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Author Topic: Budget Parkerizing  (Read 1511 times)


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Budget Parkerizing
« on: May 20, 2020, 12:00:35 pm »
Unfailingly when I search the interwebs to extend my knowledge of parkerizing I will encounter discussions about skipping bead/sand blasting as a prep step.  The question is usually something like "What can I expect the finish to be like if I don't bead or sand blast the surface before I parkerize?".  The responses are always the same:  A blast set-up is cheap enough that you should not skip it!

While in general I agree that the barrier to entry for basic blasting is pretty low (about $60 at harbor freight including the compressor, thought duty cycle will make that slow), these responses don't really answer the question.

I recently went a little nuts with the annual bonus and picked up several different flavors of Hi-Power.  I posted here about the FEG, but a few weeks later I grabbed a Mauser 80 SA (FEG gun with a Mauser roll mark) as well as a genuine FN High Power vintage 1989.

The FN had their epoxy finish and it was pretty bad; bubbles, chips, etc.  The base metal looked pretty clean, with just a spot of two in need of some file/paper work.  So, I decided I would try an experiment.  I would refinish this gun using only what I had on hand.  No trips to the store during COVID-19 lockdown anyway.

Based on my reading, my gun should have been epoxy paint over a parkerized base.  My original hope was to strip off the epoxy paint chemically and leave the parkerized base alone.  A degrease, a few touch up spots and a trip to the park tank and I would be done.

Just so you know, Jasco Premium Paint and Epoxy remover will now touch that finish, even if it appears pretty compromised.  Nothing came lose, and based on my fingernail tests it was not any softer after sitting in stripper overnight.

So, plan one was a bust.  I was going to have to mechanically remove the coating.  And I was out of blast media (or at least I couldn't find any in the garage).  I grabbed a thin gauge wire brush for my drill and clamped the slide down to the bench with a soft jaw clamp and when to town.  About an hour later I had a slide and frame that were down to bare metal, at least on the outside.

At this point I took a brief side trip to peen down the rails on the frame and then lap the slide back onto the frame with some jewelers rouge.  I do not have anything against a bit of rattle in in a steel frame/slide semi-auto.  If this were a 1911 I would have left it alone.  But the routing of the trigger linkage through the slide left me wanting to tighten this up a bit.  A Hi-Power trigger needs all the help it can get.

Next I touch up a ding on the trigger guard, one on the beaver tail and melted down a couple of hard edges around the front of the grip. I washed the frame and slide thoroughly with soap and water, twice, and then dropped them in a pot of boiling water.  After about a minute of boiling I dropped the temp and let the water still, and looked for the tell-tale sheen of oil on the water surface.  This is my test to ensure I degreased sufficiently.  No sheen, so I cranked the boil back up and snagged the slide by the wire I had attached and shuttled it to the parkerizing solution that was holding at 180° F.

Ten minutes in the park tank and the slide had stopped bubbling, so I pulled it out, and put the frame into the parkerizing tank.  The frame was done in only about four minutes instead of ten, except for the cross frame block above the trigger area.

Post parkerzing both the frame and slide were rinsed extensively in running water, then in boiling water, and finally were liberally coated in WD-40.  Next they got a thorough coat of cato lithi-flex multi-purpose grease, and after a few hours and a wipe down a final rub with 50/50 ATF and Mobile One oil.


Not as uniform as a base metal that has been blasted.  But as good as the parkerizing on most of my Garands.  The frame landed as a light gray, except for the cross frame block which is nearly black.  The slide is very dark, nearly black.  I am perfectly happy with the result.  The gun ran about 200 rounds of reloads and defense rounds on the weekend without any hiccups at all, and is currently in a holster on my belt.

I am sorry I don't have "Before" pictures.  I was sure I had snapped some when the guns arrived, but I was wrong.  Here are the after pics:

So, for the search engine spiders:  This is the result of parkerizing without using blast media as a part of metal prep.

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    Re: Budget Parkerizing
    « Reply #1 on: May 20, 2020, 02:40:26 pm »
    Looking good, brother.   :cool

    Your points regarding Hi-Powers are well taken.  They are an intriguing design but not with their own set of quirks and flaws.  I am down to one at this time and the bluing is still looking good but your notes on Parkerizing are helpful should I decide to use that technique on something else.  A long suffering Ballerina-Molester comes to mind that probably lost most of its original bluing by the time Joe Biden lost most of his original hair.

    Surface preparation like blasting is always a time consuming job and hard to justify in terms of cost for a one off piece or even a couple of pieces but there is no denying the benefit.  My Parkerized metal always holds lubricants and rust preventive treatments much better when the surface has been properly prepared prior to the bath. 

    An old Camillus military knife ( Navy Mk I ) with Parkerized metal and a hot paraffin treatment on the leather washer handle survived a weekend submerged in water with no visible rust except along the edge of the guard and the bare metal along the sharpened edge and one little spot on the end of the tang on the butt plate.  That knife had the original Parkerized finish and was rustproofed by submerging the hilt in a jar of hot paraffin wax for a half hour and wiping off the excess and the blade was given multiple coats of carnauba wax.   

    Looks like your Hi-Power might respond well to something like Hornady's One Shot - which I have come to have considerable respect for as a general purpose rust preventive. 

    Good post.  Thanks for sharing.   :thumbup1
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