Colt Woodsman kit to allow use of high speed .22 ammo
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Thread: Colt Woodsman kit to allow use of high speed .22 ammo

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    Question Colt Woodsman kit to allow use of high speed .22 ammo

    A family member acquired this years ago when they purchased a nice, early Woodman pistol. Included with the Woodsman was a package with what we believe is a mainspring housing and spring that we further believe would allow owners of these early guns to use higher velocity .22 rimfire ammunition.


    We're done a bit of internet searching already and it appears as those these "stronger" mainspring housings were typically marked on the back (portion where the web of your thumb and forefinger would touch) with some grooves cut to form the shape of a square. The original "low-speed" housing currently on the Woodsman has checkering in the shape of an oval in the same area of the mainspring housing.


    This example has no such marking however. I might doubt the authenticity of the part EXCEPT the mainspring housing and accompanying spring came with the mailing package that Colt originally used to shipped it in. The replacement housing and spring were shipped from Colt in a small cloth bag to which is sewn a mailing label. The label has a postmark dated March 17th, 1958, has Colt's address in Hartford CT as the return address, and the name of a hardware store in Abilene, Kansas as the addressee.


    First of all we're curious to know if we've correctly identified these parts! If we have, then just how unusual is this kit and its' package, and has anyone here seen an unmarked high-speed mainspring housing before?


    Thanks in advance for any and all information!


    Here's a few photos of the kit and its' mailing package.

    Bag with contents 1.jpegBag with tag 1.jpegTag closeup 1.jpegHigh speed mainspring housing 1.jpegHousing closeup side 1.jpeg
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    Here's a picture of the back of the Woodsman with the original, "low speed" ammo mainspring housing:

    Colt Mainspring housing original 1.jpeg

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    I think the answer to the question is what did the mainspring housing look like on a current production Colt Woodsman in 1958 ? If they were smooth at that time, you probably got the standard 1958 era part. For example, my 1948 Woodsman Sport Model has a completely smooth mainspring housing. The older parts with horizontal grooves may have been depleted by 1958.
    If someone had ordered that part in 1938, they probably would have received the improved part with the horizontal grooves.

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    I am surprised that Colt still sold First Model high speed mainspring housings in 1958!

    WR, the First Model mainspring housings will not interchange with Second and Third Model mainspring housings. The grip frame shapes are different, so the 1958 mainspring housing configuration of a Third Model has nothing to do with the configuration of the OP's First Model mainspring housing, even though it shipped in 1958.

    Is this mainspring housing stamped with an "A" on one side or the other? (Presumably, "A" is for "Accessory?") I have one of the scarce accessory high speed mainspring housings so stamped, but it has the horizontal lines stamped near the top of the housing indicating it is suitable for use with high speed ammunition.

    I think Bob Rayburn says that all Post-War First Model pistols have plain mainspring housings. I do not recall whether Bob says the Post-war First Model housings are stamped with the pistol's serial number like Pre-War pistols, or not.

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    At least one mainspring housing listed as a high-speed housing on eBay a couple of years ago was actually the original that had been stored in the "accessory" envelope. At some point, the originals value will increase, as some will desire to restore their "The Woodsman" to OEM spec.
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    Ah yes, Judge Colt is correct, the 2nd and 3rd series mainspring housings won't interchange with the 1st series. I don't know how I missed that obvious point.
    I do have one of the 1946 shipped Pre-War/Post War variation Woodsman Target Models that were assembled with leftover 1st series parts and shipped prior to the introduction of the 2nd series Woodsmans. It does have the horizontal lines on the mainspring housing. I just field stripped it and the housing does have the serial number stamped on the left side.
    Maybe Colt had some partially machined 1st series housings left after they assembled complete pistols and shipped them, and then finished the parts in the current style before putting them in the spare parts bins for future requirements ? We may never know.
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    Just spoke with my family member. They inspected the "high speed" mainspring housing with a magnifying glass and can't find ANY markings, much less anything that looks like the letter "A".

    They also told me that when they bought the pistol, the high-speed housing was installed in the Woodsman, and the original mainspring housing, with its' matching serial number, was stored in the Colt mailing bag.

    I have a feeling that this is going to remain a bit of a mystery as to how the high-speed housing was originally acquired from Colt.

    A couple additional questions: what is the relative rarity of an item like this? How many owners of early Woodsman pistols went to the trouble and expense of swapping out the original mainspring housing for the high-speed version?

    Thanks to everyone who has responded!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TooTech View Post
    I have a feeling that this is going to remain a bit of a mystery as to how the high-speed housing was originally acquired from Colt.
    I don't think it is that much of a mystery. Someone ordered the part from Colt and it was sent to them in the bag shown. The part that amazes me is that the part was still available ten years after the First Model was discontinued.

    Quote Originally Posted by TooTech View Post
    A couple additional questions: what is the relative rarity of an item like this? How many owners of early Woodsman pistols went to the trouble and expense of swapping out the original mainspring housing for the high-speed version?
    Bob Rayburn, THE expert on the Model S, says the accessory "A" high speed mainspring housing is "rare." I suspect a totally unmarked high speed mainspring housing is even more rare. That said, The "A" stamping and the horizontal line marking are the defining characteristics of a true accessory high speed mainspring housing, and the absence of those characteristics will reduce the value to many, if not most. After all, in all likelihood, the unmarked piece probably is just a replacement part, not a true accessory high speed housing.

    There is no way to know how many owners of low speed pistols spent the money to convert their pistols to fire high speed ammunition. Most owners probably shot high speed ammunition in their low speed pistols without worrying about failure. And most never failed anyway.

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    Thanks Judge! What you say makes complete sense. Replacement parts, not a "kit" per se.

    How were the original mainspring housing upgrade kits packaged? Did they come in a distinct package?

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    I forget how I acquired mine decades ago. It is "bare," with no box or bag of any kind. Perhaps Mr. Rayburn can tell us how the high speed accessory housings were packaged.


 
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