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  1. #1
    Martywj's Avatar
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    Model 36 Problem

    Took my Model 36 3" out to the range yesterday. Actually went to check out a problem on another gun, but that is another story. Now I have owned this gun since the late 1970's, and according to S&W it was manufactured in either 1973 or 1976. Email told me the former and phone conversation told me the latter. Anyway this gun has not been shot very much, and has been keep hidden away in a closet shelf. I bought the gun for my mother back in the day after she was mugged in our front yard, took her to the range to shot it. Anyway the gun came back to me in the early 1990's I carried it few time in the car and on the motorcycle when traveling.

    Several months ago when we decided the get our CHL, I got the thing and took it to the range. The DA trigger was pretty rough so I mostly shot it SA. I have played with iit at home using dummy rounds(snap caps) and the trigger for DA has gotten better. I want to shoot this revolver more and put it into the rotation as one of my CCW.

    Now to the problem I was shooting all DA and kept having misfires. I mean the round would't go off. Most did on the second hit, but on 2 or 3 rounds took a third hit. I was using Monarch 158 JHP ammo that I bought just a couple of months ago from Academy. I only had about 25 or rounds to shoot, but I probably had 7 or 8 misfires. Like I said, I haven't shot the gun much DA mostly SA and it never did this before.

    Do you think it is the gun or ammo? Right now I am thinking I will get some more ammo of various brands and give it a real test. The firing pin is the old school style attached to the hammer with a roll pin, but it looks OK. Not damaged or flattened or anything. Also what is involved in removing the side cover on on the right side of the grip frame held on with screws? Is this something a novice like me can do or do I need to take in to a gunsmith. I am wanting to do some deep cleaning. If I take it off no parts are going to come flying out are they?

    Here is pic of the gun with 2 of the screws for the panel marked, and think there are more under the grips.



    Thanks for any inputs

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  3. #2
    VAMarine's Avatar
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    That thing on the side is called the side plate, if you take it off nothing should come out, but I will warn you...


    DO NOT REMOVE ANY PARTS FROM INSIDE, ESPECIALLY THE TRIGGER RETURN SPRING unless you have the right tools to put it back in.

    Regarding your light strikes, on the front strap of the gun hidden by your grips, there should be a screw which adjusts spring tension for the hammer. Basically you can adjust it to hit harder/softer.

    I'll try and find some pictures and look up the proper terminology.

  4. #3
    VAMarine's Avatar
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    Try tightening the mainspring adjustment screw. If that doesn't work you may need a new mainspring.


    Smith & Wesson Model 67

  5. #4
    Martywj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VAMarine View Post
    That thing on the side is called the side plate, if you take it off nothing should come out, but I will warn you...


    DO NOT REMOVE ANY PARTS FROM INSIDE, ESPECIALLY THE TRIGGER RETURN SPRING unless you have the right tools to put it back in.

    Regarding your light strikes, on the front strap of the gun hidden by your grips, there should be a screw which adjusts spring tension for the hammer. Basically you can adjust it to hit harder/softer.

    I'll try and find some pictures and look up the proper terminology.
    Hey, I apreciate the info! I will look at it tonight. Thanks for the pic!

    I assume from your user name you are a Marine Vet? Well welcome home and thinks for your service. I am a Navy vet, Vietnam era. served on board the USS Newport News. She a bit of action over there.

  6. #5
    VAMarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martywj View Post
    Hey, I apreciate the info! I will look at it tonight. Thanks for the pic!

    I assume from your user name you are a Marine Vet? Well welcome home and thinks for your service. I am a Navy vet, Vietnam era. served on board the USS Newport News. She a bit of action over there.
    You're quite welcome! Thank you, I was in from '98-'03 and a small part of '06. Spent a little time in SWA and the Middle East, and had a nice cruise via the USS Tarawa.


  7. #6
    deputy125 is offline Junior Member
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    the model 36 is a "J" frame and should have a coil spring so there will be no strain screw.

    Never tried monarch ammo so that is my first suspect.

    One other suggestion is if this revolver has been in storage for years, any oil or lube in the mechanism may had for lack of a better term shalacked up causing it to gum and is slowing things down or impeding them internally reducing hammer fall velocity.

    I would recomend you clean the innards regardless. Dust, lint, oild congealed oil, etc can cause problems eventually if left unattended.

  8. #7
    VAMarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deputy125 View Post
    the model 36 is a "J" frame and should have a coil spring so there will be no strain screw.

    Never tried monarch ammo so that is my first suspect.

    One other suggestion is if this revolver has been in storage for years, any oil or lube in the mechanism may had for lack of a better term shalacked up causing it to gum and is slowing things down or impeding them internally reducing hammer fall velocity.

    I would recomend you clean the innards regardless. Dust, lint, oild congealed oil, etc can cause problems eventually if left unattended.
    No kiddin'. I missed that on the schematic.



    It's off on the right of the page. In my defense the schematic @ E-Gunparts was much more fuzzy.


    Just goes to show you that there's always something new to learn. Looks like I'm gutting the J-Frame tonight.
    Last edited by VAMarine; 01-08-2010 at 02:34 PM.

  9. #8
    Martywj's Avatar
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    Thanks for the diagram. I was going to post about the adjusting screw, but you already caught that.
    Next question is how do you get the side plate off without screwing something up or scratching something?
    I got all three screws out, but for the life of me can't figure out how to get the plate off without knocking something loose.
    BTW I did find out the with one screw out the part the cylinder comes out. So I can clean and lube that.

  10. #9
    deputy125 is offline Junior Member
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    i'm a bit hesitant to advise you to tear into one if you have not done it before........

    if you are determined to do so, the side plate has a small underlying lip at the top. if you pry it off you will damage the plate to frame fit.
    i take a non-marring hammer and whack the grip frame and it will jar the plate loose.

    there are probably some s&w revolver disassembly videos available on www.youtube.com that will demonstrate the procedure. It is the same procedure for side plate removal for all smith revolvers from the "j" to the "n" frames.

    when in doubt, take it to a gun smith and watch him work on it.......seeing it done is much beter than trying to explain it.

  11. #10
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    I was trained in the USMC as an armorer and worked on aircrew M&Ps (old Model 10 K Frames) I own five S&W J Frames and I maintain them. I say this to emphasize my background with weapon. IMHO , you should take the revolver to a gunsmith and let him disassemble the weapon the first time, clean out the works and install a new coil mainspring. It won't cost that much for the spring and on a gun this old it is just good insurance. If you still have problems after that, change your brand of ammo. I detail disassemble my revolvers quite often but there are many little tricks involved. If you really want to learn to do it right, buy the AGI DVD and the Jerry Kuhnhausen manual on S&W Revolvers from Amazon. Some of the You Tube videos are pretty good and some of them are crap on this subject. Learn to do it right the first time. And yes, you will need a good gunsmith's screwdriver set and a rebound spring tool if you are really going to keep your gun up yourself.


    With good springs and proper maintenance, the S&W J Frame is super reliable. I have owned J-Frames for over forty (yes 40) years and have never had one fail me because of the gun. But, be careful as to your ammo, there is a lot of junk out there that is not very reliable.

  12. #11
    Martywj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wjh2657 View Post
    I was trained in the USMC as an armorer and worked on aircrew M&Ps (old Model 10 K Frames) I own five S&W J Frames and I maintain them. I say this to emphasize my background with weapon. IMHO , you should take the revolver to a gunsmith and let him disassemble the weapon the first time, clean out the works and install a new coil mainspring. It won't cost that much for the spring and on a gun this old it is just good insurance. If you still have problems after that, change your brand of ammo. I detail disassemble my revolvers quite often but there are many little tricks involved. If you really want to learn to do it right, buy the AGI DVD and the Jerry Kuhnhausen manual on S&W Revolvers from Amazon. Some of the You Tube videos are pretty good and some of them are crap on this subject. Learn to do it right the first time. And yes, you will need a good gunsmith's screwdriver set and a rebound spring tool if you are really going to keep your gun up yourself.


    With good springs and proper maintenance, the S&W J Frame is super reliable. I have owned J-Frames for over forty (yes 40) years and have never had one fail me because of the gun. But, be careful as to your ammo, there is a lot of junk out there that is not very reliable.
    I already figured out the part about a good gunsmith which I am not. I took the it to one today and he pointed out that appear as the firing pin looked as if it was flatened on the end and probably should be replaced. I also asked him to remove the side plate for clean & lube. He pointed out something to me the reason I had never had misfires when shooting SA was the hammer has further to travel from that position and therefore has more momentum when it gets to the primer. Where when shooting DA the hammer does not go back as far before falling forward. Reasonable or total BS, it sounded good to this newbie?

    I will contact him Monday about replacing the mainspring also as you suggest. I have already replaced the ammo with some Remington 130 gr FMJ. I will find good defensive loads later, S&W said that this gun is not +P rated.

    I appreciate the info about the DVD and manual. I will look into it.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martywj View Post
    I already figured out the part about a good gunsmith which I am not. I took the it to one today and he pointed out that appear as the firing pin looked as if it was flatened on the end and probably should be replaced. I also asked him to remove the side plate for clean & lube. He pointed out something to me the reason I had never had misfires when shooting SA was the hammer has further to travel from that position and therefore has more momentum when it gets to the primer. Where when shooting DA the hammer does not go back as far before falling forward. Reasonable or total BS, it sounded good to this newbie?

    I will contact him Monday about replacing the mainspring also as you suggest. I have already replaced the ammo with some Remington 130 gr FMJ. I will find good defensive loads later, S&W said that this gun is not +P rated.

    I appreciate the info about the DVD and manual. I will look into it.
    Hammer does travel a little further from SA position, but if everything else is functioning okay then the extra travel isn't needed. On an older gun, a firing pin replacement is just good sense but I would still get a new mainspring too while the gun is open.

    I wouldn't worry about the +P rating. I don't carry +P in any of my J-Frames, even the new stainless steel .357 Magnum rated ones. I find the recoil more manageable with standard pressure .38 Special ammo. There are several good standard pressure loads available, I use Hornady 125 gr XTP/JHP and Federal Nyclads (back in production!) and I don't feel terrible undergunned!

  14. #13
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    Got my Model 36 back from the gunsmith last week, and took it to the gun range today. The firing pin was replaced and they were to remove the side plate and clean and lube. The action feels about the same, but the gun looks a lot different. They polished it up some it had gotten dull because I had it stored in holster fro years and years. The nickel finsish had all kinds on inute scratches in it also. Well no more looks a like new gun. As far shooting no more misfires. I ran 50 rounds of 130 gr FMJ through it and it shoots sweet.

  15. #14
    VAMarine's Avatar
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    This is funny, I was organizing my bookmarks today and came across this one:

    http://www.snubnose.info/docs/lockwork.htm



    Made me think of this thread, I wish I had remembered it when this thread was started.

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