View Full Version : ??cleaning and lubing Colt Lightning pistol

March 9, 2005, 06:50 PM
I just picked up a nice 1886 lightning pistol and it is a little gritty and has a sticky trigger. can someone walk me thru a simple strip and clean job for the hammer and trigger , i have done some minor work on a Colt SAA, can i just remove the trigger guard and clean and lub from the bottom without lots of parts falling out. i have heard these things are very tricky.


Mike Irwin
March 9, 2005, 09:26 PM
A Colt Lightning?

And it still works?

Unfortunatley, there's no such thing as a "simple" strip job with a Lightning or Thunderer. They're probably the single most complex double-action revolvers ever manufactured. I took a Thunderer apart a number of years ago, and won't make that mistake again.

Hose it out with brake cleaner, let it dry, and follow that with an aerosol-propelled oil.

March 9, 2005, 09:52 PM
so dont take the trigger guard off, or do take it off and hose it out. i have some of the aresol break free and spray lube .

thanks .

did you ever get the thunderer back together again. I am not really going to shoot this much but did want it to be cleaned and preserved.

Mike Irwin
March 10, 2005, 12:47 AM
If you take the trigger guard off, which is really the whole trigger guard, bottom strap, and front gripstrap, you also end up removing at least one delicate leaf spring. I can't remember for sure, but I think there are several other small parts held in place or otherwise supported by this assembly.

Still, that's not nearly as fraught with frustration and danger as removing the hammer and trigger assemblies.

Here's a link to a parts diagram for the Lightning/Thunderer. You can see why they have such a reputation just from the number of parts.


March 10, 2005, 05:24 PM
how do you recommend spraying the cleaner in the inner works, from the trigger area , or at the back of the hammer. i just dont think you could get much penetration. or lube reapplied. I sure dont want to become a gunsmith just to clean this one gun. i will have to talk to my local gunsmith to see if he is familar with this model.


Mike Irwin
March 10, 2005, 08:46 PM
Cocking the hammer will give you quite a bit of penetration potential for the spray, which will flush away a lot of gunk. Do it outside, and use a LOT.

Lightnings and Thunderers have bested quality gunsmiths before.

Frank Pachmyer (I think it was him), when he was starting out, told of becoming so frustrated trying to fix a Lightning that he took it out and threw it across the street.

March 10, 2005, 09:25 PM

sounds like the classic american fix, hit it , kick it or chunk it across the street. did he say that was the fix. i may try it sometime. I have seen the diagram you sent. but it doesnt seem to give a good perspective of how they fit together. i have some gun books but all mine show semi auto take down, not revolver . umm will have to add to my collection.

I will let you know how it goes.

Mike Irwin
March 11, 2005, 11:09 AM
Unfortunately, exploded views rarely give a really good visual on how parts sit together. The overall purpose is to show the various parts.

Good luck!

art greenberg
March 18, 2005, 08:58 PM
Soak your blues away. Patience and a bath (a very long Bath) in your favorite solvent will do wonders. Be patient, remove grips and soak and use a bit of compressed air. Often Little or NO disassembly is needed. Good luck....Often even old gummed up mechanical watches respond to lighter fluid soaking and air. Remember to re-lube ......

March 19, 2005, 01:10 PM
With a gun that old I would take it completely apart and clean and inspect each piece .That's the only way to get it properly cleaned. As you take it apart just make notes and sketches so you can get it together again . Not as bad as you think.

Mike Irwin
March 20, 2005, 01:45 AM
And once again, I advise against trying to strip a Lightning or Thunderer.

Quite frankly, it's not a good idea to try shooting one, given the age, so a through strip and clean isn't all that necessary.

"Due to the intricacy of the lock mechanism of the Lightning Colt, specail care should be taken in disassembling to note the exact relative positions of all parts to facilitate correct reassembly."

That's from NRA's Firearems Asssembly guide.

Unfortunately, what that guide doesn't tell you is that with a couple of the parts there's no way to note their exact relative (if that isn't an oxymoron, I don't know what is) position because they're hidden by other parts, or by the frame.

Hell, the trigger alone has 9 separate parts, and that's the simple part of the assembly because it comes out in a single lump...

You have to hope, as you're disassembling it, that you don't knock something out of position elsewhere, or you get to play the "AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! What the hell is this and where the hell does it go?" game.

Ask me how I know...

March 20, 2005, 05:55 AM
Mike ,I admit it would depend on your skills but of course I'm a guy who has completely stripped a few P7s .!! :D

Mike Irwin
March 20, 2005, 09:25 AM

I know my way around the inside of a gun or two.

I have a little side "business" (hobby, really, I don't accept payment) in which I do varying levels of gunsmithing repair and improvement on S&W revolvers.

I've had my P7 fully apart more than once. Compared to the Lightning, the P7 is a piece of cake, because it's a lot more intitutive.

I also think it says a lot that a gunsmith of Frank Pachmayer's caliber was buffaloed by the design, as well.

All in all, Colt's engineers were smoking opium when they came up with it. Hell, the Adams and Tranter revolvers in Britain were a lot simpler, and their design was going on 25 years old at that point.

March 20, 2005, 03:23 PM
i did soak the daylight out with breakfree, and then relubed seems to do fine other wise and alot of all powder came out.

thanks again guys