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Nickel finish damage repair?

This is a discussion on Nickel finish damage repair? within the Maintenance forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Nickel finish on a handgun is beautiful but I have never owned a nickel finished gun. I see pictures of the peeling and know this ...


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Old November 19th, 2019, 06:31 PM   #1
 
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Nickel finish damage repair?

Nickel finish on a handgun is beautiful but I have never owned a nickel finished gun. I see pictures of the peeling and know this is not touched up like a blued finish can. What do you do with this problem without having the whole gun refinished?



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Old November 19th, 2019, 06:42 PM   #2
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As I understand it there's really not much you can do. Nickel is a plating and if it starts to lift you can't stick it back down and when it flakes away it's just gone. I've heard Hoppe's #9 may be harmful To nickel? Or maybe that's hearsay. I've owned a few nickel S&W revolvers but took special care with them to the point I wasn't shooting them. Not having much interest in such safe queens I sold them off.

I bought an old S&W 27-2 some years back with a nickel finish in rather poor condition so I ended up having it refinished with a blue finish.

Maybe you either accept the finish as it is and shoot it or bite the bullet and refinish. I don't know of a way to touch up nickel. Perhaps others will be along with some ideas.
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Old November 19th, 2019, 07:47 PM   #3
 
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WaveForm I believe ammonia is what is bad to get up under the nickel and make it peel. What seems crazy is that I would not buy a revolver if it had some nickel damage so then the whole gun is ruined by just a finish issue that can't be touched up. With bluing I can make it often look so the average person can't even tell it has been repaired. Then the nickel gun seems fragile.
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Old November 19th, 2019, 08:20 PM   #4
 
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Then there is also the issue of the turn line on the cylinder. Will that line lead to flaking of nickel?
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Old November 20th, 2019, 04:35 AM   #5
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I don't think the turn line is a major concern. It seems to me the flaking and peeling happens along the edges more often than not - muzzle, leading edge of cylinder, edge of frame. But that's just my own observation and not based on personal experience of years of ownership and seeing it happen to my own gun over time.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:14 AM   #6
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Over the years, I had a lot of nickel plated revolvers come into my shop …. mostly S&Ws and a few Colts. When the plating starts flaking off, you have a couple choices …. you can have it stripped and replated, you can have it stripped and blued, or you can just shoot the darned thing like it is. S&W started making Model 60 revolvers out of stainless steel in 1965 …. Colt and Ruger started a few years later so you don't see many nickel plated guns anymore.

Nickel won't plate on steel without first being plated with copper so any solvent that contains ammonia will eat the copper, leaving the nickel unattached. The slightest void (where the plating has worn off) will allow solvents to creep under the plating and make it flake off so you have to be careful when cleaning.

Stripping nickel uses a process called "pickling" where the gun is disassembled and placed in a container full of ammonia. After a few days, the plating will peel right off, leaving a clean steel surface. Once the surface is polished, it can be blued using the normal hot blue process. Shops tend to charge a lot to blue a nickel plated gun because it takes a lot of time to get the plating off and prepare the parts for the bluing tanks. Further, if you don't get all the copper plating off before putting the parts in a hot bluing tank, you will "volcano" the bluing salts and render the remaining salts worthless. Ask me how I know. If you want the gun replated with nickel, the same pickle process is used then the bare steel is plated with copper and finally plated with nickel. Very few gunsmiths have the toxic chemicals and equipment necessary for nickel plating so the cost is quite high.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:30 AM   #7
 
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I HAVE HAD SEVERAL NICKEEL REVVOLVERS OVER THE YEARS. nICKEL RESISTS RUST BETTER THAN bluing so before stainless many user in marine environments or tropical climates used nickel finish. Now the only nickel guns I see are cowboy action guns. You have to clean the guns and then wipe thoroughly aftercleaning. I have a smith 19 I purchased in 1979. It was my dad,s home defense gun for years. It would be fired 100 rounds a year and cleaned and then reloaded in a drawer. The nickle finish is not worn.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 10:33 AM   #8
 
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Gary that is a sad story. Poor nickel plated revolvers. That just seems so wrong like an experiment gone wrong. I have avoided buying ones with peeling but hoped there was some treatment besides replating.

So how would you ever know about the dreaded "volcano"??
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Old November 20th, 2019, 01:58 PM   #9
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stoble, Bluing salts have some strange properties …. if aluminum is put in a hot bluing tank, it will "fizz" like an Alka-Seltzer tablet and disappear. Brass or copper will have a violent chemical reaction when placed in a bluing tank and will cause the salts to erupt violently …. much like a volcano and will dud the salt solution. One time I was refinishing a nickel plated S&W revolver. It was in the pickle jar for a couple days and I was able to peel off the plating quite easily. I thought the parts were bare steel but I was wrong …. there was still some copper that hadn't dissolved, which resulted in a volcano. Lesson learned …. after that I pickled the parts again for another day after removing the nickel plating and never had another problem.

Last edited by Iowegan; November 20th, 2019 at 02:04 PM.
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Old November 20th, 2019, 04:53 PM   #10
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Thanks for sharing some insights on the process Iowegan. Learning has occured here once again...
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Old November 30th, 2019, 11:32 PM   #11
 
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I have a Colt Lawman MK III snub nose .357. I have a small place next to the right side grip that steel is showing through.Nickel is not lifting anywhere though.
Can that be repaired?
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Old December 1st, 2019, 08:58 AM   #12
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Swashplate, Probably not, unless you strip the whole gun and nickel plate it again.
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