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.45 ACP/.45 LC Cylinder Swap

This is a discussion on .45 ACP/.45 LC Cylinder Swap within the Ruger Single Action forums, part of the Pistol & Revolver Forum category; Hello to the group. I have a question regarding my old model Vaquero. It's in .45 LC and I would really like to be able ...


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Old April 4th, 2015, 08:07 AM   #1
 
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.45 ACP/.45 LC Cylinder Swap

Hello to the group.

I have a question regarding my old model Vaquero. It's in .45 LC and I would really like to be able to interchange cylinders to use .45 ACP like some Blackhawks do.

I know that Vaquero's never had the convertible cylinder option, but I've seen cylinders for sale on Ebay and such for Blackhawks, (new and old), and wonder if they would fit.

I believe that my old Vaquero uses the Blackhawk frame, so in my mind it should fit. I know that Ruger sells the cylinders, but they must be fitted at the factory. I'm thinking that the only thing they can fit is the overall length of the cylinder, as I can't believe that they would be moving the hand or locking cuts around.

I have the capabilities for trimming the overall length of a cylinder if required, but I don't know if it will physically fit in the Vaquero's frame.

Unfortunately, I don't know anyone with a Blackhawk that I could try their cylinder in my gun.

Has anyone had any experience with this?

Thanks,

Mike



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Old April 4th, 2015, 08:59 AM   #2
 
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If your Vaquero starts with a two digit SN then a dash, it is the large frame. Measure your 45Colt cylinder and compare with those on eBay. They will be close but might need fitting.
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Old April 4th, 2015, 09:32 AM   #3
 
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Mike,

Yes I have. You are correct, a large frame Blackhawk is the same size cyl as yours. And also correct that the overall length is all you have to be concerned about. Get one at least as long as yours. One too short can be lengthened but that's a bigger issue. Although some have glued a shim to the front hub as a poor boy method.

Ruger will not sell/install an extra cylinder in your Vaquero unless it was sold as a convertible model, however. You'd spend somewhere near $200 including shipping when it's all done.

Jim

Last edited by Hondo44; April 4th, 2015 at 10:05 AM.
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Old April 4th, 2015, 09:43 AM   #4
 
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There were convertable Vaquero models.
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Old April 4th, 2015, 10:03 AM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlkHawk73 View Post
There were convertable Vaquero models.
Thank you for correcting that! My memory failed me again and I misinformed the members. I hate when that happens.

"I may be old but I'm stupid too!"

Post revised.

Jim

Last edited by Hondo44; April 4th, 2015 at 10:06 AM.
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Old April 4th, 2015, 10:10 AM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlkHawk73 View Post
There were convertable Vaquero models.
While there were / are convertible Vaqueros, I have heard, Ruger will not fit an extra cylinder unless the Serial number indicates it was a convertible to begin with; and, as with all things of a "gun" nature, a gunsmith I just talked with two days back says they will. ???
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Old April 4th, 2015, 02:43 PM   #7
 
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Thanks for the info.

I didn't know there were convertible Vaquero's made, but I wouldn't know why there wouldn't be.

My Vaquero was made in 1995, so it's definitely an old, large frame model.

That's good advice to ask for the overall length of the replacement cylinder before I buy one. The cylinder gap on mine is really close, around .002" if I remember correctly, so I have a few thousands to play with on the small side for a new one.

Now to find one that doesn't break the bank.
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Old April 4th, 2015, 05:15 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seis arma View Post
While there were / are convertible Vaqueros, I have heard, Ruger will not fit an extra cylinder unless the Serial number indicates it was a convertible to begin with; and, as with all things of a "gun" nature, a gunsmith I just talked with two days back says they will. ???
I did not know ruger would fit a cylinder. I have a 45lc/45apc new model that is missing the one cylinder. any idea on the cost of this ?
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Old April 4th, 2015, 08:30 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcdixon View Post
I did not know ruger would fit a cylinder. I have a 45lc/45apc new model that is missing the one cylinder. any idea on the cost of this ?
No sorry I do not, and frankly it is only hear-say that they will.
But, assuming you reach out to Ruger customer service, explaining how the dog ate your convertible cylinder, ( you know, like school homework), I believe they will handle it as any other used Ruger repair.

I think I read, on this forum, the service is around two hundred, and being non-warranty, I expect you will have to pay-up on shipping. So,...I just saw a stainless 45 acp, go off ebay at about $230 with 8 bucks shipping, and THEN,.trying to fit it, or putting it in the hands of a Ruger qualified gunsmith.

"Pick your poison"

The "key" is getting one too long, or at least long enough. If too short, on one end,(ratchet), or other, (cyl. bushing), you are left with building up the ratchet with weld, and turning it down, or, if the other end, using cylinder shims, or again, weld up-turn down.

I frankly can not imagine the work it would take to make the ratchet longer, and shims on the bushing, if more than one,are no picnic getting the cylinder rod back in.

From what I gathered over the last couple years, a good smith will be in the $350 range with YOUR cylinder, and a tad over $600 if they do the job "turn key", supplying all parts and expertise, but not S&H.

I think Ruger is the best way to go, if, they will do it.

But, before you get too discouraged and let the idea drop, consider this. There is a chance, you will find one at a gun show,(or other) for 20 bucks, and not only will it drop in and run perfectly, it will have 3 numbers scribed on the face that are part of your original S/N, and then....and then, you hustle out and buy a lotto ticket.
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Old April 4th, 2015, 08:57 PM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcdixon View Post
I did not know ruger would fit a cylinder. I have a 45lc/45apc new model that is missing the one cylinder. any idea on the cost of this ?
About $200 (see post #3).

Ruger will replace the extra cylinder IF the gun was originally a convertible and they'll know by the serial #.

There have been experiences where they have fitted an extra cyl to a gun THAT WAS NOT originally a convertible. HOWEVER, this is a hit or miss situation and seems to depend on who answers the phone and/or their cylinder inventory at the time.

Note: If you need a replacement cylinder for a limited edition convertible like an original Vaquero in 38-40/40 S&W or a Buckeye Blackhawk 32 Mag/32-30, Ruger will not have any to sell you and will not just make one.
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Old April 4th, 2015, 09:00 PM   #11
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Ya mean like this one? Ruger heavy frame 45 convertible:

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Old April 4th, 2015, 09:27 PM   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seis arma View Post

I think I read, on this forum, the service is around two hundred, and being non-warranty, I expect you will have to pay-up on shipping. So,...I just saw a stainless 45 acp, go off ebay at about $230 with 8 bucks shipping, and THEN,.trying to fit it, or putting it in the hands of a Ruger qualified gunsmith.

The "key" is getting one too long, or at least long enough. If too short, on one end,(ratchet), or other, (cyl. bushing), you are left with building up the ratchet with weld, and turning it down, or, if the other end, using cylinder shims, or again, weld up-turn down.

I frankly can not imagine the work it would take to make the ratchet longer, and shims on the bushing, if more than one,are no picnic getting the cylinder rod back in.

From what I gathered over the last couple years, a good smith will be in the $350 range with YOUR cylinder, and a tad over $600 if they do the job "turn key", supplying all parts and expertise, but not S&H.

I think Ruger is the best way to go, if, they will do it.
seis arma,

My last was right at $200 including shipping (see post #3). The service folks at Ruger install a new convertible cyl for $145 including return shipping.
The rest of the $200 is shipping your gun to Ruger.

Cylinders usually will cost you $100 to $150 on ebay or Gunbroker or the other Ruger forum. Over that they do not sell unless they are a rare convertible cyl caliber, see post above.

The ratchets are all the same size within tolerance. They are not adjusted to make the cyl fit because it will screw up the headspace!

The front hub is adjusted only.

TO GET A CYLINDER OF PROPER SIZE:

In 30 years I have never installed one or heard of one that did not function and "time" correctly. They are assembly line produced to a common plus or minus tolerance. The exception and only important issue is that it has enough overall length for your frame at the front hub which is fit and sized to each individual frame window. If too long you can dress it down and is simple to 'fit' with a little stoning, usually under .005", that's not a lot. To have a gunsmith do it would be a minimal charge if you're more comfortable doing it that way.

You should take an overall length measurement of your cyl with a dial caliper in .001 of an inch and seek one the same length or longer (1st photo). A cyl with a gap as shown at the bottom arrow, in the 2nd photo below: will rub on the end of the barrel at the top arrow because it will move back and forth in the gun called "cylinder end shake" in gunsmith terms.


Photo courtesy of “rugerguy"





One solution for cyls that are too short is a tig welded bead and then filed to fit frame. The other is drilling out the hub, turning and press fitting a longer one:
RugerForum.com ? View topic - Is welding stainless possible?

Photo by NitroAcres

Last edited by Hondo44; April 4th, 2015 at 09:32 PM.
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Old April 16th, 2015, 02:13 PM   #13
 
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They made them. Here are a couple 45ACP/45LC convertible Vacs on a table with a covertible Blackhawk.



If it were my gun I would call Ruger and ask. Don't give up. Call back and get a nicer person or ask to talk with a supervisor or manager.
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Old April 13th, 2017, 11:01 AM   #14
 
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Are the New Vaquero and New Blackhawk using the same size frame and cylinder?
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Old April 13th, 2017, 11:26 AM   #15
 
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No most do not, some do.

New Model Blackhawks are all large frame and cyl.

New Vaqueros and NM Flat top Blackhawks are all mid size frames and cyls except those in 41 or 44 Mag which are large frames and cyls.

Last edited by Hondo44; April 13th, 2017 at 11:29 AM.
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