Friday, March 27, 2015

The Phoenix Project: The Resurrection of a Colt Trooper MK III: part 3

This is the 3rd installment of the restoration of a Colt Trooper MkIII. See Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

Now that we have all the parts, I need to figure out how to swap the barrels. I tried all my local gunsmiths and none of them had the equipment (or experience) to swap a barrel on a revolver.
I checked the online Gunsmith suppliers and no one had the action wrench inserts for a Trooper, they did have them for the Python, which may be the same, but this project doesn't have the budget to shell out $200 for all the necessary tools.

I know some of the old timers would clamp the barrel in a bench vise and use a stick of wood in the cylinder frame to apply torque.

I didn't like that approach, too risky. I wouldn't want to warp the frame.

So I guess that leaves me to figure it out. I have seen it done before and I know the process, so I decided to make my own action wrench and barrel inserts for my bench vice.

I enlisted the help of a friend who is a jack of all trades. He built me this action wrench, which is basically two steel plates with a bolt welded on (so I may add a cheater pipe).
I will make wood inserts, carved out to match the contours of the frame and barrel. See my complete write up here: Removing the Barrel from a Revolver

Here is the whole works clamped in the vise
 A little bit of muscle and we have a successful separation!
 Here are the MkIII & MkV barrels side by side
 Before I attach and tighten the MkV barrel to the frame I have some more filing and sanding to do. The top sight plane will be bead blasted, so it doesn't need to be perfect.

 I now am fitting the new side plate to the frame.

The lower part of the cylinder window was also pitted, the file cleaned it up

Now back to work on the frame
Almost done with the 100 grit sanding, time to move to 220 grit
More progress, this is a 220 grit finish
It may be hard to tell, but trust me, I have made mucho progress in getting rid of the pits.

Once the pits are 99% gone, I will step up to 400 grit paper and sand/bead blast the top of the frame, then attach the new barrel and sand the whole gun to a 2000 grit finish
We have arrived at the 600 grit finish level....there are still a couple of small pits that need some attention, but we are at 90+% now...time to install a barrel!

 I used some graphic lock lubricant on the threads and put everything back in the homemade frame wrench and started twisting. I didn't get a picture of that...but you saw what it looked like going off...same deal
I used bubble levels to make sure the barrel was on straight
After a couple of nudges we got it spot on

The marriage of the MkIII frame to the MkV barrel is complete.
Now that we had the barrel on it is time to check the fit of the replacement cylinder.
I noticed a problem right off the bat, the pins that line up the extractor were out of time with the cylinder bushing, the cylinder bushing has a key way that aligns the shaft of the ejector.
 I punched the bushing out with a hammer and punch
 I used some resized 38 Special cases to help center the extractor, I then drove it home with a nylon faced hammer
 The cases were a bit tight in some of the chambers, the extractor needed to be fitted to this cylinder, I used a small rat tail file to take just enough material so the cases would slide in and out easily
 I then assembled the crane and checked the barrel to cylinder gap, the .008 gauge was the biggest that would fit.....not the best, but well within tolerance and the forcing cone on this barrel looked like new, so the gun should be good to go

The extractor needed some additional polishing, while I was at it I polished the chambers, 1st with 220 grit, then 600 grit paper wrapped around an old golf pencil
 The extractor was still tight fitting on the pegs, so I opened up the holes slightly with a drill bit, the extractor now fits over the pegs with just a very slight amount of play
While I was at it I polished the shaft of the ejector/extractor, using 320, then 600, then a spin on the buffer
It now slides in and out of the cylinder with ease

Next I used a block and some 600 grit to polish the face of the cylinder

Now I will work on the cylinders outside finish and sand the entire gun with 1000 & 2000 grit paper, a little work on the buffer and it will be ready for bluing!


  1. Looking great! Love the frame wrench you built. At least as effective as the $148 one and probably even more so for a lot less.
    Can't wait to see this all blued and completed. Bet it is going to be beautiful.

  2. Thanks Shavu! It's been a journey. I learn something new with each restoration

  3. Man it is just absolutely amazing how bad it looked before to how good it looks now.