The other parts in this series:
Once the parts are blasted, they need to be cleaned of all grit and dust as well as thoroughly degreased before parkerizing. Any grease or oil can prevent the parkerizing from working in that spot and cause a mottled, uneven finish.
For this task, I chose Tri-Sodium Phosphate. It is a heavy duty degreaser used commonly by painters to remove grime and oils before painting.
First I heated a gallon of my distilled water to boiling. I poured half a gallon in each of my two tubs. The mixture for TSP to water is 1/2 cup per gallon, so I added 1/4 cup to one tub with of 1/2 gallon of hot water and stirred.
The other tub I left the water clean for rinsing.
After the TSP completely dissolves, cleaning is pretty straightforward. I used an old (clean) toothbrush to scrub the parts with the TSP solution.
Then rinsed in the hot clean water.
Because this metal is now completely clean and grease free, it will rust almost immediately so it is imperative to dry it completely as quickly as possible.
I used my air compressor and a pressure sprayer to blow them dry. The 80psi air dried the parts off within seconds.
If you don’t have an air compressor, several cans of compressed dry air should do the trick.
A blow dryer might even work, though it would take much longer to dry the parts and you might have some flash rust appear before you can get them dry. Pressurized air is the best bet.
Once all the parts are cleaned and dried, it’s time to set up the parkerizing solution.
I use those red plastic bowls to keep the parts organized. Many of the pins and springs are very similar and its easy to get them mixed up so I tend to keep all the trigger parts in one bowl, the hammer/sear parts in another, etc.
For the Lauer parkerizing solution that I used, the mix is 1 part solution to four parts water. I used another full gallon of the distilled water and a quart of solution. The stainless steel stock pot I used is an 8 qt pot so the 5 qts of solution filled it up just past half way. That was perfect for being able to completely submerge all the parts without having any touch the bottom.
The solution is heated to 170 to 185 degrees. That’s why the candy thermometer is important. The temperature has to be maintained pretty consistently. I had to really keep an eye on it because my stove is so touchy. Bump the flame up just a touch and the temp would try to go up above 185; bump it back down and it would try to drop below 170. I had to keep a close eye on the temp to make sure I kept it in the right range.
After getting the solution up to temp, drop a buiscuit of coarse steel wool in and let it “season” for 30 minutes. The steel wool will become parkerized and the solution will start working. Remove the steel wool and you’re in business.
I used some scrap wood and stainless steel safety wire to hang the larger parts.
For the frame and barrel assembly, I actually drilled holes in the wooden bore plugs for the safety wire to go through, I used a third wire in one of the mainspring plug pin holes to hold the grip off the bottom.
The instructions say to leave the parts in the solution for 5 to 15 minutes or until they stop bubbling.
I’ve seen information on the internet that said to keep it in the solution for up to 45 minutes, but I was sticking to the instructions that came with the solution.
I noted that the bubbles stopped after about 8 minutes. I decided that, for consistency and to try to make sure all the parts came out the same color, I would leave them all in the same amount of time so I left them in for 10 minutes each.
When they came out, I was actually surprised by how light the grey color was, I was expecting it to be darker.
It did cover evenly and thoroughly however, so I didn’t start second guessing, I just went with it.
For the small parts, I used the stainless steel mesh strainer.
Bending the handle and flattening the mesh as I did worked perfectly. On hindsight, I should have cleaned the rust off the rim to prevent contaminating the solution, but I simply didn’t think about it at the time.
A couple of times throughout the process, I topped off the water in the pot with a little from the remaining half gallon of distilled water. I didn’t lose much to evaporation since the solution wasn’t hot enough to boil…but it was steaming and I did lose some. I pre-heated the water before adding it so I wouldn’t screw up the temp of the solution in the process.
I had my tub standing by with another half gallon of hot, distilled water for rinsing.
I dropped the parts in immediately after pulling them out of the solution.
Then, I again used compressed air to blow them dry quickly. Since the parts now were coated, drying them this way might have been a bit of overkill, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
Lauer makes a post parkerizing solution that Midway USA sells along with the Zinc and Manganese phospating solution itself, but I was trying to keep costs down. I was pretty sure that the water displacing and lubricating properties of WD-40 would work just as well…and I already had that…, so the next step was to drop the parts in a plastic bag…
And then spray them down with WD-40.
I put all the parts in a subgroup together in a bag…all the slide parts went in with the slide, all the magazine parts went together, trigger parts, etc.
This worked just fine, I didn’t have any problems with doing it that way so there’s no need to use a separate bag for each little part.
Doing it this way prevented me from getting the parts mixed up which may have happened if I had just dumped them all into a tub of WD-40…and it also saved some money because it didn’t take as much WD-40 to coat the parts in individual bags as I would have used filling a tub to immerse them in.
I let the parts sit overnight. Actually, I finished parkerizing on Sunday night, so they sat overnight and all during the workday on Monday. When I pulled them out Monday evening, this was what I found.
The WD-40 had seasoned the finish nicely which darkened it up and even created that greenish hue so characteristic of older parkerized guns.
I really didn’t think the WD-40 would do that, but it did. I would imagine other products (like the lauer post parkerizing solution) would have had a different effect, but the WD-40 worked just fine and I like the color I ended up with. It’s very similar to the color of my parkerized 1911.
On Monday night, I wiped the WD-40 off and cleaned the parts up. I then tried Xavier’s baked on vaselene trick that I alluded to in an earlier post. I’m not sure if Xavier’s instructions were a bit off or if I was doing something wrong, but I ended up only baking the parts at 350 degrees for about a half hour. Then I backed it down to 250 for another hour, at which point I’d had enough and turned the oven off.
Basically, the 350 heat started cooking the vaselene. The kitchen filled with waxy smoke, even with the vent hood on high. I had to open windows, turn on fans and it was still pretty thick. I checked the parts to see what was going on after about 30 minutes and the vaselene was basically cooking off. The parts were still shiny with it and there was still a little melted in the bottom of the pan, but the majority had already cooked off. That’s when I turned it down to 250. That helped cut down on the smoke and slowed the “cooking off” process, but it was still smoking some. The smell is…um…unpleasant. After another hour at 250, I was beginning to think I was just going to end up baking burned up vaselene into the finish and the whole thing was still smoking so I’d had enough and just turned the oven off.
I do think it helped and I think the concept is sound, I just think 350, or even 250 was too much heat. The melting point of vaselene is about 85 degrees or so. I’d say the oven on 150 or maybe 200 would have worked pretty well and when I do the next one, that’s what I’m going to try.
At any rate, the vaselene did coat the pieces pretty thoroughly and did seem the impregnate the finish well. It was a bear to clean off though. Helpful hint: Hoppe’s number 9 does a pretty good job of dissolving vaselene. Denatured alcohol doesn’t work at all, it just moves it around.
That’s it for this post. Next I’ll wrap things up and post some detailed before and after pictures.