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Old 01-15-2011, 10:42 PM
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Default Polishing S&W revolver trigger surfaces

Has anyone tried the method of improving a Smith revolver trigger as shown on Utube by Larry Potterfield of MidwayUSA? It involves honing (polishing) sear and trigger surfaces with a fine India stone and I'm a little concerned that since these are case hardened parts that honing might cut away the hardened surface.
Also, anyone have experience with the spring replacement kits sold by midway for K,L,N frame Smiths? I've got a Mod 18 with the heaviest, worst, single and double action pull of any Smith revolver I've ever fired and I've got to do something to fix it. Thanks for your help.
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Old 01-15-2011, 11:22 PM
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I have not seen the Midway gunsmithing video in which Larry Potterfield demonstrates polishing the trigger and hammer. The key word is polishing and also using a fine India stone. The case hardening has sufficient depth that polishing should not remove it. The point to remember is that you are only polishing the surfaces, removing some of the high spots of the tool marks. When finished it is alright to still see someevidence of toolmarks in the low spots. I use Wolff Power Rib reduced pull mainsprings, but like to keep the factory power rebound spring and not going for a reduced power spring here. This is just a personal preference because I like a very positive feeling to the trigger reset. Get the Jerry Michilak VHS if you are serious about improving your M/18's trigger pull. Jerry walks you through the entire process, giving you great advice your trigger will feel great if you follow his instructions.
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Old 01-16-2011, 01:06 AM
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I have a 617 that I've done a bit of tuning on and it can help with the DA and SA trigger pulls.

For the single action pull, you can stone the SA sear angle on the trigger to get a lighter weight. However, I do not advise doing this, especially for a first time endevor. One issue with stoning the angle on the sear is that you are basically shaping it so that it assists in letoff, which in my opinion will increase the wear to the sear notch on the hammer. Over time that will lead to pushoff and require replacing the hammer. A much easier and reversable option is to install a lighter rebound spring. Installing a 14 lbs. rebound spring will lighten the SA trigger pull to about 3 lbs. A 12 lbs. rebound spring will take it down to about 2 lbs., however that light a rebound spring will require a full action tuning or "lazy" trigger return will result and may cause the lockwork to lock up until the trigger is manually pushed fully forward. Personally, I recomend the 14 lbs. spring, it's been fully reliable for return in my guns and I feel a 3 lbs. SA trigger is near perfect.

You can also do a bit of work with the DA trigger pull and feel. However, in a 22 rimfire there is a real limit to how light you can go with the DA trigger pull or misfires will result. On my 617, the DA triggers measures at 9 lbs. 2 ounces and it has proven perfectly reliable with Federal bulk and Winchester Xpert HV. As for how I tuned the trigger to this weight, it's pretty simple, I made a 0.010 shim that fits under the head of the strain screw for the mainspring. Bascially, I just reduced the length of the strain screw in a manner that I could reverse.

Now for some tips.

One is to save your fired casings, you can use them to dry fire the gun if you place an undimpled area under the firing pin.

Two is that you'll want to purchase a trigger pull gage, it will save lots of trips to the range to check for reliable ignition and it will also save you from having the purchase a new strain screw if you cut yours too short. I happen to use a Lyman digital, at only 60 dollars it's a real time saver on getting an accurate read on the weight and worth the extra money. If your budget is really limited you can use a cheaper spring scale, however getting a reliable read with these can be a real challenge.

You'll also need a special tool to install the rebound spring in the rebound slide. I would also suggest a Gunsmiths screwdriver set, it'll greatly reduce the chance of buggering up the screws for the sideplate. Along with that, you'll want a 6 inch Arkansas stone and some honing oil. These are available at Brownell's, Numrich's, and other gun smithing suppliers.

As for parts, all you really need is a 14 lbs. rebound spring, however Brownells sells a multiple spring kit of various weights you can experiment with and the kit that has one in each weight is inexpensive.

Finally, you'll want to purchase the Smith & Wesson Manual by Jerry Kuhnhausen. This manual not only details how to fit and repair a broken gun, it also fully details the steps for an action tuning. If you follow those steps to the letter you'll find you get an excellent result.

As for a new mainspring, IMO it's not needed, reducing the mainspring tension with the strain screw achieves the same effect at zero additional cost. However, I would suggest purchasing a spare strain screw just in case you overdo it when shortening the strain screw in your gun. I would also suggest an inexpensive digital caliper so you can measure your strain screw for length as you shorten it. As for the shim I made up, that required shim stock, a 0.147 diameter drill, and a diamond burr on a Dremel to shape it to a 0.218 inch diameter after drilling the center hole.

Another note, shoot the gun for at least 500 to 1000 rounds before you do any work on it. This will not only help to pre-condition any sear surfaces it will also allow any rub marks to show on the hammer or trigger. If you find either the hammer or trigger is showing evidence of a hard rub on the frame you can purchase fitting shims for either the hammer or trigger.

Now my final note. Shipping costs add up when you place an order from mutiple sources. I've found that it's most economical to single source anything needed and order everything at the same time. Another reason for doing some shooting before going into the lockwork, paying 15 dollars in shipping for a few dollars worth of parts just isn't economical. Bascially, make sure you know every single item you'll need before placing an order.

As for cost, if you total up everything I've listed it'll probably add up to at least 200 bucks. That's a lot more that a full action tuning by a gunsmith but if you're into shooting wheelguns it will pay for itself in the long run.
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Old 01-16-2011, 05:16 PM
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Thank you both for the replies. There's a lot of info for me to digest and plenty of additional resources.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:52 AM
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I started doing action jobs on S&W and Colt SAA revolvers about 30 years ago, and the first one I did turned out to be a disaster, and I wound up replacing both the hammer & trigger. Back in those days, parts were EASY to get and fairly inexpensive. I have pretty much gotten things down to a science now and have had no ill effects for quite some time now, but IMHO stoning the hammer & trigger is just NOT necessary! All that is usually required to drastically smooth out and lighten up a Smith is the following, and I would suggest doing this ONLY on a dedicated TARGET gun, (NOT on a personal defense gun).

* change factory rebound spring to a lighter Wolf spring (do not cut original)

* Get another main spring tension screw so you can remove a slight amount of metal from it, lightening the main spring tension - fully tighten modified screw

* remove any burrs if they exist on internals ONLY if they are interfering with the action movements. DO NOT REMOVE ANYMORE THAN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY

* Thoroughly clean and lightly lubricate the internal parts with REMOIL. Remoil is very thin, will not gunk up the works, leaves a Teflon coating on the metal, and is an excellent lubricant and rust preventative.

* Shoot the **** out of the gun! Anything that you missed will smooth out in short order after firing a fair amount of rounds.

* For the most part, stoning and modifying metal parts inside a revolver is counter productive unless you are a world class competitive shooter and have easy access to all kinds of parts, and have a REAL gun smithing background.

That's my .02 cents.........

regards,
chief38
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Old 01-18-2011, 02:25 PM
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Has anybody polished the rebound slide?
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Old 01-18-2011, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kimber 22 View Post
Has anybody polished the rebound slide?
Don't polish it. Just smooth the bottom and sides on a flat medium/fine stone. Only take off the high spots, you're not trying to make it perfect. This is definitely something you want to do.
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:36 AM
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my suggestion is to purchase off of an auction site second hand parts that you can practice on...once you feel comfortable, then you may begin your project...typical cost for these parts are $10-15 off of gunbroker...
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomcatt51 View Post
Don't polish it. Just smooth the bottom and sides on a flat medium/fine stone. Only take off the high spots, you're not trying to make it perfect. This is definitely something you want to do.
Smoothing as you described is what I am doing. I read that the sides should be "polished" until they were mirror bright. That would take an incredible amount of time, and grits a lot finer than a fine India stone. Having partially completed the process, I find it hard to believe that this task is included with most trigger jobs...


Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot500 View Post
my suggestion is to purchase off of an auction site second hand parts that you can practice on...once you feel comfortable, then you may begin your project...typical cost for these parts are $10-15 off of gunbroker...
Good advice, though I didn't have the patience this time around!

Thanks tomcatt & bigshot!
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kimber 22 View Post
Smoothing as you described is what I am doing. I read that the sides should be "polished" until they were mirror bright. That would take an incredible amount of time, and grits a lot finer than a fine India stone. Having partially completed the process, I find it hard to believe that this task is included with most trigger jobs...
You're right, ""polished" until they were mirror bright" is totally pointless and probably counter-productive. I've seen guys do it by using a buffing wheel. Not a good idea. Just take off the high spots with a stone.
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Old 01-20-2011, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomcatt51 View Post
You're right, ""polished" until they were mirror bright" is totally pointless and probably counter-productive. I've seen guys do it by using a buffing wheel. Not a good idea. Just take off the high spots with a stone.
Thanks again tomcatt. I finished polishing all of the internals and degreased everything last night. Tonight I'll "Action Magic II" the moving surfaces. All that's left after that is to smooth the crane.

Yes, I probably should have done one part at a time, but that's why I like Brownell's...
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:28 PM
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I think you will save yourself money and headaches if you buy the Jerry Miculek DVD on how to do a trigger job.

It is a very informative and helps you identify what needs attention.

Jerry Miculek DVD
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Old 01-20-2011, 08:01 PM
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+1 min the Jerry Miculek Video on Trigger Job. And watch it more than once before you open up that side plate. Just a thorough cleaning can improve a lot. Scrubbing out the interior then selectively removing imperfections from a couple of parts will help. A reduced (13 - 14 lb) rebound spring can do wonders. I do not advocate replacing the mainspring, especially on a .22 RF. In Jerry's words, "just pass the stone over the part". Do not put any pressure on the part when stoning. Stay away from the single action sear it's pricey to replace parts.
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:43 PM
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For those who care: I finally completed the action job on my 617 and got out to test fire it. Success! It's fun to shoot double action!! While I was at it, I also "squared" off the barrel at the chamber end, and re-cut the forcing cone. Comparing before/after accuracy is difficult, though it was a lot easier to clean.

I found the combination of Sweeney and Kunhausen superb reference material, though it required a bit of common sense as well. After the fact, I picked up the Miculek DVD, and agree with jepp2 and H Richard that it is awesome. Kunhausen is clearly the most akin to a "technical" manual. Sweeney is a great, entertaining writer, and his book provides a great way to understand how to effectively communicate with a real gunsmith. Miculek is easy to follow, logical, and the way to go if you are a better visual learner.

If nothing else, any of the above resources will give you a greater appreciation for what goes into making a revolver.

Thanks to all for your input above!
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