Adjusting a pietta 1851 Navy wedge


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noonanda
July 5, 2009, 02:22 PM
Hey all, I just got my Pietta 1851 Navy from Cabelas, well when they put this one together they didnt adjust the wedge, they just seemed to hammer it in. Which makes me ask how should I go about adjusting the pistol so that the wedge doesnt need to be removed/installed with a sledge hammer. the wedge contacts the rear of the slot so that it bottoms out before it is in very far. should I adjust the slot on the pistol or file the wedge? Anyone know what I am talking about and have to do this before? I'll try to take a few pics later to show what I mean

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Ginormous
July 5, 2009, 02:41 PM
Here are the wedge depths on two of my guns closest in design to the 1851 Navy:

The first is a stainless steel Allen Arms Colt 1862 Pocket Navy, made by Uberti. The wedge doesn't protrude very far at all on this revolver. Barrel is solidly in place, and the wedge can be pushed out with a thumb. This gun hasn't been shot much at all, but I expect the wedge to loosen up with more use, even with the light loads this pistol uses (12-17 gr.)

http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww19/Ginormous_pics/DSCF1256.jpg

The second is my 1848 Colt 1st Model Dragoon. It's had quite a few more rounds sent downrange with some serious (50 gr.) loads. Usage has loosened the wedge up considerably to the point where it protrudes extensively on the far side. This wedge take a gloved thumb and a serious push to remove. Occasionally, after a cylinder full heavy BP loads, I find I need to tap it with a rubber mallet to get things moving again.

http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww19/Ginormous_pics/DSCF1252.jpg

Personally, I would shoot the revolver a bit before deciding whether to alter the wedge or slot to any serious degree. You may with use that the wedge gets considerably easier to seat and remove with use.

rcflint
July 5, 2009, 03:13 PM
The Dragoon wedge Ginormous showed is more like your Navy wedge. The proper position of the wedge is to be pushed in until the spring hook just snaps over the edge of the slot on the right face of the barrel lug. Ginormous's Dragoon looks to be past that point, but he said there were a lot of heavily loaded rounds fired through it, and it has probably hammered the wedge a bit narrower.

i also noticed that Pietta's wedge spring hook often doesn't have a very sharp hook, it is rather rounded, and it might benefit from a touch with a file. Do not attempt to change the slots in the arbor or the barrel, best advise is to only modify parts that are cheap and disposable. Wedges have always been considered disposable.

Thinning the wedge, usually the back face, with a file, carefully, you can get the wedge to seat further in until the spring hook reaches the right face of the slot when the cylinder gap is right, and the barrel is parallel to the cylinder and arbor. Check the front and rear face of the wedge for mark-off from the barrel and arbor slots, it might be a hint as to where to file and relieve the wedge. Keep the file cuts flat and smooth, and square to the width, don't change the taper. Thumb tight is fine, it need not be hammered, in or out, as long as the spring's hook retains the wedge from backing out by itself.

One reason the Pietta wedge fits so tightly, is that Pietta adjusts the length of the arbor to seat to the bottom of the hole in the barrel when the bottom of the barrel lug is aligned flush to the frame. If the wedge is tight when the arbor bottoms out, it's possible for it to be hammered so tight it's very difficult to remove.

Too bad Uberti doesn't fit the arbor as well, Uberti arbors are short, or the barrel's hole is too deep, and it's possible to drive the wedge in and close the cylinder gap, pinching the cylinder so it can't rotate. Theoretically, that can't happen to a Pietta, or an original Colt.

Go to VTIgunparts.com and order spare wedges, they are a necessary spare part, and can put the gun back in action if you lose one, or replace the existing wedge if it gets too loose eventually. You might also try an Uberti wedge.

rcflint
July 5, 2009, 03:17 PM
Ginormous, the Dragoon looks to be in great shape for a 5 year old gun that's been shot a lot, even for one that's not been shot.

Ginormous
July 5, 2009, 06:12 PM
That Uberti Dragoon never been holstered and lives a life of luxury in a lambskin chamois when not fulfilling it's role as the cannon in Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. :)

I've had it since November 2008, and I take it each and every time I go to the range. It's an accurate pistol. Before that, it belonged to a policemen in Virginia, who took equally good care of it. Cleaning it with warm soapy water and the appropriate brushes is all it gets. That and a good dose of Ballistol inside and out.

It actually does have its share of war wounds, this the pistol that chainfired (http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=445634&highlight=chainfire+yay) on me several moths ago and burned my hand. One of the balls slightly marred the insertion side of the wedge, and there are numerous fine scratches on the barrel and cylinder from being put down on the shooting bench uncushioned.

On a sunny day at the range, it shows its scars, quite proudly.

Das Jaeger
July 5, 2009, 06:47 PM
Yup , you don't have to drag your guns behind your pick-um-up truck to have shot them . Some people KNOW how to treat guns , some people shoudln't owne guns at all . Abuseing firearms is not only not cool , tis a CRIME in my mind , for safety sake .

Here is my 3rd Model Signature Series Colt, fired countless rounds , but never abused , and fondled and cuddled like my puppy :)

http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj96/5150kelly/100_0312-1.jpg
http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj96/5150kelly/100_0216-1.jpg
http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj96/5150kelly/100_0310.jpg
http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj96/5150kelly/100_0309.jpg

Nothin gripes me more than people telling me I don't shoot my guns :cuss:
If you lay a soft cloth under them at the range, they stay like this close to forever . Slambing them onto the table is never goin to happen in my life :)
It also helps having hundred of guns , they all stay nice :)

Sincerely , Das Jaeger

mykeal
July 5, 2009, 10:18 PM
The proper position of the wedge is to be pushed in until the spring hook just snaps over the edge of the slot on the right face of the barrel lug.
That's not correct.

The lip on the spring is to catch the screw head on the other side gun and keep the wedge in the slot and with the barrel assembly when it's removed from the gun.

The proper position of the wedge (when the arbor is of the proper length) is whatever results in a cylinder end gap of between 0.006 and 0.010 inches. Theoretically, when it's in that position, the head of the screw on the other side depresses the spring so that the lip is below the frame and does not 'hook' over the edge. Colt's design drawings show that the screw was supposed to be screwed in or out to adjust the wedge position. I've never been able to make it work that way, however.

BHP FAN
July 5, 2009, 10:38 PM
I use that screw as a ''stop''.Once I figure out the depth I want the wedge,I tighten or loosen the screw so that every time I tap in the wedge,there's the same barrel to cylinder gap.You're looking to get a narrow gap,about a doubled cigarette paper's worth in an ideal world.A gap that allows a narrow sliver of light through when held up to the light is just about right.Put the gun on half cock,and give the cylinder a slight spin.Did it free wheel,with no drag?You're done.A lot of older kit guns have excess gap.That's not that bad,they'll work,but the less gap,the less fouling gets blown all over your gun,or potentially into the shooter next to you's face,which IS a safety issue, and makes you unpopular at your club's next barbeque.

pohill
July 6, 2009, 12:46 AM
http://www.google.com/patents?id=bNI_AAAAEBAJ&pg=PP2&dq=Samuel+colt+firearms&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=0_1#PPP2,M1

This Colt patent from 1839 talks about beveled (chamfered) chambers, the wedge (key) and the spring on the wedge (key).

Page 2: "...spring-latch on the underside of the key, which catches upon D when the key is forced in and prevents its accidental removal."
I'd say the spring was meant to catch on the exit side of the slot.

Hellgate
July 6, 2009, 01:02 AM
To set the gap on my Colt C&Bs I use a strip of paper that is .007" thick as a feeler gauge. When I reassemble the guns after cleaning I put the paper between the cylinder and the barrel as I tap in the wedge. As soon as the barrel starts to "bite" the paper I am set. You can buy various paper thicknesses at any copy shop. In a pinch, regular office copy paper is .0035" thick and can be folded over to make a .007" thick spacer. I had SASS "business cards" printed up on .007" thick paper so I always had a gap gauge handy.

madcratebuilder
July 6, 2009, 09:47 AM
Using the wedge to control barrel gap is just covering up a poorly fitted arbor and lug. With the correct arbor length you have correct gap when the arbor bottoms in the lug. At this point you just need thumb pressure to seat the wedge, you may need to tap it to remove.

rifle
July 7, 2009, 01:16 AM
Noonanda,if your meaning to this quote,"the wedge contacts the rear of the slot", is telling that the wedge is contacting the rear of the "arbor slot", then the fix is pretty simple. The wedge is never supposed to contact the rear of the arbors slot so....file it away there till the wedge can onlt contact the rear of the "barrel slot". That's a good place to start to adjust the wedge. If the wedge contacts the rear of the arbor slot then the wedge can't perform it's function to set the barrel rearward. Same as... if the wedge can't contact the rear of the barrels slot then the wedge can't set the barrel rearward.
The wedge should contact the front of the arbors slot and the rear of the barrels slot.
Piettas can come with the wedge jammed into the slots with the wedge actually being bound into the arbor slot without touching the barrels slot. Or bound into the arbor slots touching the front and rear of the arbor slot and just barely touching the barrels rear slot.
Anyway I've seen more than one Pietta with the wedge hitting both the front and the rear of the arbor slot and it can't work properly that way.
Again....the wedge should be against the front of the arbor slot and the rear of the barrel slots.
It's easy to file the arbors rear of it's slot so it's out of the way and the wedge can bear against the barrels rear of it's slot.
Don't worry about the spring in the wedge hooking the barrel on the off side right away. It will do it soon enough as the wedge and the parts it bears against seat in against each other. No sense wasting some good use of the wedge and filing it off some so it can hook the off side of the barrel.
The Pietta wedge spring has what I think is a somewhat defective tip or hook to it. It's too straight up or 90 degree so to speak and the only way for it to unhook off the barrel is to relieve it's own little ramp. Look close and you'll see a tiny ramp relieved on the upper edge of the barrels off side slot....relieved by the spring tip that has no slight angle or bevel to it to get into the barrels slot on the way out.
If you say,"the wedge bottoms out before it's in very far", and the rear of the wedge is bearing on the barrel only and the front of the wedge is bearing on the arbor only and your cylinder gap is correct at that point then just file a little off both sides of the wedge. Same amount filed off each edge of the wedge till it goes in flush with the off side of the barrel.
If the wedge bottoms out before it's in very far (and is contacting the barrels rear slot and the arbors front slot) and the cylinder gap is too large then check to see if the arbor is at the bottom of the barrels arbor hole and if it is then stone some off the end of the arbor till the wedge is at the off side of the barrel and is "tight". Tight meaning it has to be tapped with a small hammer a little. Naturally when you do this the cylinder should be "off the gun". The fit of the barrel to the frame is independent and separate from the cylinder gap. After the barrel is tight to the frame then....the cylinder gap is set to proper specs.
Set the cylinder gap to proper specs after the barrel is mounted properly and tightly to the frame by.....facing off the breech end of the barrel till the proper specs for a cylinder gap is set. Set with the wedge in tight meaning the barrel is on tight. Wedge not just thumbed in. Thumbed in isn't tight enough. The wedge should be thumbed in and then tapped a little to set it in there tight enough not to come loose when the gun is fired. Tapped a little means lightly tapped in. If the wedge is hit too hard too many times the arbor comes loose because the wedge,like any wedge, can emitt tremendous force. That force is in the direction of,"pull the arbor out of the frames threads".
I'm not in complete disagreement with someone saying the wedge should be thumbed in. I just think that at first the wedge needs to seat itself against the other parts and to do that it needs to be tapped some. After it's seated good against the other parts like the front of the arbor slot(seated so there's "no light" to be seen between the front of the arbor slot and the front edge of the wedge....where the two parts make contact) then the wedge can be thumbed in...and then palmed in with a hit from the bottom of the palm of the hand at least(but a tap with a little hammer or a piece of wood is less painful) .
Anywhoooo....hope this helps.

jmaubin
July 7, 2009, 07:18 AM
What does one do if the wedge goes in to deeply?, I have one that from day one it has bottomed out, the fit seems fine there, but always wondered what if over time the gun wears some?

madcratebuilder
July 7, 2009, 09:01 AM
I'm not in complete disagreement with someone saying the wedge should be thumbed in. I just think that at first the wedge needs to seat itself against the other parts and to do that it needs to be tapped some. After it's seated good against the other parts like the front of the arbor slot(seated so there's "no light" to be seen between the front of the arbor slot and the front edge of the wedge....where the two parts make contact) then the wedge can be thumbed in...and then palmed in with a hit from the bottom of the palm of the hand at least(but a tap with a little hammer or a piece of wood is less painful) .

I agree wayne, until parts are seated from fireing a gentle tap with a light brass hammer is a good idea. Great post BTW.


What does one do if the wedge goes in to deeply?, I have one that from day one it has bottomed out, the fit seems fine there, but always wondered what if over time the gun wears some?

First I would see if a replacement wedge is wider. That would be the most cost effective. If you have the equipment you could weld the front of the arbor and re-fit. You can weld the rear of the barrel slot but that well require re-bluing, or at least a touch up.

If you measure your existing wedge and post that data I'm sure we can determine if your wedge is small or the slot is large.

rifle
July 7, 2009, 09:20 AM
A Pietta wedge is a little narrower than a Uberti. Therefore a Uberti wedge can sometimes go where the Pietta wedge got too far in and was not tightening the barrel.
Wedges can be made with tool steel too. A person can make one identical to a factory made one or....leave off the fancy stuff like the thicker lip on one side and even the spring and the springs recess. Anyway a wider wedge can be made even with a hand file. If you make one then you can make it wider or longer or whatever.
What amazes me is that originals have the same wedges in them for 150 years and they are still good to go a lot of times. I think the originals were harder steel all the way around.

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