Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ruger Blackhawk Anatomy 101

Recently my friend told me that someone had instructed him to keep his New Model Blackhawk loaded with only 5 rounds....

He had been told that you must do this with all single action revolvers. While that is true of MOST single action revolvers, it is not the case with the Ruger New Model guns (including the Vaquero, New Vaquero and New Bearcat).

The New Model Blackhawks have a transfer bar safety that was added in 1972 (the change from the original 3-screw to the New Models).
This lack of knowledge got me to thinking about how much I had learned after working on a couple of Ruger Vaqueros and an old model Blackhawk.

I thought I would share this with my readers....this post applies to the New Model Blackhawks and the Vaqueros.

These first two pictures are from the Ruger manual, it shows most of the parts and where they go.

We'll start with the Base Pin, besides the obvious (the axle for the cylinder), what is that spring loaded nipple on the end for? 

That part was not present on the old models, they didn't need it.
The spring loaded nipple puts pressure on the transfer bar making sure it clears the firing pin on its way up to the firing position. I would guess this is also a safety feature as you don't want to fire the gun with the cylinder pin not fully engaged. I have had my Vaquero lock up on me for this very reason....There are companies that sell locking base pins, as the recoil of some heavy loads can overpower the spring/detent.

The transfer bar pivots on a stud that fits into a hole on the trigger, as the trigger is pulled backward the transfer bar is forced upward to cover the firing pin and filling the gap which then allows the force of the hammer to be transferred to the firing pin.

Here is the Trigger showing the hole for the transfer bar, the spring boss and the sear surface. the last hole is where the trigger pivot pin goes
The hammer spring pivots on a pin in the grip, one end sits on the trigger spring perch/boss, the other on the grip pin perch
The hammer, you can see the cut-out where the transfer bar fits. The transfer bar replaces the missing metal, allowing contact with the firing pin, when the trigger is not pulled back the transfer bar will not be in the up position and the hammer cannot make contact with the firing pin.

Also in the picture: the pivot hole and cylinder stop plunger the pawl pivot

The picture below shows the old model hammer, you can see the the surface is flat, no cut out
The Hammer Strut keeps the hammer spring in place and rides in a notch and the back of the hammer

The Cylinder Stop has multiple working surfaces. The back is where the hammer plunger rides, forcing the cylinder stop to disengage with the cylinder notches and then re-engage when the hammer is close to full cock.

The front part of the cylinder stop is pushed upward by this spring and plunger located in the grip frame 

The cylinder has a hole in the center where the base pin acts as the axle, the ratchet gear on the rear is where the pawl engages the cylinder and forces it to turn

The pawl pivots off a hole in the bottom of the hammer, as the hammer moves rearward it forces the pawl up and towards the cylinder gear, turning the cylinder. It also prevents the cylinder from spinning backwards (on most models) and is responsible for the clicking noise you hear when you spin the cylinder.
The pawl is pushed forward by this spring & plunger which is held in place by the grip frame

The Base Pin is held in by this latch made up of a screw, cap and spring, the thick part fills the notch in the base pin, when pushed sideways the thinner part allows the base pin to slide out.

Hammer pivot pin
 Pivot lock grip screw, this is one of the grip screws that goes on the underside of the grip frame, you can put it on either side, as long as it matches the location of the groove on the hammer pivot pin, if you get it wrong, the screw will not go all the way in.

Trigger pivot pin

The gate spring serves multiple purposes. It maintains pressure on the gate (keeping it closed), it keeps the trigger pivot pin in place and it keeps the cylinder stop in place (this picture is inverted).

The grip frame showing the trigger spring pivot and perch and the main spring perch

Some of the pictures above were found freely on the world wide web and are used under the guidelines of Fair Use, per Title 17 of the U.S. Code. Where possible the source has been credited.
If you own the copyright to any of these images and wish them to be credited or removed, please contact me immediately.

Midway USA

Chisel & Plane Workshop

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cowboy Guns

Since this is the month of the Cowboy and all my posts are dedicated to cowboy guns, I thought I would post my cowboy guns.

Although my exposure to single action revolvers and lever action rifles came at an early age (my Father is a huge Ruger single action fan), I didn't come to appreciate them until I saw the movie Tombstone...My love for Westerns and Cowboy guns has grown ever since.

We'll start with the revolvers, each of these guns has had something unique and different done to them.

From top to bottom:

Ruger old Vaquero, 45 Colt, 4 5/8" barrel, Ajax checkered rosewood grips, action job, large MK Technologies crescent ejector, nitre blued: base pin, base pin latch, trigger and hammer pins

 Ruger old Vaquero, 357 Magnum, 4 5/8" barrel, Brass birds head grip frame from Qualite, custom made teak wood grips, action job with trigger shims, New Vaquero crescent ejector, Black Powder chamfer on the cylinder, nitre blued: base pin, base pin latch, slotted trigger and hammer pins

Ruger New Model Single Six "Vaquerito", .32 H&R Magnum. 4 5/8" barrel, factory birds head grip frame, factory grips, customized factory ejector, nitre blued: ejector, trigger and hammer pins.

Ruger New Bearcat Shopkeeper, .22 Long Rifle, 3" barrel, polished stainless finish. 

 Each gun sports a different ejector...and different bore diameters....

A close up of the modified factory ejector button on the Vaquerito

I have one more pistol that I did not include in the group photo, it is a vintage "gambler's gun", a Hopkins and Allen Dictator 2 from the 1880's. It is a 5 shot single action revolver, chambered in 32 Rimfire. Often called a "Suicide Special", see my write up on it here

Now for the rifles, the first one is a standard Winchester model 94 from 1951. It is in 30-30 Winchester and has seen many a deer season. The barrel is 20" long

The next one is my Winchester model 94AE Trapper (AKA Saddle Ring Carbine) from 1992, it has a 16" barrel, saddle ring and is chambered in .44 Magnum. The magazine holds 8 rounds

The next lever gun is my Marlin model 1895 Guide Gun. It is chambered in .45-70 Government. I have polished the internals and swapped the plastic magazine follower for a stainless one (designed for the Leverlution bullets). It came with a Wild West Guns Peep sight and  I added the padded leather sling.

The last rifle is my Taurus Thunderbolt model C45BR in .45 Colt. It has a 26" long barrel and holds 14 rounds in the magazine. It is a copy of the Colt Lightning Rifle

and finally the shotguns, I have a couple of cowboy style shotguns, the first one is my New England Firearms Pardner in 12 Gauge, it is a single shot, break-open style with a 18" barrel, color case receiver and schnabel forend

This next shot gun is also a 12 gauge break open single shot, but I have no idea who made the gun or when. My best guess is that it came from one of the many hardware distributors in the Midwest (St. Louis??) and was sold through a general mercantile store somewhere out west circa the turn of the century. The only markings on the gun are "Army Steel" on the barrel

This last shotgun is a LeFever Nitro Special, in 12 gauge, it is a side by side "coach gun" with the barrels cut back to 18". The gun was made by Ithaca (after they bought the LeFever name), although made in the '30's it has that old west feel.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Troubleshooting a Hawes Western Marshal Revolver

This gun was the focus of an earlier post, see it here

I was asked to take a look at this gun by a friend, he finds good deals on broken guns now and then and this one had some issues. After shooting the gun, he discovered that it would lock up after only firing a few rounds.

I did some online research into these guns and I could not find a whole lot of info. I found many detractors and also nearly as many fans, but no one who was experiencing the same problem this gun was displaying.

I took the gun out to my favorite outdoor shooting spot and test fired it with some hand loaded 44 Specials, 44 Magnums (both light and heavy) and some factory Speer 240 grain JHP Hunting ammo. I was unable to produce the problem described by the owner.    

As he described it, the problem was that the revolver tended to lock up after firing a normal power .44 Magnum cartridge. The only way to get the gun "unlocked"n was to remove the cylinder base pin and remove the cylinder.
My first step was to look at the design of the firing pin
The Hawes with the hammer down:

The Hawes has recessed cylinders but also it has no transfer bar safety system.

The firing pin on the Hawes is spring loaded (that's a good thing) and the hammer rests on it when it is down (that is a bad thing). When the hammer is down you cannot fit the cylinder into the frame:

While inspecting the gun I thought about what could be causing the firing pin to stick out so far when the hammer is at rest.
I looked at the place the hammer strikes on the frame, it appears dished out and worn, perhaps the metal has been bashed in enough that the hammer his now sitting closer to the firing pin than originally designed? Or maybe the firing pin needs to protrud so much due to the cylinders being recessed?

My second thought was that the firing pin spring has become too weak to hold the firing pin off of the cartridges. Once the gun is fired the firing pin does not want to come loose from its new home in the soft primer. That doesn't explain why the hammer would refuse to move backwards though.
I checked the bolt stop, it functions like a Colt, after firing, if the hammer is pulled, the bolt stop retracts. So the firing pin and bolt stop would not prevent the hammer from being cocked after firing a cartridge. 
I also checked the action, as the hammer is pulled back the firing pin retracts before the pawl engages the cylinder ratchet.....
It could be the pawl, which is attached to the hammer and retracts when the hammer is pulled reward.
This could be the source of the problem. Because it is directly connected to the hammer, if the pawl is stuck, so would be the hammer. The pawl seemed to be functioning fine and the gear on the cylinder showed no signs of excessive wear.

I walked away from the gun for a while and it occurred to me...It could also be the cylinder base pin. The cylinder base pin not only keeps the cylinder in place, it also aligns the cylinder with the other parts, if it is worn or poorly fitted, the cylinder, under recoil could move, causing the pawl to stick in the gear. These guns use a bushing that fits between the cylinder and the pin (like a Colt SAA), perhaps this bushing is worn out or doesn't fit quite right?

I checked the fit of the cylinder base pin, the pins fit was tight in the bushing and the bushing was tight in the cylinder. 
The cylinder did have some pretty decent end play. When pulled back against the spring pressure of the pawl, I could slip a .019" feeler gauge into the gap.
With the .019" feeler gauge in the gap, the gun would lock up solid, you could not move the hammer rearward. It appears that this may be the problem. The base pin bushing does have a "nose" on it that appears to act as the end play bushing and these must be fit to the gun.

I pushed the cylinder as far forward as I could and the largest feeler gauge I could fit in the gap was a .0025, which is pretty tight. The end play is the difference, .019"-.0025" is .0165".

I think the correct answer to this problem would be to get a new cylinder base pin bushing that is over-sized and fit it to the gun. That may be impossible as new parts for these guns are pretty rare.

Perhaps a Colt bushing could be machined to fit?

I'll update this post if we find the cure to the problem.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Interesting Firearm Photos XI

Experimental M1903 Springfield Bullpup, only one was ever made

The gun in this iconic James Bond picture (taken to promote the 1963 007 flick From Russia with Love) is not a firearm, but a Walther LP-53 .177 cal air gun.
When Connery arrived at the photo studio, together with Tom Carlile and representatives from United Artists, it was discovered that no one had brought “007’s” Walther semi-automatic pistol.  By chance, photographer Hurn practiced air pistol target shooting as a hobby and he used his Walther as the prop.  
This gun sold at Christie’s London in 2010 for a world record $437,000. 

A belt fed .22 copy of the Browning M1919

Steve McQueen and his wife Neile Adams shooting guns in the California desert in 1963

The 10 Millionth Remington 870 shotgun

The truth

WWII, a U.S. Soldier carrying some captured German machine guns.

This Chinese made "gun safe" was opened in under 5 minutes with a 3 lb hammer

The letter written by Bill Ruger describing his .22 pistol to Patent Application Lawyers, dated November 21, 1945

The Ruger Owners and Collectors Society

The pictures above were found freely on the world wide web and are used under the guidelines of Fair Use, per Title 17 of the U.S. Code. Where possible the source has been credited. If you own the copyright to any of these images and wish them to be credited or removed, please contact me immediately.