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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  Gunsmithing  |  Topic: Problem With 1873 Uberti 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Problem With 1873 Uberti  (Read 3648 times)
motorcop
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« on: February 14, 2009, 09:53:50 pm »


Hi All:  I long wanted a Uberti 1873 Deluxe rifle with 24" barrel in .357 mag caliber.  Well I finally saved up enough money and ordered one from a gunsmith out west and asked him to also put a short stroke kit in it.  It took over a year (and $1,500.00) for me to get the gun in my hands and as soon as I did I went to the range with it and put exactly one .357 mag. round thru it and instantly broke off the small tab on the face of the bolt.  The tab I am referring to is the one that holds the case head in place against the extractor.

Well I sent me gun back to the gunsmith I ordered it from and for a sum of about $150.00 he fixed it by putting in a new bolt and sending it back to me.  I went back to the range and put one magnum round in the gun and again immediately broke off the tab.  This process has continued and I am now on bolt number 5.  This last time I replaced the bolt myself.  I checked the headspace on this rifle with the short stroke kit in place and it was .035"!!!  As far as I was concerned that was way too much headspace, so I installed the original toggle link parts just to see what the headspace was with them in the gun.  Initially the headspace was about .003".  Much better......or so I thought.......

I went to the range today and shot about 60 rounds of just .38 Special ammo thru the gun.  I didn't want to strain anything and I wanted to make sure the new bolt worked well with the lower powered .38 Special ammo before trying .357 magnum ammo.  After about 30 rounds of .38 Special ammo thru the gun the darn little locator tab broke off the face of the bolt for a 5th time!!  I later measured the headspace at .008. 

Has anyone else had a problem like this with their rifle??  Can anyone tell me what the headspace is supposed to be on this rifle and how it is set if needed?   I have heard that headspace is supposed to be about .003",  but I have also heard there is no headspace at all and that the gun locks up tight with a shell in the chamber.

Thanks for any help and or advice you can offer.  By the way, this does not appear to be a timing issue between the bolt and carrier as some have suggested it might be.

Rick H.
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Pettifogger
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2009, 10:25:06 pm »

First of all what you are measuring isn't headspace.  Headspace should be around .060".  What you are measuring is the rim thickness plus any additional space.  An additonal .035" makes the headspace about .095" WAY to much.  What is happening is that the rifle is out of time.  The carrier is rising a bit to fast and the rim hits the tab on the bolt and breaks if off.  Who ever did the work should have checked for this and CORRECTED it before you got it.  It's part of the job of putting in a short stroke.  The reason the .38s work a little better is that they are shorter and slide forward in the carrier a bit if it is pointed down and everything seems to function fine.  If the muzzle is pointed up the rounds slide back and you have the same problem.  Again, this is a well known and simple problem to fix.  Your "smith" should have never let it leave his shop and if he has put in five bolts he just flat doesn't know what he is doing.
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Fingers McGee
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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2009, 12:33:16 am »

+1

When I put a short stroke kit in my '73 short rifle, the shell rim was hitting the tab when the rifle was levered.  It probably would have broken if I had just taken it out and shot it.  I noticed the problem when cycling dummies through before I took it to the range.  A little judicious filing on the lifting arm & voila, the preblem went away.
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Fingers (Show Me MO smoke) McGee;
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motorcop
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2009, 09:50:31 am »

Pettifogger and Fingers:  Thanks for the replies.  I have worked the lever of my 1873 with dummy rounds in it and I can't see any interference between the lifter/shell casing and the bolt.  I have noticed in the past that when this tab breaks off there is a mark or gouge left on the BOTTOM of the casehead from the tab.  I assumed the mark was made after a casehead had somehow gotten on top of the tab and upon firing it left the mark in the case.  Perhaps I am wrong in that assumption.

Do you know what the actual headspce should be on this gun and if it is too much , how does one correct it?  Thanks, Rick
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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2009, 10:22:28 am »

motorcop

I would suggest you go to a larger bookstore and look for a copy of Dave Chicoine's (sic) "Gunsmithing Guns of the Old West. It is currently in print and will walk you through the intracacies of the toggle link action. It is well written and worded for the lay person.

HH
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Pettifogger
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2009, 10:26:42 am »

The headspace is supposed to be .060".  That's the distance from the front of the bolt to the back of the barrel (basically the thickness of the cartridge rim).  There's two ways to correct headspace on a 73.  Set the barrel back (expensive and not really an option for most people or necessary on a 73) or change the links.  Most of the kit makers have two or three links with different specs to correct headspace.

Working dummies through won't always show interference if you are working the action slowly and depending on the angle of the barrel when you are testing.  Hold the gun and look into the bottom of the carrier.  At the bottom is a groove.  The bolt tab rides in that groove.  If you SLOWLY lower lever with no ammo in the gun and watch the bolt, the tab on the bottom of the bolt should be fully withdrawn into the receiver before the groove rises to the bottom of the bolt.  A short stroke speeds up all the actions of the lever, the links, and the carrier lifter arm.  The new links have to withdraw the bolt faster because the new carrier arm is pushing the carrier up sooner than the old arm.  A lot of kits purposely leave additional material on the carrier arm so it can be adjusted for big cases (.44s and .45s) and small cases (.32-20s and .38s).  By dummy round hopefully you are using real brass with a real bullet and not a plastic snap cap or A-Zoom.  Putting cartridges into the gun changes things because the cartridge rims add (for a .38) approximately .400" on top of the groove in the bottom of the carrier.  In other words, when you lower the lever the tab on the bottom of the bolt has to be FULLY withdrawn into the receiver before the top of the cartridge rim reaches the bottom of the bolt.  IF there is any interference or bump when levering slowly with a dummy round, when you shoot at speed the tab will break.  Put a dummy loaded to the OAL you are going to use and load it into the gun.  Then point the barrel up at around 45 degrees so the round slides all the way to the rear of the carrier and slowly lower the lever and watch the relationship of the bolt tab to the top of the rim of the rising cartridge.  The bolt tab should be fully withdrawn before the rim gets to the bottom of the tab.
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Fingers McGee
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2009, 01:10:50 pm »

The headspace is supposed to be .060".  That's the distance from the front of the bolt to the back of the barrel (basically the thickness of the cartridge rim).  There's two ways to correct headspace on a 73.  Set the barrel back (expensive and not really an option for most people or necessary on a 73) or change the links.  Most of the kit makers have two or three links with different specs to correct headspace.

Working dummies through won't always show interference if you are working the action slowly and depending on the angle of the barrel when you are testing.  Hold the gun and look into the bottom of the carrier.  At the bottom is a groove.  The bolt tab rides in that groove.  If you SLOWLY lower lever with no ammo in the gun and watch the bolt, the tab on the bottom of the bolt should be fully withdrawn into the receiver before the groove rises to the bottom of the bolt.  A short stroke speeds up all the actions of the lever, the links, and the carrier lifter arm.  The new links have to withdraw the bolt faster because the new carrier arm is pushing the carrier up sooner than the old arm.  A lot of kits purposely leave additional material on the carrier arm so it can be adjusted for big cases (.44s and .45s) and small cases (.32-20s and .38s).  By dummy round hopefully you are using real brass with a real bullet and not a plastic snap cap or A-Zoom.  Putting cartridges into the gun changes things because the cartridge rims add (for a .38) approximately .400" on top of the groove in the bottom of the carrier.  In other words, when you lower the lever the tab on the bottom of the bolt has to be FULLY withdrawn into the receiver before the top of the cartridge rim reaches the bottom of the bolt.  IF there is any interference or bump when levering slowly with a dummy round, when you shoot at speed the tab will break.  Put a dummy loaded to the OAL you are going to use and load it into the gun.  Then point the barrel up at around 45 degrees so the round slides all the way to the rear of the carrier and slowly lower the lever and watch the relationship of the bolt tab to the top of the rim of the rising cartridge.  The bolt tab should be fully withdrawn before the rim gets to the bottom of the tab.

Is it possible that the carrier isn't coming all the way up, or is dropping a bit when closing the lever so that the bolt tab, instead of going under the case rim, is hitting the back of the case?
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Fingers (Show Me MO smoke) McGee;
SASS Regulator 28654 - LTG; NCOWS 3638
AKA Man of many Colts; Diabolical Ken's alter ego; stage writer extraordinaire; Frontiersman/Pistoleer; Rangemaster
Founding Member - Central Ozarks Western Shooters
Member - Southern Missouri Rangers; Moniteau Creek River Raiders, The Ozarks Posse, Butterfield Trail Cowboys
NRA Endowment Life: GOA; CCRKBA; SAF; SV-114 (CWO4 ret); STORM 327

"Cynic:  A blackguard whose faulty vision sees thing as they are, not as they should be"  Ambrose Bierce
motorcop
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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2009, 02:02:49 pm »

Many thanks for your informative replies.  I have been using real shells loaded to length but without the primers or powder in them to check for clearence etc.  Fingers, your question about the carrier Not coming up all the way is one I just thought of this morning.  My problem is that I do not have another 1873 Uberti in this caliber to compare against mine and see what the height of the carrier is when all the way "up". 

I did notice that one surprising item though.  Without the tab on the bolt face the firing pin depressions on the primers are not centered, they are towards the TOP of the primer as it relates to the chamber.  I would have thought that with or without the tab on the bolt face that the firing pin should line up on center with the primer in the chamber, but this isn't true at least with this rifle.  I was under the belief that the only purpose of the tab was to keep the case rim under the extractor for ejection purposes and NOT to keep the case centered in the chamber.  This is all very confusing and frustrating to me as it doesn't make sense to actually have the tab center the round in the barrel.  Thanks again for your help, it is greatly appreciated.    Rick
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Pettifogger
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2009, 04:31:50 pm »

Hopefully this doesn't sound rude, cause its kind of hard to convey things properly on the wire, but its hard to guess much more about your problem because you don't seem to be that knowledegable about 73s.  Without some basic knowledge its hard for someone to explain a problem and then equally hard for them to understand the answer.  As far as up stroke on the carrier, the scalloped area at the rear of the carrier should be slightly above the top of the receiver.  You can also look inside and the tab should be level with the little groove in the bottom of the carrier when the bolt is all the way up.  When the lever is closed, the tab comes forward and because it's tip is sloped and sitting in a groove it goes under the rim.  As the bolt shoves the round home the rim slides up the face of the tab and under the extractor.  There is a little flat spot on top of the tab at the face of the bolt.  The rim will sit on this flat spot and this keeps the rim engaged in the extractor when the bolt retracts.  The bolt is a sloppy fit in the receiver as it is basically sticking out in the air unsupported for over an 1 1/2".  Without the tab, the extractor simply rides over the rim and raises the bolt.  That is why you hits are off-center.  Take it to someone that knows 73s and they can probably diagnose your problem in a few minutes.
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motorcop
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2009, 10:22:36 pm »

Your response was not rude Pettifogger.  You are correct in that I don't have much experience with 1873 type rifles, in fact this is the first one I have owned and shot.  I apologize if my definition of head space was confusing or not correct, but I have always referred to head space as the actual gap between the cartridge head and the bolt face and most people have understood my meaning.  There are too many variables if one includes rim thickness when describling head space as different cases can have different rim thickness.  Just for the record, I have been around firearms all my life and in my career, so I am not ignorant when speaking about them.

If I sound frustrated I am.  I ordered this rifle FROM a gunsmith who, at my request, installed a short stroke kit in it.  It took almost a year for me to get the rifle and when it came I was like a kid a Christmas.  Unfortunately, my very first shot with the rifle was a .357 magnum that ended up cracking the case resulting in a case head separation and breaking the tab off bolt number 1.  Since that time I have sent the gun back to the gunsmith several times and for whatever reason the fix eludes him and me.  So right now I have almost $2100.00 in a $1200.00 gun.  The gun should be eligible for frequent flyer miles because it has been shipped so often. 

I have spoken to several gunsmiths about these rifles and have received more than one version of how these rifles head space and operate.  I am familiar with the timing issue you mentioned, but I don't believe that is the problem here.  I posted this thread in the hope that perhaps someone else has experienced the same problem as I have and perhaps could offer another suggestion or cure.  So rather than risk sounding stupid or irritating you or anyone else I will refrain from saying anything else.  I appreciate the help you offered, but I have sent the rifle to a well known gunsmith more than once, actually at least three times now and it still ain't right.    Thanks, Rick
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Pettifogger
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2009, 11:24:13 pm »

Your best bet is to send it to who ever made the short stroke kit.  Do you know who made the kit?  There's only three (Snover, C&I, and Pioneer) and hopefully none of those three is the smith you are sending your rifle to.  There's also one smith that specializes in modifying the existing parts, but that's not a kit.  They are all good people and it would be really surprising (and disappointing) if the maker of the kit can't fix your rifle.

I know how you feel.  Had a couple of Lightning rifles I bought when they first started making the reproductions.  Just like yours, mine went back so many times they qualified for frequent flyer miles.  I sent them back because they were new and I figured I ought to at least get a working gun for the price I paid.  Finally got frustrated and shoved them in the safe for about five years and finally decided to fix them myself when I retired and had the time to work on them.  They work now, but took many, many hours of work to get them running right.  Where do you live?  Maybe me or someone else can recommend someone in your area.
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Coffinmaker
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2009, 09:17:57 am »


I've been following this thread out of curiosity, but stayed out of it, as Pettifogger has the problem well diagnosed.  The timing of the rifle is at issue.  The Breach Block (Bolt) MUST be fully retracted into the receiver before the cartridge rim passes the breach face of the Breach Block, or it WILL break the cartridge guide tab off. Who ever put your rifle together either missed a step in the build-up, or is a hack.  Since it has been "fixed" sever times without actually solving the problem, you may well need to look up a different gun plumber.  It is rather simple to fix.
Where do you live??  Both Pettifogger or I would be happy to recommend a quality rile person ho can take care of the problem.  With the new Uberti design of the Breach Block/Firing Pin Extension, replacement of a bolt has gotten rather expensive.  Once properly timed, the problem will go away for the life of the rifle.

Coffinmaker
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