by B.B. Pelletier
I will start this report with an assessment of my personal skill at refinishing. I have very little skill. I wouldn’t say that I have none, because somewhere there must be some poor soul with less ability than I, but I pity him or her (probably him, don’t you think?).
I am the type of craftsman who makes basket-case projects for others with real skills. I’m the guy you want to know if you are a careful worker, because I will output loads of projects that require your skilled hands to put right. While this may sound like a humorous introduction, laced with humility, it’s also possible that I’m just being honest.
Some men build ships in bottles. I break bottles. Some men install cabinets in their wives’ kitchens. I hire them and go to the movies.
Now, I do know a few things about airguns, which is why I write about them. Years ago, when I began writing, some people took offense that a complete unknown would dare to write about a subject they had pursued for many decades. That resentment has sort of died away, now that people know that I not only make mistakes when I write, I actually draw attention to them when I find out!
So, I get to write about airguns. I even get to write about how to tune up certain airguns because I’ve done it many times, made most of the mistakes that can be made and tell my readers about them as I go.
But I’m about the last person you would seek when you need help refinishing your gun! I hope you believe that, because it has everything to do with the report you are about to read.
Volvo was discussing the use of cold bluing solutions and several readers chimed in with their personal experiences. I did, as well, though being the hack that I am, I was offering the advice of a blind guide. However, the discussion did stir my curiosity regarding one cold bluing process–Blue Wonder. I have seen this process demonstrated in person both at the German IWA show and also at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. The man who demonstrated it both times was the founder of the company and very smooth at doing what he did–which was to refinish a piece of gun steel in public. I remember standing there watching him work and marveling at the results, like a farm boy at a county fair.
Of course, the hype on the clamshell package says, “No special skills required!” but after learning years ago that, indeed, girls DO care about certain things (let the reader understand), I don’t believe everything I read or hear. However, in this situation, I bring to the table an all-important quality that is certified by decades of demonstrated results. I have absolutely NO special skills.
Who better to demonstrate this “marvel” cold-bluing process than me? Heck–even I’m interested to see how this will turn out!
I followed the directions
More-or-less, I followed the directions. I didn’t want lectures from those more skilled than I, so I tried to do things exactly the way Blue Wonder said to do them. Where I departed from the directions, I’ll tell you.
Shall we begin?
I have a Daisy No. 25 pump gun receiver that’s red with rust. I’ve been saving it for years, just for this experiment. You know how people are. Out behind the shed is a pile of rusty iron that Bubba is saving for a rainy day. Only it never rains and Bubba’s relatives sell off a $10 million 1920 Hispano Suisa cabriolet for scrap at the estate sale. I haven’t got one of those, but I sure do have this rusty old Daisy pump.
Success is in the prep
Yeah, yeah, yeah! Okay, so I rubbed the rust with OOOO steel wool for about 30 minutes. To placate the folks from Blue Wonder, I saturated the metal with Blue Wonder cleaner. The rust went away entirely, but it left the metal with an etched surface that didn’t shine very much. If I had wanted the metal to shine, I would have rubbed it with car polishing compound. But I didn’t do that, and that’s important to keep in mind.
Clean the surface
This is where I deviated from the Blue Wonder instructions, but I can’t see how I did anything bad. After getting all the rust off, I cleaned the surface to be blued with acetone several times before moving on to bluing. That was to get rid of all oil and grease.
Applying the Blue Wonder blue
To apply the bluing solution, which must be shaken in the bottle before every application, you first heat the metal with a propane torch. The metal must be hot to the touch, but not hot enough to burn you. Good luck with that one! I just heated it up and guessed!
The bluing solution is deep blue/black in color, and, unlike other cold blue solutions, it goes on dark black and then gets lighter as it dries. The other cold blues go on clear and slowly color the metal darker as you repeat applications. Blue Wonder needs repeated applications, too, so I put on five coats of solution, leaving the final one wet for a minute. Then, I dried the surface and applied the developer. The instructions say to use between 5 and 15 applications.
Applying the Blue Wonder developer
The developer both fixes the color and deepens it over the course of 1.5 to 3 hours. I left it on the full three hours, then I dried off the surface and sprayed it with Ballistol. The directions call for a high-quality gun oil with good rust protection, and Ballistol is the best I know of.
You’re going to have a hard time believing this, because I have a hard time and I was there to see it happen. The system worked exactly as advertised and left me with a beautiful finish. No, it’s not perfect, because I didn’t polish the metal perfectly. Remember? But the finish is better than I have a right to expect considering how easy it went on.
So, does Blue Wonder work? I’m not ready to say, yet. It sure looks like it does, but let me try some other tests before we get excited. However, I have to comment that, up to this point, this is the best cold bluing job I have ever done.