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Tricks to removing nipples

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Norton Commando, Mar 27, 2011.

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  1. Norton Commando

    Norton Commando Member

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    Does anyone have any tried and true methods for removing old crusty nipples from a revolver cylinder? My 1860 Colt Army has nipples that probably haven't been removed in 140 years or so and are still holding tight in their holes despite my best efforts to unscrew them.

    Also can anyone recommend a quality nipple wrench that can withstand significant torque without the wrench deforming or breaking? Also, what methods have you used to successfully remove super stubborn nipples?

    Thanks and regards,

    Jason
     
  2. robhof

    robhof Member

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    robhof

    First a thorough washing with soap and water to remove b/p residue, dry with low heat or hair dryer then soak in penetrating oil or auto trans fluid and acetone 50/50 mix. There's a seller on EBay and other gun auction sites that sells a ratchet and nipple wrench combo that's pretty good as far as being able to torque it. I would suggest a soak overnight for the 1st try.
     
  3. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 Member

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    soak the cylinder overnight in something like WD 40. if all else fails you could drill out and tap the cylinder to accept new ones. although on an antique you might not want to do that. try just soaking it overnight and see how far that gets you. you may be able to remove some but not all.
     
  4. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    After soaking in a penetrating oil, try this...

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Norton Commando

    Norton Commando Member

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    Is that a nipple socket there Junkman? If so, where can I get one?
     
  6. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    You can make one with a dremel tool, or buy one from The Possible Shop with the ratchet wrench (page down for the revolver wrench/socket).

    The 50/50 acetone/ATF mix is an excellent penetrating oil. Soak overnight. Install your nipple wrench/socket, give it a sharp rap with a brass or steel hammer, then one good firm tightening stroke. That's right, tightening. Then attempt, slowly and making sure the wrench is firmly true on the nipple flats (any misalignment will cause it to slip and probably damage either the nipple flats or the wrench) attempt to loosen the nipple.

    The problem will be applying enough force while keeping the tool properly aligned. It's almost impossible for a human to to that using a handle like a screwdriver; the ratchet wrench is easier but still problematic.

    When all that fails, do the following: put two small dowels in chambers on opposite sides of the cylinder. Chuck the dowels in a vise installed on the bed of a drill press so that the offending nipple is under the jaws of the drill chuck. Unplug the drill motor and disengage the motor drive from the drill head. Install the nipple socket or wrench in the drill chuck and tighten. Run the drill head down until the socket is firmly seated on the nipple and lock the head in place. Now turn the drill head by hand to loosen the nipple. Since the drill press is holding the socket in place on the nipple you can apply all your effort to turning the head and not be concerned about the socket slipping on the nipple flats.
     
  7. WALKERs210

    WALKERs210 Member

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    What "MYEAL" SAID...
     
  8. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Put the cylinder in boiling water and unscrew the nipples while it's still hot.

    It's been mentioned to use a hot plate to slowly cook the cylinder in transmission oil on low heat for as long as takes, letting it soak in the cool oil between heating sessions, or until ready to boil it in water.
    Go slow, it could take days to loosen up while ruining it only takes a minute.

    RMC makes a good hardened revolver nipple wrench. It's listed under revolver and pistol accessories:

    http://www.rmcsports.com/catalog.htm
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
  9. Chawbaccer

    Chawbaccer Member

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    Your gun is 140 years old, are you going to shoot it? Just leaving it as it is is the best way to preserve any collector value.
     
  10. napp

    napp Member

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    One of the best solvents/release agents I have found is called PB Blaster. It can be found in most auto parts stores and the auto section of Walmart.

    If you are uncomfortable with leaving your entire cylinder submerged in a solvent overnight, there is another way to soak the offending threads of the nipples. Plug the holes in the nipples with toothpicks (the round ones). Break or cut the toothpicks to equal lengths so that the cylinder will stand upright on them. Like an old fashioned water tank on legs. Stand the cylinder upright on the toothpicks and fill each cylinder chamber with about 1/4" of PB Blaster. Let sit overnight.

    Secure the cylinder in a vise that has well padded jaws and remove the nipples with a well fitting, strong nipple wrench. The racheting type offered the most leverage when I used this method.
     
  11. Norton Commando

    Norton Commando Member

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    Hey guys - thanks so much for all the excellent suggestions. The dowels and drill press concept was especially clever.

    Chawbaccer, yes I have shot it and will continue to do so. As long as I don't change out parts for aftermarket ones, it shouldn't lose any of its historic value.

    Jason
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2011
  12. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    Congrats on having an original Colt.

    Everyone has great suggestions, the only thing I will add is that the "soak" time on something like this should be a week, or month, as opposed to overnight. (Submerged in a can of solvent for a week.) Take it out of the solvent and try all six....remove the unstuck nipples, dunk the rest back in for another soak.

    Junkman"s wrench is great. I made one from a socket, and one from a nutdriver. I cut the slot with a file that just happened to be the right size. It only took about 20 min to make both tools, and they work great.
     
  13. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    I, too, like junkman's wrench. It's a great everyday tool, but we humans don't do well applying heavy torque loads with such a device - it's a matter of stability. For those (hopefully) rare occasions where high torque is needed a ratchet wrench or in the limit resorting to the drill press is the better course of action.
     
  14. Noz

    Noz Member

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    I bought an impact driver from Harbor Freight.

    Soak the cylinder for a "while". Use a good nipple wrench like the Possible Shop device and smack it hard with the impact driver.

    May work, may not. It has worked on a few junkers I have bought and not at all on others.
     
  15. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    The cut down socket can be used with either a ratchet handle, or drill press. There is no down side.
     
  16. scrat

    scrat Member

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    PICs of such gun
     
  17. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Mykeal's technique works with stuck screws also; just substitute a stubby screwdriver for the nipple wrench.

    Jim
     
  18. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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    Warm the cylinder by soaking in hot tap water for a few minutes, then plunge it into ice water. Spread a penetrating oil on inner and outer nipple ends, and repeat the hot and cold baths. The differential expansion and contractions between the nipple and cylinder threads will draw the oil in. I've done it, it works.
     
  19. Norton Commando

    Norton Commando Member

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    Stuck nipples update!

    Well thanks to this forum I was successful in removing all the crusty nipples from my old 1860 Colt Army.

    I soaked the cylinder in WD 40 for four days and purchased the ratcheting nipple tool from the Possibles Store that mykeal suggested. I then tightened two dowels in my vice, another great mykeal suggestion, and slipped the cylinder over them to act as backup. Then I carefully fit the ratcheting tool down over each nipple and gave it a hefty pull. Each nipple came free without any drama whatsoever!

    Thanks again all !!!
     
  20. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    You're welcome, and be sure to use anti-seize on the threads when you install them so you'll never need to do it again.
     
  21. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    mykeal wins this one
     
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