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  1. #1
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    Default Loose cylinder pin issues on Italian 1851 navy 44 replica pistol

    Hi guys,


    I got a great deal on a well used 1851 Italian fhilipeta with brass frame and a great well used antique patina to the steel. I noticed that cylinder pin is wiggly.....and that there is a gap between the cylinder and breech.........which there shouldnt be. For 50.00 I am not complaining........but like any used gun you might have issues, and if I can fix this up to shoot, I'll make every effort to.

    I've never had this problem come across me before on a blk powder revolver, but I have noticed also that the cylinder pin isnt removable on any of my other replica 51 navy and 48 baby dragoon.........and they all appear to be brazed in place.

    what are my options here? I'm assuming the pin must be re- brazed and then filed down smooth, but what about the gap between the cylinder and breech? Something is worn out, but I just cant pin point, I had thought maybe because this was (brass) framed that it mght be the cause. Either way I never had this issue on my steel frame pistols.

    Also noticed dixie gun works doesnt sell replacement cylinder pins..........any guess why?

  2. #2
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    From your description it sound as though you bought a brass framed revolver which has been "shot loose' from either heavy charges or excessive use. The cylinder pin/arbor is considered an integral part of the frame hence the lack of replacements available. I'll defer repair tips to others as I've never had to deal with the problem. I've seen it but never repaired one.

    The cylinder gap belongs there to allow fouling to pass the forcing cone without binding. You don't mention what the gap measures so there's no way of telling if it's excesive at the moment. Your others should also have some visible gap unless the wedge is too tight. You can get away with 0.006 on a modern cartridge revolver but that's much too tight for BP.

  3. #3
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    thanks JB,

    That was my assumption, "brass frame and heavy use" but there's gotta be away to get this old war horse back on the road again, the pistol has a great aged/worn patina to it.

    The gap between the cylinder and breech is (my guess) about 2mm.............it is excessive........there's no way I'd shoot the gun like that! But again.........theres gotta be a way to fix that as well.

  4. #4
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    2 mm is about...a 1/16th of an inch or so? A bit generous but not entirely unsafe with a properly indexed cylinder. The loose axis pin negates remote firing since you know it'll possibly shave lead. The cylinder can be adjusted forward with the use of a cylinder shim or two. Not too much. Just enough to get it approaching half the distance. You'll need to have a gap there unless you intend to constantly scrape the face. Forcing cone can be ever-so-slightly enlarged and smoothed by fine polishing if you see a need to do that.
    That loose frame makes all that a moot point though. Securing that so it ranges correctly is what I would look into doing before wasting effort on anything else. Not having a jig to insure alignment makes for too much guesswork...and that's why I didn't tell that other fellow "Lemme see what I can do".
    Hopefully someone here has done it and has a simple trick or two that has never crossed my mind.

  5. #5
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    Default Many years ago...

    I had an Army buddy who had a brass-framed Italian Navy repro revolver. He was one of those compulsive types who had to totally strip any firearm every time he cleaned it. This included removal of the cylinder arbor, which is threaded-in to the frame (not brazed). He managed to wear-out the threads in the frame - enough so that in firing it one day, we were able to watch the barrel, arbor and cylinder go down range. There was no fix possible, since the frame threads were destroyed.
    In your case, you indicate there is a gap between the arbor shoulder and the frame (as there should NOT be). So, I recommend that, before you do anything drastic, you simply attempt to screw the arbor fully into the frame (you might check to see whether you can fully unscrew it first, to check the condition of the threads on frame and arbor). If you are able to screw the arbor back against the frame, the problems of looseness and the excess cylinder gap may both be resolved.
    PRD1 - mhb - Mike
    P.S. Don't ever unscrew the arbor!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by PRD1 View Post
    I had an Army buddy who had a brass-framed Italian Navy repro revolver. He was one of those compulsive types who had to totally strip any firearm every time he cleaned it. This included removal of the cylinder arbor, which is threaded-in to the frame (not brazed). He managed to wear-out the threads in the frame - enough so that in firing it one day, we were able to watch the barrel, arbor and cylinder go down range. There was no fix possible, since the frame threads were destroyed.
    In your case, you indicate there is a gap between the arbor shoulder and the frame (as there should NOT be). So, I recommend that, before you do anything drastic, you simply attempt to screw the arbor fully into the frame (you might check to see whether you can fully unscrew it first, to check the condition of the threads on frame and arbor). If you are able to screw the arbor back against the frame, the problems of looseness and the excess cylinder gap may both be resolved.
    PRD1 - mhb - Mike
    P.S. Don't ever unscrew the arbor!
    I've seen some of these get loose, and problem (of course) is having the slot for the wedge index properly when tightened up. If it is a half-turn out, then you can probably just tighten it up and be fine. Two problems with the wedge slot - one is it has to be lined up with the frame slot. The other is it has to not allow the barrel to move forward (rear of slot in arbor and rear of slot in barrel have to be in the same plane).

    Once things are sorted out, if they can be, a bit of Loctite or other thread locker of choice can help keep them that way.

    I know one guy who was a pretty decent machinist who made a stainless steel bushing that he fitted to the frame and then screwed the arbor into that. A fiddlin' sort of job.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

  7. #7
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    Default If the problem is...

    that the arbor is partially unscrewed, it is likely that it is only 1/2 turn, and that simply turning it back will bring it to its proper place. If it were a full turn out, it would, of course, need a full turn back.
    To clarify the proper relationship of the arbor and the barrel: the slot in the arbor must be further to the rear (nearer to the frame) than the slot in the barrel - the wedge properly bears on the front of the arbor slot and the rear of the barrel slot, in order to draw the barrel backward into contact with the frame and close to the cylinder face.
    If the arbor turns past the point at which the slot aligns properly horizontally, rather than drawing-up into firm contact with the frame, it would be necessary to shim the arbor/frame contact to correct the slack. Loctite would be a good idea in any case.
    Making a bushing and fitting it correctly, unless you are able to do the work yourself, would be a pretty expensive proposition, considering the total value of the revolver.
    PRD1 - mhb - Mike

  8. #8
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    Well,

    I had the owner of the former "Ye Olde Black Powder Shoppe" in Auburn michigan look at my navy, with over 30 yrs experience in the blk powder business, I dont doubt his word. He told me that he wouldnt "shoot" the gun being unsafe as it is, and that as a wall hanger, or as a blank powder load only for reenacting, that it would be okay. he suggested creating a spacer to put in the wedge slot to take up any excess space........to tighten up the looseness.

    Since I dont plan on shooting this, I think I am going to get a brass or copper washer, and install it behind the cylinder and frame to act as a shim to tighten everything up.

    Considering the looseness of the cylinder pin, I am really surprise how nice the cylinder properly indexes as well as the excellent timing it has...................I would have thought those to be the most common problems associated with brass frame blk powder revolvers.

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    Too bad for both of us. I was hoping to pick up another trick or two.

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    Like all before have said brass frames just don't hold up like steel. That said, I had a pin break right at the threaded joint. The repair was to drill and tap the pin, insert a threaded section and thread to frame to match. Careful adjustment of the threaded section brought wedge hole to correct position. Could give you a one time fix fro light loads. Bushing the frame with a steel threaded insert might work but not worth effort.

  11. #11
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    I'm trying to see with my mind's eye how a cylinder pin could loosen and back out when the wedge keeps it from turning. Is this a case of jumping a thread via wallowing of the frame and/or peening of the pins threads?

    It would also seem to me that if the frame was wallowed and the hole oblonged, then a threaded frame bushing might be worth the effort?
    I don't think I would pay someone 3x the cost of the gun to do it, but if I could jig it to be drilled true then I might tackle that myself.

    Would that be plausible, or is it such a short term repair that it isn't worth it?

  12. #12
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    Default JB:

    I suspect that the arbor was unwound in some fashion, rather than loosened in the frame by use, but would have to see the gun to know what really happened - in the case of my Army buddy, he had unwound the arbor himself. It might be that the original owner had the arbor loosen a bit, and turned it the wrong way to align the wedge slot.
    It would be possible to make a bushing for the frame, I guess, but in drilling the frame out enough bigger to accept a bushing with walls thick enough for the arbor thread, I suspect there wouldn't be much supporting material left in the frame itself. It might actually be a weaker assembly than originally, and, as you pointed out, keeping the arbor perpendicular to the frame might be a problem, too, without the factory jig.
    I don't think it would be worth the time and effort.
    PRD1 - mhb - Mike

  13. #13
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    Mike,

    Thanks for that. I can understand how bushing might lead to opening a can of worms. I've always had steel framed cap 'n ball shooters myself so it was never a problem. After having been once shown a coworkers loose brass revolver I know it happens. His only wriggled back and forth slightly but I don't recall being able to turn it. Not with finger pressure anyway. I just assumed the pin was a crush fit of sorts thus making it a permanent fixture.
    He knew I liked to tinker with guns. I had to tell him I didn't know how to fix it. Perhaps next time I'll tell someone that I'll take a look but not promising anything.

  14. #14
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    At a recent show guy had several of these with same problem and was unloading them on unsuspecting folks for about $100. None looked heavily used. Think it best to "pass on brass" from now on.

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    My advice: Get a good quality replica revolver with a steel frame. Life is too short to mess with something that is going to give you constant trouble.

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    I had a brass frame one that ended up chain firing scared the tar our of me. Decided it was to dangerous to shoot and its still sitting in the gun cabinet. But shot a lot of lead through it. Shot myself with it once. Shot at a young green tree and the ball bounced back and hit me in the leg. Boy did that hurt.
    Garry Lycos
    Dimondale, Michigan

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by galyc4 View Post
    I had a brass frame one that ended up chain firing scared the tar our of me. Decided it was to dangerous to shoot and its still sitting in the gun cabinet. But shot a lot of lead through it. Shot myself with it once. Shot at a young green tree and the ball bounced back and hit me in the leg. Boy did that hurt.
    Your chain fire had nothing to do with frame material and a lot to do with loose caps, I'll bet a nickel.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

  18. #18
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    Loose caps or soft, battered, Italian made nipples. The distortion can allow a spark to find its way beneath the cap.


    Question of interest: Is there the possibility of a chain fire compounding itself to set off other cylinders via smashing caps against the recoil shield?

  19. #19
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    I don't recall all the details, but a guy at my range brought in an old brass-framed Navy Colt for one of the rangemasters to look at - same deal, excessive cylinder gap.

    He was able to "move" the slot on the arbor just enough to tighten up the barrel positioning - filled one end of the slot, then filed/milled out the other end. The wedge was just a little too tight, as I recall, & needed some stout strikes with a nylon hammer to disassemble it.

    I saw the before & after fit & it did make a big difference. They used light loads of Pyrodex & it was a solid shooter, although it was just tight enough that after fouling crudded it up, he needed to brush it down with a stiff bristle brush to free up the cylinder turning.
    "Hey Look! We've got Guns ... and We've got Snacks!"
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JB White View Post
    Loose caps or soft, battered, Italian made nipples. The distortion can allow a spark to find its way beneath the cap.


    Question of interest: Is there the possibility of a chain fire compounding itself to set off other cylinders via smashing caps against the recoil shield?
    Over the years I've found that when you find a brand & size of caps for a particular revolver, stick to them. My Dad's old Navy Arms .36 had best fit using #10
    Remingtons -The Navy Arms caps (RWS #1075) are actually #11's & just a tad too big.

    My 1858 Remington Pietta Nipples like the Remington #10 caps best, while the RWS #1075's are too loose. The replacement Treso / Ampco nipples like Remington #11 caps the best & the RWS #1075's are a nice tight fit.

    I got some CCI caps last weekend, but haven't tried to fit them yet.

    If you have properly fit nipples, there should be plenty of clearance between the nipple end & the recoil shield - at least there is with my Remington.

    bout those CCi #10 caps - they fit & function every bit as good as the Remintons, plus the better formed & squared open end on the cap feeds smoother in all my straight-line cappers.
    Last edited by AZshooter; 08-12-2012 at 02:48 PM. Reason: CCI cap update
    "Hey Look! We've got Guns ... and We've got Snacks!"
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    I think someone tried to disassemble that revolver and partially succeeded, and never got it back together. My first BP revolver was a Pietta brass frame "Navy" .44. I bought it used for little money, shot it for several years with no loosening up at all. If you keep the loads reasonable-even near max, but not over-they last a long time.

    mark

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    Default 1851 Pietta .44 Navy Brass Frame

    Regarding the loose cylinder arbor in the brass frame. The arbor is threaded in place, then staked with a pin from behind to keep it from unscrewing. If it is loose, best take it to a gunsmith who versed in BP Colts, or contact Dixie Gun Works for a recommendation. They have a gunsmith who works for them and might take outside jobs. The cost of repair might exceed what you would pay for one of these revolvers in nice shape.

    Dixie Gun Works offers all replacement parts including brass frames and cylinder arbors.

    The Pietta 1851 .44 Army is a replica of a gun that never was. It is close to a Leech and Rigdon, a brass framed copy of the 1851 Colt Navy of .36 caliber. I own one and like it.

  23. #23
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    I misspoke: The Pietta brass framed revolver is a closer copy of a Griswold & Gunnison with some exceptions, being that the G & G was .36 caliber and the barrel was turned round 2/3 of its length. The Leech & Rigdon was originally an iron framed revolver, very similar to the 1851 Navy in .36 caliber. It too, had a 2/3 round barrel, much like the Dragoons.

    I took the Pietta I have and let others shoot it at an outdoor event near Walbridge, Ohio today. 56 rounds and it performed as it should. RS

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