Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tales From The WECSOG Forum

No Duct Tape Has Been Employed In Fixing This Gun!

For you non-gunners, WECSOG is the acronym for the Wile E. Coyote School Of Gunsmithing. It's the sort of academy where inspired amateurs use lots of ACME products to permanently bollix up fine firearms...

Some time ago, the transfer bar on my Ruger Vaquero broke in two. Given that the price of .45 Long Colt ammo is stratospheric, I was in no real hurry to repair it, and let the sixgun languish in misery for almost a year. I haven't shot it all that much since buying it, maybe 600-800 rounds total.

I finally got off the stick and ordered the part from Ruger. I got two, as a matter of fact, just in case that transfer bar breaks again.

I pulled the lid off a cardboard file box to use as a parts tray, and commenced to breaking down the pistol. I'd not disassembled this pistol before beyond pulling out the cylinder and ejector housing for cleaning, and swapping out the grips.

The previous owner must have never thoroughly cleaned the pistol, either. Well, I already knew he was a doofus for buffing off the case-colored finish, but however many rounds he put through the gun, the burnt powder and gun oil residue was all still gummed up in the lockworks. There were a couple of parts that I took to have a blued finish, until I ran an oily rag over them and discovered they were made out of stainless steel! Lots and lots of grime!

I pulled everything off the frame with the exception of the barrel, firing pin assembly and the base pin plunger assembly and gave it all a thorough scrubbing.

Now, with most guns, reassembly is just a matter of disassembly done in reverse. You'd think a Vaquero followed similar principles, correct?

Au contraire, mon frere!

If you attempt to reassemble a Vaquero without reading the directions in the owner's guide, there will be a name for your pain, and that name is "Trigger Pivot Pin".

See, that pivot pin goes out on one side, and goes back in from the other. Took me two hours of bruised fingertips and much cursing before I figured that one out. In the process I also learned that if you momentarily loosen your grip on the loading gate, the gate spring can work loose as you insert the pin, altering the angle of the cylinder stop, making pin insertion a moot point. You basically just turn the frame upside down, shake all the parts loose, and start over from step 1.

Second, if you fail to insert the base pin during reassembly, the transfer bar will jam up under the firing pin, causing you no end of anguish. Since the first action in disassembly is pulling the cylinder and base pin, you'd think that was the very last thing reattached to complete the gun. Wrong again...

Third, the hammer pivot pin is under no tension at all until you get one of the frame screws inserted, which you can't do until all the fiddly bits are in their proper places. To get all the fiddly bits in their proper places requires you to rotate the frame on its axis any number of times, during which the pin will fall out of its own accord and disappear into the rug. Here's where a magnetic-tipped screwdriver comes in handy. You wave it across the carpet in arcs until you hear the "click" of the wayward pin grabbing onto the driver tip!

Fourth, you really need the trigger spring installed before reattaching the grip frame. Trust me on this...

The funny thing about all this is that I also own a Ruger Blackhawk in .357, which for all intents and purposes is the exact same pistol, albeit in a smaller caliber, and I have never had any problem at all getting that one stripped down and reassembled.

I'm guessing the Vaquero is being contentious since I left it broken for so long...

So, moral of the story? RTFM, for starters. Don't assume logic applies to the process. And, as always, you'll probably forget to insert the cylinder stop spring & plunger into the trigger guard and notice it in the parts tray just as you're tightening that last screw!