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S&W Red Ramp Insert - Tips & Pics

Thread in 'Gun Smithing & Repairs' started by GS, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. GS

    GS Survivalist

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    Front sight insert replacement & installation...
    This thread is supposed to be a guide on how to replace a factory insert that has fallen out, is damaged, or loose. Or if you would just like to install one in your plain Baughman or ramp style front sight that is too hard to see. Please watch this video first.


    If your front sight doesn't have an insert...

    Buy a small set of jewelers files, make sure one of them is triangular shaped. The smaller, the better. I got a set at ACE Hardware for less than $10. Actually starting this process will make you feel like God himself might strike you down with a bolt of lightning, and if you are doing this to anything other than a shooter, God might really be considering it. Go slowly, go evenly and check both sides often. It is very important you only file a dovetail that fills up the rear sight. No more (in my opinion). I have seen some home made inserts that are way too long and it doesn't even look close to being factory. Not to mention how much easier it is to tell that your sights are lined up with a insert that only fills up the rear sight. Don't make your dovetail so deep that the bottom of the dovetail touches the barrel rib but deep enough to have a decent piece of acrylic to work with. Notice how I almost went too deep with the dovetail on the Model 15 below.
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    Dimpling with a punch or drilling 2 small holes...
    Once you have cut the dovetail in your front ramp like Larry Potterfield illustrates in the video, don't forget to dimple inside the dovetail with a centerpunch. I prefer a centerpunch because it causes a little metal to "roll" up into the space where the largest part of the insert is. It really helps keep the insert secure and in place. The factory however drills two very small holes down.
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    Method #1 Castin' Craft (polyester casting resin)
    You will need some Castin Craft Resin, hardener, opaque red and yellow pigments, some mold releasing agent, some plastic cups, stir sticks for mixing. You will also need some brass fences, some vice grips, a small centerpunch, a hammer and some blue painters tape to protect the area around the front sight. I got all the material for the Castin' Craft insert at Hobby Lobby (except the files, the brass fences, the hammer, centerpunch and vice grips).
    #1 - Polyester casting resin & hardener (catalyst)
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    #2 - Red pigment
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    #3 - Yellow pigment
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    The Fences...
    You will need two brass fences that will squeeze each side of your front ramp. I used pieces from a thick brass hinge. I like the fences to be thick enough so that when I pinch down on them with the vice grips, and the front ramp in between, the teeth of the vice grips only touch the brass fences. You do still have to watch out for the barrel, but find fences that stick out on each side past the width of the rib. Make sure they are flat and clean. I laid the fences on a file and flattened the sides of the fences that would be facing the resin. Clean them off and spray the Castin Craft Releasing Agent (don't forget to shake the bottle). Let the fences dry and clamp them on your front sight.
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    The Mix...
    I use about 2 ounces of Polyester Resin in a plastic mixing cup. I put 3-4 drops of yellow pigment in and 1 drop of red pigment in, and mix it well. I put 4-5 drops of hardener in it and mixed it very well, scraping everything off the edges and bottom of the cup and mixing it again. My first attempt I used 3-4 drops of red and 1-2 drops of yellow. A little of the red pigment goes a long way.
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    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  2. GS

    GS Survivalist

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    Cure Times and trimmimg...
    You have plenty of time to work, so you don't have to hurry. Using this method takes an extremely long time to cure even in a warm environment. But I would make sure you have everything ready to go before you put your drops of hardener in the resin. Make sure the dovetail is level when you drip the resin in between the fences. Make sure you stick around and watch it for a couple of hours so that if it starts to dip in the middle of the insert from leakage or air bubbles escaping, you can apply another drop or two. Once you have a good insert in there, leave it be for 3 or 4 days. It needs to be at room temp for it to harden properly so don't do it outside (fair warning - it stinks pretty bad). After 4 or 5 days remove the vice grips, remove the fences, and carefully start to trim the excess with a small jewelers file. I found if I leave plenty there, I finish the top of the plastic ramp with a very narrow piece of 800 grit sandpaper (a little more narrow than the insert itself. I put the sandpaper in between the insert and a narrow sanding block (I used one of the files). Be extremely careful to only sand on the insert. Removing the excess with a file is okay too but it can leave deeper grooves than fine sandpaper. The last thing you should do is square everything up with sandpaper, so don't remove too much with your razor blade. If your fences sealed up good enough, and were squeezed tight enough, you shouldn't have to trim anything off the sides, just the top.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
  3. RamRoddoc

    RamRoddoc The Hen that laid the Golden Legos Supporter

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    This should be a sticky.

    Great details and information! Thanks for taking the effort.
     
  4. GS

    GS Survivalist

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    Example #1 using the Polyester Castin' Craft Resin.
    Second attempt turned out much brighter... More yellow pigment and less red pigment. Very pleased with the results. Despite the tiny bubble on the left side. Better than the time before but not quite the bright factory orange I was going for.
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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
  5. GS

    GS Survivalist

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    Method #2 - Brownells Front Sight Insert Kit (liquid acrylic)
    So I finally scored a Brownells front sight insert kit (been backordered for more than a year). It works differen than casting resin, first off it sets up VERY quickly but fencing the sides and shaping it are the same. The best part is that it takes about an hour to an hour and a half from start to finish with the Brownells acrylic. I PREFER THE BROWNELLS FRONT SIGHT INSERT KIT!!!
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
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  6. markj

    markj Frontiersman

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    This is a great thread. Really well done. Those inserts look great. Thanks for posting the info!
     
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  7. GS

    GS Survivalist

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    Example #1 using the Brownells kit...
    My S&W Model 28-2 Highway Patrolman. I installed the front sight insert using the Brownells kit, and put a target trigger and target hammer in it that were originally purchased from The Mother Ship in 1964 for $6 each. I paid considerably more than $12 dollars for the set. It already had a white outline rear sight blade in it when I got it. I really like this revolver.
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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
  8. GS

    GS Survivalist

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    Example #2 using the Brownells kit...
    My S&W Model 15-2 Combat Masterpiece that I cut the dovetail and installed the insert in using the Brownells kit.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
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  9. GS

    GS Survivalist

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    Example #3 using the Brownells kit...
    My S&W Model 686 no dash Distinguished Combat Magnum that I replaced the factory insert in, the original had a chunk taken out of one side. I used the Brownells kit and, also freshened it up with a new white outline rear sight blade.
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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
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  10. GS

    GS Survivalist

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    Example #4 using the Brownells kit...
    My S&W Model 66 no dash Combat Magnum that I replaced the factory insert in using the Brownells kit. The original factory insert had a little too much movement in it.
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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
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