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Slicking up a Marlin 1894

This is a discussion on Slicking up a Marlin 1894 within the Projects forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; I picked up a sweet Marlin 1894 (current production batch) from a great CGNer recently. It had an almost broken in feel to it ie ...


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Old November 16th, 2015, 09:54 AM   #1
 
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Slicking up a Marlin 1894

I picked up a sweet Marlin 1894 (current production batch) from a great CGNer recently. It had an almost broken in feel to it ie kinda smooth but a little "clunky" and gritty feel to some parts when cycling the action.



I figured I'd make it into a project gun and started slicking it up last weekend.



I did a full disassemble (other than remove mag tube and barrel from receiver) and began deburring all the parts.

- Polished the locking block
- Deburred finger lever, remove tooling marks, polished and reblued
- Deburred and reblued trigger guard plate
- Polished carrier
- Deburred, polished and reblued ejector arm
- Polished screw stems where carrier, hammer and finger lever pivots
- Deburred, polished trigger reset hump and ejector groove on bolt (used two popsicle sticks glued together, 600grit then 1000grit wet sandpaper) and reblued
- Polished finger lever plunger and cut 1 coil off the plunger spring
- Lighten spring tension on loading gate and reblued worked area.
- Upgraded stock plastic follower to a WildWest aluminum follower
- Upgraded stock trigger to a WildWest Trigger Happy trigger
- Ordered Skinner aperature rear and 0.450" front sight post (eyes too old for that Buckhorn rear sight)

Addressing the potential Marlin Jam.

When I looked at the carrier before working on it, the tell tale notch was starting to form. I carefully buffed out the notch so the area was even, being careful not to remove too much material.


(Pic shamefully borrowed from Rusty Marlin)

I then slightly rounded the cam on the finger lever, polished it and reblued.


(Pic shamefully borrowed from Rusty Marlin)

Fixing the slight feeding issue.

When I got the rifle, it cycled pretty reliably but the odd occasion a dummy round would catch on the lip of the chamber. Doing some Googling brought me to Rusty Marlin's website. Turns out the timing of the carrier needed tweaking.



With the current production rifles, you get the new, somewhat improved, carrier but according to Rusty Marlin, it still requires tweaking.

One tip I saw on the Marlin forum showed using a vise and some strategic placement of some pivot points, you can bend the carrier more easily than Rusty's hammering technique.

Rusty did warn about protecting the spring loaded detent in the carrier so I tightly wrapped that end of the carrier with a wet paper towel while heating the loading end of the carrier with a torch. Rusty also recommended bending it upwards 0.05" but I only bent mine 0.02". I was a bit nervous because I wasn't using the best torch and cooling method for fine job. My cooling gel and micro torch was at my bro-in-law's place and was too lazy to go over to get it. I might look into bending it a hair more when I change out the hammer spring.



Reassembly

Lightly oiled the pivot points and moving parts and reassembled the rifle. WOW! She feels like a totally different rifle than when I got her. She's slick as snot now!

Original trigger pull was 6lbs. With the WildWest Trigger Happy upgrade, it is now at a smooth and clean 3.5lbs. There's a very light bit of take-up but perfectly acceptable. No more sloppy Marlin trigger. I don't think the Wolff Reduced Power hammer spring will make a huge improvement but I'll order one anyway and give it a try since it's only $8.

The only thing left to do is knock the sharp edge off the finger lever loop and reblue it. If I do quick cycling, that sharp edge starts digging into the back of your fingers in a hurry. I thought about doing the leather or cord wrap but I'm not a fan of the look and think it'll attract rust if it gets wet in the rain etc. I ordered some G96 Blue Creme to try out that should be coming in today so I might do this tonight if I have time.

After adjusting the carrier, the feeding has improved considerably. I cycled the action with 10dummy rounds, a half dozen times, with no hangups using a nice quick/deliberate working of the action. Looks like she'll feed pretty reliably and I don't see a need to adjust the carrier's timing any further.

She's ready for cowboy action... if only I did CASS.



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Old November 16th, 2015, 10:17 AM   #2
 
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Nice work! Definitely a project worth doing. Shame marlin aren't producing excellent quality lever actions like the older jm stamped models.The fit and finish is just not good enough in my opinion. I have a friend who works in a gunshop so he gets to see a lot of current model marlins returned for warranty work. Not saying they are all bad. Just need to be lucky to get a good one.
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Old November 16th, 2015, 11:02 AM   #3
 
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Thanks. I guess the gremlins are still there in one way or the other. Glad I decided to take her apart and get that Marlin jam notch on the carrier cleaned up before it wore in and had to be replaced.

I sure hope the new production line (if that ever does start up) 1894C in .357Mag or 1894CC in 45LC have all that sorted out.
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Old November 16th, 2015, 12:20 PM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunna1day View Post
Nice work! Definitely a project worth doing. Shame marlin aren't producing excellent quality lever actions like the older jm stamped models.The fit and finish is just not good enough in my opinion. I have a friend who works in a gunshop so he gets to see a lot of current model marlins returned for warranty work. Not saying they are all bad. Just need to be lucky to get a good one.
Everything that he addressed in this write up have been common issues for Marlins long before Remington ever took over. I've reworked dozens of Marlin 1894's for Cowboy Action Shooting, and own several of them dating from as old as the 1940's through last year's production - they ALL are potential victims for poorly timed carriers and ALL vulnerable to the Marlin Jam and ALL have the same poor ejector design and the same slack trigger.

The biggest issue with the early era Remlin's was stock fit - the guns largely ran as they should have, but nobody wanted a rifle with gaps around the tang or loose fitting forends. Guys criticize the bluing quality, but frankly, that's bunk - I have a '68 that my granddad bought off of the shelf new that doesn't have as good of bluing as my '13 and '14 Remlins.

Last edited by Varminterror; November 16th, 2015 at 12:22 PM.
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Old November 16th, 2015, 12:32 PM   #5
 
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Caliber? I have a 1971 saddle ring Marlin lever .44...always looking to improve it..especially the sights...do love my Skinner sights thought even there still work to be done..my old eyes need modern optics I think...thanks
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Old November 16th, 2015, 01:04 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Varminterror View Post
Everything that he addressed in this write up have been common issues for Marlins long before Remington ever took over. I've reworked dozens of Marlin 1894's for Cowboy Action Shooting, and own several of them dating from as old as the 1940's through last year's production - they ALL are potential victims for poorly timed carriers and ALL vulnerable to the Marlin Jam and ALL have the same poor ejector design and the same slack trigger.

The biggest issue with the early era Remlin's was stock fit - the guns largely ran as they should have, but nobody wanted a rifle with gaps around the tang or loose fitting forends. Guys criticize the bluing quality, but frankly, that's bunk - I have a '68 that my granddad bought off of the shelf new that doesn't have as good of bluing as my '13 and '14 Remlins.
Yer learn something new everyday. The bluing on the rifle is pretty good, I'll give it that. One thing I noticed about the buttstock is that whoever installed the rear sling swivel must've have had a few too many drinks at lunch on a Friday or cross-eyed. It's a little off center.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrJimRuger View Post
Caliber? I have a 1971 saddle ring Marlin lever .44...always looking to improve it..especially the sights...do love my Skinner sights thought even there still work to be done..my old eyes need modern optics I think...thanks
It's in 44Mag. Yeah, those Buckhorn rear sights are hard on old eyes. Getting old sucks. lol

Last edited by Trinimon; November 16th, 2015 at 01:07 PM.
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Old December 9th, 2015, 01:41 PM   #7
 
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Thought I'd update this thread with some more info:


Areas to polish/debur:

All polishing was done using various sized felt wheels, Fitz polish, fine rubber polishing tips, the dreaded Dremel (go ahead and cringe), 600 and 1000 grit emery sandpaper.

On the underside of the bolt assembly, there is a raised bump just behind the firing pin disconnect/safety. This bump is the hammer reset. You want to polish this part not remove any excess material than is required to get it smooth.

(Totally forgot to take pics of my bolt so borrowed this off the internet)
Deburr any sharp edges of the lever slot on the bolt assembly. Very carefully, lightly polish up the inner walls with a popsicle stick wrapped with some 1000 grit emery sandpaper. Removing the firing pin etc helps.


(Image borrowed from the internet)

On the bolt, wrap some 600grit emery sandpaper around two popsicle sticks glued together and carefully polish the rough chatter marks along the ejector channel/slot. It's usually pretty pitted up so don't expect to get it perfect. Repeat the step with 1000grit emery sandpaper to give it a nice smooth finish.


On the ejector, polish along the length of the arm behind the hook.


On the carrier arm, you want to polish the cupped cartridge area, the front face of the arm, the pivot area and along the bottom ramp area. If there is a notch on the ramp caused by the finger lever (see above for fixing the Marlin Jam), carefully remove it or most of it anyway and polish the ramp. Try to keep a nice even profile or you will feel hitches/jerks when you work the finger lever.


Polish the sides of the locking bolt as well as the firing pin notch.


On the finger lever, you want to deburr the rough edges along the arm. Polish the tip of the lever that works the bolt back and forth. File a small radius (Rusty Marlin recommends between 0.025" to 0.035" radius) on the cam and polish this area.


I installed the reduced power hammer spring. The trigger pull weight went down from 3.5lbs with the WW Triggerhappy trigger, to 1.5lbs. Hummm, might be too light for a hunting rifle but pretty sweet for plinking at the range. It sure made cycling the hammer a little bit easier. I didn't replace the finger lever plunger spring 'cause I'd already snipped a coil off the factory spring. I've read a few reviews on the Wolff lighter spring and folks were saying that it barely held the finger lever in place.



Picked up a 6mm shim kit from the local RC hobby store tonight and used a 0.2mm shim on either side of the finger lever. It eliminated a bit of the lever slop/wiggle. I did some more digging around and found some wider shims (6x11mm) that may add some more surface area and even less wiggle.

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Old December 9th, 2015, 02:00 PM   #8
 
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Wow it seems to me that all new guns now need a tweaking to some sort or not!!! I might have to learn some tweaking skills of my own!!! To the OP Marlin (Remlin) turns out some nice stuff now. My 10-15 year old Marlin 1894 .357 CB rifle is as smooth as can be but it looks like the OP has his rifle running just fine there!!! My favorite lever rifles are Marlin and the current batch of Win. Model 92 lever action's I have the Rossi version in a Model 92 Large Loop with the 16 inch barrel also in .357 and both the Marlin and the Rossi are fine rifles!!!
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Old December 9th, 2015, 02:17 PM   #9
 
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Well, not all's well in Marlin land...



I got me a nice Skinner peep sight and matching front sight post for my Marlin 1894.

I installed the rear sight and proceeded to install the new taller front sight post.

I mounted the barrel in the vise and drifted the front sight post off fairly easily.

After some light fitting of the front sight, I proceeded to drift the sight post in. Two mild taps later, the whole front sight ramp popped clean off the barrel and my jaw hit the floor in disbelief. After a quick look, I could have sworn I'd sheared the screws right off. There was only a thread or two showing through the front sight ramp. First thing that comes to mind was "this just got expensive" as I'm thinking about gunsmithing fees and what my options are... do I take a shot of single malt scotch or the vodka to calm my nerves.



I decided I'd clean up the threaded holes on the barrel using a dental pick to remove the slivers of stripped threads. I noticed the hole was much deeper than it should had there been part of the sheared screw in it. A few mins later and I end up removing a couple plugs of red locktite from both screw holes.



Turns out I lucked out and there was no broken screws. How can this be?! I looked up the replacement screws on Brownells website and they mention the length of the screws being 0.200" with the threaded stem being 0.115". The factory screws from my front sight ramp were 0.164" long. They were literally being held in place by a thread. ARGH!!

So I ended up ordering replacement screws from Brownell as well as a Williams front sight pusher. I'm not taking my chances again trying to drift the new sight in on new screws just in case I frack it up.

A couple days later, I figured while I'm waiting for my new front ramp screws to come in, I might as well tweak the extractor spring since I've got the rifle in pieces. After tapping out the extractor locking pin, boy was I in for a surprise.

The extractor spring was all mangled by where it attaches to the extractor. There was maybe 0.005" of the spring in the notch. When I tried to see if I could straighten out the spring, it just broke right off. It looked like whoever was installing the spring in the extractor misaligned it and ended up crumpling the spring around the outside of the notch. I'm surprised it lasted that long through the two previous owners. I guess they never shot it much, hence why it looked brand new when I bought it.

I've managed to do a bandage repair job on it but I'm pretty sure it will fail again. Guess who placed another Brownells order two days later after the last order?

Here's the temp repair pic. I cleaned it up a little better after. I guess I could have trimmed the damaged end cleanly and added a tiny L hook on it like the factory ones. I figured it's enough to let me cycle dummy rounds for now until the new one comes in.


On the positive side, she's getting slicker and smoother to operate. I've got a one piece firing pin on the way as well. After that, this project rifle is done...

Fingers crossed she's a shooter 'cause I've yet to shoot the darn thing! lol
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Old December 25th, 2015, 03:03 AM   #10
 
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Nice post, thanks for the quality photos! I love my Marlins and may have to borrow a couple of tips.
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Old December 30th, 2015, 01:50 PM   #11
 
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No probs. Hope it helps someone.

Here's the last bit up updates:

My new extractor spring came in last week and I also picked up a one-piece firing pin kit from RustyWood (Canadian reseller). It came with the firing pin, reduced power hammer spring and finger lever catch spring.

Knocked out the pins from the bolt from the underside up. It doesn't make a difference for the two roll pins but it does for the extractor pin.



I knocked down the sharp edges of the new firing pin.



Installation of the one piece firing pin is pretty easy. Just make sure the notch at the end of the firing pin faces the roll pin hole. Slip a punch into the roll pin hole to help keep it aligned while you tap in the other roll pin.


Installed the new extractor spring and gently straighten it out to remove some tension to reduce feeding hiccups.


Found some better shims at the local RC store. The ones I had before were 6x8mm and while they fit, I found the width was too thin and would allow some wiggle in the finger lever. The new ones are 6x11x0.2mm. The new ones were a bit too snug and I had to polish them on 600grit then 2000grit emery sandpaper to around 0.17" each. The fit is soooo much better now. There's hardly any wiggle and the lever is still nice and smooth. They look like they would be too large but this is a spare shim in the photo with the new shims already installed and you can't see them protruding.


My flat bottom 6-48 tap came in last week. I cleaned up the damaged threads on the front sight ramp screw holes in the barrel. Hummm, for a flat bottom tap, it's still got a bit of a taper at the tip but just enough to clean up the top threads.


Used my new Williams sight pusher and installed my Skinner front sight post. Wish I'd done this from the start. I got lucky with a second chance and boy did I learn my lesson now.


Ready for sighting in!


(Barrel isn't really clamped into the vise if that's what you're thinking from the pic)

That's it! Project is completed. She runs slick as snot on a doorknob with upgraded peep sights that I can finally use... but can she shoot?! lol
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Old December 30th, 2015, 02:33 PM   #12
 
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Looks good!!!
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Old December 30th, 2015, 03:03 PM   #13
 
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Excellent thread Trinimon. I am going to implement your shim idea for the levers and have some on order from an on line RC hobby shop that has $1.99 shipping on small parts. You can find them here: AMain Performance Hobbies

Thanks in advance for sharing and the great photos and detail.
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Old December 30th, 2015, 05:22 PM   #14
 
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Good job.
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Old January 6th, 2016, 06:40 AM   #15
 
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1) Thank you for this post! These pictures and details are just what I need.
2) Please don't take down the photos later. Nothing is more disappointing than to return to a great thread that you bookmarked, only to find all of the pics are no longer available.
3) It's been a whole week. Did you shoot it, yet?
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