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Help with "bluing" copper plated steel

bacon

Copper BB
Hi all - new here and first time posting.

I have a Mossberg 46B-B from the 40s that I have been restoring and I was about to bring all the metal bits in for bluing. Problem is, one of the parts (the base/elevator for the rear site) turned out to be copper plated under the original "bluing". I know the base is steel because it is magnetic, but it has a very solid copper plating on it (see attached pictures). I was polishing some other parts prior to bluing, so I cleaned this one up as well by sanding and polishing. Even with sanding I didnt hit bare steel, so the coating must be thick.

I cant blue over copper, so what are my options? Does anyone know why they plated this one piece in copper? Theory is that the base steel was high nickel or some other alloy that would come out reddish or purpleish after bluing so they copper plated and then iron plated prior to bluing. I cant seem to find anyone who can iron plate anymore, so what do I do? Leave it as polished copper? Try some Birchwood Brass Black? Annodize? Sand/blast down to bare steel and then risk what the bluing looks like? Chrome/nickel plate?

Thanks!
 

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Bobster

.30-06
Welcome Aboard! :)

The copper may have been a base for nickle or chrome plating. I would leave it as it will protect the steel from rust...
 

bacon

Copper BB
If you look at the second picture I posted, it was originally dark like it was blued. Since it's a restoration and I already have considerable time invested in polishing and detail work, I want to get it as close to original as possible
 

bacon

Copper BB
Hmm, i guess that's a possibility but ive worked with a fair amount of black oxide parts in my career and they never looked like this. Age and patina could play a part in that, but im still skeptical. I think im going to try sanding/grinding a little more agressively on the base of the part out of site and see if I hit bare steel under the copper. If so, i'll have it blued. If not i'll have to figure something else out. I can find custom plating places that will do nickel/chrome, but no black oxide at the moment.

Anyone ever used Birchwood Brass Black? I know it wont be quite as tough, but for this little part it may not matter.
 

John A.

Unconstitutional laws are not laws.
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I wouldn't count on the brass black. It'll darken it, but it won't look like it did before.

Have you considered black spray paint?
 

bacon

Copper BB
Have you considered black spray paint?

No. I had to take off a decent amount of material to get through some pitting and one thing led to the next and now most of the parts are near mirror polish. Paint would look like real dog feces next to the mirrored bluing. Im tring to make it look original, but better - like a restomod I guess. I'd consider black oxide or black nickel if I could get one to shine a little. I'd also consider just plain nickel for some contrast, but then i might want to do part of the front sight to match
 

bacon

Copper BB
Took a while but I got the copper plating off. Pretty hard to get a nice finish on the inside, but it'll be covered up anyway. Looks like regular steel to me and seemed to take the little cold blue I touched to the bottom so it's still a bit of a mystery why it was coated like this. It may come back a mismatched blue - guess we'll have to wait and see
 

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John A.

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I don't pretend to understand the reasoning behind what a lot of manufacturers do sometimes.
 

bacon

Copper BB
Got all my parts back from bluing today. The previously copper part in question blued up beautifully so I still don't understand the copper. I wish the pictures could show the quality - they are so much more beautiful in person. It's damn near mirror black. Makes all that sanding and polishing worth it. This will be one of the best gifts I've ever given
 

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John A.

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Agreed.

It really is shiny and new and beautiful.

I would also like to compliment you on the stock. That is a home run. If you refinished it yourself, you did great on it. Truth is, it probably looks better now than when it was brand new. Even the brass magazine plunger looks new.

@ripjack13 you'll like this too.
 

bacon

Copper BB
I did in fact do the stock. I did all the polishing and everything other than the bluing. I was shocked when I put the first coat of finish on it. Neither the original finish nor the sanded raw wood showed all that grain character that came through. Lots of coats, lots of patience.

Here she is all put back together. Pretty happy with how it all came out. I especially like the front sight assembly - it's been missing my whole life and was replaced with a cut off screw when I was a kid. Really adds some appeal to the the front end along with the polished brass peeking through
 

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bacon

Copper BB
And here are some originals. Decent overall for a nearly 80yo farm rifle. Stock was tired but not beat up. Barrel and hard parts were pitted, neglected and dirty, but straight and solid.
 

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John A.

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I sincerely appreciate anyone that takes their time to do the job right. And follow through with it.

I would like to take a minute to not only thank, but congratulate you on an immaculate job well done. I don't know anyone who wouldn't fall in love with how that gun looks. It's absolutely gorgeous.
 
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