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Need help with S&W 686 revolver problem

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by LightningLink, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. LightningLink

    LightningLink Well-Known Member

    I have an older pre-number suffix 686 4-ish" revolver that I bought used about a year or so ago. It does not have the M stamp indicating it's been back to S&W for the binding problem fix. It does, however, have a light SA trigger and I suspect either S&W or a gunsmith has worked on it at some time. Most range time by me is with .38 spl, but I usually but six or twelve .357 mag rounds through it when it's out.

    Anyway, the problem. A couple weekends ago I had it out to the range and it suddenly developed a problem opening the cylinder. Now, I don't know my revolver parts by name, so bear with me. The problem was that when I pushed the thumbpiece completely forward, the cylinder didn't want to rotate out easily. If I applied pressure, it would pop out (literally hear a little snap as it popped out). After a couple more sets of 38 spl, I found it got harder and harder to open and I stopped shooting it.

    At first, I thought it was the thumbpiece not pushing the pin in the extractor far enough to unlock from the rear. However, I tinkered with it and found that there is another pin mounted in the underlug that locks the ejector rod in place at the front. While pushing the thumbpiece forward and applying light pressure to the cylinder, I stuck a shim in between the front pin and the ejector rod and it slid right open.

    So, it would seem that the front locking pin is somehow part of the problem by not pushing forward far enough to let go of the ejector rod. Is this pin part of the problem? Could it have become misshapen over the years and is not rounded enough anymore? Or is the problem with the actual long pin that goes through the ejector rod not pushing the underlug pin far enough?

    If it's a simple problem, is it something I might be able to fix myself? I've built an AR and FAL myself (except barrel mounting) so I do have some rudementary skills. I don't know what S&W's warranty policy is on an older pistol like this and I'm leery of sending it off to them after reading some horror stories. I don't know any gunsmiths in my area that could work on it, though I'm sure I could find one if that's the best course of action.

    Thanks in advance for any advice,
    :confused: LL :confused:
  2. Grump

    Grump Well-Known Member

    Sounds like an ejector rod backing out. It is left-hand thread. Remove, apply appropriate not-so-permanent loc-tite and screw back in as hard as you can stand to do it.
  3. JoeHatley

    JoeHatley Well-Known Member

    I think Grump nailed it...

  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Two likely causes of your problem:

    1. As previously pointed out, the ejector rod has unscrewed itself. If so, follow Grump's instructions.

    2. You may have powder fouling unter the extractor star at the back of the cylinder. Push the extractor rod to raise the star and scrub under it with an old tooth brush.
  5. LightningLink

    LightningLink Well-Known Member

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!

    That was exactly it. I finger tightened it down and it works fine now.

    Two questions about the Loc-tite:
    1) Do I need to degrease both threaded parts? Not sure how I'd get inside the one part.
    2) How tight does it need to be? Finger tight, or use a pair of pliers with cloth over the part?

    Thanks again. I love this place :D
    :) LL :)
  6. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    You definitely want to degrease the parts, or the thread locking compound will just fail. Everything in the Smith & Wesson cylinder comes apart easily. The trick is to remember which way the assorted parts face when you disassemble them so you can reassemble them the exact right way. I always scrub everything within an inch of its life with Hoppe's No. 9, then wipe dry, then wipe everything down with rubbing alcohol. I let the thread locking compound dry several hours, then oil everything and reassemble the firearm.

    Finger-tight is probably tight enough as long as your cylinder opens and closes properly. I tighten the extractor rod a little more by wrapping it in old leather and giving it a gentle twist with a pair of pliers. Too stout a twist can strip the threads, and in that case, you've got parts to order from Brownells.

    Sad to say, it's a rare Smith & Wesson revolver manufactured after about 1970 that doesn't present this problem sooner or later.
  7. Bullet

    Bullet Well-Known Member

    Lots of good advice here. Good shooting.
  8. surfinUSA

    surfinUSA Well-Known Member

    When loosening or tightening the ejector rod be sure to place a couple of fired caes in the cylinder so the rod and the star are not damaged.
  9. scottauld

    scottauld Member

    I thought that was pretty funny. :D

  10. slick6

    slick6 Well-Known Member

    S&W ejector rod unscrewing(With left hand threads)?

    Why is it that 1970 and later S&W's are prone to the ejector rod unscrewing(With left hand threads)? I always assumed that this was the reason that S&W had eventually changed the ejector rod threads from right hand to left hand? Doesn't the cylinder turn the opposite direction, from the left hand ejector rod threads? If so(Just a guess?)this would seem to keep the ejector rod tight? If the threads went the same way as the cylinder turns-then, this would seem the more likely situation, to cause the ejector rod to unscrew more easily? Somebody, please clarify this for me? Thanks!
  11. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    In theory you are right, and that is the reason S&W changed to the left-hand thread. But it is a very fine thread, and if one gets oil or other lubricants on it frictional resistance in the system may not be able to keep the rod from unscrewing itself. Also once it is started, a user may aggravated the problem by twisting the rod while holding the cylinder while loading, unloading or inspecting the chambers. It only takes a few turns of the rod to lock things up.

    The cure, as has been pointed out is to be sure the threads are clean and dry (which in itself may do the job) and then add a little insurance with a drop of thread sealant.

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