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Old 07-30-2017, 03:00 AM
Electric Head Electric Head is offline
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Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication?  
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Default Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication?

I see a lot of posts about people tinkering inside their revolvers, and am getting the impression some people are in there quite often.

How often do you think a user should be getting inside the gun to clean and re-lubricate?

I previously thought someone without the interest of the internals (someone who just likes to shoot) should never need to get in there.

I would think even smiths or home smiths shouldn't be taking the side-plate off very often, but how often is often?

For a gun shot regularly (two or three times per month, 50+ rounds per outing), I don't believe you'd need to get in there any more than once in three to five years. (This gun would also be externally cleaned and re-lubed every shoot.)

But I don't know, I'm no expert, and I like to learn.

What is your opinion on the matter.

For that matter, what about removal of the cylinder for general cleaning? My belief is that it shouldn't be removed for cleaning for the same reason that a side-plate shouldn't be removed often - wear on the screws and plate fit.


Secondly, and closely related: What is the best internal lubricant, and cleaning & lubrication technique to provide the best long-term internal cleanliness and lubrication? I'm talking types of lubes, amounts, etc.

Last edited by Electric Head; 07-30-2017 at 03:01 AM.
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:25 AM
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For me it depends on what I have subjected the gun to. I usually pull the side plate in the fall and spring. I carry mine 90% of the time in the summer and just about all the time in the winter. Since I do it that often, I just make sure it is clean and lightly oiled with a good gun oil or 3 in 1 type oil. Always use the correct type and size screwdriver and you wont have a problem with screw heads. I remove the cylinder when I do this and clean and lightly oil all the moving parts. My only revolver, a model 37, is 49 years old and I want it to last another 49. I love it and shoot it quite a bit. Hope this helps.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:36 AM
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You'll likely need to remove the cylinder, to clean the residue off the yoke barrel so it spins freely, way more than removing the sideplate, in a year. That's going to depend on what model revolver to have & what loads/powder you shoot & how much you shoot.

I really think the sideplate should be removed initially when you receive the gun for inspection/lube. Factory guns often have little lube & occasionally metal debris still inside. Again, depending on what & how much/often you shoot will dictate when you need to open it back up again, maybe just once a year.

I like to use Rem-Oil spray to flush the innards out with if you're not doing a complete disassembly. I use a light synthetic grease like Super Lube sparingly then.

.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:43 AM
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I could be doing it all wrong, but I never remove the side plate. Did open one once when a new revolver had a problem, just to see if it was obvious, then sent it back to S&W.

About every 500 rounds (three range trips) I put a single drop of Hoppe's Bench Rest 9 Lubricating Oil with Weatherguard in the Hand window and another on the Cylinder Stop.

Using Gunsmithing screwdrivers, I remove the cylinder as part of my after shooting clean and lube.
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Old 07-30-2017, 05:01 AM
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Leave the sideplate the hell alone unless you are completely familiar with how to remove it without causing damage...you are likely to do more harm than good.

If you suspect or can feel grit, dirt etc. in the action: remove the grips and flush the action with Rem Oil or similar...allow to dry and then add a drop or two of your favorite lube down beside the hammer, turn the gun over and do the same thing in the trigger opening. Using your fingers, spread a couple of drops on the exterior of the gun. Stop. Quit. Leave the poor thing alone.

If you are like most of us and admire them more than you use them this regimen should do you for a couple of years at least. My .02...YMMV
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Old 07-30-2017, 06:07 AM
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Unless my guns go for a swim, and they are functioning properly..I let them be.

If it ain't broke..don't fix it.
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Old 07-30-2017, 07:41 AM
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I spoke with Smith and Wesson about this. There answer to me was "never". They dont need to be lubed inside as that can cause more problems eventually. Call them yourself and I am sure they will tell you the same. The way they come is the way they were designed to be inside. It it aint broken dont fix it and if it is broke send it back to Smith and Wesson.

I have some shooters that have seen thousands and thousands of rounds and their side plates have never been off and they are fine.

Last edited by jay72; 07-30-2017 at 09:50 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 07-30-2017, 07:52 AM
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I shot my first revolver in 1968 when I started my LEO career and have purchased many revolvers over the years and NEVER have removed the sideplate. Some of my guns are well over 50 years old and if a sideplate needs removal it goes to a compentent smith. That said I'm all thumbs when it comes to anything mechanical so I know my limitations.
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Old 07-30-2017, 07:58 AM
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Never pulled the one on my 629-1, but did on my 642-1 to install an Apex Duty/Carry kit.

As far as lubrication goes, I had my J-frame redone in NP3 Plus. I shouldn't have to go into the side plate to do anything... unless the revolver gets wet.
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Old 07-30-2017, 08:08 AM
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I pull mine, do the action work, lube the inside and the plate never gets pulled again unless something breaks or an accident like water submersion (which has never happened).
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Old 07-30-2017, 08:21 AM
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A few years ago I bought a Colt Agent that was so dirty inside you could barely force the action to cycle. Being lazy, I flushed it out with parts cleaner, followed by a good blow with compressed air. I then lubed with Mobile1 and cycled the action several times. Works just like brand new. I've been carrying that gun pretty regularly and still haven't gotten around to taking it apart for cleaning. Probably never will. Most of my S&W s get the side plate taken off when new for a little fluff and buff.
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Old 07-30-2017, 08:25 AM
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I don't take side plates off. I occasionally hose the internals down with brake parts cleaner followed by some kind of lubricant. Power Lube is my current favorite.

I wouldn't hesitate to pop it off if I wanted to do it.
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Old 07-30-2017, 08:40 AM
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I like to buy vintage Smiths. I like to run them on the wet side and greased. So far they are all super smooth and no problems at all.

1.) Once home, I disassemble completetly, take side plate off, degrease and deep clean w carb cleaner. Make sure there is no dried out old lube in there and check for rust which is very rarely found but if there is any then usually on or under the trigger return mechanism. Install the Wolf Type 2 kit w 13 lbs trigger return, then hose down w Ballistol, wipe off some excess but leave a good coat. I install trigger shims where there was or could be hammer or trigger rubbing on the side plates. I found the newer the guns, the more such adjustments are needed. A little adjustment of that kind does wonders to the feel of the action.

2.) For 3 screws: Put the side plate back on: To prevent damage: Hammer is down and the saftey bar need to be pushed to the most upright position, line up side plate with top corner slot touching on the safety bar, gently ride up towards the top notch, line up and gently push in. Then let the screws to the rest of pulling side plate into position. Tighten each crew a little at the time but be sure that the hammer bar is in that slot. Don't know if I am able to describe that well.

3.) Cylinder, extractor rod, yoke surfaces and rotating surfaces get a light coat of RIG grease.

4.) After range session, gun is hosed down with ballistic externally and light coat of RIG reapplied on all sliding surfaces.

5.) Every now and then I take the cylinder off, for the weekly shooter maybe once every 2 months, clean w Ballistol, reapply RIG and put back.

6.) Side plate: Never comes off anymore after initial cleaning and setup, however about after every other month I spray the action through the hammer windows and yoke opening with Ballistol until completetly soaked. I use compressed air to push excess oil out. Then I place the gun upright on a towel for 1/2 day with the butt as the lowest point, then for another day with the hammer at the lowest point. All excess lube drains out, the gun is squeaky clean ready to go.

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Old 07-30-2017, 09:43 AM
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My opinion is that if you are unfamiliar with S&W Revolvers, not handy, don't have a lot of mechanical skills and don't have the proper tools it is far better to NOT pull off the side plate as you are certainly more likely to screw something up or ruin your Revolver.

That said, I am very familiar with them and have been smithin' them for 40 years and so doing so for me (and others here on the Forum) is second nature. As far as how often I do so depends on how much they get shot. I add or lessen the interval depending on that. If I had to guess how often I disassemble / lube / reassemble the average Revolver I'd say somewheres around every 3 - 4 years but my EDC guns and competition guns = more often.

As far as dumping or squirting oils, and chemicals through openings in the Revolver's Frame, it shouldn't (IMO) be done for the most part and quite sparingly and ONLY with products such as Rig#2, Remoil and similar which are as thin as water and evaporate their carrier quickly IF IT IS. If this is done with thicker oils all you will do is gunk up the inside, attract dust and unburnt powder residue, and do more harm than good. REMEMBER, with little air circulating inside the gun, what you put inside will likely stay inside and so you do NOT want anything there that can get caustic, congeal or turn into an abrasive.

IMHO different lubricants should be used for different situations. Just like a car or truck uses many different lubricants for different applications. No one lube is a do-all for every situation an application. But getting back to Side Plate removal - working on a Smith (or any gun for that matter) requires skills, knowledge and ability and is not for everyone.

Smith & Wesson will NOT tell you in their manual to disassemble your Revolver down to bare bones because they do NOT want the liability. I have personally bought a lot of new Smiths (back in the day) and have seen them leave the Factory in various conditions - bone dry, lubricated properly, dirty and rusted inside. They are far better off telling "Joe Public" never to take it apart and that it does not need lubrication - and in a general sense they are probably better off telling the public that instead of everyone trying to pull their products apart. Smith and Wesson Revolvers are pretty durable and will usually withstand a lot without being lubricated or cleaned inside - but I don't agree that a Revolver (or most mechanical devises with moving parts) is "lubricated for life". It is STILL a mechanical machine and there are plenty of movable and wearable parts inside. If one does NOT want to take the plunge and learn how to do this properly - seek out a good, reliable and honest Gunsmith who can easily do it for you. It's not a time consuming job and should not cost all that much.

Again, indiscriminately pouring lubricants, brake cleaners, etc. inside a Revolver through its openings is in my opinion not the way to go. If you absolutely positively can not keep yourself from doing it; at least use a safe, thin and evaporating product like I mentioned above - and sparingly is the word! Caution - never leave chemicals of any kind inside Chamber Charge Holes to contaminate Primers.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:23 AM
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Chief38 and others covered most of it. Sideplate removal is not for everyone, and if you are not mechanically inclined and willing to learn, you should leave it to a good gunsmith. For reasons stated above, every new gun should be properly cleaned by a fully competent gunsmith. Every used gun, moreso.

I did once detail disassemble a used Detective Special that didn't need it. That gun looked like it had been cleaned by a gunsmith before giving it to his son who was a cop. Because it had. All other guns I cleaned needed it.

How often a gun needs cleaning depends on use. A properly lubed revolver that has sat for decades unused doesn't need cleaning. A moderately used revolver may need internal cleaning every few years or so, if that. A gun carried in the pocket, even inside a holster, may need internal cleaning yearly, as will a gun used to shoot thousands of rounds.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:29 AM
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I now have and had in the past a bunch of S&W Revs. For normal maintenance I never touch the side plate.(If all is working well)

If it needs doctoring or parts stoned, changed I go in. Been inside many of them over the last 44 years to change & bend springs, replace hammers and triggers. Started long before the spring kits came out!
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:38 AM
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Default No gum up

Make sure whatever lube you use doesn't not gum up.

Found this Full Synthetic in the Garage years ago, and
the Gun Cleaning Company's aren't making money off
me.

Also use with Eye Patch Makeup Removers for cleaning
exterior of my Revolvers/Rifles. Protects forever.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:52 AM
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S&W revolvers were never designed for owner maintenance beneath the side plate. That being said, many will venture inside and some have the knowledge and skill to perform basic cleaning and lubrication that is usually not necessary.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:52 AM
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From what I've seen, 90% of the damage to a revolver is done during cleaning, not use.
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Old 07-30-2017, 12:00 PM
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The more you "tinker" on your gun and open it up, the more wear it will receive. Even if you're careful with the screws, they will start to show wear if you work them enough times, but that's about all the wear you will get opening a gun up constantly. Other than that, and barring any "accidents", you will put more wear on your gun from improper cleaning methods.

I work on and tune all of my own revolvers, so sometimes I am inside quite often. However, after the tuning process there is little reason to go inside except for thorough cleaning.

I then only open a revolver up to clean and re-lube the inside after extensive shooting. Debris and soot does get inside the action, but it isn't enough to warrant sideplate removal until you shoot a lot of rounds.

I think the best internal lube for revolvers, especially tuned revolvers, is Slip2000's EWL30, which is lube in 30 weight consistency. I apply it with an old watercolor paint brush. It stays where you put it and doesn't dry up. Don't need to constantly re-lube either. I also put a thin coat of it in the frame's cylinder window and ratchet. The outside of the guns get a coat of RenWax then it's buffed off leaving the micro-crystalline layer for protection.

Gun care is purely personal from person to person, but I can't recommend Slip2000 EWL30 enough.

Last edited by iPac; 07-30-2017 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 07-30-2017, 11:34 PM
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That all seems pretty reasonable and I agree with most of it. I'm not a fan of hosing out with cleaner and lube but for a workhorse that sees a lot of use and dirt and water it might be the best way. For most underused guns I'd agree with never getting in there.
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Old 07-31-2017, 03:31 AM
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I shoot mine a lot and clean them about once a month. That's about 2K rounds. I pull the side plate off and lightly grease with Slide Glide from Brian Enos. Just a drop under the hammer the trigger and the rebound slide. I can really feel the difference in my highly tuned revolvers.

My Model 10 is kept clean with a little rem-oil sprayed inside and I've never taken the side plate off. It has a very smooth action direct from the factory. Nothing beats the quality of an old Smith & Wesson
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Old 07-31-2017, 06:29 AM
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When I buy a used revolver I always remove the side plate and hose down the insides with brake cleaner and blow with compressed air then very lightly lube and that's it. Never take it off again. And I have seen some nasty stuff in there.
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Old 07-31-2017, 09:00 AM
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Recently bought a new 686 and the hammer and trigger both had rust on them! I was planning on smoothing up the insides so it didn't bother me. But that falls into the category of so much for Smith & Wesson's advice. Ir you are going to shoot the gun regularly it doesn't hurt to learn to open it up and clean it properly. Get the right tools and learn to open it up without doing damage. If you are just going to shoot it infrequently then you probably can get away with leaving it alone.
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:44 AM
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I will open the sideplate on a newly purchased revolver, especially if I bought it used, for an initial inspection. I used to do an annual inspection of the internals, but after a while I realized it just wasn't necessary unless I could tell something was wrong.

It's not hard to lube the action without opening the sideplate. If you have an exposed hammer, just apply a drop of oil on either side of the hammer where it enters the frame. Turn the gun upside down and put a drop of oil on either side of the trigger where it enters the frame. Cycle the action a few times and wipe off any excess lube.

I don't remove the cylinder for routine cleaning. I did it once after a couple of years and from what I saw I could probably have gone another two years without removing it for cleaning.
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Old 07-31-2017, 03:57 PM
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Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication?  
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With a new gun, I won't open the side plate until I have run at least 1,000 rounds through it. The reason for this is that I will generally want to have different springs in the gun if I am going to keep it. IF, in the first thousand rounds I find an issue that will require the gun to go back for S&W service, I won't have to take it apart and put the factory springs back into it prior to sending it off.

If it isn't going to need any warranty work, I will then open it up and install whatever springs I have chosen for that particular gun and its intended use and lubricate it appropriately (and do any stoning that may be revealed by the wear marks from the first thousand rounds).
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Old 07-31-2017, 06:18 PM
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prairieviper prairieviper is offline
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Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication?  
Join Date: Oct 2005
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I never remove the side plate unless a part needs to be replaced. A drop of oil on the hammer and trigger has worked for me on all of the revolvers I have owned, many of which have seen some pretty heavy use.
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Old 07-31-2017, 06:53 PM
nachogrande nachogrande is offline
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Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication? Revolver Sideplates / Internals - How Often, and best lubrication?  
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Moderately skilled & have gunsmithing screwdrivers, sideplates: when new & before selling depending on usage & environment. Removing the cylinder, not much of a biggie & I do it app every 4th cleaning. If it feels gritty, more often.
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