records of 18th century gunsmith shops. One mentioned there was a jug of Vinegar in the shop. I wonder if that was used to begin to darken rifle barrels as it was/is a weak acid?

    Gus
     
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  19. May 17, 2019 #19

    Artificer

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    Puleeaase don't tell me you used French's mustard on a German/American Rifle?! Seems to be a bit of boomstick blasphemy if you did...…...:eek: :p :D

    Gus
     
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  20. May 17, 2019 #20

    tenngun

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    I have read that urine was used as an old browning solution. It was an off the cuff statement about historic practices and was not the subject of the work. I don’t know that it’s true. Urine did get used ‘industrially’ back then.
    If ( and I don’t know that it was) urine was used it would explain it not being in records of shop stores as it was readily available.
    Should some one ask you how to brown their barrel and you tell them to go, um, a, urinate on it you may get a jaundice eye in return.
     

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