View Full Version : C&B pistol with dog eared nipples

January 16, 2012, 01:24 AM
Went to an auction and saw a reproduction Cap & Ball Pistol with mushing or Dog earing on the heads of the nipples, I do not think a cap would even fit on them anymore..

So one would need to replace the nipples on the cylinder. And I assume that after replacing the nipples all would be good again ????

another question does this happen with normal use and if so how many shots to do this???..

Or was this caused by a lot of dry firing with out caps on it???

Mucho thanks

January 16, 2012, 01:53 AM
It was probably caused by dry firing.
And there's a chance that the mushroomed cones can be worked on a bit to allow them to work.
But that's not normal wear for revolver nipples, and if it were then I don't know how long it takes.
Some of the older nipples may have been made of softer steel whereas today's are made from harder steel.
I also think that the copper caps protect the cones by absorbing most of the hammer blow.

Fingers McGee
January 16, 2012, 12:19 PM
So one would need to replace the nipples on the cylinder. And I assume that after replacing the nipples all would be good again ???? Replacing the nipples will enable caps to fit properly; but, just replacing the nipples will not solve the underlying cause which is the hammer hitting the nipples.

Another question does this happen with normal use and if so how many shots to do this???.. It can happen with normal use if the hammer/nipple clearance is not correct. The hammer should not contact the nipple when firing the gun. Look at the hammer and see if there is a round impression of the nipple on the hammer face. If there is, the hammer is traveling too far forward and hitting the nipple. Dressing the face of the hammer back till it just clears the nipple will solve this problem. Shortening the nipples will also solve the problem.

Or was this caused by a lot of dry firing with out caps on it??? Dry firing will not cause this if the hammer doesn't strike the nipple.

January 18, 2012, 01:42 AM
Most all modern muzzle loaders have nipples and hammers that are able to make contact with each other yet their cones rarely deform and can often last a lifetime, especially if they're not dry fired.
And on average the hammers of muzzle loaders impact their cones with much more force than revolver hammers do.
I think that the two main reasons for this are due to the modern nipples being made of a harder steel and because the malleable copper percussion cap protects the nipple from being battered.
Why is the practice of head spacing revolver nipples any different than the practice of not needing to head space muzzle loader nipples?

The difference may be due to the fact that muzzle loaders aren't intended to be dry fired.
That fact would seem to indicate that the problem with battered revolver nipples isn't due to the lack of head spacing but rather due to dry firing.
Does anyone know where the concept of head spacing revolver nipples originated? :rolleyes:

January 18, 2012, 04:04 AM
Some guns come from the factory with the nipples spaced so the hammer wont hit them and once person gets used to that idea it seems a good deal so now some people set their guns up that way is all. But thats pretty much just a revolver deal.

Doc Hoy
January 18, 2012, 07:20 AM
...The mushrooming was caused by nipples that were a tiny bit too long, you can file the nipples back to a good taper that will hold the caps in place.

In this way the pistol is self correcting (sort of).

Sometimes the metal that is displaced intrudes into the fire channel of the nipple. This can be drilled out if it is severe enough to cause a misfire.

As long as the chambers continue to fire, I think you are okay to proceed in this poor man's way.

This assumes you can get the nipples out of the cylinder. Different issue with a different solution.

January 18, 2012, 10:16 AM
Remove the nipples (which may be the biggest chore).
Chuck the threads into a cordless (slower rpms) drill.
Turn the sides battered areas against a fine file until the nipple assumes a reasonable shape.
Re-install and try them. If you are lucky they will work for you.
If you are smart and intend to use the gun then, run don't walk to the Possible Shop and buy a set of TRESO nipples for your gun.

I like to unload my gun, turn it barrel down so that the cylinder is in contact with the forcing cone area of the barrel. Now determine if the hammer is in contact with the nipples. If so remove a TINY bit of metal from the hammer face and try again. This is one of those things that a couple of file strokes too many will cost you a new hammer.

January 18, 2012, 10:53 AM
Removing the nipples... this was my biggest problem a couple months ago. I had two unfired guns from Pietta, and the gnome with the locktite and the air tool had apparently been assigned to the nipple installing station the day mine were made. And after soaking in BreakFree, Liquid Wrench, Hoppes solvent, ATF fluid and acetone, and other homemade recipes, and still distorting 3 different kinds of nipple wrenches, someone turned me onto the nipple wrench and ratchet from DixieGunWorks (probably get it other places too), but it got them out without even having to lock the cylinders in the vise.
(if you get the ratchet, be sure it's the revolver ratchet, there is more than one kind)

January 18, 2012, 02:04 PM
When you re-install make sure you apply an anti-seize material to the threads.

Doc Hoy
January 19, 2012, 09:44 AM
And you don't have to make them very tight. Just snug.

I recommend you take the nipples out every time you clean the revolver. Others disagree and inthe end it really is just a personal preference.


You have now been exposed to the concept that nipple are almost like consumables. It should be as easy to get the nipples out of your revolvers as it is to get the oil filter out of your 73 Dodge Challenger.

January 19, 2012, 11:34 AM
I take mine out for every cleaning. And put em back with a touch of breech plug grease on the threads (just a little on the end of a toothpick to each one) lightly snug them in, and they come out easily next time. Don't let the grease get on the nipple face.

Fingers McGee
January 19, 2012, 01:04 PM
Doc +1. I use Balistol to lube mine and keep them from seizing up.

January 19, 2012, 01:31 PM
Just a unrelated question?

Does anyone know if balistol is available in canada? i havnt done much searching for it but it seems to be a very handy cleaning solution.

January 19, 2012, 02:28 PM
Ballistol is a German product that's been around a long time (since before WW II). It should be available in Canada, but I don't really know.

Ballistol is a lubricant and rust preventative, not a cleaning solution. Many folks use it to clean with and it does a tolerable job in that role, but that's not it's intended use. It is mineral oil based and thus makes an excellent black powder lube and rust preventative - it burns cleanly without leaving behind the tars that low distillate petroleum lube products do.

January 19, 2012, 04:08 PM
Use Ballistol as a simple addition to your cleaning. Simply add 1 oz of Ballistol to 7-10 ounces of water and shake. The resulting Moosemilk will clean(with the water) and lube with the Ballistol in suspension when the water dries away.

I'm using a quart of mineral oil to 6 ozs of Lemon All Purpose Cleaner as my base solution in place of Ballistol. Needs to be shaken before each use. Seems to work well as a lube and as a Moosemilk preparation.

Beaucoup and bunches cheaper.