First Post & H&R Top Break Help

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Jimboni, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. Jimboni

    Jimboni New Member

    Dec 8, 2011
    Yes, this is my first post. I've been lurking for a long time and enjoyed the wealth of information here. I am a C&R guy, and have a number of eastern bloc rifles and US milsurp rifles and 1911s. I do a fair amount of restoration and repair but am not a smith. You might say I know enough to get myself in trouble. Please forgive that my first post is one requesting help.

    My neighbor brought me an old H&R Top Break to repair as he is thinking about refinishing it and making it a display piece. I gave him the usual news that these are not very valuable or rare and if he wants to refinish it, go right ahead. Just don't shoot it. But then I got to looking at it and it may actually be a fairly unique model. So, I have two questions:

    1) Can anyone confirm/deny my ID of this model?
    2) Can somebody help me understand re-assembly of the trigger?

    Here are the facts:
    Barrel stamp has no patent date.
    "Worcester MASS USA"
    Very low serial # 2893 on butt and under barrel. No letter codes.
    Full nickle finish, including trigger and guard
    freewheel cylinder that is pinned rather than screwed on
    original floral grip pattern

    I believe this to be a Manual Ejecting Top Break 1st Model from 1885.

    It cleaned up nicely and I am ready to re-assemble, but I neglected to take a pic of the assembled trigger before taking it apart <sigh>. I'm a bit stuck.

    The trigger return did not work, but the spring was not broken ... just sacked out. I heated it with a torch and quenched it a few times to re-spring it. Seems to have worked.
    I found Wolff has a few kits with various springs ... does anyone know if the kits contain these old leaf type springs?

    To save some bandwidth, here is one photo, and following that a link to all the photos I took before and after dis-assembly.


    All the H&R Top Break Photos

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance. I hope I can return the information favor here someday.
  2. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2008
    Welcome to the forum Jimboni.

    Jim Hauff will be along to provide a more official opinion, but refinishing will lower value and it's not that bad. Flayderman estimates 6,000 made ca. 1886-1888 and lists value range from $175 for Very Good to $450 for Excellent. He also states that those without an 1887 patent date are earliest.

    Numrich lists wire replacement trigger springs that should outlast the old flat V springs and should work:

    And most gunsmiths that still work on the old guns will have an assortment.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2011

  3. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    Welcome to the forum - and very nice starting post (at least IMHO).
    Your piece is a 1st MODEL SHELL EXTRACTOR/Manual Ejector 2nd VARIATION - should have Patent date of 10/4/87 on top of barrel along with company name and address, and it should (appears to have) a single pentagonal post actuating the extractor star. With that serial number it was most likely made in very late 1887 or very early 1888.

    There are a couple guys on here that can help with the reassembly, unfortunately, I am not one of them.

    Last edited: Dec 8, 2011
  4. Jimboni

    Jimboni New Member

    Dec 8, 2011
    Thanks so much for the fast replies.

    To clarify, there is no patent date anywhere. The top of the barrel is stamped with only: "Harrington Richardson Worcester MASS USA".

    See the link to my photobucket page for detailed shots. Also here you can see there is no pentagonal post and no extractor at all. The cylinder is well fit into the frame and secured with a key pin. Odd, from what I have been reading.

    I did not realize there so many variations!

    Many thanks to you both. Now if I can just get that trigger assembly figured out.

  5. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    Thanks for the clarification - no patent date then it's a 1st Mod. 1st Var. (I also noticed the absence of the latch hold open button which would be the 2nd Variation Patent date.) I've taken another look at your pics and CANNOT see the breech face of the cylinder. There has to be something that the manual ejecting rod attaches to, in order to extract the spent casing from the cylinder. Take a look at the pics attached to see the extractor on the 1st Variation.


  6. Jimboni

    Jimboni New Member

    Dec 8, 2011
    Thanks Jim.
    Doh, of course you are right. I simply couldn't see it due to surface rust.
    Took care of that last night and let some break free soak in overnight.
    The extractor now pops right out and is exactly as you have pictured. Round shaft with two guide rods.

    So, this is certainly pre 1887? Is the first var the first year 1885?

    Looks like I'll be ordering a spring kit before I can reassemble this. Given the info received here, I will advise the owner to NOT refinish this. The brass brush approach is doing wonders.

    Many many thanks for the help !!!
  7. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    Phew, I'm glad we got that sorted out - don't need to "discover" another variation - it's already too confusing, at least for me.
    Yep - 1st Model Manual Ejecting 1st Variation - 1885 -1887. Anecdotally I've heard that very few (maybe only a "few" thousand total) of this model were produced - so fewer in each variation. Your piece with a 2K serial number most likely fits into the 1885 period, closer than that, I can't do at this time.
    I'm happy to hear that you will advise the owner to NOT refinish this piece. It is a collectible. Hows about a pic when the gun is finished and reassembled?
    One other thing, may I have your permission to add your apart pics to my research files?
    Compare the two examples below: Note difference in grip frame and grip panels; also - note the small button on the side of the top strap of the 2nd Model - that is the "latch hold open button".
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  8. Jimboni

    Jimboni New Member

    Dec 8, 2011
    Again, many thanks.

    Yes, please feel free to make use of the photos I posted/linked. I will update this thread with a photo when I have the gun reassembled.

    Still looking for some help understanding the trigger arrangement for reassembly. Anyone? If not, I'll figure it out eventually ... not THAT many parts combinations with this!

    Now just waiting for the spring kits to arrive.
  9. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    You're welcome.
    Thanks for permission to "use" your photos - may possibly help someone in the future and these "taken apart" photos help me.
    Looking forward to seeing your "reassembled" pics.
    A gent who goes by the name 45AUTO (Greg) has experience taking similar guns apart.
    Try posting directly to him. e.g. ?for 45AUTO re: H&R
    Thanks for thanking.
  10. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2008
    Jimboni, can you describe your problem with the trigger assembly?

    Possibly you're trouble is with the sear, which is best installed in the trigger guard using a short "slave" pin before inserting them in the frame.
  11. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    hrf - didn't mean to slight you - thanks for jumping in!
  12. Jimboni

    Jimboni New Member

    Dec 8, 2011
    I think you are correct. There are not many different ways for all this to fit .. it just gets a bit "fiddly" since the sear has to be pinned and the parts slid into place with minimal movement.

    Appreciate your advice. I'll fool with it some more when the new springs arrive and post either a final solution or another question. trying to be complete here in case others have this issue in future.

    Thanks again.
  13. Jimboni

    Jimboni New Member

    Dec 8, 2011

    Got busy with other projects, so just now getting back to this.

    Just about done. All new springs fitted but having trouble getting the trigger return spring fabricated to function properly. I did reassemble, just to be sure, and everything fit well, gun is tight, cylinder timing is good. The return spring is the final thing to resolve.

    Anyone else looking for help with return springs might look up forum member StoneChimney. I found him in another post and it appears he can fab this part and fit it for a very reasonable price.
  14. lennypm

    lennypm New Member

    Oct 19, 2012
    I have read the threads on the H&R with great interest. I have a 2nd variation in 38 S&W with a trigger problem. After pulling the trigger, it does not return.
    I have no idea why? I have no idea if it is missing parts. The automatic eject was also not working but I discovered it had be reassembled wrong.
    Which tells me it is possible the trigger was reassembled wrong. I could really use a little advice! I also don't have a clue as to how to remove the trigger.
    Any help would be appreciated!
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