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Old April 15, 2010, 03:43 PM   #1
DustyBottoms
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DixieGunworks 1860 kit - Any good?

Hi, all.
For some reason I can't explain (not being secretive, I just don't know where this obsession originated) I need a shootin' iron. Specifically, an 1860 Army.

I'm no stranger to firearms - grew up with them - but I've never owned a percussion pistol before. Never even fired one. I know - what's wrong with me?

I've got my eye on the kit at Dixie Gunworks.
I think I want to go with the kit because A: it won't break the bank, and B: I get to build it myself, which is always fun, and I can finish it exactly how I want it.

My question to you guys is mainly about the steel frame.
Judging by the picture, which is tiny, it looks like it could be just raw steel.
Has anybody here ever built or even seen one of these kits?
Is it just raw steel? Is it case-hardened? Plated? Or will I end up having to shell out more money to have it hardened or plated?
Or are there other options for protecting a raw steel frame while keeping the shiny silver color?

Aside from the aesthetic issues of the steel frame, any info you guys may have concerning the function, accuracy, and reliability of these kits would also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old April 15, 2010, 04:07 PM   #2
azsixgun
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Post a link to the DGW kit.

I've built a couple in the late '70s - 80's. The internals are basically all finished, so it's limited to lots of filing and sanding. LOTS of filing and HAND SANDING! The 1860 has lots of rounded corners. The picture you should be envisioning are blistered fingers. Visit Cabelas website and purchase one of their steel framed guns that are on sale. You'll thank me later!
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Old April 15, 2010, 04:17 PM   #3
simonkenton
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Not familiar with that exact kit, but it is probably case hardened steel.

The only receivers I have ever seen are either brass, or case hardened steel.
Who is the maker of the gun?
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Old April 15, 2010, 04:25 PM   #4
DustyBottoms
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Here's a link to the kit:

http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product...ducts_id=14077

It's a Pietta.

azsixgun: I don't mind a few blisters and bloody knuckles. Gives me a feeling of accomplishment.
I was looking at Cabela's irons, but I don't want color case hardened.
Stainless would be ideal for me, but that's just not an option in a '60, apparently.
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Old April 15, 2010, 04:51 PM   #5
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The kit at Dixie isn't stainless. Out of curiosity what do you not like about the color case hardened frame?
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Old April 15, 2010, 05:00 PM   #6
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I didn't figure it was stainless.

The only thing I don't like about the color case hardened is, well, the color.

The picture I've got in my mind is silver frame, ivory grips, blue/black barrel and rammer. It's an aesthetic thing.
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Old April 15, 2010, 06:19 PM   #7
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robhof

If you want to go real silver; there's a wipe-on silver emulsion. I got a small bottle on Ebay and used it to coat the brass gripframe of my Wells Fargo, you wipe it on allow it to work awhile and then rinse and polish, I believe it works on steel also. I had enough to do the brass on one of my Hawkins and still have over half a bottle left.
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Old April 15, 2010, 06:28 PM   #8
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I have gone with Texas Platers Supply simple silver electroplate in the past. For plating triggerguards etc. Pretty easy to use and you can work it on as thick as you want to go. Works good if you are careful in application. Like flawless shiny brass and no contaminents on the surface. I bought a "kit" of a Whitney revolver from Dixie a long time ago, as there was not finished version of the revolver available. Pretty good quality but all the outsides were very roughly milled. Fairly deep milling grooves. That required alot of filing and sanding to try to get to smooth steel. Did alot of work on it but never did get it completed. Hardest was the rounded surfaces, not the flats. And grips were just big oversized walnut blanks, not even close to a final fit. Too bad I never got it done, it would have been something. Lotta finish work required.
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Old April 15, 2010, 08:00 PM   #9
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1860 Kit

I built 2 C&B revolvers from kits about 25 years ago. They were Ubertis and must have had some reject parts included. If I hadn't had access to a well equiped tool room, I'd have had a heck of a time getting them together and working. I, too, like the feeling of accomplishment of doing it myself, but just didn't think that and the small savings involved were worth the trouble. I wouldn't do it again.
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Old April 15, 2010, 09:12 PM   #10
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robhof & Tom2 - your experiences in "plating" interest me and I'm sure others as well. I've been thinking of doing the gripframe/triggerguard on my '61 Colt Navy but haven't explored it much. We used to have some plating companies in a nearby city but I think the economy has closed them up. Maybe you could start another thread about your plating experiences and what you used? As an example, I know nothing about "plating" per se - if I took a stripped brass frame to a plater, once it was plated, would the threads have to be freshened out? Things such as that. Or, if you've used a simpler method such as you describe, how durable is the plating? Thanks for any information. Sorry to "horn in" on this thread as I know plating is not what it is about - so maybe another thread? Thanks much. Sincerely, bedbug
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Old April 15, 2010, 09:29 PM   #11
DustyBottoms
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Bedbug - I think finishing and plating definitely have a place in this thread, especially since I was just about to post this:

http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/plugnplate.htm#

Looks like I've found an inexpensive solution to the plating problem.
33 bones and I can do it at home. And the same kit plates brass as well as steel. I call that a win.

And logeorge, those Cabelas specials are tempting, especially with the complete '60 going for just a few dollars more. I've just got this weird personality malfunction where I have to make things needlessly difficult.

(edit: oh, yah - robhof and Tom, apparently you have to nickel plate steel first in order to silver plate it, and since silver tarnishes and nickel doesn't, I think I'm going to pass on the true silver finish. Thanks for your posts, though. It was checking out your leads that eventually led me to the Caswell site.)

Last edited by DustyBottoms; April 15, 2010 at 09:42 PM.
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Old April 15, 2010, 09:59 PM   #12
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Dusty - I started another thread on plating before I saw your reply. I looked at the site you gave a link to - very interesting! It would certainly be worth a try. What i'm most impressed about . . . if their system works good . . I can make all of my steel framed revovlers look like the are brass framed!!!! I know . . . . bad bedbug . . . couldn't help it!

The pricing of their plating "kits" doesn't seem too bad either. Thanks much for posting about it . . . . . if someone tries their product before I get a chance to, i hope they will give us a report on the results. Many thanks again!

Back to the original question on the '60 Army kit. I've never put one together before but I do remember looking at several at Friendship a number of years ago. As mentioned, the milling marks were quite heavy and they looked like quite a bit of work and I remember wondering if you could ever get all of them out. Someone mentioned that the internals were finished pretty well. How are they when they are assembled? Is the timing and indexing fairly decent or is there a lot of work in getting them tuned up?
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Old April 15, 2010, 10:18 PM   #13
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"How are they when they are assembled? Is the timing and indexing fairly decent or is there a lot of work in getting them tuned up?"

That's what I want to know. Although I'm so darn stubborn every last person on this forum could tell me they're garbage and I'd still buy the stupid thing.

Just looks like a really fun project, and something I can be really proud of once it's complete.
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Old April 15, 2010, 11:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
The only thing I don't like about the color case hardened is, well, the color.
Then take it off and reblue it, it's just color not true case hardening.
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Old April 15, 2010, 11:21 PM   #15
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Really?...

I can't decide how I feel about that.
Mislead? Deceived? Disappointed on one hand, but optimistic on the other.

That changes things. Thanks for that.
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Old April 16, 2010, 12:07 AM   #16
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I think it's pretty tho.






Even Ruger's CCH isn't real.


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Old April 16, 2010, 12:27 AM   #17
DustyBottoms
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Well, you learn something new every day.

That's opened up a WHOLE lot of possibilities I wasn't even considering before.
I thought the CCH was an integral part of the hardened metal.
Now that I know I can just take it off, I may not be limited to buying an unfinished kit to get the finish I want.

I agree it looks purdy, but that evil little gunslinger sittin' on my shoulder has got his mind set on shiny silver.

I'm gonna go have another look at Cabelas...
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Old April 16, 2010, 12:41 AM   #18
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As one who has great expertise at making large projects from small projects, do yourself a favor and get the completed gun from Cabelas. Trust me, you'll have more fun blistering your fingers by casting ammo, shooting and cleaning your finished Pietta than sanding on that kit for the next month.

I can't speak from experience regarding finish of the internal parts (and timing) as I was too young to know what correct would have looked like. I would **assume** they're about like a finished Italian reproduction, which means they could use some additional tuning.
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Old April 16, 2010, 01:44 AM   #19
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A $.99 bottle of vinegar will take the finish off the Cabelas guns in nothing flat and then you have your silver shiny finish. Just remember to neutralize the gun after the vinegar treatment and keep it well oiled to prevent it from rusting.
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Old April 16, 2010, 02:10 AM   #20
DustyBottoms
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"Neutralize"? Not sure what you mean.

And are you saying I wouldn't need to plate the steel, just keep it oiled?
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Old April 16, 2010, 02:25 AM   #21
Hawg
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Neutralize means stop the vinegar from working. If you don't it will etch the metal. Yes if you keep it oiled it won't rust. It will be more prone to rusting than a blued gun but if you take reasonably good care of it it wont.
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Old April 16, 2010, 04:12 AM   #22
DustyBottoms
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Googled "neutralize vinegar" and I got baking soda, sugar, and flour.

So I just dip it in my biscuit batter while the sausage gravy's cookin'?

It also said "ammonia", but that doesn't sound like it'd go very well with sausage gravy.
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Old April 16, 2010, 05:25 PM   #23
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Just get a gallon of distilled water and thoroughly rinse everything. You don't need to neutralize the vinegar, just get it off the metal.
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Old April 16, 2010, 07:06 PM   #24
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Ahhhhhhhhh . . . . . Hawg, I declare . . . . you DO have the prettiest Irons! Just a little disappointed though . . . . I didn't see a '51 Navy among them . .. .. but you're forgiven! Nice lookin' pistols!
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Old April 16, 2010, 07:16 PM   #25
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To answer your question, the DG kits are raw, unfinished metal with plenty of mill marks. There is no case hardening on the receiver, so you are just dealing with bare steel that you will have to do a LOT of filing, sanding and polishing to. The end result will be limited only by your patience, skill and persistence. I did an Armi San Marcos 1851 Navy kit a few years ago and put many hundreds of hours into it, but the end result was the equivalent of any Colt, just without the Colt markings.

Mechanically, the kits generally work right out of the box, so theoretically you could just assemble it and have a shooter, albeit a crude one.
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