Author Topic: My 1866 fails to fire  (Read 260 times)

Offline Galloway

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My 1866 fails to fire
« on: November 10, 2019, 01:57:28 pm »
So I've had a 24 uberti in 44wcf for years and it was always one of my best guns. It was quite stiff when new, but after adjusting the carrier screws and trigger tension screw on the lower tang it was smooth and had a excellent trigger for years of pleasurable shooting.

 Then it sat in the safe for 2 years straight. The first time i took it back out it wouldnt fire at all. I snugged up the tension screw on the tang and it would fire most of the time but not all. I tightened the screw some more but i still get occasional failures to fire and my once sweet trigger pull is now atrocious. The indention's of the firing pin appear a bit more rounded and dished than other 44s of mine so i wonder if maybe i could remove the firing pin and stone the edges a bit? I should also note ive fired the same batch of brass in it its whole life. Any other ideas are welcome, id hate to have to send it off. Thanks pards

Online Coal Creek Griff

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2019, 03:59:39 pm »
I don't know, but I'd want to eliminate the possibility of stiffened lubricant before I started filing things...

CC Griff
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Offline Abilene

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2019, 04:18:20 pm »
Howdy Galloway.  If that '66 has a mainspring tension screw on the bottom tang, then it is pretty old!  I'm thinking possibly the mainspring got tired?  Turn the tension screw until it is giving no tension, and then make sure the main screw is tight.  Also, with the hammer cocked, push with your thumb on the firing pin extension so see if it goes forward and back smoothly and easily.  If not, could be C.C.Griff said and maybe old lube in the bolt assembly.  The firing pin isn't going to change dimensions since you last fired it.

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2019, 05:10:17 pm »

I'm of two minds ( :o Don't bring me into this).  Starting at the front, The firing pin an an 1866 often look like the leading edge of a Basket Ball.  Round and wide.  It will not hurt to remove the firing pin and add some taper.  It also will no hurt to remove some of the Firing Pin return spring.  The OEM return spring is too long and too stiff.  While apart, clean the whole Breach Block and be sure to run a bristly pipe cleaner thru the bore for the Firing Pin.

There is NO trigger "tension screw" on a '66.  The only screw is the Main Spring retention screw.  It is NOT intended to provide "adjustment."  It should be completely snug.  The Lever Side Springs are not intended to be "adjusted either."  Backing out the screws to the lever side springs is not a good thing to do.

If you wish your rifle to be more user friendly, purchase a set of Slix Lever Springs.  They are wire springs and much easier on tension.  I would also suggest an after-market Main Spring unless you are VERY conversant with "Spring Grinding 101."  Main Spring from "The Smith Shop."

Forgot, also POLISH the Extension Rod while the rifle is apart.  Run some Break Free down around the hammer pivot too.  Your Main Spring may have "taken a set."

Offline Galloway

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2019, 07:27:06 pm »
Thanks everyone ill report back and let you all know if i figure it out this week. Doesnt make sense for it to quit working like that after years of use. Gonna try some different primers and scrub the chamber first before i start tearing it apart.

Offline Abilene

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2019, 10:31:17 pm »
...There is NO trigger "tension screw" on a '66.  The only screw is the Main Spring retention screw.  It is NOT intended to provide "adjustment."  It should be completely snug.  The Lever Side Springs are not intended to be "adjusted either."  Backing out the screws to the lever side springs is not a good thing to do...

First off, I believe I've heard of older '66's that do have a mainspring tension screw, like the '73.

Now, as for the other comments, most folks don't know this, but the lever and carrier springs and main spring ARE intended to be adjustable via their mounting screws, and NOT tightened down all the way.  That is the way the toggle link rifles were designed.  It says so right in Winchester's operating instructions for both the '66 and '73 (I haven't seen any Henry instructions). 

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2019, 09:34:06 am »

Perhaps I lived and worked in a vacuum for 20 Years??  I never saw nor read "Winchester" instructions for "adjusting" the aforementioned screws.  If we go back to an ORIGINAL 1866, yes, they had an adjustment screw.  The Main Springs were not retained by a screw.  The Main Spring fit into a retaining lug which was an integral part of the lower tang.  Uberti repos had no lug and retention is via the screw.  Henry rifles also had the lug for the Main Spring and a tensioning screw.  Not so Uberti.

Backing out any of those screws will result in continued loosening and allow the screw to move around in the frame and not remain aligned.  Bad JuJu. 

Proper adjustment of the action is achieved by altering or replacing the springs.  Uberti rifles did not include any sort of "tension" screw until the 1873.

Offline Abilene

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2019, 10:00:25 am »
On the "DIRECTIONS" page of the Winchester '66 and '73 catalogs was a section titled "TO STIFFEN THE SPRING"  which stated:

"There are three springs that may lose their tension by long use, viz., the "main spring," the spring that holds up the finger-lever, called the "finger-lever spring," and the spring that holds up the carrier-lever, called the "carrier-lever spring."  Each of these has a set-screw, the heads of which are outside on the underside of the frame.  By turning these up the tension can be increased to the necessary strength or stiffness." 

Clearly this indicates that Winchester designed the gun so that these screws are not tightened all the way when new, unlike the over-sprung Uberti reproductions.

As for "Backing out any of those screws will result in continued loosening and allow the screw to move around in the frame and not remain aligned" well, that has not been my experience through thousands of rounds through 5 toggle link guns.  If the screws are loose enough for the springs to move then they are "too loose" and the rifle won't function at all.

So, perhaps there is some YMMV involved here?  My .357 carbine is 20 years old now and has had the screw adjustments action job for that amount of time.  The action is quite light.  A couple of years ago I finally put in a short stroke kit, so I'm shooting it faster now.  It has never, ever bobbled.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 03:44:19 pm by Abilene »

Online Niederlander

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2019, 03:34:05 pm »
I had the same thing happen to me on a '66 replica.  Replaced the main spring, and presto, everything worked again.  Not saying it will fix yours, but it did mine.
"There go those Nebraskans, and all hell couldn't stop them!"

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2019, 05:31:32 pm »

Ah Ha!!  And so shows the fluffy tail of the Rabbit.  I have not seen the "Catalogue" of which you speak.  If the Catalogue included the 1866, we are talking about a really "OLD" Winchester Catalogue.  At the time that catalogue was probably published, the Main Spring was retained by an inverted "L" shaped lug.  Just forward of this lug was in fact, a tension screw.  So we are talking about instructions provided around the turn of the LAST century.  Not necessarily intended for newer manufactured replicants.  Would also be talking bout a 140 year old spring design with questionable metallurgy.

In the opine of a Gunplumber, whom built Toggle Link Rifles for CAS use/competition for around 20+ years, YOU GOT LUCKY.  And quite possibly are still lucky.  Your solution to reduce lever effort is NOT the suggested methodology.  And yes, YMMV is most definitely applicable.  Tisk Tisk.  Just because you are able to get away with a half measure, doesn't make it correct.  I could relate some really interesting stories about rifles brought in because "It just quit."

Everything that moves in the Rifle's action has a relationship with everything else.  A really good running rifle requires attention and refinement of ALL of those parts.

Online Coal Creek Griff

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2019, 09:58:30 pm »
Well sir, my mileage is the same as Abilene's in my four toggle link rifles. So far. I was following the same set of instructions regarding the finger-lever spring and the carrier-lever spring (although not the main spring) from my reprint of Winchester's 1875 catalogue, not knowing any better. My oldest gun so adjusted is only 12 years old, but I've encountered no problems so far...

I say that with a healthy dose of trepidation knowing Coffinmaker's level of experience, which far exceeds mine.

CC Griff
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Offline Abilene

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2019, 11:05:13 pm »
I'm sure no serious competitors are using the screw-adjusting method, and I certainly concede that a full action job with parts being modified or replaced is the "best" way for that purpose.  But that shouldn't negate the usefulness of the other method for many, not to mention the ease and awesome cost to benefit ratio. 

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2019, 09:40:17 am »

OK.  Let us try NOT to forget nor ignore.  Winchester's 1875 Catalogue was describing an entirely DIFFERENT breed of Kat.  Winchester's 1873 and 1876 did NOT have a Firing Pin Return Spring.  There was also no Firing Pin Extension Rod.  The Firing Pin was one piece, all the way through and was retracted mechanically.  Making the action lighter was "relative."  Springs in original 1866s and 1873s were much thicker and much stiffer.  The Main Spring had a Strain Screw as I mentioned, the spring was retained within a dedicated Lug.  Leaving some play in Winchesters original lever side springs I can understand as ALL those springs were much more prone to taking a "Set" than modern manufacture spring.  Difference in metallurgy (Big Difference).

We come to Uberti.  Main Spring retained by an entirely different method.  A Screw.  If you back out the screw allowing the spring to move around, your going to cause some really odd wear to the screw and your adjustment may also wander as the screw moves from vibration.  Understand, I NEVER did an action job that included backing out the screw.  If one were to do that, I would seriously council a nice dollp of BLUE LocTite on the threads.

Uberti lever side springs are ....... KRAP.  Too heavy and they DO NOT fit the rifle as they should.  Because they are incorrectly shaped at the back end of the spring, they DO NOT fit the contour of the frame.  This is true of ALL Uberti Toggle Link Rifles.  the lever side springs need to come out, the back of the spring re-shaped to fit the frame and re-installed to check the tension.  Backing out the screws will allow the side springs to move around and cause odd wear on the lever cam and on the "hook" portion of the spring that rides the Carrier Block Arm and Lever Cam.  Bad Juju.

If your not conversant with Spring Grinding 101, leave the springs alone and swap them out for after-market springs.  After-market side springs run about 50-60 Bucks.  I don't know the current tariff for Main Springs from "The Smith Shop" nor Slickmagic.  All up for springs isn't going to run much over a hundred bucks.

Biggest bang for your bucks in ANY CAS rifle is a good action job.  Short Stroke optional.  Most folks would be amazed just how fast a '92 or '73 can run with noting more than a good action job.  It doesn't have to cost a fortune and swapping out springs is easy peasy.

Almost forgot, the reason the screws for the lever side springs are so hard to get out, is because the lever springs don't align in the bottom of the frame and the screws go in cock-eyed and bind up.

Almost forgot forgot, that pesky Firing Pin Return Spring only needs to move the Extension Rod to the back of its travel.  Any more spring than that is unnecessary and can cause fail to fire.

Remember, the ONLY similarities between the ORIGINAL Winchester riles and Uberti are the Toggle Links.  Also, Miroku copied Uberti.  NOT Winchester.  Nanny Nanny Poo Poo

Offline Abilene

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2019, 12:36:27 pm »
Again, what you call bad juju has run great on all my rifles for 20 years. 

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2019, 07:29:56 pm »

Well shoot Abilene, there was a famous somebody whom once said it's "Better to be lucky than Good" and I wholeheartedly agree.  You can't much argue with success can ya. 

Offline Abilene

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2019, 10:07:38 pm »
Well, it's easy to be lucky if you're an average shooter.  Once someone gets serious and starts pushing the speed envelope and practicing a lot, then fine tuning their equipment with modern techniques becomes more important both for performance and for the longevity of said equipment.

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: My 1866 fails to fire
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2019, 09:57:45 am »

Now that we have wandered off into the fog.  I wonder if we should get back to the OP's problem, or if we managed to confuse the OP sufficiently to just go out and wrap the offending object around a TREE??

I kind of wonder now if Galloway has managed to get the rifle shooting again or just found a TREE???