First off I am a new guy here and just recently found this forum and what appears to be a lot of interest in revolver shooting. I hope to be able to share a bit and learn more.
I must say you are one person who has a thorough technical grasp of S &W lockworks and what should and should not be done to these revolvers. I have worked on S&W’s for pin and plate shooters and the BE crowd on and off for close to 25 years and I honestly don’t think I can explain things quite as nicely and clearly as you do. If your work is half as good as your instructions you must be one hell of a mechanic. Okay I guess I have blown enough smoke up your you know what so maybe I can comment on this thread.
I have worked on everything from service revolvers that had little if any maintenance and literally rusted up in the holster so to speak and range rental guns that had horrendous amounts of rounds through them by people who abused them daily both intentionally and unintentionally. However I don’t agree with removing the side plate on these pieces as part of a regular regime of maintenance — it’s just not necessary. There is no call for lot of lube anywhere in the lockworks and honestly there are very few components that wear out on a regular basis. That is not to say these guns don’t get dirty and sometimes have problems but regular dismantling and lubing should not be in the mix according to any of the top S&W guys I know like Ron Power, Mr. Clark or even the S&W factory.
Those few times that I have run into cleaning related problems were with rental guns at a range that had digested thousands of rounds of reloads with dirty powders like Unique and Bullseye. Unique being one of the worst since with reduced range loads you get quite a bit of unburned powder flakes. The biggest problem is unburned power or residue accumulations under the extractor star back of the cylinder which can lock the gun up and render it unshootable for most owners. I like to relieve the back of the extractor star on the lathe and this typically eliminates this issue altogether. Other times I have seen carbon and crud that can find it’s way into the hand window but that is rare and most of the time doesn’t effect the performance of the gun. Also with dirty loads you will get a build up of carbon on the frame recoil shield behind the cylinder but that is easily cleaned with the cylinder opened and should be polished at bit.
If I were asked what part of a S&W DA revolver needed periodic cleaning and some lube I would say the extractor rod, center pin, springs the moving parts in the cylinder and maybe a dash on the yoke. For action or high usage shooters it is probably a good idea to periodically remove the yoke and cylinder and with the proper care clean the internals and lube a bit. Care must be taken to tighten the extractor rod to no more than 50 inch pounds and know which way the threads turn. All SS guns are LH thread and all 4 and 5 screw guns are RH but the three screw guns can be either and the design of the extractor rod end is the only way to tell. Once you know what you gun is write it down.
Don’t get me wrong I am all in favor of a gun owner knowing as much as he or she can on how their piece functions but like all things the more you know the more you realize how much you don’t know. Every revolver needs maintenance and care but I have to wonder just how much the average guy can tell looking at all the internals of a Smith and see what is really worn. Then you have to understand that a new replacement part most likely will not just drop in and work. If one part rides or works the next part and so on and so on isn’t it just common sense that you will end up with an accumulation of wear tolerances within the whole action that may just require real gunsmithing ? The question of measurable and acceptable wear on many of these parts is really illusive and many times a good smith does little more than modify or tweak those tiny riding surfaces by stoning and polishing the parts to improve performance.