Fixing a DO
IT YOURSELF Gunsmithing Repair on a H&R 922
Now let us move back in time a bit and give a bit of history on these firearms. This pistol is a H&R model 922 revolver. Harrington & Richardson firearms are an American company that dates back to the late 1800s, and were known for numerous pistols, and single shot shotguns, not expensive, but economical and functional. About 1984 because of a lawsuit the company of New England Arms was formed making many of the same long guns. However the pistol line was dropped in 1985. This company evolved in a slight separation of product in 1991 to H&R 1871 LLC and then merged with Marlin Firearms in 2000, and in 2007 Remington Arms Co. acquired all of the assets. H&R then ceased production in 2015.
This model had many different versions (both internal and external) since it's inception. One collector has said that this model went through 8 different variations, during it's production life. Most were solid frames with fixed sights, however some models did have adjustable sights. Some were tip-up versions. The early guns used a one piece curved mainspring, while the later ones utilized a coil spring type, also the trigger spring transgressed from a flat Vee to a coil type. The real early gun had an octagon barrel while the later ones were round. The grip shape and actual grips were also changed numerous times. Barrel lengths could be 2 1/2", 4", 5 1/2", 6", 7 1/2" or 10" depending on the model.
The model number may have been derived in that cylinder holds 9 rounds and was a 22 RF caliber. This method was also used on other models like a smaller 622 or a 632. This was just one of numerous economical pistols they made in various small calibers up to 38 S&W. The one thing that was common with most of these revolvers is that they shared many internal parts no matter the version/model or caliber. Therefore what is explained here as to repairs will cover about all of the later coil mainspring type H&R revolvers, however there will be some differences as to the many different versions.
For this model, to load and unload the cylinder you have to pull the center pin, removing the cylinder from the frame. On the early models, each fired case needed to be pushed out with the center pin, one at a time. The newer versions utilized a unitized extractor system where all cases were extracted by one push of the center pin through the center of the cylinder.
My association with one of these guns came about when I was probably 14 or 15 years old. During my high school years I earned money during the summer by working for the local farmers putting in hay/grain or cannery peas.
And during the winter by running a trap line in the catching muskrat, raccoon, weasel and mink, and processing the pelts. This was done before school using a flashlight two days a week, and then on weekends. My mother purchased (with my earned money from working for the farmers) a used Harrington & Richardson model 922 22RF 6" barreled revolver to use on this trapping venture. This was a start into my handgun usage/hunting. I later during the summer used it to also shoot alder limbs off trees across the creek to recover my hung up, but then valuable fishing spinners. After graduating from high school and working in the woods, every Friday afternoon after work, I would stop at the local country store and purchase a carton (500 rounds) of 22 short ammo, which being cheaper (like about 35 cents a box as compared to the Long Rifles at 50 cents). These were used for target shooting, mostly in the winter when the creek was flowing through the property, and my targets were floating alder leaves or specks of foam. I got to where I could outshoot my dad who was using a 22 rifle with iron sights.
I shot so much ammo out of it that I broke/wore off one cylinder ratchet but temporarily fixed it by soft soldering a blob of solder at that location then with my pocket knife whittled this addition down to where it would function again (for a while). However with my extended usage, this repair needed to be repeated over time. I finally sent it to the factory for repairs.
Then after working in the woods for a couple of years on December 21st 1956, I bought myself my own Christmas present of a used Colt Woodsman 22 LR semi-automatic pistol for $47.50, which replaced the old H&R that I then sold to my uncle for $20.
|H&R later model 922, copy of page from the NRA Exploded Firearms Drawings by James M. Triggs|
The illustration above is very close to the model that I was working on. The only real difference, mine was a slightly older version which utilized a single hammer screw instead of the stud (#24) and the screw (#23). However here for some reason, Mr. Triggs does not use the same nomenclature as the factory does.
This little gem was acquired and started the repairs when I was within spitting distance of my 80th birthday, and having spent 50 years plus in the gunsmithing/machinist trade, I figured that I would fix it up and put in my fishing boat. Since I had worked on MANY of these pistols before, OK, no big deal. But after tearing it apart, it was obvious that someone with little or no mechanical/gunsmithing skills had been there before me and had left a damaging trail.
Complete replacement parts are not plentiful anymore except a few from Gun Parts Corp in NY, who purchased many of the original parts when the company was sold. However not all parts are currently available, (remember that what spare parts are out there now has to be OVER 30 years old), however this company does also make a few of the very common simpler replacements.
These guns are rather simple in operation. THE PROBLEM IS, that all the parts have to slide up inside the enclosed frame, so you can not see how they relate to each other as compared to a Colt or Smith & Wesson where, with the sideplate off, you can easily install the parts and watch them function during cycling. Therefore knowing how each part functions in relationship to the others is critical in you having a successful repair job. That is why this is article was written.
One thing I would like to cover first, if you start to take these apart, after removing the grips, there is one thing you can do to start with that will save you grief later on reassembly, is to captivate the hammer/mainspring. You will notice on the bottom of hammer guide/plunger where it sits in the frame recess, there is a small hole in the lower end of this guide plunger that is 90 degrees crossways. There will be a slot in the grip-frame there. This hole is there so you can straighten a paper clip, and with the hammer cocked, push this pin into the plunger hole. Now let the hammer down by pulling the trigger and you can remove the hammer/mainspring plunger as an assembled unit. This saves a lot of grief later on during reassembly. If you did not do this, no real problem as a tip on getting the spring recompressed is given below.
Here the butcherer must have wanted to decrease the trigger pull, so he cut a few coils off the trigger spring (#7). OK, that would have made a lighter trigger pull, BUT it also then created not enough pressure to return the trigger for a successive shot. Remember, many things inside this gun have to be balanced and timed to each other for it to operate properly.
Here everything evolves around the trigger (#13), and hammer (#25) which are connected by the lifter (#14), so if one is out of adjustment even a small amount, all the others could also malfunction. There are no real adjustments other than a file, and it is VERY easy to file off too much, ruining the impossible to obtain part. He also apparently did not understand how the pawl (lever & spring #16) was designed to function and did major filing alterations to it, along with the spring being bent wrong, creating the issue of the cylinder (#2) would not rotate unless the gun was held upside down. Then after I did get things close to functioning, it misfired 4 out of 9 times. After looking again, (closer this time) this proved to be that the mainspring seat (#22) was missing, which lessened the power of the mainspring pushing up on the hammer to fire the cartridge. Also the mainspring guide (#21) had MORE than a slight bend in it (a slight bend was needed) which put pressure in a slightly wrong position on the hammer, pulling it slightly rearward beyond the safety rebound position which also changed the position of the lifting lever when at rest. This in turn effected the cylinder to be rotated in proper timing to lock up with the cylinder stop (#8). Along with the cylinder stop had been filed down on to so that it failed to lock the cylinder from rotating at rest. It was so close that it did lock up most of the time when actually fired. Then occasionally at single action, the hammer would not stay cocked, which was caused by the sear (#7) being worn or had been filed on to create a lighter trigger pull. But in doing this, the pivoting sear then was closer to the hammer on top and the lower tail would become slightly farther forward bumping the rear part of the trigger, (which really needed a slight amount of clearance to prevent this issue), as this was where the action takes place to fire the gun at single action by moving the sear away from the hammer's full cock notch.
Then after it initially getting it pretty well fitted and test fired, some of the empty fired cases had a hard time to extract, because of an excess amount of dry firing (where the hammer nose (firing pin) had hit the chamber edge in the past (since there was no cartridge rim to take up the abuse). And at the target which was only about 15' away, many of the bullets were striking it sideways, meaning there was something wrong with either the barrel or the front of the cylinder, or the cylinder was not aligned on those chambers. Initially what I found was 5 of the chambers on front had a rectangular indentation about at the location of where the firing pin would have hitting if the cylinder had been reversed ????? So a hardened chamber burnisher needed to be made to push this displaced metal back into place, without machining it away. However that did not do the job as it seems that the cylinder stop (#8) is being released just a tad bit late and not popping up into the cylinder stop notches fast enough into some of the cylinder notches, so to correct that, part of the trigger needed to be relieved a bit to let the stop to be activated a bit earlier.
This above rendition is not to impress you with my word-smithing, but to illustrate how one part effects and interacts with the others. And then there needs to be a starting spot in all this fitting/refitting, otherwise you are just chasing your tail while ruining valuable non replaceable parts.
For a nice looking little pistol, the first impression was, HEY this was in pretty good shape, no rust or screwed up pin/bolt heads and not a lot of evidence that it had been abused on the outside. Well look again, but inside this time, but to a casual buyer, not an easy thing to do. I finally got it functioning, but it took a lot of time and a lot of disassemble/reassemble then trial and error, even though I was familiar with it's internal workings.
Here the internal parts are laid out in a close relationship to their locations inside the frame (note the slave pin holding the sear in the rear TG & the MS retainer pin)
Actual Repairs :
OK, let's get down to the actual repairs that I had to do.
(1) Visually inspect for obvious things wrong, which the lever (normally referred to as the hand or pawl) was obviously not anywhere near the original configuration as seen in a photo below.
(2) Tear it apart and visually inspect the inner parts that would normally be broken, worn or destroyed. This included the lever and spring assembly and the trigger spring. Here I totally missed seeing the missing mainspring seat and the altered cylinder stop. The two parts (the lever and spring assembly #16 and the trigger spring #17) were ordered from Gun Parts Corp for $19.76 including shipping.
(3) This new replacement lever (pawl, a more commonly used name) usually has the single wire spring a bit too long, plus it needs to have a 20 degree forward bend about 1/4" from the bottom, which pushes this pawl forward early to engage the cylinder ratchet notches. For reassembly the hammer also needs to have the pivot screw removed so the hammer can slide down to position it so the lifter can be positioned in it's required notch in the hammer as described below. The new trigger spring was also installed, and the whole trigger unit then needs to have the lifter engage the hammer recess and the unit raised up with the pawl engaging the window in the frame (it will not fit if the hammer is secured by it's screw). All the while being sure the coil trigger spring is in the right position to seat in it's shallow nest in the frame behind the cylinder stop groove. Holding everything in place, insert the trigger pivot pin in the frame and the trigger.
Once together and pulling the trigger, it was obvious that the pawl was not in a position (will emerge out the pawl window of the frame) to engage the ratchet to rotate the cylinder properly. OK, remove the unit and cut off about .025" off the bottom of the pawl spring as it was bottoming out in it's hole in the trigger. Reassemble again. OK we are close, but not all of the ratchets were engaged by the pawl. Cock the hammer and with the pawl protruding, and using a large punch, tap the outer surface of the pawl, bending it inward slightly against the pawl window of the frame. This ensures that it stays to one side of the window (and not wobbles in the slot) as it raises.
(4) Slide the hammer into position but do not install the hammer screw or stud depending on the vintage of the gun, because the hammer has to be in the frame but float enough for you to engage the lifter (#14) into it's hammer notch.
(5) The sear and it's coil spring slide into a slot in the rear of the trigger guard (#5) and are both retained by the rear TG pin. However to assemble this you need a short "Slave Pin" the same size as the pins, but shorter (the width of the TG). Make this pin out of a 3/32" welding rod or nail .300" long. Now you can assemble the sear into the rear TG slot with the slave pin NOT protruding on either side. All this slave pin does is hold the spring loaded sear in place while you position it inside the frame. Once in position and you can see the holes align, tap the factory rear pin in, forcing the slave pin out the other side. But at the same initial assembly time and before the above rear pin being used, you need to install the cylinder stop and it's spring in the frame recess and inside the trigger center slot. This stop should protrude up into the frame slot. You now need to be sure the stop spring resides in the round partial recess in the front of the trigger guard. And that you have replaced the center pin spring (#10) in it's frame hole. Now you can slide the TG up, align the sear hole, drive the slave pin out and holding the front of the TG in the alignment position so you can tap in the front TG pin in place.
(6) Align the hammer with the frame hole and install the hammer screw.
(7) Install the mainspring assembly. If the spring was not captivated when you disassembled the gun, you will have to do it now. You will notice a small hole located in the bottom of the mainspring plunger rod. This is the size to accommodate a straightened paper clip. Install the spring, seat and compress the guide enough to allow you to insert a paper clip to retain the whole assembly as one. (TIP) it works best if you use a drill press (not running), and with a vise jaws slightly opened enough for the rod to pass through, put the upper end of the guide in the opened drill chuck just enough to retain it but let it float in alignment on top of the seat. Now using the quill handle, compress the spring, stick the paper clip tail into the hole BELOW the seat and you now can install this mainspring assembly as a unit into the frame. Pull the hammer rearward, compressing the spring, pull out your paper clip, and you are there.
(8) Install the cylinder and the center pin, securing the cylinder. Now you have essentially have the gun assembled other than replacing the grip panels (#19).
(9) Check the cylinder rotation and lockup, by manually cocking the hammer, do this for all chamber holes more than once. Do it again in a double action, again checking for proper alignment.
(10) This gun is made with a automatic rebounding hammer. That means after the shot is fired, the hammer moved rearward just enough to have the sear move into a safety notch on the hammer. This movement is governed by the semi-circle plunger attached to the top end of the mainspring guide. This "shoe" has one end longer than the other and pressing on an eccentric arc on the hammer. If it works right, the hammer will retract about 1/8" after firing. If it is less, the sear does not engage the safety notch of the hammer. If too much then again no engagement. The cure is to bend the mainspring guide rod minutely. This can be done by using a bar or 8" metal file, inserted behind the installed guide rod (spring in place), and slightly twist the bar between the rod and the guns frame. If you go too far, bend it back from the front side. It takes very little movement to accomplish this. When set properly, the hammer should retract just enough under (spring tension) for the sear to automatically engage the safety notch on the hammer.
(11) Test-fire time if everything looks OK. My test-fire was at 16' into my wood pile, using single action shooting and double handed hold off the edge of my barn door. My point of aim was dead on a felt marker square about the size of a dime. My main group was about 1/2" high and could be covered by a 25 cent piece, but it had 2 fliers that were the bullets went in sideways, which in this case were because of the cylinder/stop timing allowing the bullet to be partially cut on one side at the rear of the barrel by not being in true alignment at firing time, as covered below.
(12) What I found here was 2 things, #1 being the cylinder stop had been filed off the top where it engages the locking notch in the cylinder so much that there was not a lot of available engagement surface to guarantee lockup 100% of the time. Pull it apart again and Oxy/Acetylene weld very precisely the top of this stop to build it back up so it could be filed down (but measure it before so you have some idea of what is needed). This took a lot of trial and error, first getting the sides the same width as the lower part and then the top reshaped to get the correct rounded shape and height. Numerous reassembly of the stop and trigger guard was required. This stop had to be made tall enough to totally engage the notch AND at the same time low enough so that when the trigger was pulled for a second shot that the stop would drop down unlocking the cylinder, (out of the notch) and then clear the lower part of the cylinder so it would rotate for the next round.
(13) #2 Also in conjunction with #12, this gun was that the timing (cylinder locked up at firing time) was OK if done on a double action of pulling the trigger, HOWEVER if it was cocked single action, a few of the chambers over rotated. This is because on DA mode, the hammer does not move all the way rearward as it does on SA mode. The reason is if the SA hammer travel was the same as the DA travel, the sear would engage the hammer and there could be a double click type hesitation on let-off because the sear would drop in place AND then almost immediately have to be pulled out upon firing. I had it timed so close AND about 1/2 of the cylinder ratchets are apparently slightly long (by a mere few thousandths) that with this small amount of SA over-travel that the cylinder stop does not snap up early enough (depending on your speed of cocking) to ensure it will engage and lock the cylinder in position at firing time.
OK, the cylinder stop cross pin is what times the stop as it rides off the front of the trigger trip recess, and in this case, times it's cylinder notch (the stop's) engagement too late on the SA mode. Well, disassemble again and instead of trying to stone off a few thousandths off the front of the trigger cam (and take the chance of ruining it), I chose to remove .005" off the rear of the stop pins (mating surface to the trigger cam surface), which would be cheaper to replace if I screwed up.
Here are the altered lever (pawl) on the right & the new one on the left with the needed spring wire bend on the lower end
|Here is the spring measurement used for this gun of 1.062" off the top flat. NOTE the spring's bend is at a critical location at the depth it protrudes into the trigger|
After all these repairs were completed, and it shoots so good, then since my hands are large, I decided to make larger grips. So a prototype was made of Styrofoam and Duct Tape.
Here is the gun worked on above & my prototype grip adapter.
In the photo below, one of my impromptu firewood targets at 30 feet which shows 6 bullets (2 in same hole, low left) which can be covered by a 25 cent piece (3/4" horizontal spread), also showing two fliers caused of the cylinder not being properly timed, where lead was shaved off one side of the bullet as it entered the barrel, throwing them off balance. This was remedied by changing the cylinder stop timing (see #13). And the ninth round misfired.
Here is my testfire target showing 2 sideways hitting bullets.
OK, a few weeks later, I had the chance to take a walk down to the river, checking for fish and took this pistol along. No fish, but I was attached by some vicious floating foam. To protect myself, I had to dispatch these golf ball sizes demons, this pistol did it's job quite well even with me shooting one handed at about 70' before they got near me. But to justify my accuracy, in my past, I have done a considerable amount of 22 Bull's-eye match pistol shooting.
So I apparently my gunsmithing ability has not disappeared as it is obvious that I got the sights on proper alignment after shortening the barrel, and the prototype grips also functioned quite well.
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Originated 08-22-2016, Last updated 01-19-2017