Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Repairing a Blown-up Colt SAA

This SAA (Single Action Army) came into the shop in very sad shape overall, pitted barrel, no finish and the cylinder and top strap were blown up.  The customer bought the remains for a reasonable enough price that restoration was justified.  I didn't take any photos of the revolver before starting but I did document the frame repair, which entailed annealing, removing the remnants of the original topstrap, machining the frame to accept the new material, welding, shaping and finishing.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Now for Something Completely Different

I don't get to do much pistolsmithing anymore.  Since that is where my career started, I thoroughly enjoy it when I get the rare chance to dip my toe into those particular waters again.  It makes for a welcome "change of scenery".  Here I'll detail the "straightening out" of a Ruger Security-Six that was comprehensively cocked-up by a "professional pistolsmith".  My client had sent the revolver to be rebarreled with a Colt Python barrel and have the action tuned.  What was returned was nothing short of an abomination.  The problem is that the Colt and Ruger barrels share the same barrel thread diameter but not the same pitch, meaning that there are only three ways to do the job: cross-thread the barrel threads, cross the frame threads or shorten the barrel and recut the shank and threads properly.
Our man chose option number one, which thankfully spared the frame from damage.  The ejector rod slot in the Python barrel was "dremeled" for clearance  and since the Python also has no provsion for a forward bolt, he also bodged up a crane "lock ball" installation.  The revolver was out of time due to three of the ratchets being cut away during the chamfering of the chambers and the entire lockwork was "tuned" beyond salvaging.  The salvage operation consisted of reinstalling the Ruger barrel after shortening it to three and a half inches and recrowning, fitting a trigger, cylinder stop, hand, hammer, cylinder, ratchet, ejector rod and crane from the parts bin and a bit of custom work which will be detailed in the photos to follow.

First, the bodgery,

The salvage operation:

Since Rugers come from the factory  looking like badly buffed re-blues, some straightening out of the contours was in order.  This was done after shortening the original barrel and the OEM waviness is quite evident in the photos.

 The owner had supplied an aftermarket front sight base to use but I thought that a more aesthetically pleasing alternative could be made.  That ended up being a full-length rib that would accept the interchangeable front sight blades.  I made the rib and machined the barrel to accept it and then tinned it in place.

With the barrel installed, the replacement crane could be fit and aligned.  The outside contours didn't quite mate as-is.

With the barrel, crane and cylinder fitted up and the grip-frame converted to round-butt configuration, it was starting to come together.  Also note the SAA-style beveling of the front of the replacement cylinder.

The original Ruger hammer spur was letting the looks down a bit.  After batting it around with the client, a spur mimicking that of the Colt Python was decided upon.  I cut off the original, added material to the hammer and then shaped and checkered it.  The result is much more pleasing.  The right side recoil shield was also dished to match the left side.

With all of the damage corrected, the exterior contours trued up, the replacement parts properly fitted up, the action tuned and myriad other custom touches, the revolver was finally ready for finishing.  That finish would be a slow rust blue, as befits any custom firearm worthy of the title.  The finished job is below.  Note, no buffing wheels were harmed (or used) in the making of this blog entry.

The same client's other Security-Six can be seen here: