Iver Johnson Revolver Shaving Lead

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Rocketman1, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Rocketman1

    Rocketman1 Well-Known Member

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    I have an Iver Johnson top break .38 safety hammer, third model, large frame. Based on the serial number Bill Goforth dated it to 1909-1911.

    I don’t shoot this gun much, or very often, but the last couple of times I shot it, I noticed that it is shaving a little bit of lead. I noticed that the cylinder has a little play in it, when the frame is locked closed. Could the trigger mechanism and/or cylinder be worn, or is a small amount of play normal?
  2. Rocketman1

    Rocketman1 Well-Known Member

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    Bumping my post up.
  3. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    The hand could be worn and not bringing the cylinder all the way into battery or the bolt could be worn and not holding it there but the first seems most likely.
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    IJ was better than many makers of that era, but their guns were made to a price and not designed to last a century. In the last few years, IJ revolvers have become more collectible, but even so, unless the gun is in near perfect condition, it is really not worth spending time or money on. I suggest giving the centenarian an honoralble retirement and buying a new gun.

    Jim
  5. Rocketman1

    Rocketman1 Well-Known Member

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    That’s what I thought you would say Jim, thanks for the reply.

    I think the cylinder indexing slots and/or the trigger part that contacts the cylinder is worn. When closed, it has a little bit of play in the cylinder. I know it isn't worth much, but like many others that post here asking about IJ's, it belonged to my grandfather. It has a lot of sentimental value. If it can be fixed it would probably cost more than the guns worth, but that isn't really a concern. I'm not ready to give up on it just yet, but that is probably what will happen.

    I have read on another forum that on many of these old guns when the trigger is held back the cylinder will be locked solid, but usually with the chamber not concentric with the bore. This causes the bullet to spit lead on one side, and shave lead out of the cylinder/barrel gap. So this made me wonder if it was normal for them to shave a little bit of lead. It is not excesive, but I'm just not sure if I trust the safety of it any more.

    The gun is in fairly decent shape, as far as appearances are concerned. It came with the oversized western walnut grips, and it still has 95% or better of it's bluing, no rust and no pitting. I think my grandpa took real good care of it.

    The story is that when my grandfather and his brother were in their late teens, in the early 1900's, they saved their money up and made a trip out west, buy jumping on freight trains. They got as far as Utah when half their money ran out, so they started back home. They picked up the revolver somewhere on their trip.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The cause of misalignment is almost always the hand, though worn cylinder notches are a close second. More modern designs, including later IJ revolvers, have a cylinder stop that locks the cylinder in place independent of the hand and trigger. But the older designs depend for lockup on the hand pushing the cylinder against a projection on the top of the trigger, which acts as the cylinder stop. In that system, once the hand wears or bends or the hand slot in the frame wears, the cylinder will not lock up and lead shaving will result.

    Parts are available for most of those guns, or can be made, but the guns are frustrating to work on and most gunsmiths simply turn them away since the cost the traffic will bear is too little to make up for the time spent making or trying to locate parts.

    If you are serious about having it fixed regardless of cost, offer a gunsmith $200 up front and see if he will take on the job.

    We used to have a fellow post here under the name Stonechimney who liked to work on those guns and charged very reasonably, but I haven't seen his posts for a while.

    Jim
  7. Rocketman1

    Rocketman1 Well-Known Member

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    It looks like that is probably the problem. The top of the hand appears worn, but it does not have any play in it moving side to side in the frame slot, which I guess is a good thing.

    I appreciate the information.

    Thanks!
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