The Arthritis Project
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The Arthritis Project


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Old 09-27-2014, 11:24 AM   #1
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Default The Arthritis Project

NM Blackhawk 357 is inbound at a super price. It looks to be in fine shape so using basic proceedures outlined in prior builds and a few factory parts I aim to solve a series of issues that have come to confound a family members ability to defend herself.

Challenges include

1 small but recoil efficient grip for at least 38 Special +P

2 arthritus in small hands that requires 3 fingers to pull the current smoothed and reduced DA revolver trigger.

3 easy small hand actuation of the hammer

4 hivis front sight

Naturally the NM Blackhawk allows 6 carry, no slipped hammer when loading/unloading,safety of a trigger activated xfer bar and good heft (but not too much) for stable shooting

The Arthritis Project should be a very simple build. It will mostly be parts replacement and fitting. Selecting those that seem to work best with small and less dexterous and less strong hands.

Here it is....tracking across the Mountains into NC now. Should be here if a few days.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

It will also need a rear sight, some parts are missing.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

Not sure if it will need a reblue. Its going to be a night stand gun to lay in on long term duty.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

And, its too long. But it'll probably stay long enough for full ejection stroke, arthritis can also mean a loss of dexterity, 38s drop well out of these old blackhawks. But the first priority is safe and easy cocking and a single action trigger.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects
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Old 09-27-2014, 11:58 AM   #2
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I applaud you for your attention to another's plight, as soon as I read your initial post, I thought to myself, "Why not a DA revolver?"

Here is my reasoning for replacement by a DA revolver: The heft and accuracy is equal; the caliber can be equal; many DA revolver recoil reducing grips are available; the operation can be almost the same, however in a time of panic or need, the DA operation may save a life, and in an adrenalin filled situation, pulling a DA trigger will not be that difficult while the option of SA operation still exists; unloading and reloading are faster and simpler.

Just some thoughts that you may or may not agree with. YMMV
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Old 09-27-2014, 02:12 PM   #3
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She currently has a Taurus 66 357. Big, a bit easier to hammer back for single action but even tuned to a smooth safe level, DA requires a 2 finger pull. She may be able to retain this K frame size SA/DA revolver as it fills the hand, has longer levers and better mechanical geometry but...

She also has a stainless Taurus 605. Small J frame size with the attendant poor geometry and so, levering back the hammer in SA has become a dangerous proposition compounded by the small hammer. With the 605, even smoothed, its a three finger DA pull due to the short levers and steep angles of a small mechanism.

As for reload. If you, I, she can't resolve a home invasion scenario with 6 rounds, it is highly unlikely that you, I or especially She (older, slower, less dextrious, less well trained, and any number of other variables that plague our Seniors) will achieve a timely reload and reengagement to finish. Her fastest reload will be multiple 6 shooters at the ready and she practices/prefers SA shooting only due to infirmity. She knows the difference between DA and SA and has over and over experienced SA hits and DA misses at 3 yards. We have to hope and pray and train so that continued SA practice inculcates the necessary gross motor skills when stressed as the fine skills disappear under stress in all but the most proficiently practiced persons.

I suspect and she plans for K frame Taurus DA in the bedroom 2nd floor as it provides the most options against the inability to retreat further, DA there makes the most sense.

SA may replace the first floor 605 or at least be placed in another area to provide shorter response time to one or the other in a first floor invasion.

Medium term, I believe it also prudent to replace the small first floor J frame with another K or L frame capable of both SA and DA function.

My preference for her would be a carbine stocked revolver, preferably SA/DA but there are governmental controls that in typical fashion preclud many better choices for the elder or infirm defending themselves. I considered a shotgun but then even the .410 can overwhelm an arthritic back neck with its recoil and muzzle weight.
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Old 09-27-2014, 02:57 PM   #4
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Thanks for taking the time to inform me better. Best of luck with the project!
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Old 09-29-2014, 03:01 PM   #5
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Doing some planning. Will someone with a NM Blackhawk equipped with the FACTORY RUGER BIRDSHEAD GRIP, please take the following measurements. (I intend to compare them with various other options before deciding on a grip frame).

1. Distance from the center of the trigger to the forward facing face of the trigger guard loop (in a straight line from center of trigger and proceeding to the rear)

2. Distance from the center of the trigger to the backward facing face of the backstrap loop (in a straight line from center of trigger and proceeding to the rear)

-- Note: Essentially, 1 and 2 help me to calculate a length of pull and to determine center of various grips along a line straight back from the center of the trigger.

3. If possible, a length in inches from the bottom of the grip in a straight line up to the top plate of the grip....i.e. the height of the grip including the metal plate just behind the hammer.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:59 PM   #6
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Received the following measurements of various factory grip frames with wood and Hogue style open back rubber grips. It looks like the LOP issue is moot. All are about the same. Its also seeming, due to her love of the large rubber grip on the Taurus 66 at home, that an open backed Hogue on the factory plowshare grip might well be the control and retention ticket for weak hands. As for her, she's spending some time with the 66 and 605 comparing feel and retention and making notes. On arrival later this month she'll try out a series of plowshare and the lightning grip and we'll pick a final direction for the handle end. Needless to say, she's excited about being able to easily actuate the hammer and trigger and do some accurate steel slaying!

Standard trigger used in all grip frames, no bisley's in this case.

Grip Frame-----Front Strap & Rear strap from middle trigger parallel to bore

Birdshead--------------1.44" & 3.1"
XR3----------------------1.33" & 2.9"
XR3-RED---------------1.41" & 3.1"
Dragoon Hogue-------1.49" & 3.1"
Dragoon Wood--------1.53" & 3.1"
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Old 10-01-2014, 11:49 PM   #7
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Arrived today. Tight and clean. Perfect bore and cylinders. Light wear on the bluing and moderate wear on the wood.

Some interesting things about this old gun. By the SN it should be a three screw....but its not. So, probably a 73 or early 74 model but the SN does not show in the range published by Ruger for the NM Blackhawks. I know its early because its an NXR3-RED grip frame, and the grip frame is in good shape with very few marks.

So.....to the photos and the first temporary repair.

Overall good. Light wear on the bluing and thankfully, old enough not to have an entire manual roll marked on the barrel.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

Rear sight screw is missing, so is the rear blade. Scuffs and scars on the wood. (This one will require the low rear blade and a .530 high front sight when the barrel is shortened to 4 5/8")

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

The EHR is in fine shape cosmetically. Probably won't need to work on it at all, I hope.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

A turn line on the cylinder but no pitting on the metal of this one....finally!!!!

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

Naturally, Johnnie Dorkwad just had to scratch a number on the gun......so.....it'll get reblued I'm sure.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

And to the first temporary repair. When this one was made, the recoil cross pin hole was drilled to retain the firing pin bushing. Too bad but the hole does not intrude into the bushing space so, pin was driven in and entirely missed the bushing....only friction holding in the bushing, firing pin and spring all these years. Dry firing drove the bushing forward. So, in order to get the gun to the range, I drove it out.....rolled the bushing between two coarse files to lightly knurl its circumference. After cleaning the bushing hole in the recoil shield the bushing was once again a light drive fit into the frame. For the nonce, several light stakes help hold the bushing back in its hole. These stakes were lightly polished smooth to allow passage of the cartridges. This will get us to the range for test firing. If there is any slightest indication that the bushing will come loose, I'll drive it back out to enlarge the recoil shield pin hole and drive in a new and larger pin that actually bites the bushing and holds it firmly in place.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects
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Old 10-02-2014, 12:44 AM   #8
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Ordered the following for the initial setup and trials.

Stainless Bisley Hammer.

New recoil plate to house the firing pin and spring.

Hogue open back rubber grip. Not the prettiest but gives a larger and softer grip for weaker hands without increasing the length of pull.

Williams fire sight .530 high...

Rear sight with the low blade.
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:37 AM   #9
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Good work tonight. Settled on 4 5/8+ a touch inches for barrel length. Keeps some of the blast outta the face and not too heavy up front for weaker hands.

First cut is the hardest. Looks aweful but it cleans up nicely and will be as accurate as the shooter and gun can be. I use the dovetail sight jig to keep it straighter, less clean up later.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

File work to clean up the hacksaws roughness.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

Piloted 3/4" facing cutter. Squares the face to the bore. A properly fitted bore pilot all but eliminates chatter....the final passes are light and leave it almost babybutt smooth.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

11 degree target crown cutter. Also on a properly fitted pilot. First turns are press in hard to cut away the rifling (those initial sharp edges will grab and chatter) and then progressively lighter to the finish for an almost baby butt smooth recessed crown.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

The barrel, Shortened, Faced and Crowned....3/4 of the way finished.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

A barrel beveler, to bevel the outside circumference of the barrel....no sharp edges there and no need to create a wavy line by trying to hand file the bevel.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

Mounted in a drill, run SLOWLEY and rock it around like yer tryin to drill an egg shaped hole.....

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:40 AM   #10
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Nifty neat-o a beveled edge, no lathe, nice and even and little or no final polishing work needed. At this point, if the gun were in good cosmetic shape, ya could blue the end of the barrel, install a front sight and go hunting.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

Front sight dovetail is tomorrow or Sat but for now, back together and looking much nicer. The Hogue open back grip may look good with a shorter barrel, sorta making the gun look like its leaning forward into the target. We'll see....I won't be sold on rubber Blackhawk grips till the new handler says its the ticket for her weakened hands.

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects

Ya know what that nice low mounted rear sight pin hole means don't ya? Could mean Flat Top!

The Arthritis Project - DIY Projects
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