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How was "Blackening the Guns" done on historic ships


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If my memory serves me well, the "paint" for blackening the guns consisted of turpentine, tar, rust, and other components, cooked and applied hot.

 

But I cant find the recipe any more, but I recall it being out of a contemporary source. Any clues where to find that?

 

And coming with that: Any clue how the painted barrels looked like? Glossy brownish shining appearance?

 

Thanks for any enlightenment, Daniel

 

EDIT: Precised Titel

Edited by dafi
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Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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Hi, Daniel! Here a blackening example with the help of solution of selenious acid of a smooth trunk without a decor (the French gun of a frigate of La Venus).

http://5500.forumactif.org/t549-discussion-generale

post-215-0-50767000-1367744215_thumb.jpg

post-215-0-93411300-1367744228_thumb.jpg

Edited by Garward

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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Trunk before processing and a blackening.

 

post-215-0-15043000-1367744472_thumb.jpg

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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And it is Montanes guns, trunks are also blackened 20% solution of selenious acid.

 

post-215-0-79730100-1367744806_thumb.jpg

post-215-0-79521600-1367744821_thumb.jpg

post-215-0-70337800-1367744894_thumb.jpg

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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Thank you both Garward and Maurice!

 

@ Garward: It is always a treat to see your wonderful and precise models! Thanks for linking to the blackenig of your wonderful barrals! If I got it wright, this are the means of blackening the model parts. I also look very much onto who the original guns appeared when being blackened. Do you have any sources of that too?

 

@ Maurice: As always, you pull exactely the source that was in my mind! Bruzelius´great collection of original sources.

 

I edited the titel of the thread to make more precise: How was it done in the old days and especially, how did it look like?

 

Cheers, Daniel

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Hi, Daniel, thanks for the comment!

The cast trunks of guns for Le Fleuron and Venus from here http://www.shipmodels.com.ua/eng/accessories/artillery/cannon/index.htm

At the request of them it is possible to get in different types: raw after casting and most to process (that I and made), and it is possible to order trunks with processing.

Trunks of guns for Montanes are turned on the lathe.

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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Oh I have a recipe for you! Its from The Kedge-Anchor by William Brady, published in 1847. On page 389 near the end of the book, almost as an afterthought, he gives three pages of recipes for painting and blacking stuff. There are three recipes for blacking guns, plus a French recipe. I'm going to transcribe the first gun blacking recipe here:  "For Blacking Guns: Six pounds of beeswax mixed with one gallon of spirits of turpentine, one paper of lamp black, mixed well together, for twenty 24 pounders Note- The beeswax is to be cut fine, and dissolved in spirits of turpentine before mixed with the lamp black."

 For the French recipe there is this:  "French Recipe For Blacking Guns.&c. To one gallon of vinegar, put ten ounces of lamp-black, and one pound and a-half of clear sifted iron rust, and mix them well together. Lay this on the guns after a good coat of black paint, and rub it occasionally with a soft oil cloth."

 

My favorite though is his recipe "For Blacking Ship's Standing Rigging. To a half a barrel of tar add 6 gallons of whisky, 4 pounds of litharge, 4 pounds of lamp black, 2 buckets of boiling beef-pickle,or hot salt water out of the coppers, if the other cannot be had conveniently ; mix well together and apply immediately."

 

He has five recipes for blacking hammock cloths.

 

Interesting ancient recipes which shouldn't be forgotten, they contain useful information. You couldn't show a photo with results of application of these recipes for blackening of gun trunks?

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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Frome a late 19th century German source for steel guns: rub down the barrel repeatedly with vinegar. Once a firmly attached brown iron-oxide layer has developed, paint in lineseed oil. To be rubbed down with a cloth soaked in lineseed oil for maintenance. Be sure not let the vinegare etc. into the barrel (particularly in the case of rifled barrels).

 

This seems to implicate that the barrels were of a satin brownish colour, which is also evidenced by contemporary paintings.

 

Cast iron guns, according to the same source were to be painted in oil paint.

 

wefalck

wefalck

 

panta rhei - Everything is in flux

 

 

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Frome a late 19th century German source for steel guns: rub down the barrel repeatedly with vinegar. Once a firmly attached brown iron-oxide layer has developed, paint in lineseed oil. To be rubbed down with a cloth soaked in lineseed oil for maintenance. Be sure not let the vinegare etc. into the barrel (particularly in the case of rifled barrels).

 

This seems to implicate that the barrels were of a satin brownish colour, which is also evidenced by contemporary paintings.

 

Cast iron guns, according to the same source were to be painted in oil paint.

 

wefalck

 

The interesting recipe repeating procedure applied by the real ships of cooling of gun trunks at firing: trunks were cooled with vinegar solution (were covered with tarpaulin and poured down). You won't tell, how many it is necessary to vinegar solution a trunk from brass which is made for model and doesn't shoot? :) 

Edited by Garward

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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The vinegar for internal cleaning of brass and cast iron barrels was used to dissolve the residues of black powder. Normally, it was a three-stage procedure: vinegar, (sea)water, grease/tallow.

 

wefalck

wefalck

 

panta rhei - Everything is in flux

 

 

M-et-M-72.jpg  Banner-AKHS-72.jpg  Banner-AAMM-72.jpg  ImagoOrbis-72.jpg
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The vinegar for internal cleaning of brass and cast iron barrels was used to dissolve the residues of black powder. Normally, it was a three-stage procedure: vinegar, (sea)water, grease/tallow.

 

wefalck

 

For real barrels it is known and it is clear. And what you can tell about that, how many time needs to be processed for blackening by vinegar solution a trunk from brass which is made for model and doesn't shoot?  :) 

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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Don't know. Would depend on the brass. I also don't know what colour solid copper-acetate (which is what you probably would make) has. 

 

To be on the safe side, I would use a commercial browning or blackening product. I do have an old-time recipe book for such concoctions used to create patinas, but in most countries, due to health and safety regulations, the chemicals needed cannot be obtained easily by private individuals anymore. In consequence the traditional technical chemist's stores have died out. You can also search the Internet for 'patina'.

 

I have not tried this on gun barrels, but a good way of simulating the 'browning' could be to chemically blacken the parts and then give them a wash in 'burnt umber' mixed with a drop of 'gun metal'. I have done this on black paint and it looks quite convincing. The chemical blackening also provides a good key for acrylic paints (if you don't touch it with greasy fingers).

 

wefalck

wefalck

 

panta rhei - Everything is in flux

 

 

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Application of various chemical means for metal burnishing which are on sale in shops for hunters, too yields quite good results.

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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But still the question: Is it the same result on the guns as the contemporary paints?

 

So we are having three different types of guns: brass, iron and steel. Each different in the upkeeping :-)

 

Daniel

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Contemporary to whom ? To us or the time of the prototype ?

 

Actually, I don't think that bronze (not brass) guns where painted as the material is quite corrosion resistant and develops a protecting patina.

 

Cast iron and steel corrode differently, due to the graphite content in the former. I believe cast iron was often painted on an artificial patina. The controlled 'rusting' means a passivation and a better key for the paint than the bare iron.

 

When steel came into use in the second half of the 19th century, gun had become precision instruments that required a more controlled protection. The browing with vinegar etc. is not just throwing the acid over it, but it was applied carefully, sparing machined surfaces that had to retain their dimensions, such as seats for sightings, elevation mechanisms, or the rifling. However, some navies seem to have also painted their steel guns. In fact towards the end of the 19th century, when grey became ubiquitous, this became the general practice.

 

wefalck

wefalck

 

panta rhei - Everything is in flux

 

 

M-et-M-72.jpg  Banner-AKHS-72.jpg  Banner-AAMM-72.jpg  ImagoOrbis-72.jpg
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But still the question: Is it the same result on the guns as the contemporary paints?

 

So we are having three different types of guns: brass, iron and steel. Each different in the upkeeping :-)

 

Daniel

 

Solutions for a chemical blackening of trunks of the guns made of different materials, differ among themselves a little, but the structure of many of them includes selenious acid. This acid is widely used by jewelers also enough.

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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I think we are mixing here two issues, what was done in real life and what to do for models. Garward, you were talking about models, while dafi was talking about the real thing.

 

Yes, some of the 'quick blackening' agent contain selenous acid.

 

wefalck

wefalck

 

panta rhei - Everything is in flux

 

 

M-et-M-72.jpg  Banner-AKHS-72.jpg  Banner-AAMM-72.jpg  ImagoOrbis-72.jpg
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Wefalck you are right on. 

What we use now to blacken gun barrels (or anything else, for that matter) does not matter. The question was what was used back then for the real thing.

 

I don't know for a fact, but I am sure that if vinegar (acetic acid) were used to clean the barrels before being painted it would do a decent job. I suppose that different nations did different things, but the main question has been answered, I believe.

Jay

 

Current build Cross Section USS Constitution  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/10120-cross-section-forward-area-of-the-uss-constitution/

Finished USS Constitution:  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/103-uss-constitution-by-modeler12/

 

'A picture is worth a  . . . . .'      More is better . . . .

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I might add that the use of selenious acid as a blackening agent did not come about until the 20th century. So, its use for old ship guns never happened, at least not on purpose B)

Jay

 

Current build Cross Section USS Constitution  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/10120-cross-section-forward-area-of-the-uss-constitution/

Finished USS Constitution:  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/103-uss-constitution-by-modeler12/

 

'A picture is worth a  . . . . .'      More is better . . . .

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I think we are mixing here two issues, what was done in real life and what to do for models. Garward, you were talking about models, while dafi was talking about the real thing.

 

Yes, some of the 'quick blackening' agent contain selenous acid.

 

wefalck

 

Pay attention that the name of a subject was changed in the course of discussion, in the beginning it was a question about blackening of gun trunks in general, instead of of blackening of real gun trunks by the historical ships.

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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I might add that the use of selenious acid as a blackening agent did not come about until the 20th century. So, its use for old ship guns never happened, at least not on purpose B)

 

It is natural that selenious acid wasn't applied at 18-19 eyelids. Cast bronze trunks of guns of that period in general it is artificial not зачернялись, they darkened in the course of their operation (firing from them and cooling with vinegar solution).

Best regards,

Garward

 

 

Is under construction Montanes

 

Ready models Golden Star Corsair San Francisco II

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron

Bronze 24-pdr canone Le Fleuron (second version)

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  • 1 month later...


Here are the recipes Brady gives in his "Kedge Anchor" 1852


 


http://books.google.de/books?id=wQxqa5K_zcgC&printsec=frontcover&hl=de&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false


Pages 389- 391, chapters 527, 528, 530-533, 538, 542-544


 


Most of them with lamp-black, some with rust, also oil, vinegar, spirits, tar or whiskey (!), but all of them applied hot.


 


I guess a decent glossy appearence with sometimes a shade of brown is to be expected?




 

Daniel
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It all boils down to controlled rusting and to stabilise the rust with lineseed oil. It is a sort of in situ oil-paint production that also protects against further corrosion. It only work though on cast-iron guns.

 

wefalck

wefalck

 

panta rhei - Everything is in flux

 

 

M-et-M-72.jpg  Banner-AKHS-72.jpg  Banner-AAMM-72.jpg  ImagoOrbis-72.jpg
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