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Old December 17, 2019, 04:28 PM   #1
Head Tomcat
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Uberti 1851 Colt Navy Conversion....Parts Needed?

Guys,

First post here and am looking for some information regarding the conversion of a Uberti 1851 Colt Navy from percussion to center-fire cartridge.

I have been shooting C&B revolvers for a bit over two years now and really enjoy it. So far I have a Uberti 1861 Navy and Uberti 1858 Remington from Taylors...with Long Hunter tuning the Navy for me. From that I saw what a correctly tuned pistol should look and "feel" like and then tuned the Remington myself. Both of them are a true joy to use and certainly attract notice when used at the local range!

For the 1851 Navy conversion project, I have the tools and knowledge to properly install the conversion cylinder myself...so, no real concern there.

What I am looking for is advice on what to use for an ejector assembly?

I emailed Howell about their gated conversion cylinder and really like how it looks and works. The concern I have is how to eject the empty brass. Howell said to use a wood dowel or similar item (that will clearly work) but this seems a bit "crude" to me. Could a Kirst ejector assembly I see advertised by Buffalo Arm Co work? Or order from Taylors an Uberti ejector assembly as used in their factory 1851 conversion?

This could all be solved by simply buying a 1851 Navy already converted by the factory...but heck - that takes all the fun out of working on these pistols!

Any thoughts on a good way to go that gets a proper ejector assembly into an 1851 Navy?

Thanks!

Head Tomcat
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Old December 17, 2019, 06:47 PM   #2
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Get the ejector assembly shown here. https://www.kirstkonverter.com/1851-61-colt-navy.html
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Old December 17, 2019, 09:05 PM   #3
44 Dave
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Are you going to reline the barrel or reload healed bullets?
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Old December 18, 2019, 10:25 AM   #4
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Thanks...Great Information!

Guys,

The link to the Kirst ejector assembly was just what I was looking for...also, I read the rest of the website and their gated conversion cylinder looks darn good. I thought Kirst only made conversion cylinders which had a firing pin on each chamber and that was not what I am wanting...so, time to expand my pool of candidates!

So far as lining the barrel, I generally understand the pro's and con's of each way to go and my goal is to reload my own black powder cartridges. Seems lining the barrel will give a much greater range of lead to choose from as its smaller caliber puts it in line with 38 Special bullets. There is much less of a selection with heeled bullets which would be used in the unlined barrel.

Is there some consensus on which way is "best"? My use will be plinking and just having fun at the local range...no competitions or serious target shooting.

Again, thanks so much for your ideas...it is helping!

The Head Tomcat
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Old December 18, 2019, 04:10 PM   #5
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Lining the barrel would be best. You will have to have a special crimp die to load heeled bullets. The only other option is using hollow based wadcutters.
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Old December 18, 2019, 04:31 PM   #6
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Sounds Reasonable

I think that will likely be the way to go for me. The number of bullets to choose from would be a lot greater and would make for easier reloading, too.

Many thanks!

Head Tomcat
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Old December 18, 2019, 05:01 PM   #7
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when you reline a revolver barrel you cant reline it like a rifle. first shot will push the liner out. you have to have a rim go up against the forcing cone to not let it do that. so you have to trim some off of the forcing cone to accomadate this rim. dont forget to cut a new forcing cone. i just done one and it shoots really tight groups at 20 yards.
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Old December 18, 2019, 06:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
when you reline a revolver barrel you cant reline it like a rifle. first shot will push the liner out. you have to have a rim go up against the forcing cone to not let it do that. so you have to trim some off of the forcing cone to accomadate this rim. dont forget to cut a new forcing cone. i just done one and it shoots really tight groups at 20 yards.
You could leave a step just forward of the forcing cone and do away with all that extra work.
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Old December 18, 2019, 09:44 PM   #9
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Hmmm...Trying to Visualize This

Guys,

I am so glad you mentioned that revolvers are different from rifles when relining them! I am familiar with relining .22RF rifles but a pistol will be a new one for me.

Could you provide a bit more detail on how a 1851 Navy could be relined most effectively?

Thanks!

Head Tomcat (who very interested in doing this correctly)
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Old December 19, 2019, 07:15 PM   #10
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You could have Gary (aka: hoof hearted) at Cartridge Conversions reline the barrel for you. He does excellent work. For $150 he will reline the barrel, including forcing cone, cylinder gap, and crown.

http://www.cartridgeconversion.com/SERVICES.php

Last edited by Bishop Creek; December 22, 2019 at 07:02 PM.
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Old December 20, 2019, 10:05 AM   #11
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150 dollars is a good price, i payed 120 for my relining but my close machinest friend did it for me. my relined revolver shoots as good as a target revolver. very very tight groups at 15 to 20 yards.
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Old December 22, 2019, 10:34 AM   #12
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I guess I need to update my website again.....lol
Reline’s are now $210 due to constant increases in appropriate lining material and tool wear due to ridiculous hard spots and poor heat treating of Italian manufacturers.
By the way a “rim” or step at the breech end is unnecessary if properly done.
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Old December 22, 2019, 04:31 PM   #13
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Uberti 1851 Colt Navy Conversion....Parts Needed?

Tomcat, I've been around this project from all different sides. The best choice for a Straight-Out conversion would be the .44 Army model because there's no conflict in bore dimensions. The options for the Navy conversion are expensive: 1) Buy a new barrel from Cimarron or 2) Have your barrel relined. Each cost about $140 to $150. Also be prepared to fork up $140 for the ejector rod assembly. The Kirst link has specifics about their kits, etc. This guy will do all the work for you: http://www.oldsouthfirearms.com. Buying a new off the rack open top navy in .38 spec. will run about 540.00 but you will be getting a Richards / Mason conversion. I am holding out for the Richards conversion which is the Kirst offering. Good luck, whichever way you go.
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Old December 22, 2019, 05:11 PM   #14
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Tomcat

If you truly have the skill set and equipment to take this on my first suggestion would be to use the Pietta length cylinder and cut the breech end of the barrel the needed distance. This will afford you more choices in ammo.
You really have five choices in how to shoot this.
38 special cowboy ammo or 38 colt for poor accuracy
38 special hollow base wadcutters for decent accuracy
38 heel based in the factory bore
41 colt inside lubed in the stock bore with a rechambered cylinder
38 colt heeled in the stock bore

All of these have their pluses and minuses and I’d be happy to walk you through it. My contact info is in my signature
Regards, Gary
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Old December 24, 2019, 10:56 AM   #15
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Thoughts on 1851 Navy Conversion

Guys,

Many apologies for being away for a few days...was on the road to visit my family back in Arkansas.

I picked up my Uberti Colt 1851 Navy London a few days ago from Taylors (they are only a ten minute drive away) and on initial inspection it looks pretty good! The timing is fairly close and the arbor length appears to be perfect. There were some manufacturing burs on the arbor which led to the barrel being a bit hard to remove, but a few passes with a stone and they cleaned right up. The arbor bottoms out into the barrel hole and when the barrel is then rotated against the frame lug, it exactly lines up. Also, the wedge goes in with a light tap of a nylon screwdriver handle and stop just when the locking lip comes out the right side. So, the first major item of inspection appears to pass quite well.

Now I have been doing some thinking and here is how I would like to go...

1. Seems the Kirst gated converter is more to my liking as it does not require screws to hold it into the frame...also, their webpage says it can be dry fired. Seems like it might be a bit easier to clean, too, as it can be removed.
2. I am going with the OEM factory barrel (have not slugged it yet) and will load my own heel-based black powder cartridges in 38 Long Colt. I actually like the "tinkering around" with reloading (been doing it 36 years now) and it seems using heel-based lead bullets which are externally lubed is the way to go. Yes...lots of steps to build these cartridges but that is fine with me.
3. Also, the Kirst ejector assembly looks very good and that will be what I prefer.

Having done some research on lubrisizers and given that I will likely shoot about 500 rounds a year through this 1851, I am not into mass volume production. The Meacham lubrisizer looks interesting to me as I have a spare RCBS Rockchucker press frame and it (Meacham) could screw right into the die hole. The way it allows a cast bullet to be "pushed through" from the base for sizing/lubing seems a good way to go.

One question I have (not related to this conversion project) is with regard to cylinder end shake adjustment.

I have heard several references to a "cylinder bushing" which is made of thin-wall tubing and cut to the length of a specific Colt revolver. When installed over the arbor it keeps the cylinder back against the recoil shield and allows the hand to have maximum efficiency. This seems like a reasonable way to reduce end shake to almost zero (well, perhaps .001-002") and allow the cylinder gap to be set and then remain constant as the end shake is established.

Is there a certain nominal size tubing to start with (ie, the hole closely matches the arbor diameter) and only the tubing OD and length then needs to be cut on a lathe?

Whew...thanks!

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Old December 24, 2019, 12:03 PM   #16
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https://www.cascity.com/forumhall/in...c,41633.0.html
Loading heel base bullets tutorial
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Old December 24, 2019, 02:20 PM   #17
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Hoof....Thanks!

I had already read that post and is what convinced me that building heeled cast bullets with external lube grooves was the way to go. Their labor intensity does not bother me (I love reloading) and my expected annual shooting rate is not going to take all my time to reload them.

I do not cast lead (yet) and will likely buy the correct bullet which is closely sized to what I need...and then will do the final sizing/lubing myself. I have five pounds of FFFg Swiss powder and that should last me a while.

Once I get back to my home in Virginia, I will be ordering the Kirst gated converter and ejector assembly. Then...slug the barrel to determine its actual bore/groove diameter and go from there with bullets, lubrisizer, etc.

Seems like 2020 will be an interesting year!

The Head Tomcat

PS: Any thoughts about the cylinder bushing I mentioned in an earlier post?
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Old December 24, 2019, 02:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Tomcat View Post
I had already read that post and is what convinced me that building heeled cast bullets with external lube grooves was the way to go. Their labor intensity does not bother me (I love reloading) and my expected annual shooting rate is not going to take all my time to reload them.

I do not cast lead (yet) and will likely buy the correct bullet which is closely sized to what I need...and then will do the final sizing/lubing myself. I have five pounds of FFFg Swiss powder and that should last me a while.

Once I get back to my home in Virginia, I will be ordering the Kirst gated converter and ejector assembly. Then...slug the barrel to determine its actual bore/groove diameter and go from there with bullets, lubrisizer, etc.

Seems like 2020 will be an interesting year!

The Head Tomcat

PS: Any thoughts about the cylinder bushing I mentioned in an earlier post?
Not sure you will find cast bullets, the guy at alpha bravo and Walt Kirst fell out after walt never fulfilled his part of a trade.

The bushing probably won’t work unless you can get the action perfect. The hand pushes the cylinder forward in this early design and needs a bit of space to not bind.

Truthfully it is fixing a non existent problem as so many of the things sold as improvements are.....
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Old December 24, 2019, 05:28 PM   #19
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Well Now...

...casting might be in my rather near future if AlphaBravo is not able to help!

Head Tomcat
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Old December 26, 2019, 06:34 AM   #20
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What I do not understand is the “why” of all this. Given the cost and effort involved in changing the Uberti so that it will a) be accurate and b) shoot modern CF ammo, why not just buy a modern revolver chambered for the .38 Spl.?
I have a Pietta 1860 for which I have a conversion cylinder so I can understand why someone would want one. All that barrel stuff, though,......what is the point?
No criticisms involved here. Just trying to understand the mindset.
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Old December 26, 2019, 12:11 PM   #21
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My Thoughts

Dark...a good question and it is not a criticism at all!

I really am enjoying getting more into black powder as the fun for me is the "technical" end of it. Understanding how all the components go together, determining the correct arbor length, learning cylinder/bolt timing, etc. have been a good and fun experience. Also, I have reloaded many different calibers/types of smokeless cartridges for over 36 years now and getting into black powder loading is a totally new area for me.

Cast bullets, "best" lube to use, sizing, etc. are all part of this education and a lot of fun as I get more into black powder. I guess you could say what I enjoy is the "tinkering" part of this sport.

So, in this case, learning about cartridge conversion pistols is a natural lead-in to reloading black powder cartridges...and at my local range there are very, very few people who are into black powder. Yes, I could clearly achieve a lot of this (and cheaper, too) by just buying an 1851 Navy which comes from the factory already converted...but that takes all the fun out of it for me.

Over the years this tinkering has allowed me to learn parkerizing, powder painting, rust bluing, motorcycle restoration, woodwork, etc.

Finally, I guess this all started because of Jimmy Carter! I soldiered in the Army for 30 years and my first unit was in Germany with the 3rd Infantry Division. Back in the early 1980's our units did not have sufficient funding to obtain maintenance parts but Army regs said our self-propelled M109 howitzers and M113 APC's were required to have their monthly, quarterly and annual services. Well, what to do when the regs demand services be conducted but no funds are available to actually buy the parts through the maintenance system? You pass the hat among the junior officers and go out onto the local economy with a lot of Deutschmarks to buy oil, filters, gaskets, and a lot of other items. I found a Mannesmann tractor air filter could easily be modified to fit a M113....diesel engine oil goes into a M109 howitzer, metric gasket material could be cut to replicate Army gaskets, etc.

Likewise, each year all the Commanders at Bn, Bde and Div had their annual "Commander's Trophy" shooting competition with 1911 pistols. These pistols were totally worn out and rattled like rocks in a tin can if you shook them. My Bn Cdr was determined to win in the summer of 1980 and noticed that I was pretty good at tinkering. He told me to build him a winning pistol or else!

I had the armorers from all five batteries bring me every 1911 in the Bn and for a very long weekend sat with them all in pieces and hand fitted every possible combination of parts. By late Sunday evening I had one pistol cobbled together which was really tight. A slight peening of the frame/slide channel and then moderate hand fitting with Clover fine grinding paste got it done.

The Bn Cdr won the Trophy that summer and also in the summer of 1981, too. The new Bn Cdr then won in the summer of 1982...and I had fitted the pistols for all three years.

So....long answer to a very good/short question!

Head Tomcat

PS: Also, I have fired darn near everything in our military inventory...from 8" and 155mm howitzers...to 152mm main guns on the old M60A2 tank...TOW missiles, 4.2"/81mm mortars, every smallarm from M2 .50cal down to 9mm and .45ACP M3 greasegun...and even called in an AC130 airstrike south of Baghdad in March 2003. Of all these, learning black powder has brought back my smile again..ha ha ha!
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Old December 26, 2019, 01:03 PM   #22
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Head Tomcat, you have a short arbor (it's Uberti, it just is). Just drop a very small flat washer down the arbor hole and assemble the revolver (there's your proof, the "swing the barrel down to meet the frame" doesn't mean a thing (not any more)) hmmmmm. The arbor IS the head space "adjustment". Drive the wedge in (the " re-assembly on Colts disassembly instructions) and you'll find the cylinder will be locked up. Spacing of the arbor will accomplish an "end shake" (barrel/cylinder clearance). A bbl/cyl clearance as small as .002" - .003" seems to be perfect and the "self cleaning" aspect of the open top (kissing the barrel each time the action is cycled) is a nice (even if accidental) feature!! With a conversion set-up a .0015" is an acceptable measure. You can "adjust" (face) the C&B cyl to accommodate if/as needed.

Mike

Last edited by 45 Dragoon; December 26, 2019 at 05:17 PM.
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Old December 27, 2019, 06:09 AM   #23
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Tomcat:
Quote:
that takes all the fun out of it for me.
The fun factor......i suspected as much. That is all the reason you need. Enjoy the process and the result.
Interestingly, the first BP cartridges that I loaded were .38 Specials. I could not get them to shoot accurately......until i put a Walter’s Wad between the bullet and the BP charge. Then they worked.
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Old December 30, 2019, 10:56 AM   #24
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Sigh....It Was Short - 45 Dragoon Was Correct

Guys (and especially 45 Dragoon),

I got back home from visiting my family and came out to the shop this morning to more carefully look over the Uberti Colt Navy London I recently picked up from Taylor's...specifically the arbor length.

Turns out it is short...and here is how I found out.

I took a 27/64" drill bit and ran the chuck side (no flutes) down into the barrel arbor channel to make sure it would slide in. It did with minimal clearance...so I then reversed it and slowly by hand fed in the fluted side with Do Drill coating the cutting edges. I felt a few burrs on the way in around the wedge slot and after a few seconds it bottomed out.

I then carefully removed the drill bit and cleaned out the entire arbor channel, and could see 2-3 small burrs had been removed. The hole had not been lengthened any, just the burrs removed.

Then I slid the barrel back on at 90 degrees to the frame until it bottomed out in the arbor channel - and rotated the barrel back into position. It hit the frame and overlapped it by about .015-.020". This is about the thickness of two business cards.

So, 45 Dragoon was correct...it is an Uberti and the arbor is short. Time to take care of this!

Head Tomcat (who learned something)
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Old December 30, 2019, 09:36 PM   #25
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Hey Tomcat!! Fortunately it's an easy enough fix. I like to leave the arbor alone and put a stainles spacer in the arbor hole to fill up the space and give the arbor a nice big surface to but up against.

Mike
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