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I just got through explaining on another forum that Colt revolver barrels ARE NOT "just pieces of threaded plumber's pipe that can be screwed on and off at will".

This is something you often see on the forums.
The idea is, a revolver can be re-barreled by locking the barrel in some wooden blocks, shove the ol' hammer handle through the frame window, and twist 'er off.
The new barrel just threads on and you're off to the range.

You'll even read this Sterling advice in older gunsmithing books and in gun magazines.

A short story:
There was this poor young man who had nothing, but always wanted a Colt Python.
He decide that just this once he was GOING to have something nice, so to fund the Python he got a summer-long job hauling hay.

For those of you not from farm country, hay bailing is HOT, sweaty, nasty, and DANGEROUS work.
The hay bailer bails the hay with wire while you walk along behind it.
As the bails are ejected from the bailer, you pick the bails up and throw them UP onto a wagon, where another worker stacks them.
As the stack gets higher, you have to throw the heavy bails ever higher.

You're ON FOOT around heavy farm machinery, the wires used to bail the hay can break and cut you, poisonous snakes get bailed into the bails and can bite you, and it's all-around dangerous and unpleasant work.

After a long summer, the kid found a deal on a Python. It was a 4 inch and he really wanted a 6 inch.
I told him to give me a week and I could have a brand new 6 in for him, but he was hot to trot and bought a slightly used, but still minty 4 incher.

In this area there lived a "gunsmith" famed far and wide for his "skills".
The old timers all said he was a good gunsmith, but I'd seen his "work".....and he sure wasn't any kind of gunsmith, he was a gun butcher.
He did shooting match super-tight shotgun chokes by heating the muzzle red hot, and I swear, driving an old tapered wagon wheel axle over the muzzle to taper it down.

A good portion of my time was spent trying to save guns damaged by him.
You'd think that by the 50th time he tried to mount a scope on a rifle he'd figure out how NOT to drill the holes off center but I guess that was asking too much.

The kid wanted a six inch and the hammer mechanic had one "in stock".
His "stock" was a number of cigar boxes full of dented, scratched, and rusty used gun parts, most of them badly worn and no longer useful, not that he didn't use them anyway.

The gunsmith whittled up a set of wooden barrel blocks for the barrel, tightened the sprung old vise jaws up until his eyes bugged out, and got his "frame wrench".

The "frame wrench" was NOT a hammer handle.
He was after all a professional, so his frame wrench was a section of wooden 2X4 cut to fit the frame window.

In short order he had the Python re-barreled, and the kid was happy.......for a while.

Rushing out to shoot it, he was shocked that it wouldn't target at all.
Getting too late suspicious, he brought it to me and told me how he'd watched as the other guy had fitted the barrel.

I looked at it, and couldn't believe it.
The frame was bent, the frame was cracked through the barrel threads, and the front of the frame had been FILED.

The kid told me that the barrel had screwed on TOO far, and the old timer had said that he was out of the "special Colt washers" that were to be inserted between the barrel and frame, so he did the "factory recommended" fix which was to file the front of the frame down until the barrel indexed.

I checked the barrel, and the forcing cone had not been re-cut, but he HAD hand filed the rear of it to set the barrel-cylinder gap.
The barrel wasn't even close to flat or level, and the gap was way over the max.

I was then in the position of having to tell the kid that the fabled Python he'd worked and sweated, and risked his life all summer for was now a worthless paper weight.
He left trying to hide the tears.

He took his dad to see the other "gunsmith" who explained as he had many times that I was a fool and trying to put him out of business because I was jealous and wanted his clientèle.

He explained that there was nothing wrong with his work, and the kid was just listening to lies from me.

He explained that the high cost was due to his having to make special tooling to do the job.....The pine barrel blocks and the section of 2X4.
After almost coming to blows with dad, the gunsmith refunded the kids money....... $30.00.

This was not real satisfying considering the Python had cost $325 and a long summer's work.

The broken hearted kid sold the gun to another Python owner as spare parts. For $75.00, I heard.

This is by no means the only time I've seen this, and amazingly, I have seen WORSE jobs.

I HATED having to tell people that they, or some jack-leg they'd trusted had turned a valuable gun into nothing but junk, and to this day when someone asks about a "do-it-yourself" re-barrel job so as to save money, I tend to "go off".

Having got this bad memory off my chest, I'll just say that re-barreling a revolver is not something you want to try at home.

You cannot do an acceptable job with pine barrel blocks, hammer handles, 2X4's, lengths of rope wrapped around the barrel, plumber's strap wrenches, and GOD help me, cloth padded wire pliers.

Fortunately, having retired I no longer have to face these situations, or see the results.

But the bad memories they DO linger.
 

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You've convinced me. That was a needlessly sad story.
 

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I have found in my walk through life that plain old common sense is sadly lacking. Removing the stocks for cleaning is as far as I am personally willing to travel. I have a local gunsmith that I trust to repair a firing pin on anything but my Colts.

There are only two places I would even consider allowing to touch my Colts; the Colt factory and Pittsburgh Handgun Headquarters.

I would enjoy someday getting my hands on an old Python (close to the grave) and the right book to try my hand at a complete disassembly and reassembly.
 

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Could you be more clear on that Dfaris ?
Just jokin'.
Sadly, there's probably tons of (Wannabe) Gunsmith horror stories.
Thanks for sharing it, as it may make at least one or 2 people here think twice before just handing over a fine gun and being disapointed that they get junk back in return.

By the way, as I'm reading your story, the quality of the descriptions made me think of old school dentists & doctors with rusty old equipment, or better yet, a Texas chainsaw massacre if you will, on a gunsmith level.
I can picture in my mind the gunsmith chipping away chunks of the 2 x 4 with a rusty chisel & hammer. Smiling, almost smirking with a patch over one eye and his yellow teeth glistening. Many scares are present on his hands from years of shoddy craftsmanship.
To the left of him on the floor is a rather large pile of broken gun parts, destined for the scrap barrel. To the right of him on his crusty old work bench sits a couple of filthy blood soaked rags next to a couple empty cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and an old ashtray that's overflowing with butts.

Thanks for the story.
I can't wait to catch it on the big screen.

Jeff (GUNKWAZY)
 

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Wow! Truth really IS stranger than fiction. The really sad element of the story, to me, was the kid's misplaced trust. I guess there is still evidence of that going around today, on some internet auctions and yes, with 'discount' gunsmiths.
I'm such a coward that I use a pistolsmith for handguns and a long-barrel specialist for rifles and shotguns. Each man refers guns to the other for best results.
It seems to me that every time I clean and oil the Colts and others I ALWAYS end up studying the fine metalwork and craftsmanship, even to the screwheads. It aleays makes me admire the work that went into each gun.
Even though I have all the manuals and books, I STILL must defer to a qualified gunsmith. The reading matter helps me troubleshoot, so that when the gun goes in for work, I can describe what's up more clearly, and help my 'smith zero in on what needs to be done.
Thanks for a great (though frightening) story.
Don
 

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Too bad the young man had to learn this lesson the hard way but you learn your lessons well at the School Of Hard Knocks!
 

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Before I even purchased my first D-frame I had read over and over again that depending on a "local expert" gunsmith to work on a Colt was not a smart thing to do.

Because of the good advice I had read on these (and other) forums when my pristine Detective Special arrived with an accuracy problem (shot high/left) I sent it back to COLT..

Colt customer service indeed fixed my problem,(indexed the barrel?) CS even "tuned" the DA aspect and did it all for "no charge". I have acquired two more D-frames (older Cobras) and if they ever need tender loving care you can bet my local expert will never get his hands on them.

I think many local "experts" assume if they can fix one firearm they can fix them all. I don't think that's true, especially with old Colts.

The old Colts are just too special to screw around with. Treat 'em like the potential heirlooms they are.

Best Wishes,

JP /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

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[ QUOTE ]
I just got through explaining on another forum that Colt revolver barrels ARE NOT "just pieces of threaded plumber's pipe that can be screwed on and off at will".


[/ QUOTE ]

I think that was TFL and a question I had on my DS on screwing the barrel on and off with plyers. If you didn't scare me to reality there you certainly did with this story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sorry about that.

Like I said, after seeing fine guns ruined, I tend to "go off" on occasion.
Maybe I come on to strong, but I've had cases of telling people the facts, and they just "don't hear it".

I make the mistake of trying to MAKE them hear, and this can be offensive to people.

Again, sorry.
 

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[ QUOTE ]
Sorry about that.

Like I said, after seeing fine guns ruined, I tend to "go off" on occasion.
Maybe I come on to strong, but I've had cases of telling people the facts, and they just "don't hear it".

I make the mistake of trying to MAKE them hear, and this can be offensive to people.

Again, sorry.

[/ QUOTE ]

Oh, no offense taken whatsoever!

As far as I am concerned, you drive you point home honestly, firmly but without being offensive.

I am the first to say that I am NOT a gunsmith. If any easy ideas off the top of my head on fixing them are wrong or dangerous, PLEASE say so in any way possible!

I don't want to hurt any of my Colts because of some hairbrained idea to save time and money.

After your comments, plyers and revolvers will never even be in the same thought in "repairing" a gun
 
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