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What would cause such catastrophic failure?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by orpington, Jun 1, 2020.

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  1. orpington

    orpington Member

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    I have my suspicions, but let's see what others think. Subject in question was a revolver shipped back to manufacturer for repairs nearly 14 years after original ship date.

    I will eliminate the obvious cause: Elmer Keith was unlikely to have fired one of his duplex loads in this one, but anything is possible!

    Some "repairs" may just have been refurbishment. Replaced stocks, for example, may or may not have been necessary.

    In any event, in the historical record, the following was replaced: Extractor, lug, stocks, cylinder, and barrel.

    Not much else left to replace after all that...
     
  2. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    That’s a whole lot. Frame and internals survived but that’s about it. Purely guessing but I would say that it was a misalignment issue that was causing damage therefore the cylinder and barrel were replaced. I assume the lug referred to is the frame lug which could have been loose or too tight for the New cylinder to fully move, or perhaps if it were a recessed cylinder it would actually impact, or had it once been recessed it would be a lot of slop. Grips are a mystery, perhaps replaced as an apology for selling a bad gun to begin with?
     
  3. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Would need more details to say for sure but I would rule out ANY sort of catastrophic failure. If the cylinder and/or barrel were damaged from some sort of catastrophic failure, the frame would've blown the top strap.
     
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  4. ontarget

    ontarget Member

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    Just sounds like a refurb to me.
    "Hey, give me a new barrel and cylinder but don't you dare touch that sweet trigger".
     
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  5. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    It may depend on when it was sent back.

    I have a 455 Hand Ejector 2nd Model that was sent back to the factory at some point to be converted into a 44 Hand Ejector 2nd Model.

    It was converted to 44 Special with a new barrel and cylinder. This was a fairly common at the time. The 455 revolvers had been sent to England during WWI. Some eventually showed back up on our shores and were converted to 44 Special because it was a more easily available cartridge than 44 Special.
     
  6. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    I frequently see accounts here of repair tickets way more extensive than could reasonably be related to the original complaint. I think manufacturers must fire up the Parts Cannon as an appeasement.

    "Replaced half the gun" sounds better than, "replaced and refit cylinder bolt".
     
  7. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    No pics?
     
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  8. orpington

    orpington Member

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    Yes, the "conundrum" was addressed. Seems hard to believe the barrel and cylinder would warrant replacement without having blown out the top strap. Otherwise, I would guess a round was fired after the bullet of the previous round lodged in the forcing cone.

    The gun in question is a Triple Lock, shipped 1915, refurbished 1929. All markings are such that it is impossible to detect refurbishment--e.g., barrel markings and multiple serial numbers appear original. I'm guessing Smith & Wesson still had NOS parts on hand then. Not sure if the replacement stocks would have been pre War N frame with medallions or something else. They were not on it by the time I found it. Originally chambered in .44 Special and still is. Original cost of this firearm was $21 I think. Cost to refurbish in 1929 was $11.16.
     
  9. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    I agree with this. A catastrophic failure of the cylinder would probably ruin the frame.

    I noticed that the moving parts, inside the frame, that reach and touch the cylinder, were not replaced. The crane was not listed as being replaced, which would matter, if a DA revolver. I would expect these to be affected, by a catastrophic failure of the cylinder.

    Perhaps this was a work order for converting the revolver to fire a different cartridge?
     
  10. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    How can we comment on something when we don't know what the 'catastrophic failure' was?
     
  11. Rexster

    Rexster Member

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    Perhaps, this work was to restore a frankengun, or one otherwise botched by an attempt at gunsmithing, to factory specifications?
     
  12. orpington

    orpington Member

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    I have no idea what the failure was. I just know that this work was done in 1929 after being sent back to Smith & Wesson by a Tennessee constable.
     
  13. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Seems like a catastrophic failure would blow the top strap. You'd need a whole new gun. I'm thinking perhaps an overhaul or refurbishment ?
     
  14. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Then all of this is pointless.
     
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    A SWHS letter would say what the original configuration was and a caliber change would be obvious.
     
  16. orpington

    orpington Member

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    All I can do is speculate. I don't know the reason for the refurbishment.

    It letters as 6 1/2" and nickeled, which is what it is. If it didn't have the star indicating a trip back to Smith & Wesson I never would have questioned it. Not a safe queen. She wears her battle scars. No real abuse though except a pass with a buffer lightly to the left side of the frame.
     
  17. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    I sure hope some more information is forthcoming. As for me, I've read through this thread and have no Idea what is going on. Apparently there's a revolver involved, and a Smith &Wesson. Beyond that, I'm in the dark.

    Bob Wright
     
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  18. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    First off, any Triple Lock is worth investigating further.

    It sounds like you have already answered my first question, it sounds like you have gotten it lettered. These days there are actually 2 separate requests for letters.

    What used to be called a Factory Letter is these days called a Letter of Authenticity. I suspect that is what you have. These letters typically give a bit of history about the model of firearm, then tell specifics about yours such as the features it had when it shipped and where it shipped. Sometimes a Factory Letter will give more information, I have sometimes gotten a bit more than outlined above.

    Now there is also Historical Letter. A different group takes the information from your Letter of Authenticity and searches digital files for any information pertaining to your revolver. They state up front that it is only for revolvers that shipped between 1920 and 1966. So yours may not be included. But perhaps there is information about the work done in 1929.

    Here is a link to the site which lists both types of letters. It appears to me that if they don't find anything when you ask for the Historical Letter, you will not be charged anything.

    http://www.swhistoricalfoundation.com/info.html


    You could also post your question on the S&W Forum. There are some very knowledgeable folks there who may be able to shed some light on your questions.

    This link should take you directly to the section relating to Hand Ejectors made between 1896 and 1961.

    http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-hand-ejectors-1896-1961/?s=8968fd1810cbe3e2c42919ff9ddd0480

    Lastly, I would be a bit reluctant to characterize the repairs done because something catastrophic happened to your Triple Lock. It could be a simple explanation of a lot of wear, or something similar.

    If the cylinder blew up, the frame would most likely have been damaged.

    From my standpoint, any Triple Lock is worth investigating further.

    You are correct that when they first shipped in 1908 the Triple Lock was priced at $21. When the 44 Hand Ejector 2nd Model (without the third lock and without the large underbarrel lug) was introduced in 1915 because those features had been eliminated the price was reduced to $19. In those days, $2 was a significant amount of money. I just checked with an inflation calculator and it comes to $50.77 in 2020 dollars.
     
  19. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    Where in the world are y'all getting your information? I read this post and cannot find anything about a Smith & Wesson, nor a Triple Lock.

    Mind readers here abouts?

    Bob Wright
     
  20. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Post #8 Bob


    "The gun in question is a Triple Lock, shipped 1915, refurbished 1929. All markings are such that it is impossible to detect refurbishment--e.g., barrel markings and multiple serial numbers appear original. I'm guessing Smith & Wesson still had NOS parts on hand then. Not sure if the replacement stocks would have been pre War N frame with medallions or something else. They were not on it by the time I found it. Originally chambered in .44 Special and still is. Original cost of this firearm was $21 I think. Cost to refurbish in 1929 was $11.16."
     
  21. orpington

    orpington Member

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    I do not own the revolver in question but have been familiar with it for over 20 years. The factory letter for it probably dates to the late 1990's. Letters relative to the refurbishment fail to indicate why a refurbishment was necessary. I could have posed this question on the Smith & Wesson Forum but elected to post to this one instead because I thought I would get a better response. The question was more about the cause of failure in a revolver that just happens to be a Smith & Wesson Triple Lock and I sought opinions from those familiar with revolvers that weren't necessarily made by Smith & Wesson.

    It seems hard to believe a quality revolver such as a Triple Lock would need refurbishment after less than 14 years of service, unless Elmer Keith, or his clone, got their hands on this one. Sadly, old Elmer blew up more than his fair share of Triple Locks over the years.
     
  22. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    Orpington,

    So you are asking about a revolver that you can't post a pic of. A revolver that you don't own. A revolver that you are only speculating about. You've read something about it and have asked why would it have needed these changes?

    "The gun in question is a Triple Lock, shipped 1915, refurbished 1929. All markings are such that it is impossible to detect refurbishment--e.g., barrel markings and multiple serial numbers appear original. I'm guessing Smith & Wesson still had NOS parts on hand then. Not sure if the replacement stocks would have been pre War N frame with medallions or something else. They were not on it by the time I found it. Originally chambered in .44 Special and still is. Original cost of this firearm was $21 I think. Cost to refurbish in 1929 was $11.16."

    I assume you've spoken with your friend about it. I also assume that they told you all that they could.

    "I do not own the revolver in question but have been familiar with it for over 20 years. The factory letter for it probably dates to the late 1990's. Letters relative to the refurbishment fail to indicate why a refurbishment was necessary. I could have posed this question on the Smith & Wesson Forum but elected to post to this one instead because I thought I would get a better response. The question was more about the cause of failure in a revolver that just happens to be a Smith & Wesson Triple Lock and I sought opinions from those familiar with revolvers that weren't necessarily made by Smith & Wesson."

    You'll get a worse response.

    So pretty much, you are asking folks to speculate on what could have happened to a revolver to cause this. To guess about it.
    OK, here goes:

    One day a fella who owned the New Century got good and drunk. He shouted out, "Folks! look at this fancy gun handling!" He tossed his gun in the air and went to catch it but missed. This put a gouge in the cylinder it also cracked the left grip panel. He picked it up and went to shooting. First round was a squib and stuck in the barrel. He fired two more rounds and this bulged the barrel. He cried like a baby. Next day he sent it in to S&W for repairs. When it came back he sold the gun. He swore off booze forever, joined the Salvation Army and spent the rest of his life ringing a bell for charity and sobriety.

    Since we're guessing that's my guess. :)
     
  23. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    ^^^now that's funny!
     
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  24. orpington

    orpington Member

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    As good a guess as any. Yes I do not have any photographs right now, looks like a well used Triple Lock. The point of the thread was to see if anything described as needing replacing could have been damaged in one purely speculative event without blowing out the top strap. I'm guessing not...
     
  25. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    An overloaded round that bulged the chamber and cracked the forcing cone causing the person to drop the gun and crack the grip. But it's just a guess and is as valid as any other speculative guess.

    Convince the owner of the gun to try to pursue it as folks suggested above.
     
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