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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
WARNING: This thread involves the mutilation of a brand new Single Six convertible. It also contains graphic images of a birdshead grip frame. The squeamish, the very young and those who hate the birdshead grip frame are advised to turn away now and go shoot your Bisley. No innocent 3 screw guns were hurt in the making of this project.

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So I guess I needed another project to keep my interest and I'm one of the few who really like the birdshead grip frame so that got me looking around for a new addition to my Island of Misfit Toys. My criteria for a birdshead single action project are simple:

1. It must have fixed sights. It's a cowboy gun so it should look like one.

2. The front sight blade must be soldered into a slot. See #1 above.

3. It must have a barrel length of 3.75".

4. It must be something Ruger has never offered from the factory. If the factory makes it already what's the point.

5. I have violated all of the above rules at some point already so it's OK.

My victim this time is a New Model Single Six convertible Model 0629 readily available everywhere. It's blued, has fixed sights and a 5.5" barrel. I bought one at a LGS for around $500 OTD and hurried home. My avatar is a selfie I took when I got home.

So here's what it looked like as made by the merry elves in Newport, NH.



Function and specs checked out fine. Plastic grip panels (Ruger says they're "hard rubber") had a mediocre fit but overall fit and finish was otherwise fine. Factory bluing is kinda "meh" - dull and grainy but serviceable.

So here we go...
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #2


A few minutes with the screwdriver and I had little bags of parts. The proverbial gun in a box. Off to the bench and out came the hacksaw. Now we have a new beak for the bird.



I already had the tools for facing the muzzle and cutting a new 45 degree crown. I did have to order a larger brass pilot since the last .22 I did was an old Single Six from the late 1950s with the smaller bore.
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)


I decided to try to reuse as many components as I could. I measured, cut and shaped the ERH to the new length. A lathe would be handy for this. I marked the location for the ERH screw, drilled and tapped the hole. I shortened the ER, trimmed down the length of the ER spring and reused the existing ERH screw. I cut down the existing base pin head to more of a nailhead style for maximum stroke on the ER.

(Tip: After cutting the base pin head short chuck the base pin in a drill press and use a file followed by sandpaper to shape and smooth a nice crown on the head of the spinning base pin.)

The birdshead grip frame I sourced from Midway. Being a blued gun I got the carbon steel version that is sold "in the white". As expected I had to file and shape the rear "ears" to match the main frame and also dress down the sides of the grip frame too match the main frame. A bench top belt sander is very helpful for this. FYI - the grip frame ships with the trigger spring pin installed but no grip locator roll pin so that has to be added to the order.

At this point I wanted to mock it up and see what I had. I do this to encourage myself to push on in the project.

 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
In another thread there was some discussion about the aesthetics of the shiny stainless hammers and triggers on the blued Ruger SAs. It kinda annoys me. So I decided to try to do some forced patina finishing on the hammer and trigger of this one. That's why they're not so bright in the photo above. Here's another close up view.





Still playing around with that but I like it better than the bright stainless of the original.
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
One of my least favorite parts....the front sight. A screw on front sight would be easier but I really want to stay with the solder on traditional front sight. I bought a new carbon steel front blade "in the white" and decided to go for the shark fin look like some of the TALO birdsheads have. A few strokes with a 50 LPI checkering file gave the rear of the blade the serrations.





So that's where I'm at. Still need to spend some time polishing the grip frame then it's off for a reblue and a set of grip panels. I may tinker on the patina of the hammer and trigger a little bit more but hopefully in another week it will be out of my hands.
 

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Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
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16,076 Posts
Wave, Nice job so far! Just a minor suggestion …. you might want to put a shim on both sides of the hammer so that nice patina doesn't get scratched up.
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Wave, Nice job so far! Just a minor suggestion …. you might want to put a shim on both sides of the hammer so that nice patina doesn't get scratched up.
Good advice. I think I have a pak of shims kicking around here somewhere. The
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Did I overlook cutting the barrel slot, for the front sight?
I made a slot for the front sight but didn't bother to document it with a photo. I get busy with the process and don't always think to stop and take pictures of some things.
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Adding a few details for those that may be interested. I start these off with the ERH and let the length of the ERH determine the actual length of the barrel. I like the barrel to be just a bit proud of the ERH - personal preference and for no reason other than that's the look I like. I'm going for a barrel length of 3.75" but if it's 3.70" or 3.8" I don't really care. It's not apparent to the naked eye (mine anyway).

Here's a photo of the shortened base pin head and shortened ER. The length of the ER is determined by assembling the shortened ERH and marking how much of the standard ER sticks out of the frame hole. Then cut down the ER and shape the end to suit.



Here's a shot of what the base pin looks like. The groove that's left is enough to grab the pin with a thumbnail and get it coming out. At this length ERH the pin is captive - enough to allow the cylinder to come out but not enough room to remove the base pin entirely.



The ERH spring is the factory length for a 3.75" model. You can see in the photo below that on full stroke the spring stacks up and stops ER travel before it hits the base pin head so no point in making the base pin head any shorter. The ER exits almost the entire loading gate area so it's plenty long enough for ejection of empties. If they don't fall out they can be easily removed with fingers.

 

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Registered
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96 Posts
Beautiful work Waveform!

Picture not required, but would you tell us how you cut the front sight slot? I'm thinking a Dremel, in my hands, would be a disaster.
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Beautiful work Waveform!

Picture not required, but would you tell us how you cut the front sight slot? I'm thinking a Dremel, in my hands, would be a disaster.
No Dremel. The right tool for the job would be a vertical knee mill. I am not blessed with one nor access to one. So I make do with simple hand tools plus a bench top drill press, sander and a buffing wheel. To make the slot for the front sight blade I put a piece of blue masking tape around the muzzle end of the barrel and mark a straight line on it using the front sight channel as a reference/guide. I eyeball this from every angle and when I'm happy the line is where it should be I move on to the next step. I use my digital calipers to mark how far back from the muzzle the front sight blade sits (using the cut off barrel end for reference) and how long the slot needs to be.

The next part is where I make do with what I have - my drill press stands in for a mill. I use a punch and make a row of punch marks closely spaced together where the slot will be. Then set the barrel up in my drill press vise. My drill press has a depth stop so I set it for the depth I measure on the new sight blade. A 3/32 drill bit serves as my "end mill" and I drill a row of overlapping holes. A second 3/32 drill bit with the end ground flush helps to clean up the slot. My X and Y axis control are my two hands. I have a set of small jeweler files that also get involved in cleaning up my slot. Is it a beautifully machined slot? No. But once the sight blade is soldered in place you can't tell.

Necessity is a mother.

Someday I hope to have a really good mill drill and a small lathe and better skills and time and money and good looks and hair and...
 

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Righteous Dude
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21,522 Posts
Chop a Wrangler! It'll be easy, too, since the Wrangler is made from cheaper, softer materials! :p :D

Nice work on the birdshead You do good work! :)
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Forgot to add - solder is No. 44 from Brownells. It's a low temp (400 - 500 degrees) solder that is easy for us amateurs to work with. Flux is Comet #4. I use MEP gas bottle torch like you can buy at the hardware store.
 

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Ruger Tinkerer
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11,810 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Chop a Wrangler! It'll be easy, too, since the Wrangler is made from cheaper, softer materials! :p :D
Oh Gawd - look who just rode into this thread.

The Wrangler is perfect just the way it is. And don't go stirring up trouble Mr. Horse.
 
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