Airguns of the American West Part 8

Airguns of the American West Part 8

So, you hate the finish on the standard Schofield airgun?

Here are the finishing touches to an authentic looking antiqued version

By Dennis Adler

Is it a real vintage Schofield? Nope, this is the Bear River model with the anodized charcoal black finish polished off and various parts of the gun faux color cased and blued to match an original civilian model Schofield.

Is it a real vintage Schofield? Nope, this is the Bear River model with the charcoal black finish polished off and parts of the gun faux color cased and blued to match an original Schofield.

It’s later on the second day and I am starting with the gun as completely polished out as possible. You could stop here, but since I have an original photo of a nickel plated civilian model, I know there is more that can be done to make the Schofield airgun more authentic in appearance.

Polishing and more polishing

It is necessary to polish out the entire gun, even parts that are not supposed to be polished, because they will have the wrong finish if left in charcoal black. This includes the top latch, which is one of the trickiest parts to polish, as well as color caseharden. Did I say color caseharden? Well, not really. If you actually had the equipment to do it, it wouldn’t work; just like Parkerizing, it’s not applicable to aluminum alloy. (The temperatures necessary for bone charcoal color case hardening also exceed the melting point for the cast aluminum alloy used in airguns.) But one of the many little tricks I learned antiquing black powder guns was how to create a faux color casehardened look on steel, that also just happens to also work on aluminum alloy! And it doesn’t require anything other than cold blue and gun oil mixed in the correct proportions.

Using a good quality masking tape or Scotch Blue painter’s tape, mask off all of the areas that you do not want the cold blue and gun oil mix to stain when applying the faux case colors. Note the remaining debris on the back of the cylinder that has to be wiped off. This is comprised of steel wool fragments and particles of the original finish. You need to wipe away any debris and blown the surfaces clean with compressed air whenever you come to a stopping point in your work.

Using masking tape or Scotch Blue painter’s tape, mask off all the areas that you do not want the cold blue and gun oil mix to stain. Also note the remaining debris on the back of the cylinder that has to be wiped off. This is comprised of steel wool fragments and particles of the original finish. You need to wipe away any debris and blow the surfaces clean with compressed air whenever you come to a stopping point in your work.

The parts on a Schofield that should be color casehardened include the barrel lock. This is the front part of the locking mechanism that the stud latch engages to close or open the gun. It also has the rear portion of the sight channel that runs down the center of the barrel to the front sight. After polishing this part to the white (no charcoal black finish), you have to tape it off so that your faux color casehardening only colors the latch and does not run into the back of the barrel. Use a good quality masking tape or Scotch Blue painter’s tape, and be sure all the edges are covered to prevent any bleeding through of the oil and cold blue mix. The entire latch, top and sides, have to be faux color cased.

In the first photo showing this step, you will also see some debris from polishing on the back of the cylinder and chambers. This is the stuff you want to be sure is continually wiped off when you are working (as you will see in the next photo of the oil and cold blue being applied).

The barrel lock has been taped off from the barrel and the mixture of cold blue and gun oil applied with a Q Tip. You can see how this mix creates the mottled mix of blues, grays, and reds seen in actual color casehardened steel. Once you have a mix of colors you like, let it sit for a few minutes and then lightly wipe it with an oiled cotton patch to set the colors and stop the chemical action.

The barrel lock has been taped off and the cold blue and gun oil mixture applied with a Q Tip. You can see how this mix creates the mottled shades of blues, grays, and reds seen in color casehardened steel. Once you have a color mix you like, let it sit for a few minutes and then lightly wipe it with an oiled cotton patch to set the colors and stop the chemical action.

The mixture is not scientific, put a little cold blue on the end of a Q Tip by dipping it in the bottle, and then put a small drop of gun oil on top of it. As soon as you begin to paint it onto the aluminum part the mixture of cold blue and oil will begin to swirl and discolor into shades of gray, blue and reddish tones that resemble color casehardened finishes on steel. As soon as you see a mixture of tones you like, stop. Don’t apply any more, let it set for a moment and then carefully dry it with a clean cotton patch. Wait a few minutes until it has set and then lightly wipe it with an oiled cotton patch. This stops the action and sets the finish. Again it is important to make sure the areas around your work are taped off to prevent any overrun of the faux case colors.

You need to do the same to the stud latch (far left) and the hammer. Be sure to tape off the polished frame and into the edges around the hammer before applying the cold blue and oil finish.

Do the same to the stud latch (far left) and the hammer. Be sure to tape off the polished frame and into the edges around the hammer before applying the cold blue and oil finish.

You need to do this process for the entire latch, top and sides. Then go over the stud latch (the part that you pull back to open the gun, which also has the rear sight notch) and the hammer. For the hammer, a little polishing off of the new finish with the Grade #0000 steel wool will give it a more worn, used look. You want to see some wear in the checkering of the hammer spur and along the edges of the hammer.

The finished hammer and stud latch should have the edges lightly buffed with the Grade #0000 steel wool to give them a slightly worn look, especially the checkered hammer spur. You can see some of the dark finish remaining just forward of the stud latch retaining screw. This could be polished out, but I left it because it is definitely a protected area on a Schofield cartridge gun. Also note the trigger has been blued.

The finished hammer and stud latch should have the edges lightly buffed with the Grade #0000 steel wool to give them a slightly worn look, especially the checkered hammer spur. You can see some of the dark finish remaining just forward of the stud latch retaining screw. This could be polished out, but I left it because it is definitely a protected area on a Schofield cartridge gun. Also note the trigger has been blued.

The last two steps are to carefully re-blue the trigger and the ejector lever under the frame just forward of the triggerguard. This piece needs to be taped off from the rest of the frame. Once you have applied the cold blue to these areas, wait until it has set a few minutes, and then apply a little gun oil on a cotton patch to stop the bluing action and set the color. Let the gun set for awhile and then begin to give it a final cleaning for all debris from the cylinder, hammer channel, and trigger opening in the bottom of the frame. Open the gun and make sure there is no debris in the ejector rod and frame housing (the round portion at the front of the frame where the barrel is attached), and then give the entire surface a blast of compressed air before wiping it down with a clean, cotton cloth. You are now ready for a final pass with the Gesswein polishing cloth to give all the bright parts their best shine, including the cylinder, which will still remain a little darker. Avoid going over the faux color cased parts with the Gesswein polishing cloth. Replace the grips and you are done!

The original Bear River gun, top, and the refinished antiqued model are shown together. Note that the faux case colors on the latch go around the top of the barrel as it is a separate piece. The channel down the center of the barrel is also left darker as are the sides of the front sight. The polished top of the front sight easily picks up in the blued V notch of the stud latch. The polished cylinder still remains a couple of shades darker, especially inside the cylinder flutes.

The original Bear River gun, top, and the antiqued model are shown together. The faux case colors on the barrel lock go around the top of the barrel, as it is a separate piece. The channel down the center of the barrel is also left darker as are the sides of the front sight. The polished top of the front sight easily picks up in the blued V notch of the stud latch. The cylinder still remains a couple of shades darker, especially inside the cylinder flutes.

In the final two photos you can see the finished antiqued airgun compared with the standard model’s charcoal black anodized finish. Which looks more like a real Schofield to you? In the last photo, the antiqued airgun is compared to a real civilian model Schofield for details. The differences are minor and the similarities remarkable. It is distinctively your very own .177 caliber No. 3 Schofield revolver.

The proof of a good job in creating an artificially antiqued western gun is to compare your work with an original gun. The c.1877 Civilian model Schofield at bottom was the pattern for the faux color cased and blued finishes on the airgun’s barrel lock, stud latch, hammer, trigger and the ejector lever beneath the frame. It is a lot of work, but the end product is something that only you and you alone can have.

The proof of a good job in creating an artificially antiqued western gun is to compare your work with an original gun. The c.1877 Civilian model Schofield at bottom was the pattern for the faux color cased and blued finishes on the airgun’s barrel lock, stud latch, hammer, trigger and the ejector lever beneath the frame. It is a lot of work, but the end product is something that only you and you alone can have.

 

5 thoughts on “Airguns of the American West Part 8



  1. WOW you’ve really done an amazing job! has the holsters that you’ve bought from john bianchi fit the BB guns well? they’re not loose fitting? the BB guns are a little smaller in comparison to the real ones. so I was wondering if that affects there fit.


    • Kade:

      The Umarex Colt Peacemakers are exactly the same overall length for a 5-1/2 inch barrel model, a fraction of an inch less in overall cylinder and frame circumference, and a fraction greater in overall height. The differences are incremental and the CO2 powered Peacemakers fit all traditional western-style Colt SAA holsters. There is no appreciable difference whatsoever; if the holster fits a .45 Colt SAA, it fits the airgun version. I have checked this against more than a dozen different holsters for Colt SAA revolvers. You are good to go with any Bianchi Frontier Gunleather rig you like.

      Dennis Adler


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