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Ruger Tinkerer
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Discussion Starter #1
I decided some time ago that if the opportunity ever came along to pick up a stainless steel fixed sight Single Six convertible at the right price I would do so and make a birdshead out of it as a companion to my blued version. This was a little riskier than the blued version because Ruger has never offered a blued one so I was safely (more or less) venturing into new territory there but Ruger has made a couple of runs of the stainless steel version as a distributor exclusive for the TALO Group. Those are the ones with either a white or black set of grips and will sometimes pop up on sites like Gunbroker for crazy prices ($1K range). So if my luck holds true, about the time I get my project completed there will be another run of the TALO version released making my efforts totally unnecessary.

Here's the gun I found. I was poking around on GunBroker on New Years day and this came up in my search and the price was right so I grabbed it. Turned out to be rather pristine and showed little if any signs of being used. It was old enough to even have real walnut grip panels. Like all the models from that era it had that enormous rollmark on the side of the barrel.

Here's the before:


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I already had a stainless steel birdshead grip frame in my assortment of project parts. It was one I picked up some time back when I was ordering some things from Midway. I also had the grip locator roll pin in my goodie box so I should have everything I need if I can reuse the existing front sight. I was staying busy with other things up until the stay-at-home order hit and suddenly I found I had plenty of free time so I got around to getting started on it.

First step was to shorten the ERH housing. I like to mark and cut the barrel after I have the shorter ERH so I can eyeball exactly where I want the new barrel length to be. I prefer to have the barrel extend past the ERH by just a little bit. I was going to turn the ERH on a lathe but with the shut down in effect I lost access to a lathe. So I asked a forum friend who owns a lathe if he would be so kind to do that for me and he agreed so it was mailed back and forth and done perfectly.

With the shorter ERH the barrel got whacked off with a hacksaw. The muzzle was faced and a new crown cut using the hand tool set I had bought some years back from Brownells and which I've used now on a number of projects.
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The ERH screw location was marked on the barrel and the hole was drilled and tapped. For those who care about the details the drill is a #29 and the tap is an 8-36 bottom tap. The ERH screw is reused of course. The remains of the rollmark on the side of the barrel were removed with files and sandpaper and buffed out on my wheel. I shortened the head of the base pin - not so much because it's necessary but I like the looks of a semi-nailhead base pin and I just think it looks better with the shorter barrel. There are several small grooves on the base pin head and I cut it off with my hacksaw in the second groove and then I chuck the base pin in my drill press and use a file and sandpaper to shape the head with the pin spinning, followed by polishing on the wheel. Only takes a few minutes to do this step.
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Now I'm in the part I enjoy the least - fitting and polishing the grip frame. Midway sells Ruger factory grip frames in both stainless and carbon steel but they are unfinished and the carbon steel frames are in the white. This means the rear "ears" are too tall and the sides a little too wide so the grip frame can be brought down to match the main frame. Overall the finish is rough shaped so there is a lot of filing, sanding and polishing required to get the grip frame to look like it's supposed to. This isn't a simple swap out and you're done affair. The frames come with the trigger spring post installed but not the grip locator pin (sold separately of course.)
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Once I get the grip frame finished up then all that's left is the front sight. My plan is to reuse the original one. I have a couple of grip panel options on hand and I plan to take the opportunity to try to match the grip frame profile to a set of panels for a decent fit.

That's the status at the moment. More updates to follow as progress is made. No hurry here. I'll set it aside for a few days at a time and then pick it up for a bit.
 

Premium Member
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Looks amazing!
 

Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
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Wave, It's easy to see where Dr Frankenruger came from! Looks like you are making excellent progress. Keep us posted as you continue.
 

Ruger Tinkerer
Joined
11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Still poking along on the grip frame. I decided to use a particular set of panels I had on hand so I'm shaping the grip frame to meet the panels instead of the other way around. That and generally fitting, smoothing and polishing. It tedious and not particularly fun work so I do a little and set it aside and do something else and then come back. It's getting there.

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Ruger Tinkerer
Joined
11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Pushed through the tedious grip frame work and moved on to last couple of steps. I had hoped to use a mill to make the front sight slot but thanks to the stay at home order I don't have access to a mill either. Instead of putting it on hold I resorted to my fall back method which involves my drill press, a drill and files. Not fun, not pretty but after the soldering you can't tell. Below is after the soldering but before detailing the joint and polishing it out.

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I clipped off the end of the ER spring to shorten it to the correct length and shortened the ER too. Then reassemble and buff a bit more and that's pretty much the end of this story. Only parts needed were the grip frame and the grip locator roll pin. Everything else was modified as needed and reused.

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Righteous Dude
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21,522 Posts
Really excellent work! I like a project that turns out well!

Uh, oh... Ruger just posted this exact model now available on their website!!

馃榿馃榿馃榿
 

Registered
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5,415 Posts
Dang Wave it鈥檚 looks like definitely doing it 鈥渞ight 鈥.........that鈥檚 impressive.
 

Registered
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Wave, I'm always in the market for a new bff, lol. U have sick skills my friend, VERY NICE!
 

Registered
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Awesome birdshead those grips pop and that is the perfect barrel length.
 

Ruger Tinkerer
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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks all for the kind words. This may be the last birdshead for a while. I鈥檓 out of ideas and grip frames. Plenty of factory offerings nowadays - wasn鈥檛 always the case.
 

Ruger Tinkerer
Joined
11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
357 Magnum
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Old model Single Six 22LR only
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Blackhawk 30 Carbine
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Single Six Convertible (blued) Still waiting on a re-blue on this one.
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That鈥檚 all I have. No factory versions just a nest of Frankenrugers.
 

Registered
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126 Posts
That is some beautiful work, you do. It鈥檚 pretty amazing what a craftsman can do with some steel and some wood. My favorite is the 357 with burl grips and bisley hammer. Where do you get your grip panels?
 
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