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Mystery of Delhi's Iron Pillar unraveled
Press Trust of India ^ | Sunday, July 21, 2002 | Editorial Staff

Posted on 07/21/2002 1:15:49 PM PDT by vannrox

Nation



 

Mystery of Delhi's Iron Pillar unraveled

New Delhi, July 18: Experts at the Indian Instituteof Technology have resolved the mystery behind the 1,600-year-old iron pillar in Delhi, which has never corroded despite the capital's harsh weather.

Metallurgists at Kanpur IIT have discovered that a thin layer of "misawite", a compound of iron, oxygen and hydrogen, has protected the cast iron pillar from rust.

The protective film took form within three years after erection of the pillar and has been growing ever so slowly since then. After 1,600 years, the film has grown just one-twentieth of a millimeter thick, according to R. Balasubramaniam of the IIT.

In a report published in the journal Current Science Balasubramanian says, the protective film was formed catalytically by the presence of high amounts of phosphorous in the iron—as much as one per cent against less than 0.05 per cent in today's iron.

The high phosphorous content is a result of the unique iron-making process practiced by ancient Indians, who reduced iron ore into steel in one step by mixing it with charcoal.

Modern blast furnaces, on the other hand, use limestone in place of charcoal yielding molten slag and pig iron that is later converted into steel. In the modern process most phosphorous is carried away by the slag.

The pillar—over seven metres high and weighing more than six tonnes—was erected by Kumara Gupta of Gupta dynasty that ruled northern India in AD 320-540.

Stating that the pillar is "a living testimony to the skill of metallurgists of ancient India", Balasubramaniam said the "kinetic scheme" that his group developed for predicting growth of the protective film may be useful for modeling long-term corrosion behaviour of containers for nuclear storage applications.



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alien; archaeology; discovery; erichvondaniken; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; india; iron; metallurgist; mystery; pillar; realscience; space
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This was one of the mysteries that Erich Von Daniken used to explain his theories.
1 posted on 07/21/2002 1:15:50 PM PDT by vannrox
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To: vannrox
Old Erich. Whatta fella. That Easter Island mytery would have been solved if he had only read Kon Tiki. parsy.
2 posted on 07/21/2002 1:21:00 PM PDT by parsifal
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To: vannrox
What theories? (excuse my ignorance)
3 posted on 07/21/2002 1:21:44 PM PDT by AM2000
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To: vannrox
OK, now I'm confused. Iron, oxygen, and hydrogen.

Isn't this RUST anyway?

4 posted on 07/21/2002 1:49:37 PM PDT by chaosagent
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To: vannrox
Why didn't they put a picture with the article?!
5 posted on 07/21/2002 1:57:29 PM PDT by Clara Lou
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To: *RealScience
.
6 posted on 07/21/2002 2:00:43 PM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP
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To: chaosagent
A google search on the term 'misawite' yields only two hits - both referencing this very article. So, either the term 'misawite' is a fiction concocted by Indocentric scientists looking to extol the imaginary achievements of ancient India - or, it is simply a typo.

[...about one minute later...]

Actually, something very strange just happened.. I was about to paste the contents of my google search, so I did the same search again - and this time, no hits for misawite at all. I have no idea what happened. It's like the term just vanished. Maybe I imagined the whole thing.. maybe this thread doesn't really exist, either.

7 posted on 07/21/2002 2:05:25 PM PDT by AM2000
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To: Clara Lou
In case you're wondering, the pillar really does exist. My parents took me there as a child. I even have a picture with my arms around it.

Here's a page with some more info on the pillar - link.

If you don't care to read about it, here's a pic :)


8 posted on 07/21/2002 2:08:56 PM PDT by AM2000
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To: AM2000
Thank you very much for posting the pic! How interesting that you've seen it firsthand!
9 posted on 07/21/2002 2:12:05 PM PDT by Clara Lou
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To: AM2000
Maybe they used Fanto-rox
10 posted on 07/21/2002 2:15:14 PM PDT by palmer
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To: AM2000
Thanks for the link.

several investigators have stressed the importance of the material of construction as the primary cause for the pillar's corrosion resistance. The ideas proposed in this regard are the relatively pure composition of the iron used, presence of Phosphorus (P) and absence of Sulphur/Magnesium in the iron, its slag-enveloped metal grain structure, and passivity enhancement in the presence of slag particles.

This generally supports the posted article and has some interesting implications for current metallurgical practice.

11 posted on 07/21/2002 2:19:32 PM PDT by JimSEA
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To: vannrox
Things were built better back then

and

The quality of oxygen isn't as good as it used to be.


12 posted on 07/21/2002 2:23:16 PM PDT by Consort
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To: AM2000
Von Daniken wrote a book (it was also made into a movie or TV show) called Chariots of the Gods in which he argued that aliens settled or somehow influenced life on earth. He used various "mysteries" from around the globe to support his thesis. This iron pole being one, as well as the heads on Easter Island. Other stuff included:

1. Inca walls of irregular stone blocks weighing tons each that were fitted together with with such precision, a knife blade couldn't be slipped between them. (One wonders why the aliens came all this way to build things out of stone).
2. Aztec paintings of men in unusual costumes and headgear that he claimed were space suits.
3. Long lines etched into fields of South America that he asserted were landing strips for alien craft (even we didn't use airliner technology on our crude -- by interstellar standards -- forays to the moon).
4. Gigantic etchings, spiders, birds, etc., on the surface that could only be discerned from an aircraft. Von Daniken called them navigation markers for alien craft (they came here from another star but needed ground markings to figure out where they were?).

13 posted on 07/21/2002 2:37:24 PM PDT by laredo44
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To: AM2000
I immediately did the same search you did and keep getting the same hits.

None of my mineralogy books list "misawite." Any metallurgists out there? I think this may be "silly science."

14 posted on 07/21/2002 2:47:02 PM PDT by Bernard Marx
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To: vannrox
Bump
15 posted on 07/21/2002 2:54:13 PM PDT by blam
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To: vannrox
"The pillar—over seven metres high and weighing more than six tonnes—was erected by Kumara Gupta of Gupta dynasty that ruled northern India in AD 320-540. "

540 AD is the date of the cataclismic start of the worldwide Dark Ages. (I wonder if they are related?)

16 posted on 07/21/2002 3:00:10 PM PDT by blam
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To: Bernard Marx
I used Copernic run about a dozen search engines, and the only references (there were 2) to mesawite cited the
ExpressIndia article.
17 posted on 07/21/2002 3:02:30 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: Bernard Marx; blam
Check this out and see if there's anything pertinent. I don't know if "MULTIPURPOSE THIN FILM DEPOSITION UNIT BASED ON ELECTRON BEAM EVAPORATION" or any of the other projects relates or not, since I don't know anything about any of that stuff: TESTING PROJECT 1999-2000 http://www.iitk.ac.in/dord/

Then, here is a book Balasubramaniam wrote on the subject:
http://www.vedamsbooks.com/no25609.htm

18 posted on 07/21/2002 5:06:14 PM PDT by JudyB1938
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To: JudyB1938
"MULTIPURPOSE THIN FILM DEPOSITION UNIT BASED ON ELECTRON BEAM EVAPORATION"

I used to use this in my work years ago. That's not it. lol.

19 posted on 07/21/2002 6:14:24 PM PDT by blam
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To: JudyB1938
The book looks interesting; it appears to be an objective scientific examination. No time to dig into it now, nor do I have the metallurgical expertise to evaluate it. All I can say is there's no "malawite" to be found in my mineralogical sources.
20 posted on 07/21/2002 6:38:11 PM PDT by Bernard Marx
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To: Bernard Marx; blam
Maybe something was lost in the translation?

What do you think, blam? Is there something like what is being described (since you're so smart - LOL).
21 posted on 07/21/2002 8:10:40 PM PDT by JudyB1938
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To: vannrox
Modern blast furnaces, on the other hand, use limestone in place of charcoal yielding molten slag and pig iron that is later converted into steel. In the modern process most phosphorous is carried away by the slag.

Too bad. Can you imagine how many vintage car bodies could still be around?
22 posted on 07/21/2002 8:15:03 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: laredo44
Von Daniken wrote a book (it was also made into a movie or TV show) called Chariots of the Gods

I thought the book "Crash Go the Chariots" pretty much destroyed his "thesis".
23 posted on 07/21/2002 8:17:23 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: JudyB1938
"What do you think, blam? Is there something like what is being described."

Sorry, don't know.

24 posted on 07/21/2002 8:19:46 PM PDT by blam
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To: Bernard Marx
All I can say is there's no "malawite" to be found in my mineralogical sources.

Maybe that's because it was spelled "misawite"? However, I couldn't find "misawite" anywhere, either.
25 posted on 07/21/2002 8:22:35 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: vannrox
Stating that the pillar is "a living testimony to the skill of metallurgists of ancient India",

No offense to these ancient Indians, but the odds of them knowing it would create some sort of rust barrier aren't high.

26 posted on 07/21/2002 8:24:53 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Jimer
The quality of oxygen isn't as good as it used to be.

Atoms in general are not as good as they used to be. Lousy imports!

27 posted on 07/21/2002 8:31:29 PM PDT by dighton
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To: Bernard Marx; blam
All I can say is there's no "malawite" to be found in my mineralogical sources.

Maybe that's because it was spelled "misawite"? However, I couldn't find "misawite" anywhere, either.

I found that our school has an electronic subscription to "Current Science" (a somewhat broad topic for an actual scientific journal). The most recent available issue is from May, 2002. To give you an idea of its flavor, here is the index for March, 2002. Of course, none of the links are functional from the FR page:

ProQuest(R) Help
There are 15 articles available for "Current Science; Middletown, Mar 22, 2002; Vol.87, Iss.14".
  1. Scroll the list to browse available issue articles.
  2. Click a title to display the article.

      Click Help to learn about article formats such as Full Text and Page Image.

1. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Ask Professor Ossolotch; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 15
2. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Bend your mind; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 16
3. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Brave heart; Laura McClure; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 6
4. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Cat man; Rene Ebersole; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 10
5. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Cave woman; Rene Ebersole; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 4
6. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Giant mystery cracked; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 13
7. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Oh, snap!; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 2
8. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Pigging out for science; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 12
9. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Robopillar wriggles to the rescue; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 14
10. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Sky walker; Rene Ebersole; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 8
11. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Slime to fight crime; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 12
12. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Surgery fixes girl's face; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 14
13. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Wacky world; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 13
14. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Whatizit?; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 16
15. Summary (Abstract/Citation) Full Text    Win a trip to space camp; Anonymous; Current Science, Middletown; Mar 22, 2002; Vol. 87, Iss. 14; pg. 3

28 posted on 07/21/2002 8:32:07 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: swarthyguy; mikeIII; keri; Red Jones
Thought you guys might like this.
29 posted on 07/21/2002 8:38:55 PM PDT by AM2000
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To: blam
I wonder if this pillar could be hollow and if anyone has ever tried to look inside it. Maybe the builders left a time capsule with messages or something.
30 posted on 07/21/2002 10:24:27 PM PDT by Rockpile
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To: aruanan
I checked for "misawite;" I didn't have the word in front of me when typing the sentence you quoted and misremembered the spelling.
31 posted on 07/21/2002 10:46:22 PM PDT by Bernard Marx
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To: laredo44
Did a vehicle
Come from somewhere out there
Just to land in the Andes?
Was it round
And did it have
A motor
Or was it
Something
Different

Did a vehicle
Did a vehicle
Did a vehicle
Fly along the mountains
And find a place to park itself

Or did someone
Build a place
To leave a space
For such a vehicle to land

Did a vehicle
Come from somewhere out there
Did a vehicle
Come from somewhere out there
Did the indians, first on the bill
Carve up the hill

Did a booger-bear
Come from somewhere out there
Just to land in the Andes?
Was she round
And did she have a motor
Or was she something different

Guacamole Queen
Guacamole Queen
Guacamole Queen
Guacamole Queen
At the Armadillo in Austin Texas, her aura,
Or did someone build a place
Or leave a space for Chester's Thing to land
*(Chester's Thing... on Ruth)*
Did a booger-beer
Come from somewhere out there
Did a booger-bear
Come from somewhere out there
Did the Indians, first on the bill
Carve up her hill
On Ruth
On Ruth
That's Ruth

------- Inca Roads, Frank Zappa

Unfortunately, it is completely impossible to get any idea of how this song sounds by just reading the lyrics.

I think this site has a usable realaudio version of the song--scroll down a bit to see it.

32 posted on 07/22/2002 3:48:09 AM PDT by Erasmus
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To: vannrox
thanks vannrox for posting this
I find it interesting
Love, Palo
33 posted on 07/22/2002 4:18:34 AM PDT by palo verde
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To: Rockpile
"I wonder if this pillar could be hollow and if anyone has ever tried to look inside it. Maybe the builders left a time capsule with messages or something."

Don't know but, my instinct is that it is solid.

34 posted on 07/22/2002 7:04:32 AM PDT by blam
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To: vannrox; blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 2Jedismom; ...
Von Daniken my ***. That said, here's one of the hits from Googling:
TITLE
by AUTHOR
Balasubramaniam... did Mossbauer spectroscopy of the rust samples. He shows that the phosphate was crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate hydride... The rust is composed of iron hydrogen phosphate hydrate (FePO 4.H3PO 4.4H2O) in the crystalline form in addition to a-, y-, o-FeOOH and magnetite, all in amorphous form. The process of protective rust formation on DIP iron has been outlined based on the rust analysis. The passive film formation on the Delhi iron pillar has been contrasted with rusting of normal and weathering steels. The critical factor aiding the superior corrosion resistance of the Delhi iron pillar is the formation of crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate hydrate, as a thin layer next the metal-scale interface, which drastically lowers the rate of corrosion due to its low porosity content. The formation of protective crystalline phosphate is aided by alternate wetting and drying cycles, which is the important contribution of the atmosphere to the pillar's corrosion resistance. Therefore, the corrosion resistance of the Delhi iron pillar is due to both Delhi (the environment providing alternate wetting and drying conditions) and iron (with its high P content conferring protection by the formation of the crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate).
Nothing about this mineral name, so A) perhaps it never caught on, or B) it was just a problem with the translation.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

35 posted on 09/10/2004 10:56:31 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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****. Forgot the link and title:

Review: Delhi Iron Pillar: New Insights. Balasubramaniam, R.
2002. Delhi: Aryan Books International.
Pp.168, figures 33.

by D.P. Agrawal

http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/t_rv/t_rv_agraw_delhi.htm


36 posted on 09/10/2004 10:57:45 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: vannrox

What about "corten" steel (what they make the "rusty" guard-rails and bridge beams out of)?

Wonder what the composition of that stuff is. Supposed to never need painting--as the rust forms a protective barrier. Sounds like the same process as what "misawite" is.


37 posted on 09/10/2004 11:16:10 PM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: AM2000

thanks for the picture!


38 posted on 09/11/2004 7:57:00 AM PDT by ruoflaw
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To: vannrox
One PILLAR doesn't testify to any skills but to an accident of chance. If there were hundreds of examples around, then they could crow. ...but perhaps those in the business will change their iron making methods or a chemist will develop a spray that will prevent rusting.
39 posted on 09/11/2004 9:39:28 AM PDT by Henchman (I Hench, therefore I am!)
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To: SunkenCiv

So...is this just ancient "rust blueing" as on fine, vintage firearms ?.....not that little Muttly would necessarily know about such things.......


40 posted on 09/11/2004 10:47:30 AM PDT by PoorMuttly ("Now, there you go again.")
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To: AnalogReigns

One of the major buildings in downtown Pittsburgh was made of something like this. It was born rusted but wouldn't rust further. Particles of rust flaked off and got in the eyes of pedestrians, so there were or are complaints.


41 posted on 09/11/2004 8:03:20 PM PDT by RightWhale (Withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and establish property rights)
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To: Bernard Marx; gcruse; AM2000; vannrox; blam
Misawite is probably a local name, you will get better results if you search for Ferroxyhyte or Feroxyhite i.e. the common name for δ-FeOOH. (δ is the Greek letter delta)
42 posted on 09/12/2004 12:02:06 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: PoorMuttly
Is this just ancient "rust blueing" as on fine, vintage firearms?

That, and they probably used a little copper in their brine when they wraped it.
43 posted on 09/12/2004 12:17:59 AM PDT by mugs99 (Restore the Constitution)
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To: PoorMuttly

"Rust Bluing" ? Is that anything like case hardening steel in an oil bath?


44 posted on 09/12/2004 6:41:21 AM PDT by skepsel
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To: laredo44

Maybe it was covered in "Motel of the Mysteries"?


45 posted on 09/12/2004 6:43:15 AM PDT by skepsel
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To: AdmSmith
Maybe a mispelling of miascite

(n.) A granitoid rock containing feldspar, biotite, elaeolite, and sodalite

46 posted on 09/12/2004 6:59:53 AM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: blam
540 AD is the date of the cataclismic start of the worldwide Dark Ages. (I wonder if they are related?)

Possibly.  Things rust more slowly in the dark, due to slowing interstitial migration of oxygen ions through the iron molecular lattice.  And yes, I am a metallurgist.  I mean, no I'm not.
47 posted on 09/12/2004 8:19:58 AM PDT by gcruse (http://gcruse.typepad.com/)
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To: skepsel

I loved that book.


48 posted on 09/12/2004 8:25:18 AM PDT by gcruse (http://gcruse.typepad.com/)
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To: skepsel

Rust blueing is simply letting the metal get a fine coating of rust, "carding" it off gently, then repeating until a brown finish is there...and it seems to resist more rust somehow. Well, more or less. Looks nice, though.


49 posted on 09/12/2004 8:06:49 PM PDT by PoorMuttly ("Now, there you go again.")
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To: mugs99

Fascinating stuff.


50 posted on 09/12/2004 8:08:39 PM PDT by PoorMuttly ("Now, there you go again.")
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