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How to Slick the Lever of a Henry Big Boy


Wade Butcher

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I know it's not a "competition quality" rifle, but I do love my Henry BB Classic. It's fun to shoot, accurate, and beautiful (in my opinion), so I'd like to use it as a backup gun.

I'd like to slick up the lever a bit in order to make it easier to cycle. It's already pretty smooth (no grit or rough feeling), but it takes a little more force to cycle it than I'd like.

Everything I've found in my forum search is about lightening the trigger, but I don't really need a lighter trigger. Just an easier lever action.

Any DIY advice will be appreciated.

 

W.B.

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I don't know where to find one but try lightening the mainspring. I wouldn't mess with the stock spring until you have a replacement in your possession...... VTI is out of stock.

 

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One of the biggest mistakes I see with Big Boys is the over tightening of the lever screw. It isn't a Marlin. Don't get heavy on the screwdriver here.

https://uniquetek.com/product/T1337

Install the above mainspring to your liking and then test to make sure it sets off the primer of choice.

 

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The Henry is NOT the perfect CAS rifle.

But it is a mechanical device and like ALL mechanical devices it can benefit from certain measures.

 

In any lever rifle the most "noticed" resistance is that required by the lever to flex or compress the mainspring to supply force to the hammer drop.

This can be adjusted by modifying the spring tension or spring strength - and this is where many folks start. 

And is why many are disappointed or end up returning to stock springs/ settings.

The spring weight is for more reasons than simply to supply enough impact to set off a primer.

It must also provide enough force to overcome mechanical frictions that exist due to manufacturing processes and lack of hand polishing.

 

So my recommendation is always to remove the mainspring FIRST - then cycle the firearm; feeling for resistance or stutters that are not spring related.

 

I use a paint pen and as I cycle the lever; if I feel resistance or grit - I mark a reference on the lever so that I can figure out exactly what parts are contacting or where they are positioned when the lever is in a given spot.

 

Then I go thru and search out these items and attempt correction, cleaning, polishing, angle adjustments, rounding, lubrication, etc.

This avoids polishing or removing metal where its not needed and keeps my focus on actual felt issues.

 

Once these items are better - then I reinstall the mainspring and determine if my efforts have gained enough that the spring may be lighter.

But I have found that "fixing" the mechanical fitment often makes the mainspring feel lighter even without modification.

Ill then slowly lighten the mainspring; testing with primed cases after every reduction.  Then once it doesn't pop primers any longer - I'll grab the backup spring I ordered and remind my self not to go that far again. (Hopefully you are smarter than me and can avoid this step).

 

This is my process for kitchen table action work in my firearms.

And is applicable to most guns - including Henry rifles.

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Thats some dern good stuff you posted,  JEDI Creeker.

 

I don't use a marker BUT, when working on a Marlin, I assess just about every problem by the position of the lever.

And from knowing what goes on at nearly every lever position, I can nearly figure out how to remedy problem

areas.  

 

You might be kin to ole Sam Colt or John Browning..... ;)

 

..........Widder

 

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4 hours ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

You might be kin to ole Sam Colt or John Browning..... ;)

 

..........Widder

 

Maybe John Colt or Sam Browning - their lesser known and slightly "special" kin.

 

Thinking I wouldn't have to order as many replacement parts if I was nearly as smart as the two fellers you mention.

 

Though when it comes to removing too much metal, stripping screws, bending tools, chipping stocks or losing parts...

 

I'm as good as anyone.

After all - I own two Dremel tools.

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11 hours ago, Jabez Cowboy,SASS # 50129 said:

A perfect shot with a Henry Big Boy is tossing it in the trash bin with-out hitting the Rim ....

 

Jabez Cowboy

Hey Jabez,  please don’t back and tell us what you really think!  Don’t think Wade wants your opinion about what rifle he likes to shoot and since you have absolutely no advice on how to modify it, why not just ignore the post instead of being obnoxious?

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52 minutes ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

I own 3 of Dremels.   All of them are Model 4000.

 

..........Widder

 

 

But one of my Dremels has a rechargeable battery!

 

Seriously, Creeker gave good advice for kitchen table smoothing.  It's a similar technique to what I use.  But I'm not a gunsmith and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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4 minutes ago, Doc Shapiro said:

But one of my Dremels has a rechargeable battery!

Seriously, Creeker gave good advice for kitchen table smoothing.  It's a similar technique to what I use.  But I'm not a gunsmith and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

+1..  And it is that knowing of when to STOP that makes the process and end result enjoyable!  Having to wait until the part you messed up comes off back-order and is available is very frustrating.  (Or so I've been told)!

 

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Ok,

Here goes. The Henry Big boy is basically a 36/336/1895 Marlin style action. The main difference is the parts do not interchange. Plus, the HBB has some added on liability parts that the Marlin doesn't have. It has a transfer bar, the firing pin is two piece  inertia style with an interlock activated by the transfer bar.  This firing pin is too short to reach the primer even with the hammer held down on it. What that means is this FP has to be hit hard enough to slam the FP forward with enough energy to pop the primer. So, if you just reduce the hammer spring you can make the gun less reliable.  

     

The HBB can be made to run better but it can be quite involved. Two things to reduce the hammer spring. Removing the T bar and fill in the hammer face. Then you can reduce the spring. Next, reduce the friction stud spring once you verify the fit. This will allow the lever to move open and close easier. 

      The only way to get a better action is a one piece full length firing pin. But it will be custom made. I recently did all this on one of the new 327 mags for the Silhouette game. For that game the trigger is most important and required as much work as the above mods. The main problem being the sear to hammer arrangement is more like an AR-15 trigger group. The trigger hooks the sear on the back of the hammer as apposed the traditional trigger nose in front .

 

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8 hours ago, Nate Kiowa Jones #6765 said:

Ok,

Here goes. The Henry Big boy is basically a 36/336/1895 Marlin style action. The main difference is the parts do not interchange. Plus, the HBB has some added on liability parts that the Marlin doesn't have. It has a transfer bar, the firing pin is two piece  inertia style with an interlock activated by the transfer bar.  This firing pin is too short to reach the primer even with the hammer held down on it. What that means is this FP has to be hit hard enough to slam the FP forward with enough energy to pop the primer. So, if you just reduce the hammer spring you can make the gun less reliable.  

     

The HBB can be made to run better but it can be quite involved. Two things to reduce the hammer spring. Removing the T bar and fill in the hammer face. Then you can reduce the spring. Next, reduce the friction stud spring once you verify the fit. This will allow the lever to move open and close easier. 

      The only way to get a better action is a one piece full length firing pin. But it will be custom made. I recently did all this on one of the new 327 mags for the Silhouette game. For that game the trigger is most important and required as much work as the above mods. The main problem being the sear to hammer arrangement is more like an AR-15 trigger group. The trigger hooks the sear on the back of the hammer as apposed the traditional trigger nose in front .

 

Very informative Nate, thanks for the detailed explanation.

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