Mike, there has been a fair amount of misinformation about those guns, and very little real research except by the aforementioned Mr. Best.
Then, as this thread well shows, Colt added to the confusion by calling two different revolvers by the same name, then calling the same revolver by two different names, using the terms Army and Navy on civilian guns, deliberately obscuring the caliber change, and so forth. The army did its part in the confusion by using new model dates for minor changes. Add in an element of panic ("those old guns will blow up") and you have a lot of "mythinformation".
They do have fragile parts, springs especially, but as far as strength goes, they are more than adequately strong for the .38 Special ammunition of the period.