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Old 10-02-2017, 06:51 PM
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Default .38 Safety Hammerless (Break Top) Question

On a break top, what holds the cylinder to the rod. Is there a practicle solution to excess fore and aft play (with the frame closed cylinder goes from touching to touching.)

Reason I ask is I was describing a recent purchase to a friend. He retrieved a shining nickle plated Safety Hammerless in goregeous condition which he told me "has been broken for 50 years".

The cylinder spins freely, but Numrich has a diagram online, and it looks that a new flat spring (prob have to make one) should hold it up tight. I assume the coil spring is for the ejector, does it have spacers or springs to control cylinder play, does that rod have threads that may have backed out?

Its not mine yet, (did I say that out loud) so no pictures sorry.

Any knowlege, intuition or hunches would be appriciated.
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Last edited by TomkinsSP; 10-02-2017 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:14 PM
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Note that when the chambers are loaded, the rims limit rearward motion. Not much else you can do about it.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:37 PM
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Since I can't see the fore and aft play, I can only assume that the rear movement retainer nib on the barrel catch is gone. The forward movement should be regulated by the gas-check collar at the front of the cylinder. The cylinder is held on by a threaded portion. The cylinder stop spring (flat spring) if missing/broken may fix the "cylinder spins freely" problem. I'm having a problem understanding how "..a shining nickle plated Safety Hammerless in goregeous condition.." can have so many problems. Could it be a re-nickel?
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmaher94087 View Post
Since I can't see the fore and aft play, I can only assume that the rear movement retainer nib on the barrel catch is gone. The forward movement should be regulates by the gas-check collar at the front of the cylinder. The cylinder is held on by a threaded portion. The cylinder stop spring (flat spring) if missing/broken may fix the "cylinder spins freely" problem. I'm having a problem understanding how "..a shining nickle plated Safety Hammerless in goregeous condition.." can have so many problems. Could it be a re-nickel?
The last question is easy. My friend said the gun belonged to his grandfather, it broke ca. 1960-70 (the cylinder stop spring) so it was retired to a box in the closet where it sat until he retrieved it to hang on the wall as a decoration over his bar. Its only 'activity' to be occasionally polished. It is decidedly original.

He did not notice the (excess?) cylinder play, I did, but I only perceive it to be a problem based on comparison to my other break tops (a S&W, H&R and an IJ). All three [of mine] have 'something' on the cylinder rod [or maybe the rod is turned?] at the fixed end which [i am guessing] provides some 'springyness' as you manually push the cylinder toward the muzzle. On [my friend's] S&W it actually looks like a bit of coil spring, on [mine] more like a spacer or two.

I am wondering if the threaded portion [on my friend's S&W] has backed out a bit.

[edited for clairity... I hope]

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:57 PM
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I really can't figure this out. The S&W cylinder screwed on a post that had a threaded section that held the cylinder but was short enough to allow the cylinder to spin openly. The movement is my concern as when it came out of the factory, it was minimal. Any extractor springs were held in place by the cylinder and not visible. I'm stumped.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:39 PM
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Hummm, maybe I am looking at that thread, on the cylinder post, and thinking "gee, looks like the coil of a spring". And the springyness comes from the fact the post on my friend's S&W is loose.

[ I went back and edited previous post(#4) for clairity]
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:58 AM
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The cylinder on a S&W top break can be unscrewed from the center post by holding the barrel latch up and turning the cylinder to the left (counter clockwise) to unscrew it. Reverse to put it back. Perhaps the cylinder is not completely threaded onto the center post?
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Old 10-03-2017, 08:55 AM
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I am holding a 38 Safety and trying to figure out what you are seeing. This revolver has an audible click when pushing and pulling on the cylinder, but you cannot see any movement at all by eye. As the barrel is opened, the extractor starts to come up and puts spring pressure on the cylinder, so it pushed against the barrel, but when the extractor snaps back into the cylinder, there is no spring acting on the cylinder. There is also nothing inside the quill, other than the extractor cam finger when the cylinder is removed. As noted above, can you comment on the small catch under the latch? Is is visible and will it prevent the cylinder from unscrewing? If so, that is working properly. Lastly, the cylinder stop in the bottom of the frame should be visible and is spring loaded to prevent the cylinder from "free-wheeling. Push down on it and see if there is any resistance?

Many of these old guns have dried grease, oils, and debris preventing them from working well, so check out the insides to make sure there is no leftover gunk. Also, lubricate it while you have the sideplate off.

I cannot tell you how many false recollections family members have about their heirlooms and a descendant's recollection that the gun has never been refinished is near the top of many lists of incorrect recollections. How about pictures?
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Old 10-03-2017, 09:10 AM
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FWIW, S&W called these guns top breaks and not "break tops". Their first series of revolvers were called "tip ups" as they hinged at the top and the catch was underneath requiring one to open the gun by tipping the barrel up, hence tip ups.

The design was poor especially when they graduated to larger barrel lengths and calibers. Too much stress on the hinge often results in side play.

The next design incorporated the much larger and more stable frame pivot point and the gun latched at the top. The opening process was the opposite of the tip ups as the barrel when released pivoted downward. The gun essentially broke at the top and hence the name top break.

S&W also used several other terms that were contrary to the rest of the gun world. They are no longer around to reveal the reasons behind these terms but the popular belief is that it was to be different from their largest competitor from CT.

Grips are stocks.
Crane is yoke.
Checkering i checking.
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Old 10-03-2017, 02:08 PM
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Many thanks,

to Driftwood Johnson, who in a thread on his new model 3 Russian, has a nice clear photo of the cylinder post, it was those grooves on my friend's revolver I was seeing under the forcing cone...

to Mike, I was seeing those grooves because his revolver is missing its gas-check collar...

to Gary, I am guessing it is also missing its catch. And for pointing out that my friend has false recollections of this revolver being a family heirloom, obviously it was an inexpensive broken item his grandfather bought thinking he would fix it, but just never got around to it. Since my friend is not a mechanic he should just sell it, until he does no pictures

to Guy, I took my cylinder out, it looks different because my collar is in place, I can see how it controls forward movement of the cylinder.

I wonder if all that polishing led to disassembly and parts getting left out upon reassembly.

to James, thanks for encouraging me to take things apart. So I have a Top-Break, or maybe 3, or maybe one and two Break Tops (the IJ and H&R). Anyway, when my new stocks come I hope they have some checking. I guess they switched the sideplate to the right so the yoke could swing to the solid side (left) on the hand-ejectors, and the hand moved as well resulting in a ccw rotation?

and thanks to Guy and Don on a previous thread who taught me how to spot a refinish job.

I would feel compelled to order part #20 from Numrich (the hammer of the 'Safety Hammerless') if they actually had one.
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Last edited by TomkinsSP; 10-03-2017 at 02:26 PM.
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