Troubleshooting: Old Model Bearcat

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Leucoandro

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jun 29, 2006
Messages
448
Location
Dededo, Guam
My father has an old Model Bearcat on original configuration, that he got second hand, that is having some issues. My father originally attributed the issues to the trigger guard, because the cylinder latch spring and plunger had started wallowing on the hole in the trigger guard. I bought my father a replacement trigger guard in good condition from Numrich, but it did not fix the issue.

My father then went into more detail about the problem. When cocking the hammer:
First click (Quarter Cock/Safety Notch), the hammer still rests on the firing pin.
Second click (Half Cock/Loading Notch), the loading gate will not open unless the hammer is pulled back slightly beyond half cock.
Third click, normal.
Fourth click, the cylinder is not always locked into position. Sometimes it requires a little nudge.

I suspected the trigger, so I order a replacement trigger from Numrich. I also ordered a pawl and cylinder latch while I as at it because of the cylinder issue.
He installed all the parts (he did not install only the hammer first like I suggested) and tested the revolver. Everything worked better, except the hammer would not lock in the full cock position, and he said he thought the cylinder latch was dragging more than it used to. He said the bearing edge of the original trigger was noticeably shorter than replacement from Numrich.

He took the handgun and parts to a local gunsmith. The gunsmith honed the original trigger and put it back in. He might have replaced the original pawl as well. The gunsmith said it was good. Now the Old Model Bearcat has the following problems.
First click (Quarter Cock/Safety Notch), the hammer still rests on the firing pin.
Second click (Half Cock/Loading Notch), the loading gate will not open unless the hammer is pulled back slightly beyond half cock.
Third click, the cylinder latch seems to drag more than it used to.
Fourth click, the cylinder is not always locked into position. Sometimes it requires a little nudge.

Trying to diagnose it would seem that the previous owner might have shortened the bearing edge of the trigger for some reason. I suspect the unit probably only needed a replacement trigger stoned at the correct angle and fitted to the correct length. I am not great on the mechanics of revolvers, but it seems the cylinder drag issue could be caused by either or both the replacement pawl and cylinder latch.

Does anyone know of a gunsmith that specializes in Old Model Ruger's that my father could send the handgun to for repairs? It seems that the handgun needs to be timed and the replacement trigger fitted to the revolver. I could potentially do it myself, but I hate the idea of potentially messing up the trigger bearing face angle.


Charlie
 

Hondo44

Hawkeye
Joined
Apr 3, 2009
Messages
7,777
Location
People's Republik of California
1. You are exactly right in your diagnosis and course of action. My assessment based on what you posted:

The old trigger is worn too short (the key problem with the gun) and it sounds like a lot, probably actually broke off! This is the reason the timing is off on all four clicks.

I would start by taking out all new parts except the trigger. All the new parts that need fitting but aren't, are compounding the new (perhaps proper length trigger sear) or a hair of extra length for fitting.

You need the new trigger but it may need fitting on the sear (top edge) by being too long. Also the sear must be confirmed that it fits in 1st and 2nd hammer notches; if too fat eventually it could crack off the safety and/or loading notches; that's a whole 'nother can of worms. You can check with hammer and trigger out of the gun by using screws to align the screw hole in each with the screw holes in the frame, to duplicate contact angle when in the gun. Thin it on front side of sear if needed.

If the cyl can be turned freely in the loading position with new trigger, new cyl latch is OK, if cyl is dragging on the latch, when turning in loading position, use the old latch. New latches usually need a height fitting. So if with old latch installed, cyl turns freely, in loading position, leave it in the gun with new trigger.

Finally, since cyl locks on the fourth click before the hammer is all the way back even if it won't click in the notch. It's locking too early for the length of the trigger or length of the pawl. If cyl doesn't lock up early with old pawl, it may work fine with new long trigger.

If the hammer won't cock, it's one of two things, besides a long trigger sear: the new pawl is too long (that's also a fitted part), and it's binding on the already locked cyl which can't turn any farther and before the hammer can travel far enough to fully cock; use the old pawl. Or occasionally, the hammer could be touching and blocked by the rear edge of the hammer slot, you might get away with relieving the back edge of the hammer slot so the hammer can go back just a hair farther and fully cock on the 4th click. But the trigger should be shortened slightly. But again, might be OK as is with all the other old parts back in the gun!

Ideally the cyl locks and the hammer fully cocks into the last notch at the same time and only one click is heard. In reality, even on brand new Rugers many will not click simultaneously and that's OK, they don't have to be "ideal" for the gun to function perfectly.

But if the cyl locks way before the hammer notch cocks on the trigger sear, the pawl (new or old) is binding, again the trigger must be shortened/fitted.

2. The above is mostly for background and understanding of what's happening with the parts.
My first step would be the re-visit the gunsmith, he misjudged by using old trigger. The gun should never have left the shop with hammer still touching firing pin in the safety position; that should have been his first clue. Maybe he'll be cooperative and give it another try with the new trigger.

3. The last option is send it back to Ruger for a free, including shipping both ways, upgrade to the new model transfer bar safer action, and you get a nice new much more generous wide spur hammer. The gun is not modified in any way and can always be converted back using the old parts. And recognize the safety notch of the old models is not safe! Only loading with 5 rounds is mandatory for carry, and only loading with six at the loading/shooting bench on the range.
 

Leucoandro

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jun 29, 2006
Messages
448
Location
Dededo, Guam
Hondo44,

Thanks for all the information. A lot I didn’t know. By too fat on the sear, do you mean too wide (side-to-side)?

It sounds like something I could probably do. I suspect not too much length needs to be stoned off the sear. Although if their is someone I could send it to for a reasonable price, it would be tempting. I don’t really trust the local gunsmith based on what he previous did.

We only ever load 5 rounds into the revolver. My dad really likes the old cowboy 4 click action and the special loading process. 1 round, skip a cylinder, then load the rest.

My father has an old model single six he sent to Ruger for the upgrade. He did not have it back long before the new transfer bar broke. He sent to back to Ruger to be repaired. They fixed it and sent a nasty letter accusing him of fanning the revolver or firing too fast. My father does not do those things so he took the new parts out and put the old parts back in. Because the upgraded transfer bar on the old model single 6 is so thin, it should probably be forged, but it is cast. He always loads 1 in the chamber, skip a chamber, then load the other 4. He does it on all the single actions, even the new models.


Charlie
 

Hondo44

Hawkeye
Joined
Apr 3, 2009
Messages
7,777
Location
People's Republik of California
Charlie,

No, the thickness front to rear which has to fit to the bottom of the hammer notches w/o breaking them off. Side to side doesn't matter and will always match the sear width. Check that first before shortening the trigger, because if the sear doesn't fit all the way into the notch, you'll get a false indication that the sear is too long.

You'll be surprised how little the new trigger must be shortened. Don't take off more than 1/64" before trying it.

The retrofit transfer bar is actually bent sheet metal. Never heard of one breaking but there's always a first. The new model cast bars do break all too often.

That was insulting of Ruger to say that! Some idiot just made a stupid assumption. I would have complained to the President thru the 'email the president' option on their website, (of course it's too late now.)

I too like the old model action! In fact I've converted some new models to old model actions. I'm used to loading 5 rounds 'cause I also shoot old models and Colt SAs. I still load six rounds at the shooting bench at the range, I'm not carrying the gun or leaving it loaded when at the range.
 
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