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Old October 5, 2019, 10:12 PM   #1
Join Date: December 24, 2007
Location: Ardmore, AL
Posts: 25
Modifications to a Uberti New Model Army .44(Remington)

I didn't know if this should go here or in the Smithy area. Feel free to move it if necessary. I sent another member a PM about this job and he thought I should post it, so here goes. First, I'm not doing this to make myself look good or anything of the kind. Maybe some will find it helpful. I claim no expertise in anything. I can run tool machines fairly well and can usually get the job done, given enough time. My computer skills, however, are abysmal. This will be about the same stuff I put in the PM with some slight changes to cover things I've recalled since.

The revolver was made in 1967 and was new when I bought it. I thought I'd get into target shooting at a nearby muzzle loading club, so I decided to improve the sights. I got a Williams rear sight of the type used on Win. 94 rifles and reshaped the male dovetail to fit into the sight groove on top of the receiver, then attached it with two #6-48 screws. Rather than use the factory rear insert, I made an insert of steel, flat topped, with a square notch and as low as I could get it. For the front I used on old King's sight which fit over the shortened and thinned original post and attached by a cross pin. The King's blade was too short, so a new,taller one was made out of a piece of 1/8" gauge stock. The whole set-up looked a little odd, but worked well. I never did get into target shooting with it, though. Worked too much overtime.

Later, after I'd learned some about tuning single actions, I decided to see what improvements could be made to it. It had some timing issues, and had more barrel-cylinder gap than needed. The cylinder would lock up OK if the hammer was cocked fairly quickly, but would reach full cock before lock-up if cocked slowly. If the hammer was then pulled back until it contacted the back of the hammer slot in the frame the bolt would drop into place. I thought a trigger with a longer sear end might fix it, so ordered one from Dixie Gun Works. It turned out to be a Pietta part and was longer than the Uberti part on both ends. The sear end was a perfect fit. When the hammer was cocked it reached the back of the slot just as the trigger dropped into the full-cock notch with just enough over travel to ensure that the trigger would engage freely. Blind luck, but I''ll take it. The finger piece was too long for the guard, contacting the guard before full cock was reached. By careful trimming of the tip of the trigger and trying, I was able to use the guard as an over-travel stop, allowing a slight clearance so the front of the hammer would always clear the back of the trigger when firing. The ledge where the trigger spring rides was shorter than the Uberti part and the spring would slip off when the trigger was pulled. I had some annealed spring stock of the right thickness, so made a new trigger-bolt spring out of it, with a longer trigger arm. The arms were tapered and polished and the slot between them radiused. I hardened it by heating it to an even red-orange color and quenching in 30W motor oil, then drew it by filling the hollow base of an inverted soda can with some of the same oil, putting the spring in it and igniting the oil with a propane torch. After the oil burned off, the spring acted as it should, so I installed it and it is still working.

The barrel clearance issue came next. The cylinder face was slightly out of square. By careful use of a fine file, emery cloth and feeler gauges, I was able the get the gap the same all around. Use of a lathe would have made the job much easier, but by then I had retired and lost access to machinery. About then I got acquainted with a guy who had a lathe and milling machine and would let me use them when he was home in return for coaching him in their use, so the next part was a lot easier. I removed the barrel using wood blocks in my vise to hold the receiver and a barrel wrench I made up with aluminum contact surfaces to avoid doing too much damage to the barrel. The barrel shoulder was cut back by 2 or 3 threads, far enough to eliminate most of the rammer catch pin hole and get the sight vertical. The breech end of the barrel was shortened by using a Brownell's forcing cone cutter tool with a 90 degree cutter, until the cylinder would enter with 0.002" gap, then a new forcing cone cut.

Then the end of the rammer lever was shortened as needed to get it the right distance from the catch stud on the barrel. The catch spring hole was drilled deeper by the amount of set back, the slots that the catch rides in were filed deeper by the same amount and a new catch pin hole drilled. It took a little fiddling to get everything right, but it's working OK. Stays engaged until the catch is pulled back.

The idea of the 0.002" cylinder gap came form Mike Brackett(45 Dragoon). Conventional wisdom was that 0.007-0.008" clearance was needed to prevent binding from fouling. I believe Mike's method is the better way. This revolver works much better than when it was new. It seems to me that at some point I either put in a new cylinder stop(bolt) or refitted the old one to the stop notches. I remember one of the revolvers I've worked on had been wedge fit at the factory (the back side of the stop filed at an angle instead of being parallel with the other side), but don't recall which one. The wedge fit gives the feel of a tight cylinder lock-up, but is only catching the edge of the stop notch. They used to do it at assembly to make the fitting easier and quicker. Simply a way of cheating the customer or being able to use unskilled labor, I suppose.

Some time ago, I posted a thread somewhere about another New Model Army that I shortened the barrel on to 6"(just behind the rammer catch stud) because both the stud and the front sight had been dovetailed in so deeply and tightly that each raised a "speed bump" in the bore. Someone replied that he couldn't see why anyone would go to so much trouble on a percussion revolver. I refrained from commenting at the time, but my thoughts were as follows: The idea of shooting any gun is to hit something. If all you want is noise and smoke, Black Cat firecrackers are way cheaper and a lot less hassle.

I hope someone finds something of use in this. It took a while to type. My typing is about on the same level as my computer skills. I don't feel too badly about it though. Back in the 70s I sent a question to Elmer Keith and got a personal letter in answer. His typing was about as bad as mine.

L. O. G.

Last edited by logeorge; October 5, 2019 at 10:33 PM.
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