new army/navy loose cylinder, crane fix?
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Thread: new army/navy loose cylinder, crane fix?

  1. #1
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    new army/navy loose cylinder, crane fix?

    my new navy made in 1897 38da had a loose crane. looking down at the barrel you can push the cylinder to the right and see a gap between the frame and crane. I notice the latch does have some play but holding the latch against the frame the crane still moves away from the frame. is there a easy fix to something like this? I've already replaced the bolt and hand spring. so digging farther into the gun isnt a problem, just need to know what part to address or look at. thx. jim

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    This is usually a sign of a well worn revolver, and/or a sprung crane, usually caused by snapping the cylinder open and shut with a flick of the wrist, Bogart style.
    The cranes of pre-WWII Colt's were fairly soft and were easy to damage this way.

    Key areas to look at are.....

    The enter hole in the rear of the ejector where the cylinder locking bolt seats.
    There's not a lot that can be done for a worn or egg-shaped hole, and replacing the ejector is a major problem since a replacement will be previously fitted to a different frame and will often be unusable.
    It's the ejector fitted to the cylinder that was machined at the factory to set head space, and everything else bases off that.

    Worn cylinder latch.
    Unlike later Colt's the latch is also the cylinder bolt. Later Colt's made the bolt a simpler separate part.
    It might be possible to build up the bolt to get a tighter fit by high precision welding, or by nickel or hard chrome plating to build up the area.

    Crane.
    The crane could be bent, and this can be corrected by using several techniques and tools.
    One necessary tool would be to make a crane alignment stud. This fits on the end of the shaft of the stripped crane and has a precision tip that will enter the bolt hole when the crane is in proper alignment.

    Worn frame.
    The frame itself can wear in the locking bolt hole and can wear over sized or egg shaped.
    There's not a lot that can be done here because the area is very thin and it's tough to bush the hole and not ruin the frame.
    Plating the hole to build it up may not be possible without an expert and special plating equipment.
    It might be possible to weld up the hole and re-machine it, but that gets into some seriously tough work and machine use that would require a real Master gunsmith/machinist, not your local gunsmith or machine shop.

    My best advice is to buy the Jerry Kuhnhausen Shop Manual Volume One.
    This was written as a training aid for new gunsmiths and shows all gunsmithing operations on the Colt's
    This does NOT cover the old New Army & Navy models, but the techniques and tools to repair bent cranes are shown.

    https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-t...prod25720.aspx

    The problem with dealing with an antique like the New Army & Navy is that all available parts are used and previously fitted to a different frame, and when things get this damaged or worn, there's just not a lot that can be done.
    Finally, there are a very few Master Cowboy gunsmiths who are capable of doing some repairs to the New Army & Navy and "may" take them on.
    These experts don't work anywhere remotely near cheap, and are often backed up for years.

    This may be a situation where you just have to reluctantly declare it unrepairable and turn it into a historic non-usable wall hanger.

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    I bought one of the same model/year guns as a cadaver gun. I just wanted to learn and what better way. I gave $200 for the school tool.

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    the hole in the ratchet is a bit wallowed about .007 wear. the latch does have a lot of play. the cylinder seems tight on the bushing. the latch pin looks tight in the frame. I'm going to take the latch out and see if theres a way to peen it to get it to fit tight into the frame. it's a nice looking gun. And a thought occured to me, even with all this wear, somebody had to have been shooting it. they dont get this wear sitting on the shelf. scary. the play keeps the bolt from locking the cylinder. if I click it single action, the bolt will lock most of the time. jim

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    the hole in the ratchet is a bit wallowed about .007 wear. the latch does have a lot of play. the cylinder seems tight on the bushing. the latch pin looks tight in the frame. I'm going to take the latch out and see if theres a way to peen it to get it to fit tight into the frame. it's a nice looking gun. And a thought occured to me, even with all this wear, somebody had to have been shooting it. they dont get this wear sitting on the shelf. scary. the play keeps the bolt from locking the cylinder. if I click it single action, the bolt will lock most of the time. jim

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    pulled the old revolver out and started playing with it. when the gun is clocked single action theres play on the cylinder, pull the trigger double action and the cylinder locks tight between the hand and the locking bolt? smaller bolt that locks against the smaller notch with the groove. cock the hammer single action and pull the trigger, the hand comes up and locks the cylinder fairly tight. jim

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    That's the first example of the later Colt revolvers "Bank Vault Lockup" that Colt's were famous for.
    When the trigger is pulled in either single action or double action the cylinder is tightly locked.

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    so would it be considered safe to shoot if everything licks up in line, cylinder to barrel? I think the local Ace hardware carrys the cowboy 38 long colt ammo. jim

  10. #9
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    There's more to this....

    You have to insure that all functions of these old New Army & Navy revolvers are correct in order to determine if they're safe to shoot.
    Among other checks........

    Head space needs to be checked. Sorry, I don't have the specs for the old New Army & Navy .38 Long Colt models.

    Cylinder end shake.
    This is back and forth movement of the closed cylinder in the frame. Later Colt's had a maximum of 0.003" allowed.
    This is measured by pushing the cylinder to the rear and holding it there as you use a cheap automotive feeler gauge set to measure the gap between the barrel and the cylinder....This is also the actual normal barrel-cylinder gap which should be between 0.004" and 0.008"
    Then push the cylinder to the front and hold it there as you gauge the gap again.
    Subtract the one measurement from the other and that's how much end shake is present.
    While excess end shake isn't a danger as long as it's not too bad and allows spitting of bullet metal, it will wreck the gun eventually.

    Barrel-cylinder alignment.
    This is checked by using a Range Rod.
    This tool is available from Brownell's. It's a precision rod that's slipped down the barrel with the trigger PULLED and held back.
    It should slip into all six chambers if the gun is in proper alignment.
    I'm not sure the bore diameter of the old .38 Long Colt, so a .38 Special rod may not work.
    You might get at least an idea by holding the trigger back and looking down the barrel of an UNLOADED gun to see if the chambers are noticeably off.

    There are other checks, but as long as the cylinder locks up when the trigger is pulled, the chambers are in alignment, and the barrel-cylinder gap is not too big, it's probably safe to shoot.
    Note that these old New Army & Navy revolvers have delicate actions and get out of order or break rather easily. Once broken repairs are almost impossible to get done, and cost a LOT of money since only a tiny few specialty Master pistolsmiths will even touch one.

    These older models are not normally considered to be shooters, they seem to be best used as historic wall hangers.
    People do shoot them, but these are usually guns in very good condition, and they are usually shot only occasionally.


 

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