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Old March 21, 2009, 01:04 PM   #1
buda
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help

i just bought a 1851 navy .36 cal. My first one, I have seen on this forum questions about wedges being stuck. MY wedge seems to be loose, its all the way taped in but comes loose when im just messing around with the gun, is my new toy junk?

Last edited by buda; March 21, 2009 at 02:15 PM.
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Old March 21, 2009, 01:13 PM   #2
grymster2007
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buda,

Someone who knows this stuff will be along soon, but employing complete sentences, including capital letters and periods, will generally get you more help, sooner.

Oh... and welcome to TFL.
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Old March 21, 2009, 03:25 PM   #3
HillBilly Willy
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If it's the same problem as what my Colt 1860 Army Revolver has, the spring (a metal clip that holds the wedge in place) is broken.
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Old March 21, 2009, 03:32 PM   #4
Gatofeo
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You say your wedge loosens from just "messing around" with it. What do you mean by "messing around?"
Please elaborate as it may shed some light on your problem.

Is your revolver brass-framed? Brass-framed revolvers tend not to be built nearly as well as steel-framed guns. Often, their finishing is rougher and the parts are not as well finished. The Confederacy made brass-framed guns out of necessity, because it lacked the resources and materials to make steel-framed revolvers.
If your revolver is brass-framed, then this might explain the quality problem.

Is the wedge truly tapped in all the way? Or did you just push it in finger-tight? Wedges must be in tighter than fingers can push them.

Try this test, using a nylon-faced hammer, large block of wood or steel hammer with a layer of leather glued to its face:

A. Ensure the front (face) of the cylinder and the rear of the barrel where the cylinder meets it (forcing cone) are very clean. There must be no crud to make the cylinder drag.

B. Tap in the wedge gently while rotating the cylinder. Once the cylinder begins to drag, because it is being forced against the rear of the barrel, stop!

C. Now, gently tap the wedge OUT with just a couple of light taps, while turning the cylinder. Once the cylinder turns free, STOP! This is the "sweet spot" on Colt-design revolvers. The wedge must never be so loose that you can remove it by pushing with your fingers, or accuracy suffers.

If you cannot get your revolver to tighten, then there are options:

1. Reduce the width of the wedge so it goes in deeper.
2. Increase the width of the slot in the cylinder pin, through which the wedge passes, so the wedge goes in farther.
Both of these are best done by a gunsmith. Tinkering with a file can ruin your revolver in short order; spend the few extra bucks and get a gunsmith -- familiar with cap and ball revolvers -- to work on it. This is not a home project.

If the wedge is already bottomed out, and your barrel assembly is still loose, then you have more serious problems:
a. The wedge needs replacement.
b. The cylinder pin needs replacement.
c. The slot in the cylinder pin and barrel assembly need widening, and you need a new wedge.
d. The cylinder pin is loose in the frame. This is not uncommon brass-framed revolvers who have been fired with a steady diet of near-maximum or maximum loads.
Brass-framed revolvers should be fired with mild loads, or their brass frame will stretch or warp from the increased recoil and pressure.


Now, here are a couple of practices that will severely damage your revolver, which I hope you haven't been indulging in:

Dry-firing a cap and ball revolver won't normally loosen the wedge. At least, not that I've ever seen, but it will bang up the nipples upon which the percussion caps rest.
These damaged nipples make it far less reliable.
Cap and ball revolvers should never be dry-fired. If you must pull the trigger, such as when measuring how much pounds it takes to trip it, remove the cylinder first.

"Fanning" any single-action revolver -- cap and ball or cartridge -- is pure poison on the gun. Forget what you see on the movies and TV, with their budget they can afford to ruin a half dozen guns in short order by fanning them.
Fanning is the practice of holding the trigger back with your finger, while usng the heel of the other hand to slam back the hammer. Fanning breaks and prematurely wears a number of parts in the revolver's guts.

Without seeing your revolver, it's hard to diagnose the problem. If, indeed, there is a problem. If you bought it from a reputable dealer, you may return it for replacement or refund.
I've heard of some folks returning cap and ball revolvers two or three times -- especially brass-framed ones -- before they finally got one that worked correctly.
I know of one man who ordered from a major, national outdoor store who had to return his brass-framed Remington three times. Finally, on the fourth gun, he got one of decent quality. The others had been dogs.

Hope the above helps.

And by the way, complete sentences and capitalized letters are appreciated. Sometimes it helps to write your submission in Word, perfect it, and then copy and paste to the comment box.
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Old March 21, 2009, 06:00 PM   #5
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Gatofeo's post is right on the money as regards your wedge problem, although I don't totally agree that filing the wedge or the slot in the arbor (cylinder pin) is a gunsmith job. It's a reasonable caution, as amateurs tend to have little patience and thus overdo things like this, but if one can exercise that noble trait and take one's time (using hand tools, not power tools - can the Dremel) this can be done at home.
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Old March 21, 2009, 06:11 PM   #6
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buda,

Before you take offense to the comments concerning using complete sentences and proper punctuation, please understand that we are not all English majors. However, it is easier for us to understand the issue at hand.

I can understand the frustration. You bought a revolver and now you can't enjoy it. We have all been there one time or another. And with my typing skills, I see that what you really wanted was some quick help.

If the ideas do not help rectify the problem, then feel free to tell us what has happened. There are more ideas out there. Just don't get impatient with us. We are in this together. And we all learn from each other.

I hope you find the help you need and return often. This is how we all learn.

Good luck.

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Old March 21, 2009, 07:07 PM   #7
Doc Hoy
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A statement posed as a question

Folks,

Let me respctfully add this with the hope that the more experienced folks who have already responded will either endorse my comment or overrule it.

I had a Navy in Navy caliber from DGW when I was first shooting and on one occassion, I put an entire cylinder through it only to discover after the last chamber had been expended that the wedge was no longer in the pistol. Although I thought I had it installed properly, it had backed out and dropped onto the ground. Unless it fell out after the last shot was fired, I will never know why the pistol did not come apart.

I think this condition is nothing to daudle around with. Shooting a loose pistol makes it looser quicker. I would not shoot the pistol the way it is lest more damage occur or something even worse befall the shooter or the bystanders.

Am I right, Gatofeo?, Mykeal?, Kirpi97?
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Old March 21, 2009, 08:00 PM   #8
mykeal
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absolutely

One observation - the gun may not actually be loose, it may just be the wedge position. Gatofeo's sequence should be followed, and it may be that the wedge just need to be positioned properly. But, until we know, you're right, don't shoot it.
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Old March 22, 2009, 10:49 AM   #9
madcratebuilder
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Quote:
Is your revolver brass-framed? Brass-framed revolvers tend not to be built nearly as well as steel-framed guns. Often, their finishing is rougher and the parts are not as well finished. The Confederacy made brass-framed guns out of necessity, because it lacked the resources and materials to make steel-framed revolvers.
If your revolver is brass-framed, then this might explain the quality problem.
Not true. many brass frame revolvers are built as well as their steel frame counterparts. The High Standard brass frame series are superior to many steel frame revolvers in construction tolerances. I have Uberti and Pietta brassers that are as well built as the same model in steel. I have seen poorly made revolvers in both brass and steel.
Brass frames well not withstand heavy loads but that's another discussion.

Quote:
B. Tap in the wedge gently while rotating the cylinder. Once the cylinder begins to drag, because it is being forced against the rear of the barrel, stop!

C. Now, gently tap the wedge OUT with just a couple of light taps, while turning the cylinder. Once the cylinder turns free, STOP! This is the "sweet spot" on Colt-design revolvers. The wedge must never be so loose that you can remove it by pushing with your fingers, or accuracy suffers.
This method works on revolvers with a short arbor.
If the revolver is properly fit, the arbor bottoming in the barrels arbor hole, driving the wedge in tighter should not effect barrel gap, if it does then the arbor/barrel are not fit correctly. You should only need firm thumb pressure to insert the wedge, after firing you may need to tap it loose with a wood or rawhide mallet, but only lightly.

Quote:
Dry-firing a cap and ball revolver won't normally loosen the wedge. At least, not that I've ever seen, but it will bang up the nipples upon which the percussion caps rest.
These damaged nipples make it far less reliable.
Cap and ball revolvers should never be dry-fired. If you must pull the trigger, such as when measuring how much pounds it takes to trip it, remove the cylinder first.
Unfortunately most reproduction cap and ball revolvers suffer from the hammer hitting the nipples. There should be a few thousandth clearance between the hammer and nipple when properly fit. If not, dry firing well peen the nipples.
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Old March 22, 2009, 03:39 PM   #10
buda
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Thank you for all the advice. I think I'm going to buy a new wedge, and try that. Is there a diference in wedge sizes, and where can I order one? Here is what is says on the bottom of the handle: PR. FIE italy.
If all else fails, my son is teaching me tricks like twirling the gun and I'll just buy a new gun because I'm just starting black powder and I'm not ready to give it up yet.
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Old March 22, 2009, 04:56 PM   #11
madcratebuilder
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Quote:
Thank you for all the advice. I think I'm going to buy a new wedge, and try that. Is there a diference in wedge sizes, and where can I order one? Here is what is says on the bottom of the handle: PR. FIE italy.
If all else fails, my son is teaching me tricks like twirling the gun and I'll just buy a new gun because I'm just starting black powder and I'm not ready to give it up yet.
If you can measure the length, width and thickness of your wedge I can compare them to several 'brands' and see how close we can get. DGW sells several brands and they are cheap.
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Old March 22, 2009, 06:31 PM   #12
Doc Hoy
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FIE!

To MCB,

Man...We have been through that topic have we not!? I never did find out who made my FIE Navy.

To Buda,

I think you and I may have exactly the same pistol. FIE 1851 Colt in .44 Cal. although mine was made in 1978. I used a Pietta wedge in mine and it works fine. Unfortunately you will probably pay as much for shipping as you do for the wedge. The way around that is to do what you said and buy a pistol too. I use that strategy with my wife all the time.
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Old March 22, 2009, 09:50 PM   #13
Smokin_Gun
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Buda, If you determine it's the Wedge bein' worn ... make a shim for the front side of your wedge the hieight and length and slide it in with the wedge.
It will work...can use beer can shims with wedges also.
Ifin the barrel still wobbles a hair like the arbor ain't bottomed, place a small shim on top of the forward end of the arbor and slide it in flush with the barrel assy.
It will be just as if it were bottomed. The wedge will stay tight. Been shooting the 1860 Old Pietta ,I broke the locating pins off and made ones for a with that 777 ffg stuff.
Been shooting it at least 2-3 years that way.
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Old March 23, 2009, 03:21 AM   #14
Hawg
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If the arbor isn't bottomed out in the barrel assembly you can drill and tap the front end of it and put a screw in it to take up the space. Most new guns only need the wedge barely past flush on the off side. Mine installs with thumb pressure. As the gun ages and wears the wedge will need to go a little deeper to keep things tight.
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Old March 23, 2009, 12:11 PM   #15
madcratebuilder
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Quote:
If the arbor isn't bottomed out in the barrel assembly you can drill and tap the front end of it and put a screw in it to take up the space. Most new guns only need the wedge barely past flush on the off side. Mine installs with thumb pressure. As the gun ages and wears the wedge will need to go a little deeper to keep things tight.
+1

Quote:
Unfortunately you will probably pay as much for shipping as you do for the wedge. The way around that is to do what you said and buy a pistol too. I use that strategy with my wife all the time.
Brilliant thinking! I may try that with my wife.
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Old March 23, 2009, 12:33 PM   #16
Doc Hoy
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Whooops...Not so fast

MCB,

I neglected to say that my strategy only works about ten percent of the time.

Darned wife is too smart. (Or I am too dumb.) She would tell me to just buy the wedge and send her the bill for shipping....or some such nonsense.
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