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Q for Larson E. Pettifogger


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Mr. Pettifogger,

 

Since you "wrote the book" on the topic I'll direct this question straight to you.

 

I'm a confirmed, and lazy, procrastinator and a religious practicer of the "If it ain't broke don't fix it" philosophy.

 

Well, my Pietta '51 Navy broke so now I have to fix it.  Specifically, the hand spring broke.  Now, Mr. Pettifogger, several years ago you wrote a series of articles on tuning up Uberti and Pietta Open Top Revolvers for the Cowboy Chronicle.   You might remember those.  :D  I pulled those articles and set them aside thinking "I should do that to my guns".   However, see paragraph two above.  Now that I need the information I can not find the articles. 

 

Well, actually, I did find the articles on tuning Uberti revolvers.  That article describes pretty well how to measure and drill the frame to fit a plunger and coil spring for the hand.  The question (finally, right?) is:  Will the same measurements and process work for my Pietta revolver, or is there some difference between the Pietta and Uberti frames that I need to know about?

 

While I have your attention, the same revolver has started to have an issue while reassembling.  Originally, there was no issue with disassembly or reassembly.  Now I have to give the muzzle a firm whack to seat it back up against the frame during reassembly.  There is no issue if I put the barrel on the arbor sideways or if I align the pins in the frame to the holes in the barrel assembly while upside down.  However, right side up and the pins don't seem to quite align with the holes in the barrel.  Can you suggest a fix for that?

 

This issue started after a bad day on the range when I shot several stages with a loose barrel wedge.  After each stage I would find the wedge loose and reseat it with a few light taps with the handle of a screw driver.  In the past that was all that was necessary to keep the wedge tight.  Only after I gave the wedge one good whack with the screw driver did that problem stop.   I'm not sure what that did to the gun, but that was when the problem began.  It was discovered during cleaning that evening.

 

Oh, yeah, I also have a Uberti Dragoon.  Will that Plunger and coil spring trick work with that?

Any similar tricks for '58 Remingtons?

 

Thanks,

 

Angus

 

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Warden,

 

The longevity of the Hand Spring will depend entirely on when the gun was manufactured.  The "early" Hand Spring was a really thin flimsy thing, with a little bend at the end.  The hand springs on your Pietta(s) are this type of spring.  May last a while, may only last 5 rounds.  Newer build guns have a much better, heavier hand spring with a distinct "hump" at the end and being made of much sterner stuff may well last indefinitely.

 

When I was in the business of building Cap Guns for CAS, I converted them to Coil Spring and Plunger regardless. 

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Next question:  The Uberti article recommends using a #35 drill  with a Ruger Plunger and Spring.  The Pietta article recommends using a slightly smaller #42 drill with a slightly smaller Ruger Plunger and Spring.  Is there any reason to not use the smaller drill and parts when I get around to doing the same thing to my Uberti '60 Armys?  I like the idea of the smaller hole.  Plus it'll make it a lot easier ordering a bunch of the same parts for the fix.

 

Thanks to Sedalia Dave and Larson E Pettifogger for the links.  I haven't had time to look at all of them, yet.

 

Does anybody have the quick answer to if the same trick and parts will work with an Uberti Dragoon?

 

Warden Calloway, I've had these pistols for 3-4(?) years and done zero modifications to them.  They're the same ones I've been using at Owl Creek for the last few years without problems - until last months match when all kinds of things started going wrong with the one.  I haven't even put Slix nipples on them.  They work great with Remington #10 caps.  I don't know how much use they got before they made their way to me.

 

Angus

 

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If you read part two of the Pietta article it explains the difference between the pawl and spring parts.  Sometimes the standard plunger and spring works fine.  Sometimes the hand channel is too wide and the plunger will fall into the channel.  If you have already drilled the larger hole simply cut the end off the drill you used and make a new plunger that is a little longer.  On your hard seating of the barrel on the pins problem no way to tell what happened when you whacked it.  Is the arbor loose?  What kind of gun do you have is it steel or a brass frame?  The same technique will work on any Colt styple gun including Dragoons.  If the plunger is to short make your own.  58 Remingtons are a different issue because they do not have removable grip frames

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35 minutes ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

If you read part two of the Pietta article it explains the difference between the pawl and spring parts.  Sometimes the standard plunger and spring works fine.  Sometimes the hand channel is too wide and the plunger will fall into the channel.  If you have already drilled the larger hole simply cut the end off the drill you used and make a new plunger that is a little longer.  On your hard seating of the barrel on the pins problem no way to tell what happened when you whacked it.  Is the arbor loose?  What kind of gun do you have is it steel or a brass frame?  The same technique will work on any Colt styple gun including Dragoons.  If the plunger is to short make your own.  58 Remingtons are a different issue because they do not have removable grip frames

 

Yep, read part two Pietta.  It sounded to me like the only difference was the plunger was longer and skinnier.  I haven't drilled anything, or ordered any parts, yet.  Just trying to make sure the same, smaller, parts should work with everything before spending any money.  I like the idea of using the smaller diameter plunger on all the guns as long as there is no reason not to.

 

Glad to know the same technique and parts should work on the Dragoon.

 

The gun in question is a steel frame Pietta copy of an 1851 Navy.  The arbor is still nice and tight.

 

I didn't SEE anything odd with the wedge or slot or pins when I took it apart.  I'll look closer next time I take it apart.  I've got a big reading magnifying glass that may help show any irregularities that I missed.

 

Thanks again,

 

Angus

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Black Angus

 

One more itty bitty bit of information.  When building Pietta Cap Guns, I use a Ruger Pawl Spring and Plunger.  Sourced from Brownells.  Plunger is Brownells part number 780-001-231 and the spring is part number 780-000-464.  I use a 3/32 drill.  Be sure to clean out the hole and put a drop of oil in there.  When drilling, use plenty of oil.  DO NOT snap a drill off in there.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

Power Custom Grand Masters makes a drill fixture kit.  My be worth considering if you plan to do several. 

 

http://powercustom.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1019

 

Interesting, but I can't tell from the small picture exactly how you use that.  Do you screw the fixture onto the back of the frame and use the guide hole to drill?  You'd still need to secure the contraption onto the drill press.

 

Also, it appears to use the larger of the two plunger and spring combos discussed.

 

I wonder what it would cost to take the frame(s) to a machine shop and have them drill the hole(s) for me?

 

 

Edited by Black Angus McPherson
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1 hour ago, Black Angus McPherson said:

I wonder what it would cost to take the frame(s) to a machine shop and have them drill the hole(s) for me?

 

My experience,  machine shops won't touch anything to do with firearms. Not licensed to work on firearms,  liability,  etc.   

 

Maybe talk with Gunsmith Frank?  He's just down the road. Maybe even Jackson Rose?  

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8 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

Any updates on your repair?

 

 

Nothing yet.  I went by Lowes yesterday to buy a drill bit, but none of the bits were marked by number.  No #35, no # 42, no # anything.  Everything was marked in inches (1/8", 1/16", etc.) and I don't know what size any of the numbers coincide with.  All the Lowes employees were either busy or hiding and I had other errands to run.

 

I don't have the other parts yet anyway.

 

Oh, and don't forget to re-read paragraph #2 of the Original Post.  ;)  It could well be next year before I get around to it.

 

Meanwhile I'll probably just use my '60 Armys until one of those breaks.  Then I'll likely use one Navy and one Army until one of those break.

 

Unfortunately I have not been blessed with your motivation and skill.  If I was I'd have probably finished the modifications a week or two after I bought the pistols.  :D

 

If I lived closer to you I'd probably try to talk you into letting me come by to borrow your shop and have you watch over me while I tried not to screw up my guns.

 

I'm going to miss the match this weekend.  I foolishly scheduled and appointment for Saturday morning before realizing it was "shoot" weekend.

 

Angus

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1 minute ago, Black Angus McPherson said:

 

 

Nothing yet.  I went by Lowes yesterday to buy a drill bit, but none of the bits were marked by number.  No #35, no # 42, no # anything.  Everything was marked in inches (1/8", 1/16", etc.) and I don't know what size any of the numbers coincide with.  All the Lowes employees were either busy or hiding and I had other errands to run.

 

I don't have the other parts yet anyway.

 

Oh, and don't forget to re-read paragraph #2 of the Original Post.  ;)  It could well be next year before I get around to it.

 

Meanwhile I'll probably just use my '60 Armys until one of those breaks.  Then I'll likely use one Navy and one Army until one of those break.

 

Unfortunately I have not been blessed with your motivation and skill.  If I was I'd have probably finished the modifications a week or two after I bought the pistols.  :D

 

If I lived closer to you I'd probably try to talk you into letting me come by to borrow your shop and have you watch over me while I tried not to screw up my guns.

 

I'm going to miss the match this weekend.  I foolishly scheduled and appointment for Saturday morning before realizing it was "shoot" weekend.

 

Angus

 

You have to go to ACE or buy them off Amazon.  Fractional drills are too coarse and do not have enough sizes.  Number drills go up a few thousands of an inch per each lower number.  I.e., #33 (.113")  is larger than #34 (.111").  A #60 is much smaller than a #12.

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46 minutes ago, Black Angus McPherson said:

 

 

Nothing yet.  I went by Lowes yesterday to buy a drill bit, but none of the bits were marked by number.  No #35, no # 42, no # anything.  Everything was marked in inches (1/8", 1/16", etc.) and I don't know what size any of the numbers coincide with.  All the Lowes employees were either busy or hiding and I had other errands to run.

 

I don't have the other parts yet anyway.

 

Oh, and don't forget to re-read paragraph #2 of the Original Post.  ;)  It could well be next year before I get around to it.

 

Meanwhile I'll probably just use my '60 Armys until one of those breaks.  Then I'll likely use one Navy and one Army until one of those break.

 

Unfortunately I have not been blessed with your motivation and skill.  If I was I'd have probably finished the modifications a week or two after I bought the pistols.  :D

 

If I lived closer to you I'd probably try to talk you into letting me come by to borrow your shop and have you watch over me while I tried not to screw up my guns.

 

I'm going to miss the match this weekend.  I foolishly scheduled and appointment for Saturday morning before realizing it was "shoot" weekend.

 

Angus

 

I'll be awful hot and humid. Good for making black powder smoke but insufferable. 

 

I think the 51 and 60 use the same hand.  You may luck out and take the hand out of one of the 60s and get the 51 up and running. 

 

Ron Powers Grand Masters is just north of the Lake of the Ozarks outside Gravois Mills.  Ron is a great guy and many stories about him taking care of cowboy action shooters gun problems on the spot and not charging anything.   But the the last time I was there he wasn't. We got nowhere with his son.  

 

You will have to go to some industrial supply place like Fastenall to get a # bit. 

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47 minutes ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

 

You have to go to ACE or buy them off Amazon.  Fractional drills are too coarse and do not have enough sizes.  Number drills go up a few thousands of an inch per each lower number.  I.e., #33 (.113")  is larger than #34 (.111").  A #60 is much smaller than a #12.

 

40 minutes ago, Ace_of_Hearts said:

 

Thanks.  There's a Harbor Freight not too far from me and there's an ACE Hardware in the area where I work.

I just need to stick a note in my wallet so I don't forget what size bit I need when I get there.  (#42)

 

 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Black Angus McPherson said:

...I just need to stick a note in my wallet so I don't forget what size bit I need when I get there.  (#42)

 

 

If you forget, someone else will remember, because 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.  :)

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Quick update plus more questions:

 

Picked up a drill bit from ACE hardware, but they did not have a "burr remover/metal scraper".  I'm not positive the guy I was talking to knew what I was talking about.  The fact I don't know the proper name for the thing didn't help.

 

Ecno.com listed in the original article is no longer in business it seems so I can't get one from there.  Not surprising considering how long ago the article was printed.

 

No luck searching Harbor Freight or Brownells for a "burr remover or metal scraper".

 

Anybody got a line on where I can find what I need and/or what the tool is actually called?  (It's for cleaning up the burrs in the bolt slots in the cylinder)

 

Meanwhile I'm still waiting on the springs and plungers ordered from Brownells to show up.

 

Thanks again to Abilene for helping me remember what size drill I needed.

 

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I don't have an official burr remover toll.  I usually just pick up a larger drill bit and twist it around the hole by hand.   Else a pocket knife or Phillip screwdriver,  etc. 

 

Likely you'll not have enough of a burr on the outside to notice. You won't be able to get to the exit end anyway. 

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3 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

I don't have an official burr remover toll.  I usually just pick up a larger drill bit and twist it around the hole by hand.   Else a pocket knife or Phillip screwdriver,  etc. 

 

Likely you'll not have enough of a burr on the outside to notice. You won't be able to get to the exit end anyway. 

 

The burr remover was to square the cylinder notches before fitting the bolt to the cylinder.  At least that's what Larsen is telling me to do on page 7 of Pietta Part Two.  I'm not really worried about removing burrs from the hole drilled for the plunger and spring.

 

The bolt fit doesn't seem all that horrible right now, but I figure I might as well fix that while I'm doing the other stuff.  I don't expect I'll mess with altering the grip.  It ain't broke so I'll not take the chance of buggering it up by messing with it.

 

 

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