Another "dragoon" type pistol

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I had previously half way cleaned up the Dragoon lock casting set I had purchased several years ago from Blackley & Son in the UK. At the time they were moving their facility and foundry and did not have the screw set for this lock. After several unsuccessful attempts to have a set delivered I gave up and am now making all of the required screws. The bulk of them will be 6-40 although I may use an 8-40 for the frizzen pivot screw. I have machined the tumbler and done more clean up and polishing on all the parts. The cock is fitted to the tumbler shaft. I will do all the internal fitting with some temporary 6-40 machine screws but will then machine the correct length and shouldered screws to replace them.



Correction, blackly and son was not moving…. They were running away ! That guy owes me a few hundred in parts since 2017.
 
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OK...so today was the day to try my luck on three irreplaceable cast springs... sear, frizzen, and main. I was not really worried about the sear spring. If I needed to do so, I have made a fair number of those out of sheet spring stock (and even pallet steel strapping). So not much of a problem to replace if the cast one failed. The frizzen spring is a slightly bigger deal to make from scratch but not impossible. I would just need to weld on the little decorative finial before heat treating and the shape is not too tough to bend. I was mostly worried about the main spring. I am not good at making those....yet. So I was hoping I would not have to start my training in the middle of this pistol build.

I've done a few springs in the past with the Prest0-lite acetylene torch for the initial heat and quench but decided to try doing that first step in a little more precise fashion this time. I planned to take the springs up to 1550 F or so in my melt furnace. But because of the time it would take to come up to temp, I didn't want the polished springs to fire scale. So I painted them with the same fire scale coating I used on the little rifle lock tumbler repair. Here are all there springs with the coating drying.



Once dry, I put the springs in the furnace and ran them up to 1550F and then did a quench in room temperature brine water.



The springs looked great after I fished them out of the brine (no fire scale at all) but were not hard enough. I could still bite a little with a file. I postulated that either the coating slowed down the quench a bit (not too likely as the coating explodes off the surface on contact with the quench water) or I did not let the springs soak out at temperature long enough when the furnace hit 1550. So without re-coating, I put them all back in the furnace and ran the temp up to 1600. Another quench....still not hard enough for my liking. Back in the furnace one more time. This time I took the temp up to 1660 and held it for a good 15 minutes before another quench in fresh brine. Bingo ! All three springs were as hard as glass.



Then I cleaned up all the surfaces (there was some fire scale now) and drew them all in a lead bath at 755 F. (It took a bit to get the lead pot dialed into the right temperature) I let the springs swim around in the molten lead for about 20 minutes and then fished them out and let them air cool.



After I got all the bits of lead off the springs, I put the frizzen and sear springs in the lock and both worked great. Because of the shape of this particular main spring, I had a heck of a time getting any of my several spring compressors to work. Every one I tried slipped off the spring in one way or another. I finally had to grind a shoulder on the fixed end of the spring parallel to the working arm. Once I did that, one of my spring clamps worked. I got the main spring compressed far enough to get it installed (without the spring breaking :) ;) ) only to discover that, at rest, the toe of the tumbler was just about 0.010" too short and the spring would pop off the tumbler. So....now I need to add a bit of weld steel to the tumbler before I can exercise the main spring in the lock and make sure it will handle more than a few cycles....
 
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Several years ago now I had a .58 cal heavy straight sided rifle barrel that was too heavy and too short for me to do much with. I cut off 12 inches and turned it round to make a pistol barrel. I also had a maple pistol stock blank and some castings (butt cap, trigger guard, side plate, etc) in a pile of spare parts, so I started in on making another dragoon type pistol. Not wanting to use any of the spare locks I had, I bought a set of dragoon lock castings from Blackley's in the UK. I got this far with all the various aspects of building a pistol and then "time, tide, and formation" pressures took over......work, house repairs, other commitments with family and kids, weddings, funerals....you get the idea. Anyway, the pistol parts went under the work bench in a box and have been there for almost a decade. I recently finished setting up a new work shop and have been slowly moving all of my tools and gear into it. In the process, I found the box of pistol parts. After looking them over, I decided it was a shame to leave them in that condition, so I have started in on finishing the work.

Everything has been on hold for nearly two months. My Mom (96) was having some severe health issues and my sisters and I dropped everything to be with her. She has made a miraculous recovery but now I have a ton of work to catch up on. Getting back to work on the little rifle for my grandson and finishing up this pistol will, hopefully, keep me a little "saner" than I would otherwise be....

very nice, beautiful and thank you for posting.
 
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Good job.

I temper my springs back at 700 in an kiln.

If you’re water quenching in a salt brine mixture you may want to consider keeping your heat down to reduce the risk of cracks.

Once you hit that 1600 threshold where the steel is non-magnetic stress rises in the springs.

For years i followed the Rifle Shoppe’s instructions on water quenching 6150 steel springs and suffered cracks in them.

I kept the temperature down between 1300 and 1400 for a water quench, however I had found that quenching in canola oil or mineral oil at 1500-1600 yields the same results with far less risk of cracking.
 

Brokennock

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OK...so today was the day to try my luck on three irreplaceable cast springs... sear, frizzen, and main. I was not really worried about the sear spring. If I needed to do so, I have made a fair number of those out of sheet spring stock (and even pallet steel strapping). So not much of a problem to replace if the cast one failed. The frizzen spring is a slightly bigger deal to make from scratch but not impossible. I would just need to weld on the little decorative finial before heat treating and the shape is not too tough to bend. I was mostly worried about the main spring. I am not good at making those....yet. So I was hoping I would not have to start my training in the middle of this pistol build.

I've done a few springs in the past with the Prest0-lite acetylene torch for the initial heat and quench but decided to try doing that first step in a little more precise fashion this time. I planned to take the springs up to 1550 F or so in my melt furnace. But because of the time it would take to come up to temp, I didn't want the polished springs to fire scale. So I painted them with the same fire scale coating I used on the little rifle lock tumbler repair. Here are all there springs with the coating drying.



Once dry, I put the springs in the furnace and ran them up to 1550F and then did a quench in room temperature brine water.



The springs looked great after I fished them out of the brine (no fire scale at all) but were not hard enough. I could still bite a little with a file. I postulated that either the coating slowed down the quench a bit (not too likely as the coating explodes off the surface on contact with the quench water) or I did not let the springs soak out at temperature long enough when the furnace hit 1550. So without re-coating, I put them all back in the furnace and ran the temp up to 1600. Another quench....still not hard enough for my liking. Back in the furnace one more time. This time I took the temp up to 1660 and held it for a good 15 minutes before another quench in fresh brine. Bingo ! All three springs were as hard as glass.



Then I cleaned up all the surfaces (there was some fire scale now) and drew them all in a lead bath at 755 F. (It took a bit to get the lead pot dialed into the right temperature) I let the springs swim around in the molten lead for about 20 minutes and then fished them out and let them air cool.



After I got all the bits of lead off the springs, I put the frizzen and sear springs in the lock and both worked great. Because of the shape of this particular main spring, I had a heck of a time getting any of my several spring compressors to work. Every one I tried slipped off the spring in one way or another. I finally had to grind a shoulder on the fixed end of the spring parallel to the working arm. Once I did that, one of my spring clamps worked. I got the main spring compressed far enough to get it installed (without the spring breaking :) ;) ) only to discover that, at rest, the toe of the tumbler was just about 0.010" too short and the spring would pop off the tumbler. So....now I need to add a bit of weld steel to the tumbler before I can exercise the main spring in the lock and make sure it will handle more than a few cycles....
Fantastic post.
While I am truly in awe of the talent you and a couple others here display in building and decorationg these guns, often I feel the real talent lies in how you guys work through these problems.
 
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So, I welded on some length to the tumbler. Then I installed the spring and it worked....sort of. When at rest or at half cock, the spring was fine, but the main arm of the spring was flat up against the fixed arm at half cock and it took three men and a boy to get it to full cock. So I annealed the spring to change the shape. I opened the bend and flattened the "belly" a bit in the main arm. Then I re-heat treated, quenched, and this is how I drew the spring.......

I smoked it to keep any lead from sticking....



Then it went into my lead pot ......





I kept track of the temperature with this and brought the lead bath up to 760 degrees and kept it there for a half an hour......



The finished spring.....



First of all, I think that the spring casting I received many years ago now (from Blackley's) was not the correct spring for this lock. I had to cut away most of the screw ring on the top arm and just cut a divot under the pan for a spur to set in. As you can see, the spring shape is still not correct..... (and the hex screws are just temporary before someone calls me out on them... ;))



By the time the spring is at half cock, the wonky shape is even more pronounced......



And at full cock, the end of the spring hook is no longer in contact with the tumbler and the spring is being lifted on the end of the tumbler toe



I have yet to successfully hand make a main spring although I have tried a few times. I think it time I learned that key part of lock making....... :mad:
 
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Several years ago now I had a .58 cal heavy straight sided rifle barrel that was too heavy and too short for me to do much with. I cut off 12 inches and turned it round to make a pistol barrel. I also had a maple pistol stock blank and some castings (butt cap, trigger guard, side plate, etc) in a pile of spare parts, so I started in on making another dragoon type pistol. Not wanting to use any of the spare locks I had, I bought a set of dragoon lock castings from Blackley's in the UK. I got this far with all the various aspects of building a pistol and then "time, tide, and formation" pressures took over......work, house repairs, other commitments with family and kids, weddings, funerals....you get the idea. Anyway, the pistol parts went under the work bench in a box and have been there for almost a decade. I recently finished setting up a new work shop and have been slowly moving all of my tools and gear into it. In the process, I found the box of pistol parts. After looking them over, I decided it was a shame to leave them in that condition, so I have started in on finishing the work.

Everything has been on hold for nearly two months. My Mom (96) was having some severe health issues and my sisters and I dropped everything to be with her. She has made a miraculous recovery but now I have a ton of work to catch up on. Getting back to work on the little rifle for my grandson and finishing up this pistol will, hopefully, keep me a little "saner" than I would otherwise be....

You are fortunate to have one of these. I really hope you post pictures when you are done. I wouldnt even know where to get one. Good luck.
 
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I’ve successfully made about a dozen mainsprings.

On my mainsprings I curl a loop instead of bending a flat, the loop tends to be more stable and can be correctly positioned around the screw as to a poorly drilled eye hole.

For the pre-load I never bend the bottom leaf with a set of pliers, I clamp the spring to a bench block and I tap it out (while heating with a torch) gently with a mandrel (7/16 rod), this gives the bottom leaf a uniformed curve.

Its also important to make sure your steel is normalized (in an annealed state) when altering the shape. Heating a hardened and tempered spring red and then bending it can cause chips and cracks.

The steel used is very important, 1070-1080 steel makes a fine spring, 6150 if you can find it in flat stock. Saw blades of spring steel work great too, as to automobile leaf springs.

1095 and 5160 tends to be very tricky when tempering. If its not tempered at exactly 700-750 for the correct time, in a full heat bath it will have brittle spots and will eventually break, tree stump remover and nitre salts work very well for 1095, i have two that are still going strong, but I’m pessimistic.

Miroku Charleville and Brown Bess mainsprings are of 1080 steel and thicker than most repro springs, which is what makes them so strong. On a few the tempering colors I’ve seen on them vary from purple., blue to straw which makes me wonder if they tempered their springs twice, which brings me to that too. You can temper a spring twice after its cool, this sometimes will yield a less brittle spring. I’ve tried that with success on sear springs and frizzen springs.

The tempering colors can also sometimes lead in you in the wrong directing thinking its correctly tempered. With 1070 steel, I’ve had very good results with a ‘peacock’ blue color, at just under 700 (690) watchmakers use this tempering style and their springs last decades.

I try to go a little thicker on the spring too, so instead of reshaping the bend, I can simply just polish off some steel to make the spring less heavier.
 
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FlinterNick,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write down that information on spring making. Obviously I need all the help I can get and your tutorial will be a great help. !! I have also had a verbal tutorial from and with Dave Pearson on this subject. It is always great to get help from someone who has done something like this successfully. Thanks again
 
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FlinterNick,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write down that information on spring making. Obviously I need all the help I can get and your tutorial will be a great help. !! I have also had a verbal tutorial from and with Dave Pearson on this subject. It is always great to get help from someone who has done something like this successfully. Thanks again

Dave makes excellent springs, and his made many more than I have. I’d use his tutorial. I’d use my advice as sort of a beginner’s example of trial and error.

I was using 1095 flat stock at first, this was a mistake.
 

TFoley

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Correction, blackly and son was not moving…. They were running away ! That guy owes me a few hundred in parts since 2017.

He owes ME some parts for a Queen Anne pistol since 1987.......................................
 

Sooty Scot

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Judging by the quality of the smithing you do "for your sanity", I doubt there is ever any question about it.
Stunningly beautiful Work, sir.
 
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He owes ME some parts for a Queen Anne pistol since 1987.......................................

The only time i buy from him now is if i see him at a gun show. I offered to buy some of this molds too. If you’re not going to cast anything anymore, then sell the molds.
 
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Dave makes excellent springs, and his made many more than I have. I’d use his tutorial. I’d use my advice as sort of a beginner’s example of trial and error.

I was using 1095 flat stock at first, this was a mistake.
Rarther than 1095 try CS65 or CS70 or very old Car Leaf Spring. Same type of stuff.. Longer grain structure. Cherry RED and Quench in "Automobile Transmission Oil". Said to be the nearest stuff to Whale Oil with Not so much thermal shock as water and then run the temper Three times to Stress Relieve. It's worked for me for over 70 years. OLD DOG..
 
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