Author Topic: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.  (Read 77237 times)

Offline RollingThunder

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Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« on: May 27, 2009, 08:31:28 PM »
OK. SO here's the situation. I have an 1851 Colt Navy and when I was going through the Dark Arts thread on tuning C&B pistols, and while I learned where I can correct a bolt fitment issue, I didn't see the eventual link to correcting an arbor fit issue. Attached is a pic of a slightly off arbor that I have. It seats just fine when the cylinder is in play, however according to the PDF, that arbor fit is in need of some work.

Now, according to what I THINK should happen here, I would need to figure out some kind of shim inside the hole the arbor goes into, however considering the amount of times I am generally mistaken during the day, I thought perhaps someone could help me figure this out.

Considering Uberti pistols have arbor fit issues according to the article, but were unaddressed in an as-yet-to-be-written article, could any of you guys give me some recommendations regarding how to correct this?

Thanks!
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Offline Pettifogger

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2009, 09:51:14 PM »
I have a four part article in the SASS Chronicle on how to fix Uberti open top problems.  It describes in detail how to fix arbors.  Part one was in the May edition, stay tuned for the next three months.  The article you were referring to dealt with Pietta issues.  Piettas almost always have correctly fitted arbors, so they weren't dealth with in that article.

44caliberkid

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2009, 09:00:19 PM »
Check amazon.com for the book, Gunsmithing Black Powder Firearms (I think that's the title) by Sam Fadala.  He has two books, one is specific to pistols and handguns, again I'm going from bad memory here.  It has a chapter on fitting arbors.  I used this method.   Remove the arbor, weld up material on the end, turn it round again in a lathe, reinstall the arbor, then slide the barrel on to check fit.  It should be too long to seat the barrel against the frame.  Then file the end, a few strokes at a time, checking fit, until the bottom of the barrel shroud, where the locating pins are, just touches the frame.  I put a slight bevel on the edge of the arbor because the bottom of the arbor hole in the barrel is concave, to give a good solid fit.  I had a local machine shop do the welding and turning for about $20.
   I've done this to an ASM 1861 Navy .36, that went from shooting a 2.0 inch group, slightly high, to shooting one ragged hole at POA at 15 yards.   Also did it to an 1860 Army and saw about 50% inprovement in accuracy.
   Get both Fadala books, they have lots of great info and better diagrams than I can describe here.
   I hadn't though about shimming from the rear end, I guess that would work except that it would move the wedge slot, but most of those seem to have plenty of slop.   Tuning the wedge is another topic that is critical to open top performance.

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #3 on: Today at 09:35:02 PM »

Offline RollingThunder

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Just because you CAN ride the hide off a horse, doesn't mean you should.

http://www.youtube.com/artroland - The home of Backyard Horsemanship!

44caliberkid

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2009, 11:50:11 AM »
Black Powder Hobby Gunsmithing.   All I could remember was the picture of a pistol on the front.   My copy is buried somewhere in our attic.

Offline Pettifogger

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2009, 01:30:41 PM »
Removing an arbor, welding it up, turning it down, fitting and reinstalling is a LOT or work.  What I tried to do in the articles is describe an easier but effective way of doing the job.  Putting a shim between the barrel and the arbor will work just fine.  It's just hard getting the right size shim.  It has to be the right size OD and thickness.  You can try verious thickness washers (including the plastic ones you can get from Ace Hardware) and maybe find one the right thickness.  The problem is if the washer is just a tad to thick, it's hard thinning it down.

Offline Delmonico

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2009, 07:46:43 PM »

Metal washers are easy to thin, a drop of super glue to the end of a old cartridge case and clamp it in the vise and thin with a fine file.  A bit of heat from a Bernze-O-Matic and it will drop right off. ;)
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44caliberkid

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2009, 04:15:21 PM »
How about wrapping a piece of tape around the end of the arbor, clamp it standing vertically, and add about 1/16 " of slow curing epoxy.   When it hardens, remove the tape and file the end to fit.
   I didn't find the remove, weld and fit method ALOT of work.  I had screw in arbors, not pinned, so they just screwed out.  The machinist did the welding and turning, and a fine job he did, you could not tell any material had been added.  I think he gave me a deal because he was interested in what I was doing with it.  Then it was just trial fit, slide on the barrel, remove a little of the end with a file, slip on the barrel again.  I had it two or three tries, took me all of 5 minutes.  I will admit, a pinned arbor would be a bigger pain in the neck.

Offline Pettifogger

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2009, 11:15:26 PM »
What kind of Colt clone was it?  I have never seen one without a pinned arbor.  Also, you said you didn't find welding and fitting the arbor to be a lot of work and then say you had someone else do the work.  It's always easy when someone else is doing the work.  For the average home gun tinker it is a lot of work because most people don't have tig welders and lathes in their garages.  Also, drilling out the arbor pin has to be done correctly or you can ruin the frame.  All the arbors have threads and screw in.  The pin is to keep the arbor from rotating and every 51 I have seen or worked on has a pinned arbor.  Again, I'm curious.  What kind of Colt clone did you have?

Offline Mako

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2009, 12:15:53 AM »
Maybe it's an Armi San Marco.  I have one the pin fell out of, probably because the arbor was loose as a goose until we added JB Weld and put a new pin in it.  It was either that or weld it up and recut the threads.
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Offline RollingThunder

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2009, 06:32:44 AM »
Mine is an Armi San Marco Confederate Colt Navy -- Brass. Don't know if it's screwed in or pinned in, or held in by bailing twine and luck.

How well would the epoxy idea work, as far as it adhering to the arbor, and doing so under percussion?
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44caliberkid

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2009, 08:28:34 AM »
Mine was an 1861 Navy made by ASM.  It's an older one, probably early 1980's.   Also did the same with an 1860 Army made by Uberti about 1990.  Neither had a pinned arbor.   I stated in my original post that I had someone else do the welding and machining.  It took him less than an hour and less than $20.   
   Apparently many BP revolvers don't have pinned arbors because the articles I read before doing this stated the arbor may be pinned or not.   One was the Sam Fadala book and another was from a muzzel loading website telling how to make a target revolver from a Colt-pattern pistol.
  Rolling Thunder, cock your pistol then look at the frame under the hammer.   If it's pinned you'll see the top of the pin, a circle about 1/8 inch diameter, it's ground flush to the frame.  It goes down through the end of the arbor.  If it's burned black under there you might have to clean off some carbon to see it.
  "The pin is to keep the arbor from rotating."  ???   With the barrel installed and the wedge in, how could the arbor ever rotate.  It can only rotate with the barrel off, and you can't operate it that way anyhoo.

Offline Pettifogger

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2009, 09:57:06 AM »
"The pin is to keep the arbor from rotating."  Huh   With the barrel installed and the wedge in, how could the arbor ever rotate.  It can only rotate with the barrel off, and you can't operate it that way anyhoo."

Sometimes when they get dirty people will get the barrel part way off and it will stick, so they twist the barrel.  If they aren't staked and are a little loose the arbor will twist with the barrel.  They also tend to loosen up with use.  It's not unusual to see one with a little wobble in the arbor.  OK for shootin as long as it doesn't get to loose and the barrel starts wiggling even with the wedge installed.

I will admit you have persuaded me.  Arbors are super simple to remove, repair and replace.

Offline Flint

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2009, 11:43:10 AM »
Pettifogger,

The only Colt type frames I've seen with no locking pin are the brass framed revolvers, and it's the difference in hardness between the steel arbor and the brass frame that makes it next to impossible to drill a hole in half of each without the drill wandering off to the soft side.

Besides the softer material deforming at the thread from recoil, bullet pull at the forcing cone and bore, etc., I imagine the lack of locking pin would contribute to the brass frame arbor loosening over time and use.

Also seen some other brands, sometimes ASM or such without.

Original Colts had a tapered locking pin.
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Offline RollingThunder

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2009, 08:10:33 PM »
My mistake. It's not pinned. I just got home and checked it. What I thought was a pin was actually a hole that points in the same direction as the arbor (parallel, not perpendicular), and is aligned with the top of the arbor.

Another question is, while this is obviously a fit and accuracy issue, does this pose an issue as far as any potential damage to the pistol?
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Offline Pettifogger

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2009, 09:51:41 PM »
The pin is parallel with the arbor.  It goes lengthwise from the hammer channel toward the muzzle.  Half the hole should be in the frame and the other half in the arbor.  When the pin is hammered in, the arbor cannot be unscrewed.

Offline Mako

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2009, 12:13:20 AM »
My mistake. It's not pinned. I just got home and checked it. What I thought was a pin was actually a hole that points in the same direction as the arbor (parallel, not perpendicular), and is aligned with the top of the arbor.

Another question is, while this is obviously a fit and accuracy issue, does this pose an issue as far as any potential damage to the pistol?

Ahhh... another ASM with a missing pin.  Yours will screw off quite easily now and you can have it worked on to your heart’s content.  When you put it back on you should secure it with a new pin after you have your length set.  It's not just because yours is Brass, I have one with a steel frame that fell out.  They used a taper pin just like Colt used to.  I reamed mine with a straight reamer and put a piece of drill rod in, it's not moving.

It's probably not a safety issue at this point, BUT the loose arbor will wallow your Brass frame out.  The thread engagement  will just continue to get looser.  So, yes it will damage your frame in the long run, but Brass frames get looser in the long run anyway.  The barrel bottoming out will give you a more stable arrangement instead of it resting on the wedge and the wedge hole.  The wedge was meant to lock it in place not be a support piece.

Regards,
Mako


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Offline RollingThunder

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2009, 07:45:20 AM »
Thanks for all the great advice everyone! I'm glad there's a forum that is so willing to share their knowledge on this.

So technically, the effective fix at this point is to measure the amount of difference between the end of the arbor and the end of the arbor hole, by measuring the overrun amount on the frame, unscrew the arbor carefully so as not to damage the threads on the brass part, add filler to it, file it to the correct size and screw the arbor back in, re-pinning it afterwards.

Or would it be just as effective to do as 44 recommended, take some tape and wrap it around the arbor to create a form and then create a fill of something like JB Weld and file it down from there? That sounds safer to me, considering I don't particularly like the idea of potentially screwing up the brass threads by either over-torquing the arbor on it's way in, or mis-aligning the wedge. And considering I can check the arbor fit as it sit in it's actual position, maybe that's the safer bet for a newbie like me, considering I'm new to black powder, much less black powder gunsmithing.

Either way, I'll need a new pin. Any ideas where to look? I tried looking on Dixie Gun Works and Traditions, and can't find them. Maybe I'm just not calling them by the correct name.
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Offline Pettifogger

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2009, 10:30:35 AM »
If you are talking about the arbor pin it is a non-critical piece.  Just find a nail the right OD and cut a piece out of that.  That way if you ever have to remove it again it is soft enough to drill back out.

Offline Mako

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Re: Correcting an arbor fit issue on my 1851 Colt Navy.
« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2009, 10:57:56 AM »
If you are talking about the arbor pin it is a non-critical piece.  Just find a nail the right OD and cut a piece out of that.  That way if you ever have to remove it again it is soft enough to drill back out.

Pettifogger is correct.  Don't overcomplicate it just because I did .  I apologize if my explanation of what I did made you think it was a complicated gunsmithing procedure. I just made the hole pin hole straight walled because it was wallowed out and I had straight reamers. 

Pettifogger is also correct about the soft pin, the O-1 drill rod I used would be about HRB 104 (equivalent to HRC 28) in hardness.  A common bright nail  would probably be in the  HRB 56 range.

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