Grandpa's Iver Johnson Mnfc Date?

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by edbreyer, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. edbreyer

    edbreyer New Member

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    Hello:

    I inherited my grandpa's Iver Johnson .38 Cal hammerless top-break revolver. Although I know it has no real dollar value - it has sentimental value to me and my son. Accordingly, I'd like to know more about it and hope members here can answer a couple questions:

    1) When was it made? It is serial #D2877 (under left grip). Can't make out all the patent info on the bottom of the grip but can see this much:
    “PAT JULY (or June?) 16 96 AUG 25 ??”
    “SEPT ??? 4 PATS PEND”

    2) The left hard plastic grip is broken (has Owl looking out not down barrel). Other than continuing to watch BRANDX - any suggestions on where to buy a set of authentic grips?

    3) The trigger does not spring back into position after being pulled. I'm guessing there is a return spring/mechanism that needs to be replaced. Any suggestions on how to repair that malfunction and a source for parts?

    4) The finish is in poor shape - any opinions on whether I should have it refinished/re-plated?

    5) Somewhere along the line the barrel was neatly cut off and is now only 1.5 inches long. It was so neatly done that I didn't even realize it had been cut down until I noticed that only the word "WORKS" still remains (from the original "ARMS & CYCLE WORKS") on the top of the barrel. I know sawed off shotguns and SBRs are illegal - any chance I now have an illegal pistol?

    Thanks in advance for all info/opinions/comments!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2010
  2. oscarmayer

    oscarmayer New Member

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  3. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    there are no known legal limits to how long a pistol/revolver barrel has to be.

    the patent date listed were used between 1907 and 1911, but during that time the serial number letter code of D was only used after 1909. this makes this revolver a early third model. serial number D 2877 was made in 1910, there were 21,300 of this model made that year. a lot of these hammerless model had the barrel cut at some time or another for better pocket carry. just when it was cut is a matter of conjecture and will most likely never be known.

    i personally would not spend the model to refinish but would spend the money to replace broken parts. most parts for this model are available frim places like numrich arms and i believe the trigger return spring is available.

    THIRD MODEL SAFETY AUTOMATIC HAMMERLESS REVOLVER
    (Smokeless Powder Cartridges)-------------1909-1941
    LARGE FRAME AND SMALL FRAME VERSIONS USES HAMMER THE HAMMER ACTION; Double top post barrel latch, with Hammer the Hammer action, nickel finish standard blue optional. Two frame sizes, four calibers, hard rubber grip panels with Owls head at top, two piece oversize hard rubber and one piece wood grips optional. Redesigned for smokeless powder. Standard barrel length: small frame 3 inches, large frame 3 ¼ inches; Calibers: small frame .22 rimfire with 7 rounds cylinder capacity, .32 centerfire with 5 rounds cylinder capacity, large frame .32 Special with 6 rounds cylinder capacity, .38 centerfire with 5 rounds cylinder capacity; Weight: small frame .22 rimfire with 3 inch barrel 13 ½ ounces, .32 centerfire with 3 inch barrel 14 ounces, large frame .32 Special with 3 ¼ inch barrel 19 ¼ ounces, .38 centerfire with 3 ¼ inch barrel 19 ounces; Height: small frame 3 ¾ inches, large frame 3 7/8 inches; Frame length: small frame 4 3/16 inches, large frame 5 inches; Overall length: small frame with 3 inch barrel 6 3/8 inches, large frame with 3 ¼ inch barrel 7 3/8 inches. Main serial number location on left side of grip frame grips must be removed to see. The Third Model features a double top post barrel latch, coil hammer spring and four cross pins in the lower frame.
    VALUE: 100%=$260 60%=$125

    bill
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  4. edbreyer

    edbreyer New Member

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    Bill & Oscarmayer:

    Thanks for your replies - excellent information/advice. I really appreciate it!

    I did some exploratory dismantling on it today - used a small punch to gently drive out the pins that held the trigger guard and trigger - but without a schematic I was afraid to go much further and reassembled it. Now one of the pins is loose enough that it slides out with normal handling. Should I put a little grease on it to keep it from sliding out - or is there a better method?

    I also noticed that the firing pin on this gun sometimes remains protruding slightly after pulling the trigger and that the cylinder binds up about every sixth pull. That, combined with the broken trigger return makes me wonder if I should just replace the broken grip and call it a day.

    I'm pretty handy but no gunsmith and am concerned I might make it into a basket case if I try to fix all that seems to be wrong with it. Any words of encouragement or caution as I decide whether to repair or not?

    ed
  5. armedandsafe

    armedandsafe Guest

    If it were mine ( I can wish, can't I?) I would get it into shooting order, just because it is a family heirloom. If you dont trust yourself to do the work, it shouldn't cost a whole lot to have a 'smith replace a few parts.

    The pin might have been driven out the wrong direction or it might have been peened after installation. In either case, it will depend on how loose it is as to whether a new pin, a hole bushing or LockTite will cure it.

    Bill, might that be a .38 S&W rather than a .38 Spl?

    Pops
  6. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Problem is, most established gunsmiths do not like to work on these old guns. They are tricky to work on. parts are very scarce and sometimes have to be made. The final bill is almost always several times the value of the gun and most people will walk away rather than pay it.
  7. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    it is a 38 S&W. the 32 Special listed in the above information was just iver johnson's way of denoting the 32 S&W Long (advertizing hype has been common for a long time).

    since the Hammerless safety automatic revolvers were manufactured a little differently from the hammer models this one may need to be taken apart and have the hammer and transfer bar examined. or it could be nothing more than a firing pin spring missing or broken. the firing pin bushing is removable using a spanner type two prong tool.
    bill
  8. Smoke Rise'n

    Smoke Rise'n New Member

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    I have an Iver Johnson Cycle Works 38 S&W. Last Pat. date, Dec. 26 93. The only markings are on the bottom of the frame butt, and the bottom of the strap over the cylinder. Both markings are 23666. It is a five shot, break open, hammered, nickle plated,W/rubber grips, double action revolver. No marks on trigger gaurd, or side of frame. Any info. on date of manufacture?
  9. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I agree with RJay and disagree with armedandsafe about repairing that gun. IMHO, it can have sentimental value as it is, without wasting money and time trying to repair it, even if parts were available.

    If your son is of the right age, spend the money taking him to a ball game or buy him a beginner's .22 rifle, and give the old revolver an honorable retirement on the wall.

    Jim
  10. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    smoke rise'n,
    this is either a first model or a second model made in 1894 or 1895. the first model large frame 38 S&W was only manyfactured for just a little over a year while the small frame 32 caliber first model was manufactured until the end of 1896

    1894 if single top post barrel latch
    1895 if double top post barrel latch

    FIRST MODEL SAFETY AUTOMATIC HAMMER REVOLVER
    (Black Powder Cartridges)---------------------------1894-1896
    LARGE & SMALL FRAME VERSIONS USES THE FAMOUS HAMMER THE HAMMER ACTION This is the first revolver marked “Iver Johnson’s Arms & Cycle Works”, some very early model were marked “Iver Johnson & Co.”. It is a top break revolver with a single top post barrel latch, it was manufactured in two frame sizes and three calibers, standard finish was Nickel with blue being optional. Grip panels are hard rubber with Owls head design. Calibers: small frame .22 rimfire & .32 centerfire, Large frame .38 centerfire; Cylinder capacity: small frame .22 7 rounds & .32 5 rounds, Large frame 5 rounds; Standard barrel length: small frame 3 inches, large frame 3¼ inches; Weight: small frame 3 inch barrel .22 rimfire 12 ounces, .32 centerfire 12¼ ounces large frame 3¼ inch barrel 17¼ ounces; Height: small frame 3¾ inches, large frame 3`7/8 inches; frame length: small frame 4 3/16 inches, large frame 5 inches; overall length small frame with 3 inch barrel 6 3/8 inches, large frame with 3¼ inch barrel 7 3/8 inch. Main serial number location on left side of grip frame; grips must be removed to see. . The First Model features a single top post barrel latch (release lever mounted on left side of top strap) and flat leaf hammer spring.
    VALUE: 100%=$290, 80%=$140, 60%=$110, 40%=$90, 20%=$70, 10%=$60

    SECOND MODEL SAFETY AUTOMATIC HAMMER REVOLVER
    (Black Powder Cartridges)------------1896-1908
    LARGE FRAME AND SMALL FRAME VERSIONS USES HAMMER THE HAMMER ACTION: Double top post barrel latch, nickel finish standard, blue optional, hard rubber grip panels with Owls head at top. Hammer the Hammer action, two frame sizes, and three calibers. Standard barrel length: small frame 3 inches, large frame 3 ¼ inches; Calibers: small frame .22 rimfire 7 rounds cylinder capacity, .32 centerfire 5 rounds cylinder capacity, large frame .38 centerfire 5 rounds cylinder capacity; Weight: small frame with 3 inch barrel .22 rimfire 12 ounces, .32 centerfire 12 ¼ ounces, large frame with 3 ¼ inch barrel 17¼ ounces; Frame height: small frame 3 ¼ inches, large frame 3 7/8 inches; Frame length: small frame 4 3/26 inches, large frame 5 inches; Overall length: small frame with 3 inch barrel 6 3/8 inches, large frame with 3 ¼ inch barrel 7 3/8 inches. Only difference between the first and second model is the barrel latch. Main serial number location on left side of grip frame grips must be removed to see. The Second Model features a double top post barrel latch, flat leaf hammer spring and two cross pins in the lower frame.
    VALUE: 100%=$275 60%=$135
    For revolvers equipped with Bourne Knuckleduster add 100%
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