Introduction to Gunsmithing: Identifying relationships between parts
The idea of this second part is a continuation and explanation of a paragraph contained in the first article:
You can find the article HERE:
Gunsmithing is ridiculously simple at its core, even though the perception is that only highly skilled artisans could possibly become the most famous gunsmiths. Gunsmithing is nothing more than setting a specific goal and reverse engineering to arrive at a set of steps by which to achieve that goal. I will admit, if you are incapable of reverse engineering, then perhaps gunsmithing is not for you. Tutorials seek to play out a reverse engineered course of actions so that a readership can understand them. That’s the problem with tutorials. A real gunsmith must understand the reasoning before they choose the course of action. Because of this firmly held belief I will do what I can to present a wealth of knowledge, and I would expect anyone attempting to fully and truly gain from this knowledge which has taken many years to build and assemble would read every word of it, as there is no part of it which does not have a bearing on the final result of any gunsmithing project.
Gunsmithing requires knowledge, but with today’s internet culture, it’s not difficult to acquire that knowledge to some degree. Knowing your guns, is the first step, and can be done with some very basic help. It starts with understanding the concepts of a particular firearm.
Say for instance a double action revolver:
How does it function, what happens in each particular action; imagine you were taking a 100 frames a second video of the revolver and slowing it down to watch each step of the process over the course of 2 minutes. You would see the first clutch of tension from your finger, and then there would be the start of the hammer moving backward. But if you were taking a multi-picture snapshot you would also see the hand moving upward to meet up with the Extractor/”star” to start the movement of the cylinder. But if you were looking in another spot you would see the cylinder stop, hop out of the detent that holds the cylinder in place to move under tension to the next detent in line for the purpose of stopping the cylinder. If you had the side plate of say, an S & W K Frame removed, you would see the back of the trigger moving into contact with the sear; the rebound slide assembly moving during the action against spring tension. You would see the entire movement of the action, finishing in the cylinder once again being locked up after the hammer and the trigger disconnect and the hammer falls; the sear helping to reset the position of the trigger and hammer. The entire process would fill a different view in your “snapshot” with each part and position playing a vital role in the entire process of the action of the revolver.
That’s not explaining the full function or each of the intricate relationships and not even taking into account the loading and closure of the cylinder.
The idea is to take a snapshot of the function of a firearm in your mind’s eye, at which point you will easily be able to find the sticking point for problems, and easily diagnose the functional concern. If you know what is MUST look like to perform flawlessly, you will be well on your way to seeing the things that cause problems: they will stick out like a sore thumb.
If you could know what each part of the gun does, you could easily diagnose the issue, because the malfunction, or inadequate part, or weak spring, or incorrect geometry could be seen easily AS IT FAILED.
General gunsmithing has a lot to do with knowing what to expect, and comparing it to the real time observation of what is occurring. Diagnosis is the first part of the process from a gunsmithing perspective. Knowing how to diagnose comes from experience in diagnosing. Experience in diagnosing comes from understanding what is supposed to happen. Knowing what is supposed to happen is a bi product of watching the gun in action, which in turn is a bi product of actually knowing the interaction of parts and the part’s specific purposes. Can you see the reverse engineering in the process of finding a solution?
Now in the correct order:
- Know what the purpose of your firearm is
- Know what each part is expected to do
- See the gun functioning in normal and healthy function
- Understand the working relationship of the parts in a healthy function
- Look for the unique moment of failure
- Inspect the point of failure and compare it to the known control group of conditions, dimensions, surface interaction and appearance
- After realizing that the frame or main parts of the firearm is not the cause for the failure, you will move to the next step
- Make the replacement and control the most likely source in a series of steps that replaces the cheapest and most likely failing in parts i.e. if you have a choice between a slightly weak mainspring and a worn hammer, test the mainspring first
- Check for functionality and safety
If you can understand how I arrived at this general 9 step list of actions from a reverse engineered idea of what I was seeing, then you can begin to understand the process for identifying concerns in a firearm.
This is obviously a general and simplified version of what takes place, but it’s a realistic expectation of what you can do after you understand the value of each part and its primary function.
Knowing what to expect is the starting point. Physically touching the gun you want to know is a huge help. Sure you can look at theory and hear people’s opinions in forums or in books, but to have the function occurring repeatedly in front of your face, has no real substitute.
This isn’t the last you will hear of observation and understanding in the Gunsmithing series; in fact, there is another part to be released talking more about the specifics of identifying the different aspects of parts relationships talking about the active and passive parts of the interaction.
The point of this gunsmithing article:
The one sentence point of this article: Get to know the gun you are working with and understand the interplay of the pieces; the series of events actually happening in different areas of the gun, and how they differ from a perfect example of the firearm.
If you do this well, you will eventually be able to diagnose many problems with sight and feel only, an important part of the gunsmithing practice, regardless of the niche specialty.
(there is more to come on this part of the introduction)