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Thread: Colt Detective Special Doesn't Carry Up

  1. #1
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    Colt Detective Special Doesn't Carry Up

    I bought a third issue DS from an online dealer "as is". Cosmetically it's in pretty nice shape. When I got it, it wouldn't carry up. It's 50 years old and hasn't been fired much, so I figured the old lube inside was gummy. I pulled the side plate and cleaned and lubed it as well as I could without further disassembly. Now it usually carried up in DA with an empty cylinder but not completely in SA, and when I took it to the range it wouldn't carry up unless I really yanked on the trigger. I came home, pulled the side plate off, stuck it in some Tupperware, and flooded the insides with Tri-Flow, re-flooding it a couple of times and leaving it for 24 hours. I put it back together and there was no change, but it was cleaner.

    Any suggestions for getting this thing running? I'm pretty much resigned to sending it off; if I need to do that, who's a good 'smith for this?

  2. #2
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    The Colt forum has info about stretching the hands, it often works if they arent too bad, as yours doesnt sound too bad. Its relatively simple to do, one just has to be brave.

    Some parts are available used, i dont recall if someone is making new hands for them or not, I think so but dont recall where, Jack First maybe?

    Edit: hey look, new hands....https://jackfirstinc.com/colt-d-hand-154-56086

    Im also not opposed to having a bit of micro-welding done on the lower tooth of the hand to build it up, then fit, if other options dont pan out. Some have speculated that the hardness may be different when done, but if its a case of the gun working or not, thats far down my list of concerns, it can be re-done if i ever live long enough to wear it out.

    Frank Glenn in Phoenix is the current go to guy for Colts.
    Last edited by Malamute; 01-10-2022 at 12:13 PM.
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    @Malamute - It looks like replacing the hand only requires removing the V spring, pulling out the old hand and sticking the new one in, replacing the V spring, and closing it back up. Is that all that's required or does it require arcane incantations as well?

  4. #4
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck38 View Post
    @Malamute - It looks like replacing the hand only requires removing the V spring, pulling out the old hand and sticking the new one in, replacing the V spring, and closing it back up. Is that all that's required or does it require arcane incantations as well?
    Id be surprised if it was a simple drop in part and work, its likely going to be at least a little oversize so it can be fitted to a variety of guns with varying amounts of slop and wear to compensate for. I doubt its anything close to magic or swiss watch fitting though. I think id get the replacement hand, then try stretching yours, you would have a replacement if you manage to hurt it, but its really not rocket surgery. Id get the Kuhnhausen manual mentioned and study it for anything other than a basic hand stretching though. Its not always obvious what all needs to be checked when fitting parts, and a voice of experience can at the very least save you a lot of time and effort in nothing else.

    If you dont have at least a set of swiss files and a couple knife fine sharpening stones, maybe one of the small triangular ceramic stone files from brownells, and some wet or dry sandpaper in 320, 400, and 600 grits and a piece of glass to work them on, Id get that stuff as a basic starter setup for working down small parts and polishing them. I dont use the knife sharpening stones much but they work well on certain things, mostly the triangular ceramic stone and wet or dry paper to take small amounts off, deburr, and polish parts to mirror finish.

    A decent dial caliper helps also. You can probably check the old vs new part and see hwo they compare in various dimensions, so its not too thick to fit, and the lower tooth of the hand is slightly longer but not so long it binds up when cycled.
    Last edited by Malamute; 01-10-2022 at 06:10 PM.
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    I decided that doing this myself was well into "a man's got to know his limitations" territory for me. I checked around on some nationally known gunsmiths' websites, and then called the local-ish guy who did the parkerizing on my M10-7 and he said he could do it. I drove over there and he looked at it, apparently it's the lower shelf on the hand that's the issue. Rather than replace the original or stretch it, he's going to TIG weld it and fit it. He said it'd take about a week.
    Last edited by revchuck38; 01-10-2022 at 05:39 PM.

  6. #6
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    Sounds like a relatively simple fix, and one Ive been curious about. Please let us know what he charges to do it.

    He probably knows this but before changing timing, be sure the end shake is OK, it has direct bearing on the hand rotating the cylinder far enough to lock into place, in other words, if the cylinder moves forward more than needed, the hand can have trouble getting it to rotate into position with the lost motion of the cylinder moving forward too much. Feeler gauges between the rear of the barrel and the cylinder face, checked when held to the back, then to the front tells how much movement there is.

    Ive been shy of Colts for most of my time shooting based on the legendary difficulty working on them, but started looking into it a few years ago and realized theres still many things that can be done by the average hobbyist gun tinkerer that are not voodoo or require decades long apprenticeship in the dark arts. Im still somewhat mystified by the reluctance of many to take a Smith apart even to clean inside it.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malamute View Post
    Sounds like a relatively simple fix, and one Ive been curious about. Please let us know what he charges to do it.
    He told me it'd be $80-85.

  8. #8
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    Thats not bad, all things considered.

    You could spent a fair bit in shipping both ways to send it to someone, and whatever incidental parts may be required, like a hand, so no, not too bad.
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  9. #9
    OK, I’ll be the one. What does “carry up” mean?

  10. #10
    Hillbilly Elitist Malamute's Avatar
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    Means it doesnt fully index into the locked position when the cylinder rotates. It often happens on one or two chambers at first, and often goes unnoticed by many until it gets worse or starts shaving lead or jacket material when fired.


    Colts have a small saving grace in this case, the design of the hand and cylinder ratchet allow the hand to fully advance the cylinder the last bit once the sear trips and the trigger moves a little past sear letoff. It isnt a real valid answer to not fixing it, but it concerns me slightly less than a similarly out of time Smith.
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