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What causes this?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by jgh4445, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. jgh4445

    jgh4445 Well-Known Member

    My 1861 will not go to half cock. I can pull the hammer back far enough for the bolt to drop down, but the hammer will not stay back at this point and allow the cylinder to turn. Have to hold the hammer back with my thumb to turn the cylinder. It will go to full cock and fire just fine. Full cock advances the cylinder as it should.
  2. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Well-Known Member

    Broken hammer? Half cock notch missing?

    Someone abusing it before you got it, likely.

    These are not hard to take apart, and in fact the original bozes for the old Colts had instructions to take them apart rignt on the lid. Google for disassembly instructions. It's not difficult, and it should be obvious what's wrong when you get it apart.


  3. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Well-Known Member

    I'm thinking Willie nailed it, busted half cock notch on the hammer. Maybe the top of the trigger, which acts as the sear. The top of the trigger being busted will sometimes have that effect, as it doesn't ''reach'' the half cock notch, but it's not as likely.
  4. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    Willie - you need to take a trip back through the sticky, Black Powder Essentials, at the top of this forum. It contains threads that describe the disassembly of both Remington and Colt cap and ball revolvers. There's no need to use Google to sort through the forest of some good and some bad resources.
  5. 44 Dave

    44 Dave Well-Known Member

    Squashed cap in the works?
  6. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    I suspect it's a broken hammer notch.
  7. jgh4445

    jgh4445 Well-Known Member

    I took it apart and the trigger wont go into the half cock notch deep enough to catch. Looks more like the notch wasn't cut deep enough rather than being broken. Can't see any shiny metal on the lip of the hammer notch to indicate breakage. There is no wear of the bluing at the top of the trigger where it catched in the notch, the blue is still on the trigger spring etc. I don't think it had been fired as there was no powder residue when I first cleaned it. Tried to get a picture of the parts. The hammer has a, for lack of a better word, "round disk" protruding from the side. It is worn down on one side so that it looks like a wedge. The bolt also has wear on one side in one spot and not the other side. Maybe you can see from the pictures. The rest of the pictures are below.

    Attached Files:

  8. jgh4445

    jgh4445 Well-Known Member

    The rest of the pics

    Attached Files:

  9. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Well-Known Member

    I really can't tell much from those photos.
    The round disc you describe as being "worn down" is a cam and ought to be that shape.
  10. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Deepen the notch with a needle file.
  11. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Well-Known Member


    This, and retry it.

    Hammer should be hard, file should cut it. You don't need much. Question is if you will cut thru a hard layer into softer metal under it (case or surface hardening) or not. If you do, and you use it a lot, it'll start wearing the surface. You can always reharden it at home with a torch and a few tricks that we can get into if required. If you only take off what you need and are sensitive to machinery as you use it (guns are just machines) it'll probably be just fine after you file it a little and reassemble.

    Now with all that said... these things are all CNC made and real dimensional flaws are very rare. It's "possible" that there's a burr someplace that simply preventing the trigger from moving up where it belongs. I'd start out by minutely inspecting it all, and smoothing off burrs that you find (drag a bit of your ladies old panty-hose over it and they will catch on burrs), cleaning it all perfectly with a spray of Brake-Kleen, lubricating it properly, and reassembly for trial before I took a file to anything. Check the frame too.

    Mykeal, thanks for the pointer to the stickies. Too close to home, like me never visiting the statue of liberty in 45 years of living ten miles from it.


  12. J-Bar

    J-Bar Well-Known Member

    I'm not trying to disagree with Willie or 4v50 Gary, both of whom know more than I do...

    but it looks to me like the half cock notch is deep enough, but it may be too narrow to allow the trigger to enter it.

    With the trigger and hammer in hand, will the trigger slide into the half cock notch easily? If not, widen the notch on the hammer. For goodness sake don't work on the trigger or that will mess up the engagement of the trigger with the full cock notch.
  13. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Well-Known Member

    It might be a good time to point out the old trick of assembling things on the OUTSIDE of the frame of a pistol using the appropriate screws threaded in from the outside as locator pins to watch and see the geometry of how things work when later assembled inside the frame.....

    When I worked on 1911's and S&W's daily, I had precision bench jigs with pins of the right diameter spaced precisely to replicate the pin spacing and geometry of the Colt and Smiths. Drop on the pieces and you could see and fit things with ease. The outside of the frame and the original screws threaded in from the side and used as posts to locate things to visualize them is a good expedient trick. Fingers substitute for springs to see how things line up.


  14. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    I suspect the top of the trigger, which is very thin, has broken off and the remaining part is too wide to go into the half cock notch. Unfortunately, the pictures don't show the trigger, only the hammer, so I can't be sure of that.

  15. jgh4445

    jgh4445 Well-Known Member

    Top of the trigger is fine. I ran over all parts with 800 and 1000 grit paper, filed the half cock notch a bit deeper and dressed the top of the trigger with 1000 just to be sure there were no burrs. Got it back together and the trigger goes into the half cock notch just fine and goes on to full cock advancing the cylinder just fine. Hammer drops when the trigger is pulled. However, with the hammer at half cock, the cylinder will only turn to the first notch it gets to. The bolt is not dropping to allow free spin.
  16. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Now the issue is the bolt is popping up too soon?

    You may have to increase the engagement of the bolt to the cam pin on the hammer.
  17. jgh4445

    jgh4445 Well-Known Member

    Hey thanks Gary..what's that look like in English? I'm sure no gunsmith. The bolt pops up exactly when the hammer engages the half cock notch.
  18. kituwa

    kituwa Well-Known Member

    From what i can see in your pics the hammer looks fine. I think the problem will be the bolt itself. It has two thin curved legs on the back of it,one leg doesnt do much except put a little tention on the bolt so it sits in the frame right and the other leg is what goes over that small cam in the side of the hammer.That leg that rides on the hammer cam is picky, it is part of what times your gun to lock up at just the right moment. When the hammer is drawn back that leg will slip off of the cam and allow the bolt to pop up and lock the cylinder.It should pop up just a tad before the cylinder notch is in place.That leg that rides on the cam will usually be bent uo a tiny bit more than the other leg and will be bent out to the side a bit. Sometimes you can just bend the leg up a bit to make it slip off the cam later or it may just need to be bent out the side more to give it more tension. Its hard to say without actually having the gun in hand. Those legs to break off easy so only bend them a tiny bit at a time, it dont take much.Always a good idea to keep a replacment bolt on hand for Remington or colt guns as this is one of the parts that can go bad. Also the cylinderhand and the trigger/bolt spring. If you watch on ebay you often see complete parts kits for cap n ball guns at good prices and it is a good idea to pick one up just in case. Also see complete screw sets for the cheap,i have seen them for like $12-15 . And, if you get a scew set you cane anneal and then re-harden them so you have a set of screws that the slots dont waller out like is common. 45dragoon knows what he is doing , he could re-time the gun for you and i think he hardens screws too. In your pics of the hammer i see marks on the side of it. Those come from small burrs or rough spots in the frame slot the hammer goes in. Glue you some 400 grit wet or dry paper on a popcycle stick to smooth up that frame slot. If you want you can come over to the house and i will help you work on it. I actually have a shop building and tools and such here again so it will be much easier than our last table top endevour,lol. That way i can shoot your new .36 also!
  19. jgh4445

    jgh4445 Well-Known Member

    Hey thanks, Goon has my '60. When it gets back I'll just send him my '61.
  20. jgh4445

    jgh4445 Well-Known Member

    Just to be prepared if one breaks I went ahead and ordered a new bolt (Taylors was almost $10.00 cheaper than Midway) a new trigger and a new trigger spring.

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