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    1. · MGySgt USMC (ret)
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      7,047 Posts
      When I check M1 or M14 adjustable rear sights and no matter if they are NM or standard, there are a few tools I grab real quick.

      The first is a pair of what Brownell's calls "Magazine Tube/Cap Pliers." They jaws are tough but soft so there is no damage when grabbing hold of the elevation pinion drum so you can tighten the screw. I've heard these same pliers are used in the automotive trade and if so, they would be cheaper to buy at an auto parts store. Maybe someone from that trade will recognize these pliers and let us know what they are called in the automobile trade.

      http://www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/productdetail.aspx?p=13787&st=&s=

      The next things I grab are two Brownell's Magna tip bits. I found these two sizes fit virtually every G.I. pinion and windage knob:

      080-360-650
      Bit #360-6, SD=.360, BT=.050 $2.92

      080-240-750
      Bit #240-7, SD=.240, BT=.050 * $2.92

      You can find them listed on this web page:

      http://www.brownells.com/aspx/ns/store/ProductDetail.aspx?p=417&title=MAGNA-TIP SUPER SETS?

      You also have to have one bit driver handle and you could get that from Brownell's but they are also available at most hardware stores.

      OK, so you grab the elevation pinion drum with the Magazine Tube Pliers and use the larger 360-6 bit to tighten the elevation pinion screw. Once tightened, you are done with that bit.

      Then check to see if you have good audible clicks as you turn the elevation pinion up and down. If not, the pinion may not be tight enough. Then you use the smaller 240-7 bit to tighten the nut in the windage knob until it just "jumps" into place the first time. I've found this is almost the ideal position for most rear sights. Occasionally you have to tighten the windage nut one more "jump" if the sight is not tight enough with a elevation pinion that has a worn internal spring.

      Now if you have good audible and repeatable clicks of elevation, try turning the windage knob. If you can turn it without wearing out your fingers that's good. Turn it right 8 clicks and back left 8 clicks to ensure the rear sight base moves according to the scale on the receiver. Then turn it left 8 and clicks and back to the right 8 clicks to see it does the same on both sides of the windage scale on the receiver. If that works properly, you are done with this step. If it is so tight you can't turn the windage knob, then you either turned the WK nut too far or the elevation pinion may be worn or you may need a RS cover (spring) that is tighter. You may also have to do some work on the bottom front of the aperture slide.

      I think I should write an additional post on what to do next if the RS doesn't work, but that is going to be a long post and will have to write it later.
       
    1. · MGySgt USMC (ret)
      Joined
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      7,047 Posts
      Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
      Part I – Checking Rear Sight Assemblies

      Folks, there is a good bit of “Ye Olde Art and Mysterie” about working on rear sights than many folks imagine and it is not an exact science nor a simple matter of replacing parts to get them right. What makes it even more difficult is that no commercial receiver is totally correct in the rear sight area. Even when you have a correctly milled rear sight area as on a REAL G.I. M14 or M1 Garand, there are still enough tolerance differences or tolerance stack up that can cause you problems. Also, there is no way a fix for one Rear Sight (RS) will automatically fix a problem with a RS on a different receiver.

      The first thing I do when inspecting a real M14, M1 Garand or any commercial M14 rifle is to grab my pair of Brownell’s Magazine Tube/Cap Pliers. These have hard rubber like pads that will hold the pinion drum securely without damaging it. You could also wrap thin leather around the pinion drum and grab them with slip joint pliers. Then I use a screwdriver with a tip that matches the slot in the nut in the center of the pinion and try to tighten it. Usually, I find these nuts somewhat to very loose and that’s bad as they need to be tight. Sometimes all you have to do to fix a problem rear sight is to tighten this nut. I’ve also been informed the Brownell’s pliers were actually some kind of automotive pliers, but I’m not sure as I’m not an auto mechanic. Anyway, here’s a link showing these pliers.

      http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=13787/Product/MAGAZINE_TUBE_CAP_PLIERS

      Once you know the nut in the pinion is tight, it is time to check the windage knob to see if you can turn the knob. If it is too tight or too loose, then the nut in the windage knob may not be tightened correctly. What I have found to be the “sweet spot” for most sights is that when you tighten this nut, the first time it JUMPS into position is most often the correct amount of tightness. I sometimes go one more half turn when the elevation pinion has a worn triangular projection or the spring tension in the pinion is worn. If that causes the windage knob to be too tight, then you need to back off the nut to the first setting. SPECIAL NOTE: I have used this extra click of tightness on windage knobs that make it a little difficult to turn the windage knob to save the person from having to buy a new pinion. If WHILE you push inwards on the nut in the elevation pinion and at the same time then can move the windage knob, that may save you from having to buy a new pinion for a while. It isn’t as convenient as just turning the windage knob, but it saves you rather big bucks on a new pinion.

      The next thing I do is run the aperture up about 10 clicks to see the clicks are solid and consistent. Then I leave the aperture there. I use my thumb to press downwards and forwards on the aperture to see if the aperture will slip and slide downward. Now A CAUTION HERE: On even the most perfectly fitted and working RS assembly, if you use enough pressure, you CAN AND WILL force the aperture down. That is NOT a valid test. If the aperture slips with very little pressure, you can try tightening the windage knob one more half turn. If that doesn’t fix it, you may be able to fix the problem with a tighter fitting rear sight cover, but you may also need a new elevation pinion. If that extra half turn on the windage knob does fix it and if now you can not move the windage knob, again you may need either a different rear sight cover or a new elevation pinion. On NM RS apertures, I run the aperture up to 30 clicks and try it again as NM shooters will often use that much elevation.

      The next check is to turn the windage knob 12 clicks to the right and back to zero than 12 clicks to the left and back to zero. (24 clicks each way with NM ½ minute windage knobs.) This ensures the RS base moves correctly and comes back correctly according to the hash marks on the receiver. If the windage knob is too hard to turn or skips or catches, then a different RS cover is often in order OR you have problems inside the receiver.

      The next thing I check is to push in on the right and then the left side of the RS base. You want the RS base to either not move or spring back when you release tension. This was not considered absolutely necessary on a G.I. rifle, but it makes for a more consistent rear sight adjustments. If it does not pass this test, usually you need a different RS cover.

      There are additional things we check on NM RS assemblies, though that can go to a full book length to explain and really is too involved for anyone but an Armorer or Gunsmith.
       
    1. · MGySgt USMC (ret)
      Joined
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      7,047 Posts
      Discussion Starter · #15 ·
      Gunsmiths get a lot of "bread and butter money" by doing somewhat simple repairs and just giving guns a thorough detailed cleaning/oiling and servicing. In areas where shotguns are used for small game or deer hunting, this is especially true.

      There is one more screwdriver that I think every gunsmith or advanced hobbyist should have in his tool box and that is an extremely long bit, large screwdriver. You will find a bazillion uses for it over the years and most often for getting up inside shotgun buttstocks to get at that long machine screw that holds the stock on. I bought a Bonanza No. 6 butt stock screwdriver over 30 years ago I have used countless times on more shotgun and lever action rifle buttstocks than I can remember. It is a 3/8" diameter round rod with a screwdriver tip ground in the end. It is 12" from the handle to the screwdriver end. (It is also necessary to have one if you are ever going to do complicated repairs or trigger jobs on Civil War Period Smith Carbines.) A long screwdriver like this is necessary to remove shotgun buttstocks so you mount/fit "rubber" recoil pads. If you live in an area where a lot of shotguns are used for Trap and Skeet, this is another of those "bread and butter" jobs you will get a lot of work on once you are set up to do them.

      Now before I get into a separate post on pliers, there is one set of pliers I have used with both shotguns, M14 Elevation Pinion Drums to hold them to tighten the internal screw, and a number of things around the shop. I've even used them to loosen the lids on the small tubs of Accraglass Gel and get stuck Tru Oil cap bottles or other stuck caps off bottles. Heck, I have used them to hold original Muzzleloading barrels when I'm doing something on them. I'm talking about what Brownell's calls their "MAGAZINE TUBE/CAP PLIERS" http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=13787/Product/MAGAZINE-TUBE-CAP-PLIERS

      I have heard you can find them in some auto parts stores and I've also heard they are used in the aircraft maintenance industry. I first bought mine in the 1980's and I think I bought a pair of replacement jaws with them, but with care over the years, I still have the original jaws in them I can't tell you how many HUNDREDS of screws in M14 Elevation Pinions I have tightenecd using these pliers to hold onto the drum without marring or cracking the drum.

      I most certainly would buy both of these tools early on as there are so many things you can use them for.

      OK, I myself asked at what point one should consider doing bluing (really hot black oxide) and parkerizing. Well, my advice is forget bluing for quite a while unless you can work with someone who already does it. Proper polishing prior to bluing is almost becoming a lost art, folks and it will require some expensive equipment you won't use for much else. You have to have a dedicated space for bluing and you have to deal with all kinds of hazmat regulations and EPA restrictions. So I suggest you leave that alone for a while.

      Parkerizing is much less expensive, though you have to have a blasting cabinet and that can run over to well over $ 1000.00 bucks for one large enough for a barreled action. You also need a rather expensive air compressor and stainless steel tank and burners. But it is not just being able to afford the blasting cabinet and other items, you have to have a place to put it. I've known folks who have semi large outbuildings, either pre-fab or a concrete block hut (for bluing) on their property, but you must already have the property.

      So it is best to forget about doing either when you are first starting out, unless you work for a shop that already has the equipment.
       
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