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Cartridge conversion--can I do this?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by ExMachina, Jul 17, 2011.

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  1. ExMachina

    ExMachina Member

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    Can I convert a 1851 Uberti Navy using a Krist Konverter Ring and a Uberti Richards and Mason cylinder?

    I'd like to use the Uberti cylinder instead of the Krist cylinder because the Uberti one is "engraved".

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. ExMachina

    ExMachina Member

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    soooo, i'm taking it that the lack of replies means that this is a weird question... :)

    LEt me ask it it another way: i'm trying to assemble a "gunsmith"/"blacksmith" type conversion of a Colt Navy and my understanding is that all the originals used a cut-down cylinder that retained the 1851's original cylinder engraving. The commercially available conversion units only have blank cylinders.

    Are there any other "Easy" solutions out there (ie, ones that don't require custom machining of an existing percussion cylinder)?

    As a side question: how were the early cartridge conversions made anyway (not the factory conversions)? To do it, it seems like a gunsmith in the late 1860's early 1870's needed access to a lathe, and precision metal lathes would not have been something I'd think a small-/medium-size shop would have access to. Were non-factory conversions mostly done by a select few smiths?
     
  3. Hoof Hearted

    Hoof Hearted Member

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    Not doable...sorry!

    The circumference on the Uberti RM is greater, the ratchet area is shorter and the gas ring won't work on your 51.

    You could always have someone turn the back off of your factory cylinder and run a reamer through it. You will not have throats and Heel base ammo will shoot the best. When I do these I cut a nice long forceing cone in the barrel. I have done quite a few and they shoot well with proper (read this as correct period Heel Base ammo) ammunition.

    The kirst cylinder is made of too hard a material for a roll stamp. Walt tried and using softer material complicated the product which would have raised the price.
    By the way there are many documented examples of "gunsmith" conversions without roll stamped naval scenes.

    Remember that the Kirst is rated for "cowboy loads" meaning that those smokeless loads are approved and Walt has liabilty insurance. Your cut down percussion cylinder is not......

    HH
     
  4. ewb45acp

    ewb45acp Member

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    I can't answer your opening question. But as to your second, I don't believe gunsmiths were doing conversions outside the Colt factory. The term conversion and the fact that there are conversion kits for replica guns causes some confusion.
    It was explained to me that back in 1871 Colt wasn't converting cap-n-ball guns. They took an existing design and modified it. This allowed them to manufacture cartridge firing revolvers without having to to re-tool the whole factory. This was simply a makeshift solution until they had a proper cartridge gun ready for issue (the 1873).

    That said, you may want to wait a while before altering a perfectly good BP handgun. I think these cartridges, with their shiny brass cases and all, are just a passing fad. Before you know it people will be back to using proper fire arms.

    Be safe and shoot straight.
     
  5. Hoof Hearted

    Hoof Hearted Member

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    Lots of Frontier documented "gunsmith conversions" in magazines and books, just have to look! See the latest Guns of the Old West for Walt's recreation of Buffalo Bills documented 1851 conversion.

    The frontier gunsmith might not have a lathe but there were plenty of armouries in "civilized" areas that with steam power and that Edison invention would make parts to order.........
     
  6. ExMachina

    ExMachina Member

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    Ah, well, thanks HH.

    Not what I wanted to hear, but at least now I know. Might look into asking a local smith if he could machine down a cylinder for me. Then again, this all might be more than I want to invest in what will only end up being a curiosity :) We'll see!
     
  7. ExMachina

    ExMachina Member

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    interesting. how many examples are known and what's the common wisdom as to how they came into existance?
     
  8. Nicodemus38

    Nicodemus38 Member

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    very common. theres a nice example of a converted walker or 1st model dragoon in northern mexico. the percussion cylinder that left the colt factory with it was used to convert it to
    rimfire
    44 cf henry/44 colt
    45 sw

    the only parts that changed was the hammer, and they simply got a new hammer for each conversion to allow for firing pin changes.
     
  9. Hoof Hearted

    Hoof Hearted Member

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    Most of the 1860 "long cylinder" conversions are credited to Mexico.
    Try checking out Adlers book "Metallic Cartridge Conversions".
     
  10. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Here's a gunsmith named Bob Millington that does custom conversions.
    Maybe Hoof Hearted knows him?

    http://armsportllc.net/index.htm

     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011
  11. ExMachina

    ExMachina Member

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    My understanding (from other people's attempts to contact him) is the Mr Millington is MIA...for my part I emailed him a week ago and the email address bounced back as being invalid.

    (Probably not unexpected considering that his webpage has not been updated in 8 years)
     
  12. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    A free Zaba search shows that there's someone by that same name living 15.9 miles away in Brighton, CO. The record was created in 2008. If he was still gunsmithing then one would think that he would want to be found or would update his website.

    ROBERT L MILLINGTON
    3080 165TH
    BRIGHTON, CO 80602
    (303) 451-7212
     
  13. Hoof Hearted

    Hoof Hearted Member

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    Bob's work is outstanding! I have two very nice examples of his Remington thin plate conversions in my collection.

    He took a hiatus a couple years ago to build his wife a new home and he has taken up firearms engraving (quite good at it from what I understand). I'm not sure what his conversion work load is like but he has a neighbor that sends me guns..............

    HH
     
  14. Hoof Hearted

    Hoof Hearted Member

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    Here's an older Pietta that I put a Kirst in and reprofiled the grip with a patina'd finish. Still has the rammer for that frontier gunsmith look........

    [​IMG]
     
  15. ExMachina

    ExMachina Member

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    Yup, HH. That's exactly what I've been lusting after. :) A conversion that preserves the beautiful lines of the 1851. Very nice!

    However, now that I (finally) got my hands on a copy of *A Study of Colt Conversions and Other Percussion Revolvers* I'm not sure how authentic such a conversion actually is. In this book there are no examples that I see of (non-Theur) cartridge conversions that retain the rammer.

    But part of me doesn't care ;)
     
  16. ExMachina

    ExMachina Member

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    spoke too soon! i have since found photos of several "long cylinder" 1860 Army conversions that retain the original rammer.

    (and what a great reference this book is!)
     
  17. Hoof Hearted

    Hoof Hearted Member

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    There ya go;)
     
  18. gunboat57

    gunboat57 Member

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    Don't want to hijack but just trying to understand. Hoof Hearted, if you just cut the back of a cap and ball cylinder for a loading gate ring and bore the chambers through won't you cut away the ratchet teeth?

    Before:
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]

    Seems like there's not much tooth left after boring through. Wouldn't you need to install a new ratchet on the back of the cylinder that has the teeth between the chambers and use a two pronged ratchet hand?
     
  19. Hoof Hearted

    Hoof Hearted Member

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    Nope!
     
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  20. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Nope. Lots of misinformation there. There were lots of conversions done outside the Colt factory. This is well documented. I would suggest a proper book on the subject like Dennis Adler's "Metallic Cartridge Conversions".

    Colt was indeed doing cartridge conversions from the late 1860's, when the Rollin White Patent expired and for many years after. Nearly every percussion model they made was converted at one time or another. There are even original samples of Paterson belt models that were converted to fire cartridges. A percussion gun could be converted to fire cartridges for a fraction of the cost of a new Peacemaker and these were available, as well as factory built cartridge conversions, long before the Model P became widely available.

    Colt's first dedicated cartridge gun was not the 1873 but the 1871-1872 Open Top model. This design was based heavily on the 1860 but was a purpose-built cartridge gun, not a conversion. Its "S-lug" barrel would find itself onto the Richards-Mason conversions on the 1860 after they ran out of percussion barrels. This model was offered to the Army in 1871, chambered in .44 rimfire. The Army rejected it, wanting a .45caliber cartridge and a solid frame. William Mason went to work and a few months later the Single Action Army was born, which was actually late 1872. The Army made the 1873 .45Colt its standard issue sidearm and the rest is history. Only a few thousand Open Tops were produced.

    Here's a Cimarron Open Top replica .44Colt. You will notice that it has no conversion ring.

    [​IMG]


    PS, Bob Millington's work is first rate. His work has been featured in numerous movies, including several Tom Selleck westerns. I emailed him back in early 2007 and it was an 18month backlog then. He quoted me $900-$1300 for basic conversions, with or without ejectors. He only works on later model Colt percussion guns. I see that others can clue in on his current status.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  21. Hoof Hearted

    Hoof Hearted Member

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    I have a friend who is a flintlock maker........he say's,"these newfangled percussion caps are just a FAD".........I like to shoot my AK's while he is around:neener:
     
  22. makos_goods

    makos_goods Member

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    Gunboat,

    Since you're a CAD jockey go look here for what an complete conversion cylinder model would look like. It will make more sense to you.

    http://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,35765.msg458177.html#msg458177

    As you've figured out the ratchet is not ideal and with the 1871 design they began refining it. By the time they hit the 1873 they had the ratchet and hand working very well together. The two stage hand actually works relatively well even with the converted percussion cylinders.

    The thread I am directing you to was discussing the limits of the rims and why the .44 Colt was the only cartridge that fits. If you browse other posts I believe there are other instances of conversion cylinder models and discussions well. There is also a current thread talking about the '72 Open Top in .44 Rimfire.

    http://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,35624.msg494427.html#msg494427

    That is actually an Open Top cylinder in that one, not a conversion. You can see it's sort of a blend of the old and the new. it's a long thread read through it.

    Later,
    Mako

    P.S. what version of Solidworks are you using?
     
  23. ExMachina

    ExMachina Member

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    Thanks CraigC for that completely uncalled for photograph of that beautiful Colt open top replica. :fire: Now I think I need one of those too! :evil:
     
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