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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings,

I have an antique firearm (1851 Colt Navy) that was in a fire. The fire melted the brass section of the firearm all over the steel cylinder and barrel. I am looking for a way to remove a little of the melted brass from the steel without damaging the steel. All I am trying to do is expose the markings on the barrel showing the Colt name and maybe the Patent Colt on the side. If at all possible, maybe see some of the carving on the cylinder.

This is not now nor ever will be a museum piece. It is strictly for my own enjoyment to hang on the wall, however, exposing the Colt markings would be a major bonus. I was able to expose the serial number (94662) with sanding, brass brush and vinegar but it was very difficult and did wear down the number a bit.

Some questions I have but cannot yet answer:

Did the metal heat so much that the molten brass bonded molecularly with the steel?

Did the extreme heating of the steel alter its properties lowering its melting point closer to the brass?

Brass melting point is about 1700 F and steel is about 2500 F but this steel is from 1860, does that change things?

Is there a chemical that will melt brass and leave steel alone?

Just an FYI as to my progress so far:

I am easily able to grind the brass off with a Dremel. I have tested this on a thick section of the melted brass. I don't use this method because it grinds down the metal very quickly and would probably result in my grinding off the markings.

I have soaked the brass in vinegar and copper solvent for many hours with no effect (other than a slight green coating)

I have held a propane torch over a section of the piece with a heavy brass deposit for about 5 minutes. The area turned all sorts of colors but the brass would not budge being prodded by a metal chisel and a stainless steel brush. I was releuctant to get the metal glowing hot as I am not sure what affect it would have.

I have ordered a bottle of Ferric Chloride but not sure it will be strong enough to actually melt through a few thousands of an inch of brass.

Again, all I want to do is see the markings on the barrel and maybe the frame. I expect a little bit of damage is possible but not destruction of the markings. This project is just for me to have a little piece of history.

If this post does would do better in another forum, please let me know.

Thanks,

John
 

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It appears the only place you have melted brass is near the serial number.
The brass grip frame would not have melted around the cylinder or barrel.
There appears to be simple corrosion on the steel parts.
Heat does not change the melting point of any metal. Ferric chloride will not help you.
If brass were melted to the steel, removal by mechanical means is the only way.
I suggest you buy some EvapoRust at your local hardware store, and soak the gun in it. This will remove most of the corrosion. The pitting appears far too deep to show any markings, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Bill, thanks for the reply. The main reason I believed it was brass melted around the gun is when you grind away a small amount from almost anywhere on the gun, the resulting bare metal is bright gold in color. I would think the steel would show as bright silver. The pictures did not come out well. I will try the Evaporust.
 

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I agree with Bill. Unless the gun was in a steel box the brass wouldn't have collected around the cylinder and barrel and then only on one side and when it cooled would have been a big clump stuck to it and would have the gun brazed to the box. The cylinder scene wasn't very deep to start with and was the first thing to wear off. The partial serial number on the cylinder was usually struck deeper and may have survived. The barrel address wasn't much deeper than the cylinder scene. JMO but I think you're wasting your time trying to recover them there's way too much pitting.
 

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To quote "I feel your pain", retroactively -- my Dad sent me a '49 Pocket Colt in exactly the same condition as yours. No thought of restoration, I saw it as a neo-Paterson, long before the flood of Italian repros ---


My DIY Paterson re-creation, ivory from cutting down a pair for a SAA. Not much I can tell you about the work, so long ago ----->
 

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Greetings, I have an antique firearm (1851 Colt Navy) that was in a fire. The fire melted the brass section of the firearm all over the steel cylinder and barrel.
Hi John, welcome to TFF from Sitka, Alaska. Just out of curiosity, was your 1851 a relic salvaged from the remains of Colt's factory following the Feb. 1864 fire? I've seen several such relics, one or two in much the same condition as your '51, but others were much worse and barely recognizable. That said, the point I'm laboriously leading up to is that damage caused by the controversial 1864 fire was part of these relics' history, and a restoration effort - no matter how minimal - would've negated part of that history.
 

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That said, the point I'm laboriously leading up to is that damage caused by the controversial 1864 fire was part of these relics' history, and a restoration effort - no matter how minimal - would've negated part of that history.
If it was it's too late now, the damage is done.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I found the solution.

By mixing 2 parts household Hydrogen Peroxide with 1 part household vinegar you get a copper/brass solvent. I have been soaking it for about 8 hours and the brass is almost gone. I scrubbed it with a stiff toothbrush every few hours and it looks like the steel is just find but the brass has been dissolved.
 

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I found the solution.

By mixing 2 parts household Hydrogen Peroxide with 1 part household vinegar you get a copper/brass solvent. I have been soaking it for about 8 hours and the brass is almost gone. I scrubbed it with a stiff toothbrush every few hours and it looks like the steel is just find but the brass has been dissolved.
There's no steel in it. It's all wrought iron.
 
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