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Curing a cap-sucking C&B with new nipples

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by duelist1954, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. duelist1954

    duelist1954 Well-Known Member

    I have a pair of 1851 Navy revolvers that were notorious for cap jams. One is an old Armi San Marcos made gun and the other is made by Pietta. I recently equipped them with aftermarket nipples made by Slix Shot. These nipples have a re-designed combustion chamber and two lateral vent holes in the cone. That relieves the back-pressure from the exploding charge of powder in the revolver's chamber. It cured the cap jams in these two guns.

  2. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Well-Known Member

    Timing is everything, Duelist 1954, and yours is impeccable! I've been wrestling with my 1851 Pietta Sheriff's model for quite some time. It eats caps like pizza at a WeightWatcher's meeting, especially since I installed a reduced power spring. I love the reduced power for ease of thumb cocking and trigger pull, but it certainly has increased its appetite for caps tenfold. Yesterday I installed a full power spring, which helped considerably, but it's still not 100%.

    So my next move was to pin the hammer slot and cut a corresponding groove in the face of the hammer, as well as dredge out the cap exit channel to the right of the hammer slot. But your suggestion to replace the nipples with Slix Shots seems a whole lot easier. Maybe I can even go back to my beloved reduced power spring. So thank you for your timely post and video!
  3. Hellgate

    Hellgate Well-Known Member

    Before you go mangling your hammer and pinning the frame. Just fill in the safety notch with JB Weld or better yet brazing or welding it shut. What happens is when the gun is fired the cap is getting grabbed by the notch and is being pulled off the nipple where it gets knocked off the hammer by the frame when you cock it so it falls into the hammer cutout. Also your light spring is letting the hammer blow back and the cap can get under the hammer and into the works. First thing to do is fill that notch and see if the problem persists. If so, get the Slix-Shot nipples which will prevent blowback. The designers of the Sliz-Shot nipples use very light hammer springs and are shooting quite well with them (they beat me every time). I have moderately light mainsprings and do not have the jams I used to have once I came up with the notch fill idea. I think NOZ first mentioned the idea on a SASS Wire post and I wrote up the technique in the Cowboy Cronicle back in November 2009. I actually think the Slix-Shot boys also fill in their safety notches too but I am not 100% certain of that. I'll have to ask them at the next match. But please don't mangle your gun by drilling, pinning and ruining the hammer which would possibly didminish its value. Fill the notch and get the nipples first.
  4. 44 Dave

    44 Dave Well-Known Member

    Just got my Slix-Shot nipples today.
    I have a 1860 made by Ubirti in 1969 for Dixie Gun Works it has been doing the "cap crap" This old gun uses the "Pietta thread" 6x.75.
    I was warned on this forum that the Pietta nipples may be too long. They were, I had to turn .010 off. They just cleared the frame with out caps and I wondered if the recoil could slam the cylinder hard enough to set an extra cap off.
    I won't fill in the hammer notch as I use it and load all 6 when am shooting at my private range.
    Won't get to shoot 'till Thursday but will report after test fireing.
  5. Hellgate

    Hellgate Well-Known Member

    44 Dave,
    I have only owned Uberti Remingtons and they use the 12X28 nipples. I get it on not filling in the safety notch. I use all mine in CAS matches where we only shoot 5 rounds per gun. If I need to carry 6 I use a Remington that has the safety cutouts in the cylinders.
  6. Smokin'Joe

    Smokin'Joe Well-Known Member

  7. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Hellgate, et al, for your concerns and input. I'll follow your sage advice and hold off. But the tinkerer in me wants to imitate the Slix Shots nipples by taking my existing nipples and very precisely drill the two vent holes and slightly enlarge the hole on the cap end, but only going down enough to intercept the vent holes without drilling through the entire nipple. I've got nothing to lose, since it's my intention to replace the nipples anyway. And, of course, filling in the notch with JB Weld is certainly an easy enough experiment. If it works, I'll grind it out and install a more permanent braze at a later date.

    I bought this hundred-dollar Pietta just to tinker with, and foolin' with it has given me more pleasure than many of my big-ticket guns that need nothing. :)
  8. Hellgate

    Hellgate Well-Known Member

    I have "dimpled" or beveled the tops of nipples to create a funnel shape to focus more of the cap's energy down the flash channel. That is an easy thing to do. sounds like you are doing one step better. There is a saying: "Italian cap & ball revolvers make gunsmiths of us all". I consider muyself an "advanced tinkerer".
  9. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Well-Known Member

    Just finished enlarging and venting my nipples a few hours ago, Hellgate, so I'll give you a range report in a day or so if I can break loose to go make some smoke. Fingers crossed!
  10. 44 Dave

    44 Dave Well-Known Member

    First test fire of 1860 with Slix-Shot nipples.
    I only fired 6 rounds with 27 gr of good old DuPont FFF. The Remington #10 caps still split but did not fall under the hammer.
    The temp at the time was 6 degrees and I had not brought powder to reload.
    Hope to shoot more next Monday.
  11. BSA1

    BSA1 Well-Known Member

    I keep coming up with dry holes trying to find a vendor that sells Tresco nipples. Anyone know of a source?
  12. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    How about the manufacturer?

    BTW, it's Treso.
  13. unknwn

    unknwn Well-Known Member

    Please, let us know how the range test works out for you.
  14. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Well-Known Member

    Range Report on homemade nipples

    Well, I'm pleased to report that my homemade "Slix Shot" (vented) nipples worked like a charm. The nipples held onto the caps like my wife holds onto her money, and I didn't experience a single cap jam or failure to fire in 18 consecutive shots. In fact, so confident was I that, in a moment of giddiness, I fanned the last 3 shots. :eek:

    Here's what I surmise is happening: First, slightly enlarging the cone diameter to about half the depth of the nipple reduces the rim thickness of the nipple, thus providing more surface pressure from the hammer. This may enable one to use a much lighter mainspring without compromising reliable ignition. When the cap discharges, the hot gases are forced through the nipple thanks to seal created by the snug fit of the cap and pressure from the hammer. Second, when the chamber fires, the gases change direction and want to escape the nipple in reverse, pushing against the hammer and cap. In the case of a light mainspring, this can push the hammer back a bit and blow off the cap. The vent holes allow the gas to escape out the sides instead, and the cap remains put. This is only a theory based on my limited experience; I'd certainly be interested in what others have to say.
  15. Big Al Mass

    Big Al Mass Well-Known Member

    I was just about to ask if the results of the Slixshot nipples could be achieved by drilling holes in the stock nipples. Interesting how things work out. Anyway, what size bits did you use to do the drilling?
  16. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Well-Known Member

    I used a #38 (.101") bit to open up the nipple cone, to a depth of about half to length of the nipple. Then about halfway down the cone I used a #58 (.042") bit to drill the two vent holes. I figured---correctly, I hope---that the reduced power mainspring would allow me to remove material from the nipple without compromising its structure. I stayed clear of the hole that enters the chamber.
    To chuck the nipples in the lathe, as well as to drill them on the milling machine, I chucked a short scrap of aluminum round stock, and drilled and tapped a M6 X .75 hole the same as in the cylinder. I then screwed the nipples into the chuck, enlarged them with the #58 bit, and took a light facing cut so they'd all be precisely the same length. While I was at it, I relieved the edges a bit with 320 grit Wet-or-Dry paper. I used the very same chuck to hold the nipples in the Acer mill, after indicating the faces of the vise for dead center. All of this can be accomplished at home with a drill press, but the head machinist at work was out with the flu last week and I took advantage of the occasion to steal into the shop and use "his" (actually Company) stuff. He'd blow a cork if he knew a clod like me was messin' with his machines!
    You could achieve equally good results using a drill press, though I'd make a drilling jig out of a small scrap of square stock for accuracy and repeatability.
  17. Big Al Mass

    Big Al Mass Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the excellent explanation SleazyRider. While my workshop is pretty meager, I feel confident in getting the job done with the tools I have.
  18. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Well-Known Member

    Flintstones drilling jig ...

    What I lack in tools I oftentimes have to make up with inventiveness, and I'm thinkin' very similar results could be achieved by finding a #8 or perhaps a #10 steel nut that has roughly the same inner diameter as the cone's outer diameter, and drill out the threads in the sacrificial nut to accept the cone. The flat on the nut can then be acccurately centerpunched and carefully drilled with the #38 bit---even with a hand drill. The nipples can then be individually inserted into the nut, which becomes a drilling guide.

  19. Big Al Mass

    Big Al Mass Well-Known Member

    I do have a vise and a hand-cranked drill (I have electric drills available, but I prefer the control afforded by the hand-cranked one). Looks like that is the way to go.

    I will try it out as soon as I can.

  20. Smokin'Joe

    Smokin'Joe Well-Known Member

    I drilled this with a drill bit mounted in a Dremel tool. Held the nipple with vice grips.


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