View Full Version : 1861 navy that will not cock

July 21, 2010, 09:25 PM
Got a navy here that broke a hammer hand. replaced it but it wouldn't cock. I replaced triggerbolt spring and sear and still would not cock. Just hammer hand spinning cylinder. Figured since trigger was wobbly, I replaced it. No go. Finally I took hammer out of good one and set it in--no cigar. The trigger and hammer are not catching. Is the frame too wide---? but screws go threw it. What's wrong here?

July 22, 2010, 12:12 AM
The new hand replacement may need adjustment to obtain the proper angle when it contacts the rear of the cylinder. I replaced a broken hand on my ASM 1851 Navy and I could not cock the hammer until I slowly shaped the new hand to provide the proper throw onto the rear of the cylinder.

Doc Hoy
July 22, 2010, 04:35 AM
I would compare the shape of the new hand with the old if you still have it. In my limited experience I find that new hands are too long. The extra length stops the hammer from moving back far enough to catch the full cock detent.

If that comparison does not show you the problem, you might also want to take the hammer out. Put the old hand back on the hammer and then put the new hand on the hammer and make some comparisons in this way too. For example, "Does the new hand move on the hammer as freely as the old hand?" "Does the new hand fit into the hammer as easily as the old hand?"

July 22, 2010, 07:56 AM
Need more info, by won't cock do you mean when you pull back on the hammer the cylinder does not turn, like it's locked up? If that is your problem then the hand is to long and trying to turn the cylinder before the bolt has dropped. When you start the hammer back, the first thing that happens is the bolt drops, then the hand starts to turn the cylinder.

July 22, 2010, 08:16 AM
DocHoy hit it on the head. The problem is the new hand is too long and is catching the top radius of the cylinder ratchet well in the frame before the hammer makes it to full cock. The way to fit a new hand is to start tith the cylinder in the gun and shorten the hand by taking metal off the top flat untill just as you feel the hand start to contact the tooth of the ratchet the bolt has cleared the cylinder. Next try to bring it to full cock. If your hand does not have a boss around the pin that goes into the hammer you should be good to go if it does or the hammer still misses full cock yhou may need to radius the top left edge of the flat looking at the hand from the rear and possibly relieve the back of the flat as it is contacting the upper edge of the radius in the ratchet well.
An easy way to see this is with the cylinder out look at the hand in the ratchet well slowley cock the revolver at the same time with a pen or something hold back on the hand so that the tip only protrudes a little less than 1/8 in. When the hammer stops you can see where the hand is contacting the radius of the well and know where you have to remove some metal. This is generally only a few thousandths of an in.

Fingers McGee
July 22, 2010, 10:03 AM
What Doc Hoy, MCB, tripe and denster said. Hand is too long which prevents hammer from going back far enough for the trigger to engage the full cock notch.


July 22, 2010, 07:06 PM
Wow! Thanks guys. I should have been more specific. Anyway, the hammer hand is the same with a new spring stamped in it. What the problem is: when assembling all new parts-the hammer pulls back as if there are no guts in the gun. The cylinder rotates and hammer hand assembly seems fine but nothing is catching. It's as if the trigger is not set to the hammer. It wobbles. I tried everything but the trigger will not set tight into hammer cogs. I took it to a gunsmith friend today and he looked at it and said:" Billy, I can't find anything wrong but the fact that the hammer will not catch trigger . The bolt won't move etc. He smiled and said bring the rest of the screws to put it together. I said, it doesn't matter because it should manuver springs (trigger bolt & Sear) without all that. I do know that. But anyway the diagnosis is the trigger is not catching or seated into hammer.:confused: It's funny how a cowboy gun can get hard. Even with all new parts!

July 22, 2010, 07:24 PM
I assume an 1861's lockworks is similar to an 1851. From the pic below you see:

(1) Hammer
(2) Trigger
(3) Hand
(4) Bolt
(5) Trigger/Bolt Spring
(6) Mainspring

Are you meaning to say that the top of the trigger is not long enough to engage the hammer?...or the top of the trigger will not touch/rest on the hammer's notch? Make sure there is enough tension on the trigger portion of the trigger/bolt spring and MAKE SURE that leg of the spring IS engaging the trigger. Sometimes the arm on the trigger portion of the spring isn't long enough.


July 22, 2010, 07:57 PM
thanks. I could not get any tension. After examining another navy, the trigger is tight. We cannot get the trigger in this one to engage. The old one or the new one. Even took hammer out of good one but didnot work. Interchanged springs=didn't work. ALL parts are new. Guess I'll go tommorrow and see what the ole pro did. Probably somethin simple and will cost me. And yes, I've messed with too long hammer hands that will not rotate cylinder without honing and sear springs worn too short that won't fit trigger. But this has got me mad:mad::mad::confused: Maybe I'll start playing golf again:D I was decent at that.

Hey I do have an 1860 Army 3rd gen Colt with spare cylinder for 675 umm

Doc Hoy
July 22, 2010, 08:41 PM
Take the barrel off and use hand pressure to hold the cylinder against the recoil shield as you operate the pistol. This will sometimes tell you something additional about the operation of the pistol.

Set the pistol to half cock and watch for the bolt to drop. If the bolt doesn't drop, spread the legs on the bolt. I suspect the bolt is dropping. The bolt should come back out at full cock. To me, the pistol is acting like this is not happening. This too will lead you to either the legs on the bolt or the spring tencion on the bolt or the freedom of the bolt to pivot on the screw.

Does the hammer cock with the cylinder out of the pistol? (I suspect not)

Does the trigger and the bolt have tension? (I suspect they do.)

July 22, 2010, 09:07 PM
Doc, if you push the trigger foward as if using your right index finger and pushing it toward the front you feel some tension and a small feel of it engaging for cocks in the hammer, but let off it just dangles. The hammer pulls back with no cocks or engaging the trigger only pushing the hammer hand to rotate cylinder. I've enterchanged springs, spread the trigger bolt legs etc. For some reason the trigger is loose and dangles as if it was hanging in there with nothin to grab to. I'm really embarrased:o But I'll find out tommorow hopefully what is wrong and post the problem. Something tells me that the frame might have warped. But it is a steel. Anyway stay tuned and thanks. You know these uberties are getting harder to get. The 1861 navy appears to be in demand. A lot of uberties are on back order and Italy closes in August. The 51 navys are still getable as of now PEACE

July 22, 2010, 09:08 PM
It's as if the trigger is not set to the hammer. It wobbles.
This tells me that the trigger/bolt spring leg on the trigger side is bent or broken or the spring is installed upside down.

July 22, 2010, 09:26 PM
Again, I would say that either the arm for the trigger side of the trigger/bolt spring is either too short to engage/touch the trigger or there isn't enough tension/springiness in that side of the trigger/bolt spring.

Is the arm for the trigger on the trigger/bolt spring pushing on the trigger or not?

July 22, 2010, 09:55 PM
OK. If there is no spring tension on the trigger the bolt/trigger spring is likely the culprit. It's almost impossible to install upside down but I suppose you could do it. Anyway try this remembering that the long leg goes to the trigger and the short leg goes over the bolt. With the hammer down hold the trigger forward against the hammer and lay the spring in place with the tip to the trigger side on the flat of the trigger that holds it then start the screw and tighten it down making sure the spring does not come off that flat and go under it which results in no tension on the trigger.
From your previous post it sounded like you had replaced the hand and you didn't mention no spring tension on the trigger. Makes it hard to diagnose the problem when you leave out details like that.

Doc Hoy
July 23, 2010, 04:25 AM
....that the trigger bolt spring was installed with the spring not engaging the trigger. It is an easy thing to do and for someone not looking for it, it is a hard thing to spot. Take the trigger guard off and make sure the very end of the spring is sitting on the "bench" or "flat" of the trigger and not under it. If it is installed correctly the trigger will have good tension. If not, the trigger will have no tension.

When you install the spring the end of the spring naturally wants to go under the bench. This is wrong. You have to make sure that you hold the trigger all the way forward as the spring is installed.

I am calling it a "bench" because I don't know what it is really called. It is the flat area on the front of the trigger with a ninety degree angle cut into the trigger. It will be easy to see when you are looking for it. Just look at the end of the trigger bolt spring where it points to the trigger. It will be very obvious if the spring is not properly engaging the trigger.

I am personally thrilled that you posted this question. It gave me an excuse to:

1) handle my pistols
2) think about the way they work.

July 23, 2010, 04:52 PM
Thanks everyone here trying to help me and possibly others that have trouble w/internal parts not working. I got my gun back this mornin with a $10.00 fee:D Do you want to guess or should I tell you now. It cocks absolutely sweet! OK -all the springs were set right but the trigger bolt screw did not thread all the way down to hold the sear tight enough. I bought that screw and remembering when installing it something didn't feel right. I shouda just stopped there but you know you can't think of everything. Anyway that $.75 cent screw was the culprit. By the way, I have a 3'rd gen colt that bluin has worn off much of right side of barrel. Is it worth sending back to factory or someone--or just leave it alone?

July 24, 2010, 07:32 AM
By the way, I have a 3'rd gen colt that bluin has worn off much of right side of barrel. Is it worth sending back to factory or someone--or just leave it alone?

I would leave it. The 3rd gens, depending on the model have not appreciated like the 2nd gens. Being a refinish would not increase the value, I would just shoot it, let the blue continue to wear and it well look like an oldie some day.

July 24, 2010, 08:31 AM
OK -all the springs were set right but the trigger bolt screw did not thread all the way down to hold the sear tight enough.

Well alright!

Its kind of weird that was the issue. That screw must be tapered more that it should. Glad ya got it fixed.

July 24, 2010, 09:35 AM
Somewhat more than kind of wierd.

July 24, 2010, 08:00 PM
madcrater-I took a scotch pad lightly to it, then degreased it with alcohol and applied two applications at 5 min intervals of G96 gun cream blue. Washed off and polished with a bunch of straigt ballestol. Every 20 minutes I have soaked and polished. So far so good but got to keep appling oil. It looks good and blended perfect with the original bluin. I recommend this stuff as a must for your gunsmith shelves.

Also, the screw that didn't thread right was (just to clarify) not the bolt screw that fits on side of frame along with trigger and hammer screws but the small screw that holds the sear or flat trigger spring. Seriously it only threaded down just over 1/2 way where I didn't notice but kept it just not able to work.

July 24, 2010, 08:21 PM
Just so we are on the same wavelength, when you say "sear" you are talking about the tip of the trigger component that engages the hammer....right?


Sounds like there wasn't enough spring pressure on the trigger since the trigger/bolt spring screw wasn't fully installed.

July 24, 2010, 08:50 PM
no. Colt parts list the flat trigger spring as a sear: the long end fits on top rest of trigger (where you pointed to)and the shorter end pushes the the bolt. I think its called now a trigger bolt spring, but anyway you know the short screw that holds it inside the frame. That was the screw kinda similar to wedge screw on side of colts that keep wedge from falling out. It didn't screw down all the way keeping that spring from not working its other parts.

July 24, 2010, 08:52 PM
Wait--you were right. Sorry

July 24, 2010, 09:04 PM
I'm going to throw out some comments for those more knowledgeable than I am. On the hand- on Colts- I thought the top of the hand starts pushing the teeth on the cylinder but as the cylinder rotates the hand starts to slide off the teeth and from that point on the side of the hand keeps the cylinder rotating. In other words the length of the hand controls when the cylinder starts rotating and the width/thickness of the hand controls the end portion of the cylinder rotation. Is that correct?
On the screw, if it was a new gun sometimes the machining creates a burr on the threads that might have been stopping the trigger/bolt sping screw from fully seating. I think.

July 24, 2010, 09:42 PM
davem - you are correct.

July 24, 2010, 10:16 PM
davem. On modern revolvers that use a single tooth hand,say S&W, you would be correct. On the colt percusion revolvers it works differently. The left corner of the hand flat picks up the tooth on the cylinder then as it goes through rotation it goes to the full flat then finally the right corner of the flat that carries it the final couple of degrees. Hand thickness has little to do with it. With other designs that don't have that big arbor to clear and the cylinder ratchet is closer to center the side of the hand carries the tooth the final few degrees of rotation. With that style hand thickness is a critical dimension.

July 25, 2010, 09:37 AM
Wait--you were right. Sorry

LOL!...that's okay...even once in a while I get lucky. :p

The reason why I asked if you and I agreed on what "the sear" is because I was getting very confused as to what you were trying to describe as the problem in your earlier posts. BTW, I hope the trigger arm portion (long one) of the trigger/bolt spring isn't completely flat. It should curve towards the trigger "shelf".

July 25, 2010, 01:23 PM
Thanks denster- I never knew that on the percussion mechanism. One other thing, sometimes the hand fits rather loosely in it's slot in the frame. It seems to me that the tighter the fit the better- within reason.
One last thing, someone a while back explained it but I forgot, on a Colt type mechanism, if you put the gun on half cock and then rotate the cylinder or lower the hammer or some such thing- that can cause a scoring on the cylinder even though the timing is okay. What is the proper way to handle the situation- say you loaded 5 chambers and wanted the hammer down on an empty/ un-capped nipple. Should you always bring the hammer back to full cock?
I'm sure a lot of other folks are also confused so any help appreciated.

July 25, 2010, 01:33 PM

Probably be best to start a new topic to get the proper answer you seek as you've veered away from the OP's original issue. You are more likely to get the response you want and fresh looks by creating a topic specific to your question. ;)

July 25, 2010, 05:36 PM

With a percussion if you have it on half cock and want to lower it on a nipple then bring it to full cock and do so. If you want it on one of the safety pins then just lower it onto them and when ready to fire bring it to full cock. Where you score the cylinder is with a SAA or a percussion when you lower it from half cock and then rotate the cylinder by hand to bring a chamber in line with the barrel.

July 25, 2010, 05:46 PM
When you place a Colt SA action in half cock the bolt is lowered to allow the cylinder to rotate freely; this is the normal operation we are all familiar with. There is no danger of the bolt scoring the cylinder with the hammer in half cock unless the bolt operation has been compromised by broken or improperly installed parts.

If the hammer is pulled back from half cock just far enough to release the sear (but not all the way to full cock) and then lowered to rest on a safety notch or pin or on a nipple, the bolt head will be raised back into the position for stopping cylinder rotation. If the cylinder is in a position such that there's no stop notch in place, the bolt head will land on the surface of the cylinder and scratch the surface of the cylinder when it's rotated to place the safety notch or pin or the nipple under the hammer.

To prevent that from happening one must either rotate the cylinder to the desired position (safety notch or pin or nipple 'in battery' under the hammer's final position) before the hammer is pulled back to release the sear from half cock, or the hammer must be pulled fully back into the full cock position before allowing it to fall to the down position.

July 25, 2010, 08:42 PM
Am I talking to Nasa or the BP engineers? :D

Ha, just kiddin'. Um Clembert was trying to get to the two mechanisms that caused all the problems in my gun. I started out with a breakdown chart from Colt and the SEAR spring is now on Uberti listed as "sear and bolt spring" and the screw that fastens it is "bolt spring screw." After ordering all new parts, it was the little screw made in Italy that just didn't thread all the way down. And, it all started when I felt a need to fix something. By God it works great now! Who wants to start the bid?

July 26, 2010, 08:29 PM
Hey look at this gun that wouldn't cock:)

July 26, 2010, 08:33 PM
The pics still don't show it cocked!!! :p

I think I see the problem...you got the trigger in backwards....hehehehehe

j/k :D

July 26, 2010, 08:55 PM
um it was capped

October 22, 2010, 01:48 PM
Hi guys. I'm new to this forum and recently acquired an 1861 navy. Sorry for bringing up an old thread but I was having similiar problems as described in this thread and have discovered the trigger side of the trigger/bolt spring is missing causing no tension on the trigger and the hammer is not catching. Being new to the black powder world I have no idea where to find a replacement spring. Does anyone know where I could order one? Thanks.

Doc Hoy
October 22, 2010, 02:49 PM
Try Dixie Gun Works. You will need to know who manufactured the pistol. It is a good idea to go to the website and hunt up the part you need. On their website it is best to use the pistol manufacturer's name as the search words. As an example; Pietta 1861 Colt.

I just got off the phone with them about ten minutes ago buying 40 bucks worth of screws for Rogers and Spencer and Remington.

October 22, 2010, 03:29 PM
Doc, just ordered it, thanks for the help.