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topic 1785

Anodizing brass air pistol parts


Q. I have an old air pistol that I'd like to restore. But before I do that I'd like to have it anodized because the original brass finish is badly worn. None of the gunsmiths or repair shops in my area can do anodizing nor know anyone who can.

I live in the Texas Panhandle and would like to find someone as close as possible. Can you help me?


Terry P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Texas panhandle
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A. Hi Terry. There is a bit of confusion here: brass is not anodized. Anodizing is an accelerated oxidation process that is used on substrates like aluminum, titanium, and magnesium -- not brass. If the air pistol is aluminum with a brass-like dye, yes, you could have it re-anodized. If it is solid brass, you would just have it cleaned and re-lacquered. If it is brass-plated steel, you could have it re-plated.

If you can't see a suitably located shop at www.finishing.com/Shops, try looking in your Yellow Pages under 'Plating'. Good luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. With reference to the request for details on Anodizing Brass, I am not in any way a metal finisher, I am however an engineer and a repairer of antique scientific instruments. Whilst there may be no current anodizing process for brass the questioner may well have a brass object finished in the same way as many brass instruments dating from around 1890-1920 have. This takes the form of a green/greyish finish and is termed "oxidised brass", not to be confused with naturally oxidized brass due to the normal aging process. This type of finish was used by many scientific instrument makes during that period. I have tried many times to determine how it was done; the finish is very attractive and hard wearing, often it was coated with shellac afterwards. It can be damaged by physical abrasion and quite often on microscopes finished in this manner the brass will be showing through on the foot of the stand, but it seems inert to environmental reactions. I have always assumed that the brass was oxidised chemically in solution, but the finish is vastly superior (more even and thicker) to anything treated with tourmouline or similar. If anyone has any idea how they did it I would love to hear.

Clive Faulks
- Chelmsford, England, U.K.

thumbs up signHi Clive. I can't answer your question, but I thank you for a very interesting posting.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

February 7, 2009

Q. Gentlemen: I, too, am an Engineer, not a metal finisher.
I have made a Christmas tree decoration - a rocking Donkey, about 2 inches high.
As burnished he is a fine little guy.
I made it for my Grandchild, since she is fascinated with the animal.
"Buttercup" looks good now but won't by Christmas; please do you have any instructions on how to preserve the brightness?

Harry J Clay (PE, rtd)
- Lebanon, Tennessee

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Brass Lacquer

February 18, 2009

A. You haven't told us what "Buttercup" is made of, Harry. Steel, stainless, brass, aluminum, copper, bronze? But any lacquer or clear coat will help, as will good environmental conditions. Best of luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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