I don’t know how many of you out there are “shade-tree” gunsmiths like me, but I find part of the enjoyment of firearms ownership to include tinkering with the guns I own. As far as Cowboy guns go, one of the most popular model handguns in use in this sport has to be the single-action revolvers from Ruger, be it Blackhawk or Vaquero.
With the introduction of the New Model Blackhawk in 1973, which incorporates Ruger’s transfer bar safety system, the loading gate was redesigned so that now, when opened, it freed the cylinder so it could be rotated for loading and unloading. Eliminated were the loading and safety notches from the New Model’s hammer, which had to be fully forward for the gate to be opened. With this redesign came new parts incorporated into this mechanism’s design, one of which Ruger named the “Gate Detent Spring.” If you’ve ever disassembled a New Model Ruger or Vaquero down to its frame, then you’re undoubtedly familiar with this part. Reassembly requires that the Gate Detent Spring be properly repositioned, held in place and depressed with the tip of a punch or other such tool so the Trigger Pivot Pin can be inserted through the frame, over the top of the end of the depressed Gate Detent Spring and through the cylinder latch assembly and trigger that have to be properly aligned to accept the trigger pivot pin. All this requires great manual dexterity, infinite patience, and a third hand — if you have one.
The manual dexterity and patience is up to you, but thanks to gunsmith Wes Flowers (aka West Fargo) that needed third hand is available in the form of a nifty little tool he invented called the “Gate Detent Spring 3rd Hand.” Machined from aluminum bar stock, the “3rd Hand” fastens over the top of the cylinder window and holds the gate detent spring in place and properly depressed, leaving your two hands to manage parts placement and pin insertion without too much additional difficulty. Priced at $18 and available directly from Wes, if you only use it one time the frustration you will eliminate is well worth its price. From “short stroke” action jobs, to custom tools and parts, to putting back the “clicks” in your clickless New Model Rugers, see all that Wes has to offer by calling 520-826-0012 or visiting cas-town.com/westfargogunsmith.
For the complete article please refer to the print issue of Guns of the Old West Winter 2012 Issue #72