Polishing my zastava. Need advice

Discussion in 'General Firearms Discussion' started by travis9mm, May 22, 2015.

  1. travis9mm

    travis9mm Member

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    So, id like to polish my Zastava m88a. Its factory blued but id like a polished look. I seen a video where a guy soaked his gun pieces in vinegar and scrubbed it with a scotch brite pad then polished. Anyone have another idea? I dont wanna send the gun out to be done. I wanna try and tackle this at home.

    Mine
    [​IMG]

    What i want. But more polished
    [​IMG]
     
  2. lsi1

    lsi1 Member

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    i got the bright idea to polish a beat up glock slide a couple years ago. I learned a ton about polishing then. the most important thing i learned was you have to sand.

    the vinegar will pull the bluing off but you will see all the pits and pores in the metal. you need to work with progressively finer grits until you start to see the shine that way and then break out some metal polish and go right for it.

    I us3ed a piece of glass and laid my sand paper on it to give me a perfectly straight surface because any waves in your work will show up.
     

  3. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    It's possible but you're talking about a ENGLISH TON of work.

    It's not just sanding an polishing, which we'll get to. You have to completely disassemble the firearm down to individual parts. Every single, little bitty, pin and screw and spring and clip has to come out and off. You have a small advantage with this firearm because the fire-control group comes out as a unit. But there are lots of other parts and pins which need to come out and then need to go back in exactly the same. It's really embarrassing to go to a gun smith with a "bag-o-parts" and humble look (but people have to do it all the time).

    Vinegar sucks for removing bluing. It can do it, but it's doesn't do it well. Results are blotchy and uneven. Toilet Bowl cleaner is a far better "super cheap" option. It contains phosphoric acid (which is basically a form of hydrochloric acid, as I understand it). This will strip bluing pretty quick but, as with even mild vinegar, because it's an acid, it can etch into the metal. Your best bet is to use a product specific for removing rust. Either Naval Jelly or Birchwood Casey's Bluing Remover.

    Once you're down to components, you can polish. Unless you've etched the metal with acid (like I have in the past :oops:) you'll probably already have a decent flat surface without obvious machine marks (at least on the outside) so you'll probably start with something like 600 grit or finer sand paper. You can use Scotchbright but that will never get you as polished as you need. You'll need to cycle through progressively finer sand paper and Emery Cloth. One good way is to get a full sized sheet and place it on a 18" x 18" piece of plywood (or table, or counter top that you don't care about) and then rub the flat surfaces of your firearm component on that instead of trying to use a sanding block. But any curved surface of the component you'll have to do by hand with your fingers. Eventually, you'll need to use polishing compound or rouge. If you don't have a polishing wheel, or at the minimum a dremmel with a handfull of felt polishing tips, you're going to be hand rubbing for a long time. To get a decent polish on all of the exterior surfaces, without going up to mirror grade, you're looking at probably 10-20 hours of hand polishing. No, I'm not joking. You can do it over several sessions but then you have to find a way to keep the steel from rusting in between without using gun oil or the like because you have to spend 15 min. cleaning that stuff off before you can get back to working on polishing it again. Which brings us to the next issue...

    By removing the bluing, you're removing the factory protective finish on your gun. Most people say that bluing is a piss-poor protection from rust but that's because they've never had to deal with a gun that was entirely "in the white" with no protection at all. Not only does bluing help protect against rust, but it also helps protect against scratches, abrasions, and galling at wear points. The thinner the blue job the less protection it offers and the quicker it wears off from use, but trust me on this, some is better than none. While it is true that a good mirror finish helps protect from rust by not giving moisture a good purchase point (such as pitting, for instance) steel has "pores" which can and will pick up rust. Keeping your gun in good condition without any protection would be a never-ending job. Heck, even before we knew how to blue steel, gun smiths would still "brown" or "plum" their steel. Armor, swords, and polearms were often painted or lacquered and tools were often left with "forge black" still on them just to protect the steel. A kind of pole-arm called a "Bill" is often seen named as either a "Black Bill" or a "Brown Bill." While we don't know for sure, weapons historians believe that this is because they were either coated in tar or lacquer to prevent rust, and the Black Bill may have had the forge black left on it. This is, seriously, a BIG DEAL. The acid from your skin oils can (and will) rust bare steel just by touching it with your fingers. That's why owners of expensive Japanese Katana get so anal and pissy about people touching the sword blade with their fingers (despite the blade being coated with Choji - a traditional protective oil)

    If you want your gun shiny, I'd really suggest nickle plating it. You can still do a polish job, but then nickeling it will protect the gun. And for that, I'd really suggest investing in an Electroless Nickel solution from Brownells or the like. Take it from a guy who's been experimenting with electroplate using salvaged DIY components. It ain't easy and you'll have more failures than successes before you get it right. And a gun frame and slide are pretty big components for a DIY nickel electroplate which makes it harder still. And you have to first plate with copper, then plate with nickel so you'll have two separate (toxic) electroplating "baths" to work with.

    Quite honestly, you're setting yourself a BIG challenge; bigger than even parkerizing your gun because of all the polishing work. If you're really serious about trying this, what I suggest is to get yourself an 8 inch long piece of Angle Iron (2x2) and an 8 inch long piece of 2" dia. steel bar, then polish those to the point where you're happy with it. This will give you needed experience.

    Oh, and be extra careful about sanding contact areas, rails, pinholes, and the like. You don't want to change the tolerances. It could ruin your gun and make it an unreliable door stop.

    I ain't say'n "don't do it." I'm saying it's a lot of work.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2015
  4. talon

    talon the banned wagon

    Having stripped and polished several guns, I can tell you that the warm vinegar will work, but, its not a great choice. There is a razor fine line at which it goes from removing bluing, to pitting the metal. You must keep a very close eye on it, soak in short 15minute increments, until the Bluing starts to rub off on a rag. Don't leave it for hours or overnight or you can cause real damage. I ruined a slide by falling asleep and leaving it in a warm vinegar bath for several hours. It ate into the metals imperfections and made very noticeable and deep pits.

    Hand polished with progressively higher grit sandpaper, followed by a rotary tool and polishing compound is a more time consuming, but safer method.
     
  5. travis9mm

    travis9mm Member

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    Thanks everyone for the advice! I believe it would be smarter for me to have the gun plated or polished by someone other than me. Maybe a brushed nickle cerakote. (Or however you spell it) lol
     
  6. moona11

    moona11 King of you Monkeys Lifetime Supporter

    I read the title and wondered if underground would help you polish it;-)
     
  7. Kiln

    Kiln Member

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    My advice is to leave it alone. More trouble than it's worth.
     
  8. talon

    talon the banned wagon

    That's the most boring advise ever given. If not being unique and doing what you want is "more trouble than its worth", you've lost out on a whole lot in life.
     
  9. Don't tell him that! If he does his own thing with it, and makes it no longer boring and stock, if will raise the value by $0.24 each on the originals! :rofl:

    Travis. If you want to do it, look into getting it done by a professional or try bluing, and the removing and polishing a piece of scrap metal first to get an idea of what you are getting yourself into. It can be done at home, but upkeep on it will be almost as big of a PITA as doing the job yourself will be. better to destroy a piece of black Iron pipe instead of even an inexpensive firearm. plus the pros will know how to properly remove and reassemble the parts so it will still work.

    I myself have plans to pick up a blued JA Nine at some point in the future, and Cerakote it. Not sure on what color to go for yet, but the first thing that will get coated as a test bed\training is some black iron pipe I have laying around in the scrap bin. Better to ruin a coating job on $5 worth of BIP that to ruin a $180 firearm.

    good luck.
     
  10. panoz77

    panoz77 Member

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    So you CAN polish a turd, joking lol
     
  11. Yes. Yes you can.

    Here's proof: [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiJ9fy1qSFI"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiJ9fy1qSFI[/ame]
     
  12. travis9mm

    travis9mm Member

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    What TURD are you speaking of? Lol
     
  13. Kiln

    Kiln Member

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    Keeping it in it's original configuration is the best choice. Otherwise you'll potentially have a gun that is reduced in value because it's been "refinished" improperly.

    Sometimes when you don't know what you're doing the best choice is to do nothing. If that's boring then so be it. Experimenting on something that immediately loses value if you screw up seems like an obviously poor choice.
     
  14. travis9mm

    travis9mm Member

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    Its not an expensive gun. New was $325. I just wanted something different that woulnt cost the price of me buying a new gun. Lol
     
  15. Kiln

    Kiln Member

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    Hey if $325 is no big deal then don't let me hold you back. I sometimes forget that not everyone is as broke as I am. The polished look does look pretty great, I'd just be worried about screwing it up myself but that's more a commentary on my own lack of experience refinishing than anything.
     
  16. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    It's a zastava. It'll never be considered an "investment" gun. A bad refinish job just means it needs to be refinished again. There are definitely "worse" gun options to experiment on for someone wanting to practice home gunsmithing. Of course, I also think there are "better" gun options for a first project and better ideas for a new finish than just polished bare steel.

    A DIY park job would, I think, be a far better option. But that doesn't really trip the trigger for the OP.

    Peace favor your sword (mobile)
     
  17. RedRaptor22

    RedRaptor22 Member

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    If it were something collectible or was an hand me down with sentimental value that would be my advice...but this is just an ordinary piece of hardware that is fairly inexpensive and not all that collectible.

    Personally I'd think that since the Zasatava handguns share some internal and external similarities with the 1911 that JOHN BROWNING designed, a good nickel plating would be a good choice for it.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2015