Friday, July 24, 2015

Ruger Old Model Blackhawk Project part 6

I guess I should have called this the "Never Ending Project".

see parts one, two, three, four & five

So now that the revolver is put together and works, I decided I wanted to adapt this 1851 Colt grip frame that I bought on ebay for a pittance to the Blackhawk.
  This is what an 1851 Colt Navy Model looks like (this is an Uberti reproduction, most likely the source of my grip frame)

You can see the difference in profile and fit here, a New Model frame with an 1860 grip frame and an unmodified old model. The 1860 is larger, but has the same profile

I cannot claim credit for this idea, a gunsmith by the name of Sharps40 did this same modification on a New Model Blackhawk. See the write up here
You can see in the picture above that the boss for the main spring/strut is bolted to where the old Colt leaf spring was mounted, (see the picture below)

The process involved:
  • making clearance for the Ruger hammer & trigger
  • cutting a channel for the trigger return spring
  • drilling holes for the trigger return spring pivot and perch locations
  • removing some metal for clearance for the main spring
  • building a mount for the main strut/spring boss
  • drilling a hole in the front trigger guard for the bolt stop spring & plunger
  • drilling and installing a pin to locate the grips
  • making a custom set of grips from blood wood
Putting this brass grip frame on an old model Blackhawk would be easier and would involve the items above except the hole for the bolt stop plunger would not be needed and the trigger return spring sits in a little hole in the trigger guard, which can be drilled from the front.

We need to add a hole to the back of the trigger slot on the brass frame like the one on the factory aluminum grip frame on the left
I enlisted the help of my friend Survivor45, to drill the necessary hole and fill and re-drill the front screw hole

Here he is setting up the fixture for drilling the hole

This picture shows the angle at which the hole must be drilled (the same way the Ruger factory drilled the holes)

The screw hole in front of the trigger guard had to be filled in. This involved:
  • Threading the old hole to accept a larger screw
  • The screw was silver soldered in place
  • A new hole was drilled and counter-sunk
Part of the old screw was left standing on the top, this fits in the recess in the Ruger frame and helps align the trigger guard portion of the grip frame.

Here I am filing the trigger slot to make room for the trigger and allow the holes in the Colt grip frame to line up with the Ruger frame. I needed more room side to side and at the front of the slot.
The next step was to identify the location and angle of the main strut boss and find some sturdy metal in which to construct it from.

I measured the angle of the main strut on my New Model Single Six. These measurements aren't perfect, but it will get me close to mimicking the factory intended design

I measure the amount of strut protruding when the hammer is cocked, I had about 7/16 of an inch
I plan on building the main strut boss out of this unassuming piece of scrap metal

I also used my Dremel to make clearance for the main strut/spring assembly in the trigger guard section where the strut passes the apex of the curve
 And on the inner sides of the back strap (where the strut meets the hammer)
I cut and filed away everything that didn't look like a main spring/strut boss. After numerous modifications (bending and opening up the slot), this is what I ended up with. I will clean up the edges, polish and blue it later

Trial fitting, I needed to bend it more
Testing the operation. I installed the trigger return spring & plunger, the pawl spring & plunger and all screws....the only thing missing is the grip panels

Everything is copacetic.....
Two things I noticed: 1. The feel of the grip is better than the original Ruger. 2. Something, due to the fit, has taken up all the slop in the action, the gun feels like a brand new revolver.

I marked the grip frame so I could match to the Ruger frame. You can see that the Colt grip frame is slightly proud. I'll have to do this off the gun so as not to risk damaging the finish.

When it comes to the grip panels I had some options. I could buy a grip set for an 1860 Army clone (new or used), split them down the middle and inlet them for my application

Or I could buy and modify this semi-inletted one from Dixie Gun Works

Or I could just make my own...I'm thinking bloodwood, just like the ones Sharps40 made
I have a block of bloodwood (approx 4 x 4 x 4")

I ordered another one of these grip screw sets from Gun Parts Corp. (same one I used on the Vaquero Bird's Head grips)

Time to make templates for the grip panels, one thing to be wary of is that the top corner where the grip panels meet the Ruger frame, is not a perfect 90 degree corner. I see a lot of grips where a gap is left in this location due to poor fitting. I will try to avoid that
Time for some math....(I know I hate math...) anyway, if we don't plan out the thickness of the grips, we won't know how much material we need to cut and how long of a locating dowel we can use.

I measured the Colt brass grip frame and compared with the stock Ruger XR3-RED
The Colt frame measured approx. .442", the Ruger XR3-Red is about .513" thick a difference of .071"

Next I measured the Ruger grip frame with the factory grips attached (at the widest spot, the heel)
They measured out to roughly 1.542" thick. I like the feel of a palm filling grip, and these factory Ruger grips feel pretty good, so I will attempt to make my grips (including the frame) about the same width.

I cut 3/4" wide pieces for the grip panels, I will file/sand them down to get close to the 1.5" overall thickness.
I will fit the top corner 1st, then drill for the locating pin, then fit them to the grip frame 

Before fitting the grip panels I needed to install a dowel/locating pin to keep the grips from moving.

The Ruger's grip locating pin is about .80" wide, I found both 3/4" (.75) and 1" roll pins at the store. I purchased the 1.0" wide ones (1/8 diameter).
The protrusion on the Ruger pin is about .1435" (.80-.513=.287/2=.1435). So I drilled a 1/8" hole, pounded in the 1" roll pin and filed it to .144" protrusion on each side.

I found the rear edge of the trigger frame stuck out a little more than the pistols frame. A small file cleaned it up
Fitting the corners first, hoping to avoid any gaps between wood and metal.

I then drilled the 1/8" holes for the dowel pin and the grip screw

I cut the grips close to their final dimension

The screw that came with the escutcheon kit was too short, I found these brass ones at the local nut & bolt monger, but the head would not fit in the escutcheon recess

I taped up the threads and chucked it into my drill, a file supplied the necessary friction
Test fit before using the belt sander to pare down the wood, I installed the screw head recess on the right side to match the way stock Ruger grips are.

I wrapped the metal parts in tape to protect them and let me know when I was close


OK, this post is getting a bit long. I will save the finishing of the grips, the polishing of the brass grip frame and the re-bluing of the cylinder for part 7

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