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1885 Hi Wall action question
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February 9, 2021 - 5:46 pm
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I have an 1885 Hi Wall that requires an excessive amount of effort to open the action.  Is this something that can be adjusted?  Once the initial movement of the lever is started, the action moves smoothly and there is no binding.  The closing of the action is some what stiff, but shows no binding.  The action snaps shut when closed and it is really closed tight.  Any opinions?  Suggestions?  Thanks, RDB

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February 9, 2021 - 5:57 pm
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Roger,

It sounds to me like the breech block is contacting the barrel breech face too soon (not enough head space).  This is often caused by a replaced barrel.

In answer your question, NO, there is nothing that can be “adjusted”.  If I am correct, the only option is to shorten the barrel at the breech face by a few thousandths of an inch (I would start with .002″).

Bert

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February 9, 2021 - 6:44 pm
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Thank you Bert.  Yes, the barrel has been replaced and I failed to mention that Embarassed  I will leave it as is. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  RDB

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February 9, 2021 - 7:32 pm
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rogertherelic said
  I will leave it as is. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  RDB  

That’s my cardinal rule, except in this case, I would say it is broke, or at least, not working right, & a big annoyance to shoot.  Is the replaced brl an original Win?  Most of the time, they will screw up without headspace or other problems.  Whoever replaced it did a poor job to leave it in this condition, as having a barrel vise & wrench, it would have taken very little time to unscrew it & shave the breech end. 

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February 10, 2021 - 1:10 am
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The replacement barrel is not Winchester.  In fact, it is unmarked and still in the ‘white’.  My decision to buy the rifle was kind of a fluke.  It hadn’t been used much with the new barre and it was topped with a Winchester A-5 scope.  But the real buying incentive for me was, it came with a brand new set of RCBS 50-110 WCF dies and they were selling in the $400.00 range at the time with a several month wait. I had recently purchased a 50 EX. Model 86 and wanted the dies.  Sometimes I don’t weigh all of the pros and cons with a proper thought process.  But, I liked the gun and figured “what the hell?”.  I am not a highly regarded collector of perfect guns, so no damage done to my reputation.  So I have a Model 1885  with a replaced 34″ heavy barrel, octagon top flat side receiver, single set trigger.  There is no serial number that I can see on the lower tang, but the “PAT. OCT. 7th 79” is clearly present. Just a “BRUTE” for fun.  RDB 

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February 10, 2021 - 1:15 am
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Roger,

I would definitely have that barrel shaved just a few thousandths.  It is an easy and realtively quick task for any gun smith.

Bert

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February 10, 2021 - 3:21 am
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rogertherelic said
The replacement barrel is not Winchester.  In fact, it is unmarked and still in the ‘white’.  My decision to buy the rifle was kind of a fluke.  It hadn’t been used much with the new barre and it was topped with a Winchester A-5 scope.

Strange combination for a rebarreled rifle, esp. considering this cartridge!  Not surprising it hadn’t been used much.

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February 10, 2021 - 3:28 am
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Bert H. said
 It is an easy and realtively quick task for any gun smith.

Bert  

But preferably NOT the one who installed this brl!  His carelessness is going to cost Roger, or somebody, an unnecessary expense.

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February 10, 2021 - 2:37 pm
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Thanks Burt and Clarence for the urging.  I only know of one person in the San Jose/San Francisco area that I would trust with doing the work and his time is usually booked up.  I will see if he will work this adjustment in to his schedule.  From past experience with gunsmiths I have found a lack of dependability in return policy.  I will keep you posted just for fun.    RDB

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February 10, 2021 - 4:38 pm
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rogertherelic said
Thanks Burt and Clarence for the urging.  I only know of one person in the San Jose/San Francisco area that I would trust with doing the work and his time is usually booked up.

So is every other one who’s any good at all!  In fact, even the poor ones stay busy because there are plenty of new customers who don’t know any better.  But you’re lucky if there’s one close enough that you can avoid shipping–that’s the obstacle that stops me from doing certain things I might like to have done. 

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January 30, 2023 - 5:33 am
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I have the same problem with a Low Wall takedown. I have a factory letter for the rifle and the barrel matches the caliber, but the breech block contacts the breech face right at the top of the block’s travel before it starts downward to the locking position. As a result, the lever is extremely stiff to where it feels frozen. I thought the rifle initially had a broken firing pin that was jamming the action, so I disassembled it and pulled all of the internals out before removing the barrel. With the action fully reassembled everything is tight and smooth, but with the barrel installed and locked in, there is contact. I don’t believe Winchester serialized the barrels so I don’t know how to check as to whether a different barrel was fitted to the action. The rifle is chambered in .22 WCF from the factory as per the letter, and that is the caliber marked on the left side of the barrel just ahead of the receiver and also under the forend. 

I’m wondering if this cannot be fixed by a simple adjustment of the takedown mechanism but instead requires machining of the breech end of the barrel (and perhaps re-reaming the chamber slightly to allow for the proper headspace). A previous owner had installed a Weaver scope with the side-of-the-barrel mount, and had drilled two holes on the left upper quadrant of the barrel just ahead of the receiver for the mount… one partially obscures the caliber. I would think this destroys any collector value of the firearm and that its value lies solely in the value of an intact Low Wall takedown in good condition but possibly reblued several decades ago. The bluing looks too good to be from 1911 unless the gun was mostly stored in a vault and wiped down regularly.

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January 30, 2023 - 5:47 pm
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obijohnkenobe said
I have the same problem with a Low Wall takedown. I have a factory letter for the rifle and the barrel matches the caliber, but the breech block contacts the breech face right at the top of the block’s travel before it starts downward to the locking position. As a result, the lever is extremely stiff to where it feels frozen. I thought the rifle initially had a broken firing pin that was jamming the action, so I disassembled it and pulled all of the internals out before removing the barrel. With the action fully reassembled everything is tight and smooth, but with the barrel installed and locked in, there is contact. I don’t believe Winchester serialized the barrels so I don’t know how to check as to whether a different barrel was fitted to the action. The rifle is chambered in .22 WCF from the factory as per the letter, and that is the caliber marked on the left side of the barrel just ahead of the receiver and also under the forend. 

I’m wondering if this cannot be fixed by a simple adjustment of the takedown mechanism but instead requires machining of the breech end of the barrel (and perhaps re-reaming the chamber slightly to allow for the proper headspace). A previous owner had installed a Weaver scope with the side-of-the-barrel mount, and had drilled two holes on the left upper quadrant of the barrel just ahead of the receiver for the mount… one partially obscures the caliber. I would think this destroys any collector value of the firearm and that its value lies solely in the value of an intact Low Wall takedown in good condition but possibly reblued several decades ago. The bluing looks too good to be from 1911 unless the gun was mostly stored in a vault and wiped down regularly.

  

Is the barrel assembly loose or wobble when the barrel is locked to the receiver frame?  If it is tight, adjusting it will cause a different problem than the one you describe.

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January 30, 2023 - 7:03 pm
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obijohnkenobe said
I’m wondering if this cannot be fixed by a simple adjustment of the takedown mechanism but instead requires machining of the breech end of the barrel (and perhaps re-reaming the chamber slightly to allow for the proper headspace).

  

If the lever is as stiff as you say, you have nothing to loose by backing off the screws in the rcvr extension to determine if that alleviates this problem.   If doing this results in no improvement, I’d recommend sending it to John Taylor Machine; he has much experience working on this action, & whatever the problem is, he can correct it.

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January 30, 2023 - 7:39 pm
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clarence said

obijohnkenobe said

I’m wondering if this cannot be fixed by a simple adjustment of the takedown mechanism but instead requires machining of the breech end of the barrel (and perhaps re-reaming the chamber slightly to allow for the proper headspace).  

If the lever is as stiff as you say, you have nothing to loose by backing off the screws in the rcvr extension to determine if that alleviates this problem.   If doing this results in no improvement, I’d recommend sending it to John Taylor Machine; he has much experience working on this action, & whatever the problem is, he can correct it.  

The Single Shot take down assembly is not adjusted by “backing off the screws in the rcvr extension”, that is what you would do for a lever-action take down. See the attached pictures of a Single Shot take down assembly (now in JWA’s collection).

Extractor-barrel-slot.jpegImage EnlargerExtractor-slot-1.jpegImage Enlarger

Bert

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January 30, 2023 - 8:21 pm
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Bert H. said The Single Shot take down assembly is not adjusted by “backing off the screws in the rcvr extension”, that is what you would do for a lever-action take down. See the attached pictures of a Single Shot take down assembly (now in JWA’s collection).

Extractor-barrel-slot.jpegImage EnlargerExtractor-slot-1.jpegImage Enlarger

Bert

  

I should know that, as a I have a TD SS.  But on the principle of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” I’ve never taken it down!  

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January 31, 2023 - 4:21 am
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I may be (and most likely am) wrong but the dies and the scope sound like good acquisitions and the rifle sounds like fun, Roger. Have your gunsmith put some blue on that barrel while he has it and go out and have some fun when he’s done. I don’t see where you mentioned the chambering but if it’s the same as your ‘86 it may make a good test mule for load development, especially with that scope. 
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Mike

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