Author Topic: Need gunsmithing advice for a '51 Navy that won't cock on the first pull back  (Read 404 times)

Offline hellgate

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Background: I am am experienced Italian C&B revolver tinkerer because I've probably owned ~ 40 of them (new & used) and have had to troubleshoot most of them. A friend handed me a brass framed Pietta '51 Navy 44 and said the cylinder wouldn't turn unless he held the muzzle down while cocking it. So I told him I would fix it since not long ago I had sold it to him. Yup, the hand spring was cracked/broken. So I knocked it apart, removed the broken spring and remnant, replaced the handspring with a short piece of thin bobby pin and staked the spring back in place. Upon reassembly I notice that while cocking the gun the cylinder rotated and comes into battery just fine but the hammer would fail to catch the sear and drop back into the safety notch. When pulled back a second time it cocks properly. This is consistent. So, when I remove the cylinder and cock it the hammer snicks back and holds fine (no double cocking needed). The question: What's going on? Is the hand spring I installed too long? Too strong? I thought I matched the dimensions of the original but it was my usual eyeballing guestimate that hasn't failed me after about 6 or 7 handspring replacements.
"Frontiersman: the only category where you can shoot your wad and play with your balls while tweeking the nipples on a pair of 44s." Canada Bill

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 Mako

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Hellgate,

Without seeing it I believe you have the right of it.  The spring is keeping the hammer from being able to move back far enough for the cocking notch to engage the trigger. Could be the angle, the thickness or the length, but once again without seeing it I would say the it is the hand spring.  It only does it with the cylinder in place because the hand is engaging the ratchet and that limits the hammer.

~Mako
A brace of 1860s, a Yellowboy Saddle Rifle and a '78 Pattern Colt Scattergun
MCA, MCIA, MOAA, MCL, SMAS, ASME, SAME, BMES

Offline hellgate

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Thank you Mako,
Tomorrow I will shorten the spring a bit to just beyond the bend of the tip (leaving the bend intact). If not fixed by that I will tweak the spring to lower the push on the hand. Whever works will be another new learning experience. I still have my first C&B (1861 Uberti Navy, still crisp as ever) that I got back in '68 and have been playing with capguns ever since (especially after getting into CAS back in '92).
"Frontiersman: the only category where you can shoot your wad and play with your balls while tweeking the nipples on a pair of 44s." Canada Bill

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 Mako

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No problem!  I now actually have one set of my '60s with a coil hand spring like a Ruger after I broke a spring.  Those Italian guns (the percussions) have steel springs of dubious genetics... I had a gunsmith over in Hearne, TX (can't remember his name) who was doing "warranty" work for Uberti  tell me the Cartridge gun springs were better even though they looked the same to me.  Perhaps Abilene will remember that guys name and may know what Cimarron was doing for broken Spring repairs.

The coil spring is the way to go, but you have to use a relatively stable drill press.  you just have to take your frame, put it in a vice and drill through to the slot the hand rides in.  Get the springs (for Rugers) from Brownells.

I was always impressed with you...You are one of the few people I know that has more Cap Guns than me, but I am still 1 short of 14 if you allow me to count my conversion revolvers and Open Tops.

~Mako
A brace of 1860s, a Yellowboy Saddle Rifle and a '78 Pattern Colt Scattergun
MCA, MCIA, MOAA, MCL, SMAS, ASME, SAME, BMES

Offline Abilene

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Mako, that was Lonnie Amman. He's still doing stuff for them, but trying to retire.  They would always just use Uberti parts.

Hellgate, I'll  give you the bad news.  My sources tell me that Pietta was working on a retractable firing pin SAA safety when Uberti beat them to the punch.  That was embarrassing so they decided to beat Uberti with a cap gun safety.  There is no firing pin, so this is known as the "double cock safety."  I understand that with practice you can do the double-cock thing while shaking the spent cap out and it doesn't slow you down too much. 

Oh wait, I was looking at last week's calendar.

But seriously, how easy does the cylinder spin on half-cock?  That usually tells you if the tension is in the right range.

Offline hellgate

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Abilene & Mako,
Re the double-cock safety mechanism: My buddy told me if I couldn't fix the gun I had to use it whenever he was shooting Frontiersman so he'd have a chance at beating me. OK, just finished blacksmithing it. The cylinder spun sluggishly (probably because I use copious quantities of bearing grease on the cylinder pin) more so than the rest of my pistols so tore it down,  lightened the hand spring tension and reassembled. That helped about 70%. The cylinder now spins much more freely with audible clicks. I found if I pushed the trigger forward when cocking it there was the desired lockup so I tore it down again, increased the tension on the trigger spring, reassembled and (voila!) it now works fine. You are probably cringing and shaking your heads at this. Note that I used the term "blacksmithing" purposely.
BTW, I recently sold 5 guns so I am down to "only" 13 cap guns. Due to the cap shortage earlier this year if I wanted to keep cowboy shooting I was forced to use my suppository shooters (pistols that load from the rear) for Frontier Cartridge Duelist. Definitely a step down.
"Frontiersman: the only category where you can shoot your wad and play with your balls while tweeking the nipples on a pair of 44s." Canada Bill

Since I have 14+ guns, I've been called the Imelda Marcos of Cap&Ball. Now, that's a COMPLIMENT!

SASS#3302L
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RUCAS#58
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SCORRS
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Offline Mako

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BTW, I recently sold 5 guns so I am down to "only" 13 cap guns. Due to the cap shortage earlier this year if I wanted to keep cowboy shooting I was forced to use my suppository shooters (pistols that load from the rear) for Frontier Cartridge Duelist. Definitely a step down.

YES!!!

I have reached the pinnacle!

~Mako
A brace of 1860s, a Yellowboy Saddle Rifle and a '78 Pattern Colt Scattergun
MCA, MCIA, MOAA, MCL, SMAS, ASME, SAME, BMES

Offline hellgate

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Mako, I like your avatar! See photo of me in 1957. And I'm still playing with cap guns!
"Frontiersman: the only category where you can shoot your wad and play with your balls while tweeking the nipples on a pair of 44s." Canada Bill

Since I have 14+ guns, I've been called the Imelda Marcos of Cap&Ball. Now, that's a COMPLIMENT!

SASS#3302L
REGULATOR
RUCAS#58
Wolverton Mt. Peacekeepers
SCORRS
DGB#29
NRA Life
CASer since 1992

Offline Mako

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I like yours!

That was "MY" rifle, a Model '94 in Win .32 Special that belonged to my Great Grand Father.  It was decided it should be mine when I was an infant.  My Gandfather's  Nephew  had it and he didn't have any sons.  I killed my first deer with it.  It had the 24 inch octagonal barrel and "German Silver" end cap, a tang flip up sight, curved rifle style butt plate and was exceptionally CLEAN.  It was stolen during a burglary of my parents house while I was away at college.  That and a never fired 1873 Springfield Trapdoor (a whole 'nother story,the brothers had bought 3 cases of them at an auction of surplus rifles in the 20's).  I have looked for that Winchester for decades, had it added to stolen gun data bases three times.  It was purchased for my Great Grandfather by his three sons by special order.  I'm almost afraid to find it today because I would have to buy it back (statute of limitations) and I would give anything for it.  My grandfather actually never fully forgave me for the loss even though it was at my parents home.

The bat wing chaps were my Grandfathers and the hat I'm wearing was his.  He rode in South Texas and the black brush, cat claw and mesquite will eat you without chaps.  I still have mine but they are heavy and full length for the same reason.  That was summer time and I would "camp out" in the back yard.  I shot my first Cap  pistol there,  an original 1860 (made in 1861 by the serial number).  We cast balls in the backyard (I still have some and the mold) used ( I think it was Dupont I still have the can somewhere)  powder from a can the size of a whisky pocket flask and the caps wouldn't fire.  Fortunately the hardware store carried caps (long gone are those days...)  I was eight years old at the time we did that.

Good memories.

~Mako
A brace of 1860s, a Yellowboy Saddle Rifle and a '78 Pattern Colt Scattergun
MCA, MCIA, MOAA, MCL, SMAS, ASME, SAME, BMES

 

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