Author Topic: French Gray  (Read 1317 times)

Offline Firelock

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French Gray
« on: March 19, 2017, 11:15:04 PM »
I’ve decided to go with a pretty dark stain on the swivel breech rifle, so I’d like to keep the metal lighter, so it doesn’t all blend in.

I’ve heard that you can use Brownell’s Oxpho-Blue to get a French Gray finish.

Has anyone done this?

What’s the procedure?

Thanks.



Offline PPatch

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Re: French Gray
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2017, 12:26:36 AM »
Oxpho-Blue will give the metal a gray with a slight greenish tone, rub it back with steel wool for a lighter look. Apply it thickly and move it around for awhile for the most even coating. Rub the excess off with a damp rag or shop towel then rinse it off using an old toothbrush for the hard to reach areas. Repeat for a somewhat darker tone. I use Q-tips as my applicator. A coat of oil on everything when finished. One of the advantages of this method is the ability to touch up easily.

This lock and barrel, and trigger guard were done using the above technique;



Oxpho does a pretty good job, I recommend it. Brownells 44/40 bluing is an invitation for rusting though. I don't like it.

dave

PS: there is a more involved technique that involves first browning then rust bluing the metal, takes elbow grease and time. Yields a very durable French Gray though.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 12:36:13 AM by PPatch »
Dave Parks   /   Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Offline T*O*F

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Re: French Gray
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2017, 02:13:26 AM »
"FRENCH GRAY METHOD" BY JOHN K. BARRACLOUGH.

THE BASIC PRODUCT THAT I USE IS REFERED TO IN THE AUTOMOBILE
REFINISHING TRADE AS "BODY PREP" OR "STEEL PREP". THE SPECIFIC
PRODUCT THAT I PURCHASE IS MADE BY DU PONT COMPANY AND IS LABELED
"STEEL REFINISHING SYSTEM", "STEP B"*5718-S “CONVERSION COATING" +
THERE ARE OTHER BRANDS BUT I KNOW THAT THIS. ONE DOES THE JOB FOR ME.
THE PRODUCT IS OBTAINED FROM AN AUTOMOTIVE PAINT SUPPLY STORE IN A
PLASTIC BOTTLE, .946 LITER SIZE FOR ABOUT $20.00-$25.00.
NORMAL CARE SHOULD BE EXERSIZED IN THE USE OF THIS PRODUCT. READ
THE LABEL. FOR OUR PURPOSE THE PRODUCT CAN BE REUSED MANY TIMES
SO POUR IT BACK INTO THE ORIGINAL CONTAINER CAREFULLY AFTER USE.
POUR ENOUGH MATERIAL TO COVER THE PARTS TO BE GRAYED INTO A NON-
METALLIC CONTAINER, I USE A LARGE PYREX MEASURING CUP WITH A
POURING LIP AS IT IS EASY TO REPOUR THE PRODUCT INTO THE BOTTLE.
FIX A STEEL WIRE TO EACH PART SO THAT IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE
HANDLED DIRECTLY. CLEAN EACH PART BY DIPPING IT INTO LACQUER THINNER AND ALLOW
IT TO AIR DRY.
NEXT, DIP EACH PART INTO THE BODY PREP AND LET IT SIT UNDER THE
SURFACE OF THE FLUID FOR ABOUT ONE OR TWO MINUTES.
RAISE PART BY THE WIRE AND CHECK IT’S COLOR. CHECK IT AGAINST A
PIECE OF UNTREATED METAL
WHEN IT TURNS A NICE LIGHT GRAY, STOP THE ACTION BY IMMERSING
IT IN CLEAN COOL WATER
TAKE THE PART OUT OF THE WATER BATH, HOLDING IT BY THE ATTACHED WIRE.
DRY IT WITH A WARM AIR HAIR DRYER. MAKE SURE YOUR PART
IS GRAY ALL OVER AND AS DARK AS YOU WANT IT. DO NOT BE CON-
CEREND ABOUT A SLIGHTY CLOUDY FINISH, IT WILL CLEAR UP WITH
THE FOLLOWING STEPS.
AT THIS STAGE, WHILE THE PART IS STILL WARM, IT SHOULD BE
DIPPED INTO A SEALANT TO PROTECT THE FINISH.
THE SEALANT SHOULD BE MIXED, TESTED AND CONTAINED IN AIR TIGHT JAR,
AND BE ON HAND EEFORE STARTING THE FINISHING PROCESS.
MIX THIS IN A SCREW TOP JAR, SHAKE AND TEST BEFORE EACH
USE, KEEP IT THINNED DOWN AS NEEDED.
TO MAKE THE SEALANT SOLUTION, HALF FILL THE JAR WITH CLEAN
ACETONE AND ADD ABOUT A TABLESPOON OF SPAR VARNISH.
DO NOT USE PLASTIC VARNISH; USE THE OLD FASHONED ROSEN TYPE.
SHAKE TO MIX, TEST AS FOLLOWS.
TO TEST THE SEALANT MIX.
HOLD THE BACK OF YOUR HAND OUT IN GOOD LIGHT AND NOTICE THE TEXTURE AND LIGHT THAT
REFLECTS FROM IT. DIP A FINGER INTO THE MIX AND MAKE A QUICK
SWIPE ON THE BACK OF THE OUTSTRECHED HAND. THE WARMTH OF YOUR
HAND WILL IMMEDIATLY FLASH OFF THE ACETONE AND LEAVE A VERY
LIGHT DEPOSIT OF VARNISH WHICH YOU WILL SEE AS A SLIGHT SHINY
STRIPE ON THE BACK OF YOUR HAND. IF YOU DONT HAVE A STRIPE MIX A
LITTLE MORE VARNISH IN AND TEST ON A DIFFERENT PART OF YOUR SKIN.

AFTER GRAYING AND WITH THE PART STILL WARM FROM THE DRYER AND BEING HANDLED ONLY
BY THE WIRE, DIP IT INTO THE SEALANT MIX. REMOVE AND REDRY THE PART IN THE AIR.
HANG BY THE WIRE UNTIL FULLY DRY, 24 HOURS IF TIME PERMITS.
APPLY INK TO THE ENGRAVING TO BRING OUT THE DETAIL. REMOVE
THE EXCESS INK FROM THE FLAT AREAS WITH CLOTH DAMPENED WITH ALCOHOL.
AVOID FLOODING THE SURFACE, WIPE SEVERAL TIME WITH A JUST DAMP CLOTH.
LIGHTLY POLISH ANY DIMENSIONAL GOLD OR SILVER INLAYS WITH A SOFT ERASER,
STAY STRICTLY ON THE INLAY.
SIT BACK AND ENJOY YOUR HANDWORK.
Dave Kanger

A dedicated person with just a pocketknife can accomplish more than a lazy person with an entire toolbox.

Offline T*O*F

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Re: French Gray
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2017, 02:21:11 AM »
Back in the day, Lynton McKenzie would blue a firearm and strip it back with Brownell's blue and rust remover, then polish with a pink Pearl eraser. This produces McKenzie's 'French gray'. Lynton claimed that bluing did something to the surface of the metal and that the blue remover lifted the color but left whatever the bluing was supposed to have done (rust protection maybe? I've never found it to be protective).

You can also achieve a nice gray with Naval Jelly. Just polish with a pink eraser after applying and rinsing in water.
Likewise, toilet bowl cleaner will work.
Dave Kanger

A dedicated person with just a pocketknife can accomplish more than a lazy person with an entire toolbox.

Offline Turtle

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Re: French Gray
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 04:09:33 AM »
 I have French greyed several guns using phosphoric acid metal etch. It is used in body work  to etch bare metal before priming. I scrub the surface with steel wool saturated in the acid and wait app I hr and repeat till you get the look you want. If you leave it wet after scrubbing you will get a more uneven result. I gives a pewter like result. It can look like a well cared for gun made in the white and aged.  One nice thing is that it is quite rust resistant and any rust spots can be touched up with another acid wet steel wool anytime later. The metal doesn't need to be degreased for it to work.
                                                                    Turtle

Offline pushboater

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Re: French Gray
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2017, 06:39:44 AM »
Oxpho blue by Brownells is great stuff. I've used it more than once and have never noticed any green undertones or a green cast to the metal. It actually leaves a very durable finish that resists rust. I applied it as directed and worked it back to a soft gray with a scotchbrite pad and 0000 steel wool. It's hard to get an even dark gray on a large area, but I may not have had the part degreased properly. In any event, when you knock it back with the scotchbrite pad you can even it out nicely. Experiment on some scrap. I think you'll like it.

David
Those who would give up essential liberty, to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.  (Benjamin Franklin)

Offline P.W.Berkuta

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Re: French Gray
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 06:47:48 AM »
Buy yourself any rust remover that contains mostly phosphoric acid - apply it liberally - let it work for 15 to 30 min wash off with water & dry - repeat and apply more if needed - look at it the next day if it looks good oil it if not do it again. BROWNELLS - OXPHO-BLUE will work but it will leave the surface dark blue/black that needs to be rubbed back with a FINE abrasive which can leave the surface bare of the coating and / or leave dark streaks. I find it hard to get a even gray color finish but you can get a old time look with it if you work at it. A rust remover that contains phosphoric acid is cheap, easy to apply and can be touched up easily and quickly.
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it." - Chinese proverb

Offline aka california eddillon

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Re: French Gray
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2017, 09:24:24 AM »
"FRENCH GRAY METHOD" BY JOHN K. BARRACLOUGH.

THE BASIC PRODUCT THAT I USE IS REFERED TO IN THE AUTOMOBILE
REFINISHING TRADE AS "BODY PREP" OR "STEEL PREP". THE SPECIFIC
PRODUCT THAT I PURCHASE IS MADE BY DU PONT COMPANY AND IS LABELED
"STEEL REFINISHING SYSTEM", "STEP B"*5718-S “CONVERSION COATING" +
THERE ARE OTHER BRANDS BUT I KNOW THAT THIS. ONE DOES THE JOB FOR ME.
THE PRODUCT IS OBTAINED FROM AN AUTOMOTIVE PAINT SUPPLY STORE IN A
PLASTIC BOTTLE, .946 LITER SIZE FOR ABOUT $20.00-$25.00.
NORMAL CARE SHOULD BE EXERSIZED IN THE USE OF THIS PRODUCT. READ
THE LABEL. FOR OUR PURPOSE THE PRODUCT CAN BE REUSED MANY TIMES
SO POUR IT BACK INTO THE ORIGINAL CONTAINER CAREFULLY AFTER USE.
POUR ENOUGH MATERIAL TO COVER THE PARTS TO BE GRAYED INTO A NON-
METALLIC CONTAINER, I USE A LARGE PYREX MEASURING CUP WITH A
POURING LIP AS IT IS EASY TO REPOUR THE PRODUCT INTO THE BOTTLE.
FIX A STEEL WIRE TO EACH PART SO THAT IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE
HANDLED DIRECTLY. CLEAN EACH PART BY DIPPING IT INTO LACQUER THINNER AND ALLOW
IT TO AIR DRY.
NEXT, DIP EACH PART INTO THE BODY PREP AND LET IT SIT UNDER THE
SURFACE OF THE FLUID FOR ABOUT ONE OR TWO MINUTES.
RAISE PART BY THE WIRE AND CHECK IT’S COLOR. CHECK IT AGAINST A
PIECE OF UNTREATED METAL
WHEN IT TURNS A NICE LIGHT GRAY, STOP THE ACTION BY IMMERSING
IT IN CLEAN COOL WATER
TAKE THE PART OUT OF THE WATER BATH, HOLDING IT BY THE ATTACHED WIRE.
DRY IT WITH A WARM AIR HAIR DRYER. MAKE SURE YOUR PART
IS GRAY ALL OVER AND AS DARK AS YOU WANT IT. DO NOT BE CON-
CEREND ABOUT A SLIGHTY CLOUDY FINISH, IT WILL CLEAR UP WITH
THE FOLLOWING STEPS.
AT THIS STAGE, WHILE THE PART IS STILL WARM, IT SHOULD BE
DIPPED INTO A SEALANT TO PROTECT THE FINISH.
THE SEALANT SHOULD BE MIXED, TESTED AND CONTAINED IN AIR TIGHT JAR,
AND BE ON HAND EEFORE STARTING THE FINISHING PROCESS.
MIX THIS IN A SCREW TOP JAR, SHAKE AND TEST BEFORE EACH
USE, KEEP IT THINNED DOWN AS NEEDED.
TO MAKE THE SEALANT SOLUTION, HALF FILL THE JAR WITH CLEAN
ACETONE AND ADD ABOUT A TABLESPOON OF SPAR VARNISH.
DO NOT USE PLASTIC VARNISH; USE THE OLD FASHONED ROSEN TYPE.
SHAKE TO MIX, TEST AS FOLLOWS.
TO TEST THE SEALANT MIX.
HOLD THE BACK OF YOUR HAND OUT IN GOOD LIGHT AND NOTICE THE TEXTURE AND LIGHT THAT
REFLECTS FROM IT. DIP A FINGER INTO THE MIX AND MAKE A QUICK
SWIPE ON THE BACK OF THE OUTSTRECHED HAND. THE WARMTH OF YOUR
HAND WILL IMMEDIATLY FLASH OFF THE ACETONE AND LEAVE A VERY
LIGHT DEPOSIT OF VARNISH WHICH YOU WILL SEE AS A SLIGHT SHINY
STRIPE ON THE BACK OF YOUR HAND. IF YOU DONT HAVE A STRIPE MIX A
LITTLE MORE VARNISH IN AND TEST ON A DIFFERENT PART OF YOUR SKIN.

AFTER GRAYING AND WITH THE PART STILL WARM FROM THE DRYER AND BEING HANDLED ONLY
BY THE WIRE, DIP IT INTO THE SEALANT MIX. REMOVE AND REDRY THE PART IN THE AIR.
HANG BY THE WIRE UNTIL FULLY DRY, 24 HOURS IF TIME PERMITS.
APPLY INK TO THE ENGRAVING TO BRING OUT THE DETAIL. REMOVE
THE EXCESS INK FROM THE FLAT AREAS WITH CLOTH DAMPENED WITH ALCOHOL.
AVOID FLOODING THE SURFACE, WIPE SEVERAL TIME WITH A JUST DAMP CLOTH.
LIGHTLY POLISH ANY DIMENSIONAL GOLD OR SILVER INLAYS WITH A SOFT ERASER,
STAY STRICTLY ON THE INLAY.
SIT BACK AND ENJOY YOUR HANDWORK.
Thiis the method we used at Dakota Arms in South Dakota.  Worked great on high dollar 4140 steel bolt guns. follow these instructions for a beautiful French Grey finish.
In memory of Capt. Frederick H. Dillon, Commander 235th Ordnance Bomb Disposal Company.  MIA October 10, 1943.  His brother, Private Daniel B. Dillon, 85th Division, KIA northern Italy September 23, 1944.

Offline elk killer

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Re: French Gray
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2017, 10:28:05 AM »
I use Brownell Oxpho Blue, only I rinse the part with boiling water, then after it drys, I use steel wool and oil to rub it back with, seems to make for a more even finish,
No idea why, just works for me
only flintlocks remain interesting..

Offline JBJ

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Re: French Gray
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2017, 04:52:07 PM »
Same experience as Elk Killer. If you go this route, be sure and pour a bit of the Oxpho into a small plastic container to serve as your work source and do not pour the leftover back into the stock bottle. This will contaminate your stock solution and really reduce or "kill" the stock solution. I keep a large bottle of Oxpho around the shop for a myriad of uses but am always careful to preserve the chemical integrity of the large stock bottle by avoiding contamination.
J.B.