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Old 02-15-2018, 06:58 PM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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Default Model 29-3 unlocking problem?

All,

I’m the original owner of a Model 29-3 purchased new in 1986. For about ten years it was perfectly reliable, but then a problem cropped up.

In a box of 50 rounds, 2-3 times the hammer would drop on an already-fired chamber. I had a friend fire it while I watched, and noticed that under recoil the cylinder would come unlocked, and due to the mismatch of weight between the full cartridges on the right side and empty ones on the left, the cylinder would rotate backwards. The gun would be cocked and the already-fired round would be presented for a second hammer strike.

I sent it back to S&W and they ‘repaired’ it at no cost. Since I got it back I probably only fired 150-200 rounds through it and it has been sitting mostly unused for 10-15 years.

Today I took it out again and fired a box of moderate-power loads (18 grains of 2400 behind a 240 grain SWC) and had it malfunction at least a half-dozen times in exactly the same manner.

What can be done apart from returning it to S&W again?
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Old 02-15-2018, 07:18 PM
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Over 10 to 15 years of sitting some lubricants turn into an amber sticky goo. WD-40 is a common lubricant that ages to sludge. That would retard what should be the cylinder stop's quick snap back up. I'd start by removing the cylinder stop and cleaning it, its spring and the the area they work in with a gun oil like Hoppe's or Rem oil. A new spring would be inexpensive and couldn't hurt.

I hope the problem is that simple.
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Old 02-15-2018, 09:02 PM
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If that doesn't do it, the next suggestion would be a new, stronger Wolff cylinder stop spring.
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Old 02-15-2018, 09:05 PM
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I would do a full on clean and oil of all the lockworks and cylinder parts.
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Old 02-19-2018, 02:41 AM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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I zapped the cylinder stop with a quick shot of carb cleaner since it completely evaporates, and then some compressed air, followed by a generous helping of Hoppe’s gun oil. I hope to ops test it at the range late next week. Fingers crossed!
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Old 02-19-2018, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantera Mike View Post
I zapped the cylinder stop with a quick shot of carb cleaner since it completely evaporates, and then some compressed air, followed by a generous helping of Hoppe’s gun oil. I hope to ops test it at the range late next week. Fingers crossed!
Don’t add too generous a helping of oil. Too much is not recommended.
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Old 02-19-2018, 12:23 PM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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Now that you mention it, that makes perfect sense. I wish I had known before I did it.

Doh!
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Old 02-19-2018, 11:10 PM
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I have a 29-3 6" that has the cylinder counter rotation problem also. The only difference is mine was nearly unfired when I bought it. I did a little reading, took it apart and installed the new blue cylinder stop spring. At the same time I also installed lighter main/rebound springs. The latter I should not have done. It still counter rotated but not nearly as frequently.

The last time I took it apart to put the stock springs back in I noticed the cylinder stop was hanging up in the window occasionally when the hammer was cocked to the single action position. The cylinder would carry up to the correct spot but the stop was not coming up sometimes. I lightly filed the sides of the stop and it seems to work okay now.

The problem is the gun is so nice that it's not one of my regular shooters, I have no idea when it'll get back to the range to see how it functions.
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:36 PM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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Resurrecting an old thread here. I finally got a chance to get to the range with my cleaned and oiled Model 29 but it didn’t improve. I suffered about a dozen failures in a hundred rounds. Furthermore, accuracy seems to be less than stellar, compared with my 3-inch 629 with the same loads.

My suspicion is that the cylinder is coming unlocked on every round. Sometimes the cylinder just rotates slightly, and other times it actually rotates a full turn. But as the bullet is leaving the cylinder, it’s not necessarily lined up with the forcing cone so the bullet is wobbling down the barrel.

That’s my guess anyway. I guess the next course of action is to replace the cylinder stop spring? Wolff offers both regular and extra strength. Is more actually better?

And I have no idea how to replace it? I can only imagine me taking the side cover off and getting an explosion of parts and springs flying all over the room!

Last edited by Pantera Mike; 04-04-2018 at 11:41 PM.
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Old 04-05-2018, 01:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantera Mike View Post
Resurrecting an old thread here. I finally got a chance to get to the range with my cleaned and oiled Model 29 but it didn’t improve. I suffered about a dozen failures in a hundred rounds. Furthermore, accuracy seems to be less than stellar, compared with my 3-inch 629 with the same loads.

My suspicion is that the cylinder is coming unlocked on every round. Sometimes the cylinder just rotates slightly, and other times it actually rotates a full turn. But as the bullet is leaving the cylinder, it’s not necessarily lined up with the forcing cone so the bullet is wobbling down the barrel.

That’s my guess anyway. I guess the next course of action is to replace the cylinder stop spring? Wolff offers both regular and extra strength. Is more actually better?

And I have no idea how to replace it? I can only imagine me taking the side cover off and getting an explosion of parts and springs flying all over the room!
I would send it back to S&W or to another Revolver master smith like Denny Reichert.

That's not enough rounds to shake that gun loose.

Trying to fix an issue like that by swapping springs may make things worse.

A functional inspection needs to be performed by an expert, the problem diagnosed, and the solution tested by them.

The key here is getting a clear diagnosis on the issue since this is the second time this has happened.

Since S&W took it in once, they should still have record of what they did.
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:20 PM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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Here is an interesting development. I wrote to Sand Burr Gun Ranch (Denny Reichard) and described my problem and asked if they could help. This is their reply:

“Sorry the only way to shoot that gun is to shoot light loads of 1000 feet or less...heavy loads are no more...best to keep princess in safe...that it why all of the new models have all the enhancements...wish we could be of more help....Sand Burr Gun Ranch”

So I guess everyone here who shoots a Model 29 made more than a couple of weeks ago should immediately hang it on the wall and never shoot it again. Or so they seem to think!

Time to find another gunsmith I think!!!
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:20 PM
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Call the factory. They should be able to fix it.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:34 PM
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Make sure the mainspring tension screw is fully tightened and has not been altered (shortened). Any slacking of tension in the mainspring can cause or contribute to the cylinder backspin problem. Good luck.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:45 PM
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I call BS on SandBurr Gun Ranch. Quite a few thousand earlier 29’s are out there performing admirably with full magnum loads without benefit of the endurance package including my “princess.”
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:46 PM
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I just went back and re-read your post. Not sure why you received the letter you did, as these guns will run a long time. My model 29 from 1968 is still as good as it was the day it left the factory.

Now, in my limited experience, your issue is with the cylinder stop. There are a couple of things you can do with the cylinder stop, and if those do not work, then a new stop will need to be fitted. I have had a couple that the old stop worked after stoning, and one that the cylinder stop had to be replaced. It is not a difficult job,but needs to be done by someone who knows how. I still think the factory is a good option.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:50 PM
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Default Might be the shooter?

I'm speaking from experience! I can not shoot the 500 or the 460 because the problem is me when firing guns with heavy loads(large recoil)! I squeeze the trigger until the gun fires and at that moment I relax my trigger finger. Under the heavy recoil the relaxed finger slaps the trigger. This slight movement of the trigger is enough to unlatch the cylinder and it moves out of battery! To prove this theory, hold your gun so the light can come thru the bottom of the cylinder window. Put slight pressure on the trigger and observe the cylinder latch moving down. You will see how easy it is to unlatch the cylinder. Your advise of lighter loads is good or learn to pull the trigger thru to the trigger stop and then release! It is difficult to break bad habits! I have a 29-3 Silhouette that I have shot thousands of hot loads thru since 1985 but I have learned to handle the trigger!
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Old 04-16-2018, 11:59 PM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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That’s an interesting theory. Except I have two Model 29s (the other is a 3-inch 629) and a 686 and have never had this problem even once with those, or any other guns....

I, too, think it’s probably a cylinder stop issue. There is a very reputable gunsmith near me and I am going to call him tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted!

And thanks to all!
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Old 04-17-2018, 06:05 PM
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From a few thousand miles away and without seeing/handle the revolver

...but I think, jcelect (post #16) is on the right track:
.500 S&W Double Taps - The Firearm BlogThe Firearm Blog

P.44
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Old 04-17-2018, 06:19 PM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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To reiterate, I fired this gun for years and had no problems, and then suddenly I did. I am also shooting an almost identical gun with the same ammo and have had no problems with it at all.

I failed to mention that two other people shot it and encountered the same malfunctions. Therefore I think it’s safe to eliminate shooter technique as a cause.

Thanks for the suggestion however—I do appreciate it!
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:09 PM
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I personally would take the cylinder stop out in order to inspect and clean the entire interior of the gun thoroughly. (See the video below; I use Q tips instead of the brush, and I'd probly wipe it out with Hoppes 9 first) Then, if all looks normal, I'd reassemble using a Wolff regular strength replacement cylinder stop spring.

If you have any mechanical skill at all, disassembling and reassembling a S&W is easy.


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Old 04-17-2018, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantera Mike View Post
I zapped the cylinder stop with a quick shot of carb cleaner since it completely evaporates, and then some compressed air, followed by a generous helping of Hoppe’s gun oil. I hope to ops test it at the range late next week. Fingers crossed!
I WOULD BLOW THE GENEROUSLY OILED GUN OUT, WITH COMPRESSED AIR, AS WELL, BEFORE LETTING IT SIT FOR A LONG TIME......

GOOD LUCK, AT THE RANGE......
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Old 04-18-2018, 09:01 AM
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Here is an inspection guide as well. I would recommend that you check all of this out. You can google any particular measurement to get a better feel as to how to do it if needed. I sent a 29-2 to the factory with a binding issue after it was fired 3 times. The cylinder would not rotate freely when the hammer was cocked. They worked on it, cost me $150 and damn if if it still did it when I got it back. So I measured everything 3 times myself and determined the barrel to cylinder gap was too much (.009 which was S&W's new spec as they had increase it over the years). I bought some cylinder shims, set the gap to .004, verified everything else was good, and the gun functions perfectly. And I did it! Find a quiet place and check everything as listed in the inspection guide and then take her apart and look it over closely. That video posted above is an excellent resource. If you find the issue and it requires an armorer to correct, then send it back to S&W and let them know what you think it might be. In the meantime you now know the N frame real good. Good luck.
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Old 04-18-2018, 02:53 PM
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First I pull the side plate on all my smiths when they get home. I clean them squeaky clean then lube them with a moly paste or antiseeze. All the metal to metal contact moving parts get lubed. Do not over lube it. Then I assemble the revolver and run the action while watching tv about 50 to 100 times.

The cylinder lockup might not be fully engaging too. Oil when it gets old looks like freckling and can get sticky. Remove the side plate clean it good.

I like to fix things myself. I modified my own 1911

Last edited by BigBill; 04-18-2018 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 04-19-2018, 01:11 AM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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Thanks for the advice everybody. I could have spent several hours poking around inside my Model 29 today, but instead I took it to a local gunsmith with a great Yelp reputation. Upon hearing the symptoms, he surmised that it probably needed a cylinder stop spring and perhaps some fitting. (He will have it fixed in a couple of weeks. I will report back about what he found and how well his efforts paid off).

Then I went to the range and spent all afternoon shooting.
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Old 04-19-2018, 01:29 AM
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Sounds like your problem was discussed here.

Model 29 changes (29-1, 29-2, etc) when was cylinder recoil problem fixed?
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Old 04-19-2018, 02:59 AM
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Default Check for end-shake

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike0251 View Post
So I measured everything 3 times myself and determined the barrel to cylinder gap was too much (.009 which was S&W's new spec as they had increase it over the years). I bought some cylinder shims, set the gap to .004, verified everything else was good, and the gun functions perfectly. And I did it!
I agree with Mike on this. Specifically what you need to check for is too much "end-shake", which also shows up in (adds to) the barrel gap. Check to see how much forward to rearwards play you have in the cylinder. If it's excessive the cylinder will come unlocked from the stop bolt as the cylinder moves under recoil. Eliminate that play & the unlocking stops.

My 29-2 got little respect when I was younger & it saw it's fair share of hot loads. In later years I started having the unlocking problem too & I found it had about .005" end-shake. A couple .002" shims tightened it up & fixed the problem.

The early 29's didn't have the wider stop notches that the later one's had (with the Endurance Package) & they can come unlocked easier.

From Handloader #241, an article on "Handloading the S&W M29" by Brian Pearce:

"When shot extensively with full-house loads, they have a reputation for shooting loose, developing excess cylinder end-shake and side-play.
...when Model 29s and 629s developed excess cylinder end-shake, or were incorrectly fit, their cylinders were occasionally known to unlock and turn clockwise (or back-ward) one chamber while the gun was being fired and recoiling."


.

I limit the hot stuff to my 629-6 nowadays.

Hope you get it fixed & can enjoy it again.

.



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Old 04-19-2018, 02:29 PM
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Thanks! I passed this latest advice on to the gunsmith who expressed his thanks as well....
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Old 04-19-2018, 03:02 PM
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I have had this problem in the past. Fixing end shake, a good cleaning and replacement of cylinder stop spring did it for me. I went with heavier spring though not sure if it did any good. I think end shake was the biggest culprit. I currently have ten -2 or older 29's and do not have this problem with any of them. I do not shoot much over 240 grain at 1100 fps in any of them. My late models get the hot stuff if needed these days. Really not needed though for me.
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Old 05-10-2018, 07:00 PM
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All,

An update to my problem—the gunsmith found and removed some unwanted end shake, and also fitted an oversized cylinder stop by Power Custom that he sourced from Brownells.

I loaded up ammo and range gear in the car then drove 45 minutes to pick it up (total cost $115) then another 30 minutes or so to the range. The weather was perfect, and I was the ONLY person at the outdoor shooting range (which has about 75-80 firing points), so I was quite pleased....

....until I reached into my range bag and pulled out box after box of .357 Magnum ammo—with not a single .357 Magnum revolver in sight!

Fortunately I had my Colt Delta Elite 10mm Auto with me, which I hadn’t fired in 15 years or more. So I had a grand time with that. But I will have to wait until next week to find out if my Model 29 is well and truly fixed. Next time I will ONLY be shooting .44 Mag and will double-check to be sure I bring the right ammo with me! Duh!
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Old 05-13-2018, 06:25 AM
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Default Model 29-3 unlocking Problem

I'm to agree with Mike0251. With too much end shake would allow the cylinder stop not to make full contact with the cylinder notch not to make full contact with the cylinder bolt. Check cylinder gap and add shims to make it tighter, this would help the bolt make full contact with the cylinder notch. It's not hard to DIY. Just don't loose the little spring in front of the bolt. I'd also install a stronger bolt spring while I'm at it. No springs will fly out if you remove the slide plate if you remove the side plate and gently tap the handle until the side plate comes loose. Check to see how the parts fit together and reassemble. Never FORCE anything!
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Old 05-13-2018, 06:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cgt4570 View Post
If that doesn't do it, the next suggestion would be a new, stronger Wolff cylinder stop spring.
I got a new stop from Power Custom's I believe it was. Quality part(s). OP if you are familiar with the insides of the side plate then replacing the cylinder stop, filing it barely enough to fit the smallest cylinder stop cut, and replacing the spring I would opt for that rather than sending it in. However, that's not for everyone and that is fine and I would send her back with a detailed letter/note.

ETA: just saw where you took her to a local Smith. Let us know the fix when you get her back! I got my 629 3" for woods carry and bought it partly because it locks up so nicely; and upon the advice of a long time .44magnum shooter/carry nut.

Last edited by HamHands; 05-13-2018 at 07:05 AM.
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  #32  
Old 05-13-2018, 06:58 AM
HamHands HamHands is offline
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Originally Posted by Mike0251 View Post
Here is an inspection guide as well. I would recommend that you check all of this out. You can google any particular measurement to get a better feel as to how to do it if needed. I sent a 29-2 to the factory with a binding issue after it was fired 3 times. The cylinder would not rotate freely when the hammer was cocked. They worked on it, cost me $150 and damn if if it still did it when I got it back. So I measured everything 3 times myself and determined the barrel to cylinder gap was too much (.009 which was S&W's new spec as they had increase it over the years). I bought some cylinder shims, set the gap to .004, verified everything else was good, and the gun functions perfectly. And I did it! Find a quiet place and check everything as listed in the inspection guide and then take her apart and look it over closely. That video posted above is an excellent resource. If you find the issue and it requires an armorer to correct, then send it back to S&W and let them know what you think it might be. In the meantime you now know the N frame real good. Good luck.
I'm glad you fixed your own end shake... awesome actually! As to the emboldened... what exactly did Smith&Wesson charge you $150 bones for? They have been great over the last 20 years I've owned/inherited Smith & Wesson revolvers and semi-auto's. They are one of the only companies that will issue an RMA number and pay for shipping both ways on S&W's dime. Springfield will do it too. I've never heard of Smith acting so on a new firearm of any type. Tagged for interest!
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  #33  
Old 05-17-2018, 05:03 PM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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An update:

I’m not out of the woods yet. I went to the range with two boxes of intermediate-power ammo (240 gr SWC, 18.0 grains of 2400) and one box of full power ammo (240 gr JHP, 24.0 grains of 296)

I started off with the SWC and had one misfire in the first chamber—the sixth round failed to fire as the cylinder had unlocked and rotated backwards one. But I then fired about 70 more rounds with no problems.

I then switched to the full power rounds and had two failures in the first six rounds. When the fourth round fired it unlocked and rotated backwards one, and the same thing happened when the fifth round fired.

I packed up and brought it back to the gunsmith for further troubleshooting.

Last edited by Pantera Mike; 05-17-2018 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 06-20-2018, 04:03 PM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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Rats.

Just picked it up from the gunsmith this morning. He fitted a heavier recoil spring (which increased the trigger pull noticeably) and he fired about 40 rounds with no failures (using ammo I supplied). I immediately took it to the range and fired one box of intermediate-level .44 Mag and one box of full-power ammo. All my firing was done single action, with about 25 rounds from a sandbag rest (only the barrel touching the sandbags) andnthe rest standing offhand.

I had four failures in those 100 rounds, with two with each kind of ammo. The cylinder unlocked under recoil (unnoticed at the time of firing) and rotated one position. If it rotated backwards, then the next pull of the hammer/trigger resulted in the hammer striking the chamber that had just been fired. If it skipped forward, the failure would initially go unnoticed until a previously fired round arrived in the firing position. In that case, the round that had been skipped might be found at the six o’clock position, or somewhere else.

Frustrating.

He’s determined to fix this, and isn’t charging me anything additional, but it’s still a nuisance having to bring it back (he is about 30 minutes away from home).

To reiterate, he has fitted an oversized cylinder stop, extra strength cylinder stop spring, and now a stronger recoil spring. This pistol did have a trigger job done when almost new. Could the trigger itself be contributing to the problem?

Last edited by Pantera Mike; 06-20-2018 at 04:06 PM.
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  #35  
Old 06-21-2018, 12:17 AM
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BLUEDOT37 BLUEDOT37 is offline
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To reiterate, he has fitted an oversized cylinder stop, extra strength cylinder stop spring, and now a stronger recoil spring. This pistol did have a trigger job done when almost new. Could the trigger itself be contributing to the problem?
As I mentioned above, have you verified you don't have excessive endshake? Repairing that fixed mine & other's.

I think you mean rebound (slide) spring, not recoil spring, right?

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  #36  
Old 06-21-2018, 12:30 AM
Pantera Mike Pantera Mike is offline
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As I mentioned above, have you verified you don't have excessive endshake? Repairing that fixed mine & other's.

I think you mean rebound (slide) spring, not recoil spring, right?

.
Thanks—I forgot to mention that he also removed all endshake first time around. It seems to lock up much more tightly now.

He may have called it a rebound spring. I thought it odd that there would be a ‘recoil spring’ in a revolver.
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  #37  
Old 06-21-2018, 06:18 AM
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Mike0251 Mike0251 is offline
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I'm glad you fixed your own end shake...what exactly did Smith&Wesson charge you $150 bones for? !
They replaced a missing extractor pin that fell out? (no charge), the cylinder stop which is now a MIM part (I have no issue with MIM), replaced the cylinder hand, and timed and test fired the gun. No shims were added to decrease end shake. If they test fired it 3 times or less they would fail to see the issue which I assume is what happened. I am glad they replaced these parts which I assume they needed to be and also thankful in the end that I had to further diagnose the issue on my own as it benefited my knowledge and skill set.
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Last edited by Mike0251; 06-21-2018 at 06:23 AM.
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