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Old March 5, 2013, 02:21 AM   #1
ZRTaylor
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First Time Revolver Owner, Barrel Unscrewed, Options?

Friendly greetings. I'm a 23 year old Pacific Northwesterner who has recently started to develop an interest in firearms. My goals, so far, are limited and unambitious. I want to acquire a good, reliable handgun with which I can learn the basics of handling, maintenance, marksmanship, and some rudimentary self defense skills. Accordingly, I've been keeping an eye out for a handgun chambered in .22lr, because my research has suggested that this is a good, cheap caliber to learn fundamentals with.

My boss is the one I inherited the seeds of the bug from. He's been buying and shooting them for a little over a year now. While digging through some old stuff in a corner of our workplace he found a Heritage Rough Rider, chambered for .22lr, that had been used as a cosmetic prop in a train robbery stunt show for several years. He already owns three .22 rifles and a Walther chambered for that round, so he gave me the weapon to use as my aforementioned starter.

Because I had heard of the simplicity and reliability of revolvers in general, I was looking forward to owning the gun. It showed a lot of signs of wear, but the bore looked good, the cylinder was loose but indexed reliably, and it had no signs of rust or moisture damage. The only flaws with the weapon were a broken off ejector tube, and sights that were "bent" about ten degrees to the left of center. I assumed this was from a drop, which is common enough climbing on and off a train.

Just a little research lead me expect very little from the Rough Rider, and I took it to the local gunsmith to have it checked over, and grab a basic cleaning kit for the weapon. He suggested that the revolver would never be "Wyatt Earp" quality but that I could use a brass hammer to gradually ease the sights over during my shooting sessions to make the sights serviceable.

I took the weapon home, cleaned it, took it out to a safe firing location with a box of .22lr, and proceeded to do just that. I was amazed at how easily the sights were adjusted, they seemed to just slide right over with the merest tap. Before I knew it the sights seemed to be completely vertical. I chalked it up to cheap metal, and as a test I went to try and wiggle the front sight to see how weak it really was. It was here that I realized the sight wasn't bent at all, the barrel was crooked, and my incredibly light tapping had dislodged the barrel and it was now twisting freely from the frame. I was able to unscrew the entire barrel by hand with almost no resistance.

I called the gunsmith, and he informed me that my new project was a wash. The gun was a paper weight, firing it would be a significant hazard, and there were no means to repair the barrel fitting. Severe bummer.

-----

Now this brings me to the main portion of the thread. Part of why I want to get in to firearms isn't just to shoot them. I want to understand the whither-tos and the why-fores of what makes a weapon work, what keeps it from working, and what causes it to break down and lose function. What I would like to ask, is the following.

1. What causes a revolver barrel to come loose?

2. Why can't a loose screw-on style barrel apparently be replaced, at least in my case?

3. What are the potential dangers of firing a weapon with a loose barrel of this type?

4. Are there any potential repair options?

5. What potential use can I get from this weapon if it is totaled and unusable?


Thank you very much in advance, and I appreciate the efforts of any of you who bothered to read this. Much appreciated.
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Old March 5, 2013, 03:32 AM   #2
Sport45
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This should probably be in the gunsmithing part of the forum.

I don't know enough about your particular revolver, but the 'smith is probably trying to nicely suggest the gun isn't worth the cost of repairing. Typically the barrel shoulder would have to be cut back one thread pitch and retorqued. Then the end of the barrel inside the frame would have to be trimmed to provide the correct cylinder gap and the forcing cone recut.

Then you may be looking at some kind of refinish too.
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Old March 5, 2013, 04:08 AM   #3
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My advice is to try to not be so thrifty. This gun you were gifted has some serious issues. If I was you I'd save up a bit and get a newer more reliable, less issued .22 revolver to learn with and practice practice practice. There are some things you can go cheap on. A firearm is probably not one of them. Having an accident with a used garden hose may get you wet. An accident with an unreliable firearm will get you wet in another way...
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Old March 5, 2013, 09:21 AM   #4
PetahW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZRTaylor

1. What causes a revolver barrel to come loose? -
[Poor fitting, shoddy workmanship, soft frame expanding or cracking - you name it.]

2. Why can't a loose screw-on style barrel apparently be replaced, at least in my case? -
[As posted, ANY repair on a Heritage will result in a money pit]

3. What are the potential dangers of firing a weapon with a loose barrel of this type? -
[ In reality, what occurs as a result is a super-wide bbl/cylinder gap, which can/will spit gas/debris on the shooter's hand & face]

4. Are there any potential repair options? - [See #2 above]

5. What potential use can I get from this weapon if it is totaled and unusable ? -
[ As a non-firing single-action revolver instructional tool ]


IMO, and YMMV - The Heritage is made very inexpensively, and don't usually last very long if used more than infrequently, most likely why it got donated as a prop in the first place.

You would be well advised to put the $200+ Heritage repair/gunsmith funds into a used Ruger Single-Six, which should last a lifetime.


.

Last edited by PetahW; March 5, 2013 at 09:30 AM.
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Old March 5, 2013, 09:43 AM   #5
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About 15 years ago I traded for a New In The Box Uberti Cattleman single action revolver. While out shooting one day, I noticed that the sight seemed to be leaning. In fact, the barrel was loose. I could (and did) screw it completely out of the frame. I got some of the heaviest duty (red?) loc-tite and replaced the barrel. I shot it a good bit, and the barrel never loosened again, and the sights were regulated near correct. There were other issues with the revolver. I never understood just how the hammer worked. It had a screw down through the top of the hammer that was under spring tension, and it would work its way out. The trigger pull seemed to vary between very light and very heavy. It soured me on the brand. I traded it away and will never own another Uberti.
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Old March 5, 2013, 10:06 AM   #6
Jim Watson
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My gunsmith would reach for the toughest Loctite on hand. Green #620, probably.
If the threads are not completely stripped, it does not take much to hold a .22 barrel.
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Old March 5, 2013, 10:08 AM   #7
chiefr
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I too have seen loose barrels. Mainly on cheap revolvers. It is frightening thing to experiance at the range when the front sight starts rotating clockwise as viewed by the shooter.

Probably the single greatest cause of barrels coming loose on single actions was repeated strikes on the end of the barrel.
If you ever watch the old westerns you see Matt Dillon or Wyatt Earp striking drunks on the head with the barrels of their Colts.
I don't know if the characters in the old west actually hit bad guys with the ends of their barrel, but if they did so repeatedly, I can guarantee it will destroy the gun.
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Old March 5, 2013, 11:47 AM   #8
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I think the frame of the RR is Zmac / cast / pot metal... I have an old RG, that has the same frame material, but the barrel was pinned in, rather than threaded... the frame cracked on my gun, so the barrel had a slight wobble, or could at least be wiggled, but was still retained by the pin...

since the "pot metal" frames are so soft, & brittle, your threads could be weak, or the frame could be cracked... in my guns case, my local smith buddy drilled & tapped a tiny hole & put a long small machine screw in to keep things tight...

with the threaded barrel, if the frame is cracked, it may need more than Lock Tite... if the threads have just become "loose" Lock Tite may be sufficient... if your gun smith say's it's not fixable, you could get a 2nd opinion, or believe him... your choice...

BTW... also agree a better ( steel framed ) revolver would be a better investment...
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Old March 5, 2013, 02:38 PM   #9
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I doubt that it will ever be worth any more money then it is today, which isn't much. But a young man on a tight budget may not have much nor wish to invest a great deal on casual pursuits.

If you go back to the first gunsmith, as said above, he is probably trying to save you from throwing good money after bad. Ask him pointedly;

Can the RR be repaired?
Will it be worth it for proper repairs?
Would there be a short cut to the repairs that is more economical?

If his answer to the first question is no, either accept his answer or go find another gunsmith, but don't ask any more questions he is done answering them.

A good new Ruger Single-Six is around $450 or so, deals can be found. If the repair costs are remotely close to this then the only possible reason to pursue it would be for true sentimental value.

As for the third question. Maybe lock tight would work maybe not. None of use have examined the gun. Again, if he answers no, just drop it cause he really doesn't want to do it or really believes it can't be done.

I think this is what I am hearing from the others.
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Old March 5, 2013, 03:37 PM   #10
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The barrel of the High Standard Sentinel is simply pressed into the frame and held tight by a stout cross pin.
.22 revolver barrel to frame interface don't have to absorb much stress on firing.

I've repaired a loose barrel on an old Buffalo .22 revolver by simply coating the threads with accraglass bedding compound, screwing it in and then driving a slightly larger diameter crosspin. That was thirty years ago and the barrel is still secure after a thousand rounds or more.
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Old March 5, 2013, 07:07 PM   #11
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the damage to the gun was done by whatever method was used to "adjust" the front sight in the first place.

i have seen very old articles on home gunsmithing, that merely advocate twisting the barrel to move the front sight for windage. hence i feel that was done to the gun. why? well when you twist the barrel on an saa like that, the ejector rod becomes useless, and it normally gets taken off.


however call the company up, last i checked theyll fix it for free. but its better to simply buy a new one, they are good guns. they just dont have the fancy logo on them.
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Old March 5, 2013, 08:33 PM   #12
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Without seeing the gun and determining why the barrel is loose (and what else is wrong), it is hard to suggest a method of repair. If the frame is cracked, the gun is toast; there is no reasible way to repair it even to fire .22's. If the barrel is merely loose, some of the suggestions may be feasible. But in any case, "fixing" the gun in such a way that it will be dangerous to the shooter is not the way to go.

Maybe it is different in your area, but the local gunsmith is completely out of spare eyes and fingers, and probably can't get any more.

Jim
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Old March 5, 2013, 09:36 PM   #13
ZRTaylor
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Thanks very much for all the replies. You've all given me a lot to absorb. Much appreciated.

Sport45: That's a good bet. The money would almost certainly be better spent on something else.

Glenn: The saving process has already been going. I've got enough together to invest a decent amount in a piece, but I still have a lot of research to do. I still haven't fully decided between revolver versus automatic for instance. The specimen I was given was simply a matter of "fortuitous" circumstance.

PetahW: Thanks for the run down. I think I'll avoid the gas and debris spitting upon face and hands bit. The Single Six is second on my wishlist for a .22 revolver already, right below the S&W K22.

redlevel42: Red Loc-tite is tempting, but I make my living with my hands, and I'm not sure I'm feelin' that bold.

Jim: The loctite thing seems like it would work, but then I'm left at page one again with my sights 15 degrees off to the left. Doesn't seem like a good way to improve, practicing with an off-sighted firearm.

chief: I'm sure the thing has fallen out of the holster many a time. The most surprising thing for me was learning that the barrle is actually screwed in to the frame. I'm not really sure how I expected a revolver to fit together, but screwed in wasn't on the list of expectations.

Magnum: I check the barrel for wobble, and there are no symptoms of a cracked frame. In fact even when I hand tighten it I find it difficult to unscrew it again. I think I'm leaning with you though towards getting a proper weapon instead of risking anything on this one.

lcpiper: I gave the gunsmith a second callback on the gun yesterday to try and ask basically the same questions I was asking here, and it seemed like he'd given his final answer and didn't want to discuss the issues past "it's a paperweight." I'm not exactly flush, but I've got enough laid aside to afford a good, used firearm if I buy reasonably and used. The trick is just going to be finding one when I've only read about what I should be looking for to determine mechanical soundness, without having actually handled many different specimens myself. It's just a matter of time and patience I suppose.

Rainbow: That's pretty impressive. I'd be tempted but then I still have to overcome the crooked sight issue. I think the whole thing is just a lost cause at this point.

Newton: That's a very real possibility. It would make sense that the twist got over-torqued somehow, causing the ejector rod assembly to snap off. That would also explain why the barrel is loose, especially when combined with Magnum's pot metal theory. It was probably a drop or smack of some kind though, because the barrel shows very very little sign of having been previously fired. I checked with the company on the history of the weapon, and its original manufactur date was in October 1998. Somehow I doubt they would bother to fix the thing after all that time. It certainly doesn't seem like a bad gun, but fixing or replacing it isn't something I'm feeling very comfortable doing. My goal is to get a weapon that will last me 5-7 years of firing at least once a week, 1-200 rounds with occasional days of more than that. I'm not sure if another specimen of this weapon can meet that requirement yet.

James: I didn't think to ask him. Definately not something I'm too keen on risking on my first month in the hobby.
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Old March 5, 2013, 10:32 PM   #14
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Too bad posters have scared you into thinking your gun is beyond repair. If the barrel is just loose then permanent locktite would work just fine. If the threads are worn then using JB weld may work, maybe. If the frame is cracked its gone to a "fair the well". if the barrel over rotates it can be peened to reset how much it rotates and made to line up properly.

I wish you were in my area (burleson, tx) I would love to have a look at your gun. I bet it can be fixed. But then I repair stuff all the time that people think can't be repaired. I've done this most of my life.
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Old March 5, 2013, 10:50 PM   #15
ZRTaylor
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ratshooter: I don't doubt so much that it can be repaired as much as I doubt my ability to repair it unsupervised. I'll clean it, wrap it in something, and hold on to it until I know a bit more about how to make it workable.

Out of curiosity though how do you use peening to fix a barrel that's over torqued? I would be willing to attempt the loc-tite if I knew a way to fix the over torque.
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Old March 5, 2013, 10:57 PM   #16
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A thin ring shim (beercan stock?) might straighten it up so the Loctite would hold the sight vertical.
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Old March 6, 2013, 12:28 AM   #17
ZRTaylor
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A shim might do the trick. The sights are almost vertical when I barely finger tighten the thing, but the overtorquing causes the barrel to feel sketchy until twisted about 10-15 degrees further. A small aluminum or brass shim might just do the trick. Is there any potential for trouble by means of the shim moving the forcing cone further away from the cylinder?
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Old March 6, 2013, 02:58 AM   #18
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15 degrees is about 4% of a full turn. If the barrel threads are something like 36 turns per inch then your shim would have to be 0.001" which is way thinner than your typical aluminum can (about .004"). If you back it off a full turn you're looking at .028" which is way too much cylinder gap.

You can get a .001" shim, but peening the face of the frame where it contacts the barrel might raise enough metal to get the job done and give you a crush fit to vertical. Try about 6 evenly spaced dimples with a center punch in this area. I wouldn't do this with anything other than a .22lr.

Normally I'd say to dimple the barrel since it's the easier to replace part, but in this case I really don't think it will matter. Once the sight is vertical you will have restored the original cylinder gap and should be good to go.
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Old March 6, 2013, 09:02 AM   #19
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You don't peen the frame. You peen the back edge of the barrel. The zmac or whatever the frame is made of would almost surely crack if hammered on. And you only want to do a small amount of peening on the barrel. Install the barrel and see if you can get a feeler guage between the barrel and frame with the sight set at vertical. I bet you can't. If you can that would give you an idea on the shim thickness.

Bearing supply stores sell very thin shim washers with different size holes in them. My dad had a big selection of them. Thats how we set the final distance on the cutters on the vertical mill in his machine shop.

Using the JB weld I suggested would allow you to leave a thin layer on the face of the barrel to fill any gap. Coat it and turn it in to where it goes and let it dry. This is jury rigging pure and simple and I would not do it on a higher quality gun.

I think I would call heritage and explain the problem. They may be able to repair your gun for free or at least a reasonable amount. I don't like their product too much but I seem to recall good reports about their CS dept.
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Old March 6, 2013, 07:38 PM   #20
ZRTaylor
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Sport: I'm not too keen on the peening idea because I have no idea what I'm doing. I would consider it a last ditch effort.

ratshooter: Using JB Weld seems like a passable idea. After careful inspection there just isn't enough room for a shim. A bit of JB though might just do the trick. If I take that angle should I use some green loc-tite as well? In either case I'll give Heritage a call and see what they say. I'm willing to bet that they won't be too keen to repair a gun made in 1998 and obviously abused.
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Old March 6, 2013, 08:19 PM   #21
Jim Watson
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I don't think you would need JB Weld and Loctite.
Just glue it together with the sight straight and try it out.
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Old March 6, 2013, 08:37 PM   #22
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I picked up a used S&W Model 65 .357 Magnum (3" barrel) not long after S&W stopped pinning the barrels. The barrel started backing out and the group moved laterally right along with the front sight.

I finally indexed the front sight for proper windage, marked its position and unscrewed it completely from the frame. I then applied Loctite Red to the barrel threads, reassembled it and gave it the final zeroing tweaks before the Loctite set. That solved the problem.
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Old March 6, 2013, 10:46 PM   #23
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ZR call heritage before you do anything. You might be surprised by their willingness to help. On the other hand if its abused you will most likely have to pay for the repair.

If the barrel just needs a "spacer" use JB weld on the barrel and front of the frame and the locktite on the threads. I doubt it will make any difference what grade you use.

If the barrel has movement when tightened then putting JB on the threads will fill the gap and tighten up the barrel. I think we have talked about this much longer than the repair would take. This should be a simple fix.

Good luck with whatever path you take.
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Old March 6, 2013, 11:07 PM   #24
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IF you like the gun, I'd suggest getting a new one because they don't cost much.
http://www.classicfirearms.com/hand-...rider-revolver

What do to with the one you have?
1) Keep it for parts (if you get a new one like it)
2) Return it to your boss
3) Sell it on Armslist as a "Gunsmith's Special...needs repair"
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Old March 7, 2013, 01:48 AM   #25
ZRTaylor
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There's a local gun show in two weeks, so I'm loathe to pay Heritage for repairs or buy a replacement. I'll grab some stuff next time I go in to town and try an adhesive based repair. Thank you all for the more the ample advice.

Last edited by ZRTaylor; March 7, 2013 at 02:40 PM.
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