Author Topic: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers  (Read 673 times)

Offline Flatlander55

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Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« on: July 05, 2019, 10:57:51 pm »
I've always been curious, those who have nice examples of both originals and reproductions, how does the overall functionality feel between the two? The only original pieces I have touched were very sloppy and loose. Cylinders spun free without indexing and the loading levers wouldn't stay latched, the hammer wouldn't stay at half cock (or whole cock for that matter), nipples were terribly deformed, etc etc. Not knocking them, they have had very tough and demanding lives since the 1860's but I just have never held one in very good operational condition.

People always seem to say how both Uberti and Piettas need a ton of work to function properly as new right outside of the box. Usually it has to do with cylinder timing, arbor length, and cap sucking. I just wonder were the originals the same way being built on the period appropriate less precise machinery with structurally inferior materials? I do feel to a degree that they "don't make them like they used" to but I still have a hard time believing that a war time production Colt 1860 or Remington 1858 would truly be that much better than a modern reproduction built in 2019. Again, I don't know this, that is why I am asking.

Thanks in advance for any and all responses.

Offline Capt Quirk

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2019, 07:33:47 am »
Never owned an "original", and only had the one Uberti Cattleman. It operated just fine out of the box. Cock the hammer, pull the trigger, it went bang. Only time I ever had it not go bang, was after cleaning it. They have this little latch behind the cylinder, that is some sort of safety. I call it a pain in the neck .

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2019, 09:43:56 am »

Some excellent observations.  To begin with, the machinery wasn't "less Precise" it (machinery) just operated differently.  The original sample examples you speak of were made to very close tolerances and functioned, for the most part, flawlessly.  For the time period, the materials were not actually structurally inferior.  The nature of the "Iron" used to build percussion guns was quite solid and more than sufficiently sound.

We speak and advise of the "need" for some extensive "work" to make modern replicants acceptable for CAS play.  The reason for this, we ask and expect the modern replicants to perform to a level never thought of in the 1860s or 70s.  Guns of the era were not expected nor asked to fun for more than 6 rounds at a stretch.  Not 6 to 12 stages of shooting..... then we must look to the ammunition and the ignition system. 

By ammunition, I speak primarily about the Caps.  Period caps were heavier, tighter, and waterproof.  The guns had a massive spring to assure ignition.  The caps stayed on the nipples and "cap sucking" (term coined by Mike Belliviue) therefore, was not a problem.  In fact, Colt and his salesmen use to put a loaded gun in water during their presentation.  Then pull it out and it fired just fine.  Modern Caps, not so much.  The heavy springs also promoted accelerated wear of the lock works and frames.

To run these replicants "fast" we reduce the springs,  Set the timing to a gnats patute, smooth the interior of the frame to support light springs, recut forcing cones, and some of us (Me) chop, channel and french the headlights.

Fixing the Arbor you speak of, is only currently required for Uberti built replicas.  Colt never had this problem of a miss-fit between Arbor and Barrel.  ALL but a few Uberti have a ludicrous fit problem between the Barrel Lug and the Arbor.  For a Uberti to run like it is suppose to, the VERY FIRST thing coming out of the box is to fix this deficiency.

It is unfortunate that you have been exposed to sample examples of the Originals that have been used primarily as childs toys, viewed by the owners as junk and abused to the point they are junk.  Original Percussion guns that have had proper care usually function as well today as they did 150+ years ago.  Others, unfortunately, have become rusted junque.

Maintain the correct perspective.  Percussion guns were not "reloaded" in the heat of hostile action.  Fighting men ran one dry, discarded it and went back to work with another already loaded pistol.  The Original guns fouled out just as quickly as ours, we, on the other hand, reload.  I suggested once, to a "thread counter" we play "exactly" as was done in those halcyon days of yesteryear.  You want to shoot a 6 stage match as "they" should have??  Really??  OK, bring 12 fully loaded pistols to the match (remembering, YOU still have to clean em).

Offline Flatlander55

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2019, 02:05:53 pm »
Excellent and VERY thorough response. Thanks for that, it puts things into perspective for me.

Offline Bunk Stagnerg

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2019, 02:24:25 pm »
Friends,
Once upon a time in a lifetime far, far away I had a cased Colt 1851 Navy set with about 75% original finish and a bore that was spotless. It just worked like it was supposed to every time with those corrosive foil limed caps and Custis & Harvey powder.
I also had a  kind of beater 1851 with 100% no finish but a not so bad bore and it also worked like a Swiss watch. It got shot more because the cased set was worth about $100 and the beater less than half of that so shooting don't hurt it any. Oddly enough caps were harder to get then than parts.
But there were fouling problems with repeated shooting and clean up after those corrosive chlorate primers was clean and check and clean for a couple of days.

Remember J. B. Hickok carried two Navy guns. Any question why?

Those original guns were put together by trained old guys wearing green eye shades with files and stones that turned out guns that a man could, and just might, bet his life on.

With these repop guns a man might lose a few seconds of time in a game but not his life. A big difference.
Could a person defend himself with one? I suppose so but personally I would prefer a shotgun with a magazine full of OO Buckshot or something else a little more modern.
YMMV
Cordially
Bunk

Offline Flatlander55

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2019, 11:03:55 pm »
So the older caps were thicker/better? What brand these days are made that closest replicate those? I can find CCI, Remington, and RWS caps locally. Are there any that I am missing?

I'm seriously considering saving up for a cap and ball pistol again. I have had two in the past, both Piettas. One was a brass framed "1860" .44 and a steel framed "1858", also .44. I didn't know any better and shot them with all I could find, Pyrodex. The things would rust within the hour and I would have all kinds of problems. I was just impatient at the time (ten years ago). Now that I have taken a step back and grown to appreciate things historically a bit more and enjoy the labor/appropriate measures involved I might dip my toes back into it. I've found a source for Goex, have a lead furnace, and can source the appropriate moulds so I could have a really handy range pistol. Nothing serious, just something to have fun with and enjoy the past.

I'm leaning towards the Uberti 1861 "Navy" round barrel model .36, the civilian three screw version with a brass trigger guard. Why does Uberti have arbor issues and Pietta not? Genuine question here as I have no idea. Pietta doesn't make the 61' in the configuration I would like so I have to check it off the list. Also, I've seen ways to fix the gun shooting literally feet high at typical ranges. In your *whoever reads this* opinion, what is the best way to tackle the issue? Drive out the old sight, pin in a new one and use a punch to secure it or have a smith, or yourself if competent, file a dovetail and install a drift-able front sight and file it to the appropriate height? I know some people file the hammer notch for elevation but I am wary of that due to heat treating and whatnot.

Again, thanks for the explanation and your patience with me for wanting to understand these things a bit better.

 

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2019, 10:21:27 am »

Ah Yes!!!  Some swell questions.  The Caps of Yesteryear were somewhat thicker, were made differently and the explosive mix was entirely different and extremely corrosive.  No manufacturer today makes anything like those caps (offer thanks to the Goddess of Progress) I use to know what the waterproof coating was, but current memory fails.

Current favor is for the Remington #10 Cap which fits most of the new manufacture Nipples the best and provides the most reliable ignition.  A CAVEAT:  Current manufacture nipples SUCK!!  After wiping the shipping grease from the package off, the very first thing you will want to do is remove the OEM nipples and put them someplace "safe," such as a handy trash can.  Hop on line and procure either some Slixshot (my preference) nipples or Treso nipples.  Either are a huge improvement over OEM nipples.

Trying to fix the point of impact/point of aim relationship of an Uberti built pistol is a waste of time and effort unless you FIRST fix the barrel to Arbor relationship.  When the wedge is installed in an "un-fix'd" Uberti, the wedge pulls the top of the barrel toward the cylinder face and the bore alignment goes inna toilette.  The gun will shoot high.  Real high.

Why Uberti had failed miserably to fix this issue is beyond me.  Perhaps they wanted to give us "Gunplumbers" something to do in our spare time??  Dunno.  Pietta determined the correct method of measuring the relative depth of the bore in the barrel lug and arbor length and programmed their CNC machines to "get it right."  Over the last 5 or 6 years I have yet to find a Pietta built gun that was wonky.  Of the other Gunplumbers I commune with, WE have yet to find a Uberti built Cap Gun that was even close to "right."

To outward appearances, Uberti builds more traditional guns in overall size and caliber.  Closer in period (hate that term) markings, stuff like that.  They require lots of work to make them run right.  Pietta guns are not quite so "cute."  Pietta offers many "Never Never" guns, such as 51 Navy pattern guns in .44 as opposed to 36.  Pietta offers barrel configurations never even thought of by the folks at Colt.  Because of Pietta's closer tolerances those barrels can be swapped between models with no more than minor fitting.

I personally file the hammer notch on everything.  The hammer notch is hard to see and a real pain if not opened up.  There is nothing to "harm" as far as heat treating or CCH.  It is a very thin surface treatment and that area of the hammer is not subject to any stress.  File away (carefully)

Cap Guns today are intended for FUN.  Once you are bitten by the Bug, you're DOOMED.  You will never recover.  RESISTANCE IS FUTILE .... YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED

Offline hellgate

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2019, 11:02:01 am »
The closest cap to the old time originals was the Navy arms Italian caps which were made of quite thick brass compared to the paper thin copper caps of today. I still have some of the Italian caps but am not sure if they even fit any nipples. I'm half skeered ta shoot 'em. I don't remember if they needed prying off or whether they just split on one side when fired. It's only been about 40 years since I shot them and went to Remington #10s and never looked back.
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Since I have 14+ guns, I've been called the Imelda Marcos of Cap&Ball. Now, that's a COMPLIMENT!

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Offline Bunk Stagnerg

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2019, 11:20:08 am »
Hellgate,
I can guarantee those are  chlorate primed caps and make the "P" stuff corrosion seem mild by comparison. In cleaning out my work shop prior to moving I gave a lot of the old foil lined Remington and some DGW Italian "extra hot" caps the deep six.
Bunk

Offline Black River Smith

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2019, 07:45:40 pm »
Flatlander,

Try looking at this CAS topic link ---- https://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,60067.0.html


Compares original to a Pietta.

Hand-fitting and smoothing compared to milling and out the door.  Also, years of making them for use/functionality (originals) compared to making them to just work (modern).
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 07:51:07 pm by Black River Smith »
Black River Smith

Offline LonesomePigeon

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2019, 10:19:42 pm »
Just got my first original. The finish on these originals must be seen to be believed. The polish is smoother but the flats are flatter and the lines and edges are more defined.

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2019, 10:19:20 am »

I personally don't compare Remingtons.  I don't like Remingtons.  New Build nor Original.  Never met a Remington I liked.  it's a personal thing.  Doesn't mean they are "bad" just I don't like them.

For the things we do .... today .... The modern built replicants are a better bet than an original.  Especially the Pietta with it's many configurations.  Plays alot.  With an original Colt offering, your configurations are extremely stunted.  Not that they (Original) wouldn't be fun but the options are really limited.  Then there is the other consideration.  Once set up properly, a Pietta will run tings around an Original Colt.  Unless you rebuild the Colt the same as the Pietta.

Online Blair

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2019, 02:34:58 pm »
As for the things we do in modern shooting sports... I very much agree! Reproductions are the way to go.
I would be heartbroken if one of my many originals suffered a broken part while shooting at a CAS/NCOWS event. Some (many) of these original parts are now nearly imposable to get.
 My favorites are the cartridge conversions, of these I would half to say the Remington revolvers because of the solid frame. Next is large frame S&W top brake/break revolvers. Last would be the Colt open top type cartridge revolvers. (cap and ball revolvers are fine as they were made and/or can otherwise documented)
This "have hacksaw will travel" approach to "steampunk make believe"... just does not set well with me anymore than Remington's do with some folks. But that is just me!
I guess this will help wake up the forum.
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Offline Major 2

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2019, 03:08:52 pm »
I've acquired a number of Remingtons ( Replicas )  and had one original....just never managed to be enthralled....

The Original I purchased at a Gun store , legit sale , but turned out the Gun was part of a trade (other parties ) and the Gun was actually stolen.
The LGS had to get it back , refunded my money, nothing fishy here , he is still a friend after 36 years .

As to the replicants , I got them in trades and moved them on down the pike....

Now to the question  I have both a Navy Circa 1861  and an Army circa 1862....

My observations  main springs are heavier , the 60 is a tad off timing wise ( hand is worn ) but if you cock it smartly it will reach battery.
The Navy is still spot on.

I have 3 Second Gens , If I use RWS Caps Green label on the Armys, Red on the lone Navy  they are reliable ( course 1 of 1860s now has an R&D conversion )

I bought one in 1978 ( 60 w/ the R&D )  the other 60 and the Navy in 84-85.

only part replaced is bolt spring (twice) in the earlier 1860.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 08:17:35 pm by Major 2 »
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Offline LonesomePigeon

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2019, 05:56:29 pm »
 I didn't want to be a Remington fan but they work to well for me to ignore. That and a Colt in the same condition as my Remmy would have cost two or three times what the Remmy did. I paid $1,500 and I think that was a good deal. I still want an original Colt though!

Offline Dick Dastardly

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2019, 03:55:44 pm »
Here I am, pokin' my nose where it may not belong.

Want out of the box reliability?  Get a Ruger Old Army.  Want out of the box accuracy?  Get a ROA.  Want to shoot C&B without a bobble, get a ROA.  Want a cartridge conversion cylinder, get a Kirst Konverter and load it with 45 Colt ammo, as stout as you can load it with your ROA.

Music wire springs and excellent fit and finish, ROA.

Want authenticity?  NOT ROA.  They are thoroughly modern guns in all respects.  They are heavy and strong.  I shoot a brace of Pietta 1860s with Kirst Konverter cylinders and Cowboy 45 Special ammo.  I prefer the fit in my hands and the amazing pointability.  But, compared to my brace of ROAs, they are fragile and temperamental.

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Offline Drydock

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2019, 07:54:13 pm »
Dangit Dick, don't make us deploy the 3 year olds over there.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 07:59:44 pm by Drydock »
Civilize them with a Krag . . .

Offline Major 2

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2019, 08:24:13 pm »
" ...Get a Ruger Old Army....   I suppose the same argument could be made for a Checker Marathon.

To bad too, they don't make them anymore ...either   :(
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 08:26:36 pm by Major 2 »
when planets align...do the deal !

Offline 44caliberkid

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Re: Original vs Repro functionality of C&B revolvers
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2019, 11:32:30 am »
I find most of the Italian replicas are fine for casual shooting out of the box. Piettas, especially those sold by EMF, are as good in quality as Uberti's. Nice finishes, nice wood.  If you want to avoid the arbor trouble, get a Remington style NMA.  But I love the Colt designs, so if you have a nice barrel/ cylinder gap, wack the wedge with your plastic gunsmithing hammer. If the gap closes up at the top, you have a short arbor. The first one I did I went through the whole process of removing the arbor, welding extra material to the end and filing to fit. then I just started JB Welding a thin washer to the end of the arbor and filing to fit. Never had one let go.  And most of my several dozen pistols haven't had any arbor work, I just don't bang the wedge in too hard.  Tresso or Slixshot nipples are a good, easy mod that improves reliability and frustration, as is JB Welding the hammer face slot smooth. (Colt)  You don't have to go to the inth degree to have a nice shooter that doesn't hang up. I also grease over the ball, and while messy, I can shoot stages all day and never have any binding from residue.
   Dick, we are talking historic replicas here, not modern firearms.