Hot vaquero

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movingmd

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 4, 2014
Messages
96
So I picked up a ruger vaquero a few months ago. Blueing was gone, and the springs are weak. My gunsmith said don't shoot it, because it probably been in a fire. But another respected gunsmith said shoot it. I have made my min up as to what im doing with it. Just want to known what most on here would do.
I just want to do a poll. Would you restore and shoot it or wall hanger.
 

skeeter

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jan 24, 2009
Messages
382
We need more information. What caliber? If its a 357 then it has a lot more metal in the cylinder walls and 38 special may be ok. Pictures would help too. Is it a vaquero medium frame or the older large framed model? If one guy told me not to shoot it then I wouldn't shoot it. No sense suffering a needless injury.
 

schloss

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
360
The only reason I can think not to shoot it is because the fire can have significant effect on the metallurgy, leaving you with a "mystery metal". You don't know how it responds to impact or stress, amongst other things.

Your springs are pretty good proof of this, but they may not tell you much about the rest of the gun. If they're weak, they've either yielded or softened. You could check one of them with a file if you're dead set on shooting it. If they're soft enough to file easily, there's a good chance that the rest of the gun has annealed slightly, as well. Still no guarantee, though.

I wouldn't shoot it until you know more. Even if I ever decided to shoot something like that, I would do extensive penetrant or magnetic testing on all of the components that would see impact or pressure, and a few other critical locations, then I would do some kind of "proof" testing from a position far away from the gun, and then I would do the penetrant and/or magnetic testing again. Also, I'd try to hit it with a sono-pen or something to try to know its relative hardness.

Yeah, I'm over-analyzing it. Sure, it would probably be fine to shoot. But, I'd still rather be safe, and not have any worries. My last used Blackhawk cost me $400. I consider that cheap in comparison to shoot something of unknown strength.

I still would like to see pictures.
 

mohavesam

Hawkeye
Joined
Jan 4, 2004
Messages
5,847
Any competent gunsmith can perform a Rockwell test on the appropriate surfaces (i.e., cylinder,topstrap, barrel, recoil shield, etc. and determine if the hardness (temper) has been compromised from the factory specs. A tiny indentation is all that is left noticeable. Mag particle and FPI (flourescent penetrant inspection) will only identify linear (cracking) defects open to the surface, which would certainly indicate gross & irreparable damage.

Or just send the shooter to Ruger, job done.

A spring kit will set you back less than a big pizza, and then you have a serviceable revolver again. Sounds like your 'smith only guessed, which is not a smart man's approach when dealing with hand-held firearms.
 

pisgah

Buckeye
Joined
Apr 17, 2006
Messages
1,633
If a gun has been through a fire hot enough to affect the springs, I won't shoot it. The heat has been enough to alter the steel, and none of the possibilities are good if you try to shoot it.
 

jbntx

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
199
Why even consider shooting it when you know it's been in a fire and it's integrity is questionable?
If you found a WWII grenade, would you ask about pulling the pin to see if it was still live?

Why would you even buy such a gun and put yourself in that situation?
 

GA Cracker

Blackhawk
Joined
Jun 12, 2013
Messages
714
Do you know for a fact the vaquero has been in a fire? Are you sure the springs are weak or could it possibly have an action job with the hammer and trigger springs replaced?
My cousin bought a revolver from an old farmer with the bluing rubbed off that the farmer carried every day in his overalls.
 

eveled

Hunter
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
3,673
I wonder what would happen if you sent it back to Ruger for evaluation? There is a chance they would just replace it, rather than bother testing it, and assuming liability.
 

movingmd

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 4, 2014
Messages
96
It will be tomorrow before I can post pics. It's a .45lc large frame. All the springs are weak. It still has a long trigger pull to be a trigger job. And the only place that has any blueing on it is under where the ejector housing would be.
I have considered sending it to ruger. I may look at getting a hardness test done. What hardness should it be?
 

PriseDeFer

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 22, 2014
Messages
419
Does it function dry firing? If it does how did you determine that the springs are weak?
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
Messages
7,752
not too often that a firearm gets the brunt of any direct flames,most guns caught in "fires" the damage is the result of water, left in a basement or such........seen many that the grips burned off ,or melted and the gun it self was perfectly fine, replace and and all springs if they appear, seem or feel 'weak'...........it would have to be running off "molten meta"l for me to say NO......
got any pictures ??? it is far easier for the factory to say replace it, than screw around and restore it.................

here is a "before and after" of an old Blackhawk 3 digit gun from a fire out in Arizona.......





springs the only things that we replaced ( and never did see the original grips??) :roll:

and I did this one ,all by hand, no buffers or polishers......... :wink:
 

movingmd

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 4, 2014
Messages
96
It functions. Pull hammer back and pill trigger is good. But the hammer falls slow! And the trigger is the lightest I have ever felt on a revolver
 

PriseDeFer

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 22, 2014
Messages
419
Then maybe concentrate on how it looks. Does "blueing gone" look anything like rugerguy's picture?
 

ncrobb

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 17, 2014
Messages
134
A friend in college had a .45 Colt Blackhawk when the house he lived in caught on fire. He sent it back to Ruger and they checked it, reblued and restocked it for him. I don't remember the cost but we were college kids with a zero budget for extras so it couldn't have been much.
 

schloss

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
360
mohavesam said:
Any competent gunsmith can perform a Rockwell test on the appropriate surfaces (i.e., cylinder,topstrap, barrel, recoil shield, etc. and determine if the hardness (temper) has been compromised from the factory specs. A tiny indentation is all that is left noticeable. Mag particle and FPI (flourescent penetrant inspection) will only identify linear (cracking) defects open to the surface, which would certainly indicate gross & irreparable damage.

Or just send the shooter to Ruger, job done.

A spring kit will set you back less than a big pizza, and then you have a serviceable revolver again. Sounds like your 'smith only guessed, which is not a smart man's approach when dealing with hand-held firearms.

The reason I suggested using MT and PT is due to the fact that they will reveal surface-breaking defects, and MT will additionally reveal near-surface defects. When this thing went through the fire, probably not too big of a deal, but if the fire was hosed out, you have potential for the formation of martensite, and with martensite, cracks. I still suggest doing one or both. It's quick and it's easy. Doesn't really even need to be fluorescent.

The sonopen will provide hardness value without leaving an indentation.

But all that aside, I agree it's probably smartest and cheapest to send it in to Ruger.
 

mohavesam

Hawkeye
Joined
Jan 4, 2004
Messages
5,847
Good to see someone else approaching the problem in a controlled manner! Agree the MPI will (if done by a qualified inspector) reveal sub-surface defects down to potentially 0.050" depth... but any so-revealed would be manufacturing (casting) voids, as uncontrolled heating such as a fire wouldn't actually create voids in a high-strength casting. I suspect the "fire evidence" is minimal if any, as subjecting a Ruger revolver to the prolonged open flame necessary (approx 1400F for awhile) for re-tempering the casting would leave unmistakable tinting and most probably would melt small parts outright (de-soldering the front sight and certainly melting aluminum parts outright). The smallest springs would be rendereduseless (cylinder pin retention spring?) Still, these revolvers are rather inexpensive and I would replace it rather than roll the dice.

Speaking with Prescott staff, they would much rather have the gun returned for replacement. The issue here is liability, and once the user even suspects fire damage, he/she assumes 100% liability. The guy I talked to has looked at Rugerguy's pics and said the whole staff cringed at the thought someone is out there firing that gun!

Anyone suspecting fire damage or electrical arc damage needs to STOP using that gun and get a professional assessment!
 

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