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Old December 6, 2011, 02:01 PM   #1
Hardcase
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Samuel Colt's Paper on Manufacturing Revolvers

Abby Mouat, over at Cornell Publications, has put some of her sparsely-ordered reprints on the Internet for the public's perusal, free of charge.

One of them is Col. Samuel Colt's paper "On the application of machinery to the manufacture of rotating chamber-breech firearms, and their peculiarities". It's from the Institute of Civil Engineers Proceedings of 1851.

The paper is less than 40 pages, but it's very interesting. At the end is an appendix by Charles Dickens, describing Colt's London factory.

This was back in the day when topics were presented in person before the members. The paper is actually a summary of Colt's presentation over the course of two days.

http://www.cornellpubs.com/downloads...5-colt-7mb.pdf

EDIT: Fixed the wandering URL
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Last edited by Hardcase; December 7, 2011 at 10:43 AM.
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Old December 6, 2011, 03:00 PM   #2
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Cool Beans.
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Old December 7, 2011, 12:11 AM   #3
Andy Griffith
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Either the link isn't working now, or maybe they've decided since enough people know about it, now they'll sell it and pulled it.
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Old December 7, 2011, 06:38 AM   #4
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Try this link:
http://www.archive.org/stream/onappl...e/n17/mode/1up

Look at page n17. Read the part that starts..."In the event of any abrasion of the end of the cylinder, or of the barrel..."
It talks about using the wedge (key) to adjust the barrel/frame connection as parts wear.

Last edited by pohill; December 7, 2011 at 07:26 AM.
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Old December 7, 2011, 08:54 AM   #5
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It first states that the arbor length is the primary means of setting the B/C gap.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Barrel gap_Colt paper.jpg (108.9 KB, 149 views)
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Old December 7, 2011, 09:25 AM   #6
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True. But as things wear, the wedge is pushed further in to compensate.
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Old December 7, 2011, 10:16 AM   #7
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They never wear in this regard. Set the arbor length correctly the first time and it is good for numerous lifetimes! Original guns still maintain the correct dimension. In repros, only Pietta has been getting it correctly.
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Old December 7, 2011, 10:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zullo74
They never wear in this regard.
The steel used to make the originals wasn't the same that's used today.
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Old December 7, 2011, 10:58 AM   #9
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Why did Colt include that section at all?
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Old December 7, 2011, 11:26 AM   #10
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Arcticap,

I guess you did not read this part of my post ....

Quote:
Original guns still maintain the correct dimension.
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Old December 7, 2011, 11:48 AM   #11
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Very interesting paper.

FM
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Old December 7, 2011, 11:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
They never wear in this regard. Set the arbor length correctly the first time and it is good for numerous lifetimes! Original guns still maintain the correct dimension.
Based on what evidence or information?


I have a Colt 1851 .36 made in 1862. How would anyone ever know what the original setting of the wedge was, or if the wedge had been pushed in, or if there had been wear, etc?
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Old December 7, 2011, 11:50 AM   #13
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Pohill wrote
Quote:
Why did Colt include that section at all?
He probably included it to impress people. He wrote something to that effect in his earlier patent document. Everything in a patent document does not always get done.

Quote:
How would anyone ever know what the original setting of the wedge was, or if the wedge had been pushed in, or if there had been wear, etc?
All you have to do is place the barrel on the frame without the wedge and measure the barrel to cylinder gap. If it is somewhere around .008-012, the arbor length is correct and the gun was fitted according to Colt's paper. This setting really does not change. There can be erosion at the forcing cone due to firing, in which case the wedge can't correct for this, but refitting the arbor can.

Last edited by zullo74; December 7, 2011 at 11:59 AM.
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Old December 7, 2011, 12:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Arcticap,

I guess you did not read this part of my post ....

Quote:
Originally Posted by zullo74
Original guns still maintain the correct dimension.
So you're asserting that all of the original Colts ever made still maintain the correct dimension?
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Old December 7, 2011, 02:12 PM   #15
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There is no mechanical reason that the dimension should change. The forces on the barrel assy. and arbor are forward, so the arbor hole isn't going to get deeper due to pounding. So I maintain that if an original gun was fit properly (as the Colt paper says) then the dimension will last.
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Old December 7, 2011, 02:26 PM   #16
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I doubt that Sam Colt was trying to impress anyone 20 yrs after the advent of the Paterson. And as far as metal not wearing - that reminds me of the movie "My Cousin Vinnie" when he said to a witness, "Are you telling me that the laws of physics cease to exist in your kitchen?"
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Old December 7, 2011, 02:32 PM   #17
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Sam Colt was a salesman. His Paterson venture went bankrupt. Of course he was trying to impress people 20 years after that!
Read my post again. The forces to change this dimension are not there. Take it or leave it. I know it's true and that's all that matters. You yahoos can think what you want. You are just looking to argue, and I'm through with the two of you on this matter.
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Old December 7, 2011, 02:56 PM   #18
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OK OK, I surrender. Metal does not wear. I'm just a simple "yahoo"...now, is that the chocolate drink or the search engine?
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Old December 7, 2011, 04:23 PM   #19
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I found this paper to be immensely interesting, as a machinist with many CNC machines, the descriptions often hold true today.

In view of the wonderful advances brought forth by that one man, Samuel Colt, it is very wrong to speak ill of him or his character, as many have, since without his vision our technology would be far less advanced than it now is by this date.

I would dearly love to visit his shop of 1851, I know they had nothing better than carbon steel, as in our common files today, to make the many cutting tools with. One old timer told me that though they had to stay at what we consider to be ridiculously slow speeds they took heavy cuts using lard oil as a cutting oil.

With high speed steel of about 70 years later output would be increased 2 or 3 times, and time saved would also be in the savings of tool change time.

With carbide tools of today that increase would be 10 times or more, plus many other advances such as production grinding. I was shocked to hear that early Colt revolvers had gain twist rifling, which probably went away as an unnecessary complication, and rightfully so.
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Old December 7, 2011, 06:13 PM   #20
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Good find, Hardcase. Thanks for sharing.
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Old December 7, 2011, 06:45 PM   #21
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Seems to me that if the arbor hole is drilled to the right depth then the only thing that will really wear is the wedge. Maybe a nominal amount of wear to the edges of the wedge slot. I cant see driving the wedge in deeper changing cylinder gap. Now on a Uberti with the deep arbor hole it will change the gap. I don't know the setup on an original Colt but seems to me they would have the arbor hole drilled to the correct depth. I mean Sam Colt designed the thing, he oughta have known.
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