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Old 04-22-2018, 06:29 AM
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Default S&W CS: 3rd Gen Alloy Frame Refinish?

I am giving serious thought to having the anodized aluminum alloy frame on one of my 3rd Gens refinished by the mothership. This is a pistol I agreed to buy going by photos only. Unfortunately, the frame turned out to be in worse cosmetic shape than the photos had revealed, but I took it anyway. As I examined the gun more closely later, I realized I had made a big mistake. The flaws were not only holster wear as I had thought, but surface corrosion also.

The on-line price list (below) says it should cost $150.00 to get the frame refinished, but I'm sure there are other charges involved, including shipping.

Quote:
  • High Bright Polish - $275
  • Bead Blast Stainless (Slide) - $110
  • Bead Blast and Blue (Frame) - $110
  • Bead Blast Stainless (Frame) - $110
  • Bead Blast and Blue (Entire Pistol) - $170
  • Bead Blast and Stainless (Entire Pistol) - $170
  • Anodize Aluminum Frames (3rd Gen. or newer) - $150
  • Glass Bead Nickel (except Stainless) - $220
If anyone has done this, I'd like to know how you made out and if you were satisfied with the turn-around time and result. I'm especially interested in how the mothership restores the serial number and other markings after re-anodizing. In this case, the markings are laser applied, not roll-marked.

Anyone else go through this? Or am I going to be the first?

Thanks!

Last edited by TTSH; 05-13-2018 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 04-22-2018, 08:58 AM
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I think they may send you a label to ship it back at the corporate rate, something like $12 if I recall.
I used to drop guns off at the guard shack back when, being two hours away, and visit the area, do they still allow that?

Btw, Id like to have my CS45 slide refinished
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Last edited by ladder13; 04-22-2018 at 09:11 AM.
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Old 04-22-2018, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by ladder13 View Post
I think they may send you a label to ship it back at the corporate rate, something like $12 if I recall.
I used to drop guns off at the guard shack back when, being two hours away, and visit the area, do they still allow that?
I believe that was stopped a while back. I remember the old man (R.I.P.) doing that several times... but again, we lived just 4 miles from the mothership. Those were the good old days.
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Old 04-22-2018, 09:21 AM
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I believe that was stopped a while back. I remember the old man (R.I.P.) doing that several times... but again, we lived just 4 miles from the mothership. Those were the good old days.
Wait, nothing was returned in the good old days.
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Old 04-22-2018, 09:29 AM
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Wait, nothing was returned in the good old days.
Oh, Dad managed to come up with a few things from time to time for the mothership to do. Remember, he only owned three Smith & Wessons in total, but he worked them hard and often.

This wasn't ever a case of poor workmanship or defective materials that I remember. It was mostly a case of him keeping them in tip-top shape, whatever it took.

He was very into the free parts and maintenance that the mothership provided to him back in the day.
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Old 04-22-2018, 09:33 AM
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...........

This wasn't ever a case of poor workmanship or defective materials that I remember. It was mostly a case of him keeping them in tip-top shape, whatever it took. D
The apple did fall right under that tree
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Old 04-22-2018, 07:41 PM
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I do not think they can simply laser etch over the top of what's there.
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Old 04-22-2018, 08:26 PM
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I do not think they can simply laser etch over the top of what's there.
... and hence my question.

I looked into re-anodizing before (by a local outfit), but that was for a roll-marked frame. Shouldn't have been an issue at all in that case.

The frame in question is a laser-etched frame and I would imagine that the serial number will disappear completely during the prep process. So do they just re-apply the information via laser after the re-anodizing process? I don't have a clue.

If no one here has had the mothership refinish their anodized aluminum laser-marked frame, I guess I'll just have to call and see if I can find out how it works. I need to go over the pricing and schedule issues anyway. Sure wish I could first see a photo or two of how it all comes out, but maybe I'll be the first one ever to have it done.
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Old 04-22-2018, 08:30 PM
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The factory must have the specs to re laser, if that is a word, even for those antiquated guns.
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Old 04-22-2018, 09:23 PM
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The factory must have the specs to re laser, if that is a word, even for those antiquated guns.
One would hope so. But I'd sure like to understand how the finished product would come out. Is it still going to be a reasonable match for the original, un-refinished, laser-marked slide? Or is it going to end up looking a little funky?

The other option, of course, is to dump the pistol I bought and try to find one in better shape at some point in the future. Economically, that might make more sense. But then I'll never learn about the mothership's anodized aluminum refinishing capability.
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Old 04-22-2018, 10:25 PM
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They stopped allowing guard shack drop off and pick up a few years back. Now everything needs a shipping label.
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Old 04-22-2018, 10:26 PM
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They stopped allowing guard shack drop off and pick up a few years back. Now everything needs a shipping label.
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Old 04-23-2018, 06:32 AM
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They stopped allowing guard shack drop off and pick up a few years back. Now everything needs a shipping label.
Yep. Would have been nice since I am out that way every week now, but I can deal with shipping provided it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. That is the least of my concerns regarding this possible mothership refinish job.
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Old 04-23-2018, 08:47 AM
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If you do it, take some good before and after pictures, so that the rest of us can make a better decision about it. I've been curious about it in the past, just not enough to roll the dice on it.
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Old 04-23-2018, 11:12 AM
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This articles talks about a 6904 being refinished (and re-anodized) around 2014:

Warhorses Reborn: Smith & Wesson Duty Pistol Rebuilds

So... if they don't still do it... they stopped fairly recently...
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Old 04-23-2018, 01:49 PM
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I wonder if you sent a stainless slide back, if they'd Melonite it?

Just inventing more potential ways to spend money.
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Old 04-23-2018, 03:48 PM
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To drift this thread just a tiny bit more - I wonder if S&W would refinish just the slide on a TSW? I have two TSW's - 3953 and 4013 - the frames on both are great but both slides have scratches in the (sorta cheesy) "TSW" laser etching. I saw here on SWF - a year or so ago - that it appears that S&W just replaces the slides when a complete TSW is sent back for re-finishing. Or, maybe someone out in the aftermarket is re-marking slides??
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoJelly View Post
To drift this thread just a tiny bit more - I wonder if S&W would refinish just the slide on a TSW? I have two TSW's - 3953 and 4013 - the frames on both are great but both slides have scratches in the (sorta cheesy) "TSW" laser etching. I saw here on SWF - a year or so ago - that it appears that S&W just replaces the slides when a complete TSW is sent back for re-finishing. Or, maybe someone out in the aftermarket is re-marking slides??
Don't the TSWs have different rails than regular 3rd gens? So... it would have to be replaced with a TSW-specific slide. Which would be kinda cool to have, without the laser etching...
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:26 PM
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Well, did ya call the mothership?
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:51 PM
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Well, did ya call the mothership?
Not yet. Very busy today with other pressing matters, medical in nature... plus the good wife is home after a full weekend of on-call work. Had to take care of her "Honey Dew" list too.

With luck, I'll have time to get on the phone with them tomorrow after my dentist appointment.
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Old 04-23-2018, 05:50 PM
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Well, it will be interesting to hear what you report, but as always... I'm horribly skeptical of the S&W "telephone slot machine" whereby you can get many different answers or experiences depending on who answers that ring.

I love 3rd Gens... but I can't think of many full production 3rd Gens that would be worth that money, time, etc -- but we all know that you lie awake at night about things like this.
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Old 04-23-2018, 07:24 PM
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Well, it will be interesting to hear what you report, but as always... I'm horribly skeptical of the S&W "telephone slot machine" whereby you can get many different answers or experiences depending on who answers that ring.

I love 3rd Gens... but I can't think of many full production 3rd Gens that would be worth that money, time, etc -- but we all know that you lie awake at night about things like this.
I lie awake anyway. It's my damn PAP machine.

I've never before called S&W CS about a refinishing job. I see indications on-line that refinishing is handled by the PC dept, but that doesn't make sense for what I want done... i.e., re-anodizing of a 3rd Gen alloy frame.

And you are right: I will never get back whatever money I spend on this folly. Such is the nature of refinishing in many (if not most) cases. Still, I am prepared to spend a limited amount of money experimenting with refinishing, both with this pistol and with a still-to-be-bought worn S&W revolver. There are questions in poor old TTSH's old brain still begging to be answered before I take that long dirt nap.
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Old 04-26-2018, 07:50 PM
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TTSH, don't forget to have yer brain cryo-frozen, might be able to bring you back someday
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Old 04-27-2018, 08:00 AM
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Quote:
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TTSH, don't forget to have yer brain cryo-frozen, might be able to bring you back someday
So you want me to come back from the grave and haunt you guys?

I don't think so!!!

++++++++++

Update: I'm still tied up with medical & family issues until Monday. Such is life at this age.

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Old 04-27-2018, 10:33 AM
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If your gun is black Birchwood Casey has Aluminum Black for AR's that will do minor touch ups.
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Old 04-27-2018, 01:40 PM
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If your gun is black Birchwood Casey has Aluminum Black for AR's that will do minor touch ups.
Yes, I saw what another member did with a slightly "used & abused" black-finished 3rd Gen... but alas, the gun in question here is stainless & bright anodized.
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:48 AM
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With luck, I'll have time to get on the phone with them tomorrow after my dentist appointment.
Okay, better late than never (trust me, I've been busy!). Had a nice conversation with the mothership this morning about refinishing an anodized aluminum 3rd Gen frame (i.e., frame only) with laser markings. Here is what I learned:
  • Base fee is still $150 per the S&W website
  • Shipping fee is $15 (each way? - not clear)
  • Total cost (inc. misc fees) usually runs "less than $200"
  • They do not re-laser the frame markings on a first-time refinish job
  • Current expected turnaround time is 14 to 16 weeks
I found it interesting about the laser markings surviving a first time re-anodizing job. The serial numbers are so light out of the box on some of my anodized aluminum 3rd Gen frames that they barely look legal to begin with.

But the real killer is that turn-around time... up to 4 months. Not too thrilled about that when a local service says they can turn it around in a week. But then it wouldn't be a "factory" refinish job, would it?

More thought has to go into this. The good wife is already urging me to just dump the gun if I'm not happy with it and take the loss. But that isn't my style. And I would very much like to know how good a job refinishing an aluminum frame the mothership can do.

But is that info worth up to $200 to me? I think I better start a GoFundMe page!
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Old 04-30-2018, 11:41 AM
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You still have the option of finding a "new in box" version, and selling the original. Even a factory refinish devalues the gun. Depending on how shrewd of a buyer you are, you might come out about the same cost of the refinish.
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Old 04-30-2018, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by sar4937 View Post
You still have the option of finding a "new in box" version, and selling the original. Even a factory refinish devalues the gun. Depending on how shrewd of a buyer you are, you might come out about the same cost of the refinish.
I don't need a replacement. I've already got a couple "clean" versions of the same pistol. This was always about testing the anodized aluminum refinishing prowess of the mothership and how they would deal with laser-applied serial numbers already so light as to be near unreadable. Truthfully, I'm kinda shocked that they don't automatically re-apply those markings with whatever extra cost to the consumer that might entail.

This topic pops up in my head every time I find an aluminum-framed 3rd Gen I want that happens to have a "cosmetically challenged" frame. It all started with a cosmetically damaged Model 3953 years ago and hasn't gotten any better. I'm just curious... but maybe not so curious that I want to spend $200 and wait 4 months to find out the result.

I really should stick with all-stainless 3rd Gens. Sometimes those aluminum frames just aren't worth the trouble.
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Old 04-30-2018, 10:26 PM
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Well, there you go. I did not know this was an experiment.
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Old 05-01-2018, 08:40 AM
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Well, there you go. I did not know this was an experiment.
More like a test case or evaluation of the mothership's capabilities than an experiment; but yes, you've got the idea. Been wanting to do this for a long time. Call it intellectual curiosity or just another symptom of my legendary anal retentiveness.

But at up to $200 and 4 months turn-around time, my enthusiasm and curiosity are waning. I've got other higher priorities for my limited funds. If this is going to happen at all, I think I'll have to wait for a little better timing.
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Old 05-01-2018, 12:28 PM
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I really should stick with all-stainless 3rd Gens.
I'd love a 3916.
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Old 05-01-2018, 12:33 PM
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I'd love a 3916.
It would certainly be worth a lot of money!
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Old 05-01-2018, 09:58 PM
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TTSH...I'm curious why you are concerned with the turn time since you don't carry your 3rd. gens anyway?
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Old 05-02-2018, 03:55 AM
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TTSH...I'm curious why you are concerned with the turn time since you don't carry your 3rd. gens anyway?
At my age with my health situation, I'm not sure I'm even going to be around 4 months from now to see the end result (and I wish I were entirely joking about that, but I'm not). But on a more optimistic note, I guess there is a limit to my patience... i.e., how long I am willing to wait for anything hobby-related these days. If I explained the bigger picture here, trust me, you'd understand.
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Old 05-03-2018, 01:02 AM
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.................. trust me, you'd understand.
.....yep I do understand....hit 66 last saturday myself......gettn' old ain't for p....s
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Old 05-03-2018, 08:01 AM
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.....yep I do understand....hit 66 last Saturday myself......gettn' old ain't for p....s
Tell me about it! Sometimes, I wish the doctors would hurry up and tell me everything that's wrong with me... and at other times, I think I am better off not knowing.

Let me be clear that I haven't ruled anything out. In fact, I need to call the mothership again when I get home to clarify the logistics. For example, do I send in the whole gun or just the frame? And if just the frame, do I strip it or leave it intact? What is best if I want to avoid as much in the way of those "extra charges" as possible?

One other crazy thought: Should I have them refinish the frame in black for a two-tone effect?

And there is always the possibility that it won't take that long to turn it around. It's just a re-anodizing job after all.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by TTSH View Post
So you want me to come back from the grave and haunt you guys?

I don't think so!!!

++++++++++
Not to put too fine a point on it...
but ya can't take it with ya...might as well refinish it

If I can figure out how to do it, I'd have no problem with living forever.
Earth is infinitely interesting, if it were possible, I'd stick around until the sun goes nova
Besides, being able to annoy people FOREVER is kinda right up my alley!
I'm like Deadpool with less of a body count
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Old 05-03-2018, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Shrek View Post
Not to put too fine a point on it... but ya can't take it with ya...might as well refinish it
For the record, I *do* plan to try to take it with me. It's going to be a very heavy casket!

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If I can figure out how to do it, I'd have no problem with living forever. Earth is infinitely interesting, if it were possible, I'd stick around until the sun goes nova Besides, being able to annoy people FOREVER is kinda right up my alley! I'm like Deadpool with less of a body count
No, not me. I'm damn glad I'm old, retired and on my way out of this crazy, mixed-up world.
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Old 05-04-2018, 05:59 PM
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Well, per post #37, I called the mothership again today to get a few things clarified.

1) It turns out that I do have to send in the entire gun even if I only want the frame refinished. I can't send in just the frame, populated or stripped. They won't accept it. I see this as a plus for using the local re-anodizing service.

2) I asked if the $15.00 shipping fee was each way or round trip. This time, I was told that there would be no shipping fee as long as I used S&W's send-it-in/get-it-back shipping system. Okay. A plus for the mothership, if true.

3) I asked if it would cost extra if I wanted the color of the anodized frame changed from bright to black (or vice versa). S&W CS said that the refinishing fee ($150) would be the same either way.

I guess my fear is that if I send it the whole gun, the likelihood of those extra charges piled on will be greater. I'm also concerned about reports of guns coming back with accidental damage as other members of the forum have reported from time to time.

But I'm starting to think that a factory color change to the frame could be a really cool bonus here for my money. Then again, the local service can do that too... to virtually any color you want.

Hmmm. Decisions... decisions.
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Old 05-04-2018, 06:14 PM
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They may surprise you and freshen the mechanicals at no cost, they did that to a 29-2 I once sent it.
However, that was some years back.
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Old 05-04-2018, 06:35 PM
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TTSH - Good info sir - Thanks for the continued updates. I have sent three (all revolvers) to the mothership in the last two years. None have come back with any damage. In fact, when I sent my M64 back for a barrel swap, I'm reasonably sure they re-blasted the frame top and barrel rib. My problem is just the opposite of yours - both of my TSW frames are excellent, but the slides show scratches and handling marks ...
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Old 05-04-2018, 06:48 PM
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They may surprise you and freshen the mechanicals at no cost, they did that to a 29-2 I once sent it. However, that was some years back.
Yep. I thought about that possibility too... ... not to mention the possibility that I could screw something up or lose parts or who-knows-what if I take it completely apart myself. I ain't the gunsmith I used to be ya know... ... not by a long shot!

And I haven't even taken this gun apart yet, but I can tell you that it arrived filthy dirty. God only knows what surprises are in there that I still haven't found yet. I'm almost afraid to look.

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TTSH - Good info sir - Thanks for the continued updates. I have sent three (all revolvers) to the mothership in the last two years. None have come back with any damage. In fact, when I sent my M64 back for a barrel swap, I'm reasonably sure they re-blasted the frame top and barrel rib. My problem is just the opposite of yours - both of my TSW frames are excellent, but the slides show scratches and handling marks ...
... and the problem with those TSW slides is the laser markings that seem to wear off even faster than they wear off the frames. I looked into that one time, and as I recall, it wasn't cheap to have the mothership re-blast those slides and then re-apply the TSW laser markings. I feel your pain!
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Old 05-04-2018, 08:03 PM
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One last bump sir - I didn't realize that S&W would (or, at least, did in the past) re-blast and re-mark the TSW slides? That would be the school solution for me since my frames are in such good shape, and I wouldn't have to pay the exorbitant fees for shipping a frame. Do you recall how much they were asking? If it was around $100-ish then I'm anal enough to get one sent off right away ... understanding that it'd be gone for months...
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Old 05-04-2018, 08:26 PM
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One last bump sir - I didn't realize that S&W would (or, at least, did in the past) re-blast and re-mark the TSW slides? That would be the school solution for me since my frames are in such good shape, and I wouldn't have to pay the exorbitant fees for shipping a frame. Do you recall how much they were asking? If it was around $100-ish then I'm anal enough to get one sent off right away ... understanding that it'd be gone for months...
Here is my thread on the topic from a couple years back. S&W's price is in the very last post!

Again, I want to point out that the latest info I got out of S&W CS says that S&W will pay shipping both ways on a refinishing job. Don't know why I got different answers from different S&W CS folks, so take that part with a grain of salt.

++++++++++

Edit 5/9/2018: Based on other recent posts, it's starting to sound like the free shipping both ways thang only applies to recall and warranty work, which makes sense. I'm going to assume for now that the $15.00 shipping charge that I was originally told about will apply to my proposed frame refinishing job. -ttsh

Last edited by TTSH; 05-09-2018 at 07:02 AM.
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Old 05-13-2018, 08:18 AM
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Default Update...

Looks like I'm going to go forward with this anodized aluminum allow frame refinishing work by the mothership as soon as next week. I might even have some additional work done on the gun while it is there. If I don't see it back for 4 to 6 months, so be it. That's life. If I kick the bucket in the meantime, at least the good wife, my kids and her nephews will get to enjoy it.

Being as anal retentive as I am about the cosmetic condition of my guns, my reservations and the cost be damned... this work has got to be done.

I've also decided to ask them to change the frame color to black, so that the gun returns in a "two-tone" motif. It will help me think that I'm getting something special and unique back for the invested money.

So wish me luck... and look for a full report with pix if/when I ever get it back.
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Old 05-21-2018, 11:18 AM
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Default It all depends on who you get in S&W CS...

Well, a new revelation today in this dubious adventure. I called S&W CS to finalize the frame refinish (re-anodizing) and color change from silver to black and get my label... and now the new guy I spoke with says that a frame color change is not possible after all.

I told him how the last CS guy checked it out for me and said that a color change on a re-anodizing job was doable and for the same basic fee ($150). The new guy says that wasn't an error, but it was a "misstatement." No, I didn't bother asking "What's the difference"?

So now I am back on hold again wondering what to do. Do I wait a week and call S&W CS again and hope for a different guy? Or do I punt and go to the third party refinisher? Or do I just sell the damn gun and move on?

I suspect this latest S&W CS guy is misunderstanding what I am requesting as he kept talking about doing a "rebluing job" on the frame. But maybe not. I know that it is technically possible to re-anodize in a different color, so if I am getting the straight story now from the latest S&W CS guy, it would be a matter of company policy not to change the frame color, not a technical impossibility.

Dang.
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Old 05-21-2018, 11:43 AM
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So let me understand...

You got two different answers in two different phone calls to S&W?

(Sorry to any readers who don't realize that my post is dripping with sarcasm.)
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Old 05-21-2018, 11:52 AM
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So let me understand...

You got two different answers in two different phone calls to S&W?

(Sorry to any readers who don't realize that my post is dripping with sarcasm.)
Yeah, surprise, surprise, huh?

Guess I expected too much. The real shocker would have been if I had gotten the same information from both reps.

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So now I am back on hold again wondering what to do. Do I wait a week and call S&W CS again and hope for a different guy? Or do I punt and go to the third party refinisher? Or do I just sell the damn gun and move on?
After additional contact with S&W CS and much thought, I decided to sell the gun in question, take my lumps and move on. And that's what I did. End of this attempted experiment in trying to rectify and make good a nasty mistake.

Last edited by TTSH; 09-02-2018 at 02:39 PM.
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