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"Big Boston"

Winchester 1897, Update firing pin lock spring.

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This is an information post, I'm not making a point or looking for answers. 


I have an older 1897, a "C" that has seen better times, I sure hope it had some good times because all I see are quite an accumulation of bad. 


One issue was that the firing pin lock wasn't working as it should, you could push the firing pin in at any position of the bolt. Being a "C" it used the older style lock, with a leaf spring. The leaf spring was missing. A search of online parts sources came up blank. I asked a former gunsmith if I could fashion a new spring, out of something like a hacksaw blade. His reply was it can be updated. That's it, no more details or hints. Just that it could be updated. 


Here are the parts involved.




From top to bottom are: the bolt from an "E", 16 ga firing pin, a spare 12 ga firing pin, the lock arm, and the coil spring that is used in the update. Except for the spare firing pin, these are all parts from a working and mostly unmolested "E". 




This is the bolt, and it shows the hole where the coil spring sits in. A "C" or a "D" bolt will not have this hole. The hole is 9/64, just big enough that the spring fits in it an is held in position by the shallow grooves on the side of the slot and a small recess at the bottom of the groove.




The 9/64 hole is perpendicular to the flat on the bolt, and it's 0.475" deep. It's about 3/8" (center to center) from the pivot point of the arm. At the bottom of the slot you want a small recess for the spring, and more is not better. Not too deeper is air, and your spring will just fall through. I know this for a fact, my bolt had a dimple on the far side, I drilled too deep. In my defence, the bolt is a tough drill, and I'm sure the bit was none too sharp after cutting into the sides of the slot. 


We know where to drill, we know the size, and we know how deep to drill. I'm a hobby guy, I own a small drill press and a drill vise. I had a feeling that plunging a 9/64 drill bit in that slot would not go well, so I went into my Dremel kit and found a 1/8" ball end mill and was able to get a smooth guide for the drill bit. 


Before drilling I'd take the firing pin out, I didn't and my firing pin looked like the one in the picture after I drilled. Or possibly insert an old firing pin so the bit doesn't have to endure yet another side snag.




Assembled, the firing pin and spring do touch, slightly. On my "C" I filed the edge flat, enough to clear the spring. After all it already had a notch that would cause the firing to hang up. 




Bolt with spring inserted.


I had to do some fitting on the lock arm, to get a smooth and consistent action, and to have the firing pin positively retract after the spent shell is ejected. Remember, there is no spring on the firing pin. It is not a retracting firing pin except for what action the lock arm provides.


I assumed that if you were attempting this "fix" you'd have a disassembled old model in front of you, so I didn't include any pictures of my "C".   





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