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Weary of the Wedge ?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Cincinnati Slim, Nov 14, 2006.

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  1. Cincinnati Slim

    Cincinnati Slim Member

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    Howdy All,

    Just wondering here...

    Here's one fer all you cap and ball gunsmith types.

    Colt revolvers have been around for about 150 years now and we're all still fiddling around with that dumb little wedge to hold the gun together.

    Once ya get it filled and fitted to easily slip into and out of the frame the stupid little spring/screw arraingement that's suposed to capture the thing just interferes with easy use or fails altogether and lets the little wedge fall out and get lost in gravel or tall grass somewheres.:banghead:

    Ain't somebody come up with a latch, toggle, thumbscrew arrangement that's better than this half*ss solution ? :confused: I carry a couple of spare wedges to replace the almost inevitable loss of the original. So far I've been lucky.

    Now I know y'all Remmie shooters are gonna feel all superior about this situation but the Colts sure are a lot easier to keep clean the way they separate into their component parts. You can shove a patch through the barrel real easy or even just dunk the barrel into hot soapy water while its off the gun. I like using a cylinder loader for it's consistent pressure and to save wear and tear on the arbor/loading lever assembly. So I'm knocking the 'ol wedge into and out of the slot an awful lot !

    Any bright ideas folks ?:confused:

    Cincinnati Slim
     
  2. pohill

    pohill Member

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    Actually, in reading through old Colt patents, the wedge screw was also meant to be used to set the "depth" of the wedge.
    One of my revolvers, a Colt Signature Series .36 1861 Navy, is so trouble free, I'm betting (well, Monopoly money) that I can switch out a cylinder as quickly as a Remmie shooter.
     
  3. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    I also have a .36 Colt 1861 I can take apart and put together very easily like that ... except mine is a Uberti I got from Dixie Gun Works. But it's still a good revolver!
     
  4. Cincinnati Slim

    Cincinnati Slim Member

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    Wicked Wedge ?

    I hear you fellas.

    My Pietta 1860 works purty good.

    I honed the wedge until it was nice and smooth and it slips in and out fine.

    But still, holdin' a gun together with a chunk of iron shoved through a slot ?

    You'd think somebody would have some up with a better solution.

    People have been tinkerin' with these things for 150 years or so.

    Maybe a little toggle lock thing to hold in and/or and capture the wedge ?

    If somebody invents a retrofit that attaches to the existing screwhole by the wedge slot there's me and about a million other Colt shooters who are prospective customers !:eek:

    Ideas anyone ?

    Slim
     
  5. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Colt DID come up with an improvement of the wedge arrangement.

    It is called the Model 1873.

    Face it, the only reason why we fool with the things is for the nostalgia, if you were to come up with some kind of " gee whiz wedge replacement" it just wouldn't be right.
     
  6. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    I agree on getting rid of the wedge. My S&W 686 doesn't have one. If you like to play with antique type guns, you go along with antique design.

    Jim
     
  7. 3fgburner

    3fgburner Member

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    Two Words...

    Rogers and Spencer. I shot an open-top Colt for around 8 years, then bought the Rogers. Actually had the bucks for a LeMat, but had an attack of common sense (dammit :( ). You can't pop cylinders quickly, like a Remmie, but it's a solid gun.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. pohill

    pohill Member

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    Cincinnati Slim, I'm with you. I actually spent quite a few brain cells thinking of a wedge replacement, maybe something adjustable, expandable, spring loaded...the problem is, I didn't have any EXTRA brain cells, so when I finally came up with a million dollar idea, it fizzled away.
    One thing that worked pretty well on my 1860 .44 Pietta - I replaced the wedge screw with one that has an oversized head, which puts a downward pressure on the wedge and holds it in tighter.
    Also, on the same gun I noticed that there was an up and down wiggle between barrel and frame (guys on the other forum, bear with me - they've heard it all). George ( gmatov) pointed out that maybe the arbor was bottoming out in the arbor hole, creating a fulcrum. I think he was right. I put a shim where the barrel and frame meet, around the alignment pins, and the wiggle is gone. I thought about filing the arbor (cylinder pin) down but, hey, if the shim works...
     
  9. dwave

    dwave Member

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    3fg, thats 3 words! :)

    Rogers and Spencer
     
  10. Plink

    Plink Member

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    Dealing with the wedge is sorta like dealing with loading lever drop on the Walker and LeMat. It's part of their character, and part of why they kept improving guns. Sorta like getting cap fragments in your arm from an underhammer, it's just part of the experience. Think of how many others before you had the same experience, grumbled about it, and wondered what could be done. Yer livin' history now! :)
     
  11. Franco2shoot

    Franco2shoot Member

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    Wedge improvement

    Here's what I would do if I had an extra wedge to play with.
    1. braze a small extension(blob of solder) on the spring(right side), and file a notch under it, so that it could be un-locked from the right side of the barrel by simply depressing the blob. I currently use a golf tee to depress this spring, then whack with tap hammer.

    2. On the opposite side, drill a hole out near the edge of the wedge that will serve as a pivot point. Now create a piece of steel that is about an inch and a half long and has a channel, this fits over the wedge, and is pinned with one of those automobile expansion pins. Cut the excess off top and bottom. The idea is to create a lever that your finger can get under and assists in prying out the wedge.

    The only remaining problem I see is that barrel removal is still sticky. I have to futz with mine for several minutes to break it loose, but my Colt is still relatively new..


    KKKKFL
     
  12. pohill

    pohill Member

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    "The only remaining problem I see is that barrel removal is still sticky. I have to futz with mine for several minutes to break it loose, but my Colt is still relatively new.."

    Do you use the loading rammer to push the barrel away from the frame?
     
  13. Plastic Cowboy

    Plastic Cowboy Member

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    Line up the cyclinder so that the loading ram contacts the space between two firing chambers. Then pull the loading lever to push the barrel off of the frame.
    Remember that these were combat handguns and are meant to be serviced in the field.;)
     
  14. Franco2shoot

    Franco2shoot Member

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    loadingram pry off

    Yes, I've tried that... Once the wedge is out I use the same golf tee so as to not scratch the chamber, but it is still stiff... I am hoping that lots of goop from my BoreButter/canola mixture will help loosen things.

    KKKKFL
     
  15. gmatov

    gmatov member

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    Franco,

    You don't know how lucky you are. Most guys are complaining that the barrel is sloppy on the arbor.

    The only thing I would reccommend is to check for a swell, bulged metal at the wedge slot. If it was hammered in at the factory, may have peened it just a bit. Touch it up with a fine file if it is.
    The wedge isn't supposed to go all the way through. The spring offers resistance to moving. The "hook" on the end is supposed to catch on the wedge screw so you don't lose it when you dismount the barrel. If it will come out, the spring sucks. I have a no name 36 that has such a weak spring I can take it out without taking out the screw.

    My ASM Mod 60 has a good spring on it, aftermarket. Got it from the gun works, make that a dot com and you should find them. Won't slip out from under the screw.

    Cheers,

    George
     
  16. RON in PA

    RON in PA Member

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    Why did you smooth the wedge? I've never heard of such a thing. It's meant to be a tight fit, needing a good rap to remove and seat. No it's not the best system in the world, but that's the way Sam designed 'em and it seemed to work OK on hundreds of thousands of revolvers. Some things are meant to be left alone.
     
  17. pohill

    pohill Member

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    To the Colt Purists...
    The Wedge rules. The Wedge is my favorite part of my revolvers. I would not change a thing about the Wedge. Living with the Wedge is living with history, which means, due to the fact that solid framed revolvers came next, my little wedge "what if" mind games are on track with 19th century designers of top straps, including Samuel Colt.

    I added a screw with a bigger head because the one that came with it made no contact at all with the Wedge. I put a shim next to the Wedge because the exit slot peened out a bit and the Wedge didn't make contact.
    Also, the Wedge screw, as I said, was meant to be a Wedge Depth Setter, not just a Wedge Spring Catcher.
    My Pietta 1860 .44 had some wedge issues, my Ubertis and my Colt have no problems at all with wedges.
    Long Live the Wedge...
     
  18. Franco2shoot

    Franco2shoot Member

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    wedge stop?

    On my 1860 Pietta, the spring is an enigma.. I never fully understoon the mechanics of how it did its job... I know it holds the barrel assembly in place, but where is the point that causes it to become snug.. I have heard it is not supposed to go all the way through, mine extends by about a thirtysecond's inch. I thought the spring was SUPPOSED to lock it in place.. From what I am hearing this is not the case. The spring on my Colt does little or nothing to keep it from falling out.. and for the most part, its usually better if I do take it all the way out or it winds up catching someting and preventing dissassembly. I am hearing that some have gone to a larger Screwhead, but I can't tell if the one I have should be tightened or loosened... it sticks if I try and totally remove the screw.. and even when screwed all the way in, there is a space, in other words the screw head does not sit flush against the barrel.

    I would like to find a setting (via honing or otherwise) that allows for quick assembly/disassembly with no other tools. And I don't what to have to take my shoe off and use that... but first I will need to know what causes it to stay put... where is the point that grabs it, surely not the spring.

    KKKKFL
     
  19. rifle

    rifle Member

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    Right on Pohill! You're the Wedgemiester! People have some troubles with Colt wedges in the beginning of their Colt cap&ball life span. Somewhere along the line most people just accept the simple and efficient mechanical device and deal with it in some mechanical way.
    The wedge helps to develope mechanial aptitude. :what: When the wedge spring hook gets in the way of the wedge removal it's because of the hook being too straight up and down sorta(Pietta not Uberti). A bevel can be filed on it to help it slide under the sharp edge on the barrels off side upper part of the barrel wedge slot. Usually the spring being harder than the barrel actually deforms that upper wedge slot sharp edge and creates a very small bevel on the edge on it's own. It shows from the shiny that appears when the bluing on the upper edge of the slot is removed by the wedge spring hook deforming it. It's a small deformation and doesn't really readily show but it's the way the spring hook finds an easier way to get under the edge of the barrel wedge slot to get out.
    A person can do a little judicious filing there on that spot on the barrel wedge slot to hasten the slight bit of deformation the wedge spring hook makes to get the wedge out easier. A person can just leave it alone and let the gun "break in" over time on it's own and the wedge will become easier to get in and get out.
    A small bevel can be filed on the wedge corner that contacts the off side rear of the barrel slot so it can get seated in front of the rear of that barrel slot easier to fully seat the wedge. Of course a person may find that hitting the wedge at an angle ,kinda towards the rear of the gun when installing it, helps get the wedge in.
    A small gunsmith ball peen hammer helps. People don't carry little hammers in the field so putting a small bevel on the wedge corner that first contacts the off side rear of the barrel slot can help making a wedge that can be seated by hand when changing out preloaded cylinders. Once that is done a wedge can be easily made to be seated by the palm of the hand with maybe a little tap with the wooden top of a small screw driver.
    A person shooting cap&ballers should always have that little screw driver on hand anyway. Making a small sheath for it so it can remain on the gun rig belt is a good idea. Just as the sheath for the powder flask and the one for the spare preloaded cylinder can be put on the cap&ball revolver gun belt rig.

    In the old days people were said to use the preloaded cylinder to loosen the wedge so it could be finger pulled to where it hooked behind the wedge screw head to remove the barrel to change cylinders. The empty cylinder was used to give the wedge a tap to firmly seat it when it's installed to ready the revolver for further shooting. That field disassembly of the barrel and cylinder to reload a spare cylinder was expected to be done by soldiers in a matter of seconds and was considered a big plus for the Colt. That is how the wedge should fit. It should pop loose with a small rap to be finger pulled to hook on the wedge screw head. The wedge should be able to be installed about 3/4th's of the way into the wedge slots and then need only a small rap with the empty cylinder or the head of a small screw driver or even the palm of the hand to seat it to put the gun into battery.
    A wedge usually breaks in on it's own from use but a person can do some judicious filing on it to hasten that process. I've done that to some Colts just for the heck of it so that the wedge can be hit with the palm of the hand to remove it and hit with the palm of the hand to seat it. That's the way a Colt can and should be when a person wants to change out preloaded cylinders easily in the field.
    Sam Colt actually had a good idea about designing the first Colt revolvers to be able to be disassembled by removing a wedge to remove the barrel and cylinder. In it's day when guns where cap&ballers that design was the best to facilitate easy field stripping to reload or clean. The Colts where considered faster to reload than the Remingtons since the Remingtons had the base pin fouling syndrom and stuck when fouled. I don't think the wedge is an ill design for the Colts. The wedge is one of the most fundamentally sound mechanical applications ever devised by man. Equal even to the lever and the fulcrum.;) If you own a Colt it's inevitable that the :banghead: will eventually turn to:D once the shooter embraces the "wedge". Pohill "The Wedgemiester" is a good example of that syndrom. ;) If there are problems with the wedge not hanging on the wedge screw so it doesn't get lost in the gravel or grass a person has to learn to not pull or hit it too much to make it pass by the screw head or ,as Pohill has done, install a screw with a bigger head or install a wedge with a better hook on the end of the wedge spring.

    Most anything that has to be done to facilitate the operations the wedge should and can perform can be readily seen and remedied by most any gun owner if the problems are defined properly and the solutions are discovered. See ya Buds.
     
  20. Franco2shoot

    Franco2shoot Member

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    great!

    Great post, great post!... especially the part about the 2nd cylinder as the tool being used... that was one of the things confounding me... I couldn't imagine "Tuco the rat" using a tap hammer to change out the cylinder. Or any other Civil war era soldier, for that matter..

    It kinda made sense to me that they would have a spare loaded cylinder, but I didn't make the connection... I also didn't understand that the sole purpose of that spring is to retain the wedge and keep it from falling out during the disassembly and reassembly process.. I actually thought the design was such that the burr on the spring was to keep the wedge locked in place during normal firing..

    In reading your description and from my experience, getting the wedge in is not really a problem. Getting the spring to NOT lock to the barrel on the off side is a problem, and it sounds like I can file either the spring, or the barrel.. is there an advantage to doing the barrel over the spring itself?

    Thanks again.. I am looking forward to buying an extra cylinder for the Colt now. At least once I get the one I have to easily disassemble...

    KKKKFL
     
  21. pohill

    pohill Member

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    Hats off to Rifle (Co-Inventor and Distributor of Junk Yard Dog Lube Pills, of which I cannot say enough good things) for another insightful posting. Another Copy, Paste and Save...(and you know, down the road, the time will come when I try to pass off your knowledge as mine haha)

    I will add that the Walker nipple wrench, with it's offset (or centered) screwdriver head on one end, is a great tool for depressing the wedge spring and pushing the wedge out.

    Just remember, once you depress a Wedge Spring, you gotta cheer it up somehow or your life will be miserable.
     
  22. rifle

    rifle Member

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    Thanks Franco and Pohill. Franco it would be easier to file a very small bevel on the barrel slot where the spring starts it for you and with time finishes it too. A Uberti wedge may be able to be installed and their springs have a beveled to it from the factory. Pohill thanks for the good words on the lube pills. Hope people heed your opinion of the lube pills and use them on the powder and under the balls of their cap&ballers even if they just make their own. Lube pills under the balls of the cap&ballers are the best way to have a more convienient and satisfying cap&baller shooting experience. The pills work better ovr the balls than greasy stuff because they stick where you put them and don't get blasted away by prior chambers firing. Someone should market the danged things for people besides my little fun thing selling a box of them here and there. Them danged lube pills belong in every muzzleloading blackpowder shop in the country and abroad. No kidding. Elmer Kieth used wool wads from old hats(people back then were cool and wore more cowboy hats) saturated with lube. Wonder why he didn't think to mix wax with the lube and by-pass the wool wads? He wouldn't have had to work making wads from those stinking old hats from every smelly sweaty cowboy or vaquero in the west. hee hee hee
     
  23. bid9394

    bid9394 Member

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    1860 wedge removal

    I read this thread with interest. I received a repro 1860 as a gift, and I can't find instructions anywhere on how to remove the wedge. From this thread, it appears that it is to be 'hammered' out? How do you do that without scratching/damaging the gun? What tools do you use. Thanks for the assistance...
     
  24. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    A long time ago I bought a small set of punches to use on the Colt wedges. You can use a small screwdriver it you're careful with placement of the end, which is what I used before that. I also bought a hammer with plastic tips at a hardware store, which is very useful.
     
  25. dispatch55126

    dispatch55126 Member

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    I took a file to the frame post on my 1851. I filed it until I could slide the wedge far enough to have it firmly catch in the other side. I've never had it come loose and I can easily push it out with my thumb. It took several hours to do since I kept checking tolerances so I wouldn't file too much. A few dips in gun blue and you're done.
     
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