Remington 51 .380

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by duck32man, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. duck32man

    duck32man Member

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    Anyone have any experience or words of wisdom on replacing the grips? I bought one for a really good price but the right top grip has a chip out of it and rest of grip is glued. The grips are riveted to a metal mount and all the online ones that I have seen do not include the riveted part. Thanks
  2. SwampElk

    SwampElk New Member

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    I have a 51 and have been told by other collectors not to try disassembly....even with a manual. It's a great gun designed by a genius but with too many parts and should only be servicrd by an "older" gunsmith that has seen these before.

    I love mine and only clean it myself....if anything were to happen to it I won't try anything on my own......it's too rare and much to hard to replace parts that no longer exsist.
  3. duck32man

    duck32man Member

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    Thanks Swamp Elk. It is a sweet little gun.
  4. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    Duckman/Swampelk -
    ANY PICTURES??? I (and probably a lot of others) would like to see this one.
  5. duck32man

    duck32man Member

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    Here it is Jim. Sorry so big. Not sure how to downsize the photo.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I just got finished responding to a guy who wants to take his Model 51 down to replace the trigger spring. My first advice was to remove the grips before working on the gun and how to do that without damaging them. DO NOT PRY THEM - that is the way yours got broken in the first place!

    So, OK, you have cracked grips and can only get the plastic part as a repro. So here is what you do. First, drive the grip safety pin (at the bottom rear of the grip) flush on one side. Slide the grip down and pull it off. Then do the same on the other side.

    You now have the grips and the backing plates off the gun. What you will have to do is drill holes in the back (inner side) of the rivets so they can be compressed and removed. Don't just grind them off as you will need to replace them.

    Remove the rivets and the grips from the backing plates and replace the grips, riveting the new ones back on. You might (and I say might) be able to find rivets the right size, but I doubt it. If it is not possible to rivet them, you can stick the old rivets in for show and glue them in, then glue the grips to the backing plate. Replace the grips the same way you took them off.

    The reason for all that elaborate grip system is that there was a patent on the idea of holding grips on an auto pistol with screws, and one John Browning had it. John Pedersen, the Remington designer (yep, he of the Pedersen device) had to figure out how to work around that.

    Jim
  7. duck32man

    duck32man Member

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    Jim - that other post was me - thanks for the excellent info. Based on what you can see above is it even worth changing or leave it alone. Which one devalues the gun more glued orginals or reproductions? I paid less than 300.00 for it (.380 version).
  8. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I would replace the grips if I could get good repros. Replace both, though, as they look funny when they don't match.

    Just FWIW, I have agonized a bit about repro grips. The purist collectors may (will) disagree, but I think good repros are better than cracked or broken originals. When dealing with the situation where only one is broken/missing, and the repros are good, I have often replaced only that one to keep the gun as original as possible. But where the repro is not a true match, I will replace both, as I think the match is more important than having one original grip.

    Jim
  9. duck32man

    duck32man Member

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    Thanks Jim
  10. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    duckman,
    Thanks for posting the pic. Very interesting gun. I don't know that I've ever seen one before, and if I did, it would have escaped my interest - now I'll know - I learn at least two new things on this forum each time I'm onboard. Sometimes I merely learn how much I don't know!
  11. WDfrmTN

    WDfrmTN New Member

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    I wouldn't tell anyone not to, but rather get with someone who has one and be shown how to. It's not hard, although some models (such as mine) require a bit of nuance and "massaging" to get the barrel/slide assy off.
  12. WDfrmTN

    WDfrmTN New Member

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    Any source for the plates? If not, I can probably make one for the side I have missing.
  13. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I know of no source, but you could try the usual suspects, like Jack First and Numrich,

    Making a plate is no problem and you have one to copy, so it is just a mirror image. You can get thin steel plate at some hardware or big box stores. This is one area cold blue will work fine to make it look better. You don't even need to drill the rivet holes if you are gluing the grips on. If you don't have the rivets, just get a couple of nails and round off the heads to the right contour, then cut the shaft to the right size and cut the heads off with 1/8 or so shaft for sticking in the hole in the grip. Glue them in, daub a lttle cold blue on them and it will be hard to tell they are not the original rivets.

    (See, I do recommend cold blue, sometimes; just not for whole guns.)

    Jim
  14. WDfrmTN

    WDfrmTN New Member

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    Have notification requests with them. Have some notification requests out for magazines, too.
    Looks like I'll be fabbing a piece. Hate to take the old remaining grip apart, so maybe I'll make two, and just mount two new grips and save the old one.
    Not much blue left on the old gun, and I hate to mess with the value, but been thinking about either getting it reblued or doing a Dick Culver "stovetop parkerizing".
  15. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    On a gun like that I would try to have it professionally reblued. Actually they were rust blued, so tank blue will look odd but not as odd as Parkerizing.

    Jim
  16. sddso75

    sddso75 New Member

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    Jack First Inc (605-343-8481) sells modern reproductions of Remington 51 grip panels and backing plates. Not sure if rivets are available, but the parts section technicians who answer the phone can locate that information for you in a few seconds.

    W.H.B Smith's Book of Pistols and Revolvers contains detailed and relatively foolproof instructions for disassembly. Instructions can also be found in the NRA Firearms Assembly books.

    Firing is generally not recommended these days. The breechblock is a relatively light part and very slightly prone to fracture. This renders the arm unusable. Replacements are not available, and the youngest specimens are over 80 years old, with all the risks and uncertainties attendant to metallurgy and aging.
  17. duck32man

    duck32man Member

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  18. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Taking a better look at the picture, I retract what I said about rebluing. DON'T.

    The gun is not in bad shape and IMHO rebluing will destroy the value it has.

    Jim
  19. sddso75

    sddso75 New Member

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    Additional information has become available on Remington 51 grip panels.

    On the earlier models at least (under PA10000?), the hard-rubber exterior panels are not riveted to the thin steel backing panels. Instead, plate and panel are held together by two short pins, with heads of larger diameter facing the outside, somewhat like the pre-fab head of a rivet. The interior end of each pin has a narrow slot cut around its circumference close to the end, very much like the extractor groove cut around the head of a rimless cartridge case.

    The thin steel plate has three holes in it: the holes toward either end are cut in a keyhole shape, with the larger rounded portion big enough to slip over the end of each pin already described. The narrow section of the keyhole fits the groove near the end of each pin. For removal, the plate must be slid until the large holes align with the pin.

    The third pin is of smaller diameter, positioned between the keyhole pins. The backing plate, made of spring steel, must be pried or flexed (gently) up (away from the hard-rubber grip panel) until it clears this center pin; the plate may then be driven (again, gently) along the interior surface of the grip panel, away from the narrow keyhole section, until the round (large) openings in the plate align with the larger pins. The backing plate should come free of the hard-rubber grip panel.

    The two big pins can now easily be pressed toward their exterior heads to remove them from their seats, countersunk in the hard-rubber grip panel. In some cases, they may simply fall out.

    The center pin is very short, and sits in a blind hole in the center of the hard rubber grip panel. It too may simply fall out of its recess if the panel is inverted.

    Reproduction grip panels are available from Vintage. Price is above $40 per pair. There is a raised bump in the center of each, on the inside, right where the smaller diameter blind pin is located, on originals.

    Regret to report the short small-diameter center pins are not available (see bleow). Later models may use rivets, but definitive information is not yet at hand.

    REF: Jim K's post of 03-28-2011, 4:55PM

    The grip safety pivot pin at the lower rear corner of the grip is retained by the mainspring retaining plunger. In some guns, it will not be possible to drive the pivot pin either left or right unless the retaining plunger is pressed upwards, toward the top of the pistol, against mainspring pressure. This may require considerable force. A drift punch clamped in a bench vise will help.

    REF: duck32man's post of 03-28-2011, 4:16PM

    The wonderfully detailed image posted by duck32man showing the Remington 51's cracked right grip panel has a few other items of information to tell us.

    The mainspring retaining plunger is easy to see, in the bottom of the frame. It has a cupped hollow where a punch fits in easily.

    The cracked right panel appears to be damaged in other ways. It is resting much too high on its frame seat, almost rubbing against the lower edge of the slide. The cutout for the right end of the magazine lock on the panel's leading edge is not very big, but it is definitely above where it's supposed to be. And the grip safety pivot pin (showing its cupped end) is a long way below the recurved lower rear corner of the panel. A correctly positioned panel would have this recurved corner nearly touching the pin.
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  20. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Hi, Sddso75,

    Well, I'll be darned, you are right! I have looked at the inside of dozens of Remington grips and somehow always assumed the grips were riveted to the plates. Now that you explain it, I can see how they are put together.

    Even so, all the precautions apply to taking the grips off and taking the assembly apart. The original grips are gutta percha (hard rubber) which becomes brittle over time, so trying to take that assembly apart can result in cracking the grip. If the originals are broken, replacing them with grips made of modern flexible plastic should be easy.

    Thanks again for the info.

    Jim
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