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Old February 10, 2012, 05:58 PM   #1
dendang
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Colt 1861 Navy problem and questions (pic)

Hi all, I'm new to blackpowder and this forum, but was told this is the place to go. I recently purchased (from what I can tell after much research) a 2nd generation Colt 1861 Navy purchased new in 1980-ish. I'll post photos this evening, but I took it to shoot last night and had problems with two of the 6 cylinders not firing once the hammer was dropped.

A little background: The revolver is used but one owner. It's nicely taken care of with no rust. I was told it was cleaned with soap and warm water after each use, but it has sat mostly for the last 5 years. I used 20 grains of newly purchased FFF black powder, .375 lead ball, borebutter soaked felt patches and CCI #10 caps. For the cylinders that shot, the shots were accurate. I was able to get the non-firing cylinders to fire by backing the nipples out 1/2 turn. This suggests worn nipples, right? And, as the previous owner tells me, there's a chance that these were the wrong nipples to begin with. Great.

So, my questions are,
1. Where do I get the correct nipples that should be in the gun?
2. How do I tell the proprietor what I actually need? Everyone I've talked to thinks I have an Uberti or a Stoeger or a ....
3. How do I confirm that I have what I think I have. There are no proof marks from any of the Italian makers of any kind. Only Colt.
4. I'd also like to replace some of the screws in the grip frame as some have become rounded through regular maintenance. Surely, Stoeger or Uberti ones woun't fit, right? Again, where do I get the "right" stuff?

Primarily, my concern is that the threads match and don't damage the gun. The pistol is worn, but I just want return it to firing condition and use the crap out of it.

Thanks in advance for any comments and/or direction.


Last edited by dendang; February 10, 2012 at 06:21 PM. Reason: Pic added.
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Old February 10, 2012, 06:03 PM   #2
Hardy
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Tresco nipples are the answer probably. Contact the Possible shop and look up what they label as amco.
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Old February 10, 2012, 06:14 PM   #3
mykeal
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To be sure of getting the right threads on the nipples, take one to a local hardware store and ask them to check the thread specs. They should have a gauge that you (or they) can screw the nipple into that will prove what they are. Once you know the proper thread specs you can greatly narrow down the search for nipples to just finding the right length. Unfortunately, that's the hard part, as none of the nipple manufacturers, nor the sutlers, specify the cone length. If you call Track of the Wolf customer service they may be able to measure stock and help you that way. I suspect the Log Cabin Shoppe or Dixie Gun Works would also help that way.

I believe those threads are 12X28; I have a 2nd Gen 1862 Pocket Navy that uses those threads but it's a smaller frame gun so they might not be the same. The overall length of the nipples in my gun are 0.436", but I'm pretty sure that's too short for yours. You probably need nipples closer to .500" overall length - 0.300" cone length. Treso p/n 11-50-16's are pretty close to that, so if your above search is unsuccessful, I'd get a set of those.

For screws, get a set of Colt SAA screws from Dixie Gun Works or Brownell's. That's as close as you're going to get.

For positive ID, look for Sam Colt's name and address on top of the barrel.
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Old February 10, 2012, 06:33 PM   #4
dendang
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...well it does indeed have Mr. Colt's name and address on the top of the barrel from muzzle to chamber! So, I guess that answer's that.

I'm really hoping someone on here has one of these and would say "just go here" and bingo.

Thanks mykeal, I'll look into which threads I have on mine, but since the nipples were replaced, I don't know if the ones I have are even the correct length.
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Old February 10, 2012, 08:00 PM   #5
Fingers McGee
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2nd Gen 1861 Navies use the same Treso nipples as Uberti's. Did you try to run the cylinder around a second time to pop the caps? CCI #10 caps have the smallest inside diameter and take a little push to seat correctly. I've found that Remington #10s work well on original 2nd Gen nipples - and Tresos. If you can't find any Remingtons, CCI #11s would be a better fit than the 10s.

Replacement screws can be obtained from VTI. The screws are also the same as a Uberti '61 Navy. Get the hardened screw set from VTI. They're a little pricey; but you won't have to worry about screws again.

Serial number range for the 2nd Gen 1861s was 40000 thru 43165. The complete serial number is stamped on the barrel, frame, triggerguard, cylinder, arbor, and wedge. It is also penciled in on the bacstrap channel of the grips. Only the last 4 digits of the serial number are stamped on the backstrap. From the picture - it's a second Gen.
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Old February 10, 2012, 10:24 PM   #6
Hellgate
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Dendang,
If the caps fire on the second hit it may just be that the ca[ps are too small and the first whack is seating them and the second is firing them. If they fire every time when backed out a 1/2 turn then you can shim the nipples up a few thou and that'll solve your problem without new nips.

It is easy to shim nipples. Take soft fine steel or bronze wire and coil it around a nail or screw shank about 10 times to make a spiral the diameter of the threaded shank on the nipples. Then with wire cutters snip them off and you end up with a pile of what look like lock washers. I then I take a small hammer and flatten them on the vise pounding surface or an anvil to the desired thickness. They resemble small open ended washers. Slip one onto the shank of the low nipple and screw it in. I use anti-seize lube or heavy lithium grease on the threads so I can get the nipples back out. If the nipple is too high, pound the shim flatter or find some finer wire. If it still isn't tall enough, use two shims or get a thicker piece of wire to start over with. I've done this on several guns and have had no problems with it. If you have too high of a nipple then the hammer face gets battered and may not fire the other nipples or it will get burrs on it that may lift spent caps off the nipples and drop them into the action. The hammer should just barely stop short of the nipple.
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Old February 11, 2012, 01:06 AM   #7
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Fingers is right. The second gens are made from Uberti parts.
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Old February 11, 2012, 07:57 AM   #8
Doc Hoy
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dendang

Welcome to the forum and congrats on the acquisition.

To me it seems like like your analytical mind has left you in little need of help.

You done good, shipmate.

Tnx,
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Old February 11, 2012, 01:08 PM   #9
Willie Sutton
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Welcome to the sport!

Seating caps firmly is the other trick... I use a wooden dowel to firmly push the caps onto the nipple. SQUEEZE them down. Others simply SLOWLY but firmly push the hammer down onto each cap after seating all six... I have done this hundreds of times and it's been fine, albeit a little spooky the first time. This ended completely my "no fire first attempt, fires second attempt" issues on a variety of revolvers. Keep your fingers clear of the front end when seating caps!


Willie

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Old February 13, 2012, 01:58 PM   #10
dendang
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Uberti parts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fingers McGee
Did you try to run the cylinder around a second time to pop the caps? CCI #10 caps have the smallest inside diameter and take a little push to seat correctly. I've found that Remington #10s work well on original 2nd Gen nipples - and Tresos.

Replacement screws can be obtained from VTI. The screws are also the same as a Uberti '61 Navy. Get the hardened screw set from VTI. They're a little pricey; but you won't have to worry about screws again.

Serial number range for the 2nd Gen 1861s was 40000 thru 43165. The complete serial number is stamped on the barrel, frame, triggerguard, cylinder, arbor, and wedge. It is also penciled in on the bacstrap channel of the grips. Only the last 4 digits of the serial number are stamped on the backstrap. From the picture - it's a second Gen.
The revolver wouldn't shoot those two problem nipples the second, third or fourth time I tried them. The only way to get them to fire was to back out the nipples a 1/4 of a turn.

The serial number for mines is early in the series you gave (402XX), so that fits too. That's pleasing info. it's further cements my identification of the pistol. I sincerely appreciate your help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Hoy
Welcome to the forum and congrats on the acquisition.

To me it seems like like your analytical mind has left you in little need of help. You done good, shipmate.
Thanks Doc, it feels good to have one's conclusions backed up by experienced shooters. I knew this was the place to ask.

I'll order up replacement parts from VTIgunparts online, and I'll update with progress. Thanks so much for all of your input. If I continue having issues, I'll try the other suggestions listed. Cheers!
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Old February 13, 2012, 03:19 PM   #11
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dendang

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Old February 13, 2012, 07:15 PM   #12
dendang
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Hoy
Don't be a stranger around these parts.
Thanx Doc, I don't plan to be. I'll update with progress. I got my parts ordered this morning.
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Old February 23, 2012, 07:37 PM   #13
dendang
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Quick Update

Howdy all!
I just wanted to provide a quick update on my successful range outing with the 1861. I procured a set of hardened frame screws, grip screws and new nipples from VTI as instructed. I took her to the range last night and ran 36 flawless rounds through her. First hammer strike every time! I'm oh, so satisfied!

I do have one follow up question, though. The brass trigger guard and grip frame are silver plated on these. What do you guys recommend using on these parts to shine them up and get rid of the tarnish, but not removing too much of the silver?

Thanks again so much for everyone's help! Now I'm thinking about what to get next.
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Old February 23, 2012, 11:41 PM   #14
Fingers McGee
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Glad you had a good range day with the Navy. I use Flitz or Iosso metal polish on my silver plated grip frames. Usually one polishing will last a season of shooting.
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Old February 24, 2012, 12:57 AM   #15
Hellgate
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Fingers,
What about waxing the silver after the shining up?
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Old February 24, 2012, 05:45 PM   #16
Fingers McGee
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Supposedly Renaissance Wax will keep the silver from tarnishing; but if you use them, they ought to look used.
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Old February 24, 2012, 05:59 PM   #17
dendang
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fingers McGee
Supposedly Renaissance Wax will keep the silver from tarnishing; but if you use them, they ought to look used.
Ya! I'm not gonna get too wrapped up in polishing the silver as it's already worn through to the brass on the front strap of the grip. Mine certainly looks used.
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