What would it take to fix this Colt revolver?


January 1, 2013, 10:34 PM
It is a Army Special made in 1910.
It is 38 cal.
The owner has very little money invested in it and wants to know if this kind of thing can be fixed.
He is 900 miles from here, and I will not see him again for months, but he can send me pics.
He is a very good machinist and welder.

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January 1, 2013, 10:39 PM
The crane is sprung.

Tell him to buy the Jerry Kuhnhausen book on Colt Revolvers, and if he is a machinist, he can fix it himself once he knows how to do it right.

Welding skills. or welding torches will not be required.



January 1, 2013, 11:29 PM
It should not cost more than $50 to repair.

January 2, 2013, 12:13 AM
He owns that Volume I and II, and has loaned them to me.

I can scan the pages and send them.
Vol II page 47 sprung crane alignment check with thimble gauge, he can make one.
Vol I page 38-42 dissemble crane and cylinder.
Vol II page 116-117 straightening the crane.
Vol I page 55-60 crane alignment.
Vol I page 149-151 straightening the crane.
Vol II page 50-55 check ejector rod and stem.
Vol I page 63-69 reassemble crane and cylinder.

January 2, 2013, 01:05 AM
He is a very good machinist and welder.
It won't take any of that.

I had a S&W M-34 which my BIL was nice enough to spring the crane on for me.

Took it to my local pistol smith and he had it fixed in less than 5 mins...but he knew what he was doing.

It was too gruesome to describe, but it involved a Q-tip and a length lead babbitt

Old Fuff
January 2, 2013, 10:56 AM
The diagnoses that the crane is sprung (bent) are correct, and correcting it isnít difficult, if you know what youíre doing. On the other hand if you donít you can break the crane barrel (the tube part of the crane the cylinder revolves on).

Incidentally, no machining is evolved, so how good of a machinist someone is doesnít matter.

Unless you have a gunsmith available who is knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to working on older Colt hand-ejector revolvers it would be far better to return it to the factory that made it. Yes it will cost more, but in my view itís better then letting someone experiment on your gun under circumstances where it might be reduced to a bag of parts. :uhoh:

Chuck Perry
January 2, 2013, 11:38 AM
How does a sprung crane occur? Is it from gross mishandling or something that might occur if you're not careful?

Vern Humphrey
January 2, 2013, 12:45 PM
How does a sprung crane occur? Is it from gross mishandling or something that might occur if you're not careful?
The classic method of springing the crane is snapping the cylinder shut by a flip of the wrist -- as you see actors do on TV and in movies. The proper way to shut the cylinder is to use your left hand and press it shut.

January 2, 2013, 12:51 PM
A common way is when someone Bogarts your gun when you show it to them...that is what happened to mine

Oops, typing too slow ^^^same as above

January 2, 2013, 01:24 PM
With the same situation. It took a "calibrated" tap with a plastic mallet to fix it. Again, I had the book and what I did was refered to as a "field adjustment". It work for me on a $225 gun. Sometimes the gun can get dropped hard and spring a crane also.

January 3, 2013, 09:14 AM
If one of those old Colts is actually chambered for .38 Colt, but isn't counter bored and .38 Specials will fit, will firing them in it a lot cause that?

A friend has an old Colt Army, with that same crane damage, and when he brought it to me to look at, the box of ammo he brought was .38 special, and said "well that's what daddy always shot in it".

Vern Humphrey
January 3, 2013, 12:09 PM
I'd avoid firing .38 Special in a revolver orginally chambered for .38 Long Colt.

A simple solution, if .38 Special rounds chamber would be to handload to minimum pressure -- the classic 148 grain wadcutter load with 2.7 grains of Bullseye would be ideal.

Old Fuff
January 3, 2013, 01:12 PM
I suspect the revolver in question is a Model 1892 New Army/Navy, not an Army Special.

In any case don't fire it with anything unless the sprung crane has been fixed. If it has follow Vern Humphrey's advise.

If you post a serial number we can probably find out what year it was made. Just because his Daddy didn't know any better and fired .38 Specials in what was apparently a revolver chambered in .38 Long Colt doesn't make it especially smart to do.

January 3, 2013, 03:51 PM
You are correct, it was a Colt Army/Navy 1892.

I told him that was likely the cause of the damage, and to not fire it anymore until it was fixed, and not with .38sp. He chose to make a wallhanger out of it. It was kinda rough, had some rust pitting and had been nickle plated at some point.

Jim K
January 3, 2013, 04:14 PM
A plastic mallet will do it, but I had a lead hammer that worked fine, usually with just one tap. Did OK in straightening barrels, too.

Just FWIW, the later Colt New Army and Navy models above 200,000, and the military contract revolvers Models 1903 and 1905 were made to accept the .38 Special. Colt simply reamed the chambers all the way, removing the earlier shoulder. (.357 Magnum with some bullets will fit and fire also, but that is NOT recommended, nor is .38 Special that is loaded hotter than standard.)

Naturally, Colt didn't change the marking; no way were they going to put ".38 S&W Special" on their guns!

The Army Special was chambered for .32-20, .41 Colt and .38 Special. The .38 Special guns will, of course, accept and fire .38 Long and Short Colt, but no .38 Army Special revolvers were made that will accept only the .38 Long Colt.

The Army Special is a strong, modern revolver; it later became the Official Police with no change other than the name.


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