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Old March 25, 2014, 07:11 AM   #1
Magnum Wheel Man
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Uberti Walker replica ( kit ) from Dixie Gun Works... frame is soft

so I'm doing a Walker "build"... conversion to black powder cartridge, & was looking for a good used Walker to start with... since they seem to be kinda hard to buy right now, I bought a fully assembled, but unfinished, ( listed as a "kit gun" ) from Dixie Gun works, I thought it a good starting point for my project...

My machinist is concerned that the frame is very soft ( more so, than having it case colored would help ) so I think I'm looking for a shop to case harden the frame, hopefully with deeper hardness than typical color case hardening...

has anyone run into these "soft" frames before ??? do you know of a shop that can do a good "deep" case hardening job ??? my machinist has an oven, but it's electric, & he said the "paste" gives off corrosive gasses, so he doesn't want to do it in his electric oven...

thoughts on if this steel will take blueing after it gets a good case hardening ???
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Old March 25, 2014, 08:59 AM   #2
Old Stony
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I don't think I've ever seen one of those replicas that didn't have soft metal. Even the ones that appear to be case hardened I think are just probably colored with some torch work. I remember one gun writer that referred to the builders and "torch experts" when referring to their case hardened frames.
I would be cautious with some of the guys around that do case hardening. This only gives the metal a tougher skin and still leaves very soft metal on the interior of the piece. It will take a knowledgeable person to harden the frame properly without getting it too brittle and then you will be prone to cracks in the frame instead of stretching.
I wish you luck..
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Old March 25, 2014, 09:08 AM   #3
gunslinger2000
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I am not sure surface hardening adds strength like you need. I think you need a complete heat treatment and that depends on accurate knowledge of the exact alloy. I am a bit of a safety mother hen, you are taking a chance with your life! Gunslinger
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Old March 25, 2014, 09:20 AM   #4
Magnum Wheel Man
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thanks for the replies guys... so, even the finished revolvers that are blued & case colored, are known for softer frames ???

... on this project, everything is being strengthened... the weak point on the revolver as purchased, is the 3/8" fine threads where the cylinder arbor screws into the frame, or the soft steel around the wedge... these threads are being replaced with 7/16" coarse threads, the arbor will be replaced with tool steel, the wedge replaced with hardened tool steel, & an additional taper pin added by the wedge to help keep everything tight, & in proper location... my builder buddy is also all about safety... we can live with the soft frame, just looking for as deep a surface hardening as possible... since finding the exact alloy used is very likely impossible info to scrounge up with any reliability... I have a local shop that does incredible case colors, but we suspect the hardness will only be a few .001's deep... & we can likely get a little deeper hardness, if the frame were case hardened not worrying about the color as it's primary purpose
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Old March 25, 2014, 11:21 AM   #5
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Almost all, if not all, of the modern reproductions are color case hardened.

This is a misleading term. It has nothing to do with case hardening at all. It is simply a treatment given to the metal object to make it look like traditional case hardening.

See this for information on true case hardening:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case_hardening

If the entire alloy is hardenable, then you run the risk of the item being too brittle and cracking under stress. By only hardening the outside of the part, you get the benefits of the strength and wear resistance while also preserving some of the toughness.

Case hardening also allows you to use a cheaper alloy (iron) instead of a heat treatable alloy of steel.

It would not surprise me to find that the reproduction steel quality and heat treatment processes are substandard. I have already in the 3 years I have been shooting BP guns discovered my share of soft springs, soft sears, and soft hands.

I firmly believe that they do not put the same quality into the BP guns because they know that most of them get shot a dozen times and then put on a wall, whereas cartridge guns get fired thousands of times.

Steve
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Old March 25, 2014, 03:40 PM   #6
Magnum Wheel Man
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called & talked to Doug Turnbull's shop, & this is exactly what they do... case harden ( & with good colors ) so, as it stands right now, the frame will go there for heat treatment after the machining & fitting are completed
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Old March 25, 2014, 04:50 PM   #7
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"the wedge replaced with hardened tool steel" i have no experince with open tops, but don't you want the wedge to be the wear item?
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Old March 26, 2014, 06:09 AM   #8
Magnum Wheel Man
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"normally" but this will also use a taper pin to locate & help hold things in the proper position, & the ejector rod housing mounting screw also contacts the arbor in an indentation on the arbor, to help ... goal being... nothing wearing at the front assembly
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Old March 26, 2014, 09:37 PM   #9
4V50 Gary
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Color case harden it. My classmate did his.
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Old March 27, 2014, 06:05 AM   #10
Magnum Wheel Man
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my buddy has his own tempering oven... but was worried about the case hardening compound ( gives off corrosive gas when in process ) & he has an electric oven, doesn't want to damage the heating elements... but after re-reading the the compound instructions, he thinks if he builds a container to temper it in, & extends the container to the vent on his oven, he'll be fine, so right now that's where we are at...

he got a little worried about Turnbull's shop, when one of the local "know it all's" told him that he had guns out of Turnbull's shop, that had beautiful case colors, but the hardness had no depth... so after contacting Brownells tech department, & telling them what we were after, they recommended a shop out in Utah, & after talking to them, they could guaranty 7 to 10 .001's thickness of carbonized surface hardness... so if my buddy decides he doesn't want to do it himself, looks like the frame will go west, after the machining... at this point, we are mostly concerned with hardening the surface of the area where the arbor threads into the frame...

mocked up the 1st cartridge last night, using a 460 S&W case, & one of my 250 grain LRNFP bullets... looks pretty impressive... but in reality pressures & velocities won't be much over "normal" 45 Colt specifications
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Old March 28, 2014, 06:35 AM   #11
45 Dragoon
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Interesting project. What barrel gap setting will you use? Are you making your own cylinder?

45 Dragoon

PS. My "soft frame" 45 Dragoons seem to be holding up just fine, not to mention my '60 45 (much smaller soft frame and my carry gun for over 2 yrs.). Chamber/bore alignment is a big factor in how much of a beating the frame/barrel assys. will be taking. Also, better make sure the arbor bottoms out in the arbor hole ( prob.the most important issue concerning opentops ).

Last edited by 45 Dragoon; March 28, 2014 at 06:49 AM.
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Old March 28, 2014, 07:59 AM   #12
Magnum Wheel Man
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yes, making a new cylinder... the cylinder blank is in the gun & fitted right now, ( modern steel alloy, sorry, I don't know the alloy off the top of my head, but it's tough stuff ) no chambers are reamed yet... now that we are sure of chambering ( 45 Black Powder Magnum, using 460 S&W cases ) ( we were looking at several options... I'm disapointed that the 40-50 Sharpes straight didn't pan out ) looks like we are hand cutting a reamer, as everyone is out 8-10 weeks on high speed steel reamers in 460, availability of tooling, cases, loading dies, etc. are why we were going back & forth between 3-4 different chamberings ) I'm ordering a barrel liner now for nice tight .452" bullet fit... not sure what the barrel cylinder gap will be yet, but will be regulated by the taper pin, rather than the wedge, with the wedge re-enforcing the taper pin... the barrel will be cut to just under 7" ( actually the round part of the barrel will be the same length as the front barrel block, for symmetry, I think measures something like 6.75" or such, & will be fitted with a dovetailed front sight... we're adding a single action shell extractor, & one of the retaining screws will also help hold the tool steel arbor... which BTW, originally was tapered... we are using a straight one, a tapered tool steel bushing was inserted into the lower barrel frame, & will be stuck there with sleeve retainer, once everything is final assembled, where the wedge & taper pin will go through it, the barrel frame, & the new arbor... the whole set up should be much stronger...

the gun will still be set up to shoot black powder, but strong enough to shoot Trailboss loads in 460 S&W cases with the headstamp knurled out, ( 45 Black powder magnum, as the gun will be marked that it's chambered for, during cosmetic finishing, smokeless load data I'll use will be a grain or two more than maximum in standard 45 Colt loads... just using the huge cases, to better fit the size of the gun & cylinder, should have just a little edge over the 45 Colt in standard loadings, black powder loads will be based on the size of the case, with the strengthening added, the gun should handle a full case of black, with no filler added... bullets I'll be using to start with are a 250 grain LRNFP bullet, & with a Lee factory crimp into the generous crimp groove, leaves me about .010" space ( or a little more ) at the end of the cylinder
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Last edited by Magnum Wheel Man; March 28, 2014 at 08:15 AM.
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Old March 28, 2014, 11:15 AM   #13
45 Dragoon
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Sounds like you've got everything thought out. For what its worth, the abor length will "set" or define the barrel / cyl gap ( norm. set up for an open top). If there is any space at all , it WILL move. The wedge is not an adjustment tool ( like most folks think). The gap should stay the same even if you drive the wedge in further than it wants to go. Then, you can use a set screw at the end of the arbor to alow the wedge to start "like new" all over again.

Just a couple of cents worth, don't mean to be presuming anything. Good luck!!!
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