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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Question for you guys regarding some gunsmithing work I had done on my Colt M1901 and whether this is a common/generally accepted practice. Basically my M1901 was in original configuration and all matching less the sideplate. The sideplate did not match and as a result didn't fit properly to the gun; it sat high along the lower edge. The sideplate was original and had perhaps 50-60% original finish left with a nice honest wear and patina.

I brought it to a local gunsmith and asked them to fit the sideplate to the gun. I went to pick up my gun the other day and while they did fit the sideplate so that it sat flush, they also removed all the surface finish in the process. I was very surprised and disappointed with this as I did not request not expect the entire surface to be altered, much less all the finish removed. I asked the owner of the shop what happened and he said that even after they fit the sideplate to the frame, the top edges were still sitting high so they took those down and touched up the surface so the surface of the sideplate would be flush with the frame.

Is this something you guys would expect to have been done if you brought in a revolver with a non-matching sideplate that needed to be fitted? At the very least I would have expected the gunsmith to contact me after getting the sideplate fitted to ask if I wanted the top to be flush with the frame meanwhile explaining the loss of finish that would result. I never received that call though, and now the sideplate looks awful and stands out. I have used this shop before and I like the owner, so before I make a stink about the gunsmithing I want to check with those more knowledgeable than myself to see if my expectations are unrealistic, or if removing all the surface finish in such a circumstance would be a common practice. I am just very disappointed with how it looks as this was a nice M1901 in original configuration/finish with double inspector stamps and lanyard present.

Two pictures, top is before and bottom is after. Cylinder is sooty in the second photo from shooting:




 

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That is a rotten gunsmithing job, and you should complain a lot. If it were mine, I would demand money for ruining my gun. Of course, as an attorney, I may be a bit more aggressive than most.
 

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I would say that there is some shared responsibilty. I believe the shop should have made clear to you what would/might happen to the finish. However, I also think that you should have known that any fitting would involve sanding, grinding, and filing. This in turn would likely damaged at least some of the finish, and possibly damage much of the finish. Thus the question on your part before work was started, "What can I expect in reference to the finish?"

John Gross
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
However, I also think that you should have known that any fitting would involve sanding, grinding, and filing.
I knew full well that fitting would entail the aforementioned work on the inside underneath, edges, sides and perhaps top edges of the sideplate. My concern lays in the fact that the ENTIRE surface finish was removed, as opposed to just along the edges insofar as was necessary to fit the sideplate. Sorry if I wasn't clear.
 

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I agree with the OP in that fitting a part such as this means inletting and removing metal under the the plate and in the grooves of the frame.
It doesn't take a gunsmith to remove metal on a surface plate.
 

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Friend with the owner or not, you should say something.
I don't agree with John about shared responsibility. If you were expected to know this you would be a gunsmith yourself. Over 90% of gun owners would not know this. I don't care if it's common knowledge with revolver fans, it's plain wrong to take a job and not explain the ramifications to the customer. You definitely should have got a call from these folks before they started grinding. No excuse is acceptable. They didn't care. Period.

There are a lot of crappy, inconsiderate business people out there. They don't deserve your money or you having to repress you telling them their work and attitude are not satisfactory. Please find another gunshop and gunsmith. In the short run it may bother you. In the long run it will be to your benefit.
 

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I am with Mike on this score.I am a Damn Good Nurse but I am not a GUNSMITH and wouldn't be automatically knowlegeable as to how much finish would be lost in the process.It to me would be the responsibility of the Smith to explain to you just what the impact would be and if it is acceptable to you prior to hacking your gun....JMHO......Mike
 

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Well...I yield to those more knowledgeable than me about fitting a sideplate to a revolver. But I will say that a few years ago I had an antique musket that had the head broken off of the hammer screw. I located a screw and took the musket to a gunsmith for him to drill out the old screw and install the new one. One of my questions was, what can I expect as far as the matching/consistency of the finish on the screw, hammer, and lockplate.

John Gross
 

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The 'gunsmith' is incompetent and had no ethics to boot, and should never have done what they did.

Probably they should never have accepted the Job to begin with, since they did not know HOW to do it in the first place.

There is absolutely no reason for the surface and finish of the Side Plate to have been disturbed.

The angular 'edge' along the bottom merely needed to be brought in a tiny bit, for the Plate to fit properly.

If the Side Plate was still too proud or high, or was still going TO be too proud/high ( one has to manage both, as one fits it ) then material would be removed from the BOTTOM of the Side Plate, at each bearing Point or contact with the Frame plane, to bring it into a flush condition with the Frame.

If they felt that lowering the Side late in to a flush fit, would then require milling on the inside bottom of it, then, this should have been determined as part of the initial estimate...and, then, to go about things correctly.

Also they did very badly in crudely hacking away at the low edge by the rear of the Trigger...where the result does not even pretend to match the profile it is continuous with.

This is simply just really "bad" work done by an incompetent, who has no ethics or pride or integrity.

In my opinion, this 'gunsmith' not only should refund whatever his fees were, but, he should pay you additional damages for ruining the side plate you did have, and wasting your time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all very much for your responses. This forum has been a tremendous resource and I appreciate the advice.

The dealer is a solid guy with a good reputation who has been around for many years. I've chatted with him many times and never got the impression he is the type to screw over a customer or "pull a fast one". I'm not sure why this sideplate situation occurred but I am going to attempt to work it out with him. If he doesn't want to take care of the problem then I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

Numrich seems to have sideplates for $35; does anyone know if they (or it) are original with finish? I emailed them but no response so far. Or does anyone know of another source for an original condition Colt DA .38 sideplate?

I cleaned my M1901 and compared it to my other M1901 which has a matching sideplate with remaining finish. It's not the best comparison because the 1st one has a lot of missing finish on it's sideplate, but it is wear and patina that has developed over a century, and you can see along the edges how it's finish matches that of the rest of the revolver. That is what the sideplate looked like on my 2nd M1901, except there was much more finish remaining. Honestly I kind of feel sick about what the gunsmith did to the sideplate...seems like totally unnecessary damage.

The 2nd M1901 with ruined sideplate is always on the top;





 

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I am not a gun smith, but I am a business owner. As such I have an obligation to my clients to explain each job to them. What they can expect, what can be done, what can not etc......It is only after the client is fully aware of what to expect, will I have them sign s retainer agreement and begin the job. That is what this gun shop owner should have done before any work was started. It is just the correct way to conduct business. JMHO.Blade
 

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I am not a gun smith, but I am a business owner. As such I have an obligation to my clients to explain each job to them. What they can expect, what can be done, what can not etc......It is only after the client is fully aware of what to expect, will I have them sign s retainer agreement and begin the job. That is what this gun shop owner should have done before any work was started. It is just the correct way to conduct business. JMHO.Blade
Damn straight, Lou
 

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I have been a gunsmith (loosely defined lol) for a number of years in two gun shops and then for a 1911 manufacturer. This work is horrendous and unacceptable. Gunsmithing is about making things look as good or better than when it was received. First thing I would have asked you was do you plan on refinishing the gun? If the answer was yes I might approach things differently, but..... if you said no you liked that finish, I would have taken all material from inside and told you that was what I was going to do, leaving exposed metal inside. Looks like they owe you a new side plate at minimum. Question. It looks like they sanded the frame on the underside? or is that a glare? If so they owe you a gun imho.
 

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I am unfamiliar with the workings under the sideplate of this gun, but does the sideplate actually retain things on the inside? Just wondering if this would or should have figured into how the work was done. Or into the appraisal of the scope of work and conversation with Marcus?

Craig
 

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They way they 'sculpted' the lower part by the rear of the Trigger, is especially bad.

As jake1911 relays - a proper conservation/repair of anything old, is done in ways which result in no visible clue of their having been done. One never forces the Work to adapt to poor methods, one evolves methods which respect the requirements of the Work.

Seeing the images, it does not look as bad as I was expecting, but, regardless, it should not have been done in a way which resulted in the loss of the finish of the outside of the Side Plate, and, the badly 'sculpted' part by the rear of the Trigger, is completely un-acceptable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The owner will be covering the cost of a new sideplate plus it's fitting. Numrich has sideplates, but after several calls and speaking with several representatives I'm still not entirely sure what finish they are. Each representative checked with a "technician", and I was informed that they are original. However one rep told me they are all a shiny blue, another said a dull blue, and another said a mix with some nickle/stainless and blued. They said they couldn't pick a specific one for me and couldn't put a note in my order to have a shiny blued finish sideplate selected when they fullfill my order. Basically it's a gamble I was told...Seriously?! So we'll see which one I end up with. If it's not correct does anyone know of another source for correct, military Colt M1892 sideplates?

Question. It looks like they sanded the frame on the underside? or is that a glare? If so they owe you a gun imho.
Which picture are you referring to?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I got my sideplate in from Numrich. Condition is great, probably 95% finish remains. Unfortunately the finish is slightly darker blue that is also a little less shiny. It's noticeable but does look better than the messed-up sideplate. I suspect it is from a civlian Colt DA 38 rather than a military one. Nevertheless I am going to search a little more to see if I can't turn up a military sideplate with matching finish.
 
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