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Blacken metal tracks

Old 05-18-2020, 12:28 AM
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Enzo_K
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Default Blacken metal tracks

The paint on my Hooben Ferdinand metal track gets grinding down by road wheels pretty fast. Which leaves the track link teeth shining like a mirror! It really bothers me every time when I look at the tank.

I have a few sets of Taigen metal tracks, they all came with a black finish. And the finish itself holds up against road wheels' grinding pretty good.

So I did a little search finding a way to blacken metal tracks. Found these VMS products for blackening metal tracks.


The result looks awesome to me. However, in the video, they are using it on a set of 1/35th scale metal tracks. I suppose it is most likely for a static model instead of an RC tank.

I'm not casting the next season of Breaking Bad. So here come my questions...Will this blackening process compromise the metal track itself? And how well will this blackened color hold up aginst road wheels' grinding? (By seeing them brushing it with a brass brush in the video, I'm pretty sure it will hold up a lot better than my paint. The finish looks quite comparable to Taigen metal tracks. So I wonder how Taigen do their blackened metal tracks? maybe in a similar way?)

I also posted my questions in the video's comment section, hoping to get a response from the VMS soon. I thought it would be fine to have folks discuss it here.
Old 05-18-2020, 03:34 AM
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sevoblast
 
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I just spray mine with black primer, fog on a little rust colour, install on tank and have at it. It is normal for certain tanks to shine up the teeth, just as it's normal for some tanks to have one or both sides of their road wheels, idlers and drive sprockets shined up due to the normal friction and wear patterns.
Old 05-18-2020, 04:37 AM
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I use "Perma Blue" which is a liquid Gun Blue and it works just fine.
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Old 05-18-2020, 11:53 AM
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Enzo_K
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Originally Posted by sevoblast View Post
I just spray mine with black primer, fog on a little rust colour, install on tank and have at it. It is normal for certain tanks to shine up the teeth, just as it's normal for some tanks to have one or both sides of their road wheels, idlers and drive sprockets shined up due to the normal friction and wear patterns.
Yah, I think Ferdinand is supposed to have shinning track teeth due to normal friction. the primer gets scratched off pretty quick too. And it is just too shinning for my personal preference.
Old 05-18-2020, 12:11 PM
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Enzo_K
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Originally Posted by jarndice View Post
I use "Perma Blue" which is a liquid Gun Blue and it works just fine.
I've read about this product too. Besides the Perma Blue, I also see there is Aluminum Black and Super Blue.
Should I go with Super Blue?
Old 05-18-2020, 12:17 PM
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Can you wait a day for an experimental method? I'm testing it right now.
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Old 05-18-2020, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Crius View Post
Can you wait a day for an experimental method? I'm testing it right now.
lol just ordered the Super Blue. Would love to see your experimental method though.
Old 05-19-2020, 01:37 AM
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Tanque
 
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Where there's a strong, consistent mechanical rubbing any surface coating will have a real challenge staying put, even an oxide that's part of the surface.
The combination of the metal parts rubbing together with any dirt or sand in the mix will wear a coating right off.
Old 05-19-2020, 02:33 AM
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Well, Jerry, I think I may have a new and very strange method of blackening tracks and I think the black will actually penetrate pretty deep into the surface. I discovered it by accident in a very silly way when I was using my exacto knife with a brand new blade to peel grapes. I found that the grape juice turned the entire blade a nice shade of black that made it look just like heat-treated metal. So, I grabbed some spare track links from a P4 and squeezed out a little grape juice into a cup and dropped them in there. We'll know when I get home from work if it made the track links the same nice colored black that it made the hobby blade. If it works I'm going to try the method on the metal tracks on the new cheetah, which is actually a JP. Those are still silver from the factory and need to be made black. As for getting the grapes, if you have any local grocery stores that are run by Mom and Pop you might be able to make a deal for a box of grapes that would have got thrown away. That's my plan, anyway, I have a mom-and-pop grocery near me that I've already made a deal with. I'll just squeeze out the juice in a 5 gallon bucket and then drop the track links & the juice into a bowl and we'll see what happens.
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Old 05-19-2020, 02:34 AM
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If you use gun blue then soak the tracks in a plastic container, as a metal one may have a bad reaction. I seem to remember someone on here had holes appear in their tracks after soaking them in gun blue.
Old 05-19-2020, 03:26 AM
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I've tried the gun blue route and found it to be, A, pretty expensive, and B, I had a real hard time getting even coverage. I ended up with tracks with a lot of little silver spots on them where the blue didn't penetrate. Perhaps I did it wrong or used low-quality blue, I don't know, but I was not happy with the results.
Old 05-19-2020, 07:45 AM
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Tanque
 
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I'd be careful treating zinc alloys chemically. I still have my 1978 copy of the handbook of 'Metal finishing' from my days working as a chemist at Varian.
There's a section that covers the coloring of metals and a subsection for zinc. Most of what I did down there was support the electroplating operation but we didn't use zinc of any sort.

I'm not going to print the information as the chemicals can be toxic. I don't know the long term effects on alloy. Basically I don't want to be responsible if anyone
is injured by chemical use or if they damage their parts or model. Even relatively harmless chemicals can be deadly in differing circumstances or can give
undesirable or 'spectacular' results when improperly used. One of the chemicals referenced in my handbook for use as a zinc colorant can be safe in some forms but was once used as a chemical weapon in another!

Surely the one underlying rule is cleanup. Don't allow chemicals to remain in contact with your parts longer than necessary and be thorough in their cleanup.

Above all be safe. If grape juice works, fantastic. Do not assume though that you can just leave it in contact over a long time. You can be fairly certain that
that juice is probably mildly acidic and will also slowly work on your track pins....so cleanup, cleanup, cleanup... neutralize for effect..

I'm glad I'm a lazy modeler, I don't care what my tracks look like, opting instead to just let them oxidize and wear naturally and I don't run very much these days..

I'll be on the lookout for bottles of "Crius' TrackBlac" solution on ebay....!


Jerry

Last edited by Tanque; 05-19-2020 at 07:53 AM.
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Old 05-19-2020, 08:04 AM
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I'm definitely with you on the cleanup thing, you want to make sure that whatever kind of chemical you use you get it all off when you're done. A friend of mine had a fairly decent idea for the grape juice, because it's acidic, when I do the cleanup I'll use Clear freshwater and add a tablespoon or so of baking soda to neutralize any of the acid that might be left behind and then a thorough cleaning with soap and water and I should be fine. I've known for a while that there are certain foods that will cause tracks to get black and I've heard about guys using hard-boiled eggs to Blacken tracks and copper tow cables, but I've never tried that method.
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Old 05-19-2020, 01:13 PM
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So after the first application I'm pleased enough to try another. I know with the blade it got darker the more it was exposed to the juice, so I already have them soaking and we'll see how they look tomorrow. And if it works maybe I can claim some kind of organic crap. Bwahahahaha

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Old 05-19-2020, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Crius View Post
I've tried the gun blue route and found it to be, A, pretty expensive, and B, I had a real hard time getting even coverage. I ended up with tracks with a lot of little silver spots on them where the blue didn't penetrate. Perhaps I did it wrong or used low-quality blue, I don't know, but I was not happy with the results.
I heard you have to wipe the surface clean to have that even color for such a process. Maybe those spots were caused by some surface stain? Or some air bubbles got trapped by surface tension during the process?
I'm gonna mainly us Super Blue with a cotton swap just to cover up those scratched places by running the tank.

Last edited by Enzo_K; 05-19-2020 at 01:46 PM.
Old 05-19-2020, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Crius View Post
So after the first application I'm pleased enough to try another. I know with the blade it got darker the more it was exposed to the juice, so I already have them soaking and we'll see how they look tomorrow. And if it works maybe I can claim some kind of organic crap. Bwahahahaha

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkYNddBuOvA
that actually looks pretty good!
Old 05-19-2020, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Wozwasnt View Post
If you use gun blue then soak the tracks in a plastic container, as a metal one may have a bad reaction. I seem to remember someone on here had holes appear in their tracks after soaking them in gun blue.
Maybe soaking the entire track in Gun Blue product is not a good idea? I've seen such a product is only to be applied by wiping on the surface. Maybe the reaction is just too strong the have tracks soaking in it for such an extended time?
Old 05-19-2020, 06:42 PM
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Looking at some of the chemistry behind grape juice it seems that there are traces ( varying according to variety and origin) of copper and zinc in most types.
Copper sulfate solutions are used for darkening zinc alloys so I'd guess that the trace amounts of copper in juice coupled with the various acids in the juice probably contribute to the darkening effect. I don't know the particular chem involved but a guess a combination of oxidation and some copper ion deposition.

Better that than the commercial nasty solutions..
Old 05-21-2020, 01:38 PM
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Unfortunately a kind of gull grey is the best we could get. I guess I'll take the JP tracks to work and get them blackened there. I'll post that, too, once completed.

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Old 05-23-2020, 09:09 PM
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Always did my metal tracks in Ferric Chloride then a 1:1 baking soda/water wash off. Pretty awesome, can leave some small pits too if left long enough in the Ferric. Need lots of air flow during this process though.
Old 05-26-2020, 12:53 AM
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Update with the Super Blue.

I tried the Super Blue on Ferdinand's track today. I use a cotton swab to rub a small amount of the Super Blue around track links. Then I clean the excess product with a clean swab dipped in water. Shinning parts on the track turn black right away. It seems to be a pretty easy and efficient way to treat such problems. I also blackened one of the roadwheels on my Tiger 1, as it's outer rim shinning up over time.

I will have to test how well the color holds up, maybe later this week. stay tuned fellas.
Old 05-26-2020, 12:16 PM
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Enzo_K
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Before and after.


Before. You can see all bottom half of the track link teeth have a different color. They are actually shinner than you could see in this photo(especially in the shade of hull while running).

After. Those teeth are now in 3 sections of color. the top being the Tamiya nato black, the primer, and the Super Blue at the bottom.

BTW I wipe the treated part with a cotton swab dipped in some baking soda mix(1 teaspoon of baking soda and 4 cups of water). I forget to mention this yesterday. This might be crucial to protecting your tracks and paints from excess Super Blue.

Will do a running test later today, had to charge the battery.

Old 05-26-2020, 01:40 PM
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Birchwood/Casey also makes a browning solution that includes using heat (propane torch works great) to prepare the metal then you simply apply the liquid solution to the metal when itís hot as hell. Iíve used it on my muzzleloader barrels with 100% success. Dark brown would be a better starting point for track weathering than gun blue in my opinion.
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:21 PM
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I guess heating up a set of tracks would be quite challenging for most people.
so far a dark color(almost black, like nato black from Tamiya) works just fine for me on tracks. Then I use some Tamiya soil effect and rusting effect for weathering.
Old 05-26-2020, 02:38 PM
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Throw them in the oven on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Pull them out and apply the solution with a cotton ball or brush or something and watch the magic happen. Or donít. Just throwing out an idea while thinking outside the box. Works wonders on gun barrels.

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