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Thread: The downside to home parkerizing, or how I ruined a Makarov

  1. #1
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    Default The downside to home parkerizing, or how I ruined a Makarov

    I purchased a Makarov off Gunbroker from a local dealer that needed refinishing. I took it to the gun range and fired 50 rnds through it flawlessly from 6 different magazines. I was very happy with this "find". I was confident after studying the various parkerizing methods available that I could do this. I had everything I needed and was ready to go.



    I found a local supplier of 85% phosphoric acid, and purchased a gallon for $30, and ordered some fine Manganese Dioxide from a pottery supply store for 2 lbs for $18, delivered. The rest was just a couple of stainless pots, distilled water, and steel wool.

    I painstakingly cleaned my parts to absolute bare metal.

    I added 8 oz of phosphoric acid to 1 gallon of distilled water (too much), and one oz of manganese dioxide, at precisely 195 degrees. My test batch went well on some old steel parts.

    The reaction seemed just right. I left my parts in for about 45 minutes. (here is another one of my errors) and had what appeared to be awesomely blackened metal at the end of dipping. I parkerized the frame, the slide, and a bunch of small parts ( another error ) .

    First, I wondered how steel wool was dissolved in the process, but the gun metal was deposited with magnesium phosphate?
    Since I used too strong an acid dilution, and the steel wool was utilized in the reaction completely, and I left my parts in for too long, and I also parkerized small parts, here's what happened.

    I suspected something was wrong when the trigger bar came out and the two parts separated at the hinge point. Although the parts appeared black, the acid bath began to eat away at the steel parts once the steel wool was utilized. The frame has several notches that were enlarged, and the small parts were modestly reduced from the acid. As a result, the trigger was loose, the trigger bar hinge point was damaged, the hammer notch became bigger and the hammer pins/catches smaller. I attempted to parkerize some springs and damaged them.

    I have a complete parts repair kit for my Makarovs, so I pulled it out and started to replace "bad" parts.

    When re-assembled, the parts were loose, and the black phosphate coating came off profusely. When I attempted to fire single and double action, the gun would not operate properly. I replace all the internal parts with new parts, only to find the acid bath had slightly changed the notch locations of the hammer and trigger, and consequently the gun does not work in double action mode any more, properly. The hammer kicks out to the side slightly and doesn't make it far enough back to release.
    In essence, the frame's holes have been slightly modified, and in my opinion the gun is useless.

    Now it only cost me $168 for the gun, and it needed refinished, anyway. I did salvage a grip, grip screw, seer and spring, firing pin, trigger guard, trigger guard spring, and barrel. However, I spent $100 in materials on parkerizing stuff.

    Overall, this appears to be a $200 lesson in what can go wrong, and I thought it would be good to share with you all.

    Make sure your acid bath is not too strong.
    Make sure your sacrificial steel wool is not gone.
    Make sure you do not parkerize too long.
    Do not parkerize small parts and springs.

    Now what do I do with this frame and slide?

    D

  2. #2
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    Buy from http://shootersolutions.com/parkerizing.html

    I used their old "Guardian" parkerizing on a number of Ballisters after sandblasting and it worked great, very easy to use. Only problem was it took about a month to really harden, probably why its no longer available, but the manganese park is supposedly excellent.
    I swear by Jupiter Optimus Maximus .... in the army of the consul Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and for 10 miles around it I will not steal anything worth more than a sestertius in any one day.

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    BigDans, thanks for sharing that story! I'm thinking highly of you and your ability to relate your mistake. Unfortunately we see more ego inflating than honest self-deprecation on the site.

    I'm not sure what you can do with the slide and frame. I think you want to make sure they are never used as a firearm. Saw into them to make them obviously useless and maybe sell them for training - I'd sort of like to practice removing the extractor from a slide. The frame is problematic as it's the ATF registered part - as you well know.
    I'm always looking for rare varieties of 9x18 ammunition.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for sharing. I was considering dyi parkerizing. I had one mak done by a gunsmith and it looks great. Cost about $125. And I was going to try a CZ52 as a project. I think I'll take it to a gunsmith!
    In time of war, when truth is so precious, it must be attended by a bodyguard of lies.

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  5. #5
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    Do it yourself is always worth trying, as long as you are willing to pay for your mistakes, which it seems you are. Enjoy your paperweight And next time, and from my own experience with do it yourself project mistakes, there wil be a next time, you are unlikely to make that same mistake, another perhaps but not the same ...

  6. #6

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    Put everything back together as best you can, then use this http://www.smooth-on.com/Crystal-Cle...156/index.html to make a nice paperweight.

    -George

  7. #7
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    Now what do I do with this frame and slide?
    nothing, look at it this way, now you got that "battefield pick up" look. Just need a good story to go with it
    Last edited by SfcRet; 03-16-2009 at 04:37 PM.

  8. #8

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    I did the same thing to an old crummy 1911. Thought I would "learn on it". I learned never to do it to anything I care about!

    Same exact problem. I think I had too strong an acid bath, but then it does not really matter since I will never do it again.

  9. #9
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    Sorry to hear of your misfortune.

    On another board, I read a similar story about an AK, the home solution ate away enough metal the barrel and trunion were loose.

  10. #10
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    this is just a stupid question....

    being a steel worker i have to ask

    can the holes for the sear/hammer/trigger bar be welded up and redrilled?

    this just shows my stupidity because this could not happen if the frames have been heat treated...

    normally are frames heat treated?

    skool me in my idiocy

  11. #11
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    Note to self. I will not mess with my guns to "improve" them if I am not a trained professional in metal refinishing.
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  12. #12

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    There's an East German in Centralia, WA for sale for $365 right now....and it doesn't need refinishing...
    SSG, USA, Ret

  13. #13
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    When a door closes, a window opens... Two days ago I bought a .380 Baikal / Big Bear import mak on gunbroker for $145 plus shipping with two mags and the box...



    Not a 9x18, but I might have a barrel laying around.

    D

  14. #14
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    Nice find! There's a barrel press at gunpartswarehouse, if you need one: http://www.gunpartswarehouse.com/makarov.htm
    "That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of Democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." George Orwell

  15. #15
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    Thanks for sharing with us.
    You could take it to a machine shop and have it turned into a cut-away model.
    "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
    Edmund Burke - 1770

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by gfisher View Post
    Put everything back together as best you can, then use this http://www.smooth-on.com/Crystal-Cle...156/index.html to make a nice paperweight.

    -George

    I'd like to see that!
    In time of war, when truth is so precious, it must be attended by a bodyguard of lies.

    An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

    Sir Winston Churchill

  17. #17
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    I think this is more of their "encapsulation" product, which is what you'd want to use for a paperweight: http://www.smooth-on.com/Encapsulati...277/index.html.

    That said, I wonder how that would go over in a workplace that forbid guns. My thinking is that although it's not functional or accessible it is, technically speaking, a firearm. In some of those over-the-top, zero-tolerance jurisdictions, that might be actionable, if a teacher takes it in, for instance.
    "That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of Democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." George Orwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDans View Post
    When a door closes, a window opens... Two days ago I bought a .380 Baikal / Big Bear import mak on gunbroker for $145 plus shipping with two mags and the box...



    Not a 9x18, but I might have a barrel laying around.

    D
    That looks familiar... I got mine for $225 from a local
    Attachment 167173
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    Default sighhh

    Quote Originally Posted by Vic View Post
    Note to self. I will not mess with my guns to "improve" them if I am not a trained professional in metal refinishing.
    +1

  20. #20
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    Got it today, what a nice find.... unfired, and put dark red grips on it, it looks awesome.

    D

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    That looks familiar... I got mine for $225 from a local
    Attachment 167173

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDans View Post
    Got it today, what a nice find.... unfired, and put dark red grips on it, it looks awesome.

    D
    Whew man I need to round up some new grips, these factory buggers aren't very comfy.... or nice lol
    Divided we stand, United we fall.

    There are hundreds of millions of gun owners in this country, and not one of them will have an accident today. The only misuse of guns comes in environments where there are drugs, alcohol, bad parents, and undisciplined children. Period.
    Ted Nugent

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDans View Post
    I parkerized the frame, the slide, and a bunch of small parts ( another error ) .

    I suspected something was wrong when the trigger bar came out and the two parts

    The frame has several notches that were enlarged, and the small parts were modestly reduced from the acid. As a result, the trigger was loose,.....

    I have a complete parts repair kit for my Makarovs, so I pulled it out and started to replace "bad" parts.

    When re-assembled, the parts were loose, and the black phosphate coating came off profusely.
    In essence, the frame's holes have been slightly modified, and in my opinion the gun is useless.

    Now what do I do with this frame and slide?

    D
    I realize this is an old post , But would love some feedback on this idea.
    Electro plate it.
    As a possible solution to the material being eaten away wouldn't it be possible to run it through a heavy electro_nickel bath a couple of three times?

    Not the electroless but with anode and cathode . Stuff coats pretty thick and is fairly hard.
    That would definitely put a thick coating on, partially correcting the problems and make the frame and slide workable to fine tuning with reamers and fitting?
    This would be a possible reverse process for the same screw-up I almost did by adding too much acid.

  23. #23
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    I have long since moved on... I won't experiment or invest any more money in it.

    D
    Last edited by BigDans; 10-22-2009 at 09:24 AM.

  24. #24
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    put it in a glass case and a label on it with

    "In Case of Zombies Break Glass" and hang it on the wall.

    Always gets a chuckle from friends.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    nvwardog
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  25. #25
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    Question

    Why the big gunbroker logo?
    03man - Don Voigt
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  26. #26

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    I've never tried the acid/parkerize route, and now, i doubt i ever will, but i have used durabake and ceramacoat finished that LOOK like parkerized. also used the matte black ceramacoat.
    the prep work takes the longest, has to be 100% clean. even a fingerprint will screw up the finish. you apply 3 coats, 20 minutes apart and the bake in the oven for an hour.
    they sell a "special" degreaser, but gunscrubber works just as well and is alot cheaper. i wipe everything down with alchohol just before the first finish coat.
    this is what matte black ceramacoat looks like on a 40cal 1911 i built.


  27. #27
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    Years back when I was first learning how to Parkerize, I mixed up my own solution. I spent all day driving around picking up acids, powders, frogs hair, lizard eyes, etc. I got it all mixed and heated in my new tank and dropped in the steel wool to age/activate the solution. Finally, it's ready for a test so I dropped in some steel scrap. It stopped fizzing after about five minutes, which meant it's done. I washed the freshly Parkerized parts....and washed the Parkerizing right off. Now I buy the pre-made solution that only requires distilled water to mix it up.

    Lessons learned were that after you factor in the gas and time to gather the chemicals and go thru the trouble to mix it all perfectly, it's cheaper to just start with the pre-mixed stuff.

    Regarding the suggestion by "mackaroo" to plate it: This is actually a viable solution. I use electroless Nickel plating in my shop and it will tighten up clearances. I have used it on parts that were too loose to make them tighter. Keep yer powder dry, Mac.

    Tuff-Gun Finishes. The Name Says It All.
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  28. #28
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    Mac - would the nickel plating wear as hard as the steel, or would it tend to wear off in high-contact areas, like pin holes and the slide rails, and leave the user in a potentially dangerous situation?
    "That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of Democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." George Orwell

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by SfcRet View Post
    nothing, look at it this way, now you got that "battefield pick up" look. Just need a good story to go with it
    You can put it back together and say that it was picked from the dead body of a Vietcong, soaked in his blood. Blood does a number on steel. There's your story!

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by C-4 View Post
    You can put it back together and say that it was picked from the dead body of a Vietcong, soaked in his blood. Blood does a number on steel. There's your story!
    Except that it would be heavily pitted, not evenly worn. I saw a .25 once that had been nickel-plated over the pitting, and it was still very obvious that this belly gun was likely used as its name implies
    "That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of Democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." George Orwell

  31. #31
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    Cromanos....No, I really don't think that nickel plating would last as long as steel in areas where the force is concentrated....like the pin holes on a Mak. If it were mine, I would make it a project gun and try to sleeve the pin holes or maybe weld them up and re-drill....or maybe increase the size of the pins instead of decreasing the size of the holes. However, it would take quite a while before I would trust it as self defense pistol due to reliabilty issues. It might be better to de-mil it and call it a paperweight. Keep yer powder dry, Mac.

    Tuff-Gun Finishes. The Name Says It All.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac's View Post
    Cromanos....No, I really don't think that nickel plating would last as long as steel in areas where the force is concentrated....like the pin holes on a Mak. If it were mine, I would make it a project gun and try to sleeve the pin holes or maybe weld them up and re-drill....or maybe increase the size of the pins instead of decreasing the size of the holes. However, it would take quite a while before I would trust it as self defense pistol due to reliabilty issues. It might be better to de-mil it and call it a paperweight. Keep yer powder dry, Mac.

    Tuff-Gun Finishes. The Name Says It All.
    Mac's Shootin' Irons
    http://www.shootiniron.com
    That's what I was thinking, too. Great conversation piece, leave it at that.
    "That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of Democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." George Orwell

  33. #33
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    From one novice to another, sorry to hear about your attempt. Did you consider having it blued instead?
    Something else that might save the gun and make it unique is having it chromed. Just the slide and frame of course then put all your new parts on. The chrome might fill up the holes and make everything tight again. Just an idea.

    SJP

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJP View Post
    From one novice to another, sorry to hear about your attempt. Did you consider having it blued instead?
    Something else that might save the gun and make it unique is having it chromed. Just the slide and frame of course then put all your new parts on. The chrome might fill up the holes and make everything tight again. Just an idea.

    SJP
    I'd suggest that chrome would have the same issues as nickel plating - might fill up the holes enough to get back to tolerances, but isn't hard enough to stand up to wear and abuse, like steel is, and may, after an indeterminate number of rounds (i.e. 1 shot, 2 shots, etc) experience a rapid and unexpected self-induced disassembly. Best bet is a lucite block.

    If it's C&R or demilled, I'd take it, myself, and make a conversation piece out of it.
    "That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of Democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." George Orwell

  35. #35
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    I know this thread is old, but I figured I would throw my two cents in on the Manganese Phosphate coating.

    You generally can NOT get a manganese phosphate coat using manganese dioxide. It is too stable and insoluble in phosphoric acid to reduce and make the dissolved manganese phosphate salts that are needed to do a true manganese phosphate coat. People claim to have done it and even have pictures of good results, but I believe these should be attributed to a lot of effort to get what amounts to a blackened iron phosphate coat, as the chemistry just can't happen using those chemicals.

    The concentrated solution you can buy from brownells or midway contains dissolved manganese salts in the proper proportions, if you don't understand the chemistry you can get really good results using one of them.

    Simply put Manganese Dioxide will not phosphate coat your gun. Sorry! I know it's all over the web with people taking it out of batteries and whatnot, but it just doesn't work. The best you can hope for is a blackened iron phosphate coat.

    There are two commonly available Manganese compounds that can do it, one is Manganese (ii) Oxide (MnO), the other is Manganese Carbonate. Manganese carbonate is the easiest of the two as it is the most soluble in phosphoric acid. If you try to use MnO it's not as soluble so you need to provide a ferrous salt to help it reduce and go into solution. Ferrous (ii) sulfate works fine and is cheap, but any ferrous salt you can find would be fine as it's just a helper of sorts.

    For a true home-brew solution, try about a 1% phosphoric acid bath with either 0.5% MnCO3 or 0.5% MnO+0.2% Ferrous sulfate. If you can get nitric acid easily add 0.2% nitric acid to the brew as well. Heat and stir until everything is dissolved, then heat to 190-200F and submerge the thoroughly degreased parts for 15-20 minutes. You will get a beautiful manganese phosphate coat that doesn't wipe off.

  36. #36
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    I am ready to try another parkerizing project. Since you understand the chemistry so well, please tell me for 1 gallon of water, what would I need of the following to effectively parkerize?

    80% phosphoric acid solution
    MnCO3

    Also, do you know a good source for the MnCO3?

    D

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