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Uberti Cattleman revolvers with crater around firing pin hole.

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Bibbyman, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    20171104_152236.jpg

    I bought a pair of used Uberti Cattleman revolvers online. Got them and first shots they locked up. I quickly discovered that there was a concentric crater around the firing pin hole. The primers would bulge out into the crater and lock up the gun. Naturally, the guy I bought them from swore they were not like that when he shipped them.

    A retired gunsmith said it looked like a case of the primers being pierced and gasses eroding the metal away.

    I have them with a gunsmith that is first going to try TIG welding the craters. I have some Pietta firing pin bushings on order in case the TIG weld does not pan out.

    We have 8 other Uberti Cattleman revolvers and none have any cratering.

    Has anyone else had or seen this problem? Any suggestions as to repair?

    I was told to sale them on line to trade them at a gun show. But that would make me as dishonest as the guy I bought them from.
     
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  2. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    I have seen this on b the breech face of trapguns, but only after many tens of thousands of rounds.
     
  3. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    I bought a well used Uberti Cattleman that ended up with the same problem. First couple of rounds were fine, but after a cylinder or two of shooting the cylinder would bind up. Running my finger across the firing pin hole there were sharp edges that seemed like brass buildup, which was causing the issue. I took a small file to that area to clean in up and it seemed to do the trick. I've put close to 700 rounds through her since and it's getting close to time to do it again as I can feel some sharp edges coming back.
     
  4. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    If the welder is good a TIG repair should succeed and be very durable. I think you are wise to see this as the primary option. I've seen more intricate repairs.
     
  5. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    Smoke Wagon primer Nov 2017_1509827685655.jpg
    My first center fire pistol was a Uberti Cattleman that I bought in mid-70s. It is in 45Colt. I shot it a lot with Elmer Keith heavy loads. It would rase a burr at the bottom of the firing pin hole and I'd stone it off. We are into cowboy action shooting now and shoot a lot of rounds through Uberti Cattleman revolvers and the burr is something I check for when I clean them.

    But this is not a burr problem. It goes much deeper than that, if I can use that phrase. It's a moat around the pin hole. The primer extruds back into the moat.

    Taylor's said it was firing over pressure handloads. The original owner said he only shot black powder reloads. Black powder will never generate high pressure like smokeless. But black powder burns very hot. If he was getting pierced primers, then maybe that's what caused the damage. These two pistols are consecutive serial numbered. Maybe Uberti didn't get the case hardening right?

    My retired professional gunsmith buddy built competition handguns and said he'd seen this problem in both revolvers and autos and it was caused by the firing pin being too sharp a point and piercing the primer. I think old military guns had a similar problems because of corrosive primers that would erode the tip of the firing pin and enlarge the hole to the point the primers would get pierced.

    Thanks for your comments. I'll keep you posted on the repair outcome.
     
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  6. RainDodger

    RainDodger Member

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    In my experience, your problem does not look to me like erosion from pierced primers. It's too concentric and smooth. I have a rifle bolt damaged from pierced primers and it's a rough circle, not concentric by any means. It looks like the steel was gouged out in tiny pieces - not smooth at all.
     
  7. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    The damage was done when I got them. The original owner has not confessed or explained the damage. He only says, "I didn't have a problem with them.". That kind of like saying, "It depends on your definition of it.". I asked if he'd used some kind of punch to hammer down the burr around the firing pin hole because that was my first guess. He didn't replay to that question.

    One significant difference when comparing the Uberti Cattleman to a rifle bolt is that the Uberti frame metal is much softer. I think that's true of many revolvers and that's probably why Colt, Pietta and others use a bushing made of hard steel.

    I guess the damage could be some factory defect. If not an error in machining, maybe the frames were not case hardened enough or at all. (I don't think the Uberti Cattleman are really color case hardened but use some kind of salts bath dip.) They are consecutive serial numbered so if they had a bad run?

    I contacted Taylor's with pictures and they said it was caused by an overcharge reloads. The original owner says he only shot black powder reloads. I don't think you can possibly create high pressure with black powder reloads.
     
  8. shootist2121

    shootist2121 Member

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    You are missing the firing pin bushing..If you look at the photo at 1:00 the is a peen mark where it should hold the bushing.. The bushings get pushed out from dry firing with out a snap cap..Find a gunsmith with single action revolver experience.
     
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  9. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    There never was a bushing. The ring you see is only a couple of thousands deep.

    I did get in 4 Pietta firing pin bushings today. They are .088 thick by .342 diameter and have coined edge. I hope the TIG weld does the job and I won't need them.
     
  10. shootist2121

    shootist2121 Member

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    I bought mine used also and rounds were dragging badly.. Then it fell out leaving a crater just like your pic.. Luckily I had a gunsmith strong in cowboy shooting and he pressed it back in and peened it.. Been shooting it fine for years now.. Just saying
     
  11. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    Would that have been Frank the Gunsmith or Jackson Rose or...?

    The guns are with Frank the Gunsmith at this time.
     
  12. shootist2121

    shootist2121 Member

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    No.. My smith was F&D guns here in Missouri..I also would have used OTTOCOMP if F&D couldn't, but the later known for 1911's.. Hope it works out
     
  13. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    F&D is Frank the Gunsmith.
     
  14. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Member

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    You are missing the firing pin bushing. end quote.

    I agree,from the pic, that the bushings are missing. I can't see how that 'crater' could be made any other way.
     
  15. shootist2121

    shootist2121 Member

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    I think so.. Been a couple of years.
     
  16. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    John, I sent you a message. Did you get it?
     
  17. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    There was -- at one time -- a flat-face bushing there:
    Cattleman_Pin_Bushing_Lost.jpg

    Actual Colt SAA here, but you get the picture (photo credit to Driftwood Johnson)
    coltrecoilplate.jpg

    There is absolutely no way that the depression in the OP's picture can be in any way original/functional, since the primer will back out into the depression -- and stay there/locking up the cylinder
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017 at 4:26 PM
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  18. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    The Original Poster asked me to chime in on this one.

    What I have to say may be relevant, particularly since somebody has already taken the liberty of posting one of my photos.

    I can tell you that for the longest time, Uberti absolutely, positively did not put recoil plates (which is what Colt calls the bushings in question) into their single action revolvers.

    I seem to recall reading recently that one of the Italian reproduction companies has started putting recoil plates into their single action revolvers. Not entirely sure which company, I seem to recall it is Pietta, not Uberti.

    In any case, for many years, Uberti absolutely, positively did not install 'firing pin bushings' or 'recoil plate bushings' or 'recoil plates', or whatever you want to call them, in their single action revolvers.

    Thereby hangs a tale, to quote the Bard.

    Back around the year 2000, when I first started shooting Cowboy Action, I bought a used Uberti/Cimarron Cattleman, chambered for 45 Colt. It was finished in what was called their Charcoal Blue finish, and it was beautiful to behold. But it had some problems as I was soon to discover. Messing around with the gun, before taking it to the range to shoot it, I gently lowered the hammer all the way down onto a live round. Let's not get into an argument about whether I should have done that, which clearly I should not have. Anyway, when I went to cock the hammer, the gun froze up. The cylinder was locked in place, and I could not cock the hammer at all. I could not bring the hammer back to half cock to unload the gun because the cylinder was frozen and would not budge. I started to panic because I was in the basement with a loaded gun that I could not unload. Yeah, I should not have been in that situation, as I already said, but there I was. Eventually I was able to very carefully coax the hammer back to half cock. Even so, the cylinder would not spin, and I still could not unload the gun. I pulled the cylinder pin out, and keeping the gun pointed as safely as I could I managed to work the cylinder out of the gun. Imagine my surprise when I saw a deep, fresh scrape across the cartridge head and the primer that had been under the hammer.

    It turns out, there was a raised burr around the firing pin hole in the frame. The burr had grabbed the primer pretty tight, and was preventing the cylinder from spinning, which was what bound up the gun. I had been shooting single action revolvers since I was a kid, but this was a new one on me. What had happened, is every time the hammer fell, the firing pin contacted the steel of the frame, and over time it had peened enough metal over to raise a burr around the firing pin hole. Which is exactly why Colt installs a hardened recoil plate in the frame around the firing pin hole. The firing pin in a Colt or Italian replica is mounted in the hammer with a rivet. At least until recently when Uberti came up with their new design with the retractable firing pin, but that is another story for another time. The rivet allows the firing pin to wiggle up and down a little bit. When the hammer falls, the tip of the firing pin moves through an arc centered on the hammer pivot screw. The firing pin hole in the frame is funnel shaped, because it would be impossible to drill a hole exactly following that arc. So the firing pin is allowed to wiggle a little bit in the hammer because it has to 'find its way' through the hole. In the process, the firing pin rubs against the metal of the frame. Over time, as the firing pin rubs against the frame many times it can eventually displace enough frame material to raise a burr, which is exactly what had happened with my Cattleman. That is why Colt installs a hardened recoil plate in the frame. The recoil plate is harder than the frame, and even though the firing pin will still be displacing a tiny amount of metal, the burr does not extend through the hole in the recoil plate. Smith and Wesson installs a hardened bushing in their frames for the exact same reason. This particular Uberti, absolutely positively did not have a hardened plate installed, so the firing pin had raised a nasty burr that was scraping across primes, creating a real problem. I suspect the original owner got rid of the gun because of this, and unsuspecting me came along and bought it used from a shop and discovered the problem.

    At first, I took a fine file, and carefully lapped the burr down until it was level with the frame and thought the problem had been solved. Burt low and behold, the burr returned, even though I did not dry fire the gun at all. Just normal firing raised the burr again. So I took a very long drill bit, covered everything but the tip with masking tape, and inserted it down the barrel and turning the bit by hand very carefully put a very small chamfer around the hole. Just a tiny amount. This solved the problem. The burr probably returned, but it was raised up into the void created by the chamfer, and did not interfere with primers or cartridge heads again.

    But there absolutely, positively was no hardened bushing in the frame of that revolver.

    I eventually sold that gun, because it had other problems.

    A few years later I took a chance on another Uberti Cattleman. I was careful to inspect the firing pin hole for any raised burrs this time, and did not find any. But eventually this gun developed the exact same problem. The problem, was not as bad, the burr never locked up the gun, but I could feel a burr starting to rise. My solution was the same, I still had the drill bit, so I repeated the same operation. I still have that Cattleman. Here is a photo of the firing pin hole in the frame. The 'halo' around the hole is a mark left behind by primers slamming back against the frame over and over again in recoil. It is not a pressed in bushing. If there had been a hardened bushing there, my drill bit probably could not have bitten into it. You can see the tiny chamfer my drill bit left around the hole, as well as a couple of small chips it created. No, the chamfer is not big enough to create any problem with primers flowing back and locking up the gun.

    firingpinholeuberti.jpg




    Here is the photo of the hardened recoil plate pressed into the frame of a 1st Gen Colt. Notice how large it is. About .300 in diameter. They are about the same size in 2nd Gen Colts too. I have not bought a new Uberti or Pietta in years, so I have not seen what they are putting into the frames these days regarding recoil plates or bushings. If the Original Poster's gun that he bought used, is missing a recoil plate you can see how much smaller in diameter the plate was than a Colt recoil plate. No wonder dry firing may pop them out.

    coltrecoilplate.jpg




    In retrospect, I do not believe the 'crater' around the Original Poster's firing pin hole was created by hot gas from pierced primers eroding the metal away. The popped out hardened bushing scenario makes more sense to me. But note that the OP states his problem is with Uberti guns, and he has ordered Pietta bushings on order.

    I still don't know for sure exactly what is going on here, unless Uberti has started installing bushings too. But they ought to be bigger in diameter and pressed in better.


    That's about all I have to add to this post, hope it has been useful.
     
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  19. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    Thank for your reply,

    The original picture I posted was taken by use of an endoscope that has a ring of lights. It shows the "mote" in sharp contrast. If you look at it with your naked eye in normal room light, it can be mistaken for just a dark halo around the firing pin hole. If you look harder in good light, then you can see the crater. The mote is maybe .150 diameter and maybe .002 deep. For certain, not big or deep enough to be a hole for a bushing.

    Note that the crater in my picture is smaller than the halo in Driftwood's Uberi picture. Look at the fired primer and see the bulge that formed from being pushed back into the crater. The bulge is smaller than the primer.

    The primer in my picture is a Winchester. We loaded some with CCI magnum primers that are nickel plated. They all fired and didn't extrude back into the crater enough to lock up the gun. But, that's not a fix because I suspect the crater will only deepen.

    The crater on the second gun, one serial number higher, is not as large or deep as the one pictured and not caused a problem - yet.

    I don't know that the crater was caused by pierced primers and gas cutting. That was the response from a retired professional gunsmith that I know by actual experience that he's very knowledgeable in gun repair and problem diagnosis. But his judgment was from looking at the same pictures I posted here. It very well could be the frames are just softer than others and the metal is peening back.

    Frank at F&D Gunsmith sent me an email this evening saying the outside welding service he asked to TIG weld the crater refused to weld them. So we're on to plan B, install a Pietta firing pin bushing.

    We proceed on.
     
  20. rondog

    rondog Member

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    That's one of the most well-written and understandable explanations I've ever read! Well done, and thank you! Must go fetch my Cattleman now for a lookie.....
     
  21. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you for the education Driftwod Johnson.
     
  22. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    Exactly what was happening with my Cattleman that I referenced earlier in the thread. Thanks for the drill bit tip. I'm noticing the burr is slowly building up again, so I'll use the drill bit and see how it goes.
     
  23. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    Update,

    I don't know if it's good news or not but Frank, two other cowboy gunsmiths, and Tammy Loy of Taylor's (by phone) had a confab this morning. The short story is that they think the crater around firing pin hole is not significant to require repair. They did discover a problem I already knew existed but didn't think it as much a factor as the crater. That is that the firing pins are too short. And the tip of one has some damage. They suggested new firing pins of the correct length and properly shaped may solve the problem.

    We got the guns back and I'm going to repair or replace the firing pins and see if that helps.
     
  24. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Be real careful. I had a really long drill bit laying around that was long enough to reach all the way down a 7 1/2" barrel. Wrapped almost completely with masking tape to protect the bore. Fairly large diameter, probably something over 1/4" in diameter, if I recall correctly. I have no idea where it is now.

    My point is, you want to chamfer the hole just a teeny, tiny amount. I may have chucked the bit in a chuck, I don't remember. Maybe I did it on my drill press, I don't remember. Anyway, I turned the bit very gently by hand, just taking a teeny shaving off. Too much and you might have problems with primers flowing back into the hole, locking things up. I will confess, I have not shot that Cattleman much anymore since I bought a couple of 2nd Gen Colts about ten years ago. With hardened recoil shields in them.
     

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