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Old June 10, 2015, 08:44 PM   #1
imyrpc
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Police Positive Hammer question

Hello All,

I am a newbie to the Firing Line, and I thought it would be a great place to read and learn. I have a question about my (only) firearm that hopefully someone can help.

I have a 1912 Colt Police Positive .32, serial # 98xxx. Bought at an auction about 11 years ago for just under 100.00. I have shot it a couple of times, and like how it shoots and like the size. The only "problem" with it is that the hammer spur is missing (bought it just like you see it). Is it worth the money to try to replace (or can it be replaced feasibly)? Any and all answers welcome, good to be here.

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Old June 10, 2015, 08:53 PM   #2
Tin Foil
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@imyrpc,

Howdy, newbie myself here, and compared to many here a newbie to the gun world. Now I'm no expert and what I tell you comes from an appreciation towards anything old that still works. (including old people

I'd say it's worth fixing but be aware if you want it done right by a competent 'smithy' it will cost you. Stay clear of the home mechanics if you can cause you'll get exactly what you pay for, unless you know someone who's competent.

That's a Colt, when Colt still meant something. Good luck with your decision.
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Old June 10, 2015, 09:32 PM   #3
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I couldn't find one at NUMRICH but according to SARCO's website they may have what you need. Good luck!

http://www.e-sarcoinc.com/coltpolice...erassynew.aspx
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Old June 10, 2015, 09:43 PM   #4
James K
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I wish you luck in trying to obtain that hammer. If you are lucky enough to find one, it should drop in, but Colt parts sometimes need some careful fitting.

In any case, you might not find a gunsmith who will tackle the job of installing the hammer, and I have to recommend against a DIY job unless you have some experience. Still, if you want to get hold of Kuhnhausen's book on Colt DA revolvers (available from Brownells), and read it, the work is not beyond a reasonable skilled person.

(Someone is sure to suggest welding a spur on that hammer. Do NOT listen to him - better to leave it alone than make a mess and soften the hammer to boot.)

Jim
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Old June 14, 2015, 02:37 AM   #5
johnwilliamson062
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I think the expense of having the hammer professionally installed would probably exceed the price of a .32 police positive off gunbroker.

I work in a shop with NADCAP certified precision welders. A few of them seem to be borderline miracle workers IMO.
I once saw a hammer with a tapped hole and bolt sticking out as the spurr. Have to be careful you don't weaken the hammer when you remove material for the hole. You could shape the bolt head to something less than terrible. Just mentioning all the options.
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Old June 14, 2015, 10:55 AM   #6
g.willikers
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If you want the hammer spur for single action shooting, there's an easily learned technique for doing so, as it is.
Start the hammer back with the trigger just far enough to be able to grasp it over the top, with the thumb.
Either thumb, depending if it's being shot one or two handed.
Then continue the hammer back to the single action cocking position as if it had the spur.
Very easy to do and saves a lot of expense and hassle in replacing the hammer.
Just be sure to fully cock the hammer and not let it slip, possibly causing an accidental discharge.
No different that if the hammer had the spur, actually.
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Old June 14, 2015, 12:45 PM   #7
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The main reason I advise against trying to weld, drill, or otherwise mess with the hammer is that it is small and easily ruined. So I will say again, live with the bobbed hammer. Yes, you can probably still cock the hammer as g.willikers says, but it is better to just fire double action; it is not hard to learn, just concentrate on the sights and squeeze the trigger.

Jim
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Old June 14, 2015, 01:00 PM   #8
imyrpc
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Thank You guys for all the advice. Probably will leave it the same, my father, who has been collecting for over 40 years, basically said the same thing John said, and I certainly don't wait to DIY it.
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Old June 14, 2015, 10:00 PM   #9
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Another option that might be worth exploring is finding a gunsmith who can checker or serrate the top of the existing hammer. This was, at one time, a somewhat common practice for those who wanted the snag-free profile of a bobbed hammer without the loss of single-action capability. Such a modification basically makes the procedure g.willikers described somewhat easier.
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Old June 14, 2015, 11:11 PM   #10
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I haven't taken a Colt apart for a while, but removing and replacing the hammer isn't rocket surgery. Remove the side plate, cock the hammer, maintain tension on the main spring (v spring), drop the hammer and lift out. I think that's how it's done???? Rather than worry about the hammer, grind off the front of the trigger guard and tell everyone it's a Fits Special.
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Old June 15, 2015, 08:16 AM   #11
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Fitz Special
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Old June 15, 2015, 11:51 AM   #12
g.willikers
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That idea gives me fitz, I mean fits.
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Old June 15, 2015, 09:04 PM   #13
salvadore
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Gives me Fitz too G. I have a real nice Marshal that I want to Fitzerize, but afraid deepening the hammer won't leave enough mass to make it Go bang.
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Old June 16, 2015, 07:44 PM   #14
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I have had the wonderful luck and opportunity to acquire a 1928 copy in .32 that nobody else wanted as it was completely locked up. I couldn't find any gunsmith willing to fix it and one even turned me away that it would be much more expensive than the gun. I had deduced after tearing it down myself and looking at many online gun manuals that the bolt was sheared in half. It took four years after I got it for the bolts to pop up on Numrich and I quickly purchased one for around $20 or so (can't remember). I replaced it myself, got the gun back together and dry fired it until it worked (it wasn't a perfect fit). Gun works fantastic now and is one of the most pleasant recoils I've ever felt.

My point is, as someone with firsthand experience, you will have a hard time finding a gunsmith to do the work, the work will be cost prohibitive, and that if you can find the part you can do it yourself. A couple of pointers, go slow and don't force anything. The lockwork inside your Colt is pretty delicate so make sure you put everything back together according to a good picture or a good manual. While I wouldn't recommend it, I disassembled and reassembled completely from images off of Google as there isn't a lot out there for free. But, if I can do it, I guarantee you can. I wasn't getting much help anywhere else on the gun so I had to take care of the problem myself. I'm glad I did. Fantastic gun.
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Old June 16, 2015, 07:51 PM   #15
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I am not sure I would call the lockwork on those old Colts "delicate" as they will hold up for many thousands of rounds if not messed with. But they are intricate in the sense that one part will perform several tasks and a defect in one area will show up in an unexpected place. They can drive even experienced pistolsmiths nuts.

Jim
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Old June 19, 2015, 07:35 PM   #16
Bart Noir
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I suggest a PM to forum member "Dfariswheel". He is a retired gunsmith with lots of knowledge concerning old Colt wheelguns, and the willingness to pass it on to us. I'm surprised he hasn't already joined in this thread.

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Who wonders if a Police Positive hammer is the same as a Police Positive Special hammer is the same as a Detective Special hammer. Those may not be so hard to find.
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Old June 19, 2015, 10:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by JamesK
I am not sure I would call the lockwork on those old Colts "delicate" as they will hold up for many thousands of rounds if not messed with. But they are intricate in the sense that one part will perform several tasks and a defect in one area will show up in an unexpected place. They can drive even experienced pistolsmiths nuts.
I agree. Honestly, I think that part of Colt's reputation for "delicate" lockwork is because it is so different from S&W, Ruger, Taurus, etc. Conditions which are considered normal in other brands, such as slight rotational play of the cylinder at full lockup, are indicative of serious issues which require the attention of a gunsmith in a Colt. I think a lot of people buy used Colts and ignore these early warning signs assuming they're normal and keep shooting the gun obliviously. When more serious issues appear in relatively short order, they assume that the Colt is "delicate" when in fact it had probably already been shot a lot and needed the attention of a gunsmith when they bought it.
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Old June 24, 2015, 12:10 AM   #18
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I don't know if the hammer has to be fitted or if all PP hammers are interchangeable.

I have bags of parts of 32 and 38 Colts I have blown up. I am not using the hammers, but I am reluctant to send one. No Colt part from Numrich ever fit for me, and I can't get parts to swap with Colts that look the same.
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Old June 26, 2015, 08:46 PM   #19
James K
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A bit off topic, but most of what I see about Colts not "locking up" (carrying up) is nonsense. If the cylinder won't carry up in normal use when the trigger is pulled, or the firing pin strike is off center, there is indeed something wrong. But the idea that the cylinder must carry up even if it is being held back with a pipe wrench is absurd.

Believe it or not, some of us were around when those Colts were just revolvers, not objects of worship. I took brand new Colts out of the factory box that wouldn't carry up if the hammer was cocked slowly. But they always come to lockup when the trigger was pulled and Colt factory people told me that was normal.

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Old June 28, 2015, 10:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by JamesK
A bit off topic, but most of what I see about Colts not "locking up" (carrying up) is nonsense. If the cylinder won't carry up in normal use when the trigger is pulled, or the firing pin strike is off center, there is indeed something wrong. But the idea that the cylinder must carry up even if it is being held back with a pipe wrench is absurd.

Believe it or not, some of us were around when those Colts were just revolvers, not objects of worship. I took brand new Colts out of the factory box that wouldn't carry up if the hammer was cocked slowly. But they always come to lockup when the trigger was pulled and Colt factory people told me that was normal.
While I'm admittedly not an expert on Colts (I own a couple, but S&W's are the lion's share of my revolver collection), I would tend to agree that a Colt which doesn't quite carry up completely when the hammer is cocked slowly is perfectly normal.

As I understand it, the double-pawl lockwork of older Colts keeps the hand in contact with the ratchet throughout the trigger pull while most other DA revolvers' hands leave contact with the ratchet after the cylinder stop engages. On the two Colts that I own, a 1950's vintage Cobra and 1920's vintage Pocket Positive, the hand still moves noticeably when the trigger is pulled even after the hammer has been cocked.

It would seem to me that, without some extremely precise fitting, a Colt which always fully carried up when the hammer is cocked would likely lock up the action when the trigger is pulled because it would not allow the hand enough clearance for additional movement. That level of precise fitting seems to me like something that would probably be beyond the tolerances of a mass-produced gun. While I'm sure there are Colt's that came from the factory fitted so precisely, it seems to me like they would be in the same category as a S&W which has zero perceptible rotational play at full lockup: an anomaly rather than the norm.
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Old June 28, 2015, 10:40 PM   #21
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That is correct. The top "finger" of the hand starts the cylinder moving by pushing on one ratchet tooth; final lockup is done by the lower finger pushing on the next tooth of the ratchet. But if the lower finger contacts the ratchet tooth to lock the cylinder when the hammer is cocked, there can be no further trigger movement to fire the gun. So there has to be some play, and close fitting can keep that to a minimum.

S&W's hand is made to run up past the ratchet tooth, which also has its problems leading to complaints that S&W's won't lock up as tight as Colts.

In any case, in run-of-mill production, a factory will take quantity production over quality production every time, especially when the latter will raise costs over what the traffic will bear. The answer may be two types of production - one normal and one high quality, with the product costing more, often several times the cost of a normal product. Colt did that with the Python, but the product never sold in sufficient quantities to justify the extra effort.

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Old June 30, 2015, 07:23 AM   #22
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Makes me think of the old Kansas song...

Carry up my wayward son, it will go boom when you are done...
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