1858 Timing/ Hammer question


July 30, 2014, 03:11 PM
Recently did total disassembly, degreasing, cleaning deburring, rebuilding of 2 1858s (Pietta). One is Blued and one is Stainless.

Blued one seems to have great timing regarding cylinder rotation. This is what I noticed happens when you pull back the hammer. 1) With hammer against the frame - the bolt is in the upright position. 2) With the hammer at half cock - the hand emerges in the lower position - and the bolt lowers. 3) With the hammer at full cock - the hand cycles up to the higher position - and the bolt rises to the upright position. When pulling back the hammer of the Blued one, you feel one click at half cock, and another click at full cock. This one seems to work fine.

Stainless one has fine timing regarding cylinder rotation. However, this is what I noticed happens when you pull back the hammer. 1) With hammer against the frame - the bolt is in the upright position. 2) With the hammer at half cock - the hand emerges in the lower position - and the bolt lowers. 3) With the hammer at full cock - the hand cycles up to the higher position - and the bolt rises to the upright position. 4) When pulling back the hammer of the Stainless one, you feel one click at half cock, BUT there is an extra click an instant before it clicks again at full cock. This click is the bolt coming up an instant too early.

After this extra click when the bolt pops up, but before the final click at full cock, it is possible to lower the hammer back toward the frame. If you lower the hammer back toward the frame, it stops at half cock position, BUT with the bolt in upright position. The hand is sticking out of the recoil shield, but in the lower position as it normally would on half cock.

I am new to BP and have been trying to learn all I can. Based on what I have learned, I think the primary issue with the Stainless one is the bolt popping up too early. However, it is possible that the bolt coming up early is just the symptom of another problem i have no idea about like something to do with the shape of the half and full cock notches on the hammer.

To fix this issue of the bolt popping up too early with the Stainless one, I am thinking it is necessary to do something with the Trigger Bolt Spring - ? :confused:

Or does this sound like something else? and what can I do to fix it?

Than ks

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July 30, 2014, 03:27 PM
No, it has nothing to do with the trigger/bolt spring.

The hammer has a cam on the side of it.
And the bolt has a flat spring arm as an integral part of the bolt.
As you cock the gun, the arm on the bolt contacts the hammer cam and is pulled down out of the locking notch.

Then as the hammer reaches full cock, the arm ramps up the hammer cam and snaps off the cam in front of it where it is released to lock the bolt again.

If the hammer cam, or bolt arm are improperly fit, your timing will be off.

BTW: Do not lower the hammer from between half & full cock.
Once you get there, the hammer needs to be fully cocked and lowered again.

To let it back down early will force the bolt arm back over the hammer cam, but going the wrong direction for the cam to spring it sideways out of the way.

That can knock out the timing!!!!
And may be what happened to yours.


July 30, 2014, 04:26 PM
Thanks, rc - yes I knew not to lower the hammer back from full to half cock - now i know why :)

It seems strange to me how this revolver allows the hammer to lower back, that and the other does not. Do they normally not allow the hammer back?

Is there a way to fix this, or should I just be extra sure to cock it all the way.

July 30, 2014, 04:29 PM
Probably the only way to fix it is to fit a new bolt.
And possibly a new hammer if the hammer cam is messed up too.

Parts here:


July 30, 2014, 06:44 PM
After this extra click when the bolt pops up, but before the final click at full cock, it is possible to lower the hammer back toward the frame.
This is normal operation when operated abnormally. Here's what I mean: the only thing that prevents the hammer from being lowered is the full cock notch. Thus the hammer can be (and in fact will be, due to the mainspring) lowered back to the half cock or even full down position any time up until it's fully retracted to full cock. You aren't supposed to attempt lowering the hammer before it goes into full cock - that's what I mean by abnormal operation.

Your blued gun will do the same thing. As I see it the only difference between the two guns is the bolt on the stainless one raises earlier in the cycle than the bolt on the blued gun. If the bolt enters the cylinder stop notch I don't see this as a problem. You describe the bolt action on the stainless gun as rising 'too early' - I wonder why you say that. Does the bolt miss the stop notch and land on the cylinder surface next to it (there will be scratches on the cylinder surface if this is the case).

July 30, 2014, 07:21 PM
Mykeal - the bolt enter the cylinder stop notch fine - there is no peening or anything like that.

What I mean by the bolt rising too early is that, whereas with the blued revolver, the bolt rises at the same instant that the trigger is locked back, with the stainless revolver, it seems as though the bolt rises an instant before the trigger is locked back - that is why i can hear two clicks instead of one.

I just read in an online article http://www.geojohn.org/BlackPowder/bps5.html about a similar issue: "(3) Just as you reach full-cock and the cylinder bolt pops up to lock in the cylinder, the trigger sear must lock into the sear on the hammer and the hammer should be securely and safely locked into the full-cock position. If the trigger sear locks into the hammer much before the other things happen, this means that the sear end of the trigger is too worn and the trigger should be replaced and a new one fitted for proper operation. Of course, a pistol can be operated this way, but extra thought must be given to pulling back the hammer until everything is locked in and this is not a good thing. It is ever so much better if everything locks in at the same time while pulling back on the hammer."

So what happens with mine seems kind of the opposite of this scenario John describes - since the trigger sear seems to lock into the hammer just AFTER the bolt rises. This seems to indicate the trigger sear is slightly to long? Is that right?

On the other hand, the next paragraph John writes:
"Next, while the revolver is at full cock, place your thumb on the hammer and pull the trigger, but don't let the hammer fall. Very slowly bring the hammer down while listening carefully. When you get to almost to the very end of the hammer's travel, just before it reaches the frame, you should hear a soft, but noticeable "click" or "ping." This is the sound of the spring end of the cylinder bolt riding over the hammer's cam and clicking into place on the steep side of the cam. If you don't hear the click, you probably already noticed that your revolver jams sometimes and the cylinder fails to rotate. This can indicate a damaged cylinder bolt, but mostly it is because the spring end of the bolt hasn't been spread enough or was fit poorly when a replacement bolt was made."

This seems to indicate that the spring side of the bolt needs to be spread out a bit?

How can I tell which the real issue is?

45 Dragoon
July 30, 2014, 10:33 PM
The bolt arm rides the cam untill it falls off. When the hammer comes down, the CAM acts as a wedge and pushes the bolt arm to the side which allows it to land back on top of the cam. If you just remove the trig. guard, you can watch this happen.
The reason your gun wont allow your hammer down is because the bolt arm fell off at the half cock position and the arm is under the fat part of the cam and locks it . This happens when the arm is too short or the cam is worn.
There is nothing wrong with letting the hammer down from half cock. Nothing will "snap" over anything. At half cock the arm is still riding the cam. Let it back down and just rides back with it. It hasn't fallen off yet (only on the broken one). No need for ramping or snaping! Remington revs. have safety notches between the nips. and Colts have pins for the same reason. To use them as they were designed to, you lower the hammer from half cock.
If this is "bad practice" someone should have told the folks at Remington, Colt and for that matter R&D and Kirst Konversions. I don't understand why folks just wont watch how things work before spreading misinformation. I can't tell you how the bolt would know when to ramp (or how this would be achieved) up the cam!??
Just watch it as you cycle the action.

45 Dragoon
July 30, 2014, 10:45 PM
As to the trigger being too long, no, the hand is too long. The lock up and full cock should happen at the same time. The hand is advancing the cyl too much which is allowing lock up before full cock.

July 31, 2014, 02:33 AM
thank you, 45 Dragoon. I took the Stainless apart again to get a good look at the hammer cam and the hand - the hand had a bit of burrs on the end and there was a slight visible bit of wear on the cam.

I also removed the trigger guard and looked into the action with a bore light while cycling the action. This did not reveal much to my untrained eye, but then i removed the cylinders from both the Blued and Stainless Rems and watched from the side of the frame. I noticed that on both the Blued and Stainless, everything seemed identical except at the very end.

At hammer resting on the frame, the Bolt on both is up. At 1/2 cock, the Bolt is retracted and the Hand is extended, at the lower position. As the Hammer goes back toward full cock, there is a point on both Rems when the Bolt pops up at the same time as the Hand advances to the upper position.

However, at this exact instant the, Trigger on the Blued one locks back. If I keep pulling the trigger back slightly after the Trigger locks, i can see the hand creep up a bit more.

The Trigger on the Stainless one only locks when I pull the trigger back slightly after the point when the Bolt and Hand pop into position - there is a very slight delay after the point when the Bolt and Hand pop into position.

This is a lot to learn, but I am very interested in learning more, thanks for responses. I bought a book Blackpowder Hobby Gunsmithing (Sam Fadala), there is a lot of great content, but the section on timing is not very detailed or helpful.

July 31, 2014, 07:15 AM
I still don't see where you have a problem. I understand the bolt leg drops off the cam a little earlier than you want, but since it doesn't peen the cylinder, why this is a problem eludes me.

45 Dragoon
July 31, 2014, 08:16 AM
Maybe I misunderstood . I thought you mentioned it as a prob. But, if the bolt drops at or just before half cock, the cyl. wont be free to load.
Otherwise, it is a sign of being out of time. I like the bolt to drop at least a bolt width before the locking notch ( ideally, just before a bolts width). Timing is observed , not measured in a S.A. They are as individual as you and I. When timing is off, it's a sign of wear or breakage and will only get worse, not better.

July 31, 2014, 05:33 PM
The only problem with a Remington dropping the bolt early is that there is no lead cut in the cylinder's notches as seen on a Colt, or most any other revolver, including the cartridge Remingtons. This can peen the edge of the notch. If it is dropping clean into the notch, and the sear hasn't latched yet, it could mean the sear could need to be a hair shortened or deburring. Make sure you get the sear engaged before you take your thumb off the hammer or you will get an AD. The Colt SAA expected "4 clicks" (spelling COLT) includes the (1) safety notch, (2) half cock notch, (3) bolt drop and (4) sear notch, perhaps 3 and 4 may not necessarily be in that oirder. A cap&ball revolver does not usually have a safety notch, so only sounds 3 clicks. Sounding 2 clicks is unusually close timing, and I generally don't expect to hear it.

I don't think you have a problem as long as you always pull the hammer back all the way to the full cock notch. If a Pietta has a problem, I usually expect to find it in a Stainless gun.

July 31, 2014, 06:31 PM
Thanks for the responses - i could fill a book with what i don't know. From what I have read, it now seems to me this is not really a problem - since the Stainless seems to index fine and the bolt and hand move in lockstep - with just an instant delay before the sear engages the f/c notch.

I checked out my 3 open top Piettas c/b revolvers and they all seem to have the instant of delay after the bolt rises, but before the sear engages in the f/c notch also - so perhaps, the blued on is just timed really well as it only makes 2 clicks, instead of 3.

Can someone recommend a book or site or other resource where i can learn about the timing of c/b revolvers? I am very interested in it. Thanks!

45 Dragoon
July 31, 2014, 07:10 PM
Timing c/b revolvers is what I do. The material they are made of is insignificant. If you will pm me your number, i will discuss it with you.

45 Dragoon
August 1, 2014, 08:50 AM
Watch brushhippie shooting his '51.

August 1, 2014, 03:04 PM
45 Dragoon, i will watch that video and send you a pm. Timing is very subtle I am learning. So far my only brush with timing success has been when I turned my Pietta Hickok 1851 into a London model by adding a steel SAA backstrap, trigger guard and trigger. At first I kept in the original Bolt and Trigger return Spring - but when I realized the timing was way off, I read on THR how that spring is important to timing also - so I changed out the spring for the one that came with the SAA trigger and it worked great!

45 Dragoon
August 2, 2014, 12:21 AM
Well, the timimg is a deliberate setting and is controlled by the length of trig. sear in relation to the hammer notches. Everything else happens between hammer down and at full cock and that is controlled by length of bolt arm and length of hand. It's quite a dance but it has a deliberate sequence. I get guns in all stages of dis-repair but they all leave here sining the same song ( or, dancing the same dance!!)!
The springs are the power supply and are also tuned to do their job and no more (in a tuned gun).

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