How to fix a Loose Lockup

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by JNW, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. JNW

    JNW New Member

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    Hi,

    recently bought a H&R top break .32. i believe it was made in 1905 in excellent condition. the only problem is the lock up is loose. i was told it was an "easy fix" but cant find any information on how to fix it.

    i have another H&R .22 from 1969 i had to fix the spring in teh handle. that was really easy. so hopefully this is another do it yourself kinda deal.

    so please any info would be great. Thank you
  2. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    JNW,
    Welcome to the forum.
    Would you please define exactly what you mean by "lock up is loose"? Do you mean the top latch is loose? - the cylinder is loose in the frame? - the cylinder has play in it when the hammer is cocked? - the cylinder spins with hammer down? etc.

    There's a couple really smart guys on this forum that can help you , but define the actual problem first - to avoid any misunderstandings.
    Thanks.
  3. JNW

    JNW New Member

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    Hey Jim,

    Ok, the top latch is just fine. its the cylinder that's loose. Just say you have it latched up and you're getting ready to fire it, you can take the cylinder and turn it slightly left and right. and it is like that with the hammer cocked or down.

    Hope that helps?
  4. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    The OLD H&R top breaks were designed that way. They have a "free wheeling" cylinder - it can spin freely with the hammer at rest/down. The actual lock-up occurs when the trigger is pulled all the way through its travel and happens just before sear release. Cock the hammer, pull the trigger and hold it to the rear with the hammer in down position. If there is more than a couple 1/8" side to side rotation - then it is "loose".
  5. JNW

    JNW New Member

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    oh ok cool... so if it is actually loose how hard is it to fix? ill know for sure on the 15th or 16 of this month. had to wait 30 days before i could bring it home
  6. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    JNW,
    Difficulty of a fix depends upon what's wrong.
  7. JNW

    JNW New Member

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    OK cool.. ill repost on the 15th or 16th when i have it in my posession. Thanks for that info! That is very helpful
  8. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The old H&R's (and many other old revolvers) have a cylinder stop built into the trigger. When the gun is cocked (either single action or double action) the hand forces the cylinder around while the stop comes up through the frame. The cylinder notch is "one way", that is the cylinder stop stops the cylinder at the right position to keep it from going too far, but only the hand keeps it from going backward.

    When the gun is new, and the hand and cylinder ratchet are unworn, the lockup is adequate, even tight. But as the parts wear, the cylinder is not held tightly and can rotate some even when the trigger is fully to the rear. This can result in mis-alignment of the chamber and barrel when the gun is fired, and you have lead spitting and side flash, potentially hazardous, especially to someone standing beside the shooter.

    Better quality revolvers have a cylinder stop that engages a narrow slot so that with it up, the cylinder cannot turn either way beyond a set limit. Further it is engaged at all times except when withdrawn just before the hand moves the cylinder, when it is pulled down and released to go back up as the cylinder rotates.

    That system solves the problems of keeping the cylinder in position for the hand to re-engage properly, and also prevents the cylinder from rotating either backward or forward when the hammer is at rest. The older guns prevented that by simply leaving the hammer down and in the primer of a fired round, but even then the cylinder could rotate too far or even rotate backward as it was cocked. Friction springs of one kind or another were used to retard free rotation, but these also broke or wore. The real solution, redesign of the lockwork, was sometimes not possible for the small companies because they did not have sufficient capital or simply because they were selling guns and saw no reason to improve the product.

    Jim
  9. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    What Jim K. has posted is mostly correct concerning H&R, however the history of H&R indicates that H&R did employ the "automatic" cylinder stop in many of their models beginning in the late 1890s. Beginning in 1899, an automatic cylinder stop was introduced in the Hammerless models, both large and small frame as well as in the Premier models - small frame auto ejecting hammer guns. The Sportsman series (introduced in or about 1932) both Single Action and Double action were equipped with the automatic cylinder stop. Proceeding through the 1930's more models were similarly equipped. After WW2 and on to 1986, all handgun models were equipped with this system. H&R had the technology early on, but because of the popularity and sales figures for the "Auto Ejecting/Automatic" hinged frame revolvers - the system was never added to the base models. Some variations, including the "Bobby Model" were modified to have the auto cylinder stop.

    H&R was indeed a "small" manufacturer - ACTUAL sales figures for the period 1975 to Feb. 1986 show that only 1,386,428 hand guns; 87,108 rifles and 1,704,828 shotguns were produced - a total of 3,178,356 firearms - not including military contract production. This total was accomplished during a period of declining sales for H&R products. Estimated production of all types from 1946 to 1986 was in excess of 10,500,000 pieces. Former executives of H&R have told me that this production, annualized, is approximately 1/2 of the yearly production rate pre WW2. Bill G. estimated that Iver Johnson had very similar production and sales figures. I'm not familiar with S&W, Colt, Winchester, Remington - the "big" boys - production figures - but if H&R was a "small" producer, I'm guessing that those "big" producers must have had double, triple or more production figures.
    Just trying to set the record straight on the H&R developments - this stuff is pretty fresh in my mind right now.
  10. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Point taken on my use of the term "small manufacturer" but I think S&W and Colt probably made more guns. Numbers aside, in the post-WWII period H&R and IJ were definitely considered as "second tier" in terms of overall quality and design. While both companies had been major players in the handgun industry, they had never been able to really modernize their designs. While H&R did ultimately come out with a swing cylinder revolver, it was never the quality of a Colt or S&W, and the basic lockwork was still 1890 vintage. IJ's swing cylinder design looked good, but never got beyond model shop work, probably, again, because of lack of capital for tooling.

    Worse, the guns looked antique, with pinned-in trigger guards, cylinder pull pins, awkward-looking hammers, and mediocre trigger pulls. Finish was adequate for plinkers and utility guns but was never up to that of the "major" makers or even to that of H&R or IJ in their prime. While many people bought the guns, and maybe that is what counted, almost all buyers expressed in one way or another that they would have preferred something else if price were not a factor.

    Jim
  11. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    "While many people bought the guns, and maybe that is what counted, almost all buyers expressed in one way or another that they would have preferred something else if price were not a factor."

    Well, that's a very interesting statement - any quotable sources? or perhaps you've spoken to hundreds of thousands of H&R and IJ owners? LOL
    I agree with you on the "2nd Tier" status - that was H&R's and IJ's sales strategy beginning back in the 1880s - there was always a niche to fill and they found and filled it. NOT EVERYONE could afford Colts, S&Ws, etc. back then, much as today finds Taurus being the #1 seller of hand guns in the US - a niche market that has been filled.
  12. JNW

    JNW New Member

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    i dont know but i am drawn to H&R for some reason. taurus and ruger. probably because the rest are way outta my price range .
  13. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Hi, Jim Hauff,

    No, I didn't talk to the hundreds of thousands who purchased H&R or IJ because they believed those guns to be the very best in the world.

    But I sold lots of guns back in the 1950's and 1960's and very few buyers came in with the intent of buying an H&R or IJ. They came in looking for a plinker or defense gun, looked over the assortment, and rejected Colts and S&Ws as too expensive before settling on an H&R or IJ as being what they could afford. I always tried to steer them away from the "junk" (RG-10 and the like) by pointing out the value of the less expensive American guns, but most would have bought a "top tier" gun if they could have afforded it.

    It may well be that those companies really didn't want to improve the product, but the guns tell a different story. There was product improvement, but in ways that didn't involve any major capital investment. I believe the reason was simply that there was not enough money for the R&D and tooling that would have been required. That had not always been the case. Before and after WWI, H&R and IJ quality was top notch, in some ways better than Colt or S&W. (The H&R auto pistols are excellent quality, and beautifully made and finished, equal to anything made by Colt or S&W at the time.) For whatever reason, management was either blind to the need to keep up or chose not to do so. Or failed to realize the need to devote a portion of profit to capital investment and product improvement. I think the latter was the case, and that failing has not been unique to any time period or any specific product.

    Jim
  14. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    Gov't contracts, in those days during and after WW2, did not mean "unlimited wealth and income" - they often meant a long lingering death (much as Sears R. & Co. squeezed many of their contract vendors to near death, or beyond.) H&R seems to have fallen prey to that trap.
  15. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Too true! I was part of the government contracting process for years, and a company had to be well managed (or crooked) to make out on a gov't contract. I could go into detail, but it was mainly a product of government ignorance of industry and not really knowing how to do a job, plus government eager beavers wanting to heap demands that were infeasible on top of those that were impossible. Then the contractor took on the job, hoping that the sillier "requirements" would be dropped or evaded. Not a pretty process. A few companies knew how to play the game and made out; others lost money hand over fist and ended up failing.

    Jim
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