A New Model Old Model Blackhawk

Discussion in 'DIY Projects' started by Sharps40, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    Well, got my first New Model Old Model Blackhawk.

    I'll have to get pics up. Its the 50th Anniversary 357 flattop. Basically the late 50s size and shape with the current guts.

    On the old school side it has Flat top, smaller frame, Steel Micro rear sight, 4 5/8", Steel Ejector Rod Housing, Steel grip XR3 (Colt size/shape/length of pull) frame, checkered rubber grips and faux ivory grips.

    On the modern side it has internal lock and cartridge positioning, and the retractable pawl.

    Looks great, just fits right in the De Santis cross draw holster.

    High polish black and absolutely the smoothest and best fit of any Blackhawk I ever laid my boogerhooks on. Looking forward to shooting it. Something must be said for the new model guts, they are I think much better than the oft touted Old Model guts. Overall its a better gun and lots more refined.

    Unfortunatly, it has an entire novel on the barrel and the dates on top are gold filled. Nothing worse on a gun that a book and filled lettering. It also has transfer bar pinch.

    Once the cylinder index assembly, retractable pawl and internal lock are removed and the transfer bar pinch corrected it'll be perfect....cept for that dayum gold lettering.

    Its heavier than an old model 3 screw too. Plan for now it to simply carry it and have some fun. At $350 for LNIB I'm pleased.
     
  2. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    First thing to do on this New Model Old Model is try out the free spin conversion. Cylinder movement unimpeded in both directions for loading and unloading. Simply remove the pin, spring and set screw that index the cylinder for loading and unloading. I doubt I'll be putting these parts back in the gun so they go in the box with the lock keys and factory grips. And, after trying the free spin, I doubt I'll like it either.......I already know how to load and unload and don't need the help of the extra parts, the old model did well enough with its following pawl.

    The cylinder indexing plunger, spring and screw is removed from the back side. Here they sit on the Altimont Ivory Grips and you see the hole at 5 oclock where the CIP used to ride against the bottom of the cylinder ratchet.

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    See the bright spot at 12 o'clock on the grip frame? No machined groove there. What that tells me is that all the worries about cutting a matching mortise in a new grip frame for the new model retracting pawl is unneeded worry. (some grip frames have a mortise for the foot of the retracting pawl, this one does not.) So, simply select your new grip frame and if you want to retain a retracting pawl for free spin function, fit the dogleg of the pawl to the grip frame and don't sweat making a mortise in the grip frame. Too simple. If you don't want the free spin function, either reinstall the CIP or try installing a legless pawl. I'll probably install a legless pawl if I don't' like free spin in order to preserve the original parts of the gun in the gun box.

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    The grip frame is XR3/Colt style, closer to the trigger. It'll need a new mainspring seat to eliminate the lock which will never get used. I know, Ruger put the locks in dryers with bricks and steel bits and dynamite and acid and my wife complaining at em at full volume and none of the locks broke....that's nice, the lock will go in the pretty red box anyway.

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    And if you look at the photo above and then here below, the XR3/Colt steel grip frame has plenty o meat for smalling it up later if ya got a roundbutt or birds head itch. Here is the grip panel pattern from Mr. Belly Gun. The Altamont ivory grips are cute, the factory checkered black plastic is tacky, wood is best I think. For now, the XR3/Colt shape is fine as is.

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    Not bad....a bit long, but almost okay and I could live with it...but the front sight is like all rugers, THICK. It does need a Bisley hammer....perhaps a nice stainless halfnotch model.

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    The cylinder latch needs work on its top and forward curve. The cylinder line is already bright and the front curve of the latch is also marking the locking mortises on the front edge.

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    I hate filled lettering. I wonder if it'll wear off any time soon? Prolly not.

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    Nicely, the cylinder pin of the New Model Old Model mimics the function of a true 3 screw.....that is, fully removeable without having to unscrew and detach the ejector rod assembly. Good for cleaning and maintenance. And, no wing on the cylinder pin so you can install it without worrying about whether its turned too far around and going to scratch the barrel or bind about half way in or out.

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  3. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    A bit of hoppes and a toothbrush and the gold glop is gone. The lettering will get covered by the long ramp that will be going on the barrel. I'll have to polish off the manual on the side.

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    The free spin feature is not to my liking and since I have no intention of reinstalling the cylinder indexing pin assembly (I consider it superfulus, they are easy to load and unload without such additional parts) its time to remove the free spin leg at the bottom of the stainless steel pawl.

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    Once gone, some stoning is in order to smooth up the pawl since they are installed as cast/minimally finished.

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    Now the gun clicks like an OM and/or the Large frame NM (Stop rotation just before the click to load and unload. A process I am intimately familiar with and able to accomplish without thought) and like all the NMs and Vaqs retains the 6 shot capability and safety of loading/unloading with the hammer down.
     
  4. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    Stainless steel Bisley trigger on the left. A larger loop to cradle and control the finger a bit better. Also, stainless, no rust. So, a bit of work on the engagement surfaces with stones and very fine silicon carbide wet/dry paper and its ready to install....almost.

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    First, the trigger opening in the frame has to be opened, forward, by about 1/4 to 3/8 inch. A bit of work on the drill press and then with needle files. The bare insides cold blued for now as the gun go's thru its paces on the customizing bench. But, here the slot is about 99%.

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    Later this nice chunk of Moroso aluminum fuel line (3/8" OD and about 1/4 ID) will become the new foot for the mainspring and its strut, replacing the quarrelsome and always inaccessible (as long as the grips are installed) Ruger Lock.

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    The new SS Bisley trigger in the gun and all fitted. Its toe needed a bit of shortening and recontouring to clear the inside of trigger guard loop. Its a good fit in the hand carved slot and looks good installed.

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    And now, the advantage of the Bisley trigger. When the hammer is back and the sear locked in its notch, the Bisley trigger is even closer to the grip. Combine that with the Colt/XR3 grip frame of this model and we have a length of pull suited to normal and even short length fingers. That plus the trigger wraps around the finger and positions it the same way each and every time....Lovely!

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    And finally.....the factory trigger read 5lbs 6 oz with both spring legs hooked up....2lbs 8 oz with one spring leg disconnected. Here with the SS Bisley trigger, lightly fitted and installed, 3 lbs 4 oz with both spring legs hooked up. No creep, no grit. No need for one spring leg to be left unhooked. Just light polish and deburring in the right places and the Ruger trigger becomes quite manageable. Time to get back to the range and try it out on steel!

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  5. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    With the lock removed a temporary foot for the spring and strut is made up from aluminum tube. Functional but ugly. But, it can serve as a template for making up a functional foot from flat steel stock or 1/4" id steel square tubing. Once a steel part is made (and with the lock in the pretty red box) there will be exactly zero aluminum parts on the gun.

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  6. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    I am satisfied though. The fake ivory grips will eventually go. Scratched em up good working in the garage this weekend. On a goof, buffed most of the scar out, then had to rub it back out with fff compound by hand. To easily scratched and they look just like white plastic. Even tried aging them and nitric acid based stain won't even touch them, not even with gentle heating. So, wood later I am sure unless I can find real gutta percha grips or maybe some nice buffalo horn.
     
  7. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    Never throw away extra parts. This, a spacer from a Class III Hitch. Just about right for forming up a foot for the mainspring and strut. First, roughing in a groove, just shy of 1/4" wide with the grinder....then some hand filing to square up and straighten the inside dimensions.

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    Cut off what I need. A few drops of 3 in 1 oil eases the work, makes a smoother cut and smells darn fine. 3 in 1 should be an aftershave too.

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    After forming the slot for the strut and cross drilling a take down pin hole and a bit of final thinning and shaping, the new mainspring foot on the gun and perfect function. Steel. I'll blue it later after the finish work. Also shown is some experimentation with long tall slotted front sight ramps. I have wanted a ramp that covers most or all of the 12 oclock position on the barrel of a handgun. These from Numrich, $4.50ish each have plenty of meat for sculpting and slotting or dovetailing. They can also be sweated on or drilled and screwed to a barrel.

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    Sight options I have on hand. 1/4 wide sight beads on a .3" wide ramp. I can taper the ramp to match or even leave it a bit wide so there is windage capability on a dovetailed front sight. Other option is to utilize a slotted ramp for pinned in blades.

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    A quick set of photos to show how much of a shortened barrel will be taken up by these 2.260" long ramps. And, if I decide for something different, the ramps can always be shortened and recontoured.

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    This would be the relative position of the ramp on a 3" or 3 1/8" barrel.

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  8. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    I was looking hard for a chunk of Amboyna Burl to make grips from when I ran across Bear Paw grips. Seems they have a set of Ambonya Burl grips ready made for the 50th/New Vaquero models. So.........paypal to the rescue.

    I suspect I'll have them next week and will post photos when they arrive. I think they are great. Cinnimon color with many black eyes and swirls and they are stablized, so the finish is through and through and rock hard. Brass fittings and stainless screw, 15%ish larger on the top end and 10% thinner at the butt than factory grip panels.

    I'm a bit excited. With any luck I can get through the bottom end of this project without dinging up the bluing, and that was almost a sure bet to happen trying to shape grip panels from scratch.
     
  9. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    This feller gushes and slobbers and talks too much but ya get a good ider of the shape and fit/finish on the Bear Paw grips for the Blackhawks.

    [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcMAU8D-iU4[/ame]
     
  10. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    Okay. All clearances checked and I'm satisfied its ready to go to the range as a convertible with a fitted 9mm cylinder!.....cheeper and more plentiful than 22 lr and perfect for lots of close range practice and rolling cans.

    Both the factory cylinder and the vintage 3 screw 9mm cylinder have fitted up for minimal endshake, BC gap between 4 and 5 thousands and case head to breech face clearance of 6 to 10 thousands depending on the make of the brass.

    I am excited to try out the spare cylinder....now to find another for 357/44 Bain and Davis or 357 Auto Mag conversion.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  11. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    OM 9mm on the left, NM/50th on the Right. All the measurements are the same, but by math, the OM 9mm is 20 thousands too long on the face and 2 thousands too long to fit on the front race.

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    About an hours careful work slowly turning the OM 9mm cylinder back to fit the frame and establish a close BC gap of less than 5 thousands.

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    Good function and the timing is spot on.

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    Reversing the cylinder in the press and putting on a Black Powder bevel on the OM 9mm Cylinder. Face and bevel are final polished 100 grit for now.

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    Both cylinders installed for checks and measurements. I'm happy with the clearances and the variances due to different brands of case makers. It should be good to go.

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    After everything is wiped down and cleaned out. Perhaps test firing the 9mm at the range tomorrow and then the OM 9mm Cylinder will need blued for sure.

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  12. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    The face of the OM Cylinder was actually concave or dished....about 6 or 7 thou in the center of the cylinders. Its dead flat now. Prolly just needs a light chamfer on the mouth of each chamber but I'll put that in with a piloted cutter later.
     
  13. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    Success. The workout at 10 to 30 meters on paper and steel with ElCheepo handloads with copper plated 147s. Perfect function of the OM 9mm cylinder fitted to the 50th Blackhawk.

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    30 rds on paper at 10 meters and another 50 or so on various steel. Out to 30m my center hold hits on top of the sights and/or topples the plates with solid center hits.

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    Not bad for a drill press and a file.
     
  14. primer1

    primer1 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    "Not bad" is an understatement. D#@& nice work is more online with the quality of work you performed.
     
  15. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    Thanks but lotsa folks wouldn't believe it even shown, since a 2000 lb Bridgeport was not engaged in the process. But, handwork can work and ya dont' have to wait 500 years for it to come back from someone else's shop!
     
  16. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    Bear Paw Grips arrived. I'll give em 3.5 of 5 stars and not purchase the brand again unless the price is significantly discounted. More to follow.
     
  17. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    The good first.

    Fairly good fit overall considering the variances in frames. Fine figured wood, solid and no cracks or splits through the grain.

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  18. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    And the not so good.

    No spacer provided, but called for in the instructions. I reused the one from the fake ivory Altamont grips. Primarily the bad is horrific finish. These panels are touted as stabilized, that would mean an acrylic or similar all the way through the wood. Given the open pores, I doubt it. The final finish is discussed in the instructions, Tru Oil, Gobbs of it. Much leveling and polishing would be required to make it look proper. As it is, I'll shoot it first to validate the grip size and fit to my hand and then likely spend several hours in any reshaping that is deemed necessary and in the careful stripping and rubbing in of a Gun Grade finish.

    So. Mark me more than a bit irritated at the price point for Bear Paw grips. Good fit, poor finish and only a portion of the time saved over what I was hoping for. I'll keep them only for two reasons, the figure and fit.

    Poorly executed lock mortise and tear out at three of the four holes in the backside. Sloppy drips and sags in the finish on the backsides of the panels.

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    Heavy topcoat of finish has the wavy and uneven look of a sprayed on finish. There has been no leveling of the finish and as such, the high gloss of the finish throws back the light unevenly.

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    Heavy runs (hard to see on the photos) on the tops of each grip panel that will show after installing and finish coat failure (exposing wood grain) on the showing edge of one panel top.

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    Finish applied to heavy/wet at the top curve of the right side grip, resulting in wrinkling and lifting of the finish from the surface of the wood.

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    Left panel rather grossly over sized compared to the right panel. Bottoms and mids are symmetric. Tops make the gun appear lopsided and amateurish.

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  19. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    First step is getting the slop off the back and leveling the playing field. A few dozen even swipes on grounded sandpaper removes the backside finish and removes the dips and bumps in the panels. A check and they still clearance the locator pin and lay flat and tight without any assistance from the grip screw.

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    From the first photo, it is clear the wood panels are in no way stabilized. If so, pores would be filled and buffing would bring the wood to a shine, i.e. no finish work beyond polish would be needed. Since its not stabilized, the first of several coats of thin/deep penetrating urethane sealer will be rubbed hot and dry into the wood, wooled between coats to keep the finish level and prevent the cheep built up bar top epoxy look of a glopped on finish.

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  20. Sharps40

    Sharps40 New Member

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    A good bit of work both getting off the TruOil glop and doing some shaping so the grips fit my hand and I am able to hang on to the gun. I needed (smaller hands) much less wood at the top of the grip than what was provided and some thinning of the grip on the right panel for my trigger finger to reach the trigger and center it up on the pad for a consistent pull. Initially the tops of the grips were so thick and long that I couldn't reach the trigger easily and the grip was forced up and out of my hand....i.e. very little purchase with the last finger of the grip hand.

    So, to the shaping....right panel first.....a bit of room by way of a relief for the middle finger of the shooting hand.

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    Similar work to be done on the left panel but this a bit higher and for the thumb to wrap around. Nicest part is the extra wood at the top allows shaping and I can retain some of the swell for repeatable positioning of the shooting hand.

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    After relieving both panels for fingers and thumb a bit of thinning, blending and shaping of the upper swells on the grip panels. Not as chunky as they were and not so thin as factory grips. Better for my average size hands.

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    The upper panels are compared as I go to get the swells much closer in size and shape to each other than they were to begin with. In all, I'm sure I removed over 1/16 to 3/32 of wood from the swells of each grip panel and they are still wider up top than factory ruger panels. These grips were rather club like in shape....much like a marlin stock, way too much wood in the wrong places to look well or even fit well. But, more is better, I suppose, since it allows for fitting to the hand and/or gun later.

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    The upper halves of the grip panels are now much closer in shape. The left grip panel grooved a bit to the rear for the wrap around of the thumb from the backstrap. The right panel, grooved a bit to the front for the wrap around to the front strap of the middle and trigger fingers. The overall feel of the gun in recoil and recovery is much more repeatable and my grip is no longer so low on the grip frame that I seem to have eliminated the feeling that the gun is oozing up and out of my hand....i.e. the grip handle feels longer, more fingers wrap around it.

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    Wet sanded twice with 220 and 400 and it looks pretty good.....but wait....

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    After drying and the first coat of urethane is rubbed in hot and hard......sanding marks pop up. I like to freeze the grain and sand once or twice more after whiskering as I've found with very hard figured wood like this that urethane will show any of the remaining sand/tool marks that water wiskering just won't bring out. Better to find it and smooth it out now than notice it in the final rub out. Some sanding marks that were not highlighted by water whiskering show up now in the lower grip at 3 oclock in the photo. More work with 320 and 400 after the first coat of urethane kicks over should clear them up.

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