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1851 secrets

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by TheRodDoc, Nov 11, 2010.

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  1. cheatin charlie

    cheatin charlie Member

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    I believe one of the reasons Colt and others did not have the cap jams we have today
    is the caps were a lot milder back then and did not fragment upon impact. When I started shooting black powder in the late 60's the caps pretty much stayed together
    and did not split open like the ones do today. They started making them hotter when
    substitutes became available. Everyone brags about how hot their new caps are but
    I do not believe we need hotter caps for black But, we have to use what we got so
    Treso nipples and Remington # 10's and weld up the hammer and you are good to go.
     
  2. Hellgate

    Hellgate Member

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    Cheatin' Charlie,
    I do have some older caps and they are brass and pretty thick. They did not smash to pieces when popped. Maybe that is a clue to the mystery.
     
  3. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    FWIW, the old time caps were copper and were made to split so they did not have to be removed. They were made from a stamped out piece of copper shaped like the Red Cross cross, then pushed through a die to form the cup. Solid drawn caps are a relatively recent invention, and (IMHO) a PITA.

    The standard military drill with the Colt was to point the revolver back over the shoulder, cock the hammer and shake the gun before bringing it back down to firing position. The shake caused the fired cap to fall free. (Incredibly, the army taught that "over the shoulder" motion well into the M1911 era, even though I am informed that fired caps rarely hung up the auto pistol.)

    The slot in the hammer never had any purpose other than as a safety device. Many repro makers put the slot in the hammer but do not install safety pins in the cylinder; apparently they have no idea what the slot is for.

    Proper caps (with proper flash holes) should not extrude back into that slot and it is not intended to pull caps off the nipples. In fact this is the first time I have heard such a thing. The "ring" in the receiver boss is designed to fully seat caps in case the user was in too much of a hurry to do so, and it is a good idea to turn the cylinder by hand one turn to make sure all the caps are seated before firing.

    Jim
     
  4. TheRodDoc

    TheRodDoc Member

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    If you all will look at my first picture again, notice that every cap is split nearly to the center. the excess gas pressure escapes through this split into the slot in hammer and is directed downward under hammer. this greatly reduces the chance of blowing the hammer back. thus allowing cap to stay on nipple till it can be rotated on to outer side of ring.

    the reason the caps all split like this is because of the perfect tight fit on nipples.

    View attachment 130668

    X in this drawing is a cap with an incorrect fit on the nipple. this allows the metal of the cap to be pulled in to wards the center from all sides and quite passably getting pushed into the hammer slot like some say happens.

    i have never had that happen.

    in the other side of drawing the cap fits tight across the top of the nipple. when the gas pressure tries to push this cap into that hammer slot it tears the cap with no extra metal to wedge into hammer.

    the inside dia. of cap should be same dia. as small end of taper of the nipple. then when it is pushed on with a fairly good push, the skirt of the cap is spread open to make a perfect fit. these caps will all split about the same as i have shown. I use a straight in-line capper which makes it very easy to push it on hard enough.

    This is what i meant by measurements from recoil pad and outer side of ring. they need yo be as close as passable without dragging. this because of too much powder in caps now days. for when cap is fired, theres way more room from end of nipple and recoil shield. It takes every bit of nipple length to keep spent cap over that ring. these are with the cyl. held back tightly. use a small wood hammer handle wedge to hold it there while measuring.

    (these numbers are for unfired caps pushed all the way tight on the nipples)

    View attachment 130669

    I had to file the ring a little deeper (towards the arbor) from the hammer slot to where the caps can fall off at the loading gate because the arbor wasn't exactly centered in that ring. new unfired caps wouldn't rotate past that side.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2011
  5. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    It certainly seems that you're on to some important factors involving reliability and thank you for clearly explaining them to us.

    I'm curious if the reliability of your gun really is affected if a larger powder charge or another type of powder is fired?
    Should an 1851 Colt be so sensitive to either of the above factors even if the gun is properly tuned as you mentioned?

    Lastly, what brand and size caps do you use? Does the brand or size matter or are all brands equally good as long as they fit the factory nipples properly?
    When there are cap jams, is the brand of caps being used ever at fault?
    Thanks. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2010
  6. TheRodDoc

    TheRodDoc Member

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    arcticap,
    thats a pretty good question.
    that will have to be the next test. I switched to the FFG because after pulling a couple balls from a FFFG load, i found a lot of fine crushed powder in chambers from ramming the ball to hard. it was so hard to seat the ball on powder without doing that and raising the chamber pressure even higher, so i just went to the FFG. between fitting nipples to cci no. 10 caps perfectly and the powder change all hammer blow back stopped.I can't use any other caps now. only CCI 10's. they are just exactly the right size to clear that ring on recoil shield.
    FFG just seems to be perfect for the 1851 colt. I did carefully load one chamber without crushing it with FFFG and the next with FFG with a normal heavier ramming and shot the sheet of steel with each. 24 grains volume each. hammer stayed down on both of those. the appered to be fairly equal by my crude test below. (don't have a chronograph)

    both flattened balls measured about the same thickness in center. 1 was .210" and 2 was .215"
    both fired from same 25 yard mark. both were same dia. too, about .690" dents in steel were the same depth too. neither caused the hammer to blow back and lose a cap or problem..
     
  7. sonnymiami

    sonnymiami Member

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    i am a collector not a shooter, but after reading this i started watching alot of video on youtube of C&B revolvers being fired and you know, i saw only one with a cap jam.
    and if cap jams were a big problem i think Wild Bill Hickok would have been dead sooner. since from what i`ve read he carried two `51 colt navy`s the whole time.
    i`m just making observations, not looking for arguments.
     
  8. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    Well, you'll get no argument from me, only a comment that it was a lot more common to carry more than one percussion revolver than it was with cartridges. Part of that was, of course, the reload factor, but I have to think it may have been for misfires and jams as well. In any case, them ''smoke wagons'' sure are fun, aren't they?
     
  9. sonnymiami

    sonnymiami Member

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    i like to collect them, but never fired one.
    although i`ve fired alot of smokeless catridge guns.
     
  10. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    you're missing out on a LOT of fun.I went through about ten years where I hardly took the cartridge guns out of the safe.
     
  11. sonnymiami

    sonnymiami Member

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    i think i`m to lazy to have to do the cleanup on the gun afterwards. plus i got two genuine colts, i won`t fire those. and all the other`s are over 20 years old, so i don`t want to fire those either. HA !
     
  12. GeoffC

    GeoffC Member

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    I've been keeping up with this thread, but i either missed or forgot something:

    How do you know if you're keeping your hammer down/not getting any blow back?

    I think I might be having this problem with my 1858 Remington Pietta. The caps are blown clear from the cylinder after shooting. I put "cap keepers" on, just like what I put on one when I'm going to carry it for a few days, and the cap keepers kept the caps there, but the center of the cap would have a hole blown through it.
     
  13. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    I'd say you have a lot of pressure coming back though the nipple which is almost certainly blowing the hammer back.
     
  14. robert garner

    robert garner Member

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    How do I go about bringing my 51 into these specifications?
    I would love to obtain like results, I am no 'smith but have ready
    access to a kitchen table,and the will.
    robert
     
  15. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    ''I think I might be having this problem with my 1858 Remington Pietta. The caps are blown clear from the cylinder after shooting. I put "cap keepers" on, just like what I put on one when I'm going to carry it for a few days, and the cap keepers kept the caps there, but the center of the cap would have a hole blown through it...''

    Time for new nipples...the venturi effect is ruined by either over aggressive cleaning, or black powder corrosion. Hold the cylinder up to the light...if you can see through the nipple holes, they have become enlarged. You should be able to see only tiny ''stars'' of light.Cones, or ''nipples'' are made specifically to give a ''shaped charge'' effect, and it's surprising the number of folks who either don't know this, or think they can ''improve'' things by drilling them out bigger. When I was young and dumb[er] I did it myself. This single modification is [IMHO] responsible for most cap jams, and the percussion revolvers modern reputation for unreliability. Get some quality nipples in your pistola, and watch your problems disappear.
     
  16. rcflint

    rcflint Member

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    caps

    I have to agree the notch in the hammer can and will grab caps and unseat them. The depressed face on the pictured hammer is not gas cutting, unless the caps all blew out the striking face. The clearance adjustment of the hammer nose from the nipple must be made with the cylinder pulled full back against the recoil shield. If the clearance is checked with the cylinder forward against the barrel, the hammer can stike the nipple if the cylinder drifts back, and mark the hammer face, as well as getting struck by the recoiling cylinder upon firing.

    Colt always had the safe pins in the belt and holster pistols. Colt originals had mainsprings borrowed from heavy duty coaches. The very heavy mainsprings did two things, they assured a hard strike on the cap, even if the gun was dirty, and kept the hammer pressed hard enough on the cap to prevent it from being blown back from gas pressure upon firing.

    Modern made repros, though many are fairly heavy in the mainspring, are not as heavy as the originals, and I noticed that the Italians are making them even lighter lately.
     
  17. Mossyrock

    Mossyrock Member

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    I had three Ubertis in a row have mainspring weak enough to produce failures to fire. I replaced them with Colt factory SAA mainsprings. They had to be trimmed a bit in length to fit, but now when the hammer falls, those guns go OFF!
     
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