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Old April 6, 2012, 12:37 PM   #1
Veeb
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Webley Mark V Cylinder Play

I have a Mk V Webley dated 1914. It is unmodified and seems in very good shape. My question concerns the cylinder, in which there is a bit of rotary play, same when the gun is cocked and uncocked. This is not a lot of play, maybe 1/8", but it is more than I find in S&W or Colt revolvers of the same age. Is this play in the cylinder expected in old Webleys, or do I have a problem? The gun is mechanically very tight and crisp otherwise, and the rifling is visible. Thanks for any guidance.
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Old April 6, 2012, 12:48 PM   #2
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Have you checked it when the gun is at full lockup? When I say full lockup, I mean the trigger is held all the way back with the hammer fully forward as it would be when the gun is fired. My own Mk. IV .38 has a good deal of rotational play when the action is at rest or even with the hammer cocked, but it's much tighter when the gun is at full lockup.
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Old April 6, 2012, 02:51 PM   #3
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Webleymkv, right you are. In full lockup as you describe, the play is, not 100% eliminated, but considerably reduced. Thanks very much, very helpful indeed.
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Old April 6, 2012, 06:28 PM   #4
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When the Webley revolver is at rest (hammer down, trigger forward), the cylinder is kept from rotating only by the trigger stop, which sits in the top front of the trigger. That is considerably (and deliberately) smaller than its notch in the cylinder (the front notch) so the cylinder can rotate quite a bit with the revolver at rest. When the revolver is cocked, the rear cylinder notch is being pressed against the cylinder stop (part of the trigger) by the hand, and the lockup is tight. It is not an especially good design, but it proved adequate for many years of service.

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Old April 6, 2012, 07:03 PM   #5
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Thank you, Jim, you make things very clear. In my Mark V, the cylinder play with the gun "at rest," as you say, is not much less than with the gun cocked. With the gun "at full lockup," per Webleymkv, it is a good deal tighter, the cylinder play then being comparable to Colts and S&W (1917s), which are virtually fixed--at least mine are. From what I have learned from the forum so far, it doesn't sound like my MkV is sloppy and shouldn't be shot. Very grateful for your and Webleymkv's help here.
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Old April 7, 2012, 06:28 PM   #6
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Patience while I put on the "old professor" hat and go into lecture mode.

One of the problems faced by early double action cartridge revolver designers was preventing the cylinder from free rotation when the trigger was released or when the gun was put back in the holster. If the cylinder rotated back, it could result in in the next trigger pull dropping the hammer on a fired round; if it rotated forward, it could miss a live round and the shooter would have a round less than he though he had. Either situation could be a nasty surprise in combat.

The problem was not acute in most solid frame revolvers, because the firing pin stayed in the fired primer until the hand picked up the cylinder ratchet for the next shot. But it became critical when rebounding hammers were used, either for safety reasons or to allow the gun to be opened, or both. With a rebounding hammer, the cylinder had to be kept from rotating backward or forward when the gun was at rest.

In the U.S., the Colt Model 1889 Navy had that problem and it was the reason the Army did not adopt that revolver until Colt corrected the problem in the Model 1892. Colt also used a second cylinder notch for an auxiliary cylinder stop, though the way it works is different from the Webley.

Since the second cylinder stop had only to keep the cylinder from rotating when the gun was not cocked and allow the hand to re-engage the ratchet, it did not need to be very precisely fitted, and both the Colt and Webley systems allow a fair amount of slack, though the Colt has less than the Webley.

The design used by S&W, Ruger, and the Enfield No. 2 revolver lets the cylinder stop remain in the cylinder notch for the last fired chamber when the trigger is released and the hammer down. The other Colt double actions, after about 1907, do the same thing, in a different way. Those guns don't have the free rotation problem.

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Old April 8, 2012, 01:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Webleymkv, right you are. In full lockup as you describe, the play is, not 100% eliminated, but considerably reduced. Thanks very much, very helpful indeed.
Even at full lockup, a slight amount of rotational play is normal for most DA revolvers including S&W, Ruger, Taurus, and Rossi. The primary exception to this is older Colts with the double-pawl lockup. These revolvers should have absolutely no perceptible rotational play when at full lockup. This type of lockup is sometimes referred to as the Colt "Bank Vault" lockup.
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Old April 8, 2012, 03:38 PM   #8
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Thanks a lot to all for the history and mechanics. Most interesting to me. Re the Colts, my (slight) experience is entirely consistent. I have a 1904 New Service and a M1909. Both have very little cylinder play at rest or cocked, and absolutely none in lock up. Just as you say.
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Old April 8, 2012, 06:47 PM   #9
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You don't get nuttin' for nuttin', so the old Colts have a lockup problem in reverse. The double pawl will certainly lock up the cylinder tightly, but if the gun is worn, it can also PUSH the cylinder out of alignment the other way, past the point of proper alignment.

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Old April 8, 2012, 06:53 PM   #10
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I'm wondering if an old Colt should have been fired a lot, I mean A LOT, would its action in this way become sloppy? As I say, my two are not, but just wondering.
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Old April 8, 2012, 07:08 PM   #11
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It does take a lot of shooting or at least working the gun, but I have seen it happen. The bolt (cylinder stop) wears, and the cylinder notches wear and the small frame in the bottom of the cylinder window wears or gets beaten out of shape. It is not common, and not something owners of those guns went around worrying about, but it could happen.

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Old April 9, 2012, 03:18 PM   #12
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The main problem with Colts are owners who don't understand the difference in the lockup. Colts have gotten a reputation for being "delicate" because many people simply don't know how to spot one that's in need of a tune-up. What often happens is that someone who is familiar with S&W or Ruger revolvers gets ahold of a Colt that has some rotational play at full lockup. Being unaware of the double-pawl system, they assume that this is normal, just like it would be on a S&W or Ruger, and keep on shooting it. Because the gun is already worn, continued shooting in this state batters it even more and the owners are shocked and dismayed when more serious problems, like lead spitting, arise. If a Colt is not abused and sent to a gunsmith for maintenance when signs of wear first arise, it will last a lifetime.
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Old April 9, 2012, 04:00 PM   #13
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Agreed to a point, but would not a gun that has to be overhauled at the first sign of wear be described as "delicate"?

Actually, Colts take a lot of abuse and don't get out of time that easily. Most of the posters on these sites who talk about Colts being "out of time" are following some stupid instructions that tell the owner to hold the cylinder back with a pipe wrench or something like that and if it doesn't lock up perfectly without touching the trigger, it is out of time and will blow up and wipe out the county.

Since the hand is attached to the trigger, most of the older Colt's won't fully lock up until the trigger is pulled, even though the hammer will cock for single action fire without the cylinder locking up. The only real way to tell if the gun is in time is to look at the primers; if the firing pin mark is centered, it doesn't much matter what happens if the gun is "tested" according to the "pipe wrench" gurus.

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Old April 9, 2012, 08:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Agreed to a point, but would not a gun that has to be overhauled at the first sign of wear be described as "delicate"?
True, but a Colt that has perceptible rotational play at full lockup is already well beyond the point that it began to wear. The point I was trying to make is that many people simply cannot tell when a Colt needs a tuneup, so they shoot it to the point that it's borderline unsafe and then declare it to be delicate.
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Old April 10, 2012, 01:20 PM   #15
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I agree. But that takes a LOT of shooting.

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Old August 26, 2014, 07:55 AM   #16
andreas59
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Same problem, another reason

Hello,
I'm sorry about my bad english. I'm German, but I hope you are able to understand anyway.
My Webley has pay at the rotation of the cylinder, too. If the trigger is forward, there is the most play. That's normal I know because the second stop at the rear of the cylinder is not acitive at that moment. If I cock the hammer the play gets less, but there is 5 degrees left. If I pull the trigger and hold it at the rear position it ist gern same, no change.
All parts seems to be okay.
Do you can help me?
Thanks
Andreas
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Old August 26, 2014, 08:20 PM   #17
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If that Webley has a lot of play when the trigger is held back, it is very likely due to a worn hand (pawl) or a worn ratchet on the back of the extractor. I would try a new hand first and see if that tightens things up.

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