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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

Thought I'd share along as I go with this P229 build.

The goal is two-fold:

1) Put together a unique cosmetic slide refinishing that I like.

2) Replicate the trigger feel of a Legion-series pistol.​

I really enjoy my P229R with rosewood grips. Standard trigger, converted to .357S barrel. It's cosmetically near-perfect so experimenting on it is not an attractive idea.

I purchased a cosmetically worn police trade-in slide, stripped as shown (see P229_SLIDE_1.JPG). It's an early slide which I believe is not finished in nitron, which should make stripping it easier. I'll be using a fine glass bead blasting.

Previously, I've used the PVD process with great results on a few different barrels, using a titanium primary material with either no coloration or an oil-rubbed bronze (dark brown-ish) finish. See my .357S barrel (P229_PVD_BARREL_1.JPG and P229_PVD_BARREL_2.JPG). For further color comparison, see a sample of another piece next to a standard slide (P229_PVD_COLOR_1.JPG and P229_PVD_COLOR_2.JPG).

What I really like about titanium PVD is that it is as close to invulnerable to scratching and wear as one could hope for. As the process adds merely 1-5 microns of thickness, there is no change in how any parts fit together. What's also really interesting to see is that the material finish itself greatly affects the final PVD appearance; polished substrate looks very different from machined, brushed, or raw metal.

With that in mind, the plan is to polish the upper portion of the slide and brush the raised flat area, including the checkering like the the bare steel part of the Equinox slide (see P229_EQUINOX.jpg).

Once that finishing is done, I'll rebuild the slide with new internal parts, and likely the fiber-optic Meprolight sights or maybe the SIG X-RAY sights, to be determined.

As I progress with each step, I will follow up with more pictures.

For the second part of the build, replicating the Legion trigger feel, I'll be rebuilding my frame with a combination of the same trigger and SRT parts that SIG builds into those models as well as attempting the "action enhancement" treatment on the other internal parts myself with some careful polishing. Pics to come.

What I really wish is that I could find just a bare frame to start with, so that could be refinished also. If anybody has one, please do let me know.

- Rob
 

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This is going to be interesting...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Bead blasting results.

Went with the 170-325 mesh size glass bead blasting media which removes coatings but won't cut into steel.

I'm thrilled with the results, it looks just like my stainless P220SE.

Planning on experimenting with the polisher that I have, but it's nothing special, so all the experimentation will be on scrap steel. At the point of modifying the metal, there's no going back.

All pictures unmodified, taken with my iPhone 6 with the exposure tweaked slightly so the white background would not cause underexposure.
 

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Looks like you are well on your way through a successful project.... Nice work so far... Love the raw stainless look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Curious what the bare stainless slide would look like fitted to the lower before any polishing or PVD.

Hmmm...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Stripping a couple of mags to PVD the same as the slide. Before and after:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
TruGlo TG131S1 sight set on the way, #8 front and #8 rear. These are the correct SIG spec for .357S, I may switch the new slide to that barrel and switch the original slide back to .40.

However, I spoke with a tech rep at SIG yesterday and his advice was that the difference between a #6 and #8 front sight is negligible and any practical difference in precision aim point is easily corrected by the shooter.

On a related note, I test-fitted the .40 barrel that originally came with my P229R to the new slide (which is several years older). The fit was so perfectly precise that I would think they were fitted to each other by a gunsmith. That's the consistency of SIG quality control right there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Today is the day to bead blast the .40 barrel. As it looks now, the barrel shows typical wear patterns in the original finish. Also, apparently, I'll focus on polishing both sides of the feed ramp when I get to the action enhancement stage of this process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Fully stripped. Time to polish it before PVD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Did some hand polishing last night using extremely mild NOXON and Flitz polishes. The barrel had a slight texture to it after the glass bead blasting which surprised me, but about an hour of hand polishing got it it smooth and shiny again. The pictures don't really show how much smoother it is. May still buff it up a little with a machine polisher but only on the contact areas at the bottom of the barrel and the top of the locking block, along with the feed ramp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Due to scheduling, it looks like the PVD work won't get done until about the second week of March.

Now I just have to stare at these parts for a couple of weeks.
 

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I'm following you on this project, also. You do very nice work. How do you have access to PVD and, when you have time, can you please describe the procedure you follow to do it?
Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I'm fortunate enough to have a good friend whose company uses PVD commercially in the production of their own products. They are high-end consumer products where appearance and longevity is critical. Their process is somewhat proprietary and I can't go into the specifics of their equipment, but if you can picture a large phone booth full of lightning, you'll get the idea. They use a variety of metallic bases and mixtures to come up with finishes of different colors, whether silver, brass, gold, aged bronze, black, copper, and even rainbow. As the finishes are not just cosmetic, the parts go through extensive salt spray and abrasion testing.

The general PVD process involves putting the target pieces (thoroughly cleaned and de-greased) into a chamber, then filling the chamber with the specific mix of vaporized metals. It's usually a titanium base with other metals added to alter the characteristics of strength, hardness, color, etc. The commercial process involves passing very high voltage through the chamber, which causes the vapor to molecularly fuse with the target. In that respect, it's not just a coating but rather an integrated surface change.

I was first impressed by the process when we did some parts from my 1911. The match barrel was not stainless, and an errant fingerprint had left some corrosion. It was also showing a wear ring around the tip. Polished it up and then did a titanium aluminum nitride finish. Looks better than new and no new wear marks. See attached pics, barrel when first done and then several hundred rounds later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The 1911 barrel not showing any wear after use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Put some effort into hand polishing the lower raised part of the slide and just a little swipe at the main upper area.

What's interesting is the comparison to my P220SE, how the factory stainless steel finish looks next to my efforts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Went ahead with polishing the lower strip on the slide. Was going for a polish level higher than the top section, but not a mirror finish.

The different finish will result in a slightly different color when the PVD is done.

Used a 2" buffing wheel in high-speed drill and alternated between Flitz and Noxon polishes.

First picture shows the masking. Second pic is crappy, but the lighting in the house last night was not conducive to good photography.

I did go back with a fine polishing stone to do the top surface of the serrations, leaving the lower in-between sections unpolished. Not shown in pic.
 

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