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Old 11-23-2008, 01:13 AM
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I bought a nice Colt Detective Special (3rd issue; made in 1973). The gun has timing problem. Can someone please tell me how can I fix timing on this gun.

Thanks!

Mike
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Old 11-23-2008, 01:13 AM
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I bought a nice Colt Detective Special (3rd issue; made in 1973). The gun has timing problem. Can someone please tell me how can I fix timing on this gun.

Thanks!

Mike
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Old 11-23-2008, 09:12 AM
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You will need a new "paw", as COLT calls their part where S&W calls it a "hand". it needs to be longer, so measure it and order the next size up..COLT hands are made longer to fix timing and S&W hands are made wider..so there should not be too much fitting needed on the COLT..
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Old 11-23-2008, 09:25 AM
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Thank you, all5x. Where do I order the paw from? - I checked Brownells and Midway and they don't list parts for Colt DS.

Mike
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Old 11-23-2008, 09:55 AM
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Try Gun Parts Corporation in NYC, NY, and Jack First Gun Shop in rapid CIty, South Dakota.

GPC has an online ordering site with exploded view diagrams, and Jack First only takes telephone orders.
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Old 11-23-2008, 10:21 AM
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Mike,

The correct term is "pawl". I would suggest getting a copy of Kuhnhausen's "The Colt Double Action Revolvers, Vol. 1" from Brownell's. Colt internals are very different from S&W's, with many parts having multiple functions. I wouldn't tear into a Colt without it, especially if your experiance level is not high.

Buck
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Old 11-23-2008, 10:44 AM
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Thanks guys, I am okay with revolversmithing. Have experience with S&W's and Ruger's. But this is my first Colt...

Removed the crane and sideplate. The lockwork is quite different from S&W but it's pretty clear how it works. The pawl/hand is worn - rounded on the outside. It does not carry up enough before the trigger breaks in DA. SA is fine. Getting a longer pawl (or a longer hammer strut if it is available) should solve it.

Checked Numrich website - thanks, John T. They have a copy of original pawl but there is no mention of oversize pawls. Will try calling Jack First tomorrow. Does Colt still sell parts for DS?

Mike
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Old 11-23-2008, 01:02 PM
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A common gunsmithing fix on old-style Colt DA pawls is to peen it on the sides to stretch it a few thousandths. The Colt DA relies on the length of the pawl to carry up the chamber to locked position, unlike the S&W which uses the thicknes of the hand to carry up to locked position.

The pawl should be readily available, since the DS is the same size frame as the Police Positive Special, which was made in near 1,000,000 quantities.
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Old 11-23-2008, 06:48 PM
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First, Colt calls the part a "Hand" not a pawl.

Second, new hands are near impossible to find, but it's possible that Jack First is making new ones as replacements
http://www.jackfirstgun.com/

The hand is not something you want to play around with unless you really know how it works, because the old Colt action works NOTHING like a S&W or Ruger.

The "correct" procedure for the Colt is to attempt to stretch the hand IF POSSIBLE, rather than replace it, because there's a LOT of fitting involved in fitting a new Colt hand.

To stretch, FIRST make sure it's hasn't been stretched before. These parts are a ONE TIME stretch part. Try it again and they usually crack or break.

To stretch, use a 1/2" wide chisel that's had the edges slightly rounded off and well polished.
Put the hand on a bench anvil and put the punch on the inside of the hand in the RECESSED area near the bottom.
Tap with a light hammer to slightly stretch the hand.
Lightly polish to remove and ridges left by stretching.

Here's how to correctly check the old Colt action for timing:

BOLT RETRACTION AND "SNAP BACK".
Open the cylinder and look at the small "lug" in the bottom of the cylinder window. This is the cylinder locking bolt.
Cock the hammer, and watch as the bolt retracts into the frame and pops back out.
The bolt MUST begin to retract THE INSTANT the hammer begins to move.
There MUST be NO (ZERO) hammer movement possible before the bolt starts to retract.
The bolt should retract smoothly with no hesitation until it's fully retracted, then it MUST pop back out with a clean "snap".
There should be no hesitation, and no amount of "creeping" back out.

CYLINDER UNLOCKING.
Close the cylinder.
Use your left thumb or fore finger to again cock the hammer, closely watching the cylinder bolt as you SLOWLY cock the hammer.
As the hammer comes back, the bolt will retract away from the cylinder.
The bolt MUST retract far enough to unlock the cylinder BEFORE the cylinder begins to rotate.
If the bolt is still slightly engaged with the cylinder lock notch, the cylinder will be attempting to turn while still partially locked.
This produces a "catch" or "hard spot" in the trigger pull and will damage both the bolt and the cylinder lock notches.
This often appears as metal "pulled out" of the lock notches, with rounded off and burred notches.

BOLT DROP TIMING.
Continue to cock the hammer, LIGHTLY laying your right index finger on the cylinder just enough to prevent "free wheeling".
Watch for the bolt to drop back onto the cylinder. WHERE the bolt drops is CRITICAL.
The bolt MUST drop onto the leade or ramp in front of the actual cylinder notch.
If the bolt drops too soon, (in front of the notch ramp), it will mar the finish of the cylinder.
The bolt SHOULD drop into “about” the MIDDLE of the ramp.
If the bolt drops late, (farther toward the actual locking notch) the revolver may display "cylinder throw-by".
In this condition, during double action shooting the cylinder may rotate PAST the locking notch, and fire in an unlocked condition.
It's the nature of the Colt action, that a hesitant or jerky trigger pull by the user can induce throw-by in even a properly tuned Colt.
The Colt trigger should be pulled with a smooth, even pull, with no sudden jerks at the beginning.

CYLINDER LOCKUP.
Continue to pull the hammer back and both watch and listen for the bolt to drop into the cylinder lock notch.
The bolt MUST drop into the actual lock notch BEFORE the hammer reaches full cock.
The most common Colt mis-time situation is the hammer cocks before the bolt drops into the lock notch. (Hammer is cocked, but cylinder isn't locked).
In this condition, with the hammer fully cocked, you can push the cylinder slightly, and you will hear the "CLICK" as the bolt drops into lock.
In my experience, most Colt's leave the factory with the bolt dropping a little late into the leade, but usually wear in to correct timing.
If the bolt drops onto the cylinder early, no real problem, but there will be extra finish wear.
If the bolt drops late (closer to the lock notch) the cylinder may "throw by" or rotate TOO far in double action and this can cause off-center primer hits and firing while unlocked.

Each of these checks should be done on EACH chamber. All of these checks are better done individually. In other words, do the bolt retraction check on all six chambers, then do the bolt drop test, and so on.

A properly tuned Colt will:
Have a smoothly functioning bolt with no sticky or hesitant movement.

Unlock before the cylinder begins to turn.

The bolt will drop onto the middle of the ramp.

The bolt will drop into the lock notch before the hammer reaches full cock.

Have a smooth trigger pull, which does "stack" or get heavier as the trigger is pulled.
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Old 11-23-2008, 07:05 PM
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The outside edge of the hand only contact the ratchet on it's initial push, then the second step takes over. Only the inner edge of the hands lower step contact the ratchet teeth to move the cylinder into FINAL position.
>
The upper part initially pushes the cylinder partially around so the second step can engage it. It's the lower engagement tooth of the hand that gets the brunt of the wear and is usually worn too short (or burred over) to move the cylinder the needed few .000" into postion.
>
A longer hand or stretching the hand will sometimes work but be aware that the hammer/trigger movement is more on SA than it is on DA.
So a gun that times on SA with it's longer hand movement, may not time on DA. Get it to time on DA and it may jam up on SA because the cylinder is locked into position by the bolt with the hand still pushing against the ratchet and your thumb providing the power trying to cock it. It's a very touchy mechanism to time correctly. I'd recommend Kuhnhausen's book as haggis did if you've never worked on a Colt DA before. Even if you have, it's full of good info and tips, good to have around if you work on revolvers. And don't try to lengthen the DA strut, it will cause other problems.
>
I've had better luck stretching the hand by crimping them aginst a small section of triangle shaped file slightly blunted in my mill vise. I put the hand against the stationary vise jaw with the pin inward, place the file piece against the hand about midway accross it and then a piece of scrap steel to protect the moveable vise jaw and close it up. If everything's in allaigment, a firm tightning of the vise will press the hard somewhat blunt triangle shaped file into the hand and do what a peening job does but a bit neater and more controlled.
One crimp will get about .004" in additional lengthening. It doesn't bent them at all lengthwise like a peening job often does and all that is necessary afterwards is to lightly stone the slight burr off the ends of the crimp.
>
Colt DA parts are not cheap,,hands can run $25/30 and up if you can find them and most of them come from 'parts' guns that didn't work well to begin with.
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Old 11-23-2008, 07:57 PM
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Thanks very much for detailed write-ups, guys! I get good schooling here for sure.

dfariswheel, Checked the gun as you suggested. Everything checks out except for cylinder lock-up in DA – it’s too late. In a normal pull, I can see that cylinder is still completing its turn AFTER the hammer fell down all the way; not good. Worse yet I can see marring from bullets hitting left hand side of the forcing cone…

2152hq, I see your point about wear on the outside of the upper tooth of the hand. It’s probably caused by closing cylinder too fast and is not related to timing. Lower tooth and the star have no visible wear on them. Chances are that’s the way the gun left factory 35 yrs ago…

I also see your point about timing in SA vs. timing in DA. It does look like a delicate adjustment job. Getting a copy of Kuhnhausen book starts sounding like a really good idea.

Mike

P.S. Late breaking news: Colt Inc. wasn't much help, but I was able to order a new hand ("manufactured and hardened to original manufacturer's specifications") from Numrich. Good to have a spare hand on hand when I start stretching the only one I got...
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Old 11-24-2008, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by dfariswheel:
First, Colt calls the part a "Hand" not a pawl.
Dr. D is correct about this, as he usually is in all matters Colt. There are other manufacturers that call it a pawl.

2152hq, nice tip about crimping the hand to stretch it. The blunt chisel has always seemed a bit too "hit or miss" to me.

Buck
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Old 11-24-2008, 06:04 PM
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2152hq
Neat trick on swaging the hand to stretch it.
After 30 years in Colt's I'm still learning new tricks.
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Old 11-25-2008, 12:10 AM
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Okay, guys, happy end.

I went ahead and peened the hand following Dr. D.'s advice. Tried swaging first but wasn't getting very far - I either didn't get right tools or right skills Peening worked nicely - the hand stretched by 0.008" (measured from the second tooth to bottom of the hand). That took care of my timing problem.

In slow motion hammer and bolt now drop at the same time. In normal pull bolt locks much earlier. SA is fine as it was before. I wouldn't mind stretching the hand by another 0.002-0.004" but it started bending and I figured it was time to stop. When the new hand arrives from Numrich, I'll see if I can fit it better, leaving some room for future wear.

Thanks again for all your help!

Mike
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Old 11-25-2008, 03:03 AM
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Interesting and informative thread! Well done guys!
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:25 PM
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I also second buying the Kuhnhausen Volume One Colt DA revolver manual.

The Colt hand is a far more complicated part than observation would indicate.
Virtually every surface has a purpose and needs to be hand fitted.
The manual has page after page of information on the hand, far more than you might expect.

The hand design really brings home just how "19th Century" the Colt action really is.
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:13 AM
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Kuhnhausen manual arrived today. After reading it for couple of hours I want to say that the book is well worth the money. Great pictures and very detailed descriptions.

I wasn't too impressed by Colt's trigger... Used pin trick from the book and was able to quickly adjust trigger pull to my liking. Very nice.

Thanks again, guys!



Mike
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:22 PM
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D is totaly on the money with his Colt smarts. I have passed on beautiful Pythons, Cobras ect. I very much like the Colt revolvers, but if they go out of whack, I can't fix em, and parts are hard to comeby. I can perform basic repairs on a Smith, but I would not even venture to open up a Colt.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:36 PM
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Colts are like that. A Smith lets you fix just one thing (usually). On a Colt everything you fix affects something else. Last one I worked on extensivley was an Official Police and it took me 6 steady hours of work to get it set up 100%. (Of course, somebody who did a LOT of Colts could no doubt have done it much quicker.)
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