Colt wedges, arbors and the whole damn mess


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madcratebuilder
July 6, 2010, 11:50 AM
A earlier post discussing Colt's patient and the intent of the wedge has been interesting, my hat's off to all for keeping it civil:rolleyes:

I know a lot members work on their revolvers and want the best fit they can achieve. Let's say we have a replica with excessive barrel gap, so we have to move the barrel back, let's say .020. We can either remove material from the barrel lug or the frame ( I do the frame) Now we have changed the fit between the arbor and the arbor hole in the lug. No big deal as you normally have a short arbor so you just make a thinner spacer. A spacer is how I correct for a short arbor, there are other equally good methods.

So now we have moved the lug back on the arbor and find the wedge does not fit tight. We have moved the lug wedge slot back in relation the the slot in the arbor. How are you guys addressing this? You can remove the arbor and using a lathe cut the shoulder back on the frame end, effectively moving the wedge slot to the rear. This is labor intensive and I'm lazy. Has anyone attempted to weld a hard overlay in the arbor wedge slot?

I've been thinking about buying a inexpensive TIG inverter welder and giving it a shot. Comments?

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denster
July 6, 2010, 12:37 PM
I remove material from the lug. Not the entire lug just where it meets the frame. Either way is good. Most of the time, even with the Piettas that I have filed a taper in the end of the arbor, there is still arbor slot showing proud relating to the barrel arbor window in the muzzle end and clearance in the cylinder end. If there were not I would address the muzzle end by lengthening the slot in the barrel window and lengthening the slot in the arbor towards the cylinder to regain clearance. If the wedge were then too loose I'd just make a new wedge. As a personal preference I make all new wedges like the ones used in the 1862 police without the spring which I find to be a real annoyance.
I don't see why welding wouldn't accomplish the same purpose on the outboard end of the arbor, it's just one skill I've never been good at.

madcratebuilder
July 6, 2010, 02:42 PM
I have thought about lengthening the lug slot. What technique do you use to fab a new wedge? I have cut down larger wedges, cut a Dragoon wedge to fit a Navy or Army. I guess it would be fairly simple to mill a wedge from mild steel and cook it in some Kasenit. Just never done one that way.

sltm1
July 6, 2010, 02:53 PM
MCB, I have been lucky and haven't had to address the problem yet, but I was thinkin' that to make the arbor slot right again, I'd soft solder a shim (full slot length) to the front of the slot to take up the play

mykeal
July 6, 2010, 02:54 PM
I can only conclude that there's something seriously wrong with what I've been doing for the past 38 years. In terms of Colt open top percussion revolvers (ie, revolvers using wedges for something), I have 15 ranging in age from 3 to 38, made by 7 different manufacturers. I have no problems with the wedges or arbors on any of those guns. I haven't had to add shims or weld material, or cut bigger slots or file any forcing cones.

What am I doing wrong?

denster
July 6, 2010, 03:50 PM
Madcratebuilder

I don't harden the wedge. Never saw a point to it.
Fabrication: As an example with an 1851 Navy I cut off a piece 1&1/8" long from a piece of 1/4X5/8 stock. I use 12L14 because I have a lot of it and it machines well. Then square the max width up on the mill. Then I set the piece verticle in the mill vise and with 1/4" endmill cut the screw relief slot to within about .060 of the end. Next I grind the small radi on both ends. Then I put it on parralels with the relief slot down and mill it to thickness leaving of course the lug on the end. Then I check the fall of the taper in the end of the arbor. With an Uberti I know it is going to be between .007&.008 in .100 with a Pietta or ASM it's whatever I was able to file in. I then set the edge that will be nearest the cylinder on a parralel in the mill vise. Using the uberti as an example the arbor taper falls right at about .0075 in .100 so in the one inch of flat that I have the fall would be 10X.0075=.075. I take a numbered drill of the right diameter and put it under the piece just at the end of the flat on the outboard end and clamp the vise down. Then I take a couple of cuts across the top till the cutter is just touching the lug end. Now I've got a taper corresponding to the one in the end of the arbor. Then test fit. If it doesn't go through so that the radi on the end is protruding draw file a few thousandths off the taper side. Polish it a bit then blue it end of story. This produces a wedge like the one used in the 1862 police without that annoying spring

Mykeal: You've probably never had a problem because you don't mishandle your guns. However if you have ASM or Pietta with the 90 degree flat in the end of the arbor you really don't have a nice wedge fit. Useable maybe but not nice.

madcratebuilder
July 6, 2010, 04:01 PM
What am I doing wrong?

Probably nothing but check with your wife just in case.:neener:

Out of my forty plus cap and ball revolvers I have three or four that need serious arbor slot attention. Anytime you get a open top with excessive barrel gap and you close it up, you change the relation between the arbor slot and lug slot.

It is a common problem from the originals on as it is addressed in what few gun smithing manuals you can find on the cap and ball Colts. The recommended fix is to remove the arbor and cut back the shoulder. I'm looking for a easier method.


MCB, I have been lucky and haven't had to address the problem yet, but I was thinkin' that to make the arbor slot right again, I'd soft solder a shim (full slot length) to the front of the slot to take up the play

I have considered just that. I have silver soldered shim stock in hammer notches that were cut to deep and that was worked very well. Don't derail my train of thought here, I've almost convinced myself I need TIG welder.:rolleyes: I could weld two wedges together, oh no, wait, that was clams.

madcratebuilder
July 6, 2010, 04:07 PM
I don't harden the wedge. Never saw a point to it.

That's good to hear. I was unsure just how much force was put on the side of the wedge on firing the gun. I'm heading out to the shop and see what I have for bar stock. Thanks.

junkman_01
July 6, 2010, 04:22 PM
mykeal wrote:I can only conclude that there's something seriously wrong with what I've been doing for the past 38 years. In terms of Colt open top percussion revolvers (ie, revolvers using wedges for something), I have 15 ranging in age from 3 to 38, made by 7 different manufacturers. I have no problems with the wedges or arbors on any of those guns. I haven't had to add shims or weld material, or cut bigger slots or file any forcing cones.

What am I doing wrong?

Have you ever shot any of them? :neener:

sltm1
July 6, 2010, 04:24 PM
Everyone NEED's a Tig, only some of us are married and NEED to keep the peace...we rely on O/A instead heh-heh!!

denster
July 6, 2010, 05:20 PM
Since there always seems to be some confusion whenever the subject of wedges and fit comes up. I thought it would be a good idea to post a diagram of how different manufacturers fit/misfit the wedge on Colt style revolvers. Artistry is not my strong suit but I think you will get the idea.

Old Cannonballs
July 6, 2010, 09:26 PM
What am I doing wrong?
Probably nothing but check with your wife just in case. :neener:
http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/36/36_12_6.gif

Jim K
July 6, 2010, 10:22 PM
Well, I'll be durned. They used to make wedges oversize so they could be fitted, but I just checked and can't find that they do that any more. Too bad. Maybe some of the parts suppliers could do so if there was enough demand.

Jim

arcticap
July 7, 2010, 02:58 AM
IIRC from the other thread, denster mentioned that the Uberti arbor is tapered but not the Pietta arbor.
Is the Uberti arbor already tapering where the wedge fits in, whereas the Pietta doesn't?
Does that need to be addressed at all when the Uberti barrel is set back?
Or is only the wedge & slot basically being refitted along with the spacer for the arbor?
I don't recall if it was already mentioned or not, but were the arbors tapered on the 1st generation Colts? What about on the 2nd and 3rd generation Colts?

denster
July 7, 2010, 10:41 AM
Articap: That is an excellent question. The answer is it depends on the gun and it's condition. The taper on the length of an Uberti arbor starts at what I think Colt called the lateral fire deflecor which is that small reduced diameter band just in front of the cylinder to just before the arbor goes into the lug. The taper continues from that point to the end of the arbor. If say you were setting back the barrel on a new gun that was defective from the factory then yes you would likely have to open up the arbor hole taper by a couple of thousandths to allow the barrel to move back. On an older gun there might be enough wear to allow it to move back without further ado.
As to the 1st,2nd&3rd gen Colts, I don't know. Old Fuff has quite a bit of experience there maybe he can chime in.

madcratebuilder
July 7, 2010, 11:05 AM
Good job on the diagram denster. The diagram shows the fit the way it should be, but we don't always get that out of the box. It's not as simple as just cutting a taper because then you are to narrow. You need to have a oversize wedge to start with. As Mr keenan mentioned possible a parts supplier could get unfinished parts from the manufacturers for hand fitting.

Using denster recommendations I was able to mill a wedge for a pocket Colt in about two hours of messing around. A finial polish and blue it should look like the original but it well fit correct. Wedge is tight with the nose flush with the side of the lug:) That gives me plenty of wedge for break in and wear.

I don't recall if it was already mentioned or not, but were the arbors tapered on the 1st generation Colts? What about on the 2nd and 3rd generation Colts?

I just checked a 2nd gen, 3rd gen and Cimarron Uberti and all have a tapered wedge and wedge slot. I checked a brass .44 Pietta and it has a tapered wedge and a straight cut slot:banghead:


Everyone NEED's a Tig, only some of us are married and NEED to keep the peace...we rely on O/A instead heh-heh!!

I finally got to talk to a sales rep for the welder distributor, I sniveled a bit, then played the disabled vet card. Got a 20% discount so I was able to step up two models to a 60% 225 amp ac/dc machine. I'm pumped, something new to learn. I called airgas to check the price of a 80cuft tank, had a heartattack!!! $2 a cuft, then you have to fill it!:fire: My little 40cuft CO2 tank may become a Argon tank for now.

denster
July 7, 2010, 11:09 AM
Articap: I just re read your post and I hope I addressed what you were asking but I'm not sure. There are two tapers on an Uberti arbor. The first is the lengthwise taper I addressed. The second is in the end of the arbor slot that accepts the wedge. Did I get the right one?

Acorn Mush
July 7, 2010, 11:13 AM
Excellent thread! Thanks everyone for your comments.

I have an old replica 1860 Army (imported by Replica Arms - don't know the manufacturer) that has had a cylinder gap of about .030" :eek: ever since I bought it 40-some years ago. Recently I had .025" removed from the barrel lug and have been wondering how to properly address the misalignment between the wedge slot in the arbor with the slot in the barrel lug. Now maybe I can get the dang thing back in operation.

Denster, thanks for the drawings. They make things much more clear.

denster
July 7, 2010, 11:19 AM
MCB: Would you be so kind as to check the arbor on your 2nd&3rd gen Colts to see if it tapers like an Uberti along the length of the arbor that goes into the lug. I think that was what Articap was asking. I've never had a chance to tear one down to see.
Sorry about not being more clear on the width, that's what I meant by trimming to max width you do have to start oversize. Sometimes I'm clear as mud, make that thick mud.

TheRodDoc
July 7, 2010, 12:10 PM
I have an original colt 1851 and a colt 1851 second gen. and they are not tapered length wise. (The arbor)

denster
July 7, 2010, 12:29 PM
Thanks RodDoc.

arcticap
July 7, 2010, 03:39 PM
Yes & thanks denster for addressing the right taper that I asked about.

mykeal
July 7, 2010, 05:06 PM
2nd Generation F Series Colt 1862 Pocket Navy: arbor pin is tapered, wedge is tapered and wedge slot in arbor pin is tapered.

3rd Generation (Signature Series) Colt 1848 3rd Model Dragoon: arbor pin is tapered, wedge is tapered and wedge slot in arbor pin is tapered.

FYI, the FAUL 1960 New Model Army, which is supposed to be a faithful reproduction of the original Colt 1860 Army, may or may not have a tapered arbor pin. That feature is not found on the early guns; one of mine has the taper and the other doesn't. However, both have tapered wedges, and the back face of the wedge slot has a 'bump' in it on both guns. That is, the back face is angled towards the center of the slot from both edges.

denster
July 7, 2010, 05:39 PM
Thanks Mykeal that is good info particularly on the FAUL really appreciate it.

denster
July 8, 2010, 04:09 PM
Just go in an Pietta 1860 Sheriff's Model. Cabela's had them on sale and I thought I needed one. Proofs are CD which is 2009 production.
Initially checking it externally it looks really good, cycling was smooth, it dropped the bolt late which is OK easy to correctjust have to do it right away so it doesn't peen the notches. Wedge barely makes it through that's OK too as it means I might not have to make a new wedge.
Let's take it apart. OK Luigi the gorrila wedgesetter is still employed but I managed to get it out. Barrel came off easy. Took off the cylinder and put the barrel back on to check arbor length and it was spot on. As I took the barrel off I noticed it. Surprise surprise they have changed the end of the wedge slot in the arbor it is no longer at 90 degrees to the diameter. It is now similar to what mykeal reported with his FAUL. That is it angles in from both sides of the arbor. There is a 1/4" section in the middle and checking it there is a taper of about .015 across that 1/4" in the right direction even. OK we'll check the wedge. Nope didn't get it all right the wedge only tapers .006 in 1/4 but there is enough meat to correct that and the wedge should slide right in with no problems. Not as nice as the way Uberti does it but workable.

madcratebuilder
July 9, 2010, 08:47 AM
Took off the cylinder and put the barrel back on to check arbor length and it was spot on.

Maybe the replica makers are learning that they well have fewer returns if they spend just a few more minutes on fitting during initial assembly.

denster
July 9, 2010, 12:48 PM
I wonder when they made these changes. I noticed the internalls are much nicer finished even in the spare parts pack I ordered with the gun. The bolt head fits the cylinder notches. The wedge is actually correct just a little too large. I assumed the off side was parrallel to the center line like Uberti. It's not it is tapered also the same amount so when it is 90 degrees to the axis of the arbor it adds it's taper to the other side. Anyway it works. What I thought was a late bolt drop was shipping goo. The trigger/bolt spring is much noticeably lighter. The only thing really necessary that I had to do was the hand was picking up the cylinder tooth just a tiny bit to early and the bolt was raising up a very tiny tick on the high side of the cylinder notch. Only took 4 or 5 thousandths off the top of the hand to fix that.
All in all pretty darn nice and not what I was expecting. Now if Pietta would just fire Luigi the Gorilla wedge setter they would have a home run.

junkman_01
July 9, 2010, 02:47 PM
Now if Pietta would just fire Luigi the Gorilla wedge setter they would have a home run.
Luigi has left Pietta. Now they hired Guido!

madcratebuilder
July 10, 2010, 08:43 AM
I wonder when they made these changes. I noticed the internalls are much nicer finished even in the spare parts pack I ordered with the gun. The bolt head fits the cylinder notches. The wedge is actually correct just a little too large. I assumed the off side was parrallel to the center line like Uberti. It's not it is tapered also the same amount so when it is 90 degrees to the axis of the arbor it adds it's taper to the other side. Anyway it works. What I thought was a late bolt drop was shipping goo. The trigger/bolt spring is much noticeably lighter. The only thing really necessary that I had to do was the hand was picking up the cylinder tooth just a tiny bit to early and the bolt was raising up a very tiny tick on the high side of the cylinder notch. Only took 4 or 5 thousandths off the top of the hand to fix that.
All in all pretty darn nice and not what I was expecting. Now if Pietta would just fire Luigi the Gorilla wedge setter they would have a home run.
I think the Italian makers have always had the talent to make a good revolver, they just didn't have the QC. I'm not 100% sure how the distribution chain works but I assume that places like Cabela's and Cimarron are direct with the manufacturers. It's seems to me a lot of revolvers have been returned to these sellers and this has to get back to the manufacturers as it hits the profit margin. Maybe the Italians are working on QC, the newer guns I have seen do appear to be of better quality.

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