Cylinder Wear


November 15, 2012, 11:43 PM

I have two Pietta revolvers (Brass 1851 & Steel 1860) that are developing an odd wearing pattern on the cylinders. Here is a photo of the 1851 showing what looks like wear from the bolt. Is this a common issue and is it anything to worry about? Any information that you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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November 16, 2012, 04:24 AM
no and yes. must have a soft cylinder or a real strong bolt spring

November 16, 2012, 08:27 AM
well Im no expert but that looks like it would affect you timing

November 16, 2012, 11:38 AM
I've seen where guys CAREFULLY reshape the bolt so there is a wider area of contact and/or put in a lighter trigger/bolt spring like the wire ones. If I tried to reshape my bolts I would first by a bunch of spares 'cause no doubt I would carve them theopposite of what was needed and create a bigger mess. The cylinder steel seems pretty soft especially on Piettas.

November 16, 2012, 04:53 PM
Looks more like a 60 cylinder. Are they all dinged like that? Does it lock up in alignment with the barrel?

If it is locking up that far from the notch it looks like it would be spitting lead.

November 16, 2012, 05:19 PM
It is not locking up there. The marring is just the bolt snapping up striking the cylinder in the leade before it glides into the notch.

Jim, West PA
November 16, 2012, 08:35 PM
The thing that strikes me odd is that two different guns are doin the same thing.

November 16, 2012, 09:02 PM
ditto that

November 16, 2012, 10:43 PM
I had the same thing happen to my Pietta 1860 Army. The problem is that the bolt isn't timed exactly right with the cylinder and the bolt might be too wide to fit into the cylinder notches properly. The result is the cylinder notch peening you show on your picture. There is an old post by a guy named Larsen Pettifogger that shows how to tune a Pietta. It addresses the exact problem you have with your Pietta revolvers. I'm no expert but it seems like this is a common problem with Pietta Colt style revolvers. You might want to do a search on his name to get a copy of his article. I ended up getting a new cyclinder and replace the bolt. I followed the tuning instructions in Pettifoggers article and now no more cylinder peening on my 1860 Pietta.

Skinny 1950
November 17, 2012, 01:07 AM
The timing of the bolt is a bit late compared to most of my revolvers of this type, with mine the bolt springs up when the concave lead in to the notch is above it, the bolt then drags along the concave area until it locks into the notch. The timing of the bolt is tricky and something that I dread (irrational perhaps) having wrecked a few with a file but if you are comfortable taking your gun apart and observe how it works you should be able to get the bolt to release sooner. I would also take a bit off the bolt closest to the frame to get the impact centred in the concave area and spread out the load so it doesn't peen the metal as bad.

November 17, 2012, 10:31 AM
You have two problems. The first is that the hand is a bit too long and is attempting to rotate the cylinder before the bolt has cleared. This results in that tick of metal on the outboard side of the notch. The second is that the bolt is dropping too late and is battering the inboard side of the notch. The bolt should drop at the beginning of the lead.
The solution to the first is to remove a few thousandths of metal from the top of the hand. You have it right when you can watch from the side while cocking and see the bolt clear the cylinder prior to the cylinder starting to turn.
The solution to the second is to remove a few thousandths of metal from the rear of the leg of the bolt that rides on the hammer cam. Maintaining the same angle that is there so that the bolt drops earlier.

November 17, 2012, 11:07 AM
Has anyone tried case hardening their cylinders, to prevent premature wear?
In addition to denster's instructions, that is. I was thinking of using Kasenit on my Pietta 1851 cylinders, and then rebluing them.

November 17, 2012, 11:59 AM
You'd have to heat the cylinder to red hot for the Kasenite. That would remove any tempering in the steel. I'd worry that the underlying strength of the cylinder would be compromised and you could get stretching, cracking, or a burst cylinder. I'm not enough of a metallurgist to know which of those that might occur. How you cool/quench the cylinder makes a difference. A fast cooling (cold water or oil) might make it harder or more brittle. A slow cooling will likely keep the cylinder soft other than the case hardening. I think the directions of the can of Kasenite says to quench in water but I have only case hardened small parts like triggers where it is great stuff.

November 17, 2012, 12:21 PM
I've wondered if the steel used in Italian replicas is even heat treatable.
If it's a low carbon steel, than Kasenit, combined with a superquench would yield a glass hard surface skin, with a fairly hard, yet tough, core.
If it's made of something like 4140, 4340, or 4130, than it would be out of the question, without the ability to properly heat treat it after.

November 17, 2012, 04:52 PM
A lot of good information was given in this thread. One more thing that helps prevent cylinder peening is a lighter bolt spring. This can be made from a #1 safety pin available at craft stores or fabric stores. Check it out:

November 17, 2012, 06:26 PM
This is common on my Piettas as well. Soft steel would be my guess along with so so timing.

Fingers McGee
November 17, 2012, 11:36 PM
Maybe these will be of some assistance in corecting the situation.

November 18, 2012, 01:32 AM
The Pettifogger articles that Fingers referenced are in general very good and give a good understanding of how these revolvers work and how to make them better. The scraper from Enco is a godsend for cleaning up damaged cylinder notches. The only thing I can take issue with is in the second article he suggests trying to harden the hand. This is a patently bad idea as the hand is a wear part. It is meant to be soft as it is an inexpensive part and should wear rather than the cylinder ratchet which is an expensive part.

Driftwood Johnson
November 18, 2012, 11:34 AM

Your bolt is not too wide. It is rising late. If it were too wide, it would never fit in the locking notch and the cylinder would never lock up properly.

This is very common with Pietta revovlers, I have two of their 1860s and both exhibit the same thing.

If you want to do something about it, follow Pettifoggers's advice.

November 24, 2012, 03:31 PM
Thank you everyone, this was very informative.

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