My 1860 colt repro is developing a problem?


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ARENAMAN
April 3, 2009, 11:00 PM
I've begun having a problem with my Centaure. It started with one cylinder, but today four out of six of the cylinders failed to fire. The cap didn't fire each time. I have noticed that it seems that the cylinder has begun to have room to move a little between the frame and the barrel assembly. It slides back and forth along the arbor a very small fraction of a millimeter. I think this is the problem that is causing the caps not to ignite when the hammer falls. The cylinder has moved forward from its right place against the frame enough to keep the hammer from hitting the cap firmly. I was really having a problem with that one cylinder that was the first to begin misfiring. I finally had to get a small piece of wood and place it in from of the bottom part of the cylinder and then use the loading arm and piston to press against the wood and the cylinder which firmly pressed the cylinder back against the frame. I pressed against a tree in order to put a little pressure on the end of the loading arm so that my hand would not be forward of the cylinder as I pulled the trigger. When I used this method to hold the cylinder back against the frame the stubborn cylinder fired the first time, and with the same cap I had been trying to cause to fire before.

Does anyone know why the cylinder is now a little loose in the frame? I have checked the wedge and it seems to be all the way in and it seems to be tightly in place. I even tried to tap it in a little more and this didn't help. The place at the bottom where the barrel assembly and the frame meet is well seated together. Is there a small shim or spacer that I may have lost in the last cleaning? Any advise would be appreciated.

I also had something else interesting happen today. An older gentleman and friend of mine gave to me an old can of FFG Holy Black, and I tried it out today. My friend told me that this powder was pretty old and might not fire very well. When I tried it today it barely made a pop in my gun and lobed a little fire ball out the end of the barrel. I think the fireball was my lube pill burning. I thought I had read that black powder didn't get old. Maybe not. I donít think it was damp. My friend said he had stored it inside, and so did I.

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BPR
April 3, 2009, 11:23 PM
Any chance pieces of a fired caps are falling down and wedging between the hammer and the frame? It happen to me several times and the liitle buggers are hard to see. They hold the hammer just enough that it won't strike the cap hard enough to fire. Try the old movie trick, raise the revolver high in the air before you cock it so the fired cap will fall away. As far as a washer or spacer, I've never seen one. The only problems I've seen like your describing have been with kit builds. Finally had to get a new frame.

ARENAMAN
April 4, 2009, 12:15 AM
It might have been a cap fragment. I didn't see anything when I was shooting. But didn't look specifically at the slot where the hammer falls. AND there was a cap fragment that fell out of the hammer area as I was taking the gun apart for cleaning just after making my initial post. It may have been there the whole time. OR, it may have been the last cap fired.

Old Fuff
April 4, 2009, 12:57 AM
The wedge shouldn't be driven all of the way in. If it is it needs to be replaced. A properally fitted wedge will just come through to the side of the barrel on the right side.

And it would be advisable to compeletly tear the lockwork down, inspect it, and be sure it's clean and lubricated before you but it back together. If you don't know how, instructions are posted at the begining of the Blackpowder Shooting sub-forum.

mykeal
April 4, 2009, 06:32 AM
I don't agree with Old Fuff on the wedge position. In my opinion a properly fitting wedge is one in which the cylinder to forcing cone clearance is between 0.006" and 0.010", regardless of where the wedge lines up.

madcratebuilder
April 4, 2009, 08:14 AM
You should not use the wedge to control barrel gap. That is the job of the arbor/barrel fit.
Fuff is correct, the wedge should just slightly protrude from the right side.

Does anyone know why the cylinder is now a little loose in the frame? I have checked the wedge and it seems to be all the way in and it seems to be tightly in place. I even tried to tap it in a little more and this didn't help

Have you inspected the arbor and frame at the recoil shield? It sounds like the arbor has moved forward.

scrat
April 4, 2009, 11:24 AM
I am against slamming your gun against a tree and forcing something in to make it fire.

3 things to do.
go to vti gun parts order a new wedge and some new nipples

take apart the guns internal works clean them very good. Next take a small piece of leather and put it under the main spring towards the bottom to give a little more rigidness. Then when parts come in replace the nipples and replace the wedge. Then go back to the range and try it out again.

madcratebuilder
April 4, 2009, 12:52 PM
You may want to check the threads on this Belgium made Colt before you order Italian parts. I believe the fasteners are different threads, possibly the nipples too.

ARENAMAN
April 4, 2009, 12:59 PM
Good advise scrat, advise which i will follow.

But, let me be clearer in my description of what did to make the gun fire. I did not slam anything against a tree. I placed a piece popsickle stick between the loading ram and the front of the cylinder and lowered the loading lever and gently pressed the end of the lever against the tree in order to press the cylinder back firmly against the frame while i pulled the trigger. This worked because the cap fired this time after i had tried at least a dozen times before to make that same cap fire.

ARENAMAN
April 4, 2009, 01:00 PM
Advice, advice, i spelled advice wrong.

scrat
April 4, 2009, 01:03 PM
Yep if it were my gun i would for sure do what i wrote. what does not make sense is the fact that it only started happening on one cylinder. When this happens i usually think nipples first. Then main spring for firmness then wedge for tight cylinder fit.

ARENAMAN
April 4, 2009, 01:04 PM
From what i've read you need to have a gunsmith's tools in order to make ready a nipple to fit the belgium made colt.

scrat
April 4, 2009, 01:12 PM
That may not be true. Just take me a few minutes to tell you. Basicly you need some guages to be able to tell the thread pitch and diameter of the nipple. Once thats done then you need to go shopping. i dont remember the site one of the other guys may though. there is a site that shows all the different thread pitches for nipples and part numbers.

madcratebuilder
April 4, 2009, 03:07 PM
From what i've read you need to have a gunsmith's tools in order to make ready a nipple to fit the belgium made colt.

They use a standard revolver nipple wrench.
This is an original style (http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product_info.php?cPath=22_100_356&products_id=7629)
This style (http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product_info.php?cPath=22_100_356&products_id=7627) is probably more serviceable.

whosyrdaddy
April 4, 2009, 03:08 PM
You should not use the wedge to control barrel gap. That is the job of the arbor/barrel fit.


MCB, could you point me to your source supporting this statement?

madcratebuilder
April 4, 2009, 03:10 PM
But, let me be clearer in my description of what did to make the gun fire. I did not slam anything against a tree. I placed a piece popsickle stick between the loading ram and the front of the cylinder and lowered the loading lever and gently pressed the end of the lever against the tree in order to press the cylinder back firmly against the frame while i pulled the trigger. This worked because the cap fired this time after i had tried at least a dozen times before to make that same cap fire.

I sounds like you have excessive cylinder end play, much more than the normal .006-.012. Just how much end play do you have? I think it may be unsafe to fire if you have to wedge a stick in it the hold the cylinder in place.

whosyrdaddy
April 4, 2009, 03:23 PM
ARENAMAN, there is a very easy way to tell if the cap fragment was the problem. Simply place caps on all 6 nipples and see if they fire the first time around now. Let us know.

madcratebuilder
April 4, 2009, 03:30 PM
MCB, could you point me to your source supporting this statement?

Read David Chicoine's book "Gunsmithing Guns of the Old West"

whosyrdaddy
April 4, 2009, 03:46 PM
Read David Chicoine's book "Gunsmithing Guns of the Old West"

I have, thanks. I have also read the original colt patent that seems to contradict this info and I thought perhaps someone could show me where Samuel L. Colt changed his mind along the way.

Old Fuff
April 4, 2009, 04:12 PM
I don't agree with Old Fuff on the wedge position. In my opinion a properly fitting wedge is one in which the cylinder to forcing cone clearance is between 0.006" and 0.010", regardless of where the wedge lines up.

I agree, but what do you do if the tapered wedge is in as far as it can go, and you still have excessive cylinder/barrel gap?

Too many folks who don't understand how the system is supposed to work think that the wedge is supposed to be driven in all of the way. So they drive it in. This may or may not close the gap to the point where the cylinder won't turn. But if the cylinder does turn, and for what ever reason the gap opens up to the point where the hammer won't detonate the caps, there isn't any adjustment left - except to replace the wedge with a new one.

madcratebuilder
April 4, 2009, 04:13 PM
Perhaps after 160 years of maintaining and rebuilding these cap and ball revolvers some have found a better way.

whosyrdaddy
April 4, 2009, 04:55 PM
Perhaps after 160 years of maintaining and rebuilding these cap and ball revolvers some have found a better way.


I could not agree more, and I was deeply saddened by the passing of William B. Ruger.

ARENAMAN
April 4, 2009, 07:35 PM
I just placed six caps on the gun and tried it again and 5 out of six fired right off. I guess my problem was a spent cap in the way all along. Thanks for the idea whosyrdaddy. The one cylinder that did not fire probably needs to have its nipple backed out a little. I used my finger this time to press the cylinder back against the frame and that stubborn cylinder fired when it wouldnt fire before. I am a newbie and have gotten around to getting a nipple wrench. I know i need one for proper cleaning so i will get one soon.

mykeal
April 4, 2009, 08:05 PM
I do not dispute the fact that adjusting the arbor/cylinder/barrel interface, especially on Uberti guns, can significantly improve the cylinder end play and make the wedge fit/function better.

However, I believe that the majority of Colt replica revolver owners are much more able to place the wedge to get a range of measured end play, and then replace the wedge if this is not sufficient, than they are to perform the tasks necessary to revise the arbor/wedge geometry. That was the basis of my post.

scrat
April 4, 2009, 08:12 PM
Nipples, Wedge, Tighten mainspring

Smokin_Gun
April 4, 2009, 11:26 PM
In my opinion a properly fitting wedge is one in which the cylinder to forcing cone clearance is between 0.006" and 0.010", regardless of where the wedge lines up.

I agree with Mykeal from.004" or .006"-.010"...
But one that is new or not could be jus' pokin' thru the other side... like my Old fired and unfired 2nd Gen Colt Pocket Police... so I'd say wedge positions may vary for cylinder to forcing cone distance...

Hellgate
April 4, 2009, 11:37 PM
A couple of thoughts after reading all the posts:
-He needs to shim that one nipple up a few thou. Not just back it out. It is easy to shim nipples. Take soft fine steel or bronze wire and coil it around a nail or screw shank about 10 times to make a spiral the diameter of the threaded shank on the nipples. Then with wire cutters snip them off and you end up with a pile of what look like lock washers. I then I take a small hammer and flatten them on the vise pounding surface or an anvil to the desired thickness. They resemble small open ended lock washers. Slip one onto the shank of the low nipple and screw it in. I use anti-seize lube or heavy lithium grease on the threads so I can get the nipples back out. If the nipple is too high, pound the shim flatter or find some finer wire. If it still isn't tall enough, use two shims or get a thicker piece of wire to start over with. I've done this on several guns and have had no problems with it. If you have too high of a nipple then the hammer face gets battered and may not fire the other nipples or it will get burrs on it that may lift spent caps off the nipples and drop them into the action.

-Tapping the wedges in deeper has tightened the gap on all my Colt repros so that is how I adjust my gaps. I use a piece of paper card stock from a print shop that is .007" inch thick as a "feeler guage" whenever I am reassembling my guns after cleaning. A folded over piece of copy paper will also work as it is about .0035" thick as a single layer. Folded over you get a .007" spacer. Put the paper between the cylinder and the barrel. Tap the wedge in until it begins to bite the paper and you will have a .007" gap after you remove the paper.

-I have placed a leather washer between the mainspring and the frame in order to LESSEN the mainspring tension. If I want to increase the tension I would use a steel washer. The leather has a little "give" and lets the spring tip a little toward the hammer and the spring becomes less springy. The steel washer holds the spring more rigidly and a little farther away and increases the hammer pull. That's how I've done it. I guess people's mileage varies.

DoubleDeuce 1
April 4, 2009, 11:55 PM
Take a look at this site: www.1960nma.org This should have a lot of information useful to you. The site is devoted to the Belgian Colt guns.

As has been said before, first disassemble the piece and clean. Check the springs etc. Assemble and check for timing and excessive cylinder play. There will be some slight play, very slight.

Check the size of the caps. Make sure the caps are seated all the way down on the nipples. Test fire the caps. If there is a particular nipple that does not fire consistently, mark it and inspect it, change nipple(s) if needed. Test again. If there is a failure to fire on another nipple, mark it and inspect it. Repeat. If there is no satisfaction during the test firing, check the mainspring and adjust (tighten, shim or replace).

Do the cheap easy free stuff first before you spend money on something that may not need replacing. And check out that website.:cool:

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