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Old February 3, 2009, 12:18 PM   #1
charleym3
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S&W cleaning

I find myself with a number of S&W revolvers. I need to learn to take them apart, proper clean and lubricate, and put them back together so that they work. I realize that I'm going to need the rebound slide tool from Brownells. I already have a good set of screwdrivers.
What I really need is education. A book or DVD that shows and explains is good detail how to take everything but the barrel out of the frame, clean it, lube it, and put it all back together again so that it works.

Recommendations please?
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Old February 3, 2009, 12:28 PM   #2
CDH
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Quote:
Recommendations please?
Yup. Don't take them apart.

Virtually all of the gooky stuff that gets on a revolver is easily accessed by opening the cylinder. Going into the lockwork just for cleaning is simply not necessary for years and years.

If you really want to be a bit anal, then maybe take off the grips (easy enought to do) and brush the area out with a slightly oily paint brush.

But the lockwork behind the plates doesn't really need much attention for the longest time. The chances of your damaging or screwing up the timing is much more likely than any wear caused by an errant piece of powder residue.
And don't get me started about how ugly revolvers get when the screws are buggered up over time, and how sick a person will feel if they slip with the screwdriver and scratch the finish. Odds can be really high for that if you constantly take them apart to clean.

Of my over 15 revolvers (Smith, Colt, and a couple of Dan Wesson), none of them have ever had the lockwork cleaned, and that's in over 30 years in some cases.

My .02
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Old February 3, 2009, 12:30 PM   #3
MrBorland
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The Kuhnhausen manual or the link below:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=397027
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Old February 3, 2009, 12:31 PM   #4
Gun 4 Fun
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There is a video by Jerry Miculek (world speed shooting champ) on how to totally disassemble S&W's and put them back together. Remember, S&W's are designed to work with minimum lubrication. So many people lube the snot out of them and then wonder why after all the cleaning, they're having function troubles. Miculeks video, along with Jerry Kuhnhausens' handbooks are about the pinnacle of info on taking care of Smiths.
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Old February 3, 2009, 12:41 PM   #5
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I have to agree with CDH, don't take them apart. If you absolutely must, get yourself the Kuhnhausen book, a plastic gunsmith's mallet, a proper set of fitted screwdrivers from Brownells. Just be careful and don't create another one of those used guns nobody wants because the screws and sideplate edges are all boogered up.
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Old February 3, 2009, 12:45 PM   #6
carguychris
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+1 what CDH says.

FWIW some people don't like cleaning the chambers while holding the cylinder open. You can take the cylinder off by unscrewing the front sideplate screw about halfway, lining up one of the cylinder flutes with the crane hinge on the frame, and sliding the entire yoke and cylinder assembly off the gun as a unit. OTOH I've never felt the need to do this because IMHO it's not that hard for me to hold the cylinder and frame firmly while cleaning the chambers.

I've only taken apart and cleaned all the lockwork in one S&W revolver I own- a WWII-surplus .38/200 British Victory. A clueless previous owner had excessively lubricated the internals with some sort of ordinary motor-oil-type product. It had dried up over the years, and all of the lockwork parts were coated in nasty, sticky brown varnish with the consistency of dried-up pancake syrup. After giving it a good scrubbing and lightly coating the rebound slide and pivot pins with ATF, it works like new.

If you feel the need to do this, I recommend one of the Jerry Miculek DVDs. The "Trigger Job" DVD does a perfectly fine job of explaining how to do a basic teardown. However, lubricating the lockwork is a job that you should do once using a product that won't dry out, and then you should forget about it. Adding oil on a continuing basis will do nothing but attract dirt.
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Old February 3, 2009, 01:51 PM   #7
Mike Irwin
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TAKE YOUR S&Ws APART.

Don't fear it.

With the Kuhnhausen book to guide you it's an easy process.

You don't, however, need to make a habit of it.

Lubricate the internals with a light to medium bodied grease, not oil.

Grease stays where you put it, oil doesn't.

I normally do a thorough disassembly and cleaning of my S&W revolvers every 2,000 rounds or so. That's the beauty of the S&W design - it's largely sealed against schmutz.


I learned how to completely disassemble my S&Ws by doing so. Nothing to guide me. That's the beauty of the S&W design. If you have a modicum of mechanical ability and knowledge of firearms, you can disassemble an S&W without too many problems.
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Old February 4, 2009, 10:22 AM   #8
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Agree with Mike. Also agree that screwdrivers that fit are very important.
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Old February 4, 2009, 10:40 AM   #9
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Don't be afraid to take it apart, as long as you at least have a clue. Start with your least valuable gun though. For regular cleaning, it is not necessary to take it all apart. Unless you are shooting black powder alot! I would say the most extensive regular cleaning should maybe be take out the front screw and pull out the crane and cylinder for better cleaning. What you probably don't want to take all apart is a Colt DA revolver. Their SA revolvers are not too bad, but mostly consist of replica guns. Just be sure you know how to take off the sideplate correctly. If you by some odd chance bugger a screw, don't worry, they are not made of gold. You can buy a new S&W screw for maybe a buck. If you scratch the gun up, well..... The three bits sold by Brownells will work perfectly, if you always put them in square in the notch. That is all I use to take mine apart. I compress the trigger spring with the nose of a dummy rifle cartr. and then I can push it to get it started behind the post. You can buy a special tool too. Where you get in trouble is if you get the urge to bubba the guts or if there is something left over after assembly!
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Old February 4, 2009, 12:19 PM   #10
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The Kuhnhausen manual is a must for any S&W owner that prefers to do his/hers own maintenance. The Jerry Miculek is excellent instruction for a safe trigger job. He stays away from the sear notch. Shows what you can safely do to improve the SA and DA trigger.
The return spring tool is slick, works great. It really shines when you assemble the revolver. I just did a 66-2 yesterday. It had a few rounds through it and the shiny spots showed it had no burrs or high spots. Cleaned and oiled it has a very nice trigger.
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Old February 4, 2009, 12:25 PM   #11
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+2 on don't touch it.
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Old February 4, 2009, 12:46 PM   #12
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I also support what CDH said.

You will probably never have to do anything beyond removing the sideplate on a S&W revolver. You will only need to do that if you want to spray it out with some degreaser/cleaners and then re-oil it.

Taking a revolver apart is a much more complex process than it is with a semi-auto. The high tension parts and overlapping pieces make it a nightmare if you do not have the proper tools.

I personally do disassemble my revolvers to fine tune them, but I do not enjoy it.
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Old February 4, 2009, 02:22 PM   #13
Mike Irwin
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"The high tension parts and overlapping pieces make it a nightmare if you do not have the proper tools."

Let's see, to properly take a Smith & Wesson revolver apart, you need:

A hyperbaric chamber.

A 10-ton arbor press.

A 10 gigawatt Ybbritrium laser

A popscicle stick, preferably without the popscicle.



In reality, all you need is a set of gunsmithing screwdrivers.

Nothing else.

The "overlapping parts" don't intermesh. They all come out nicely.

A small tweezers is helpful, but not necessary.
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Old February 4, 2009, 02:48 PM   #14
Whirlwind06
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I take the cylinders out of mine, I find it much easier to clean them that way.

First time I took a side plate off I felt like I was looking at the inside of a Swiss watch. Check out the S&W forum there are a lot of how-to there that will show you the internals. Also consider taking pictures as you go along. It is nice to refer back to a "before" picture as you are putting it back together.

I replaced the rebound slide spring on my J-frame. I made the "tool" I needed from a cheap jeweler screw driver set.
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Old February 4, 2009, 03:23 PM   #15
Mike Irwin
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"I replaced the rebound slide spring on my J-frame. I made the "tool" I needed from a cheap jeweler screw driver set."

I use a Philips head screwdriver that's larger than the internal diameter of the spring.

Works like a champ.
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Old February 5, 2009, 07:21 AM   #16
CDH
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Quote:
Mike Irwin said:
In reality, all you need is a set of gunsmithing screwdrivers.

Nothing else.

The "overlapping parts" don't intermesh. They all come out nicely.

A small tweezers is helpful, but not necessary.
I don't disagree that disassembling revolvers is difficult, I'm just skeptical that doing so time and again can be done without doing some damage at some point.
The perfect screwdriver that matches a screw can still slip and scratch off some blueing, and even that perfect-fit screwdriver will eventually start to flare up the edges of the screw slot and wear away the blueing in the slot, or a sideplate can be dropped onto a hard floor and mash an edge.

My name aint' Murphy, but I know the guy well, and so do most people who like to take things apart that don't need to be taken apart.

I think that's the point that some of us are making; that while you can take apart a revolver reasonably easily, that doesn't mean that you should.
The lockwork just doesn't get that dirty, even over long periods of time.
I'd love for you to post a pic of the inside of the next revolver you take apart before you clean it. Let's see just how dirty it got after shooting those two thousand rounds.

Now excuse me while I go disassemble my Rolex watch. It needs it's weekly internal cleaning.
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Old February 5, 2009, 08:02 AM   #17
Mike Irwin
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"I'm just skeptical that doing so time and again can be done without doing some damage at some point."

The "damage" (better referred to as wear, in my opinion) you do by FIRING the gun regularly is FAR more severe than simply disassembling it for inspection/cleaning/lubrication.

If you're worried about damaging your firearms, don't shoot them. EVER. You don't even handle them.

Firing it puts amazing amounts of stress on the frame and barrel, trigger mechanism, and especially on the cylinder assembly...

The second you pick up any gun you run the amazingly high risk of causing severe damage to it.

Bad factory ammo/bad handloading practices could result in your gun exploding, possibly killing you or those around you.

Bad handling practices could result in your dropping the gun on an unforgiving hard surface.

Touching the finish on the gun can cause serious rusting from the salts and acids in your fingerprints.

Sliding a gun in and out of a holster will cause highly visible and very distracting mars on the finish.

And don't even think about getting a screw driver near those sights to adjust them. That's just a recipe for finish gouging, screw peining disaster...

Bad cleaning rod control can cause barrel damage, leading to a loss of accuracy from disastrous barrel damage.

Pulling the trigger repeatedly causes flexing of the springs, which are then subject to failure.

See where I'm going with this?

Look. The bottom line is this...

I'm not saying pull your revolver completely apart every 36.72 minutes for the rest of your life.

I distinctly said that I normally only do a thorough clean and strip on my revolvers every 2,000 or so rounds. That's only a rule of thumb, and there are a LOT of variables, such as were most of those rounds jacketed bullet rounds, or were they far messier lead hand loads.

What I am saying, though, is that I don't understand why so many people who seem to think that pulling down a semi-automatic to its component parts is the height of testosterone-laden fun, to be followed by beer and belching, turn into puddles of terror filled goo at the thought of doing the same thing to their poor, delicate as a flower revolvers.

The weeping and filling of pants with urine and cries of "OH NOES, WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE IDDIEBIDDIE REVOLVERS!" as demonstrated in the laughable comparison of a revolver to a Rolex watch gets to be a bit much at times...

If you're too much of a Caspar P. Milquetoast to face the nightmare inducing thought of actually wanting to maintain your revolver, that's fine. But don't project your fears/terrors onto the noobs.
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Old February 5, 2009, 08:05 AM   #18
Alexa
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My first thought when beginning to read this thread was, "Oh Gosh, a great way to drop those screws and not be able to find them." Happens to me all the time with other things, so I've learned to put those screws in a small heavy container that would get knocked over easily. Not that I take my guns apart often - I don't.

I agree about Murphy, the guy can't be trusted and he visits at the most inopportune times.
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Old February 5, 2009, 08:15 AM   #19
Mike Irwin
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"I agree about Murphy, the guy can't be trusted and he visits at the most inopportune times."

Yep.

Meaning that no one should EVER touch their guns.

Just buy them and put them away forever.

Don't even THINK about them.

Thought waves from your brain might cause the finish to dull.

AND FOR GOD'S SAKE DON'T EXPOSE THEM TO LIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old February 5, 2009, 09:36 AM   #20
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Mike Irwin ...

You have written some funny stuff!

For what it's worth, I've had more trouble assembling kids' toys than I've ever had disassembling and reassembling a S&W revolver. Revolvers are neither rocket science nor brain surgery, and, unlike some kids' toys, the parts are generally all there and fit like they're supposed to.

Last edited by HammerBite; February 5, 2009 at 09:42 AM.
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Old February 5, 2009, 10:50 AM   #21
CDH
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Mike Irwin; your post #17.

Quote:
...possibly killing you or those around you.

Getting into a bit of drama, are we?
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Old February 5, 2009, 11:28 AM   #22
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No more drama than claiming that disassembling a Smith & Wesson revolver will damage it...
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Old February 5, 2009, 11:39 AM   #23
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Having just gone through this myself, I have a few recommendations. One, start with a revolver you don't care much about if it's your first time around. I started on a pawn shop pistol that was already beat all to pieces, and I am glad. I would have hated to have done this to a nicer/new pistol. Second, review some of the resources people have already discussed. Three, get a good set of screwdrivers. Lastly, get the tool that helps with putting the spring back in place when you're putting the trigger back in. I took mine apart to polish up the action and do a little shaping of the trigger, and a little bit of metal restoration to remove some scratches, and it took almost as long to get it back together as it did doing all the other stuff to it. Impossible? No. Much easier with prior preparation and the proper tools? It has to be.
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Old February 5, 2009, 12:06 PM   #24
carguychris
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Golly, this thread seems to be degenerating into bickering. However, just to add some fuel to the fire, I'll add my $0.02, just a few tips...
  • Don't attempt this without the proper gunsmithing screwdrivers. You WILL chew up the sideplate screws if you use ordinary screwdrivers.
  • Work in a clean and tidy environment with plenty of small containers handy to organize the little bitty parts.
  • Never pry up on the sideplate. Whack the side of the grip frame with a block of wood, plastic mallet, plastic screwdriver handle, or other suitable non-marring striking tool. The sideplate will gradually "walk" upwards until it can be removed.
  • If the revolver is a post-1944 model with a sliding hammer block, it will usually become dislocated as the sideplate is removed. (A groove in the sideplate is the only thing that holds it in place.) The pin on the rebound slide goes in the slot on the bottom of the hammer block. The sideways "L" part at the top of the hammer block goes between the hammer and the frame. The hammer block should be scooted all the way upwards when the sideplate is reinstalled, or it will not align properly with the groove.
  • Exercise caution removing the coil mainspring assembly on a J frame or late I frame. Several parts can be damaged if you try to force it out. It has to be turned at exactly the right angle to come out.
  • The rebound slide spring will try to go flying as you pry the rebound slide out. It's the nature of the beast. I like to hold my thumb over it to stop it. Although I like my Brownells rebound slide tool, I only use it for reassembly. IMHO it does a lousy job of controlling the spring during disassembly. I like to pry the slide upwards with an ordinary flathead screwdriver.
  • Although it can be done, it's not wise to dry fire the revolver with the sideplate off. It can make some small parts going flying, and can loosen the upper sideplate alignment pin on recent-production revolvers with the floating MIM firing pin.
  • Certain small parts within the revolver are operated by teeny tiny hairpin springs or itty bitty plungers with coil springs under them. Be careful not to lose these parts! Many of them don't really need be removed for a routine cleaning anyway; they can be cleaned in place.
  • When reinstalling the sideplate, do not hammer it into place or try to force it down with the sideplate screws! This mistreatment will warp it! You should be able to push it almost all the way down with firm but not excessive thumb pressure. Don't reinstall and tighten the screws until it's at this point. If it won't go in at all, something is out of place, most likely the sliding hammer block.
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Old February 5, 2009, 12:25 PM   #25
vytoland
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DON'T take your revolver apart.........give it a good cleaning with a better product like weapon shield...........it will clean all the gunk out of the bore and cylinders.............if your revolver is working ok, don't mess with it...................if aint broke DON"T fix it
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