1849 Wells Fargo How did they load?


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Coyote3855
June 2, 2008, 11:33 AM
How were percussion revolvers without a loading lever loaded? Examples that come to mind are the Colt 1849 Wells Fargo or "Baby Dragoons" and the Patterson's. I've read period accounts of individuals taking their revolvers to a gun shop to be loaded, but I doubt Coffee Jack and his Texas Rangers did it that way.

Thanks,

Coyote

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Old Fuff
June 2, 2008, 12:17 PM
In the case of the Patterson you removed the barrel and slipped a sort of lever gadget that came with the revolver through the wedge slot in the base pin. This then became your bullet rammer. Worked so-so, as you didn't have much leverage.

The so-called Wells-Fargo model (there is no evidence they bought any) was set up so after you removed the barrel you could push the ball/bullet into the chamber by holding the frame/grip assembly and using the base pin that had a cup point machined into the end. Didn't work too well, and after about 1849 most Pocket Model Colt revolver came with a bullet rammer assembly mounted under the barrel.

BigG
June 2, 2008, 12:19 PM
I would imagine they load like a Paterson, which has a rinky-dink combination tool that includes a screwdriver and a lever to fit through the wedge slot when the bbl is removed.

I have also seen loading stands with a press but do not know if they are actually antique.

Voodoochile
June 2, 2008, 12:53 PM
Old Fluff is right, I've seen an orriginal 1849 Well Fargo being worked on for a broken hand spring & the orriginal did have the little dished area taken out for loading but I would imagine that this got real old real quick.

pohill
June 2, 2008, 01:40 PM
I just posted this pic of a Paterson loading lever a few days ago. Actually, it works great - no problem at all. Of course you have to remove the barrel to load but it's an interesting revolver.
http://i28.tinypic.com/2cn6url.jpg

mec
June 2, 2008, 03:05 PM
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=79339&stc=1&d=1212429778

I went ahead and coned my Uberti replica. does a nicer job with conical bullets. I've heard that the original patersons had tapered arbors for the same purpose- an optional method to the tool illustrated above.

mec
June 2, 2008, 06:56 PM
More paterson discussioin:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colt_Paterson

more pocket model discussion:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colt_Pocket_Percussion_Revolvers

scrat
June 2, 2008, 07:46 PM
Only problem that i see is it wheres out the wedge hole. I dont have a patterson. However for sure i would use a loading block press i know that the steel being used today is stronger. however i would want the gun to last a if not a lifetime then longer. so for sure i would use a loading block press same for brass frame revolvers.

DrLaw
June 3, 2008, 09:48 AM
How do they load? Very slow. :D

I use the cylinder pin method. One of these days I will cobble up a loader of a hardwood base, a rammer attachment and swiveling rammer on a handle, very similar to the one you see out there for the larger caliber guns.

I like to shoot my Wells Fargo, but dang, it is slow!!!!!! :evil:

The Doc is out now. :cool:

Old Fuff
June 3, 2008, 10:21 AM
Those that want to shoot a replica Colt Pocket Model or similar sized gun would be well advised to buy one with a rammer assembly and at least a five inch barrel. That way the handle is long enough to give you some leverage.

On the other hand a Wells Fargo or whatever rammerless revolver makes an interesting platform for a metallic cartridge conversion. :cool:

Coyote3855
June 3, 2008, 10:43 AM
Thanks for the replies and the references. I see Wikipedia agrees with Old Fuff that Wells Fargo records don't show the purchase of any .31 caliber revolvers. The book "Firearms of the American West, 1803-1865" by Garauaglia and Worman has a picture on page 282 that shows an 1849 rammerless with 4" barrel stamped Wells Fargo Express on the backstrap. Based on a long time reading Old Fuff's posts, he's wealth of accurate information, so I just wanted to introduce an alternative source, not contradict.

Coyote

mec
June 3, 2008, 01:21 PM
the fargo and the baby dragoon arn't TOO bad. You have to completely load one chamber at a time. I use a ball starter to give the ball a whack, then use the arbor to fully seat. If you don't have rigid loading standed, both of these procedures need to be done with the cylinder in your weak hand. Trying to do it on a table sends the thing skittering sidewise.
I wrote the Wikipedia thing and got the information about no actual w/fargo sales from the cited book on 1849 pocket models. Fortunately, none of the video game/wiki gun experts have found that article and screwed it up yet.

Old Fuff
June 3, 2008, 08:49 PM
Thanks for the replies and the references. I see Wikipedia agrees with Old Fuff that Wells Fargo records don't show the purchase of any .31 caliber revolvers.

One learns never to say... never. :uhoh:

Wells Fargo may have bought a few, and station managers out in the field were allowed some discretion in buying small arms. But they never bought enough of a certain model to cause it to be associated with their name.

And Colt didnít give any of their revolvers that name. 20th Century collectors came up with the name because some 1848 pocket models, and most if not all 1849 pocket models had cylinders that were roll engraved with a scene depicting a stagecoach holdup. As far as the collectors were concerned, stagecoach = Well Fargo. ;)

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