Colt M1860 cylinder


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Skinny 1950
September 29, 2012, 03:27 AM
This is a picture of the rear end of an 1860 Colt, I have my own ideas of what caused the patterns that are evident between the nipples and I am wondering what others might think about them????
http://i989.photobucket.com/albums/af11/Skinny1950/1860cylinderback003.jpg

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DoubleDeuce 1
September 29, 2012, 04:02 AM
Reminds me of ancient Mayan temples, or pictographs and crop circles...:cool:

Busyhands94
September 29, 2012, 04:11 AM
That's what I was going to say, it reminds me of a stepped pyramid. Maybe aliens made a deal with Sam Colt! :D

cheatin charlie
September 29, 2012, 08:38 AM
The gun is out of time and those are the hammer marks.

What's my prize?

Jim, West PA
September 29, 2012, 09:45 AM
That's what I was going to say, it reminds me of a stepped pyramid. Maybe aliens made a deal with Sam Colt!

C'mon Levi. Aint you studyin to 'smith ?

Jim, West PA
September 29, 2012, 09:55 AM
This is clearly a case of the powder charges bein a bit too hot and causing too fast a cyclic rate when the gun is fired in full auto mode.:rolleyes:

As charlie stated, the first diagnosis would indeed be hammer markings from an out of time gun. And/or someone 'hollywooding' the gun repeatedly.( spinnig the cylinder by hand and dry firing. Russian roulette style. )
However, even if either one of these scenerios is true.There is still an issue with the face of the hammer.The indentations indicate that it is worn,at the bottom of it, in such way that it barely has enough surface on it to properly strike the cap.

Someone could o' been usin' a home made loading stand made to 'index' the cylinder while loadin and was a bit off at times.

Or, the owner would lower the hammer 'next to' the cap as a safety measure so's they could carry a full house all the time.

Oh yeah...and DANG, is that thing rusty !!!

Rojelio
September 29, 2012, 10:26 AM
How about flame erosion from worn out nipples:fire:

72coupe
September 29, 2012, 10:38 AM
Looks like someone was trying to lighten that cylinder. What does the rest of the gun look like?

pohill
September 29, 2012, 12:02 PM
Was the metal removed for easier capping and spent cap removal? Easier nipple removal? The nipples are in good shape for their age.

robhof
September 29, 2012, 02:26 PM
PreDremmel removal for easier capping as pohill said.

Skinny 1950
September 30, 2012, 05:44 AM
Here are some more photos of this gun, made in June 1862, serious rust and pitting...action very tight. There is no evidence of dry firing, the grips have been repaired near the trigger guard which has made the fourth notch hard to see.

http://i989.photobucket.com/albums/af11/Skinny1950/Colt1860ArmyAntique005crop.jpg
http://i989.photobucket.com/albums/af11/Skinny1950/Colt1860ArmyAntique006crop.jpg
http://i989.photobucket.com/albums/af11/Skinny1950/1860cylinderback.jpg

pohill
September 30, 2012, 06:14 AM
The action is tight, the screws aren't buggered, repairs and alterations have been made, the nipples are round and undamaged...at least one previous owner cared about this gun. How clean are the internals? Is the barrel/frame connection tight or sloppy? I'll bet that's tight, too. What serious rust and pitting do you see? How is the bore? Was it stored in a holster?
The work on the back of the cylinder looks to me like it was done by someone who might be in a hurry to cap and decap. If it was made in 1862, then it probably was carried and used in combat, which might explain the notches.
Do you own the gun?

Skinny 1950
September 30, 2012, 01:47 PM
I bought this gun when I saw it for sale described as " not messed with" condition..all numbers match including the wedge. The barrel/frame fit is perfect,the chambers are pitted but the nipple ends in the chambers are still in very good shape. The bore has some pitting but some areas are bright with distinct rifling.
The history of the gun is unknown but all indications are that it was well used, the butt of the gun has been used as a hammer as there are a dozen impact marks on the wood in this area. The trigger guard has been repaired to some extent and is still a bit bent.

The nipples are too big to take #11 caps as I found out after loading one cylinder with 18 grains of Goex FFFG and a .454 inch ball. I reamed one #11 cap out so that it went onto the nipple and fired it. I had a chronograph set up and the velocity was a mild 580 Feet/Second.
If I can find some larger caps I may continue to shoot this old timer but I have a reproduction of a four screw M1860 coming soon so it will see most of the shooting.

Jim, West PA
September 30, 2012, 01:53 PM
Ok, so why the marks on the cylinder ?

Skinny 1950
September 30, 2012, 02:06 PM
The marks on the cylinder look like flame erosion from being shot a lot, I have seen what happens when the hammer hits between the chambers on other guns of this type and there is peening of the metal,not so in this case.

Jaymo
September 30, 2012, 02:35 PM
Gremlins with a milling machine?
Why does it have a brass TG and an iron backstrap?

Tommygunn
September 30, 2012, 05:06 PM
....Why does it have a brass TG and an iron backstrap?

IIRC that's how military versions were made.

Fingers McGee
September 30, 2012, 05:52 PM
The bulk of the 1860s were made with brass trigger guard, steel backstrap, and three screw frames cut for shoulder stock whether they were bought by the US or not. 4 screw frames were only made up through about SN 30000, and 3 screw frames with no shoulder stock cut were special orders. [Civil War Guns - by Edward B Wiliams 1962]

Jim, West PA
September 30, 2012, 06:45 PM
The marks on the cylinder look like flame erosion from being shot a lot

Naaaa, i aint buyn that. They're too symmetrical.
They were definately tooled.

I'm leanin t'wards pohil's guess more so than any other.

pohill Was the metal removed for easier capping and spent cap removal?

pohill
September 30, 2012, 08:05 PM
From an old Colt Industries pamphlet:
"Percussion caps are now made in sizes from nine to thirteen. Ten and eleven are the best numbers for the small and medium-sized arms, and twelve for the larger sizes, although, as different-sized nipples are sometimes met in specimens of the same model, no hard and fast rule can be given. It is better to have caps slightly too large than too small, as large caps can be pinched together at the bottom enough so they will stay on the nipples, but small ones must be driven down on the nipple by the blow of the hammer, and this process frequently cushions the blow to the extent of producing a misfire."

I'd like to find some 12s or 13s.
How did the .454 fit?
Nice gun.

rodwha
September 30, 2012, 08:28 PM
I love seeing history like that and wondering just what it saw.
Thanks for sharing!

Noz
October 1, 2012, 10:39 AM
I'd bet that the bolt does not fit the notches in the cylinder. The hammer is striking the cylinder because it is not locking up properly. Doesn't take a lot of of center hammer blows to mark a cylinder up pretty badly.

Jim, West PA
October 1, 2012, 10:43 AM
Hey skinny.
How 'bout a good pic o' the hammer face ?

Foto Joe
October 1, 2012, 11:34 AM
First off, it's a beautiful piece of history and I'll assume that you did not find it in British Columbia. Where abouts did this gun last reside?

As far as the cylinder is concerned I believe we have a bit of a conundrum. Removing material to facilitate capping doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Flame errosion as well doesn't add up in my book either. Flame errosion would not have left distinct edges as we are seeing. A mis-timed action would have led to peening on only one side of the partitions between the nipples. So, my take on this is...

Given the notches on the grip, it's quite possible that the gun was used by someone who fancied themselves a gunfighter. It could be possible that metal was removed to lighten the cylinder in a place which would not degrade the strength of the cylinder itself, granted the method was primitive as the results demonstrate.

pohill
October 1, 2012, 12:43 PM
If you look at the cylinder in the gun, and not just the cylinder top, and knowing that the cylinder rotates counterclockwise, the bottom portion of the nipple recess, where a spent cap would fall, is widened, which would allow the spent cap to fall away more easily (in theory at least). So I don't think it was for ease of capping but an attempt to get the spent caps away from the gun faster, with fewer jams. Something a "gunfighter" would want.
But I can't understand why he "stepped" it instead of just filing the recess to widen it.

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m217/pohill/Untitled-3.jpg

Skinny 1950
October 1, 2012, 09:52 PM
Foto Joe..you are right the gun was bought by a Canadian collector in a small town in Washington State I will have to phone him to find out which town. The collector is always up-grading his collection and this one was not in as good shape as others that he has so he sold it to me.
The marks are not the same from one chamber to the next...they are similar but vary quite a bit.
I am starting to think that it may be due to some kind of forging process used when making the cylinder causing uneven rusting...it is not made by a machine and it doesn't look like hand work either.
I will post some more pictures later of the hammer face and a square-on picture of the rear of the cylinder.

Jim K
October 1, 2012, 11:57 PM
They look like an attempt to create a high spot so the hammer notch would fit over it as a safety, like the Remingtons, only in reverse. Of course, Colt used safety pins, but the person who did that work might not have known that.

Jim

Foto Joe
October 2, 2012, 11:37 AM
It will be interesting to discover the area of the country which this gun came from if nothing more than to add to the mystique of the weapon.

If you've had it apart, I'm wondering if any of the internals have been "modified" as well such as the main spring. Although it doesn't "look" like hand work keep in mind that if you were out in the boonies in the 19th century there weren't always a lot of precision machine tools around.

The reason that I wonder about the main spring is: If the intent was to lighten the cylinder by some fraction I'll speculate that it would have been done to decrease the cycle time between shots. "If" that were the case I wouldn't be surprised to find that the main spring had also been modified to possibly make it easier/faster to cock.

All of this is pure conjecture of course and in all likelyhood my imagination could simply be running rampant with the thought that you might just have a piece of history linked to some notorious outlaw.

ntech
October 3, 2012, 04:02 PM
I'm also waiting for those pictures of cylinder and hammer surface.
What about numbers of frame cylinder and handle .Are they the same ?

Look at cylinder of that Navy:
http://www.americanarmsandantiques.com/listings.php?id=506
Looks similar. Perhaps damages from hammer ?


Here the same but early stage of damage (http://www.americanarmsandantiques.com/listings.php?id=367)

Skinny 1950
October 3, 2012, 10:14 PM
I haven't had the gun apart so I don't know if anything has been changed, the grips may be numbered inside. All the numbers match although the number on the backstrap is almost gone.
Here are the pictures:

http://i989.photobucket.com/albums/af11/Skinny1950/1860cylinderback005.jpg
http://i989.photobucket.com/albums/af11/Skinny1950/1860cylinderback008.jpg

Jim K
October 3, 2012, 10:48 PM
I think that proves the marks were made by the hammer. But they look too "neat" to be just haphazard from an out of time revolver. Puzzling.

Jim

.22-5-40
October 4, 2012, 12:13 AM
I agree..those indentations look too "neat" or uniform..look close..there are nearly identical striations on each. As much as we would like to think the old gun makers turned out a superior product back then...remember..they had a bottom line also..i'm thinking a milling fixture slip & those striations are from a cutter...but they do match hammer face outline!...This is one of those "wish it could talk" guns!

arcticap
October 4, 2012, 12:32 AM
Looking at the size of the nipple holes, I'd guess that the marks are primarily the result of gas cutting from back pressure that radiates out from the sides of the hammer. Thus the marks aren't the direct result of hammer impact, but rather the outline of the hammer altering the direction of the super hot gases.
It makes sense that the hammer is harder than the cylinder or the cylinder would be more brittle rather than more malleable. That could mean that the back of the cylinder would be easier to be cut by the hot gases instead of the hammer. In that way the blow back would be directed sideways and/or outward from the face of the hammer that's at rest on the nipple at the time of ignition.
Also, the hammer face is somewhat protected by the remnants of the percussion cap during each firing.
Close examination shows that the outline of the cutting is deepest closer to the hammer face and nipple hole. IMO that's because closer to the nipple hole, the hot gases are more concentrated which resulted in a more intense cutting effect.
I wouldn't be surprised if the old corrosive style caps that consisted of fulminate of mercury also contributed to some of the depth of the cutting that can be seen.
A measurement of the width of the indentations verses the actual width of the hammer would provide a key fact about whether or not it would even be possible for the hammer to strike that far away from the nipples to create those indentations, especially when a cylinder is in lock up during firing when the hammer falls.
In the old days, Colt made guns that locked up and fired properly and not cylinders that weren't in alignment with the barrel when they went off. That's why I think that it's the result of gas cutting and possibly also corrosive caps.

Jim, West PA
October 4, 2012, 10:27 AM
Gonna hafta say i'm with Jim K. on this one.
There is now no doubt those are hammer strikes.
In fact, i'd venture to say that the hammer matches up perfectly with the marks.

Steve i appreciate your theory but i fail to see how any kind of symetry is possible.
I can only invision a corrosive burn flanking the nipples and certainly not a crisp repeatable pattern like we're seeing.

The what of this seems pretty obvious
The only mystery i see now is how and why.
How as in, was the timing intentionaly manipulated to use the hammer to accomplish this ?

As for the why...it almost appears that an owner of the gun did this intentionaly to open up the area surrounding the nipples for ease of capping/uncapping.

I would think that a gun owner then would know his weapon intimately inside and out. It was most likely the only one he owned and quite frankly, his life depended on it.

Is there any evidence on the back of the hammer spur to indicate that it was struck with something so as to use the hammer itself to 'move' the metal surrounding the nipples.
Is the spur supposed to sit that high or could it be 'bent' upwards like it is ?

As .22-5-40 said ..."This is one of those "wish it could talk" guns! "

Curator
October 4, 2012, 11:10 AM
It would be interesting to see if the metal inside the nipple mortise is preened over or removed. While it looks as though the hammer caused the marks, the hammer face and nipples appear unscarred. Another possibility is the continual use of a poorly fitting nipple wrench that created the wear patterns. If the metal is not displaced but rather worn (or filed) away I would bet on either purposeful modification or my nipple wrench theory.

arcticap
October 4, 2012, 11:10 AM
Look closely at the cylinder photos that ntech posted in post #29. The pattern of wear is not unique. Notice that the deepest wear is at about the same level as the hammer face. Yet I don't believe that the hammer could have that much side to side play in it, or cause that depth of gouging. It's hard to believe that a cylinder bolt could be that sloppy on so many guns and still be safe to shoot.

http://www.americanarmsandantiques.com/listings.php?id=506

http://www.americanarmsandantiques.com/listings.php?id=367

The fact that the damage happens in stages and that there are different stages of severity would seem to indicate that it's related to how much the gun has been fired.
And it's the exact same with gas cutting. The more that a gun is fired, the cutting keeps getting worse until the hot plasma gases reach the edge of the metal that's at the end of its field of proximity.
As I mentioned, I think that it would take some measurements to determine the possiblity of it being caused by a direct hammer strike or from flame cutting. Flame cutting reaches out farther than any direct hammer impact could create on its own.
There was a recent thread on thefiringline about gas cutting of Colt arbors. It's being noticed by folks on their new Colts after as few as 60 shots. The gas cutting of the arbor eventually stops after the plasma reaches the edge of it's field.
But the observable damage from the cutting itself resembles a clean saw cut just as if it had been done by mechanical means. When actually it's done by misdirected hot gases cutting clean into the metal like a torch or a hot laser would.

Check out this next thread to see the arbor damage on modern Colts from gas cutting. While in this current thread we're looking at the corroded over damage on antique guns. I think that the old Colts had really large nipple holes that created a lot of back flash, along with the highly corrosive caps. And the nipple holes could also have become more worn and larger over time.

Arbor Ding?

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=501207

Foto Joe
October 4, 2012, 11:10 AM
I will now retract any comment or suggestion that I had about the gun owner doing this intentionally to possibly lighten the cylinder.

I'm still not sold on the gas cutting theory completely though either but it's making more sense. As far as a hammer strike, no matter whether the hammer is case hardened or not, you would see peening on the hammer edges if that thing actually hit the cylinder hard enough and that many times to create what we're seeing. Besides, there is metal "missing" from the cylinder it isn't just peened down. If the cylinder was peened the metal would have to go somewhere it doesn't just disappear.

Although machining techniques weren't what they are today, Colt didn't turn out seconds. These things were going into the hands of boys and men who would use them to defend themselves during the most notorious war the government ever started so I'm not buying a machining error, a second would have wound up in the reject bin and been melted down.

I'm going to side with Arcticap and say that the most likely cause is gas cutting. Look at the hammer channel opening on the recoil shield, it's also case hardened and it's extremely rounded on the edges. That would indicate to me that it got hot enough number one to alter the case hardening and secondly that it could also be erroded by gas cutting.

Foto Joe
October 4, 2012, 12:14 PM
There was a recent thread on thefiringline about gas cutting of Colt arbors.

Well, well, well....I've just been educated.

The first time I saw this I made the assumption that I had over-charged the gun and I was very disappointed that I'd made an error that had left a mark on an otherwise pristine gun. Eventually I started seeing it on several of my guns and just chocked it up to the beating that the arbor takes from the cylinder although the cylinder showed no signs of damage on the edge of the arbor hole.

Thanks for posting that, I figure that I'm not the only one who has ever noticed this on an otherwise perfect arbor.

arcticap
October 4, 2012, 12:47 PM
Not meaning to belabor a point, but when exposed to flame the fulminate of mercury caps may have produced a concentration of corrosive gases in close proximity to the nipple. Also, and/or then if the residue wasn't properly removed it may have created damage in proportion to the amount of residue that was left behind on a particular portion of the surface.
I'm not sure how corrosive it is or if it's due to depositing a microscopic amount of an acid or a salt, but it's known to be corrosive.
I suppose that the effect could have been worse than how some folks believe that Pyrodex can eat away at metal or cause micro-pitting, especially depending on how well the gun is cleaned and the humidity.
If spots of metal were weakened that way then perhaps it could have contributed to accelerating the gas cutting process.

MERCURY FULMINATE, [WET]

Fire may produce irritating, corrosive and/or toxic gases.

http://cameochemicals.noaa.gov/chemical/2020

When musket percussion caps were invented they used an explosive contain fulminate of mercury. Nasty corrosive stuff. The gun powder itself was fine but those fulminate of mercury caps were horrible on metal. So guns needed to be cleaned after firing. Without fail as they'd experience corrosion otherwise.

http://www.gunvaluesboard.com/cleaning-old-guns-373724.html

pohill
October 4, 2012, 02:22 PM
It looks like the recoil shield on the capping side has been altered. To me, it looks like it's been cut back and narrowed above the capping groove. Then again, I'm comparing it to a Pietta.
Also, it has three screws but it is cut for a shoulder stock. But Flaydermans says that after serial number 5000, the fourth screw was dropped, but apparently they kept making the cuts. The Civilian models had neither the fourth screw or the cuts. What's the serial number?
Maybe the owner experimented with a Manhattan-type recoil shield.

TheRodDoc
October 4, 2012, 10:58 PM
I think it is from the hammer too. The gun could have been used for fast draw practice. Fanning style. This stretches the bolt slot in the frame and also wears the bolt thin where it goes into the cyl. Fanning slams the rotating cyl. against the bolt then bounces back the opposite way putting force on both sides of the frame slot, pushing it wider both ways. And also wearing both sides of the bolt.
Plus the gun looks to have an extra wide hammer slot letting the hammer move sideways some. These things can easily have made the marks on the back of the cylinder. Then the gun must have later been repaired. New hammer. bolt and peen the bolt slot back to original size. Gunsmiths were in every small town and it was no big deal to have one fixed.

Skinny 1950
October 4, 2012, 11:35 PM
Here are a couple of more pictures, the first shows the bolt to be in very good shape and there is no side to side motion. The second picture shows one of the cylinder notches and they all look about the same...no signs of the bolt peening the notch..no drag marks on the cylinder. As mentioned the timing and lock-up on this gun are as good as it gets..better than all my other cap and ball revolvers ( and I have waaaay tooo many ) there is no play side to side when the gun is locked up and ready to shoot.

http://i989.photobucket.com/albums/af11/Skinny1950/1860cylinderback009.jpg
http://i989.photobucket.com/albums/af11/Skinny1950/1860cylinderback014.jpg

Jim, West PA
October 5, 2012, 12:02 AM
Skinny, did you not say this cylinder lacks a matching number to the rest of the gun ?

Jim, West PA
October 5, 2012, 12:08 AM
I think it is from the hammer too. The gun could have been used for fast draw practice. Fanning style. This stretches the bolt slot in the frame and also wears the bolt thin where it goes into the cyl. Fanning slams the rotating cyl. against the bolt then bounces back the opposite way putting force on both sides of the frame slot, pushing it wider both ways. And also wearing both sides of the bolt.
Plus the gun looks to have an extra wide hammer slot letting the hammer move sideways some. These things can easily have made the marks on the back of the cylinder. Then the gun must have later been repaired. New hammer. bolt and peen the bolt slot back to original size. Gunsmiths were in every small town and it was no big deal to have one fixed.

The last ROA i bot, a couple o' weeks back, came with an R&D and it was 'hammered' the same way and i'm assuming the cause was just what The Rod Doc described. It too was worn on either side of the nipples to the point that the hammer would no longer fit into the safety notches. The nipples also were slammed too tho.
Allthough Ruger had to replace the hammer and trigger in that gun, the timing was/is fine.

Skinny 1950
October 5, 2012, 12:49 AM
Jim...the cylinder has a very faint four digit number #3128 the whole serial number is #63128 so the gun was made in about June 1862.

Jim, West PA
October 5, 2012, 12:58 AM
Thanx, i missunderstood.
I thot i read that the numbers didn't match.

Harrod
October 7, 2012, 11:46 AM
I'm not gonna pretend to understand the flame cutting, but the hammer didn't seem to have any mark whatsoever on the face to make me think it was involved.

I just wanted to say, wow, what a beautiful piece. A genuine piece of history there, who knows who carried it and for what reasons. Gunfighter? Soldier? Sheriff meybeh. Either way its a great find and great add to any collection. Lucky guy :neener:

Russ Jackson
October 20, 2012, 04:39 PM
After looking at yours I decided to take a look at mine. Here are a couple pics to compare.
http://i464.photobucket.com/albums/rr1/RussJackson/cylinder2.jpg
http://i464.photobucket.com/albums/rr1/RussJackson/Cylinder.jpg

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