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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  SCORRS (Moderator: Bull Schmitt)  |  Topic: 1858 .44 Colt conversion 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: 1858 .44 Colt conversion  (Read 1089 times)
Tinker Pearce
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« on: September 05, 2017, 04:38:25 pm »


Been asked to keep y'all posted on my projects, so here goes. Fell into an 1858 Pietta recently and decided to try my hand at a .44 Colt conversion. I'm waiting on a part for my lathe and had to do something to pass the time, 'sides which I just can't seem to leave a poor gun alone. Already done a snubby, but my taste does run to shorter barrels so I bobbed it at 3-1/2,  re-crowned it, shortened the loading lever and changed the latch to work with the short barrel. Added a pinky-groove to the grip; the shape of the stock grip never did work well with my meat-hooks. I made a sight-rib for the barrel that I can change blades in should I need to. At a stop now waiting to get the lathe running, but here's the progress so far-
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Professor Marvel
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2017, 12:42:45 am »

Greetings My Good Tinker

Welcome!  I have seen a few of your posts on other sites, good to have you on the forum.

I am intrigued and delighted by your latch design and your take on the snubbies design!
I particularly like this one and am watching with great anticipation.

yhs
prof marvel
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2017, 07:50:20 am »

Thanks for the kind words, Professor! I've only done one conversion cylinder before so we'll see how this goes. .44 Colt is a bit of a pain since I don't cast my own bullets and heel-base bullets are a bit thin on the ground these days. I'll need to buy some dies as well. My initial thought was that if it became too problematic I might line the bore and cylinders for another caliber like .44 Special but ifI am going that far I might just go a bit further afield- maybe .41 Special or .32-20? Nothing set in stone just yet, but it's early days...
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2017, 03:14:37 pm »

Since my Kirst Konverter from the Pug dropped right into the new gun I decided to try it out at the range. A slight problem- I hadn't installed a front sight blade! Oops. Still, at five yards it was easy enough to put rounds on paper. The second problem was that, as I had feared, the latch was not robust enough for the longer loading lever and the lever dropped. I'll need to replace it with a stronger system. Oh well, live and learn, eh?



The same latch arrangement performed flawlessly on the new snubby- I suspect minor differences and the weight of the loading-lever made a difference.
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Coffinmaker
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2017, 08:31:56 pm »

Just a Thought or Two.  The gun looks really really Trix with that abbreviated loading lever.  It just flat looks good.  It serves no useful mechanical purpose.  Doesn't do anything but look really good.  Have you given any thought to gluing it solid at the pivot??  The thru the frame screw will retain it and the only time you have to remove is cleaning (cut a loading channel).  JB Weld can be your friend  Cool
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2017, 09:08:03 pm »

Hmmm... it makes sense but somehow it feels like cheating! Smiley
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Professor Marvel
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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2017, 12:08:43 am »

Hmmm... it makes sense but somehow it feels like cheating! Smiley


Hmmmm
stronger latch good.
gluing latch bad.

yhs
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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2017, 09:38:25 am »

My first cb was a Remington. Thinking that it was a Hawes repro? I like the short bbl on yours but especially like the pinky cut in the grip. Did you add any steel to the inside of the gripframe? Kinda looks like a Mervin Herlbert, I know that ain't right but darned if I can think of the name right now. Where did you get your front sight base? Very nice work there Tinker.
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2017, 10:29:31 am »

My first cb was a Remington. Thinking that it was a Hawes repro? I like the short bbl on yours but especially like the pinky cut in the grip. Did you add any steel to the inside of the gripframe? Kinda looks like a Mervin Herlbert, I know that ain't right but darned if I can think of the name right now. Where did you get your front sight base? Very nice work there Tinker.

Merwin and Hulbert, but I knew what you meant! Smiley

I didn't need to add steel to the inside of the grip-frame of the Remington. The shape I wound up with never has any part of the frame dropping to less than .10 inches, and this has proven more than adequately strong. I manufactured the front sight out of 1/4" 5160. It is silver-soldered in place, which so far has proven strong enough.
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 12:41:08 am »

The drive belt finally arrived so I spent some quality time with the lathe this evening. I turned down a Peitta Remington cylinder to match the Kirst Konverter breech-ring then bored it through. Once I ream the cylinders to .454-.456" the cylinder will be ready for finishing. Since .44 Colt uses a heel-base bullet I just need to bore the chambers straight-through.

I was planning on making a pass-through breech plate, but I think instead I will buy a Kirst gated ring. It's not just better and easier but it means I will be able to switch cylinders between the new gun and the Pug. Woods-walking? .44 Colt will do just fine. Going hunting? Swap in the .45 Colt cylinder! Versatile... I like that.

The pics below show the reworked cylinder and a mock-up cartridge. The casing is .44 Special; normally you would shorten it for .44 Colt but I am not loading black powder so why bother?

I've already got 'The Outlaw,' 'The Shopkeeper' and 'The Pug.' This gun needs a name too. Any thoughts? No, I am not going to call it 'Gunny McGunface!'

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Professor Marvel
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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2017, 04:22:16 am »

Very nicely done Tinker!

yhs
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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2017, 05:40:47 am »

Tinker said "I've already got 'The Outlaw,' 'The Shopkeeper' and 'The Pug.' This gun needs a name too. Any thoughts? No, I am not going to call it 'Gunny McGunface!'"

Tinker, since it's going to be in the 'old' 44 Colt, why not call it 'Grandpa'?  Grin
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 08:43:40 am »

Tinker said "I've already got 'The Outlaw,' 'The Shopkeeper' and 'The Pug.' This gun needs a name too. Any thoughts? No, I am not going to call it 'Gunny McGunface!'"

Tinker, since it's going to be in the 'old' 44 Colt, why not call it 'Grandpa'?  Grin

 Grin
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Coffinmaker
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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 12:04:40 pm »



"Speedo" has a nice racy ring to it .... No??
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2017, 10:24:15 pm »

So I discovered something interesting. If you bore the cylinders straight through then ream them to .454 you break through the cylinder lock notch. *facepalm*

OK, not t tragedy; a new cylinder is only $50, and I got to practice the other chambers. Canting the cylinder a couple of degrees when reaming it solves the problem. So I got some practice and learned some stuff, and this project is a bit more delayed. No worries- I have plenty of other projects to keep me occupied. I also discovered that my attempts to make a chamber-reamer leave something to be desired. Also on shopping list- proper reamer!  And when I get it I have something to practice on...
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Professor Marvel
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« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2017, 10:58:09 pm »

So I discovered something interesting. If you bore the cylinders straight through then ream them to .454 you break through the cylinder lock notch. *facepalm*

Yuppers. I too did that.

Canting the cylinder a couple of degrees when reaming it solves the problem.

Even tho one of the manufacturors does this, it never occurred to me to try it!  .... duh.

Quote
I also discovered that my attempts to make a chamber-reamer leave something to be desired. Also on shopping list- proper reamer!  And when I get it I have something to practice on...

What style of reamer did you try to make, multi-flute or a "D Reamer"? I have fouund a "D-Reamer" much easier to make and fairly satisfactory.

yhs
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2017, 10:50:44 am »

I actually took a standard t-handle reamer and turned it down to .454". It ran hot nd sloppy and did not produce a clean result. I actually fixed it by grinding angles onto each flute by hand; this caused it to cut cleanly and much more uniformly.

Having figured these things out I remembered that I had an extra cylinder from previous project tucked away on a shelf and started over- with much better results this time! I actually produced a workable cylinder fitted to the Kirst gated base-plate from another gun. I'll need to buy and fit another conversion ring (or make my own) to finish the gun but the gun is now functional enough to test.

The chamber walls are awfully thin between cylinders, but no worse than I have seen on period conversions and this is not a particularly potent round; the original 'Army' load was a 225gr. bullet over 15gr of FFFg, yielding a muzzle velocity of around 650fps and 207 ft/lb. I'll test with a super-light load of a 200gr. bullet over 3.0gr. of Trail Boss initially. This should give about 550fps. from this gun. If the cylinder survives that I'll carefully creep it up a bit.

If this survives I'll probably buy another cylinder and do this again. While this one will work if it is strong enough I am not best-pleased with the craftsmanship. In the meantime I'll test this one and if all goes well it will be time to detail-strip the gun, polish the cylinder and do a full refinish.

I made up six dummy cartridges to test the chambers, feeding port etc. by the simple expedient of turning down the rims of some .44 Special cases. I'll actually shorten the cases for the 'live' cartridges. Anyway here's the work to date (shown with the Pug's breech-ring.)
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2017, 01:51:53 pm »

Made the breech plate and tested it with primed brass- it works! The pass-through functions well- though it would be inadvisable to cock the revolver with it pointed up 45 degrees or more...
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2017, 03:42:19 am »

...and when I am left unsupervised late at night this sort of thing happens.
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2017, 09:10:22 pm »

The good news is the gun works fine. The bad? The loads with 3.0gr. of Trail Boss were hilariously underpowered. Pfhot! instead of bang. The fifth didn't even clear the barrel. I think it's time to revert to Trail Boss's recommendation for load development.
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2017, 01:05:31 am »

Trail Boss recommends loading the case to just under the seating depth of the base of the bullet then starting with 70% of that load. This method yielded a maximum load of 7.2gr. and a minimum of 5.0gr. After some experimentation I arrived at a load of 6.5gr. behind a 200gr bullet. I can't hazard a guess as to the velocity but it was sufficient to penetrate 1" into a kiln-dried Douglas Fir 2x6- much harder that the 1" pine board that was once standard for such tests. The board was free-standing and if it had been braced as is usual for such tests I am pretty sure it would have shot through the board. This round was never particularly powerful, and this will certainly be sufficient for target shooting and perhaps small game.
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Professor Marvel
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« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2017, 01:31:27 am »

Ah My Good Tinker -
Thanks for the update!
Nice job with the backplate, cartridges and box .
The entire thing is looking great, and the load effort quite promising!

yhs
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2017, 10:02:33 pm »

Thanks Professor!

Test-fired the new load for The Dandy today. Mild recoil, accurate, didn't make the gun go KABLOOOEY! What more could you ask for? How about remembering to photograph a target before you only have three rounds left? Oops. This is at seven yards, and the flyer is totally my fault.


The gun does shoot rather low, so I'll knock a bit off the front sight. Other than that I am delighted with it!
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Professor Marvel
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« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2017, 02:49:09 am »

Most Excellent, Tinker -

there must be a way to keep that lever all the way up...
perhaps a tiny rare earth magnet? those things are quite powerful and seldom affect the tragectory of lead bullets...

yhs
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Tinker Pearce
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« Reply #24 on: September 20, 2017, 08:54:55 am »

Most Excellent, Tinker -

there must be a way to keep that lever all the way up...
perhaps a tiny rare earth magnet? those things are quite powerful and seldom affect the tragectory of lead bullets...

yhs
prof marvel

LOL- I actually considered that. No, the proper solution is a more robust tube- I got the top of this one too thin and it starts bending after repeated shots. I'll fix that before considering more exotic solutions.
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