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I would like to start a discussion on Blacken-IT or similar products. It has been about 3 yrs since I purchased some of this from a model railroad hobby shop. I have had mixed results.

 

So here is what I know -

 

1. You must clean the surface thoruoghly. Preferably with acetone or a similar product.

2. You must take care not to get oils from your skin on the surface you wish to treat.

3. The Backen-it should be deluted with water. I have heard several different answers to the proportions. Most often I have heard 1:1 or 2:1 Water to Blacken-IT

4. The item being treated needs to sit in the bath for a period of time. Again I have heard many answers to this. From 10 min to overnight.

5. Once treated the item needs to be rinsed to stop the reaction.

6. Dry it completely to keep from developing water spots etc.

 

So lets hear your experience and comments. Do you have a different process? Or do you use a different product?

 

How long to you leave the item in the bath? What is your preferred concentration? How do you clean it before and after treatment?

Edited by Floyd Kershner
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Floyd

 

Thanks for the interesting post.

 

It looks like the answer to all your questions is bascially Yes. As with most chemicals you need to experiment with all of them and brass being used to fins your best results. I have used the basic blacken it and my results have been mixed. It seems to be chaulky and rub off.

 

I have had good results with Burchwood Casey. It is a basic gun blackening agent picked up at most gun supply stores. The Brownells Oxpho Blue gives a more blue hue to the brass. I like this product when I make small scale pikes, boat hooks etc from brass. It is also sold at a gun store. I think the most important thing is make sure the brass is well cleaned as you mention in your points.

 

post-747-0-82520000-1363310647.jpg

Edited by Geoff Matson
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Floyd,

 

Don't get me started on using Blacken-it :angry:

 

I started a discussion about it on the old MSW site. I'll see what I can remember.

 

I've seen Blacken-it dilutions from no dilution to 20:1 I've used 8:1 and it seems to work best for me. Dilute it with distilled water (tap water has minerals in it that change the qualities of the solution).

 

Yes, clean it well. Degrease the piece with alcohol (I find 80 proof works well for me :P ) or acetone. Leave it in the degreaser bath for 10-20 minutes. When you take it out, don't touch it with your bare hands. Use gloves or tweezers to manipulate the part.

 

When I put my parts in the Blacken-it, the solution changes from clear light blue to a cloudy greyish green.That cloudiness and color indicate (to me) that the reaction is complete. Take the part out and rinse well in distilled water.

 

A couple other things to think about:

 

The length of time the part stays in the solution is a function of the size of the part (area to be blackened) and the dilution. A large part in a 20:1 may well take overnight. A small part in straight Blacken-it will take seconds.

 

I've found that too strong a Blacken-it solution will etch the surface to the point that the black finish flakes off.

 

If you have to solder anything, do that before using Blacken-it. Blackened parts may work with soldering over them, but the joint will probably be stronger if Blacken-it afterwards. Rough up the soldered areas before you clean the part.

 

I've read that some people use Birchwood Casey Brass Black. I haven't tried it, but I've seen some good results. Ed Tosti uses copper and Liver of Sulfur and has had good results with that. Some people get so frustrated that they end up painting their brass parts

 

One last thing-Your mileage really may vary. I've had nothing but trouble blackening soldered parts. Other people have no problem at all and never have. And their parts look great.

 

Hope that helps. I know there are others on this forum that know far more than me about this subject, and I hope they chime in.

 

Thanks,

 

Harvey

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Floyd,

Harvey gave the most comprehensive description I've seen.  :)  The only thing I would add is that after acetone, soak the part in vinegar for about 15 to 30 minutes to get some "tooth" into the brass. Also, rinse with distilled water.  Lightly buff when dry.  I get inconsistant results no matter how consistant I am with preparation and using the product.  Could be I'm using different types of brass but I'm not sure.

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I think Mark's observation as to the possible inconsistency in the brass is well founded.  I have tried to treat different parts simultaneously and you can see the difference in speed of reaction and overall result with regard to finish.  I did it just to determine this very fact.  So I wind up maintaining a set 'pre' and post' treatment regimin while varying the time of exposure depending on the piece (given a constant solution concentration). 

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I always polish up brass or copper parts with fine (green) scotchbrite before cleaning and blackening. I´ve found this gives a good surface for the blackening process as doing this removes any oxidisation on the part. I use a 5 to 1 mix leaving the parts in for 5 minutes,or longer if required. Never had any problems with flaking.

 

Dave :)   

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Dave,

 

That's interesting. I tried buffing the brass with scotchbrite before blackening, and it made no difference.

 

Following up on Augie's point, I wonder if the age of the brass being blackened makes a difference? All the brass I've been working with is 10 plus years old. Maybe I should go buy some new brass and try blackening that?

 

Thanks,

 

Harvey

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Good point Harvey.  Now you've got me thinking about that.  In fact sometimes I've thought perhaps some brass has a 'finish' on it and some doesn't.

Dave,

 

That's interesting. I tried buffing the brass with scotchbrite before blackening, and it made no difference.

 

Following up on Augie's point, I wonder if the age of the brass being blackened makes a difference? All the brass I've been working with is 10 plus years old. Maybe I should go buy some new brass and try blackening that?

 

Thanks,

 

Harvey

 

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I use Carr's Metal Black for Brass

 

Here's my kit.

 

002.JPG

 

The  Blackening  solution is diluted by 30% with de-ionised water.

 

My procedure is:-

 

A dip in the acid dip, then scrub.

 

A dip in the neutralising rinse.

 

Insert in the blackening solution until evenly black, (less than a minute.)

 

A dip in the de ionised water.

 

Blow dry with a hairdryer.

 

Leave for a few hours

 

Coat with Humbrol mattcote varnish.

 

This is the result on my Pegasus guns.

 

037.JPG

 

If the finish isn't quite even enough after the solution dip, I rub off and re dip.

 

Not really had a problem with blackening guns, the secret is I think the thorough clean and scrub before blackening, and the sealing of the surface afterwards.

 

B.E.

 

 

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Thank you Floyd :)

 

Hi Augie, I hand paint the varnish on the guns using a very light touch. If you've got the equipment an air brush would probably be better.

 

I did quite a few trials before I came up with the finish I was happy with.

 

035.JPG

 

 

These are the various trial stages I went thro’.

 

1) Basic blackened gun (paler than in reality)

2) Gun buffed up – not a displeasing result, metallic in appearance but lacks a depth of colour.

3) The gun coated with Carr’s Electroflux, a clear lacquer which is supposed to prevent metal black  

     patinas from being rubbed away. The result too shiny for my taste.

4) Gun coated with Humbrol mattcote; again no disturbance to the surface in application and a deep  

     black matt finish resulting. I had originally tried Admiralty matt varnish but being of a milky tone on 

     application it was difficult to gauge the evenness of the coat, so the mattcote was the option I

     decided upon.

 

I should add perhaps that when I added the GR ciphers to the guns there was an inevitable  overspill of ca which needed an acetone scrub.

033.JPG

The contamination can be seen here after the first solution dip

 

039.JPG

Cleaning and re-dipping resolved the problem.

 

Once blackened I use surgical gloves to handle, and handle as little as possible.

 

B.E.

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Any time Augie. I am glad it was useful to others besides me. I am a few weeks away from finishing the hull of my Baltimore Clipper/Harvey. I need to think about the metal work. As I mention above my experience has not be very satisfactory. I think from this thread I have some great ideas on what to try.

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I too have had mixed results trying to blacken brass (and other metals). I use Carrs' products like Blue Ensign.

 

I have one word of caution: don't leave small parts in the solution too long! I left trunnion hasps and flintlocks in a dilute solution of Metal Black for Brass overnight and they had gone by the morning.... Assuming that no-one sneaked in and pinched them in the wee small hours then I can only assume that they must have completely dissolved. I haven't tried this little stunt again since!

 

Rob

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just to add a bit to this:  what we all call "Brass" is an alloy that is made from copper and zinc, but the alloy can have other metals or minerals in it that alter how it takes to the blackening treatment, this I think is also why some of us have great success and one model kit may blacken better than another.

some of the things that may be in Brass include Lead, Silicon, Tin, Iron, aluminum and even arsenic !

 

I have some so called "Brass wire" that came from a local craft store that will not blacken at all in blacken it while other brass turns just fine.

 

and if you solder then you also have to look at what is in the solder you use... which can be some of tin, silver, lead and other stuff...

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just to add a bit to this:  what we all call "Brass" is an alloy that is made from copper and zinc, but the alloy can have other metals or minerals in it that alter how it takes to the blackening treatment, this I think is also why some of us have great success and one model kit may blacken better than another.

some of the things that may be in Brass include Lead, Silicon, Tin, Iron, aluminum and even arsenic !

 

I have some so called "Brass wire" that came from a local craft store that will not blacken at all in blacken it while other brass turns just fine.

 

and if you solder then you also have to look at what is in the solder you use... which can be some of tin, silver, lead and other stuff...

The reason your brass wire did not blacken is that it is coated with a material that prevents it from tarnishing. Take a piece of steel wool or fine sandpaper and drag the wire across that. I bet it will blacken afterwards.

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Hello all,

 

I want to blacken the cannons and also the cannon doors on the SF II. Paint will do it but not really as you all know. I haven't wandered the gun shops yet but did look at Bass pro online and they have a product called G96 Liquid Gun Blue Gun Treatment. Supposed to be soooo easy and soooo good. Won't wear off, yada yada. I don't know if it will work on brass and bronze and such or if it is just for gun steel as their online descriptions and directions are slim at best.

 

Has anyone had any dealings with this product? Good, bad, too good to be true...etc?

 

Randy

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The reason your brass wire did not blacken is that it is coated with a material that prevents it from tarnishing. Take a piece of steel wool or fine sandpaper and drag the wire across that. I bet it will blacken afterwards.

Nope, I hit it with 100 grit a bit and do dice.  I was using that wire to hold a bunch of small parts together so not a big deal.

I am thinking there is some metal in that wire that is hard to blacken.   note: that wire came from a local Michaels craft store in the jewelry area.

the wire I get with model kits has taken to black with no problems

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Nope, I hit it with 100 grit a bit and do dice.  I was using that wire to hold a bunch of small parts together so not a big deal.

I am thinking there is some metal in that wire that is hard to blacken.   note: that wire came from a local Michaels craft store in the jewelry area.

the wire I get with model kits has taken to black with no problems

The wire I used in the other thread here also came from Michaels and after I used steel wool on it the patina I use did a fine job. But just as I mentioned there, it does require a stronger solution than copper, britannia or solder joints. Even if the wire is actually low carbon steel or another zinc/copper alloy (other than aluminum or ss) it should work.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Could anyone please point me to where I can buy the below that Blue Ensign used in Australia?  I would like to have it in my equipment for future use and am having trouble finding where I can buy it from (I don't have any hobby shops locally, Toyworld is the closest thing I have)

thanks in advance

Jason

 

I use Carr's Metal Black for Brass

 

Here's my kit.

 

002.JPG

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Carr's is UK (near Bristol) so not sure how widely available it is outside UK.

 

If you are on the far side of the pond you may have more success finding Birchwood Casey Brass Black which is from a US company. I tend to use this now.

 

Ian M.

Edited by ianmajor
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BTW - the method with the Birchwood Casey stuff is to clean the item, then apply the blackener with a swab, then after about a minute kill the process by swabbing with water. You can vary the degree of blackening this way. I use this on model locomotives where you can't put the model in a bath of blacking liquid! :)  

 

Ian M.

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Jason,

 

I will take the risk of being accused of stating the obvious. When you get this stuff keep it and any containers that you use well away from the little person in the middle of your avatar. It is nasty stuff. You will see various recommendations about wearing gloves whilst blackening your work. The reason generally given is to keep fingerprints off your work. The bigger reason for wearing gloves is to keep the stuff off your skin.

 

Also rather than using "specialist" cleaners like Acidip I use sink cleaner! Currently I use one in the UK called Shiny Sinks. There are others like Barman's Friend. They contain acetic acid and are also mildly abrasive. You will probably find something similar in the household cleaning cupboard. Do try it out on a piece of waste material first though. You will also have to thoroughly rinse it after cleaning to avoid any (usually white) residue.

 

The advantage is that you don't spend money on specialist materials that spend most of their time cluttering your drawers. 

 

Hope you don't mind my throwing this in.

 

Ian M.  

Edited by ianmajor
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