Author Topic: Rust blue advice needed  (Read 7133 times)

Offline jm190

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Rust blue advice needed
« on: January 29, 2019, 04:41:17 PM »
Hi All,
   I'm trying to rust blue a barrel with Mark Lee's Slow Rust Blue #3. I've followed the directions to a T and all I get is a powdery black coating that cards back to a light gray and powdery black.
   What am I missing? Barrel was flat filed and sanded down with final grit being 320t. De-greased with acetone and washed with Simple Green and Dawn. Sweat box is running at 90* with 50-60% humidity. Rust completely coats treated surfaces in about two hours. I've taken the barrel back to bare metal and started over and have gotten the same results. De-greased 0000 steel wool cards the second and even the third treatment back to gray metal in several spots and all sharp edges; the rest of the surface is a chalky black. The areas that go immediately back to gray metal when carding have been repeatedly de-greased and sanded with no improvement. Oh, and the solution goes on smooth and flat with no beading so I don't think grease/oil contamination is the issue. 

Any suggestions?

Thanks!
John

Online smart dog

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 04:53:25 PM »
Hi,
At first glance, it may simply be that you need to be patient because it may take 10 or more cycles before you get the color you seek. Does this blue require boiling before carding each coat?

dave
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Offline jm190

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 05:24:27 PM »
Hi Dave,
   Thanks for the reply! Yes, it does require boiling. I did not use distilled water as the directions suggest as I had no issue with boiling when I finished a barrel using the Laurel Mtn. Forge rust blue solution. Since it's a different solution this might be an issue?

   It wasn't so much I wasn't getting an acceptable color; it's that the finish seems so soft. With more cycles (patience) does the finish tend to become more durable?

John

Offline sdilts

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 05:52:53 PM »
You can also use water from a dehumidifier. It worked fine on the last one I did.

Offline L. Akers

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 07:05:25 PM »
John,  I have had some experience with the blackening process and from the descriptions of the results you are seeing I think your main problem is with the carding process.  I think you are not getting all the loose rust off with the steel wool.  By "loose rust" I mean any rust not bonded to the metal.  To remove all the loose rust by hand rubbing  requires barrels of elbow grease.  I suggest you invest in a 6" to 8" wire wheel that has wires of no more than .006" diameter.  Using a wire wheel will enable you to get ALL the loose rust off.  After the first cardings the metal will be grey as the oxide color is very faint at first, but is there.  The oxide will be bonded to the steel at the atomic level and will not be removed by the carding wheel.  When using the wheel do not apply so much pressure that the wires bend.  It is the tips of the wires that do the work.   Repeated iterations of the rust-boil-card process will result in a deepening  black color.  As Dave said, you have to be patient.

Offline 45-110

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2019, 07:45:04 PM »
The water you use for boiling is important, well or city water may or may not work. Soft water from rain, distilled or a dehumidifer is the "secret" to good consistent rust bluing. I learned the hard way.
kw

Offline P.W.Berkuta

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2019, 09:29:17 PM »
This is how I use the Mark Lee Express Rust Blue - first let me say I get a blackish-blue color which I like.







First let me say that there are other ways to accomplish this task and get fine results but I find this works for me with what I have available to me. The items below are the materials that I use for rust bluing a barrel.
Mark Lee #1 Express Blue, small glass container, tap water (I have a water softening system in the house), Coarse cloth such as heavy denim, Terry cloth towel, or maybe burlap which I have not tried, rubber gloves or the like, heat source to heat up gutter + water to boiling or a little less, something to plug the openings in the barrel so no water can enter, a degreaser. DHC Silky Cotton Pads (or any soft cotton type applicator pads)
I use a length of steel gutter from Home Depot that I solder on end caps to contain water. I suggest to make the gutter length 2 to 4 inches longer than your barrel plus tang and muzzle plug.
Bend up some stiff wire (qty-2) to support the barrel at each ends in the gutter so that it does not contact the bottom. NOTE: if rust bluing a lock or small parts I use a small disposable aluminum “loaf pan” and just put the parts into the water without trying to support the parts off the bottom – the bluing comes out fine - might also work for a barrel but I have not tried it.
OK – now for the barrel preps. What I will be discussing here is what I did for this barrel and for the finish results I was looking for which was a dark blue/black non-polished look which is what I do the most of.
This is what the barrel looked like before and after the rust bluing process described here. These two barrels are the same, made by Ed Rayl as received from Dixon’s Muzzle Loading Shop.
I did not draw file the barrel. I did block sand with both 220 & 320 grit wet/dry paper quickly. I did not try to remove all surface marks just to “knock down” heavy machine marks. I then used a medium wire wheel to even the surface out as best as I could – the corners of the flats did get “eased” some – don’t go hard with the wire wheel unless you want a “distressed” look. At this point you want to degrease the barrel good - I used acetone. I made up a barrel holder from scrap wood so that I could apply the Mark Lee #1 Express Blue
I plugged the touch hole, my breach plug was already installed. I slipped the barrel into the barrel support and put on my “rubber”(Nitrile) gloves. I degreased the barrel again. I poured a small amount of the bluing into a small glass container and dipped my cotton pad into it – squeezed out most of the excess and starting from one of the barrel made a continuous pass towards the other end of the barrel. I did the same with the other 7 flats. NOTE: reapply the bluing solution to the pad to keep it wet but not “dripping” wet. When completed set aside for 4 hours. NOTE: I did not have a “sweat box” I just left it as you see it in the picture above – temp in CA was 104 degrees outside at the time. After 4 hours I reapplied the bluing solution as above and set it aside for another 4 hours. I did this process two more times and left it overnight (13 hours).
I placed the gutter over the two gas burners of MY kitchen stove and filled it with MY tap water to 1” – 1-1/2” above the top of the barrel (try to keep this water level throughout the process). I placed the stiff wire supports for the barrel that I previously bent to shape into both ends of the gutter. Turn on the gas to high. While the water is heating up put on your “rubber” (Nitrile) gloves and plug the muzzle of the barrel. Reapplied the bluing solution but this time I wetted the pad with more of the bluing solution then above and set it aside until the water was as hot as I could get it (just about to bubble). I then placed the barrel into the water and leave it there for 10 to 15 minutes. Removed the barrel (be sure you have your “rubber” gloves on – also the barrel WILL be HOT), dry it quickly and reapplied the bluing solution with a new pad. NOTE: keep the pad very wet with the bluing solution but do not “puddle” the solution on the barrel. Replace the barrel into the hot water for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the barrel after the allotted time and take your course cloth and buff the heck out of the barrel (1 or 2 minutes). Reapplied the bluing solution with a new pad. NOTE: keep the pad very wet with the bluing solution but do not “puddle” the solution on the barrel. Replace the barrel into the hot water for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the barrel after the allotted time and take your course cloth and buff the heck out of the barrel (1 or 2 minutes). Reapplied the bluing solution with a new pad. NOTE: keep the pad very wet with the bluing solution but do not “puddle” the solution on the barrel. Replace the barrel into the hot water for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the barrel after the allotted time and buff the heck out of it for 1 to 2 minutes then check if it is the color you are happy with - if not repeat the above process. If the barrel IS the color you are happy with you can now do two things to the warm barrel; First – remove all plugs then either apply oil or a wax LIBERALLY – TWICE – let stand for ½ hour then wipe off excess oil or buff the wax. Set aside for at least 12 hours keeping an eye on it for signs of rust – if so buff out with cloth and reapply oil or wax. NOTE: I use a half & half wax mixture consisting of melted carnauba flakes and a high quality paste wax. That’s it – hope it works out like you want – does for me.
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it." - Chinese proverb

Online smart dog

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2019, 10:45:50 PM »
I love it Paul!!  Your set up looks a lot like mine including the kitchen stove ;)

dave
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Offline P.W.Berkuta

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2019, 02:08:25 AM »
Ha, Ha, Ha ;D ;D. One must use what they have available ;)!!! The shop/garage goes from being neat to cluttered in a matter of minutes ::).
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it." - Chinese proverb

KILTED COWBOY

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2019, 05:17:38 PM »
Question, what do you use to plug the barrel and touch hole with?
Also where do you attach the wire to suspend the barrel?
Does the wire touch the metal on the barrel? Or do you attach it to the plug and the hole in the tang?
Thanks

Offline P.W.Berkuta

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2019, 08:21:53 PM »
Question, what do you use to plug the barrel and touch hole with?
Answer: I use a soft wood plug and seal it with with plumbers tape and anything else that I have that will work that's handy ;D
Also where do you attach the wire to suspend the barrel?
Answer: I use bailing wire from ACE Hardware and hook it on the gutter near the front and rear of the barrel - read my directions it says it there :)
Does the wire touch the metal on the barrel? Or do you attach it to the plug and the hole in the tang?
Answer: The wire supports the barrel not the plugs and it does touch the barrel - no problems ;) Look at the first picture and you will see the wire by the touch hole which is sealed with a 1/4-28 tpi set screw with plumbers tape on it. You MAY get some water in the bore (I did ::)) but it is the same as when you are cleaning your barrel after a day of shooting.
Thanks
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 08:33:05 PM by P.W.Berkuta »
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it." - Chinese proverb

Offline kutter

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2019, 06:44:32 AM »
Sounds like your rusting process is OK.
I'd ditch the acetone & dish soap degreaser treatments. They can leave you with more trouble than they take away.

Degreased steel wool is  an oxymoron  as far as I'm concerned when talking about rust bluing.

Nearly impossible to rid the stuff of the oil the mfg uses to preserve it. It only takes a drop to spoil the whole job as you swipe and rub it all over the part.

Polish the bbl down with 280grit and leave it there,,,and don't touch it with your bare hands. it's as clean as it needs to be right there.
No extra wiping with acetone or anything.

No need to plug the bore,,just use pegs for handles to hold the bbl and move it around as needed. Pull them out when it goes into the tank. Lift it in and out with L shaped hooks made from thin rod.

Do your slow rusting.
Boil in rain water, or AC condensate,,distilled water, ect.

Put the pegs back in and card it. Use a carding wheel or a carding brush if you can even buy the latter anymore..
Easy on the pressure as already stated. Let the brush do the work and burnish the surface. No need to be heavy handed at this point.

When the 'blue' forms on the surface, but doesn't hold (it rubs off during carding leaving a grey steel color), it's generally a contaminated surface..and it doesn't take much at all to do it.

Offline Dennis Daigger

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2019, 07:16:12 AM »
I do my rust conversions with steam now and will probably never return to boiling.

I tried Laurel Mountain, Brownells and Lee's Express Blue #1 rust solutions but returned to Pilkington's as I got the most consistent results with it.  Lee's is a close second.  The Lee's gave me a blacker final job than the Pilkington's which is a more very dark gray which I prefer.  I have been using my steam tube too in place of a box for rust formation.  That simplified the equipment, it is quite compact and readily mobile if need be.

Metal prep is done with 400 die makers and EDM stones or 320 abrasive paper depending on the surface being prepped.  Then maroon pads using a lot of elbow grease for final matting and blending.  I hand card everything with brushes or 0000 degreased steel wool.  I tried machine rotated wheels but didn't have an adequate vent system to capture the dust so do hand carding outdoors regardless of the temperatures.  I didn't see any differences in the end results for machine carding vs hand carding although the hand carding requires a bit more time and energy expenditure.
Dennis

Offline sdilts

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2019, 06:20:10 PM »
Dennis
Could you expand on your steam process - pictures, equipment, etc.

Offline Blacksmoke

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2019, 10:49:39 PM »
Jim190,  As was already stated "patience" is the key!  To get a durable rust blue using any of the rust blue solutions on the market be prepared to do 40 passes at least.  That means 40 cardings and 40 slow rustings.  Also distilled water is a must for boiling. Hope that helps,  Good luck,    Hugh Toenjes
H.T.

Offline BJH

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2019, 11:15:15 PM »
I must be a troglodyte, I’ve been using my supply of Wakon bay brown or blue, which is no longer available. I just apply to my freshly draw filed and sanded steel. I only sand to 220 grit. I apply it with a patch of cotton cloth. Put it into the damp box overnight. Then I card it with a fine wire wheel. I repeat this for as many cycles as needed til the surface rusts noticeabley less. At no time do I touch my steel with bare hands. I have no degreasing step. I have a pvc drain pipe that is capped on one end with a bell reducer which acts like a big funnel. When I’m satisfied with my rusting and carding I stand the barrel muzzle down no plugs in the pipe which is secured to my picnic table. Boil up two pots of water, and pour it into the pipe and over the barrel. Filling the pipe. My end cap is is only hand fitted to my scalding pipe. So when it leaks down, I pour more boiling water in. Then I hook my barrel out and dry it then i oil it with a heavy coat of Diesel engine oil. It has more acid neutralizers in it than other oils. I usually never have any after rust issues. If it try’s to oxidize more I just card with oooo steel wool and oil till it quits. The final color is blue black. I not trying for high polish blue. It’s definately more satin and in my mind correct for my work.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 11:21:57 PM by BJH »
BJH

Offline Dennis Daigger

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2019, 03:51:52 AM »
Dennis
Could you expand on your steam process - pictures, equipment, etc.
Here are some images of my setup.  4" thick-walled PVC pipe with a nylon fitting at the base.  The steamer is designed for softening wallpaper adhesive for paper removal.  I cut the business end of the steamer tubing off and the steam tube is then connected to the fitting that is threaded into the base of the pipe.

Full steam generation occurs in about 10 minutes and can be run for about 1 1/2 hours on a single fill.  I softened a bison horn in this recently to flatten it into a powder flask so has several uses.  For rust conversion 10 minutes of full steam has been more than sufficient.

Although my tube is only http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/Smileys/default/wink.gif 36" long those of you with the long barrels can simply use a longer tube.  Alternatively, you could rig up something horizontally but that would probably require installing plugs which I have never used under any circumstances.  You will need to ensure that your barrel is suspended above the steam inlet port as there is some spritzing that occurs there and can effect the rust area that it comes in contact with.

The small amount of water at the bottom of the tube that condenses from the steaming process humidifies the chamber and this has served well as a rust enhancing 'box'.

The last barrel that I did took six passes to get to the desired color depth and two additional passes were added for good measure.









Offline jm190

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2019, 06:38:00 PM »
Thanks for all the great advice!

I see there are multiple ways to accomplish this task as you all have slightly different ways of accomplishing the steps involved.

My initial mistakes were trying to rush the rusting and not removing all the loose rust. I now have a supply of distilled water as well.

I cogitated on the advice provided and stripped the barrel back to bare metal and have started over. With patience and better carding my results are looking better. After a little experimentation I finished the clean up with 400 grit as it seems to give a finer rust that cards easier and the finish stays smoother. Although it looks like it will take longer to get to the desired color.

I've included a photo of my sweat box. I have a piece of Lexan for a cover. I use a length of 2" PVC pipe filled with boiling water to change the rust.


Thanks again for all the suggestions.


Offline sdilts

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2019, 04:41:08 PM »
Dennis
How long do you leave the Pilkington's on between cardings?

Offline Dennis Daigger

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2019, 03:01:02 AM »
Dennis
How long do you leave the Pilkington's on between cardings?
Here is a summary of how I apply the solution.  I put 12-14 drops of solution in an itty-bitty cup (I think that is what Brownells calls them) and then soak this up on half of a cotton ball.  This is then drawn lightly across the metal surface in clean sweeps from end to end minimizing the overlap as best as can be done until the entire surface is coated.  This solution amount is usually sufficient for an entire barreled action and therefore should be about right for a muzzleloader barrel.  If not, adding a few additional drops to the cup and then soaking it up with the cotton ball should finish the job.  More solution does not equate to a better finish and if too much is applied runs then blotching can occur.

I don't have a set formula for the time.  2-4 hours will usually give me a fine even light rust when using the tube.  If I'm at the end of the workday I leave it suspended overnight.  With too high a humidity you can get condensation on the work piece which ruins the job.  When I was using a box for rusting I never let my humidity get above 75% and didn't feel that rushing the job with heat was desirable either.

After I have the desired level of rusting I remove the barrel from the tube and only reinsert it into the tube after I have full steam generation.  As stated earlier, 10 minutes seems to give me a good conversion.
Dennis

Offline Waksupi

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2019, 11:08:03 PM »
Dennis
Could you expand on your steam process - pictures, equipment, etc.
Here are some images of my setup.  4" thick-walled PVC pipe with a nylon fitting at the base.  The steamer is designed for softening wallpaper adhesive for paper removal.  I cut the business end of the steamer tubing off and the steam tube is then connected to the fitting that is threaded into the base of the pipe.

Full steam generation occurs in about 10 minutes and can be run for about 1 1/2 hours on a single fill.  I softened a bison horn in this recently to flatten it into a powder flask so has several uses.  For rust conversion 10 minutes of full steam has been more than sufficient.

Although my tube is only http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/Smileys/default/wink.gif 36" long those of you with the long barrels can simply use a longer tube.  Alternatively, you could rig up something horizontally but that would probably require installing plugs which I have never used under any circumstances.  You will need to ensure that your barrel is suspended above the steam inlet port as there is some spritzing that occurs there and can effect the rust area that it comes in contact with.

The small amount of water at the bottom of the tube that condenses from the steaming process humidifies the chamber and this has served well as a rust enhancing 'box'.

The last barrel that I did took six passes to get to the desired color depth and two additional passes were added for good measure.


I use the same method, with excellent results. No need for distilled water with this method. I find I can steam for 20 minutes, rather than 25 that is needed for boiling.
Like you, I can usually get a real nice deep blue in a half dozen passes. Many let the oxidation process go too long before steaming or boiling out, which produces a rougher matted finish, and it seems to take longer with more coatings of solution. You just want to barely see the oxidation appearing.
Ric Carter
Somers, Montana

Offline Richard

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2019, 11:31:15 PM »
Dennis, I like your steam process. Have you measured the internal temperature in the steam tube? Wondering how it compares being immersed in boiling water.  Thanks.

Richard

Offline Dennis Daigger

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2019, 01:02:06 AM »
Dennis, I like your steam process. Have you measured the internal temperature in the steam tube? Wondering how it compares being immersed in boiling water.  Thanks.

Richard
Richard,
If my physics' recollection is correct the temperature of the steam is that of the boiling water.  I am located at about 1000' MSL so my boiling temperature is 210 F (goes down 2 degrees/1000' of elevation gain).  Maybe some chemists out there know precisely what temperature causes the iron compounds to undergo conversion.  I don't.

I have a friend in CO that lives at 8,500' which might become a significant enough reduction in the temperature (196 F) to impede conversion but I doubt it.  He converts using boiling and the water is from a reverse osmosis filter.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that British and American gunmakers did their rust blacking conversions using steam as it was an already available resource.

Waksupi-always nice to hear of others that have successfully changed to steam.  I tried a longer steam a couple of times and didn't seem to get change after 10 minutes.  Does your longer time give you a faster or deeper color?

I cut the rear sight dovetail yesterday on my English flintlock and finished the metal prep.  I could set up a controlled light booth to photograph a specific part of the barrel as it goes through the stages of blacking if there is any interest in it.
Dennis

Offline Vicanddogs

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2019, 04:25:58 PM »
Dennis could you explain how you use your setup for rusting the barrel.And I would be interested in seeing the steaming process if you if you have the time to photograph it
Thanks
Vic
Vic

Offline UrbanCowboy

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Re: Rust blue advice needed
« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2023, 09:21:49 PM »
I know this topic hasn't been discussed in a very long time, however I found this when looking for some advice on rust bluing, I'm new to this process. I'm running into the same or similar issue using American Rust Blue. I've followed each step with great care, ensuring I wasn't contaminating the metal, degreasing everything very well, using distilled water in my sweat box and for boiling, heating the steel after the boil to evaporate the water before carding, heating the steel before it steams, degreasing my carding wheel and steel wool.

Over and over again with each pass the metal will be black as coal once I take it out of the boil and as soon as I card it, I'll have a dull grey color, it won't get any darker. I've been communicating these issues with the manufacturer of American Rust Blue and he claims you can get 20 long rifles blued with the little bottle, and I've already gone through half a bottle and haven't finished one rifle yet. He also expresses that you should only put a light coating, like using a magic marker, on the steel. I've been doing that. I've gone through so much solution not because I'm putting too much on, but because I'm about 20 or 30 passes into this rifle and I can't get it any darker.

I don't know if it's the weather in the north or what, but this stuff is not working for me at all. I've blued dozens of firearms, cold bluing, hot bluing salts, parkerizing, and have never been so frustrated than I am now. I know I have continuation bias because I'm not going to give up until I get this process to work.

Any advice or questions are very welcome. Thank you.