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Refinish An Old Revolver?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by gdr_11, May 15, 2019.

  1. gdr_11

    gdr_11 Active Member

    Aug 1, 2014
    I have been kicking around the idea of restoring my dad's old 1920's Harrington & Richardson breaktop .38 S&W revolver. It is in pretty bad shape with much of the nickle plating flaked off and some rust and pitting. The only mechanical thing wrong I can see is that the cylinder stop (if that's what it is called) appears to be broken because the cylinder will not lock unless you thumb back the hammer.

    I have watched a few YouTube videos and the disassembly, dremel cleaning and chemical stripping processes do not seem too bad but I am unsure of trying the copper and nickle plating myself.

    Has anyone with minimal gun repair experience tried a project like this and, if so, what advice can you give me. I love that is my dad's gun and he carried it in WWII but I can't afford to pay someone to restore it.


  2. oldag

    oldag TGT Addict

    Feb 19, 2015
    Personally, I would send it to a plating shop.
  3. knormal

    knormal Member

    Jan 30, 2017
    New Braunfels, TX
    My two cents - relatively inexperienced with guns, but lots of other experience. I sometimes cringe when folks mention dremel for polishing. It can work, but those small wheels tend to put waves in metal. When we messed with restoring stainless steel trim with antique cards, the general rule of thumb was to use the biggest wheel/pad/buffer you could on the metal in order to avoid possible waves.
    Caswell Plating has assorted kits which should be for removing and redoing the plating. Are you sure it had a copper platting layer in addition to the nickel?
    Me personally - the gun has sentimental history, went through a war, and has the looks to prove it. Not sure I'd "restore" it.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019 at 4:23 PM
    majormadmax and Kar98 like this.
  4. oldag

    oldag TGT Addict

    Feb 19, 2015
    Great observation. And even with full size buffing wheels, it still takes good technique to avoid flat spots and waves. Did a lot of re-blueing (e.g., lots of buffing to remove the old blue) eons ago.

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