January 15, 2013

Special Tools That Make Life Easier

These tools are remarkably simple

It may be because I’m getting up in years and my patience isn’t what it used to be. It may also be that my back doesn’t bend as well it used to. In either case, chasing springs and pins around the floor of the shop isn’t one of the high points of my day.

Because I was always taught to look for an easier, quicker, safer way of doing something, the need for some special tooling to work the two-screw (pin) Ruger single-action became apparent. These tools are remarkably simple, but you will need a metal lathe unless you have tubing and pin stock of the appropriate diameter.

Slave Pin

Without this tool, it’s nearly impossible to align the cylinder stop, trigger, and the retaining spring with the holes in the frame and make a one-time pass with the pin (see Figure 1). Because I want the groove in the pin to be the last part in, I insert the slave pin from the left (the side opposite the retaining spring). As it passes through the receiver, I mount the various interior parts on it. Depressing the pin-retaining spring and running the pin out the right side is a bit tricky, but the handle on the tool makes it a whole lot easier. It also negates the need for a hammer and/or another punch.

It is a relatively simple matter to insert the retaining pin while withdrawing the slave pin until the retaining pin has cleared the spring and is in the hole in the receiver web inside. From that point on, it’s just a matter of driving in the pin while keeping the parts lined up with the slave pin until the spring snaps into the retaining groove on the pin.

This slave pin could be used for keeping parts aligned during disassembly and by being driven in from the left side after the spring has been depressed and is clear of the retaining groove on the pin. Either way, it keep things together.

Tools & Techniques, Chapter 3

Courtesy, American Gunsmith

This slave pin could be used for keeping parts aligned during disassembly and by being driven in from the left side after the spring has been depressed and is clear of the retaining groove on the pin. Either way, it keep things together.

Hammer-Spring And Yoke Tool

For the company’s wheelguns, Ruger provides a neat little pin inside the grip locating/retaining pin to be used to trap those parts while removing them and the hammer strut (see Figure 2). Inserting and removing that pin with all those parts mounted in the gun is simple and readily apparent. But what do you do while trying to keep all three parts in one place at one time while performing the same action out of the gun?

After removing the assembled parts from the gun, clamp the head (top) of the hammer strut in a vise. Give it a little more than a snug tightening or it may get away from you. Slip the tool over the strut with the pin riding in the side slots of the tool, and push forward on the bottom of the spring-retaining yoke. Remove the pin and ease the yoke and spring back off the hammer strut. To reassemble, place the yoke on the front of the tool and the spring on the hammer strut which, again, should be clamped firmly in a vise. Begin pushing the yoke and spring onto the strut, making sure the pin slots are on either side. When the small hole in the strut appears, insert the retaining pin and pull the tool back off. I haven’t chased after a strut, spring, or yoke since I began using this tool about a year ago.

The handles on these tools may not be necessary, but they give me better control when using them. The flats on the side of the hammer-spring tool may not be necessary either, though they give me clearance to see the hole in the strut better and ensure my getting that retaining pin all the way through to the other side of the yoke.

Although I’ve never used the hammer-spring tool on a Ruger double-action revolver, I believe it could be used the same way—perhaps with a small amount of modification. I have never seen a need to make a slave pin for a Ruger DA revolver, but a similar pattern would work just fine.

Tools & Techniques, Chapter 3

Courtesy, American Gunsmith

The handles on these tools may not be necessary, but they give me better control when using them. The flats on the side of the hammer-spring tool may not be necessary either, though they give me clearance to see the hole in the strut better and ensure my getting that retaining pin all the way through to the other side of the yoke.

Rebound-Slide-Spring Reassembly Tool

Bob Brownell had a good, all-encompassing word for them: gizzies! Gizzies are all the tools we have on the bench, in the box, and stuffed in drawers that nobody but us knows what to do with. Half of them don’t even have a name, only a purpose, and sometimes that’s better demonstrated than described. But even though the name may be a bit long, I’ll attempt to describe another of my gizzies here.

I frostbit my fingers years ago when I was a kid, and ever since, whenever it gets cold, my manual dexterity leaves a lot to be desired. Trying to remove or replace a Smith & Wesson rebound spring and slide is not a job for the fumble fingered, and in cold weather, that’s my other name.

What I needed was something that would keep the spring and slide in position together, without having them bow up and flip out somewhere into the dim recesses of the shop. The idea was born while I was polishing a rebound spring on the rouge wheel with an old M-16 firing pin as a mandrel to spin it. The end was busted and ground off enough to allow me to push the spring into the housing almost enough to engage it on the retaining pin. With a little more removed from the firing pin, it worked like a charm.

Knowing that age or cold weather was going to give me a case of the fumbles sooner or later, I figured a longer shank and a handle were in order. A 41/2-inch brass rod and an old screwdriver handle work-ed just fine—so well in fact that I use it even when it’s not cold.

Gripscrew-Bushing Tool

Ever cross-thread a 1911 gripscrew bushing? Or mess around for 10 minutes trying to find the lead thread so you wouldn’t? I have to confess to a few of the former and a lot of the latter, as well as a lot of mismated bushings on the guns that came in. If care is taken, cross-threading will often straighten itself out, if you can hold that bushing at the proper attitude while turning it in and out—a bit like a tap. For me, the problem was keeping it from wobbling and trying to get into those crossed-up threads.

Tools & Techniques, Chapter 3

The accompanying sketch (see Figure 3) might help over-come someone else’s fumbles. And by the way, it’s not really a gizzie; it’s a rebound-slide-spring reassembly tool. I don’t have a problem getting them out as long as my left thumb stays where I put it.

I’d seen the drivers that look like a socket wrench with a flatpoint blade inside them. Good idea, but I wasn’t convinced that system would guide the bushing the way I wanted it to. My solution was an old Stanley screwdriver some misguided soul had used as a pry bar. After cutting off the mangled part, I drilled the end of the shank in the lathe, cut and fit the end until I had a shallow blade on either side of the hole that would bottom out in the bushing slots. Then, after trying different drills through the center of the bushing, I dressed out the hole with the one that gave me a slip fit through the bushing (see Figure 4).

With such shallow teeth on the end, I felt they might shear off on an exceptionally rusty or heavily staked bushing, so tempering was in order. Heating it to cherry red and quenching it in oil was sufficient for the purpose. The pin drove in the 3/8-inch depth quite easily, and has never come out. I like this version of the tool better because it lets me see what is going on, and it prevents the bushing from wandering around if it happens to be a bit under standard outside diameter, as can happen in the aftermarket world.

The whole project took just under two hours. I feel it was worth it for the bushings saved—to say nothing of my lowered blood pressure.