1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Received 1861 Navy! Now what do i need? plus Wedge and Cylinder question

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Mictlanero, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. Mictlanero

    Mictlanero Well-Known Member

    Greetings! I am new to this forum and black powder revolvers. This looks to be a very informative page and I am excited to learn from everyone. I just received my 1861 Navy revolver by Pietta (2012 - mfg. date code “CI”). It looks very nice and I am excited to get to work cleaning it – once I remove the wedge.

    I have looked at some posts and pdfs about tuning Piettas, and about the basics of black powder pistol shooting. I am going to order some basic stuff and wanted to ask if this is all I need and some recommended brands of stuff.

    Maintenance and cleaning stuff I need:
    1) Hollow ground screwdriver set – which ones do I need and which are good ones to get?
    2) Deburrer
    3) Brass drift punch for wedge key (http://www.trackofthewolf.com/categories/partdetail.aspx/117/1/TOOL-KEY-B)
    4) Dial caliper (i think my friend has one I can use)
    5) Nipple wrench – (what is a good one and from what seller?)
    6) Fine diamond needle files – and honing stone - (what sizes and shapes and from what seller?)
    7) Grease (“Bore Butter” or Crisco?)
    8) Nipple grease – (Is this different from other greases? If so what brand is good and what seller?)

    Shooting stuff I need (36 cal):
    1) .375” lead balls (Hornady?)
    2) Black powder – what type? I saw some chart that I don’t much understand
    3) #10 Remington caps
    4) Powder flask – (what kind should I get to load the correct size loads of bp?)
    5) Nipple capper (which one? And from where?)
    Am I forgetting anything? Is anything on this list unnecessary?

    So on Friday I am going to make a first attempt at removing the wedge – looks to be jammed up against the side of the wedge slot closest to the cylinder and the spring protrudes through and catches on the top-most part of the wedge slot. So my plan is to use an oak wedge and a rubber mallet…. Then if that doesn’t work move on to the brass drift and a heavy hammer (once I order and receive the brass drift). Any suggestions?

    From cycling the cylinder a few times on half cock position I am noticing some very slight peening of the right side of the cylinder notch in the round-ground channel – is this normal given the softness of the metal on these? I expect that some wear of the cylinder notch is normal? Or it should look perfect despite cycling – I have not measured the fit between the bolt and cylinder notch yet since I have not removed the wedge yet. Can anyone give a link to a pic of normal wear on a black powder cylinder?

    Thanks for your help!
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  2. DoubleDeuce 1

    DoubleDeuce 1 Well-Known Member

    Congrats on your 1861 Navy. First, if the handbook for the revolver indicates a .375 ball, then that is what I would get. Some might list something slightly larger. The idea when loading the ball, is to shave a small ring of lead from the ball as it is pressed into the chamber, kind of like a skinny washer.

    I seal off the chamber mouth with wheel bearing grease usually. I'll use Rig Grease on the nipple threads most of the time, or never seize grease.

    Get 3FG, FFFG black powder. 25 gr should do it for you per shot. Get a good powder flask, and separate powder measure with a funnel top. Load from the measure.

    Use soft lead balls. You might want to see what size caps are recommended for the nipples. It could be #10 or #11. Get yourself a good in-line capper if you have large fingers...

    Go out and shoot the revolver a bunch before you start to fix stuff. Shoot from a sandbag rest to see what the revolver is doing for you in the performance department. Be aware they generally shoot high, so start your process at about 25 yards to see where it prints. Don't get caught up in buying more stuff than you'll need.

    Clean it with dish washing soap and water. No need to completely remove the wedge. Just tap it until it clears to release the barrel assembly.

    Have fun.:cool:
  3. rodwha

    rodwha Well-Known Member

    "Hollow ground screwdriver set – which ones do I need and which are good ones to get?"

    Brownell's is what I've been told is a good quality yet not too expensive maker with the bit type. Something like this:

    "Nipple grease"

    Antisieze from an auto parts store is what you need. A little pack, normally by the register, is all you need for a long time.

    ".375” lead balls (Hornady?)"

    I believe so. There are also RB's made by Speer. There's also a fellow on another forum who sells cast projectiles. RB's are ~$5-8/100 IIRC. PM me if you are interested.

    "Black powder – what type?"

    For your .36 cal you'd want to get BP or a substitute in 3F (FFF) granulations.

    "#10 Remington caps"

    Either CCI, Winchester (CCI rebranded), Remington, or RWS, and either #10 or #11. You'll have to try them to see what works.

    "Nipple capper"

    The Ted Cash capper seems quite popular:

    "Am I forgetting anything?"

    You may want, but don't need, wads.
  4. rodwha

    rodwha Well-Known Member

    It would be better to get an adjustable powder measure. You can also use spent cartridge cases for fixed measures.
    30 Carbine: 20 grns
    32 ACP: 7 grns
    380 ACP: 10 grns
    9mm Luger: 13.3 grns
    38 Spl: 23 grns
    357 Mag: 27 grns
    40 S&W: 19.3 grns
    45 ACP: 26 grns
  5. unknwn

    unknwn Well-Known Member

    Something I have learned here and over at the Firing &*# forum is that you should NEVER cycle the action from half-cock to hammer drop -or- to put it another way: If you half-cock the hammer for loading or other purposes ALWAYS pull the hammer back to full-cock position before settleing it back to full rest (hammer down) position.
    That aforementioned tip will help you to avoid the wear ring in the bluing or metal surface of your cylinders where the bolt notches are cut.
    And never, ever, dry fire these cap and ball guns (at least the Italian reproductions) because that does awful things to the hammer striking face and the nipples.

    Magna brand screwdriver bits from Brownell Co. to fit a Colt 1873 should provide all the proper sizes needed for your black powder revolvers.
    Traditions Co. sells a brass tool that is described as a four-in-one that I really like. It can be used to knock out the wedge (when paired with a suitable -small- hammer, while also having a nipple pick and a cap/decap notch on the blade. Less than eight bucks if you buy it right.
    Rydon/RMC/Ox-yoke sells a hardened nipple wrench that is shaped to work on all revolver cylinders, #ML063 , again about eight dollars and I don't think there is a better buy out there for a quality wrench.
  6. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    Very good advice from the fellows above, especially unknwn's comments on dry firing and cycling the gun from half to full cock.
  7. Mictlanero

    Mictlanero Well-Known Member


    DRY FIRING: Yes definitely i know this is bad - I read that one can put tape in the hammer channel or aquarium tubing on the nipples to be able to dry fire since it can smooth the action if you can stop the hammer from striking the nipple and damaging both - i tried putting a bit of tubing on one nipple so that it stuck out some but still allowed the cylinder to rotate - i fired it 1x - technically it worked, but it just seemed wrong so i did not do it again.

    Thanks for helping me with this - but i am a bit confused now... perhaps i used the word "cycling" incorrectly as i meant rotating the barrel during 1/2 cock, not moving the hammer.
    So in the Pietta instructions/safety manual it there is a section on p 27 for Decocking - i think i may be understanding it wrong. I understand it to say that from full cock to de-cock you:
    First fully draw the hammer back and hold it while pulling the trigger back, then slowly with your thumb let the hammer come to rest on the nipple, while holding the trigger back (I am assuming one releases the trigger at this point).
    Second you pull the hammer until it click on the 1/2 cock notch. In this position you can rotate the cylinder - (that is what i did and what i meant by "cycling" - so for example in the 1/2 cock position if i want the hammer to rest between the chambers of the cylinder in a "safe" position or an an empty chamber, i would move it to this place while in 1/2 cock - correct?).
    Third, , the manual says on p. 27 #7 "Slightly draw the hammer rearward and pull the trigger. When the hammer past (sic.) its half-cock notch (half-cock notch loading position), lower it slowly down against the frame."

    So what confuses me is, when they say to pull the hammer past the 1/2 cock notch do they mean pull it ALL the way back or just a bit? The way i was doing it, I pulled the hammer back a ways from 1/2 cock but not enough to click into full cock position - just a bit, then I pulled the trigger and this releases the hammer which i can then set down against an empty cylinder or between the cylinders on a "safe" spot.

    So, am i doing it wrong :/ ?

    Sorry if I sound confusing, but I am confused, lol
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  8. TheRodDoc

    TheRodDoc Well-Known Member

    They wern't quite right about letting the hammer down from half cock in above posts. The guns are made to let the hammer down from half cock to one of the cylinder pins. This is not what leaves the drag line on the cylinder.

    BUT after the bolt drops, Just before full cock, is the point where you have to go on to full cock. If not the bolt will drag aginst the cylinder if it was not in the proper position.
  9. rcflint

    rcflint Well-Known Member

    Lowering the hammer from half cock will lock up some revolvers, depending on the particular gun's timing., if the bolt drops just a hair past half cock, or the bolt's split wing springiness is weak causing the bolt to drop prematurely, the action will be jammed between the hand and the bolt and the cylinder can't turn. Safest thing to fo from half cock is to draw the hammer back all the way to full before lowering it.
  10. Pancho

    Pancho Well-Known Member

    Now I'm confused. Do you go from hammer at rest on the nipple to half cock or do you go from full cock to half cock to cycle the cylinder without wear on the cylinder?
  11. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Well-Known Member

    You pull the hammer back from rest (on the nipple) to half-cock to free the cylinder. Then to full cock and that lockes the cylinder. You can lower it to half-cock again but the cylinder will remain locked.
    The only way to free the cylinder is to lower it completly and then bring it back to half-cock. It is not a good idea to rest the hammer on a live cap on a loaded cylinder (!) so be careful with the weapon.
  12. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    All the way back. I think it will be helpful to describe the interaction of the hammer, bolt and cylinder. Here's how it works:

    When the hammer is down (resting on the nipple), the bolt is raised through the hole in the frame and resting in a stop notch on the cylinder.

    Pulling the hammer back from that position causes the bolt to drop back into the frame, freeing the cylinder to rotate.

    When the hammer reaches half cock the bolt is fully retracted, so that while the hammer is in half cock the cylinder is free to rotate. It will only rotate in a clockwise direction when viewed from the back (breech end) of the gun.

    As you pull the hammer further back from half cock the bolt remains lowered inside the frame, so the cylinder is still free to rotate (left to itself, the cylinder will be moved into battery, or the firing position, by a device called the 'hand'). Just before the hammer reaches the full cock position the bolt is released and snaps up into position in a cylinder stop notch, keeping the cylinder from rotating further. The hammer then goes into full cock. This is the 'in battery' position.

    To decock the gun from full cock, simultaneously pull the hammer further back from full cock just slightly and pull the trigger, holding the hammer back with your thumb. The bolt will remain raised in the stop notch preventing cylinder rotation as the hammer is (carefully and slowly!) lowered all the way to the full down position.

    It is possible to move the hammer from half cock to fully down without going to full cock first by pulling the hammer back slightly (releasing it from the half cock notch), holding the trigger back and lowering the hammer, just like you would do from the full cock position. However, if you don't go all the way from half cock to full cock, the bolt will remain free to rise up through the frame and contact the surface of the cylinder as the hammer drops. This is what causes the scratches on the cylinder surface.

    To prevent the bolt from raising onto the cylinder surface you must first pull the hammer back into full cock; that's the point where the gun's timing is designed to raise the bolt into the proper stop notch location rather than onto the surface of the cylinder. From that point the bolt will remain locked into the notch and the hammer can be lowered without scratching the cylinder surface.

    You can observe this interaction by removing the cylinder from the frame and cycling the hammer, watching the bolt position with respect to the hole in the frame.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  13. unknwn

    unknwn Well-Known Member

    Thank you mykeal for explaining the interaction of the bolt to the cylinder stops & hammer position so much better than I felt able.
    When I brought the subject up it was in hope that the topic would get the attention that it well deserves, Anything to help the less-informed to NOT impose those ugly marks prematurely to thier otherwise new? guns is worth the time spent.
    And again, please refrain from dry-firing cap&ball revolvers, I was the recipient of a used and otherwise pristine stainless '58 that the original owner abused horribly by dry-firing and I just despise the results of that exercise in poor judgement.
  14. TheRodDoc

    TheRodDoc Well-Known Member

    mykeal wrote:
    It is possible to move the hammer from half cock to fully down without going to full cock first by pulling the hammer back slightly (releasing it from the half cock notch), holding the trigger back and lowering the hammer, just like you would do from the full cock position. However, if you don't go all the way from half cock to full cock, the bolt will remain free to rise up through the frame and contact the surface of the cylinder as the hammer drops. This is what causes the scratches on the cylinder surface.

    The Guns were designed to have the hammer lowered from half cock. This is the only way to put the hammer on a safety pin in between two chambers. This alone is not what causes the drag line on the cylinder. What causes that drag line is when some uninformed person tries to rotate the cyl. by hand while the hammer is almost down or slightly raised while the bolt is still at rest on the cylinder.

    To go from half cock to the safety pin you hold the trigger and pull back the hammer just enough to release it. Then with your other hand rotate the cyl. to line up a safety pin in the center of the hammer notch. (the bolt is not against the cyl. yet) Then lower the hammer onto the pin.

    From there you pull the hammer all the way back to full cock to fire. Without rotating the cylinder by hand.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  15. Mictlanero

    Mictlanero Well-Known Member

    Thanks! This is making it much clearer. TheRodDoc, your explanation is very helpful and clear. Also when you mentioned - "This alone is not what causes the drag line on the cylinder. What causes that drag line is when some uninformed person tries to rotate the cyl. by hand while the hammer is almost down or slightly raised while the bolt is still at rest on the cylinder."

    The manual is poorly written on p.11 where it discusses putting the hammer on the "safety" position - it would be very easy for people to get those drag marks on the cylinder from following their directions verbatim: "Slightly pull the hammer backward so that the cylinder is free to rotate. (this makes it seem like you don't need to go all the way to 1/2 cock which seems to be exactly what causes those drag marks - they also don't mention depressing the trigger). When the pin is lined up with the hammer slit release hammer downward the cylinder. With a hand slightly rotate the cylinder right or left until the pin gets into the hammer slit."

    I am glad I am learning about this here because you certainly can't learn everything from poorly written manuals.
  16. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    Don't think for one minute that we all just figured this out one day and didn't mark up a few cylinders along the way ourselves. Just sayin....:evil:

Share This Page