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Why do some scare people away from Brass Frames?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Rogue Coder, Apr 25, 2012.

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  1. Rogue Coder

    Rogue Coder Member

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    I could not tell you how many times I have read, either on forums or on YouTube, comments where people are looking for advice on their first DARK gun and they get to read "stay away from brass and get a real gun".

    I hear about frame stretching, cracking, warping, "anemic loads only", etc....

    I have a Brass Frame Remington. I load 30 grains of powder and use .451 round ball. I know that it will never be a magnum revolver. If I wanted one I would have bought one. I wanted a cheaper (price not quality) gun. Brass is PERFECT to get started with in the dark arts. Already I am looking at a traditional percussion rifle or another Brass Frame Remington. Heck I might even buy a brass-frame 1851. Sorry guys I'm ranting. What are you honest thoughts on both brass frames and the issue with people trying to get others to shy away from brass?

    :fire::cuss::fire::cuss:
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2012
  2. Donny

    Donny Member

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    I like my brass framed guns too. I load them down a bit but not a lot. In my .44 brassers I load 25 grains of Pyrodex P. Some still think thats too much but it hasn't damaged them yet. The only brasser I have that I'm careful about is an 1861 Pony Express colt in .36. I was loading 20 grains of Pyro P and it was battering the recoil shield a bit. I've backed off to 18 grains with round ball and 15 grains with a conical and all looks to be fine. Brassers are (used to be)an inexpensive way to get into cap and ball revolvers. Why spend a lot for something that you might not like?

    Don
     
  3. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    Come over to my house sometime and I will show you my brass framed 44 caliber Navy with its stretched frame. Barrel permanently points up a few degrees now. Shoots about a foot high at 30 feet.

    Just a wall hanger now, too many 30 grain loads over the years.
     
  4. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    Rogue Coder,

    It's obvious you have NOT been around these C&B revolvers very long. You'll learn! :banghead:
     
  5. TheRodDoc

    TheRodDoc Member

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    The frame itself does not stretch. The force is between the forcing cone area of the barrel and the threads of the arbor. What can happen is that the very poor fitting threads they use can pull some and the arbor can then loosen. Also the recoil pad can get wore back some where the cylinder sets on it. And both these things can be fixed very easily before it happens by simply removing the arbor on a new gun and coating all the threads with a retaining compound and reassemble. Also reducing the barrel gap and last reducing the hand spring tension to almost none. Then you can shoot full loads as much as you would like without hurting a thing.

    reducing the hand spring tension helps stop the cyl. from being pushed up against the barrel before firing so it doesn't have to slam back against the brass when firing. Also eliminates 1/2 to 2/3 's of the binding of cyl. from fouling. (the rest being at the arbor)

    Reducing the barrel gap shortens the distance the cyl. can slide which also saves the hammering of recoil pad at back of cylinder.

    Driftwood, Someone must have drove over that gun to do that. For the barrel to tip up it would have to have it's lower frame member stretch and that can't happen from shooting it. There is even some compression on the lower frame from the barrel when fired.
     
  6. bluethunder1962

    bluethunder1962 Member

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    I would love to see so pics of some. I have always wanted one just for the looks.
     
  7. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    Hey RodDoc,

    Your dissertation doesn't address a stretched brass framed Remington! :neener:
     
  8. Busyhands94

    Busyhands94 Member

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    I have put at least 1500 rounds through my brass framed Remington, you still can barely get a piece of paper in the cylinder gap. I usually use about 30 grains and a ball as my plinking load. No complaints here. I do want to get a steel framed one so I can load it nice and hot, just for those "cram a bunch of triple seven into the cylinder and shove a round ball on top" moments. I of course don't do that with my brass framed gun, but I'd like a steel framed one for that exact purpose.

    Levi
     
  9. icanthitabarn

    icanthitabarn Member

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    I had one, years ago, and the cylinder rod thing got stripped out in the hole. It was the brass hole not the steel rod. assuming the hole did not have a steel nut in there.
     
  10. hawkeye74

    hawkeye74 Member

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    If you are into brass, go ahead and shoot them to your hearts content. Long term, they tend to get loose and, in extreme cases, dangerous. Don't over load it and watch to make sure it stays safe. I would recommend a further reduced load though. Most of the folks talking bad about brass frame guns have had bad experiences with them. This is usually because they have exceeded max recommended loads. Just know what you are getting.


    The thing that gets my ire up is calling a gun something it is not. The Italians are bad about making a weapon and calling it a reproduction when no such weapon exsisted. The easiest to point out is a "1851 Navy Colt" when it is in 44 caliber! Such a gun NEVER EXSISTED!!!!! Since a 1851 Colt Navy exsisted in 36 caliber, don't steal its name for an Italian b@#$rd. It causes too much confussion. Also, a great historically significant gun should not loose its identity to what are usually POS!
     
  11. Hellgate

    Hellgate Member

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    I have not yet read any posts of a brass Remingtoon getting shot loose, only the Colt designs. The brasser Remmies remind me of a nice blonde among the brunettes. They are attractive guns and strong enough.
     
  12. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    Well now you can say you have! I have a brass Remington (a PR) AB date(1976) that started out with a barrel cylinder gap of about .006 and now (I just measured it) is at .020. The frame HAS stretched through the years!
     
  13. andrewstorm

    andrewstorm member

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    brasss frames

    well you see the alloy nowadays (IS THAT A WORD)? it has to be stronger than 100% brass and new guns would be a stronger? shoot 25 grains or less,very accurate,as wild bill once said 'speed is fine but accuracy is everything'
     
  14. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    I suppose a true brass frame would be rather soft and malleable. True "gun metal" as was used with the Winchester 1866 "Yellow Boy" was more like bronze than brass.

    When Confederate armories made "brass" frame revolvers they recycled old church bell metal (Wikipedia: "Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc..." whereas "Bell metal is a hard alloy used for making bells. It is a form of bronze, usually approximately 4:1 ratio of copper to tin (78% copper, 22% tin)." and "Gunmetal, also known as red brass in the United States, is a type of bronze – an alloy of copper, tin, and zinc."

    In the cheaper, lower end of cap'n'ball replicas, the steel frames are usually better than the "brass" frames.
     
  15. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    There was a thread about installing steel bushings in a brass frame Remington if the cylinder pin holes that are in the frame become oval over time.

    In addition there's a steel washer fix to reinforce the recoil shield of the brass Colts, as well as fixing the arbor if that becomes loose.

    I'm not sure if some of the complaints about the brass frame guns are as much of a result of frame stretch which could actually be more about frame battering and wear on certain surfaces and contact points.

    Some makers probably used better brass and had better build quality and longevity than others.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
  16. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    I've got one brassie 1851 in .36. While working on it I found that the arbor has a very sloppy fit in the threading of the frame. The locating pin is almost the only thing holding it in place. I can see this one becoming unshootable over time.

    What is needed for such a gun is an interference thread fit so that the parts screw together only with some effort. The proper taps and dies for such work are not that uncommon from major makers and when intended for production work where the special order cost isn't a problem. With that sort of fit there would still be the issue of brass and bronze being less than ideal as a spring medium but with the lower energy of the usual size charge and lower recoil from the light .36cal balls I doubt if the gun would shoot itself out of shape.

    On the other hand I don't see much good or a long life for a gun shooting .44cal balls with 30'ish grains.
     
  17. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Here is a photo of my brass framed Navy that now shoots too high. It is difficult to see in this photo, but when the barrel is snugged up so the barrel/cylinder gap is what it should be, the barrel points up a few degrees. Hits about 12' high at 20 feet. Did not do that when I first bought it in 1968.

    FirstPistol.jpg

    Nice to hear this stuff about reinforcing the threads, but that was not common knowledge in 1968. We just loaded them up with 30 grains, stuffed in a ball and smeared Crisco over the top. No, it was not run over by a truck, just too many heavy loads for the brass frame.

    You can also read Mike Venturino's book Shooting Lever Guns of the Old West. He relates the story of a brass framed Henry that he was going to buy. Before he got the chance to buy it, the owner put some heavy 44-40 reloads through it, ruining the head space. In this case, the brass of the frame surrounding the toggle links got compressed, so the head space got stretched.

    Call it whatever you like, brass is not a good idea with heavy loads. That's why the makers of conversion cylinders recommend not installing them in brass framed revolvers. A steel frame does not cost that much more, it is worth the extra money.
     
  18. TheRodDoc

    TheRodDoc Member

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    I'd say there is nothing at all wrong with the brass frame on that gun. That is if the arbor is still tight and not much visible wear on recoil pad from back of the cylinder.
    It was from the start and still is poor barrel fitment. The wedge should not be able to close the gap. It is NOT an adjustment feature. The arbor is too short and not seating in bottom of barrel hole at the propper position. The gap probably was large when new. And now you are setting it closer with the wedge which tips up the barrel. It would be fairly simple to right the problrm.
     
  19. Rogue Coder

    Rogue Coder Member

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    Driftwood you bought that gun in when 1968 you said? Metallurgy has changed DRASTICALLY in the last 44 years. Brass alloys are stronger as well as steel. I honestly think that the things we hear about brass guns being so inferior is because #1 you have some "Tim Taylor wannabe" that wants more power and #2 the continued belief from something that started decades ago. I completely agree that brass is a softer allow than steel. What I AM saying, however, is that anyone who wants to start in the dark arts should not fear in starting with a brass-framed revolver. I didn't. I will never put more than 30 grains in my 1858 Remington because I asked lots of questions before making my purchase. Quite honestly I PREFER the look of it over the steel version.
     
  20. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    As I said earlier, when I first bought it in 1968 it was not shooting so high. It started doing so progressively over the years. As I also said, it is difficult to see the upward tilt of the barrel in a photograph, but it is there. Originally, when the wedge was driven into the proper place, the barrel/cylinder gap was only a few thousandths. Now, when the wedge is driven into the same spot, the gap is about .015 thousandths. Driving the wedge in further closes the gap up, but draws the barrel up. Yes, I know the wedge is not supposed to be an adjustment device, I did not just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. But in actuality, driving the wedge in further does close the barrel gap.

    As far as the alloy is concerned, the alloys used in Italian brass frame guns have not changed hardly at all in the last 40 years. High strength steels, yes. Cheap Italian reproductions, no.

    Bottom line is, shoot enough heavy loads and you will distort something with a brass frame. Of course, in the 19th Century all the brass framed revolvers were 36 caliber, not 44 like mine. But what did I know as a kid? Like everybody else, I went for inexpensive. It cost $40 in 1968. If I had bought a steel frame, it would still be shooting straight. These are some of the things you learn messing with Black Powder for 40 years or so.
     
  21. Rogue Coder

    Rogue Coder Member

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    Driftwood I could learn a lot from you I'm sure, as I have only been in the dark arts for just shy of a year. ;)

    Yeah I agree that if one overloads a brass frame it will become a wallhanger. Because the the Remington's design, I feel safe firing 30 grain loads with a 451 RB. I would dare never try that out of a 44 Colt Brasser. (Of course I also read the warnings about max loads, etc)

    Personally I think Brassers are a great economical way to get started into the dark arts, provided that people understand to NEVER hot-rod their weapon.
     
  22. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    DJ,

    Is the arbor still tight in the frame? If it is, your problem is most likely the wedge has deformed a bit. Sounds like a new wedge is in order (and a proper arbor fitting).
     
  23. Noz

    Noz Member

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    Driftwood bought the gun in 1968. He has been shooting at least since then. Don't you think he just might have learned something in that period of time?
    :banghead:
     
  24. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member

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    If, in all that time, he hasn't fixed the arbor length, then I'm not so sure he truly understands the Colt system.
     
  25. Noz

    Noz Member

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    This has become too stupid to continue!
     
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