Author Topic: Converting original 1866 to center fire  (Read 24196 times)

Online DJ

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #60 on: June 15, 2018, 09:03:29 AM »
Sorry for the slow responses--some graduations, visitations, and wildlife-induced extra chores (think "nest of dead baby raccoons inside the HVAC system") have kept me from the things I prefer doing.

As to the bullet, I tried both inside lubed and outside lubed, heeled bullets.  The inside lubed worked all right but severely limit powder space.  The outside lubed bullets I have moulds for are just a little to long at the front driving band so they jam into the rifling and are hard to chamber.  I have almost completed the dimensions for a custom mould based on the dimensions required by my rifle and some old Henry CF drawings i found on the Internet.  Perhaps a Father's Day gift to myself.  I saw the Old West mould, but think I will try something just a little different.  But thanks for the pointer, Nativeshootist.

As far as brass, I started with .44 Russian and then trimmed to length and swaged the head to about .445 (down from .457).  That worked fine, but because of the heavy floating firing pin that is constantly in contact with the primer, I switched to some .44 Magnum I had lying around.  The Mag brass has a little bit thicker web (at least the one I cut open and measured did), and I am deepening the primer pocket by .010".  This gives me the option of loading large rifle primers (that are harder, and less likely to slam fire) or large pistol primers that are slightly countersunk.  I have not played with it enough to figure out which is better--reference lack of time mentioned in first paragraph.  Also, I have not managed to induce a slam fire when testing primed cases, but I have managed to dent some primers to the point it made me squeamish.  I suspect dropping the rifle with a chambered round onto a hard surface would cause it to fire, but I'll let someone with an expendable original '66 do that testing.

Regarding .41 Mag brass as a base cartridge, I have found that my '66 extractor does not reliably grab the rim, which is a little small.  It will pull it partly out of the chamber and then let go, but I then get jams when the carrier lifts up into the partially extracted case.  .41 Mag cases work for single loading, but not consistently for use as a repeater.  A different extractor or rifle might yield different results.  I have the same experience with using .41 Mag brass to form .44 Merwin Hulbert--because of the unique extraction method, an undersized rim often leads to only partial extraction before the case slips off the extractor ring.  .44 American revolvers, which use a very similar cartridge to the .44 Merwin Hulbert short do not have the same problem (or at least not as often) because they have a different extractor that makes rim diameter less of an issue.

As a side note to anyone who decides to play with deepening primer pockets (which I have done in the past to put rifle primers into .445 Win Mag brass when reloading for .44 Evans Long), even with a lathe I was never able to get a flat-ground drill bit to work--it would always wander around just enough to make the primer pocket too big.  I have had much much better results using an end mill of the proper size (I use something very close to .209), which is much stiffer than a drill bit.

Guess that's it for now.

--DJ

(6/15/18--edited to correct typos caused by typing without glasses)

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #61 on: June 15, 2018, 10:32:07 AM »

In my Never Ending Quest for something not quite run of the mill ..... I constantly search Antique Shops, Gun Shops, Gun Shows, Auctions, anywhere I might find a low round count Original Henry at a price substantially less than the cost of a House .... Just so I could do a Central Fire conversion as DJ has done with his '66.

I have finally had to console myself with Reproductions, modified to run Cowboy 45 Special cases.  That works.  However, My rifles are and always will be Reproductions.  Even my '66, modified to run 44 Russian.  Ergo:

Damn but that is one FINE project DJ.  Only wish it twer MINE   ;D

Offline nativeshootist

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #62 on: June 15, 2018, 11:51:57 PM »
Thanks for the update DJ! man, seeing the case problems that you're having is amazing. Least I know now that .41 magnum rim is a bit short. Have you tried experimenting with buffalo arms .44 henry centerfire cases? I know they're expensive, but would be cool to see if they work. Also, if I had a original 66 rifle, I would see if dropping it would cause it to go off. Im a very curious person.

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #63 on: June 16, 2018, 10:56:53 AM »
Oh NO Mr. Bill!!  The absolute last thin in the world I would want to do is deliberately drop an Original 1866!!  Drop an original '66 with 150+ year old wood that has been drying for 150+ years, on it's metal furniture??  Can you spell SPLIT all to heck??  Drop the thing??  Go wash your mouth out with Chocolate or something and get that idea smooth out of yer head!!!

OOPS:  Forgot;  Or for that matter an Original Henry!!!

Offline Blair

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #64 on: June 16, 2018, 01:49:09 PM »
A good number of years ago, I developed a center fire breach block for the Spencer Repeating Arms.
The idea was to drop out the original rim fire block and replace it with the new center fire block. This way the owner of the fire arm could keep all the original parts together, should they wish to sell the fire arm, with replacement block for a little more than was paid for the original fire arm.
My suggestion to altering the Henry or 1866's to center fire would be to make new replacement part to accomplish this, and sell them on the side to people who own original Henry's and/or 1866's, that are in good enough condition to be shot with BP only!
The problem with this is individuals owners idea of "useable condition" and just what "black powder only" means.
This is not a concern with the modern reproduction.  It still is with setting up originals to shoot today.
My best,
 Blair
A Time for Prayer.
"In times of war and not before,
God and the soldier we adore.
But in times of peace and all things right,
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted"
by Rudyard Kipling.
Blair Taylor
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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #65 on: Today at 09:27:16 PM »

Offline nativeshootist

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #65 on: June 16, 2018, 11:46:29 PM »
I sure will try Coffinmaker, but curiosity is killer. How i end up doing a lot of dumb stuff.

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #66 on: October 23, 2018, 10:34:21 PM »
Any updates?  The guy I got my Navy Arms US made Henry from is thinking of buying a fixer 1866.
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
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Offline hyflyr

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #67 on: September 13, 2022, 09:39:02 AM »
I know this is an older post, but I've acquired an 1866 barreled action with no internals.  I would like to recreate all the internals.  does anyone have any measurements of the bolt, firing pin, carrier, etc?  There is mention above of one of the members rebuilding the bolt.  I have built an 1873 bolt for my 1st model, but had another bolt in hand to aid in construction, also Art Pirkel's book.  anything offered is great

Offline nativeshootist

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #68 on: September 15, 2022, 09:23:24 AM »
hyflyr, i think homestead gun parts has original internals,so does ebay. but you are going to pay a premium

Offline Tascosa Joe

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #69 on: September 16, 2022, 11:53:32 AM »
You might try J B Hooten.  He has done several conversions on henry or 66 relics.  He might be able to give you some how to ideas.
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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #70 on: Today at 09:27:16 PM »

Offline hyflyr

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #70 on: September 23, 2022, 09:29:06 PM »
I have recently acquired a decent 1866 carbine that I'd like to shoot.  With a newly made or existing modified bolt, I hope to shoot my original barrel, but the Henry RF chamber measures too small (diameter) for a 44 Russian which I'd originally hoped to use.  I can't identify a useable case, European or otherwise.   Any ideas are appreciated.  I may be reduced to turning my own, but then it's on to making dies, etc. 

Online DJ

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Re: Converting original 1866 to center fire
« Reply #71 on: Yesterday at 12:14:08 AM »
.44 Russian as-is should be too big.  You might be able to use cut down .41 Mag brass, depending on your extractor.  Cut down .303 Savage should be even closer.  Earlier posts in this thread show different methods of converting to center fire without altering the original parts.

Keep us posted.

--DJ

 

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