It was a challenge. A couple weeks back I picked up a Ruger Wrangler. For $200, the fit and finish are acceptable. I figure you get what you pay for. After I got it, I started to work with it and continue to believe that the mainspring is more than what is needed but what is entirely unacceptable was the loading gate spring. Even my calloused fingers found it difficult to the point of painful to pry it open. This had to change. I opened the gun up, looked around to familiarize myself with how the disassembly would take place. Looks like my Vaquero but it has been years since I took that apart to replace and lighten up the springs. Had to jump start the rememberer in my gray matter to bring it back. I didn't have time, at the time, to start tearing it apart then so I put it back together to work on another day. I'm the kind that likes to start a project and finish it in the same day. I don't like carry overs to the next day, week, month, etc. Git er done. So last Friday I have the time, no one is after me, too cold to be outside, chores all done, I go to the man cave to do surgery. I did not start well. Instead of taking the grip panels off, cock the hammer, put a retaining pin to hold the mainspring under tension to make removal and re-installation easy(er), I have a brain fart and take the handle screws out. It all comes apart really easy but when the mainspring strut drops out on the workbench, oh fecal matter. So now I take the grip panels off and remove the spring and the spring retainer and put them all aside for later assembly. I get the loading gate spring out without any further mishaps, get my trusty Dremel tool out and proceed to carefully remove some material from both sides of the spring and the bend in the spring. After I get, what I thought was an appropriate amount off, I start the reassembly. I get the loading gate spring in and now it is on to the mainspring and the grips.
Ever try to push a rope up hill? That is what it is like compressing the mainspring onto the strut. Mind you, I don't have a fixture for this, just common hand tools. I tried threading the spring on with the spring retainer pin in place and that worked to a point. The point to where I get to the end of the spring and the spring is bent so the end touches the coil behind it. I"m not going to get that pin through that coil. Then there is the matter of the spring retainer that needs to be under the pin. More fecal matter. So being the genius and finagler that I am, I attempt to compress the spring with another pliers, pull the pin out, place the retainer on and get the pin back in. Did you know that the speed of a compressed mainspring at takeoff is faster than the eye can see? I hear the spring land somewhere in my cave so I start looking around. After a half an hour, I give up. I pull out my stash of miscellaneous springs and I find one that is a relatively good fit. A bit on the soft side but I think it will work to just put things back together to try out the loading gate. I've about worn the skin off my fingers and thumbs, I'm frustrated but by some miracle, out of the corner of my eye, between a plastic storage box and a bag of wads, there it lay. Saints preserve us. Carefully take the pin out that is holding the retainer in place, take off the donor spring, put original spring on, start compressing the spring, grab retainer and while my hands are shaking from holding the spring under tension, I slide the retainer on, grab the pin and start aiming at the very tiny hole on the strut to hold it all together. You guessed it. WE HAVE LIFT OFF! Well this time I managed to hang onto the spring but the retainer is gone. I thought I hear it rattle around on the shelf above me, so I start poking around all the junk I have stored there over the period of 25 years. I'm not finding it. So now I'm frustrated, my fingers hurt and I need a beer. I am bummed for sure. Fecal matter.
Saturday. Still cold out. Mom is going shopping with daughter #2. I'm going to the gun shop. The shop I frequent is owned by a vet and his wife. Every year they have one of the girl scout troop come in and sell cookies. They also do a deal where if you buy a box, donate it, they will ship them off to service members stationed over seas. I go up to see if there is something that needs to follow me home as well. A well used but in good shape, Beretta 85 followed me home. Did I need it? Of course I did. I called out to me. I also buy a box of cookies, told the den mother to put a box in for the service members and use the remainder of the $20 I gave her to help offset the cost of shipping for the gun shop. This was shaping up to be a better day. I stop at another gun shop on the way home. It was on the way. I'd stopped there before and two items I've been eyeing up for a while I finally talked to the owner about. He had 13 Flambeau shell boxes marked at $4.99. $4.99 was too high but I wanted the shell boxes for personal reasons. My dad and his brother started Flambeau. I offered him the whole lot for $3.00 a box. He took it. They also had a scale pan I've been looking for at $1.99. SCORE! He has a Ruger Vaquero/Single Six in .32 H&R mag. He had it marked at $509.00 on sale. It has been sitting there a while. Some surface rust had started forming on the case coloring and the hammer. I pointed it out to him and he said he would do $460.00 cash. I don't need this one as I already have 2 for the girls to shoot but it would make a good back up. I may go back and get it at a later date but I was happy with my Beretta, shell boxes and scale pan. I figured I'd spent enough for one day. Should have stopped there first.
I get home, mom isn't back from shopping yet, still cold out, nothing worth watching on the boob tube so I decide to take the long walk to the man cave and start looking for the spring retainer that I launched yesterday. I'm standing on my tilting chair, there isn't room to get anything else in there, sorting through years of junk. Old bottles for storing stuff. Looking through containers of leather conditioner, my stash of strike anywhere matches, bottles of different gun cleaners, one large mouse nest. I've been at this for a good half hour and as I pause to take a breath, about to give up and place an order with Brownells, out of the corner of my eye, again, I spy the retainer, radiating in all its shiny glory. Happiness exudes from my lungs. YES! I look down at my bench upon all the crap I now need to throw away. I complete the garbage run and set about to put the mainspring on the strut and get that retainer on. With great care and precision, I compress that spring, get that retainer on and the pin in place. Success is mine! I finish assembling the rest of the gun in about 5 minutes. I test the loading gate and am satisfied with the results. Feels more like my Colt Frontiersman. I am good to go.
So I went from feeling sorry for myself to feeling a whole lot better from my purchases and my good fortune of finding all the parts I launched into space. It was a good weekend.