View Full Version : Old S&W parts

April 10, 2012, 04:51 PM
Anybody know who might have a supply of old Smith & Wesson top break parts?

I have a .38 S&W Double Action Third Model that has a small component pinned in the hammer called a "fly." In this "fly" is a small leaf spring that is designed (I assume) to exert some kind of pressure on this particular part, but for what reason I don't know, as the gun functions perfectly without the fly doing anything. (??????????)

What I need is a source for parts for this gun, or, if somebody has an illustration of what the spring in the fly looks like, I can possibly fabricate one.

Numrich has a parts diagram of this revolver, but it shows only the fly and not the spring.

All help greatly appreciated.

April 10, 2012, 08:17 PM
Try Dave Chicoine: http://www.oldwestgunsmith.com/

I also recommend his books. If you buy direct from him, he will happily autograph them.


April 10, 2012, 08:20 PM
Gun Parts(was Numerich Arms)West Hurley, NY

April 11, 2012, 09:44 AM
Numrich doesn't show this part in their diagram, and neither does Chicoine.

If I could see what it looks like, I could fabricate one.

James K
April 11, 2012, 11:26 AM
The reason the parts diagrams don't show a spring is because there is none. The purpose of a fly is to allow a light trigger pull without the half cock notch catching on the sear as the hammer falls, breaking the sear or the hammer notch or both. (I am aware that that revolver doesn't have the conventional system, but the principles are the same.)

The fly is made so when the hammer is half cocked manually, it moves out of the way to allow the sear to enter the half cock notch. But when the hammer is falling from full cock, the fly blocks off the half cock notch so the sear cannot enter it. A fly is usually used in conjuntion with a light target trigger pull, or a set trigger, so its use in that revolver is puzzling, as is the fact that it is not used in the .32 version.

I suspect the spring is not original and was added by someone who didn't really understand the way a fly works.


April 11, 2012, 09:51 PM
Jim, if you look carefully at the old factory illustrations, you can just barely make out a slot cut in the fly.

There is a very intricate slot cut in the fly for a spring of some kind that has cylindrical milling on one end ala Colt 1892 DA cylinder bolt spring. The broken stub was tightly fit in the fly.

It actually wouldn't make sense for there to be no spring, since the fly would have to rely on gravity to work, and, if it got dirty enough, it wouldn't work at all.

After studying the action, I think you are right about it's function. The only other logical function I could envision was that it is to keep downward pressure on the rear sear at "half cock," but, in retrospect, that doesn't make much sense, either.

I don't think my camera is good enough (nor are my camera skills), but I'll try to post a close up pic of the fly.

What I'm trying to figure out is if the original spring was just a curved leaf or a tiny "vee" spring.

April 12, 2012, 06:39 AM
Here is a pic I took. You can see the slot and the "stub" that was in it. The pic isn't the greatest. Sorry.:o

James K
April 12, 2012, 01:04 PM
Well, I'll be (pardon the expression) a son of a gun! I finally looked at mine under a strong light and there is the stub of a spring, broken off even with the part and so neatly fitted I didn't even see it. That was probably intended to be a permanent assembly so the spring is not listed as a separate part.

I knocked out the stub and am going to see if I have any spring that small; I might have to flatten a small piece of spring wire, a trick I have used before with tiny springs.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Anyway, now you might have a bit more understanding of that "old time craftsmanship" the anti-modern S&W folks rave about all the time. I can't imagine people at a factory dealing with those tiny parts and getting all of $2 a day, if that. The modern designs really ARE better, MIM and all!


April 13, 2012, 01:02 AM

Yes! I am a great aficionado of old time craftsmanship; In fact, I own very few firearms that aren't over 50 years old.

What I need to know now is if that spring was just a tiny curved leaf spring or a tiny "vee" spring so I can duplicate it.

I finally heard back from David Chicoine who confirmed your statement of purpose for the fly. It was intended to keep the hammer from being damaged.

James K
April 13, 2012, 05:08 PM
I had to dig into my supply of pieces of watch springs, but I got one that worked. I just bent the end over a bit and it seemed to stay in place OK, though I have soldered in that type of spring. I tried other springs, but even the smallest was too strong or too thick. If the spring is too strong or too thick, the fly will keep the sear from entering the half cock notch far enough to allow its front end to disengage the cylinder stop and the gun won't work.*

I don't know what gunsmiths do for small springs now that watches are digital; I don't have a current jewelers catalog and don't know if you can even get watch or clock springs any more. I know binder clips will work in some applications, but a binder clip would be too strong for this application.

*Just another example of the complex inter-relationships of the parts in those guns.


April 13, 2012, 06:12 PM
I've used all that stuff in the past, Jim. I NEVER throw out a broken spring for that very reason.

Watches are handy, though. I once used a couple of tiny metric screws from a foreign watch as replacement grips screws for 2.7mm Kolibri that belonged to Jim Rankin. They fit perfectly and the thread was correct. LOL!!!

I guess I will try the single leaf approach first. Making the rolled end is going to be tedious, though.

James K
April 14, 2012, 08:16 PM
I have made that kind of spring by taking a thicker spring and cutting away the part that needed to be thin, leaving the round end. That was for a Model 1892 Colt 1892 cylinder bolt spring. Numrich had them but the customer was in a hurry to sell the gun and was willing to pay, so I made the spring. Took me half an afternoon and was a PITA, but at least it was a bigger spring than the fly spring on that S&W.


April 14, 2012, 08:48 PM
LOL. Yes, I have been down that same road, and I have to say the that the 1892 cylinder bolt spring isn't that much bigger.:D