Percussion Cap Ignition Problem on a Colt 1860 Revolver


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TangoFoxtrot
April 16, 2010, 02:48 AM
I picked up a Uberti replica of a Colt 1860 revolver about 5 years ago. It was a disappointment and not much fun to shoot. It would often take 2 or 3 hits from the hammer for the caps to ignite. Over the years I've tried different nipples, including Ampco and others trying to get a perfect fit. Nothing worked. I've tried wooden dowels, pushing with great force and with sweat pouring down my face trying to get those caps seated down as far down as possible. That helped more ignite on the first try, but sometimes half would still take a second strike before they would ignite. It was too frustrating to take this pistol the range much.

I got an old CVA copy of a Colt 1851 for comparison (I don't know who made it) and immediately noticed two things. It was much harder to cock the hammer and the caps ignite on the first strike. This pistol works.

I've explored the 1860 mainspring issue before to no avail as replacement parts were just duplicate failures, but now I had a working standard to compare to, so here is what I found:


On the left is the Uberti 1860 mainspring and on the right the CVA 1851. Notice the CVA is bent higher and it's also thicker at .056" compared to the Uberti at .046. It also looks like a much better quality piece of steel :
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0752Small.jpg



Here is the CVA 1851. Notice the spring sits right on the roller and that the hammer has a half circle cut just to the left:
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0758Small.jpg


On the Uberti 1860 the spring goes further in and the hammer lacks the nice half circle. I can't even swing the spring in and out like 1860 disassembly instructions show because it extends into the frame and blocks it (the picture does not show that very well) :
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0776Small.jpg


First I tried to install the CVA spring in the Uberti but it would not fit. Even though they appear to be the same length, the bend in the CVA spring prevents it from fitting in the Uberti. Not wanting to mess with a good spring I next bent the Uberti spring in a vise to match the CVA. Then I had to loosen the trigger guard screws before I got it in. It was actually worse now because it scraped the forward inside of the frame and slowed down the hammer more. It was just too long now.


So next I ground down the end of the Uberti spring to get it to fit. This is what it finally looked like:
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0772Small.jpg



But even with the same shape as the CVA spring it lacked it's spring power, probably because it is thinner. It was still not reliable igniting caps. So next I bent it back even further than the CVA spring.


For comparison, a new Uberti spring on the left and the extra bent and shortened Uberti spring on the right:
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0777Small.jpg


It's harder to cock the hammer now and the caps are igniting more reliably than before. I've only tried it twice and had 5 out of 6 and 6 out of 6 ignite, so this is hopeful, but what I think I really need is a heavier mainspring of better quality, more like what is on the 20 year old CVA pistol.

Are there any sources for a heavier main spring? I really want to make this pistol reliable and enjoyable to shoot.

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Oyeboten
April 16, 2010, 03:29 AM
I don't know...


I have a Uberti M1860, .44, and it has the Steel Nipples it came with new...I use Remington No. 11 Caps, they fit on easily with a comfortable Thumb-press-fit, and, no mis-fires so far in about 60 rounds or so.

I have not looked at the Spring in mine, but, on Cocking, it feels neither heavy nor light.

If Caps are not a right snug-slip-on fit for the Nipples, if the Caps do not fit all the way on, one can have lots of woes, among which, where the Hammer is trying to Seat a too small diameter Cap the rest of the way, so it takes another strike or two to Fire.


"Tresco" is usually recognized as the Nipple of Choice, even though the stock ones on my Uberti M1860 have been just fine.

But either way, Nipples and Caps need to be a good match for sure-fire ignition.

pohill
April 16, 2010, 07:46 AM
I had a revolver with the same problem - the caps would not ignite. I put a small piece of metal in front of the mainspring (at the base) as a shim to make it bend more, and it worked.

madcratebuilder
April 16, 2010, 07:53 AM
It sounds like you know the caps have to be completely seated and you have done the nipple dance. You have worked on getting more hammer energy by re-shaping the hammer spring. One thing you could try is to use a piece of thick leather or even a wooded wedge and place it between the inside of the grip frame and the hammer spring just above the hammer spring screw. In effect you are raising the fulcrum point of the hammer spring.

I have seen a few articles about doing this at some of the forums, you might want to do a search for it. Check here.
http://www.cascity.com/forumhall/

TangoFoxtrot
April 16, 2010, 02:05 PM
It sounds like you know the caps have to be completely seated and you have done the nipple dance. You have worked on getting more hammer energy by re-shaping the hammer spring. One thing you could try is to use a piece of thick leather or even a wooded wedge and place it between the inside of the grip frame and the hammer spring just above the hammer spring screw. In effect you are raising the fulcrum point of the hammer spring.

I have seen a few articles about doing this at some of the forums, you might want to do a search for it. Check here.
http://www.cascity.com/forumhall/
I did a search over there and it does seem to be a common enough problem with the newer Uberti mainsprings. I posted over there too.

One guy said he bought a reduced power spring and it had more power than the factory Uberti.

Calibre44
April 16, 2010, 02:40 PM
I've used a piece of leather on my Uberti 1860 main-spring which has a little 'give' in it. Not sure if this would help your situation but it works fine with my gun and No11 caps:
http://i249.photobucket.com/albums/gg230/woodsy_2008/Guns/misc015.jpg

rcflint
April 16, 2010, 03:33 PM
Seems Uberti has lightened the mainsprings, perhaps using the SAA spring, but if you can get an older one, or try a Pietta spring, it may help.

Others have taken a second spring and cut it shorter, put it under the mainspring as a helper leaf, like the automobile leaf springs of old... Experimenting with the length of the helper could do what you need.

for information, the Ampco and the Treso (not Tresco) nipples are the same. They should work best with Remington #10 caps.

Check a couple things. How much endshake is there? If the cylinder can move too far forward, the caps won't get struck properly. Is the hammer nose the same angle as the nipple cone face? Is the hammer nose reaching in far enough?

I have older and newer Ubertis, and the newer springs are lighter, but I have reliably fired caps even with a Wolff spring that was installed to use with an R&D conversaion cylinder, and it's pretty light.

Oyeboten
April 16, 2010, 04:34 PM
This reminds me - I remember hearing of someone who's Hammer was not able to really make full enough contact with the Caps...drove him nuts trying to figure out what was wrong till he figured that out.

He removed some metal from the front of the Hammer where it had been meeting the frame, so the Hammer could get far enough forward, and the ignition problems were solved.

He also I think had tried all sorts of Spring things prior...

ClemBert
April 16, 2010, 04:51 PM
I like to hear from the OP as to which caps he was using and on what nipples. He could just be using the wrong caps.

Oyeboten
April 16, 2010, 07:34 PM
I agree Clembert...Yes...

Of the several things it could be, this was top o' the list in my imagination...

OYE
April 17, 2010, 03:29 AM
Assuming your hammer is making contact with the nipples,(and cylinder isn't moving forward excessively at the hammers impact) the spring being
weak sounds right. If you can bend it and it stays bent, I suspect it's not tempered correctly. The 1858's have a tension screw, but since the 1860
doesn't, you generally replace the spring. As far as percussion caps are concerned, I generally resize about all of them ( with the exception of
CCI # 10's) as I like a tight fit. Drilling out one of the holes of a cheap automotive wire stripper works well , and fine tune it with a needle file.
Let's you take the time to inspect the caps to make sure all the " stuff "
is in there that should be. Checking by Chronograph, Rem# 10 are the hottest
CCI #10 is next and CCI #11 is last ( I've never checked the RWS and
Rem# 11's ). The Rem caps are a bit thinner metal and are easier to install
that the CCI's after resizing. The Rem# 10's are a bit taller and have 4 rounded legs that tend to hang up in some cappers. Using your resizer holder and taking a couple of short strokes with the needle file solves the problem.
Caps vibrating around in the tin ( especially on horseback ) tends to sugar
out the " wompum" over time. All caps I've tried are quite reliable if dry.
( We've soaked some in water overnight of each brand and after being dried out a couple days were completely reliable.) In foul weather some beeswax
softened a bit with neatsfoot oil ( the same as we use as grip wax on skiis) stuffed aound the caps and nipples makes things about as reliable as it gets( we tested that in water as well). Adds to the cleanup though.
Some of the primer sealers marketed for the same purpose don't work. Our policy has been to do everything possible to make it go boom every time.

madcratebuilder
April 17, 2010, 08:03 AM
I've used a piece of leather on my Uberti 1860 main-spring which has a little 'give' in it. Not sure if this would help your situation but it works fine with my gun and No11 caps:
http://i249.photobucket.com/albums/gg230/woodsy_2008/Guns/misc015.jpg
Good photo! This fix has help many shooters that have had the weak hammer spring. This was been a problem with some guns for years. Maybe the manufacturers run a bad batch occasionally.

goon
April 17, 2010, 12:08 PM
Good info - I want an 1860 eventually but my experience with my first Uberti has taught me that I might need to fix something. Now I know how to fix this.

Hellgate
April 17, 2010, 12:59 PM
I suspect your caps are too small. Go to a larger, softer cap like the Rem #10 or #11. The CCI & RWS #10s are way too small and are difficult to seat all the way down.

TangoFoxtrot
April 17, 2010, 01:26 PM
The spring is bending back to it's original shape now, just from cocking the hammer.

Since I don't have any leather handy I tried a piece of rubber under the spring. It helps, but is still not 100%. I think the spring is made from too weak of a metal.

Most of the caps I've tried are CCI #11's since that is all that's been available in Oregon stores for years. #10's will not fit. I mail ordered some Remington #11's to check next.

Nipple size of the current installed are .163 in the front and .168 in the rear.

Tresco's are .1625-.170

Some other older ones are .165-.174

I could be a little off on those measurements since they are hard to measure.

Thanks for all the ideas and help.

mykeal
April 17, 2010, 01:58 PM
Measured cap sizes, avg. of at least 20 samples of each size and brand:
http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o254/mykealsm/Guns/CapSizes.jpg

TangoFoxtrot
April 17, 2010, 08:54 PM
Today I went to the gunshow in Portland Oregon and searched out the old parts dealer. I asked about old Colt SAA revolver parts. He said he only had a few and pulled out an old box with assorted Colt Single Action Army parts. Among them I found a couple of old mainsprings.


For measurements, on the left is the Italian clone at 0.047", in the middle one of the old Colts at 0.071", and on the right the other old Colt at 0.085"
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0781Small.jpg

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0784Small.jpg

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0787Small.jpg

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0788Small.jpg

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0797Small.jpg

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0804Small.jpg

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0806Small.jpg

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/tango_foxtrot/FM/2010/IMG_0808Small.jpg



The Colt 0.085" is a little long and would take some grinding down to fit in so next I tried the Colt 0.071". It just barely fit in without modification.

It's harder to cock now and upon lightly slipping on 6 CCI #11 caps I went in the garage and all 6 fired on the first try. I'll try to get to the range tomorrow for a firing test.

Hellgate
April 18, 2010, 12:01 AM
Those old colt springs look like they came off a Buick. With that hard of hammer pull it will be more difficult to shoot the guns very fast. The C&Bs are all slower than centerfire but a real heavy hammer pull is going to be a handicap albeit not as much of a problem as misfires but still a handicap.

ClemBert
April 18, 2010, 12:11 AM
Tango, I don't like the idea of CCI caps on your Treso nipples. Try the Remingtons...either #10 or #11 and lets hear how those work out.

Foto Joe
April 18, 2010, 10:44 AM
Tango, I don't like the idea of CCI caps on your Treso nipples. Try the Remingtons...either #10 or #11 and lets hear how those work out.
ClemBert, please explain.

Right after getting my '51 brass I discovered that the factory Pietta nipples were for the most part "ovals". Getting ANY caps on those things was like pulling teeth from a rabbid cat, I replaced them with Treso SS #11's and all has been right with the world but...

The only caps I have ever used are CCI's, as those are what I have found most plentiful. Elaborate a little on your statement regarding CCI's on Treso nipples if you don't mind.

ClemBert
April 18, 2010, 02:37 PM
Right after getting my '51 brass I discovered that the factory Pietta nipples were for the most part "ovals". Getting ANY caps on those things was like pulling teeth from a rabbid cat, I replaced them with Treso SS #11's and all has been right with the world but...

I guess you learn something new everyday. I wasn't aware that Treso made stainless steel nipples. I thought they were all AMPCO alloy. Where did you find Treso stainless steel nipples?

I'm thinking hard about getting a Pietta 1858 in stainless. If that happens I want to get some precision SS nipples for it. I heard Uncle Mike's made some but if Treso makes SS nipples for it too then I'd like to look into those too.

ClemBert
April 19, 2010, 12:06 AM
ClemBert, please explain.

Just want him to try out the Remington caps on his Treso bronze nipples before I jump onto the theory that it is a mainspring problem. I've got three revolvers with the Treso nipples and they seem to like Remington #11s. But your mileage may vary. My bad experience with CCI Magnum #11s was on a SS ROA with factory nipples. The ROA nipples are very good yet I was having problems with the CCI's. Turned out that it took two or three wacks of the hammer sometimes to set them off. It was a sizing problem where the CCI's weren't getting seated well because they were too small. Remington #10s and #11s didn't have that problem. Your mileage may vary.

TangoFoxtrot
April 19, 2010, 01:24 AM
I'd like to thank Hellgate for meeting up with me at the range this afternoon to troubleshoot the revolver. He is a wealth of knowledge and spent over 3 hours with me going over everything and more about blackpowder shooting.

His Remington #10 and #11 caps worked perfectly, so then he had me swap back to the original mainspring and again the Remington #10 and #11 caps worked perfectly.

Problem solved. I'm going to stick with Remington percussion caps, even though I'll have to order them.

Thanks everyone for your help.

Oyeboten
April 19, 2010, 01:54 AM
Hi TangoFoxtrot,


I am glad to hear things worked out well with what had been the vexation.


Thanks to information I had gathered here in our BP subforum, I had sent off for a few Thousand Remington No. 11 Caps ( 'Cabalas' I think, ) right off the Bat of getting my first repro .44 Colt Cap and Ball Revolver, and have not tried any others. I have been 100 percent happy with the so far 100 percent reliability and good fit of the Remington #11s.




The Buick mention amused me...

I have an old Buick Sedan ten feet from me, and if you look underneath, the Chassis Rails, Differential, Suspension, Steering Box, Transmission, on and on, are indeed heavier than many modern One Ton Trucks.

They sure used to build them stout.


Lol...

mykeal
April 19, 2010, 02:21 AM
CCI's weren't getting seated well because they were too small. Remington #10s and #11s didn't have that problem.
Hun???
CCI Magnum No. 11's (0.166 opening diam, 0.162 tall) were too small but Remington No. 11's (0.166 opening diam, 0.145 tall) worked OK? The CCI's are larger than the Remingtons. I don't understand. Are you sure?

ClemBert
April 19, 2010, 11:17 AM
Hun???
CCI Magnum No. 11's (0.166 opening diam, 0.162 tall) were too small but Remington No. 11's (0.166 opening diam, 0.145 tall) worked OK? The CCI's are larger than the Remingtons. I don't understand. Are you sure?

Who R U calling "Hun"...LOL!

Looks like I meant to say "too tall". Don't read what I say...read what I mean. :neener:

Foto Joe
April 19, 2010, 11:55 AM
I guess you learn something new everyday. I wasn't aware that Treso made stainless steel nipples. I thought they were all AMPCO alloy. Where did you find Treso stainless steel nipples?

I'm thinking hard about getting a Pietta 1858 in stainless. If that happens I want to get some precision SS nipples for it. I heard Uncle Mike's made some but if Treso makes SS nipples for it too then I'd like to look into those too.
ARGHH!!

I hate it when that happens. I did a re-check and found that I'm not as smart as I thought. The nipples that I was referring to I got from Track of the Wolf and ARE NOT Treso. In fact, I don't have a clue as to who makes them or what brand they are. They did solve the problem though which wasn't ignition but the fact that it took longer to cap the thing than it did to load it.

Wildfire
April 21, 2010, 12:35 AM
Hey :
I had the same issue . I found that the hammer was the problem and finally took metal off the inside of the hammer and have not had an issue since.

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