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Springs, caps and nipples.

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by jmaubin, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. jmaubin

    jmaubin Well-Known Member

    I have a Pietta 1860 Army revolver, .44 cal. steel frame. Been having two problems. Spent Caps gumming up the works, but that was covered well by Pulp, so won't go there.
    The other I find even more frustrating. Its miss fires. I been using Remington # 10 caps, Have heard that they burn hotter, tryed using a nipple pin for cleaning the nipples on each nipple before each loading, but still having the same problem. each time I load there is one or two misfires. to clear I have to remove the cap, use the nipple pin again recap with a new cap, then they fire normally, My questions are should I wait and run my nipple pin after I load the cylinders? Or use another brand of caps? replace My hammer spring ( pistol seem to cock very easy). Or even something else that I haven't heard about yet. Any info would be great.
  2. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    Your description leads me toward a weak hammer spring. That's unfortunately not uncommon but it is easy to fix. You can install a new hammer spring without much expense or effort or simply stiffen up the current one, although that may turn out to be just a temporary fix.

    Simply place a small wedge of wood or leather between the spring and the grip frame so that is restricts the length of the spring leaf that can bend when you pull the hammer back. This has the effect of shortening the leaf fulcrum and stiffening the spring. It should make the hammer harder to pull back and then exert a higher force on the nipple when it's released.

    You might also back the nipples out a half turn, or even a full turn - that will place them closer to the hammer face and perhaps get a little more impact force.
  3. pohill

    pohill Well-Known Member

    Have you stripped it down to see if there might be a spent cap jamming the works?
    I use #11 caps in my revolvers for the following reason:
    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 also beefed up a mainspring the way Mykeal suggested and it works great.
  4. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    Pohill - good point.
  5. Acorn Mush

    Acorn Mush Well-Known Member

    I am a bit unclear as to your exact problem. Are the caps going off but the powder in the respective chamber does not ignite? Must you recap because the priming compound has fallen out of the cap and blocked the flash channel in the nipple, requiring the use of your nipple pick? Have you tried to fire the problem chamber(s) by rotating the cylinder and recocking the hammer for a second strike?

    Are your misfires always on the same chamber(s)? If so, the nipple cones might be slightly oversized or have been mushroomed from dry-firing, in which case you could polish them down slightly so the caps can be placed fully down on them.

    You may also want to consider getting a spare set of nipples. Treso makes properly sized, high-quality nipples to fit most any C&B revolver :).

    Hope this is of some assistance to you. Shooting these "charcoal burners" is fun, so please don't be discouraged. I am certain your problem can be resolved pretty easily.
  6. scrat

    scrat Well-Known Member

    nope thats not the problem. Let me see if i can explain for him.

    I had the same problem on my WALKER. every load i would have 2 or 3 cylinders that would not fire. I would too remove the cylinder. then sometimes i would remove the nipple and pour a little powder from behind then use the nipple pick to loosen the powder. Then it got me thinking on those cylinders did the cap even go off. I loaded up a full cylinder again. and Yes i had 2 fail to fires. but i noticed the caps to not fire. You know when you put on caps on a empty cylinder to make sure they are free. then you pull the trigger and get that (POP). Well i did not have it. So i was thinking hammer spring myself. I then took out my conversion cylinder and loaded 6 rounds of 45Colt. Every round went off. Every one. When i took the cylinder out i inspected the rounds. They all had deep strikes in the primers. Every strike was the same size. So i knew it was not a week hammer spring when firing percussion. Next on the list i ordered a set of nipples. Brand new Treso Nipples. Tried it again at the range. PROBLEM IS GONE.

    Change the nipples
  7. pohill

    pohill Well-Known Member

    I always start with the least expensive, easiest fix. In this case it would be checking for pieces of spent caps in the gun and checking the nipples for blockage or deformity.
    Then I would try #11 caps and make sure I seated them properly.
    Then I would beef up the mainspring if it needed it.
    Last would be nipple replacement, which I have never had to do.
  8. scrat

    scrat Well-Known Member

    I had no spent caps in mine and the main spring was strong as found in the centerfires. i was using #11 caps.
  9. pohill

    pohill Well-Known Member

    Ah, Grasshopper, but you did go through the steps, and nipple replacement was correct for you (now can I take out these contacts that make me look blind?
    "Grasshopper, where are you going?"
    "To The History Channel to do some Wild West Tech shows."
  10. scrat

    scrat Well-Known Member

  11. texfed

    texfed Well-Known Member

    when I first got my Walker, years ago, I had a FTF problem also. After going nuts for a while at the range, I found the culprit...cap metal was falling down between the hammer and frame providing enough clearance so the hammer was not making full contact with the caps on successive shots.
    Once I found that out, never had another problem.
    I use #11 caps.
  12. WARDER

    WARDER Well-Known Member

    hi see my tread on next door <making a cap and ball revolver work ..
  13. kwhi43@kc.rr.com

    kwhi43@kc.rr.com Well-Known Member

    Sharpen Your Nipples

    I always found when I had this problem, the nipples needed to be sharpend.
    The top of the nipple should be sharp and not flat. I do this with a 1/16
    drill bit going into the nipple a little to get it done. Some new nipples you
    buy and some on new guns need to be sharpend before you ever use them.
  14. Omnivore

    Omnivore Well-Known Member

    There are a number of reasons why a C&B would misfire. He still hasn't told us whether the caps are failing to fire, or whether the caps are firing but not igniting the powder. That he is using a pick to "solve" the problem would at least suggest that the caps are firing reliably, but the powder isn't lighting. We also don't know what kind of powder-- real black ignites more easily than Pyrodex, or so is the common wisdom.

    That being said, my Pietta Colt hammer was impeded by several things: Rough bolt cam on the hammer, hammer rubbing on the frame near the top, weak mainspring. I fixed the binding issues and installed Treso nipples, and the weak spring is no longer an issue.

    There are other possibilities, like the hammer binding on the hammer screw, or binding in the frame nearer to the screw, or the cap fragments already mentioned, or a rare case of the hammer just not reaching the nipple properly before it bottoms out on the frame (too much "headspace").

    If the caps are firing but not the powder, problem could be bad powder, grease or oil in the nipples, and not much else.
  15. sundance44s

    sundance44s Well-Known Member

    I would tend to beleive if the caps are going off and the chamber not fireing ...improper or no prefireing prep work was done ...The flash hole is small ,it doesn`t take much debris to clog up the hole and cause a miss fire ...Caps are getting expencive , but it is important to pop a cap on each chamber before loading the first load. I`ve gone to as much trouble as too use an alcohol q tip down each chamber before leaveing the house for a range trip and still poped a cap over each chamber ...never a problem ...these guns are cleaning sensitive. With proper care they can be as dependable as a cartridge gun ...well untill they swallow a spent cap ..thats another story ...might be why Wild Bill carried a pair ....never split a pair !
  16. Sagetown

    Sagetown Well-Known Member

    Wish jmaubin would let us know if the caps were firing. Here's what I know about the new Remington #10's. They fit very snug on the Pietta 1860. If they're not seated all the way down on the nipples, you'll notice a lot of flash and possibly a misfire.

  17. Hellgate

    Hellgate Well-Known Member

    I suspect he has a couple of short nipples that can be easily shimmed up so there is adequate contact with the hammer (or just a smidge short of actual contact). Mark or note which chambers that aren't firing. You may find there is more of a gap between the hammer face and the nipple. Shimming the nipple up a few thousandths will fix the problem in the misfiring chambers.
  18. jmaubin

    jmaubin Well-Known Member

    thanks for all the info, its gives me a lot to follow thru on, but will use all that yawl have said, thanks again.

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