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Old 05-18-2018, 11:26 PM
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Default Shortening an extractor rod

Just out of curiosity. If one has an extractor rod which seems a slight bit too long, what's the procedure used to shorten it?
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:33 PM
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I'll be the first to ask.

Which style ejector rod, and how much does it need to be shortened?

The answer will no doubt vary according to the answers to those two questions.
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Old 05-19-2018, 02:58 AM
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Just out of curiosity. If one has an extractor rod which seems a slight bit too long, what's the procedure used to shorten it?

Preferable: Chuck it in your lathe and face the front end. I assume you ask because the cylinder is hard to open?

Second: Chuck it in your drill press. Either lay a fine cut file on the table and bring the quill down until the end of the extractor rod contacts the file lightly several times.

Or, drill press, 150-180 grit polishing cloth on the table and same as with the file. Bring the quill down with fairly firm pressure, lift and move paper slightly, repeat. The grit will be very quickly crushed and not cut, hence the reason for moving it around.

Usually it only takes .002-.005" to shorten the extractor rod enough. It only needs to be enough shorter than the center-pin that the locking bolt doesn't snag on the rim of the extractor rod. It doesn't take much to remove this by any of these methods.

If you are a competent workman you can use a fine single-cut flat file too. Make one light pass, turn 1/3 turn and make another pass. Continue until the center-pin extends past the extractor rod when pushed flush with the extractor center bearing. You want the extractor rod as square as possible, but being slightly off will not cause any problem.

It's funny how often someone posts "I replaced my extractor rod and now the cylinder is hard to open, what's wrong?" The extractor rod is not a drop-in part, it has to be fit, and this is how you do it.

Since this is the S&W Forum let's assume he means a Smith. There are only two types of extractor rods, the older style that has the locking bolt at the front end and the new style that is solid like the X-Frames. The X-frames don't have to be fitted. Does this answer your question BC38?
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Old 05-19-2018, 07:04 AM
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It's actually very simple....in the models that use collars in the assembly, if you do not have a drill press, the required amount of material can be removed from the extractor rod collar. Material should be removed from the end of the collar that faces the extractor. (OAL should not go below .150")
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Old 05-19-2018, 08:16 AM
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In the models that use them in the assembly, if you do not have a drill press, the required amount of material can be removed from the extractor rod collar. Material should be removed from the end of the collar that faces the extractor.
I had never though about that, but it should work by letting the rod turn into the star assemble a little bit farther. Plus leave the finish on the end of the rod.

I shortened a K frame rod assemble from a 4" gun and used it with a 2 1/2" barrel on my total beater 357 when I installed the snub barrel. Just cut it to length and then knurled tip. Adjusted the length of the center pin. My total beater 357? A mdl 10-2 I bought cheap years ago, with a cracked forcing cone. Installed a Parker Hale barrel on it, milled it for adjustable sights and round butted it. Then after a K frame 38/357 discussion, found a recessed model 19 cylinder and installed it. Shot the snot out of it. Then along came the snub barrel and on it went. Transition from the rounded 10-2 frame was ugly so back in thee mill it went. Its a real trophy that I learned a lot on. LOL. But, it works and is my no worries gun for the boat, tackle box, loaner what ever.

If you have the right knurling setup you can fix rod where Bubba used his pliers. I have done several and with a bit of cold blue they look fine.

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Old 05-19-2018, 03:07 PM
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It's actually very simple....in the models that use collars in the assembly, if you do not have a drill press, the required amount of material can be removed from the extractor rod collar. Material should be removed from the end of the collar that faces the extractor. (OAL should not go below .150")

True, but it is far easier to shorten the extractor rod and to keep it square! That is why the extractor rods come slightly oversize. Besides, being slightly off-square harms nothing at the end of the extractor rod, but any amount off-square on the extractor collar results in a crooked extractor rod when it is tightened.
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Old 05-19-2018, 04:24 PM
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I am referring to an early 60s rod with knurled end and LH thread. The cylinder opens and closes with slight difficulty (more than I like), and a few thousandths removed should do the job. Having not performed a rod fitting, I was not sure whether the best point of attack would be the at the front (knurled) end or the rear (extractor) end. I have a lathe, so I could go from either end equally easily. So I gather that working on the front end is best?
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Old 05-19-2018, 06:30 PM
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True, but it is far easier to shorten the extractor rod and to keep it square! That is why the extractor rods come slightly oversize. Besides, being slightly off-square harms nothing at the end of the extractor rod, but any amount off-square on the extractor collar results in a crooked extractor rod when it is tightened.

Unfortunately, as a police armorer, I've never had the money to own one, or the luxury of having access to either a lathe or a drill press in the field or at work. I was taught at the S&W Armorer's School to look for simple solutions to problems.

What could be simpler than removing the excess material from the collar, to shorten the assembly an amount described as a "few thousandths", by bringing the collar into contact with a quality Norton India stone or a Swiss pattern file?
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Old 05-20-2018, 03:28 AM
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I use a Hard Arkansas Stone when removing material. I like the fact that they cut slowly and metal is removed just a tiny bit at a time. Keeps the part from becoming too small too fast. They also leave a super fine finish and no polishing is needed when correct size is reached.

Arkansas Stones do take more work and a longer time but to me the super fine finish is worth it and I never go too far - too fast. Works for me. I can't remember the last time I used a File on a firearm for the final fitting of a part.

As far as a Drill Press is concerned, I find it is an indispensable tool for me. While I have not found my dream Lathe yet (still looking) I could never imagine not having a quality Drill Press. For any sort of accurate drilling and Reaming, the Harbor Freight, Craftsman, Home Depot etc. models are not really adequate, IMO. They have way too much run-out, cheap junky Chinese Chucks and have controls that are too corse and crude for fine work. Unfortunately, good Drill Presses are few and far between now days and pricey when you can find one - but again - well worth the money if you can!

Quality replacement Chucks (American made vintage Jacobs Chucks) are still available on the internet if you want one. Way way better than the ones a new Drill Press will probably come with!
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Old 05-20-2018, 09:11 AM
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Keeping things square isn't that hard. A good flat smooth surface to put your sandpaper on is important as is a flat stone. I have gone to diamond stones without the little cut outs. On something like a collar you would want to vary the rub pattern and rotate the piece regularly as you worked keeping even pressure. Could even check with good calibers regularly. A little Prussian blue, assemble on yoke press cylinder on yoke and a turn or 2 would show if you were high somewhere. Often times the end of the yoke isn't square and Prussian blue will make this show up to.

If you really want to do something small short and round perfectly square and smooth make a jig using a piece of steel that it will fit in snug and then tap for a fine set screw in other end. The set screw controls the depth and the face of jig holds you dead flat. Trick I learned from a guy who makes folding knives with pivot bushings. He can make the bushing a bushing .001 wider than the blade and back spring and install them and have 0 drag on either during operation.

Real precision isn't done with machines, its done by hand with or without jigs. I have thought of making jig to square and polish the ends of yoke tubes.

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Old 05-25-2018, 09:02 PM
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The pre war factory method is shortening from the front end, and why the tip is in the white if the blue finish is original.

Lengthening a rod is just as easy especially if you can't find the correct vintage style, for pre war guns with separate collar.
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Old 06-20-2018, 12:31 PM
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I bought a 29-2 last Saturday that was stubborn to open.

I had a new replacement cylinder rod and a new extractor in my parts inventory, so I simply took the cylinder rod from one of my other 29s that opened just fine and saw the new one was 1/16” or so longer.

No kidding, I pulled out my Leatherman tool and used the diamond file and literally some spit to lubricate it as I didn’t feel like going upstairs to the kitchen and getting some water. My gun stuff and reloading bench is in the basement. Now THAT’s being lazy, I know.

All I had to do was lay the file on my bench, lubricate it with a few drops and, holding the new rod in one hand and the Leatherman against the bench with the other, proceed to file down the extra length. I rotated the rod a 1/3 turn every 20 strokes across the file or so to keep it even.

Four or five minutes later, after cleaning the debris off with a paper towel and “relubricating,” it was short enough to be below the end of the extractor rod. However, it was just a smidge too short now, just a hair.

So I did the same thing with the tapered end near the knurling of the new extractor rod, shortened it just a touch. Held it vertical to the file, turned it a third turn every 10 strokes or so and in less than a minute it was good to go. It probably took 40 strokes, if that. I used very light pressure.

Worked like a charm.

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Old 06-20-2018, 12:34 PM
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The pre war factory method is shortening from the front end, and why the tip is in the white if the blue finish is original.

Lengthening a rod is just as easy especially if you can't find the correct vintage style, for pre war guns with separate collar.
I have two cylinder rods that are slightly short to properly function. What is an easy way to lengthen them by 1/16” or so?
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Old 06-20-2018, 02:22 PM
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I have two cylinder rods that are slightly short to properly function. What is an easy way to lengthen them by 1/16” or so?
I am quite interested in the answer to this question.
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Old 06-20-2018, 05:02 PM
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Jmclfrsh....."I have two cylinder rods that are slightly short to properly function. What is an easy way to lengthen them by 1/16” or so?"


Substituting a longer extractor rod collar would be an easy solution. Most extractor collars are .175" - .177" in length. S&W used to make a longer collar that was .190", but I believe it has been discontinued.

Making the existing collar longer could be accomplished by making a shim for the assy out of a new/used collar. Cut the desired length from another collar, true the ends of the "shim" and install between the existing collar and the extractor. Note that failure to properly square the ends of the shim will result in runout on the extractor rod.

Of course, the easiest solution would be to purchase a new, unfit extractor rod that is the correct length.
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Old 06-24-2018, 11:36 PM
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Jmclfrsh....."I have two cylinder rods that are slightly short to properly function. What is an easy way to lengthen them by 1/16” or so?"


Substituting a longer extractor rod collar would be an easy solution. Most extractor collars are .175" - .177" in length. S&W used to make a longer collar that was .190", but I believe it has been discontinued.

Making the existing collar longer could be accomplished by making a shim for the assy out of a new/used collar. Cut the desired length from another collar, true the ends of the "shim" and install between the existing collar and the extractor. Note that failure to properly square the ends of the shim will result in runout on the extractor rod.

Of course, the easiest solution would be to purchase a new, unfit extractor rod that is the correct length.
I agree, they are relatively inexpensive and it’s not a big deal to just shorten a new one.
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Old 06-26-2018, 10:24 AM
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Dwalt, to answer your question, Yes, working from the front end is preferred......
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