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Old May 6, 2011, 06:40 PM   #1
Zenkoji
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Bought another CVA kit gun...

Couldn't help myself.... I guess I enjoy learning while building and working on the guns. The price was right, and it was an 1851 Navy in the proper .36 cal, vs the 1860 Army in .44 that I bought already. I now have a lovely set of CVA revolvers in the proper caliber . Both have cleaned up extremely nicely, and are still the original steel barrel with brass frames/trigger guard/backstrap.

I had to shape the grip on the Navy, sand/polish the rough brass, and remove the surface rust from the steel. Amazingly, the inner workings didn't require a whole lot of tuning - a burr removed from the bolt, a slight shave of the bolt sides where they lock into the cylinder, removal of burrs around the bolt hole in the frame, and a few burrs here and there on the frame. The hardest part was removing material from the arbor to allow the wedge to fit perfectly without causing the cylinder to bind.

The Navy actually cycles perfectly, whereas the damn Army is still giving me fits. I ordered a replacement bolt from DGW but haven't taken the time to install it yet. I spent the last 2 days working on the Navy getting it "ship shape" (sorry, couldn't resist).

I do have some questions for the experts...

Question#1 - You'll note the fine gleaming finish on the Army, and the dull finish on the Navy. I stained and waxed the grip on the Navy, but I would like the same gleaming finish on it that the Army sports. What should I use to "seal" it to achieve similar results?

Question #2 - On the Navy, the barrel stud is loose and does not make solid contact with the loading lever, allowing the lever to flop a bit. What can I do to seal the stud to the barrel, and perhaps tighten this gap?

Question # 3 - I would like to polish the hell out of the brass and steel to get them both super shiny (I like shiny). Suggestions on the best was to accomplish this? I used Emery cloth on the brass with good effect, but I apparently don't have a high/fine enough grit to really get it super smooth and shiny. I haven't touched the steel yet.

As always, help appreciated!
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Old May 6, 2011, 07:35 PM   #2
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Loookin' goooood! You are doing a terrific job and I'm sure that you are going to get a lot of enjoyment out of these . . . not only finishing them from the kits but shooting them as well! Great job! You can sure be proud of 'em! Thanks for sharing with us!
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Old May 6, 2011, 07:42 PM   #3
Doc Hoy
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Some thoughts

"Couldn't help myself" Yeah, that's what they all say.

If you are looking for a gloss finish on the grips, I recommend polyurethane. Your application includes steps such as smoothing, applying a thinned solution, more smoothing, then unthinned poly. But it is my observation that the perfect application for one project may not be perfect for another. Some testing may be in order and the finished product is well worth the effort.

By "barrel stud" I am assuming that you mean the loading lever. On an 1851, the plunger-to-loading lever interface is supposed to be loose. A little rattle is okay. It isn't going to go anywhere.

In a kit on which the steel parts still have the machine marks, I start with a file. Get all of the machine marks off. On an 1851 you can do almost the whole job with a flat file. On the 1860 you will need at least a flat and a half round.

Once you get all of the machine marks off (Or if there are no machine marks to start with as it appears on your photos,) wrap gradually increasing grit sandpaper around the file. I start with 180 and work up to 220 and then 400.

You can get a fast wheel from Harbor Freight for about forty bucks and then some cotton wheels for it. They also have a kit of various polishing rouge stubs. Once you are finished with the 400 grit paper, this fast wheel will put a mirror finish on the metal.

Use eye protection and a dust mask.

Some of the guys use rennaisance wax even on the metal parts. I think this is on the strength of the argument that it is a good neutral PH protectant.

Steel wool works pretty well also but it is better on curved contours such as on the 1860 than on flat surfaces such as the Navy. If you work at it too hard, you can blurr the nice crisp interfaces between the flats of the barrel.
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Old May 6, 2011, 08:47 PM   #4
Zenkoji
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Updates

BBB - Thankee kindly! This has been a great forum for me, so I'm happy to share the progress of my work. Who knows... maybe I'll become a gunsmith if I can make a decent living!

Doc - Thanks kindly for the info. By barrel stud, I meant the stud that attaches to the barrel, and that the loading lever catches on. I determined after careful study that the loading lever latch was catching on the loading lever so that the spring could not exert enough force to push it to its maximum extension toward the stud. Since I do not have the proper tool to pop out the latch retaining pin, I had to gently pry the opening on the lever to allow the latch to travel freely. Problem solved!

I really appreciate the info on the sanding. I don't think I have sandpaper that is fine enough to do the job at this point, so it looks like another trip to Lowe's or Home Depot is in the offing tomorrow!

Are there any solvents that help with the polishing? Or just elbow grease? And what about the various grades or steel wool? I used the finest I could find as the last step, but there are definitely still many tool/sanding marks that I want to smooth out.
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Old May 7, 2011, 04:28 AM   #5
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Zen

I have tried wet sanding the 400 grit stage but it is more of a pain in the neck than it is worth.

You might try 0000 steel wool after the 400 grit paper but I would watch that closely. Make sure you are not actually better off with the paper in terms of the quality of the finish. Also make sure you are not taking off the crisp detail on the barrel.

Each stage leaves its own kind of mark on the metal. When you work on the finish with a file you are taking off ALL of the machine marks but leaving the finer marks of the file. Then the heavy grit paper takes off ALL of the file marks but leaves the marks of the paper. Then the finer paper and so forth. You will know when you are finished with a stage when ALL of the marks from the previous stage are gone.

When I am working on such a project I find it is terribly hard to maintain my patience. I am always wanting to go to the next stage before I am truly finished with the present stage. Another thing that is almost always true is that, one is almost always more critical of his own work. I think this is because the close inspection that is a necessary part of the process makes the worker far more conscious of the remaining marks than a casual observer would be.

I tried metal polish but I can't remember whether I liked it or not. Problem with any kind of polish is that you have to be able to get the residue out of the nooks and crannies.

Begbug is right. That is some good looking work.
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Old May 7, 2011, 05:15 AM   #6
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Keep us updated on the progress of your CVA kit guns. Always love seeing these project posts.



.
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Old May 7, 2011, 12:59 PM   #7
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For polishing metal, especially from somewhat rough I really love using micro mesh products. Particularly the soft sanding sticks. Woodcraft has them

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/208...ng-Sticks.aspx

If you go through every grit in the kit you will get a gleam like nothing you have seen before, and it's pretty easy as it only takes a few seconds on each of the finer grits.
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Old May 8, 2011, 06:46 PM   #8
Zenkoji
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Patience...

Doc, I'm with you on all counts... patience has never been my strong suit, and I can never seem to EVER get all of the tool/sanding marks removed to my statisfaction. I'm at the point where it just takes too darn long to get satisfactory work done by hand, and I want MACHINES that can do it faster and better (and save my poor damn sore fingers!!). Besides, I always seem to fudge something up when doing it by hand.

I've attached a few pics of the 1851 Navy... I couldn't help buying a Dremel and some accessories to work with on these guns (Doc, I swear I couldn't help it!), and played with some of the tips last night. I also got some wet/dry auto-type sandpaper to try on them - levels 2 and 3, which are the 2 finest grades I could find anyway. I think they're equivalent to 400 and 2000. So I used the 220, then the 400, then the 2000, then a little steel wool, then took Brasso with the Dremel and buffing wheels to the brass. It came out a TON better than what it was, but I'm still not satisfied. But at this point, my fingers and too tired and sore to do any more with it .

My father has an old grinding wheel setup (that he's probably had since the 70s), that has a wire brush and a grinding wheel. Neither of those are suitable for this application as they would probably completely destroy the surface, but I'm hoping I can find some other wheels to use on it that don't break the bank. Keep in mind, I paid $80 for the 1860 Army and $75 for the 1851 Navy!

I'm still not happy with the grips either... The stain/color is fine, but the sealant hasn't worked the way I had hoped. Probably operator error and learning process again... I bought "Gun Stock Wax" from Guns Unlimited, thinking that would be a nice way to seal the wood and have a nice smooth finish. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide any gloss, and it leaves the wood feeling like... well... soft wood. I took the suggestion to get some Polyurethane, but that doesn't seem to be adhering as well (probably due to the wax). It has provided a little bit of a shine, but again still leaves a tacky feeling. I'll probably let it dry overnight and try some more buffing tomorrow to see if that helps. I wonder if running the larger buffing wheel on the Dremel would help... (trouble brewing there...)

BTW - shot them both yesterday out at my parent's place. The Navy worked beautifully, minus a couple of operator errors (CCI #10 caps were just a tad too loose, and one jammed the cylinder at one point. I also must have gotten a piece of another cap stuck in the inner workings, as I had a major misfire trying to unstick the hammer after a fresh load! Remember throwing firecrackers as a kid, and that one fuse that was JUST a bit too quick to get it thrown before it blew up right near your hand? That kinda happened with my left thumb with the misfire. No damage done, didn't kill anyone, but sure got my attention and left a ringing in my ear!

Also had my first chain-fire with the 1860 Army. I must have let one of the wads not seat perfectly in the cylinder below the ball. Have a little hot lead to clean up off the side of the barrel!

I did take some video of my dad and I shooting the 1860 a couple of weeks ago, but I'll have to find someplace to host it so I can post. Guess I'll have to give YouTube a try.
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Old May 8, 2011, 07:50 PM   #9
Doc Hoy
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Zen

Dremel is cool but be careful how you use it. They are darned difficult to control in some instances.

I have a rechargeable job which I like. In fact I feel like I have a lot of tools but I still finish metal by hand.

You may be tempted to try the wire wheel on the metal but stay away from it. It'll do more harm than good. Go get yourself some cotton wheels and some rouge, or follow Kadmos advice. Most grinders move at 3400 rpms and that is what you need so your Dad's grinder is appropriate.

I am going to steer clear of the finishing of the wood for the grips. I am the world's worst wood refinisher.

Odd that 10s are too loose. If you got a cap fragment in the action, this did not occur necessarily because the cap was loose but because the design on the Colt seems to make it a cap vacuum.

On the other hand a loose fitting cap may have been the cause of the chain fire. I have had only one chain fire in my life and I am fairly certain it came from the nipple end of the cylinder. It was a brass frame revolver and it loosened up the arbor. Like you, I had to clean off the barrel lug (lead from the ball) but I retired the revolver because of the loose arbor. I may try tightening it up one of these days but just happy to have a wall hanger for now.
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Old May 8, 2011, 08:24 PM   #10
BrittB
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Where did you buy the CVA kits from? I might give it a try!
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Old May 9, 2011, 12:09 AM   #11
Zenkoji
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Where the kits came from

I got very lucky to find the kits, frankly. One I bought at a pawn shop (it was already put together - the pawn guys had no clue what it was. Neither did I at first. It wasn't cycling properly, as you could tell from my previous post. A very small amount of work had it back in action.

The second I found on Auction Arms. Again very lucky, and a great price so I snagged it immediately.

Now if CVA had a kit for an 1858, I'd be set
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Old May 9, 2011, 12:16 AM   #12
Zenkoji
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Dremel

Doc, you're dead-on about the Dremel being a little tough to handle. The darn small wheels make it tough to polish larger areas efficiently, and I did gouge the back strap a couple of times . They need to make a polishing wheel that's 2-3x wider, IMHO. Ah well, she still looks good.

Hadn't thought about a loose cap as a possible source of chain fire, but that could very well have been the issue. I'll have to try gently squeezing them next time. I have both Remington and CCI caps. The Rem's haven't been an issue so far.

I'm kinda surprised at how the caps disintegrate. I almost have to clear the spent caps before cycling to the next chamber to ensure a piece doesn't jam into the cylinder/frame gaps. It made me wonder how many jams occurred in real battles when these things were used back in the 1800s.
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Old May 9, 2011, 12:39 AM   #13
arcticap
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Some folks love using Mother's Mag and Wheel polish to put a mirror finish on their guns.
It works to remove swirl marks.
Here's a youtube video about how it worked on a stainless 1911:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dRx3Px5gKc
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Old May 12, 2011, 12:24 PM   #14
Zenkoji
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Finished, for now...

The first pic is how it looked when I bought it... the second one is how it looks now.

I spent a few hours on the 1851 yesterday to see what I could accomplish with a combination of the Dremel (on the loading lever and plunger mostly) and good ol' fashioned manual labor (on the barrel, with just a few touches of the Dremel). I really like shiny things (add appropriate "mentally challenged" silly laugh), so I took the plunged to see what I could do with it.

The pics really didn't turn out as well as I had hoped... I'm no master photographer, certainly, but they just don't seem to do the polishing I did any justice. There is certainly a major difference, but it's still not as perfect as I would like.

BUT... given how tired and sore my fingers and hands are today, this is as good as it's gonna get by my semi-skilled hands!

Comments welcome...

(Crud, I just realized I haven't done the hammer yet... guess there will be more work done today!)
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Old May 12, 2011, 01:52 PM   #15
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That's one pretty pistol! Good job!
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Old May 12, 2011, 03:11 PM   #16
Zenkoji
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Thanks Hardcase!

So... I attacked the hammer... started with 60 grit because it was very pitted (probably the original casting) and worked my way up through 160, 220, 240, 400, 800, 1000. I stopped there, though I did have 2000 as well. It looked shiny enough and my hands were vibrating from the Dremel!

Earlier in the thread there are pics of the original hammer... the two attached two show the hammer in the gun. The flash reflection is a bit harsh, sorry, but that's because the damn thing got super shiny!

(FYI, I only did the sides and the top where it is visible. The underside and area around the cam I left alone as I didn't want to potentially screw up the action, and I figured the underside will get coated with fouling anyway)

Of course.... as nice as the hammer looks now, I think I feel comfortable enough redoing the brass with the Dremel... I did all of the brass by hand before, but my technique is improving enough that I think I can really get close to that perfect sheen now.
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Old May 12, 2011, 08:33 PM   #17
Zenkoji
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Redid the brass! Holy COW!

Well, I tackled the brass tonight, and MY GOODNESS what a difference! I achieved the results I was looking for - those Dremel-type tools are awesome!

It certainly takes some trial and error, and a bit of skill to apply just the right amount of pressure, but the results certainly speak for themselves. I even made my own special sanding discs to provide a softer touch to I wouldn't bite into the metal too deeply without a generous amount of pressure. It involved cutting my own discs using one of the larger cutting discs as a template, then cutting a thin cardboard disc with the same diameter. I then used one of the small sanding discs that came with the kit I purchased as a washer to ensure the bit wouldn't dig into the cardboard (which I discovered through trial and error). This gave more stability than just the sanding discs I cut, but wasn't so stiff that every little error on my part would carve too much material.

At any rate, check out the video I made. The pics just weren't doing it justice .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfAjT...er_profilepage
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Old May 12, 2011, 10:37 PM   #18
arcticap
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Bravo!
Even the hammer looks super!
Will you be applying wax to preserve the gleam?
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Old May 13, 2011, 11:08 AM   #19
Zenkoji
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Waxing

I hadn't thought of that, honestly... I just planned to keep it super clean and covered with the standard thin coat of oil...
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Old May 13, 2011, 12:47 PM   #20
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Zen

Outstanding job on the finish!

I am with AC on the wax.
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Old May 13, 2011, 03:18 PM   #21
Zenkoji
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Wax

Any suggestions on wax? I'm happy to do so! I guess I'll try a nice carnauba.
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Old May 13, 2011, 06:55 PM   #22
Doc Hoy
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Try Renaissance Wax.

They have it a Woodcrafters but I bet you can find it cheaper online. Even with shipping. At Woodcrafters it is thirty bucks for about a thimble full.
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Old May 13, 2011, 06:59 PM   #23
Zenkoji
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The 1860 looks gorgeous!!

Well, today I spent some time (some??) working on the 1860 Army... I think she looks pretty damn sweet, but I welcome comments!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qriW...e_gdata_player

Last edited by Zenkoji; May 13, 2011 at 07:04 PM.
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Old May 13, 2011, 11:11 PM   #24
arcticap
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The cylinder left as is really does create a very nice transitional contrast between the polished brass & polished steel, also considering the brown grips which offset the brass. It's all very handsome and balanced looking.
The polish is great if they're going to be fired and even if they're not then it will help to preserve and protect them from fingerprints and humidity.
It's a labor of love, sort of like sharing what it feels like for a women to have a baby with the painful and aching fingers and all.
Congratulations on being the proud new father of...twins!!!!

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Old May 14, 2011, 03:00 PM   #25
Zenkoji
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Twins!

Too funny arcticap!

Have no fear, they WILL be fired, hopefully today or tomorrow.
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