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Old 04-04-2018, 11:22 AM
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Default Bargain or Bust?

I was watching a top-break S&W for sale at an online auction and put in a low bid a few days before the auction. On auction day, I forgot that I had placed a bid on the gun, but got an email that I had won it for $130, since no other bids had been posted.

Listing was: Smith & Wesson Top Break Perfected, 32 Rev., #5259 stamped, For parts/non-working

I have a general interest in the Perfected revolver, so took a look at the only picture (below) offered. That helped me decide it was not a single shot, not a 32, and maybe not a parts gun. Before placing a bid, I had figured out it was actually a short barrel (3 1/4") 38 Perfected, No Change, but the "parts/non-working" bothered me. I see the potential that the cylinder has been partially unscrewed, so am keeping my fingers crossed that the problem is simple to fix. I also think the finish may be quite good, but will add to the thread when it arrives.

Just thought it would be an interesting gun with an interesting description to post here. I am happy with the purchase even though I do not know much about the mechanics of the gun, but am certainly happy with the price. The accuracy of postings for guns for sale are often incorrect, so if I had searched for a 38 Perfected, as I often do, it would probably not have shown up and maybe that is why it sold so cheap?
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Old 04-04-2018, 01:58 PM
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Looks pretty good on that side. Hey, you got a hammer, trigger, cylinder and barrel. You can probably get $130 back from them if necessary.
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Old 04-04-2018, 03:39 PM
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Looks like a good buy to me, much better than my last Perfected purchase.
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:39 PM
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OK, I'll start the bidding, $135......
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Old 04-05-2018, 12:42 AM
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My knee-jerk reaction (and hope) is you're going to be pleasantly surprised----and a happy camper!

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Old 04-05-2018, 12:22 PM
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Nice catch.

Most of the internal parts are supposed to be the same as the 1903 .32 Hand Ejector, so finding replacement parts (if needed) should not be too difficult.

Please post some pictures once you get it.

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Old 04-06-2018, 09:56 AM
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Be aware that not all 1903 parts are the same. I have a 1903, no change, and although externally it looks the same as later changes, almost all internal parts are different. Parts for a 1903 built from 1906 to @1919 are the most likely to work.
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Old 04-06-2018, 06:06 PM
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The cylinder may very well be partially unscrewed. On most of the top break guns, the cylinder can be removed entirely by breaking open the gun, holding the latch up and then unscrewing the barrel while pulling up on it. On this gun, it may just be a matter of holding the latch up and re-seating the barrel.

Either way, I agree with the assessments that you did fine at $130. Even if it's a wall hanger, it's still a good representative example of one of Smith & Wesson's most venerable lines of revolvers.

By the way ... when you're removing or installing the cylinder, make sure you don't let the latch drag on the outside of the cylinder (in other words, hold the latch up very firmly). Many otherwise good cylinders have been scratched by loosely held latches ...

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Old 04-07-2018, 05:27 PM
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I have gone over all these scenarios in my mind, but bottom line is whatever is or is not wrong with the gun, it will be ready for the gun range shortly after it arrives. So far about all I know is that it shipped in June 1911. I just do not run across 3 1/4" 38 Perfected revolvers, so am anxious to get my hands on it.
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Last edited by glowe; 04-17-2018 at 05:03 PM. Reason: Ship date correction
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Old 04-14-2018, 10:38 AM
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I cannot figure out why some auction companies take one cell phone photo and call it good?? If this one was properly photographed, it would have sold for lots more money, since it is literally 100% pristine. I received the 38 Perfected a few days ago and could not have been happier with the condition, BUT now I have to tackle the problems with the function.

First, I did not have a 3 1/4" barrel length and do not see them often so this one completes all the barrel lengths in my collection. Second, it does have problems, but I believe they can be resolved.

There is only one missing part, the ejector rod that screws into the shaft of the ejector star is missing, so the revolver does not function. I believe I can get the part made, since you just cannot find parts for a Perfected DA. The ejector assembly is different than a 38 DA.

The larger problem is that the quill is apparently out of alignment. The revolver closes very hard and the cylinder is jammed and cannot move. There is no clearance between the cylinder and the lower frame, so the quill is bent. The center pin will not drop into the recoil shield to provide the second lock against the thumb piece. I can guess that someone has tried to open the revolver without pressing the thumb piece and bent the quill down. I have not run across this issue before, so any suggestions on how to repair would be welcome. The difficult issue is there appears to be no way to visually line up the quill with the center pin hole in the recoil shield.

Anyway, a near perfect Perfected is $800 to $1000 in SCSW4, so I want to get this one back to good mechanical condition.
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Old 04-14-2018, 10:40 AM
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Couple more pictures, including the parts in the cylinder assembly.
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Old 04-14-2018, 03:59 PM
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Is the circled part what you need ?
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Old 04-14-2018, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merl67 View Post
Is the circled part what you need ?
Yes, it has a small spring that goes inside that rod keeps the center pin protruding through the ejector star. It is the same external dimensions as the 38 DA rod, but different thread diameter, plus the DA rod is solid, not hollow. Sam, who has done some great work making ejector rod knobs for 1896 and 1899 HEs has agreed to try to make a replacement. The bigger problem is re-bending the quill, so the action closes properly. I am dealing with a big upside in value to get this little gem working again, plus saving one of the nicest 38 Perfected revolvers I have ever seen.
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Old 04-14-2018, 05:10 PM
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See your private messages
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Old 04-14-2018, 07:17 PM
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Good luck Gary, that one needs to be saved.
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Old 04-14-2018, 08:17 PM
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Its amazing to me that it is so screwed up mechanically when the revolver appears to be almost pristine. Someone must have given it to their kid as a toy to abuse.
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Old 04-14-2018, 10:43 PM
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I'll venture the guess that, when the revolver was fired, the top latch was not closed securely. The energy of the firing caused the barrel to pivot away and down from the frame but the center pin (thumb latch) momentarily prevented the cylinder from moving forward with the barrel as the round was expelled causing the bent quill. S&W did include, in their lid instructions, the admonishment about making sure the barrel latch was secure. This is an example in my opinion.
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmaher94087 View Post
I'll venture the guess that, when the revolver was fired, the top latch was not closed securely . . .
That could very well be, but I forgot to release the thumb latch on my first 38 Perfected. I was used to shooting top-breaks and with one lapse of memory, flipped open the top latch and pushing down on the 6" barrel with no results, so I pushed harder a couple of times before I remembered the thumb release. The gun did not close as well after and the thumb latch was not pushed back by the center pin. I was able to put similar upward pressure on the cylinder and the quill realigned without damage . . . but it could have been worse.

I think either case could have caused damage, but am getting some great suggestions on repair on the Gunsmithing section.
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Old 04-15-2018, 11:26 AM
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Gary,

That is a beautiful example. I have no doubt you'll get it working again. What a great buy.

Besides knobs for the 1896, Sam has made an 1896 center pin as well. I also think he'd have no problem making you a ctr pin, especially since you can send him one of your others for replication.
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Old 04-15-2018, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
. . . Besides knobs for the 1896, Sam has made an 1896 center pin as well. I also think he'd have no problem making you a ctr pin, especially since you can send him one of your others for replication.
Well, merl67 has offered to send me the correct ejector rod for a 38 Perfected. I have taken him up on his gracious offer.

I have contacted Sam and let him know about finding the part, but will most certainly contact him with any future projects.
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Old 04-17-2018, 12:45 PM
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An update to the story and the problem with the bent quill is not solved with some help on the gunsmithing side of this forum. By taking my drill bits one by one, I was able to find one that fit snugly into the bore of the barrel and another that fit well into the hollow quill. I was then able to compress them in the vise until I bent the quill upward. Kept it up until the quill was moved about a 1/16".

I am happy to say that the cylinder now closes fully in the frame with equal space between the top strap, bottom frame and cylinder. The cylinder is now free spinning and the center pin drops into the thumb release hole in the recoil shield. When I get the ejector rod from merl67, I should have an almost new short barreled 38 Perfected. i will post more images as soon as I complete all repairs.
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Old 04-17-2018, 05:12 PM
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Gary,

Bravo, glad to hear that. Good job!

Now we know the answer; it's a bargain!
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:44 PM
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NICE! Its especially cool to see that one saved since it is in such beautiful shape. Interesting that you had the exact previous experience to help you figure out what was wrong and how to fix it.
Kinda making lemonade out of some (previous) lemons. BRAVO!
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glowe View Post
I have gone over all these scenarios in my mind, but bottom line is whatever is or is not wrong with the gun, it will be ready for the gun range shortly after it arrives. So far about all I know is that it shipped in June 1911. I just do not run across 3 1/4" 38 Perfected revolvers, so am anxious to get my hands on it.
WTG, glowe. I'M PLEASED TO READ THAT ITS YOUR INTENT TO SHOOT THIS PIECE OF HISTORY. I WOULD BE EAGER TO DO THE VERY SAME THING, AT LEAST ONCE......

IMHO, YOU DEFINITELY GOT YOUR MONEY'S WORTH, IN THIS DEAL.....
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:53 PM
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Wow, Gary, you beat the odds. Anyone else would have a broken quill. Great job!
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Old 04-19-2018, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmaher94087 View Post
Wow, Gary, you beat the odds. Anyone else would have a broken quill. Great job!
The reason why I chose drill bits for the project was that they are very brittle and will snap if lateral pressure is applied. My best guess was that if too much pressure was applied, the smaller bit would break and not the softer steel quill. Good news is that neither broke and with the ease of movement, I assume the quill is rather soft metal and easily bent without heat, which was another thing I did not want to resort to.

To me, the ability to move the quill lends credence to at least a couple possibilities as to why it got bent in the first place. Thinking also that the gun may have suffered its malady very early in life and tossed in a drawer not to be seen again.
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Old 04-19-2018, 08:33 PM
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Gary,

There's just no replacement for good ole' Yankee Ingenuity!

Great work!
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Old 04-19-2018, 10:02 PM
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Good for you!

I did not read this till now.
Another suggestion for next time-
I made jaws for my vise from a 1" oak board. They are covered in shoe sole leather.
I would have tried simply squeezing them back together in the vise. I would have been afraid the bit would mar the rifling. Barrels are not hard at all.
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Old 04-20-2018, 09:02 AM
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Thanks Lee. This was a problem that I did not want to jump right in like usual, but took the time to come up with options before I went to work. I polished the base of the bit and cannot see any damage. Since I had to raise the quill, couldn't figure out a way to engage the quill in a vise. To me, it looked like the top latch could have bent by using it to lift the quill, plus it extends beyond the quill. For those not familiar with the top latch of these top-break guns, see below.

I received the ejector rod from merl67 and installed it to find the revolver works exactly as it should, so a little Ren Wax and some sunlight, I will post some after images.
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Old 04-20-2018, 05:10 PM
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Sunny today, so I can show the repaired and polished 38 Perfected, so I took the revolver outside. Also, I thought for those who are interested in original factory finish details for this model, this one is a great example to show what is blued and what is left in-the-white.

One interesting note is that the bore and chambers are deep blued. There was apparently some final fitting that was done after bluing, since the extractor star and frame "ears" top and back are in-the-white.

Thanks everyone for your interest, thoughts, and help. I am happy to save this one from the parts bin as the auction company thought was going to be its fate.
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Old 04-20-2018, 05:14 PM
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You have found a true "time capsule" congratulations!

And thank you for sharing.
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Old 04-20-2018, 08:21 PM
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Gary:
Thank you for the thoughtful & informative write-up.
And, congrats on the successful rescue.

I really enjoy the short barrelled Perfecteds...
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Old 04-20-2018, 08:21 PM
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That is beautiful great job.
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Old 04-21-2018, 12:52 AM
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What a great place this is.
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Another out-of-town NYC firearm bust mc5aw The Lounge 12 01-17-2012 12:54 AM
I Could Bust A Button!!! R Cubed The Lounge 37 11-02-2009 05:13 PM
Tulsa or BUST handejector S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 9 10-16-2007 07:43 AM

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