Refinishing a Peacemaker Part 2

Refinishing a Peacemaker Part 2

The pursuit of imperfection

By Dennis Adler

This is where we left off on Tuesday with the barrel, triggerguard, trigger, and frontstrap polished out. Up to this point I had left the grips on the gun.

Removing the finish from the gun is a delicate process, not only because you do not want to distress the white metal (rub a flat spot or depression in the surface), but also not scratch it beyond the capability of polishing out with the 0000 steel wool and Gesswein polishing cloth. It is also delicate because you want to take every precaution to keep debris from the finish, 3M pad and steel wood, from getting into the internal systems of the CO2 and action. With that in mind, it is time to add another tool to the process; either masking tape or 3M blue painter’s tape.

To begin the backstrap I removed the grips because I want to get around the edges of the grip frame. The left grip just comes up for loading CO2, the right grip panel is secured from inside by two small Phillips head screws (arrows). Save the grips and the screws if you plan on reusing these grips.
I am going to use white grips when I’m done and the right panel uses a different screw than these grips.

Today, we are going to polish out the backstrap, hammer, and the cylinder. This is in the order of difficulty and you don’t have to do it all in a day. For the backstrap it is necessary to remove the grips. The left side just pops off for loading CO2, but the right grip is held in place by two small Phillips head screws. The replacement grips use different screws, so save these with the old grips.  

Protecting the internals is essential. I used a clean cotton patch to push up into the top of the grip frame covering the gasket and piercing screw, and then I am going to tape up the entire grip frame except the backstrap.
With as much of the grips sealed off as possible, I begin with the 3M pad to rub off the lettering and finish on the backstrap. Again, use straight back and forth strokes to get a consistent finish.

Next, you want to use the tape to seal off the CO2 chamber and prevent any debris from getting inside. You want to work with the surface being polished facing down to lessen the chance.

Using the 3M pad I removed the finish and wording and then using a small edge went over the shoulders of the backstrap where they meet the frame. I did not get into the frame area just yet. I repeated the steps using the 0000 steel wool and Gesswein polishing cloth. I used the Dust Off to blow the surfaces clean, removed the blue tape, and checked for any debris inside the grip frame. Then I blew everything off again with the air. 

Here is the backstrap after using the 3M pad and 0000 steel wool.
There is more to the backstrap than the part that fits into your hand. You want to polish off finish on the shoulders of the backstrap where it meets the frame. On an actual Colt the backstrap can be removed (thus no screw holes in the shoulders on the CO2 model, a telltale hint). The blued finish for the backstrap where it meets the frame will have to face an oil and cold blue mix used to create a faux color cased look. This is a line of separation from the two parts of the gun that does not totally exist on the CO2 model.
In this final shot of the polished out backstrap you can see the separation between the shoulders of the backstrap and frame. Also the shovel (top of the backstrap behind the hammer) is polished (top arrow). All of this area will be blued on the finished gun.

Hammer

The hammer has to be completely polished, so here it is very important to seal off all openings into the frame. The hammer needs a good polish because it will be the first part of the gun where I try the color case finishing. The hammer needs to be worked on in two stages, at half cock and then at full cock, as this exposes different parts of the hammer.  

On to the hammer which requires another serious taping off of any opening that can allow debris to get into the action. Start with the hammer on half cock.
Rolling the 3M pad over my fingers allows for a smooth polishing off of the weathered finish on the back side of the hammer. Don’t apply a lot of pressure on the hammer. This is not the strongest part of the gun.
Again I am rolling the pad over my fingers to smoothly polish off the weathered finish on the hammer. This has to be done on the top, front, and back surfaces.
The rough-polished hammer, after using the 3M pad and steel wool reveals some casting lines but they will not show up once it gets the faux color case finish applied. You see there is some darker finish left inside the checkering on the hammer spur and this is just fine. It will all blend in with the final finish.

After working the hammer at half cock, remove tape around the cylinder so it can easily rotate, fully cock the hammer and tape over the recoil shield so the hammer is isolated again. One of the things you want to keep in mind is not putting too much pressure on the hammer as you are polishing it. As tough as it may seem, it is a more fragile part of the gun. You will note in the photos that the checkering on the hammer spur is darker and this is just fine, leave it a little dark. There are also a few areas lower on the hammer that are darker, and that, too, is fine; the important part is to have as much of the hammer flats polished as possible. The color case mix of bluing and oil will fill in these areas in the last steps of the project. In the hammer polishing, the same steps are followed as other parts of the gun, concluding with the polishing cloth to get the finest surface.

Now, cock the hammer and you will see the area that has been protected by the recoil shield. This, too, needs to be carefully polished off.
Looking down on the hammer you can see how the dark recesses of the checkering look. These will work perfectly with the final finish. You can also see the polished off shovel of the backstrap. You will also see that the shoulders are not complete polished off. This is going to be one of the trickier parts of the finish, because the front half should be color cased on an actual Colt!

Once I had cleaned everything up and removed the tape, I decided to run a function check and load CO2 to make sure everything is still working properly. It all checked out good with the gun sending lead wadcutters downrange at over 400 fps. I stuck the grips back on the gun (less the screws for the right panel) to seal off the CO2 chamber as I progress to the next step. 

Looks like the gun is ready for surgery, but the cylinder has to be as completely taped off from the rest of the frame as possible to prevent debris from getting in. Also, you only need to tape off one side. Blow off any debris from the section you are working on, and then cock the hammer to rotate the cylinder to the next section, and pull the trigger. If you have inserted a CO2 cartridge as I have, to check the firing mechanism after finishing the hammer, lower it carefully with your thumb.

Cylinder

The cylinder is a tough job because of the flutes and bolt stops. You also need to seal off as much of the action as possible to prevent debris from entering the firing system. The cylinder is where your arms and fingers are going to get the most abuse and about half way around the cylinder it might not be a bad idea to take a break. Sore finger tips are not going to make this any easier (voice of experience here).

All of the polishing work on the cylinder should be done with the barrel facing down so that any debris fall away from the exposed areas of the cylinder and recoil shield.

I sealed off the left side of the gun as much as possible and worked on the cylinder from that side only, rotating it as I went. After the initial rub off of surface finish with the 3M pad, I used the steel wool on the cylinder as I went one section at a time. This gave me the outer surface as bright as possible, and I always worked with the gun tilted so all debris fell away from it. You have to be conscious of this because it is easier to rest the gun in one hand and work on a flat surface, but that will also deposit considerably more debris on the surface of the gun, so keep working surfaces angled so debris fall away from it.  

Working around the cylinder with the 3M pad and the steel wood, I have competed the polishing of the main surfaces. The cylinder flutes need a little extra attention but don’t worry if a little finish remains; it will blend in with the bluing.

The cylinder flutes are another step. I went back and worked harder on the inside of each to get as much of the weathered finish off as possible. I also used the Dust Off as often as possible to blow away any debris on the gun as I worked around the cylinder, and getting the nozzle in the inside of the frame, recoil shield and base of the cylinder.            

So here we are after another day with only the frame to polish out before starting the refinishing of the gun.

I gave the cylinder a final polish with the Gesswein polishing cloth and that leaves me with the frame to do next. We’ll pick that up Saturday in Part 3. Then it gets really interesting with the refinishing of the barrel, cylinder, grip strap and frame!

4 thoughts on “Refinishing a Peacemaker Part 2


  1. What a great idea for these months of purdah!!!
    I have ordered some .357 Magnum inert rounds to insert in the chambers to give it a bellicose look.
    I would have thought it more convenient to remove the cylinder. It is not a difficult gun to strip (watchout for flying springs) and unlike the Webley does not need 3 hands to re-assemble.


    • Derek

      Actually the cylinder is easier to polish out than taking the gun apart. Those pesky flying springs and the unique mainspring for the hammer really make disassembly more work than it is worth for anyone not familiar with taking the Umarex Peacemaker apart. Hope you are enjoying the articles.

      Dennis


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