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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
OK, I bought this old pistol knowing it needed work. I have built a couple of guns, and gunsmith my own airguns (don't laugh till you've tried it), but never played around with a revolver. Any way, I picked up this gun for $30; the shipping and fees cost almost twice as much as the gun. I thought it might be black powder, so I really had no plans on shooting it. I just wanted a revolver to play with. When the gun got here, I got a little excited. The finish is a little rough, but it doesn't look like it's ever had more than a box of bullets through it. Absolutely no flame cutting on the top strap, no lead in the cylinder, the bore is bright and shiny with sharp, well defined (though a little shallow) rifling, the pawl and ratchet show little, if any wear at all, and it locks up like a new pistol. The markings are as follows. On the left side of the barrel, .38 S&W Ctge. On the top, Harrington & Richardson Arms Co, Worcester, Mass USA, NO patent info. From the serial and markings, the best I can determine, it appears to be a 3rd Model, made between 1913 - 1915(?). So, if I can get it fixed, it might be a good shooter. I just don't know. I can only go by what I have seen on this forum. I really need help, even just to positively identify it.
Gun Firearm Revolver Trigger Gun barrel
I am not looking for a smith. Though I have never worked on a revolver. I do have a basic grasp of gunsmithing, and a few good books on the subject. Now, about its issues. First the trigger pulls, and drops the hammer, but the trigger does not return; trigger spring? When the hammer is pulled back, it does not cock for single action; seer spring? I am not sure if the next is even a problem, as I understand older H&R cylinders did not lock up, but were left to free spin. The cylinder spins clock-wise, but not counter. From all I can tell, the timing seems good. OK, now for the dicey part. I looked at Numrich, and they list the springs, but not for the .38, only the .22/.32. Are they the same? If they are, it looks like they have them. I plan to order spares, since this seems to be a like new gun, with broken springs. I plan to replace all internal springs while I have it apart. The mainspring seems strong, so I will just order a spare for that. OK, now you guys know all that I know, and for better or worse, can guess. Any help in any way would be appreciated. Especially since I am given to understand a special technique is required for reassembly. If I can't fix this gun, it will turn into an expensive paper weight. I don't have too much problem with that, but where is the fun in that? Thanks in advance, guys.
David

EDIT: New info. I was sitting at my desk after posting, playing with my pistol. If I pull the trigger, it does not return, but if I pull the hammer all the way back with a little added force, the trigger does return. It still does not cock.
EDIT 2: Have verified no seer spring. If I pull the hammer back, I can manually engage the seer, and the hammer remains cocked for single action fire. After cleaning and lubing (this gun was full of dust) the trigger easily resets with the flick of the trigger finger. Question: Is there any reason not to fire this gun and manually reset the trigger after each shot? Seems to me it would be no different than operating the automatic safety found on most airguns....
EDIT 3: My gun is nearly identical to tjrobin11's gun (http://www.thefirearmsforum.com/threads/h-r-38s-w-3rd-3rd-variation.102755/), except the markings are not as well done. Different production run? Different variation? Bumper Wood

EDIT 4: I have the original grips, and they are in pretty good shape, but I have huge hands. If I am going to turn this into a shooter, larger grips would be a real plus. Is there anything available?
 

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Some light oil like WD40 should be sprayed into the moving parts to loosen things up. The trigger might start to return after the old gunk has been disolved. But you might have to take it apart, soak it and scrub the parts and frame clean first.

If the trigger return spring is broken, you will need the .38 size trigger spring, the .32 (S&W short) size is too small for your frame size.

If the original hammer spring is ok don't bother replacing it.

The little hand spring is a weak point in these revolvers. Give it some oil but otherwise watch out that it does not brake.

The seal spring can be made from a small coil spring cut to size. When you are ready to put the revolver back together, the sear and spring is a pain in the [email protected]@ unless you know what do do. Place the sear and spring in the trigger guard and hold it in with a short section of wire like from an old nail placed through the pin hole. This short pin is only there for assembly purposes. It must be so short that you can still put the trigger guard into the frame with the short pin in place. With the short pin holding the sear in place compress the sear against the sear spring and hold it in place with some tape or thin wire. After the revolver is assembled you can drive the short pin out by pushing the sear pin through the frame and trigger guard. Next, take off the tape.

The H&R is sort of a free spinning cylinder revolver. Sort of, because it has/had a thin spring on the cylinder pin which gives tension to the cylinder. The cylinder should not spin, if it does you must check to see if the cylinder tension spring is missing. It's easy to make them from old pocket watch main springs.

Grips: H&R did make a large oversized hard rubber grip for this frame size. It's not easy to find originals in good condition. Copies have been made and you might check someplace like TripleK manufacturing to see if they have them.

I'm not a professional gunsmith. But I have worked on a number of these old revolvers and fired them with light loads. Any doubts, take it to be checked by a good professional gunsmith prior to shooting it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks, 45Auto. I think you just described the "special technique" I had seen referenced elsewhere. That helps a LOT. I had already decided I could make a seer spring if had to, so it's good to know you concur. As I said, the cylinder only turns clockwise. I checked and the tension spring is intact. I have already flushed the frame with WD40, and it was full of dust. Still the trigger does not reset by itself, but resets easily with a flick of the trigger finger, so I suspect the trigger spring is broken. Good info on the lever spring. They are not available as a separate replacement item. You have to buy the whole lever assembly and Numrich is out of stock on those. I will be extra careful! If push came to shove, I could make one, and silver solder it in, but it is not a task I would relish.
 

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Hi Dave,

This is quite the undertaking you've started. Thought you might care to see the two Iver Johnson's I have. Both are shooters although a hundred years old and I don't shoot them often. O need to push things. Please keep us posted on your progress.

Gun Firearm Revolver Trigger Gun barrel

The one on the left was made in 1911 and the right, 1921.
 
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I have made the trigger return springs from worn out saw-zall blades. They are made of spring steel. If you have the original spring it makes things really easy. I cut mine a little long. I heat it with a torch until it is bright red, bend them into shape. I then use an old soup can or veggie can. Pour a little motor oil in it, enough to cover the homemade spring. Reheat the spring until it is bright red and quench it in the oil in the can. It should set the oil on fire, let it burn itself off. This will re-temper the steel. Then I file to fit, with some trial and error. Toothpicks make great slave pins to hold everything together so you can line things up before driving the steel pins back in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Dave,

This is quite the undertaking you've started. Thought you might care to see the two Iver Johnson's I have. Both are shooters although a hundred years old and I don't shoot them often. O need to push things. Please keep us posted on your progress.

View attachment 114475
The one on the left was made in 1911 and the right, 1921.
Nice looking brace of pistols, Firpo. I will probably electrolyze mine this week and find out if the nickel is worth saving. Nickel is not my favorite finish, but since it is the original, I will save it if I can. If it's too far gone I will strip it and nitrite blue it.
 
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