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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:29 am 
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Single-Sixer

Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:01 am
Posts: 251
Location: Schertz, Texas USA
Inherited a 20 gauge from my father that has been fired less than 500 rounds.

I like the gun, only once you push the lever for opening, it will open but you have to keep pushing down on the top of the barrels to keep it wide open.

I've read somewhere, and it might have been on this forum, that there is a fix for this.

Does anyone know what the fix might be?

I've posted this question on shotgunworld.com but, so far, no hits.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:46 pm 
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Buckeye

Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:01 am
Posts: 1543
Location: Maine
texaswg, I have done considerable work on the Stevens 311 series of guns and similar makes over the years and one of the biggest problems I find with them is parts "rust"! How does the gun "open" after you cock the hammers and then close the gun (without firing the gun) and "then" reopen it? Is it still "stiff" then? When the guns were new, they were considerably stiff on opening and cocking but after 500 rounds, it should have loosened up. I would disassemble the gun completely, which is not an easy task as reassembly of the "hammers" is difficult without the "right" tool to assist you. A thorough cleaning and oiling should put you back in business. Also, I have found burrs on many of the parts as the gun was of the low end, pricewise, and didn't get much cleanup in assembly. They are however, very good guns and that "boxlock" design has been around since the late 1800's. I personally owned a 311D for well over 20 years and hunted with it quite a bit. One thing about these guns is that parts rarely break or go bad. I bought a lot of spare parts for these guns over 30 years ago and still have most of them! "Rust" is your culprit on these guns and if you don't think your up to taking the gun down "completely", then take it to a "competent" gunsmith and relate to him the info I have given you here.............................Dick :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:28 pm 
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Single-Sixer

Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:01 am
Posts: 251
Location: Schertz, Texas USA
Pinecone,
Thanks for the pointers. The gun is rust free (at least on the outside) as it has been taken hunting only once and was maintained (wiped off and oiled) frequently. I doubt it's problem is internal rust, but I will pull the stock off and take a look anyway per your suggestion.

My Dad bought this one new back in '66 or '67 and had it by his bed until he died in 2001, never firing it himself. (the gun has no serial number)

I put less than 500 rounds through it since then but I've cleaned and oiled it after every outing. It has always been stiff to open, either cocked or not. It is a little stiffer upon cocking, then if you close it and then reopen it without pulling the triggers, it seems to have two stages of stiffness.

The first stage of relative stiffness, is upon initial opening the action, then, it has a sort of second stage upon the last 1/2" or so of opening to it's wide open position. It is this last stage of position that is the most tiresome; it wants to close back that 1/2" of opening back to the initial stage...then you have to muscle it back open that last 1/2" again to make it stay wide open. If you don't consciensously hold it open, it will want to close up enough to hinder loading it. Then you have to muscle it wide open in order to load it.

In looking under the barrel chambers area onto the receiver when the gun is open, I can see the cocking plunger bearing against the sear(s)? and this seems like it might be where the stiffness is coming from; but I'm not sure.

When I take the barrel assembly off, there is no rust apparant anywhere either underneath the barrels or in the frame area where the firing pin holes are or on the frame that protrudes underneath the barrels.

It just looks brand new everywhere except for a few scratches on the stock and forearm.

So, I don't think rust is the problem.

I've not seen a firearm yet I can't take apart and put back together, so I don't think this one will be a problem either.

Assuming rust is not the problem, is there anything I can look for specifically when I get it apart?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:03 pm 
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Site Admin

Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:01 am
Posts: 6351
Location: Chattanooga, TN
I have serviced a fair amount of these also. Heed pinecone's warning on disassembly of the action....those hammers have some tension from the firing springs that makes it tricky to reassemble the pivot pin without a custom tool or 3 hands.

You should be able to take the stock off and see if there is any rust in there without disassembling the action.Spray some clp or cleaner in there then work the action some and see if that loosens thing up a bit. You may not have to take it apart.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:31 pm 
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Hawkeye

Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:17 pm
Posts: 15106
Location: Kentucky
For what it's worth, my 16-ga 311A (new in like 1960 or so) has always acted as you describe. It has had excellent care all its life and has no rust in/on it.

I have always assumed this was just the design of the gun making absolutely sure the hammers were cocked. I don't worry about it as it's really not a problem in the field.

On a relatively inexpensive SxS like these, a little "tight" is not a bad thing, as looseness is the bane of similar guns.

JMHO
:)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:58 pm 
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Single-Sixer

Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:01 am
Posts: 251
Location: Schertz, Texas USA
Ale-8 and I_Like_Pie,

I'll sure do as you suggest and just pull the stock off; then inspect and lube without further dissassembly....."if it ain't broke, don't fix it" as the old saying goes.

I guess I was just dreaming it up about a fix for the stiffness. I'll just lube it and live with it.

Many thanks again for your time and responses.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:09 pm 
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Hawkeye

Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:17 pm
Posts: 15106
Location: Kentucky
An inspection surely can't hurt. And a good cleaning and lubing can't hurt.

If you're going to have the stock off, a good spritzing with a cleaning solution couldn't hurt, either. A dunking/soaking in something simple like kerosene is a good start, particularly if the gun has been repeatedly lubed over the years. Sometimes lube combined with grit and dirt can build up in the action and "gum things up".

That said, I'll bet cleaned and lubed, it will still react as you describe, but the action should be nice and smooth.

Again, JMHO.

:)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:52 pm 
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Site Admin

Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:01 am
Posts: 6351
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Actually upon reading your initial post again....I believe that I too have read where someone did a fix to avoid having to keep fighting the action. Seems that the cowboy action guys don't care much for losing seconds to loading

The tension you feel is part of the inherit design of these guns. What you are pressing against is not rust, but the hammer springs (both of them). You can lube but it will always be there. The modification that you read (it was on a CAS forum was an actual modification to the "Wishbone" cocking arm. It is the wedge that you see poking out of the front of the receiver. That piece is the lever that pushes on the hammers to cock the gun.

It is really neat to see how the gun works by taking off the buttstock and keeping the barrel on...cycle it a couple of times. It also gives you an idea of how rudimentary the safety is on these guns. Kinda like a mousetrap actually. There is not much there keeping those two hammer levers in place and they have quite a bit of mass to them.


That being said. Enjoy it....Shoot it....keep it. These are the unsung heroes of the shotgun world. Real workhorses. I love mine!!!


Last edited by I_Like_Pie on Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:58 am 
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Hunter

Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 8:11 pm
Posts: 2266
Location: missouri
I have had two Savage/Fox Model B shotguns. Both have/had been shot shot a lot and both still had this quirk. Some lube on the working parts will improve the situation if the parts aren't galled or have burrs.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:49 am 
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Single-Sixer

Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:18 am
Posts: 314
Location: North Texas
Is this the site your looking for
http://marauder.homestead.com/irons.html
This has what some SASS shooters to thier Stevens 311s to get them to stay open for fast reloads. I don't know if I would do this for a hunting gun. Just putting out there for you.
John

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:19 pm 
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Buckeye

Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:01 am
Posts: 1543
Location: Maine
texaswg, If the insides display no rust, then I believe your gun needs more "break-in time. As noted above, they never do get "easy" to open like say a Parker or Winchester Model 21 but will get easier with working the action. I have on occasion, replaced the "mainsprings" to make the gun a little easier to open. The mainsprings are really "overkill". The mainsprings in the Fox Model B series are a little lighter weight. I make my own springs out of the proper diameter Brownell's spring stock (#71 Spring Stock Assortment). You would be able to see the "rust" readily once you have the buttstock, forend and barrels removed if the gun has any rust. The outside of the gun is not always indicative of the "inside" condition. As I mentioned and "Pie" reiterated, if you do remove the "hammers" you will soon learn what we are talking about when you try to reinstall them. Even with the "tool" I made, it is a very difficult job given the strength of the mainsprings. I made this tool somewhere around the early 70's when I started to see a lot of these guns. It is similar to a tool Brownell's once sold but "beefier". I made this from 1" x 1/4" tool steel. It is 6 inches long and the working "part" of it is 1" long. When using it, I put on a heavy leather glove to push the hammers against their mainsprings and plungers to install the "cross pin". I post this not just for you but for others who may have to go down this "road" of removing hammers on these guns..................DickImage


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:59 pm 
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Buckeye

Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:01 am
Posts: 1543
Location: Maine
Modifying the cocking plunger will ease the cocking resistance a little but not "significantly". The reason they do this "mod" is that it is far easier than replacing the hammer springs (mainsprings). The real "culprits" in cocking resistance "are" the mainsprings!...................Dick :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:02 pm 
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Bearcat

Joined: Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:27 am
Posts: 38
Location: fairhope al
I have changed the firing pins on 2 311's and have done it without too much difficulty and really no special tools except a screwdriver with at least a 12 inch shaft which most people won't have. Email me and I will send my instructions on this. The action on these guns just doesn't want to stay completely open without pressure but unless you are in a gunfight it is not too bad. Cleaning and oiling with synthetic oil really helps and to do this properly requires you to remove the rear stock, so you need a long screwdriver. I've only changed the firing pins and their springs-nothing else.
Hap

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:12 pm 
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Buckeye

Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:01 am
Posts: 1543
Location: Maine
hapjack12, Welcome to the forum! Changing the firing pins and changing the "mainsprings" are two very "different" propositions. The firing pins can be changed without taking out the "hammers". The mainsprings "can not" be changed without taking the hammers out, therefore the "reason" for the tool I posted!...............Dick :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:32 pm 
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Hawkeye

Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2005 1:01 am
Posts: 6920
Location: Cut 'N Shoot, Texas
Just as a point of interest.....
Yeah, some cowboy gunsmiths do "lighten" the cocking springs to make opening the action easier. As I recall, some of them fellers even sell specialty springs to accomplish the same goal.

Something to be aware of before jumping into this sort of thing though, is that the cocking springs do more than one job. The less obvious reason that them particular springs is so strong is that they eliminate the shock load on the barrel-lug that would result if the barrel Ass'y was allowed to slam open......is "slam open" a term?......yeah, around here it is.

Damaged barrel lugs aint uncommon on CAS race guns and I've seen a couple that sheared clean off the barrels.
Aint trying to scare anyone or run their business. Just saying that before ya go to whacking on a perfectly good gun, ya need to know what you're about.

Hope this helps.

DGW


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