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The wedge on open top Colts...

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by halfmoonclip, Oct 13, 2021.

  1. halfmoonclip

    halfmoonclip Member

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    Always assumed the wedge was used to compensate for wear on open tops...
    Took the wedge out of a Mason Richards cartridge conversion replica, and got to thinking about it when replacing it.

    What purpose does the wedge serve, other than simply facilitating field stripping?
    How tight should the wedge be when replaced?
    BTW, it struck me that the wedge made a comeback on the early parallel ruler Colt autos.
    What say ye?
    Thanks in advance,
    Moon
     
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  2. denster

    denster Member

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    In the open top Colts the wedge has one purpose and one purpose only and that is to lock the two units together as one. Due to errors in manufacture by the replicas in having a short arbor a fallacy arose that the wedge was used to set b/c gap or adjust for wear. Taint so!
     
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  3. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    I think quick removal for field stripping and cleaning was also a consideration. Otherwise a screw would have sufficed.
     
  4. JCooperfan1911

    JCooperfan1911 Member

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    This.

    Rifles of the day often used similar wedge to pin barrels into stocks. It’s sole purpose is to hold the bits together.
     
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  5. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Denster is correct.
    As far as how "tight it should be", it should be " driven in" according to original instructions. The intent is to hold the 2 assemblys together UNDER TENSION. Otherwise, it is just a poor attempt at doing the same job and will get beaten up while doing so.
    This is only possible if the arbor is long enough to bottom out in the barrel assy, which means the "arbor length" is what determines the barrel/ cylinder clearance. If the arbor is too short, driving the wedge in will cause the barrel to contact the cylinder and lock the revolver up . . . proof that the arbor is short.
    All the open top copies that have been made have short arbors (no matter who made them - even the Colt 2nd/ 3rd gens !!) except for the Pietta offerings of the last dozen yrs or so.

    Mike
     
  6. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    The 2nd gen 1860 I just bought has a barrel cylinder gap of about .005” with the wedge in tight. I don’t think it’s been worked on.
     
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  7. whughett

    whughett Member

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    You’ve had to post that explanation so many times it should become a sticky. ;)
     
  8. woodnbow
    • Contributing Member

    woodnbow Contributing Member

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    It’s probably assigned to F2 on his keyboard…
     
  9. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    I know what you're saying but you are out of room with the wedge screw in place. Remove the screw and then run the wedge in all the way. I promise the arbor is short. I just did that on one of 2 S.S. 2nd gen Army's Otherwise, you can just drop a small washer in the arbor hole and see if you can assemble the revolver. If you can assemble it, the arbor isn't bottoming out.

    Mike
     
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  10. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    The wedge screw is not in the way; the wedge barely reaches the opposite side of the barrel.
     
  11. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Well, OK C Younger. All I can tell you is you've got to SMACK the wedge (you can't be timid - you're not gonna hurt it!) I know the wedges on the belt pistols don't have that long of a wedge but on the the Walkers/ Dragoons they are quite a bit longer than the width of the barrel. It's very easy to lock the cylinder with the wedge screw in place. On the Army/ Navy the screw will interfere. With the screw off and the wedge in all the way the cylinder will be locked up.

    If you don't want to do that test, all you have to do is drop any thin washer in the arbor hole and assemble the revolver. That will show you there is space between the arbor and the end of the hole. I've been doing this a pretty long time and if yours is correct it belongs in a museum!! I don't have any reason to lie so take it as you wish. As I posted above, all 8+ that are here are short. Every one I've ever worked on has been short and every one I will see in the future will have a short arbor. I never check them first, I just make the spacer for it and fit it as usual. That's just the way it is.
    Good luck with your revolver.

    Mike
     
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  12. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    I don’t know what to tell you. I had to hit the pin with a brass hammer to get it in where it is. I have no intention of hitting it harder to prove you right. Maybe I just got lucky. 03FBAE01-F5DA-4011-B845-DF5D1107C19D.jpeg 9B68B16E-41C9-4013-AB56-3FC5BCCF0C11.jpeg 1740CF1C-6B5E-47EA-897B-A17AD4D4BCAB.jpeg
     
  13. Captain*kirk

    Captain*kirk Member

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    Mike, weren't those SS Colts manufactured by Allen? They might be built to different specs.
     
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  14. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Cap., that's a thought but I don't think it matters. All of them have room for a spacer.

    C Younger, I understand and I'm not asking you to hit it any harder than you're comfortable doing . . . that's why a simple washer down the tube was mentioned a couple of times. You don't have to hit anything. How about a pic of the arbor hole? It may have been fixed. The 2 Stainless examples I have are just like all the rest. BTW, get yourself a "machinist hammer". It has hard plastic heads and will leave no marks.
    Also, did you try with the screw removed?
    20211013_214859.jpg

    Of these two, one locked up without the screw removed, but other wouldn't until it was removed. Also, there's a machinist hammer.
    Mike
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
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  15. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    I can try the spacer. The wedge doesn’t even get close to the screw head, so I didn’t see a reason to remove it. I also placed the barrel on the arbor 90 degrees offset and rotated it, it bottomed out and there was still a cylinder gap (if that makes any sense).
    I’m aware of what you are talking about because my Pietta had that issue when I got it. There was a lot of friction between the barrel and cylinder if the wedge was pushed any more than light finger pressure.
    I’m not doubting your experience with the 2nd gens, I’m just saying this particular gun doesn’t have that problem. If there was a repair or modification done it was flawless and I don’t think a picture will be able to capture it. I’m not home right now, but if I think about it later I’ll take some pictures of the arbor and hole.
     
  16. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Perhaps CYounger's new toy was made using an overly long "out of spec" arbor and by some odd chance it just fit?

    I do agree that this would be a stretch. But it's possible.

    When I added bottoming pucks to the nose of my Colt clone arbors they all needed to be a good .05 to .06 long (thick) to fill the space. Said pucks then being dressed as needed to set the cylinder gap. So at least on the older import clones there's lots of gap to fill.
     
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  17. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Again, I understand what you're saying but, it's hard to see the very edge of the screw head and the slope of the spring. Like my post above, one didn't need it removed, the other did.
    And, the 90° thing isn't a good test at all. That isn't a valid test. The only REAL test is the two I've already mentioned.

    Mike
     
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  18. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Haaaaaa!!!! I get it!!! a "stretch " !!!! (hey BC !!)

    I don't know BC, it happens from time to time and folks will almost swear up and down that theirs is good, and then later find out . . . the arbor is short. I wish Larson hadn't ever mentioned that stupid 90° test !! It isn't even close to reliable and will only work after the arbor gets a good dressing. Most folks ( none) are going to do that before doing that test.
    That said, 2 infallible tests are drive the wedge in with the wedge screw out and/ or drop a washer in the hole. Oh well . . .

    Mike
     
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  19. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    It passed the screw test, but I’m getting the impression that I will not be able to convince you, and that’s ok. If you ever find yourself in Western Oregon shoot me a message and you can stop by and see this one in a million wonder yourself. I have nothing to gain by being less than thorough in looking over the fit and finish. I’m certainly not going to argue that the gun is infallible because it’s a “genuine” Colt; I’ve found plenty wrong with with.
     
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  20. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Welp, there's only one more test.

    As far as what the arbor hole looks like, humor me. I'll show you mine! Lol
    It could also be that the arbor itself has the "fix" (just dawned on me). Is it rounded on the end or flat like all the rest. I know Hoof does them that way. Could be that it's been through his shop.

    Mike
     
  21. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Here's a picture showing what the end of the arbor and bottom of the arbor hole look like.

    And C Younger, I'm not trying to badger you or "prove" anything. It's more an educational exercise for all of us. Of the two stainless '60s I have on hand, one has a barrel address that end with " . . . New York U.S. America", the other has " . . . New -York City" like yours. Incidentally, that one is the one that needed the screw removed for the lockup test.

    20211014_083625.jpg

    Here's a washer that I dropped in the arbor hole and it resulted in the ability to assemble the revolver . . . complete with lockup.

    20211014_085923.jpg

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
  22. C Younger

    C Younger Member

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    Here’s my arbor and hole. Not the best pictures but I was in a hurry to catch a plane 76828328-6315-4F08-8F78-A4E96D6DFA2C.jpeg B37F444A-4920-48EA-A10E-0D50A9E4186E.jpeg
     
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  23. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Looks conventional . . . if you wouldn't mind just doing the "washer test" when you get a chance, that'd be awesome!! Thanks for the photos!! Now, catch that plane!!! Lol. (What in the heck are ya gonna do with it if ya catch it?!!! Yikes!!)

    Mike
     
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  24. Zulch

    Zulch Member

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    :thumbup:C Younger and Mike. I am enjoying this and am learning quite a bit, Very good conversation! Thank you both. Tim
     
  25. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

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    If you have a second gen 1860 with a correct arbor from the factory then you probably have the only one and I'd have to see it in person to believe it.
     
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