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Uberti Cattleman revolvers with crater around firing pin hole.

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

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  1. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    That gun was made in the early 1880s. Even though I used the word 'cratering' it really is just a slight depression around part of the firing pin hole. That depression was there when I bought the gun a few years ago. Made no doubt by the impact of primers backing out before being reseated by recoil over the years. All primers back out when they are fired, and then they are reseated as the case slams into the recoil shield. The old steel used to make that gun was probably relatively soft by modern standards. No hardened insert, despite Merwin Hulbert's undeserved reputation as being the finest revolvers made in the 19th Century. No repair has been done, the gun does not get fired much, only with Black Powder loads when it does. Primers do flow into the depression slightly, but not enough to impair the function of the gun.
     
  2. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    Thanks,

    Your comment on the Merwin Hulbert being made of soft metal relates to the comments made by the first gunsmith I aproched to install a Pietta firing pin bushing. He refused to work on Uberti because the were made of soft metal. The implication was that they were not worth the effort to repair.

    Ironically, the second gunsmith begged out of installing a bushing because he'd have to buy a special carbide cutter because the Uberti frames were too hard to cut with standard mill bits.

    My Googe research has turned up a lot of conflicting "facts" regarding the hardness or softness or case hardening of the Uberti frames. Many state that the color case is just color and no case hardening.

    Uberti makes a big deal of their frames being forged rather than cast. But forged of what metal?

    I've deburred the insides of many Uberti Cattleman revolvers and I'd say they are soft rather than hard.
     
  3. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Uberti uses a hot chemical dip to 'case harden' their revolver frames. Not true bone case hardening in the traditional sense, but it does impart some extra surface hardness. Not the same as the chemical wash that Ruger was using for the Vaquero when it first came out. Uberti frames are forged, not cast, although some of their internal parts are cast. I can clearly see a parting line on the hammer of the one Cattlemen I still own.

    There is a video on Youtube that shows the processes Uberti uses to make their single action revolvers, but I hesitate to refer to it because it is full of misstatements and inaccuracies. But it does clearly show a forged frame prior to final machining, and shows the frames being dipped into the hot chemical bath. Corresponding over the years with several gunsmiths, they have reported there is a bit of surface hardness on an Uberti hammer and trigger, but it does not take much to cut through it and get down to the softer metal underneath. Specifically what alloy Uberti uses for their frames, I have no idea, and I doubt they would tell you, that is proprietary information. But I have no doubt it is a modern carbon steel of some sort.

    I have no idea what the Rockwell hardness is of a modern Uberti frame, and I have no idea of what the Rockwell hardness is of that old Merwin Hulbert. I will tell you that when I did that minor surgery to that Uberti frame a long time ago, the bit was a standard high speed drill bit, not carbide. Seeing as the MH was made in the 1880s, I suspect the steel it is made from is softer than a modern Uberti, but I have no specific information to back that up.
     
  4. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    I think there are two clues to the hardness or softness of the frame on a Uberti Cattleman; 1) It's very common that a burr is formed at the bottom of the firing pin hole from the firing pin slapping down into it. 2) Maybe not so common is the practice of drilling a hole in the frame above the lift grip frame screw to install a Ruger-type coil spring paw and plunger. I've seen the paw spring mod documented and they don't mention the frame being hard or special drill bits used.

    I may have to make a test drill hole under the grip frame area to see if a common drill will cut it. (I'll wait until Mary is not around.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
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  5. RainDodger

    RainDodger Member

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    Driftwood, that was a master-stroke of description! My compliments.

    Here's a little food for thought. A couple years ago I bought what was THE filthiest single action revolver (.357 Mag, 4") I have ever handled! I knew next to nothing about it other than it looked like it had possibilities and it was "inexpensive" shall we say... and my local gun shop and I get along really well. It followed me home. Long story short, I cleaned that baby up and underneath all the grime was a pristine Pietta with a nearly perfect finish and a gorgeous case-hardened frame. So far, so good.

    Since I'm lucky enough to have a place to shoot handguns at home, I grabbed some .357 target rounds and went outside for a test. What I had, was, "failure to rotate"... Similar to "failure to communicate", but I don't look a lot like Paul Newman or Cool Hand Luke.

    Skip forward - I found the same, very slight, cratering around the firing pin hole that you guys are talking about. It was interfering with the cases and not letting them rotate freely. The only difference is, this Pietta DOES have a steel insert. It must not be real hard, but it's definitely there. I just grabbed the revolver out of the safe and verified it. At the time, I dressed the raised area down very carefully and it has been good ever since. I don't shoot it a lot however, and I pretty much never dry fire my weapons.

    Good luck with the repair(s). After reading all of this, that firing pin hole will be something I always check. (I own a S&W Combat Masterpiece purchased new by my dad in 1955 (for $50 even!), and it has been dry fired thousands upon thousands of times. Of course there's a recoil plate in there, but there is not the slightest hint of any raised edge. I just checked it out. Thanks everyone!)
     
  6. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Skeeter Skelton reported burring of firing pin holes in bushingless Ubertis 40 years ago. He recommended not dry firing them.
     
  7. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I learned a long while ago that things like that bushing cost a lot to add and if it was not needed they would have not burdened themselves with the added cost and time required to add such items in the first place. It is a quality for price ratio that the customer is willing to live with that determines features IMHO.
     
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  8. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    Firing pin length gauge for 11 cents.jpg

    In the process of restoring the firing pin length, I discovered that a dime is .048 thick and a penny is .058 thick. Kuhnhausen's Colt book specific firing pin protrusion should be .045 minimum to .056 maximum. So if it's shorter than a dime or taller than a penny, maybe it needs attention.
     
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  9. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Did I mention I am glad to see you used a nice old Grain of Wheat penny, and not one of those crummy modern ones?
     
  10. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    I think pennies were copper until 1983.

    A while back I was welding a trigger plate from an L. C. Smith double barrel that was broken through the trigger slots. I found that a penny would make a good filler to keep weld out of the slot. Not thinking, I used one of the new junk metal pennies and the heat from the welding melted it away. I didn't use a wheat leaf but found a couple made before 83.

    Real copper penny is also handy to scrub off a rust spot.
     
  11. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    The wheat pennies went away in 1959, replaced by the pennies with the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side. I remember it well, because I was collecting pennies in those days. Wish I still had my collection, but that is another story for another day.

    Just did a search and the metal used to make pennies is quite interesting. From 1793 until 1857 they were pure copper.

    From 1856 to 1864 they were 88% copper, 12% nickel.

    From 1864 until 1942 they were 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc.

    In 1943, because of the war time need for copper, most of the pennies made were zinc coated steel. It gets more interesting than that, but that's all we need to say here.

    From 1944 until 1946 they were 95% copper and 5% zinc, but get this, some of them had spent brass shell cases mixed into the alloy.

    1962 - 1981, they were actually made from brass, (95% copper, 5% zinc).

    In 1982, because of the rise in cost of copper, the government started trying different alloys. The cost of copper had risen to about 1 cent per penny and it did not make economic sense to continue making pennies with a high copper content. So ever since 1982, pennies have been made from zinc with a plating consisting of 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper.

    The government has been trying to eliminate pennies for years, because they cost more to make than they are worth, but so far the public has prevented that from happening.

    An interesting side note is the Pennies for Old Ironsides campaign of the 1920s and 1930s.

    https://www.navyhistory.org/2012/08/pennies-for-old-ironsides/

    Today The U.S.S. Constitution is still on view at the old Boston Navy Yard, I have been on board twice. About twenty years ago she needed new masts, the old ones were rotted and unsafe. Somebody found some old timbers in storage at the Navy Yard and new masts were made. Old Ironsides is the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. Every year she gets taken out into Boston Harbor and turned around so she will weather evenly on both sides while at her dock. She sailed under her own power, very carefully because she is priceless, in 1997 to commemorator her 200th birthday, and again in 2012 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her most famous battle when she defeated the British ship H.M.S. Guerriere. This battle was when she gained her nickname Old Ironsides as the British cannonballs bounced off her oak sides.

    Just thought I would add that in.
     
  12. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    I made a video of my method of repairing a firing pin. It wasn't really necessary in this case as I have 6 new Uberti hammers that have firing pins in them that I could have used or I could have just bought new ones.

    I've used this method to repair firing pins in old double barrel shotguns where it's difficult to find a replacement pin.
     
  13. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    [​IMG]

    Before.,,,

    smokewagon firing pin repair March 2018.jpg

    After... We picked up our Uberti Cattleman Smokewagons from Ahlmans gun shop in Morristown Minnesota on Wednesday . I'm very pleased with the quality of the repair. They have ranges on their grounds and they had no problems letting us test fire them before taking possession.
     

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  14. BBBBill

    BBBBill Member

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    I have often heard good things about Ahlman's.
     
  15. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    I've had good dealings with them.

    The first time I was considering a Winchester Model 12 and asked if they had some dummies I could try to see how it cycled. The salesman reached under the counter and handed me 4 live rounds and a card to take it to their range and test fire it. I guess I looked honest.

    Another time I spotted an old MEC 600 with a dirty tag with $95 marked out and $75 marked out and $65 under that. It was on a plywood base about 1'x2' with trim to contain spills. I figured I could at least use it to deprime and prime hulls. I took it to the register and the guy said it had been around a long time and he'd just make it $50. Ok by me.

    They are not exactly in our neighborhood being an 8 hour drive. But their on our way to where one of our sons who lives west of Minneapolis.
     
  16. waho

    waho Member

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    So how did they repair them?
     
  17. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    TIG weld.
     
  18. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    Very often firing pin bushings are intended to be a permanent assembly, so much so that some parts diagrams don't even show them as a separate part. (WWII M1911A1 pistols have a screwed-in bushing installed in the slide for the same reason; it is rarely mentioned in discussions o that pistol. Today, most 1911 type pistols have hardened slides, making the hardened bushings unnecessary.)

    But that hole looks too shallow for a screwed-in bushing. I wonder if the maker simply cut a groove and soldered/glued in a simple flat ring of hardened steel; it would serve the same purpose as long as it stayed in place, and probably would not be shown on any parts diagram since it was never supposed to be removed or replaced.

    Jim.

    P.S. If the above is correct, the "nick" in the frame at 1 o'clock is probably from an early owner attempt to keep the "bushing" in place when it started to come loose.

    JEK
     
  19. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    The Uberti Cattleman revolvers don't have bushings. The crater pictured looks deeper than it really is. I took the picture with an endoscope.

    A retired professional gunsmith that built competition handguns said it looked like erosion from hot gas from pierced primers.
     
  20. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    I seriously doubt that pierced primers would cause that condition, no matter what anyone says. The repair is a very nice job and well done, but of course very risky for other than an expert.

    Jim
     
  21. shootist2121

    shootist2121 Member

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    I have a Uberti Cattleman and mine has a bushing.. It was loose and I had it testacked as I stated earlier in this post.. To say they don’t is misleading.. perhaps different years were manufactured differently.
     
  22. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    I have some notion that the larger frame 44 Magnum and possibly the stainless may have bushings. I have a Cattleman dating back to mid-70s that does not. We have 10 Uberti Cattleman dating from 2008 through 2017 that do not have a bushing.
     
  23. shootist2121

    shootist2121 Member

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    Interesting?..Mine is 357 caliber..Well who knows..
     
  24. Bibbyman

    Bibbyman Member

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    Can you post pictures and maybe give more details of model and about when it was made?
     
  25. shootist2121

    shootist2121 Member

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    Well .. Here it goes
     

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