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Old April 22, 2014, 05:15 PM   #1
rc13
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51 navy

I have a 1851 navy replica chambered in 38 special. very fun to shoot, the weight forward balance and long barrel makes it to actually hit what Im aiming at. but it has a few issues, or maybee I have a few issues. because I dont know what Im doing. So I have several questions that I hope someone can answer for me.
I will start with the barrel wedge. above the wedge is a small screw that is flat on one side. is this screw to hold the wedge in place or is it only to push the wedge out? next when I push the wedge in to tighten the barrel against the cylindar it can rub and makes the rotation feel gritty. How tight do I want this ?
After a few shots the wedge comes loose and there is a slight wobble in the barrel. Is this normal ? good ? or bad ? if bad how do I fix it ? Next the point of impact is 3 or 4 inches left is there some sort of barrel tuning I can do? or is this better left to the pro's ? I'm not totally helpless I have a rossi 92 that I pollished the action and changed the springs s well as other minor repairs. but I'd rather compensate on my aiming than mess up my gun. Thanks in advance for any help
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Old April 22, 2014, 05:27 PM   #2
mykeal
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The screw is intended to keep the wedge in it's slot when backed out of the barrel.

There should be about .008" of clearance between the forcing cone and the cylinder face with the wedge in place. If that's not the case then the cylinder arbor is too short (a very common 'feature' with replicas). Many ways to correct this problem - search the forum for 'short arbor'.

A loose wedge and/or a 'wobble' in the barrel are not good. See above paragraph.

Don't know what you mean by 'barrel tuning'. I'd open up the rear site in the hammer by filing the right side.
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Old April 22, 2014, 06:32 PM   #3
Doc Hoy
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Welcome to the forum...

Somewhere (I think Mykeal may know where) there is a chart that helps identify shooter induced errors with pistols.

A little history of the pistol might be helpful.

You said .38 Special so I am assuming it is a conversion. Who did the conversion? Who manufactured the pistol in the first place? How much has it been shot?
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Old April 22, 2014, 07:17 PM   #4
Hawg
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The wedge screw does nothing but catch the lip on the spring when you take the wedge out. It just keeps the wedge from coming all the way out when you remove the barrel. As for the barrel rubbing on the cylinder that's a sign of the arbor being too short and driving the wedge in too far. A good wedge should be just past flush on the off side like this.

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Old April 22, 2014, 08:23 PM   #5
45 Dragoon
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Your too short arbor is allowing the wedge to work loose. You should'nt be able to lock up the cylinder by pushing (or tapping ) the wedge in. This points to the arbor not fitting. Since its a conversion, the wedge may not have a spring and the screw has a flat side for easy wedge removal, other wise, it's to keep it from comming out. I like a barrel /cyl gap of about .0025 - .004. Too big of a gap will cause too much crap to foul up the arbor/cyl clearance and bind up.

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Old April 22, 2014, 09:37 PM   #6
rc13
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Just where and what is the arbor and what makes it to short
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Old April 22, 2014, 10:23 PM   #7
mykeal
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The arbor is the post the cylinder rotates on. It goes into a blind hole just below the bore on the barrel assembly; it should bottom out in that hole just as the lower part of the barrel assembly contacts the main frame (where the two small locating pins go into the small holes on the barrel assembly). If the arbor is too short the barrel assembly can be bent upwards by the force of driving the wedge into place and the forcing cone will contact the cylinder face.

This is a very common problem. Most of the contemporary Ubertis, and a good number of Piettas, have it.
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Old April 23, 2014, 04:19 AM   #8
Hawg
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Take the cylinder out and put the barrel on with the barrel lug turned just off the frame. The frame and lug should match up if the arbor is correct.

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Old April 23, 2014, 06:33 AM   #9
45 Dragoon
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Yap, what Hawg says. Make sure ya push it down all the way. Any mismatch is how much too deep the arbor hole is.
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Old April 23, 2014, 07:35 AM   #10
rc13
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Thanks now I know the problem how is this fixed
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Old April 23, 2014, 11:48 AM   #11
mykeal
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There are many ways to fix it - the general idea is to lengthen the arbor. Some folks solder brass shim stock on the tip of the arbor. Another popular idea is to drill a hole in the end of the arbor, tap the hole and install a set screw. It's also possible to add material at the bottom of the hole in the barrel assembly.
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Old April 23, 2014, 12:22 PM   #12
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Great Stuff. I learn more every day reading these posts. There sure are a bunch of bright individuals giving us some great advice. Thank you very much.
I'm a newbie who's slowly understanding and rapidly growing to love black powder shooting. One of these days I'm going to finish my 50 Cal Hawkens kit and post the final pics. It definitely has been a labor of love . I am teaching myself to engrave, inlay. inlet both wire and strips and do some carving on this one. I'm definitely an amateur but its really a great learning experience. lately I have been busy packing and getting ready to move so I have not had much time to work on it. Promised myself I'd have it finished by my 70th birthday ( Sept ) Its close I'm just procrastinating about putting the finish on the stock. Can't make up my mind what and how.
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Old April 23, 2014, 02:28 PM   #13
Mk VII
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You can also get one or both locating pins coming loose, which makes the barrel wobble.
A deformed wedge (which is made to be cheap and replaceable) can also tend to jump loose.

Last edited by Mk VII; April 23, 2014 at 04:10 PM.
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Old April 23, 2014, 03:52 PM   #14
rc13
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Thanks to everyone who replied can anyone recommend a book video or other info to help me learn more about black powder type revolvers. I'm not after the standard brief history, description of gun ,and how well it shoots. More of the General workings of the gun, parts diagram, cleaning, maintenance, comon problems and there fixes do and donts, upgrades, ect I am also looking at getting a second similar gun would like to find one in 357 I know there is an 1875 remington that I like any other suggestions?
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Old April 23, 2014, 04:14 PM   #15
Mk VII
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remember the .38 Spec is hovering on the margins of safety in these open frame designs (certainly in some smokeless loadings) and .357 is likely far too much even if the cylinder length is long enough. I doubt if even the Remington design would be safe.
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Old April 23, 2014, 05:29 PM   #16
45 Dragoon
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Personally, i wouldn't add to the arbor, but would add a spacer of appropriate thickness to tbe hole. The set screw in the arbor is more for wedge adjustment than arbor length fixing. Once the length has been adressed, its done, no need for adjustment. A washer or plug of metal will be much better than the small surface area of a set screw..
Good luck.
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Old April 23, 2014, 08:22 PM   #17
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You don't state what make your 38 spl '51 Navy is . . . but I am assuming it is a replica of a Richards & Mason conversion? If your wedge screw has a "flat" on the head, it is probably designed to be turned so the flat is parallel to the wedge at the time of disassembly. Once reassembled, the screw is rotated so that the lip of the screw retains the wedge in place. This design was used on many of the Colt 1872 "open tops" - Colt's last "open top" model that was made for cartridges just before the 1873 Models came out. It is possible that your repro is made this way although if it was an original, it would have the standard wedge screw. The 1872s were designed this way to properly position the wedge, keep it from falling out and insuring that the proper cylinder gap was maintained. In essence, your '51 is the forerunner of the 1872. The 1851 Navy model was made up until 1872 and a number of them were conversions like yours.

The wedge on yours, being designed that way or not, does not insure that it will always return to the exact position when reassembled and thus, you are seeing a difference in your cylinder gap - sometimes too tight and your cylinder is rubbing against the end of the barrel.

Originally, these conversions like yours, were designed to be used with the 38 Colt Short cartridge - black powder of course. The repros are made to shoot modern 38 special but you also have to realize that the 38 spl has more "oomph" than a 38 Colt Short would have. I am planning on getting a 1872 Colt Open Top which is built to shoot black and smokeless 38 Colt Long / 38 Spl. but I am going to be reloading 38 Colt Short & 38 Colt Long - BP and Smokeless to use in it. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong in shooting 38 spl. in yours.

Try what has been suggested. You might try carefully "stoning" the surface of your wedge to make sure it is fitted well. Try polishing it and then using some layout dye on it and see where it is rubbing on the cylinder pin slot - that should tell you if it is fitting the slot well or only contacting in a very small area. You should be able to get it fitted so that it stays in place better. Your cylinder gap shouldn't be more than .012 or so, preferable smaller. The larger the cylinder gap, the more "pressure" you will loose as the bullet leaves the chamber and enters the forcing cone.

I know that ASM made '51 R & M conversions - Uberti is presently making them as well. If you can't get the present wedge fitted so that it stays tight, you might want to try another one. They are available from a variety of suppliers - Dixie, Lodgewood, etc. Just as a side note - although the 1872 "open top" was designed to have the wedge with the screw with a flat, I have seen several originals that had the "old style" wedge as in the '51s, 6'60s, etc. These pistols ware made at the end of the production years of the '51 Navies, etc. and a lot of "surplus parts on hand" were utilized. The early 1872s had the Navy size frame and as time went on, Army frames were also utilized. The 1872 was chambered in the .44 Henry cartridge. The '51 R & M conversions like yours obviously utilized the Navy caliber and because of the bore size, the 38 Colt Long was utilized with them.

As far as you POI - remember that you are sighting with your hammer and the front sight post. The barrel should mount square to the frame but if you are having issues with the wedge loosening, etc. - that can throw your POI off. Like any SA, you sometimes have to use a little "Kentucky windage" in your aim. There is a chart as Doc mentioned - i don't have the link to it but it will tell you what you are doing wrong depending on where your POI is at. I have only seen it used in reference to more modern, solid frame revolver/pistols - a lot has to do with your grip. Are you using a single handed "duelist' grip or a two handed grip? Neither is wrong but traditionally, a single handed grip was used with these old SA revolvers. The key to anything is "consistency" and you don't want to change more than one thing at a time. First, I would suggest you get your wedge problem solved so that you don't have problems with it loosening up - might be "easier sad than done" I know but I have a feeling that if you get that solved, things will be more consistent. Once done, then you can work on your POI.

I don't know if you reload or not but even a change in makes of 38 spl. cartridges - i.e. powder charge/powder type and bullet weight can throw things off. I shoot a S & W M & P (made in 1952) with a 5" barrel quite a bit. My reloads are consistent as everything is the same - I switch to off the shelf target loads of unknown factors and it can throw things off quite a bit.

Don't get frustrated with it as you'll get it figured out. Those conversions like you have can be a lot of fun to shoot. Good luck and let us know how it works out - we all can learn from it!
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Old April 23, 2014, 09:32 PM   #18
rc13
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Thanks alot bedbugbilly very helpful . Just for info my revolver is just a cheap but fun gun I bought used for $200 the previous owner didnt know much either and sometimes called it 51 sometimes a 61 the only markins on the gun is traditions 38 spec. The ship on the cylinder. And the s.number on the frame I don't think it's considered a conversion and the rear sight is on what would be the conversion ring not the hammer. I found a small thin washer that fits in the arbor hole and seems to have solved the wedge and wobble problems. However I have not fired it yet thanks again everyone
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Old May 2, 2014, 01:58 PM   #19
ZVP
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I re read my old Taylors catalog and my memory was correct in that the "Old" cartrige conversions recommended the use of a .38 short cartrige.
I took thi say that the frames were weaker and couldn't handle the .38Special.
i don;t know the differences in pressure between loads but I would think the Short was easier on the revolver.
ANyone else remember this recommendation?
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