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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A couple of questions regarding my new-to-me 4th model Navy manufactured in 1861...

When the hammer is pulled back slightly to the first "click" and is stopped there, the front edge of the hammer with the sight notch is aligned with the recoil shield. The trigger springs forward during this operation. The cylinder can be rotated clockwise against some small force. Is this all normal?

When the hammer is pulled back more to the next "click", that occurs with the hammer at about half way through its travel and it will lock there. During this operation, the trigger moves rearward some and then snaps forward again on the click. The cylinder can be turned clockwise with noticeably less force than the previous operation. Is all of this normal? (and is this supposed to be "half cock"?)

When the hammer is pulled back more to the next "click" it essentially is two clicks happening simultaneously and the hammer is fully cocked. This operation takes place almost immediately past the previous "click" (which I take to be half cock). Is all of this normal?

This next item just can't be normal... With the hammer at first click or second click (safety cock & half cock?) pulling the trigger will allow the hammer to fall. That's not right I assume. Any suggestions as to what the problem may be - what to look for? Please & thank you.

FWIW: The barrel attachment is rock solid and has no play; the cylinder locks up tight at full cock with less than a .0015 gap.
 

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I was waiting to see what some expert would tell you, but I'm surprised no one has answered.
I've just checked my Navy and 2 Police and I would describe the action a bit differently for what it may be worth. In the half-cock position (the first click) the tip of the hammer is about 1/2 inch back from the face of the recoil shield; the cylinder turns fairly easily, clicking as each nipple goes by.

When you pull the hammer back from the half-cock position, there are indeed two clicks. If I stop at the first of these clicks, the hammer goes back to the position of half cock but the cylinder is locked and cannot be turned. Then pulling back again goes to the full cock position where the cylinder is locked and aligned.

In both the first and second half-cock position I mention, the trigger does not do anything. This is true for the three guns I tried. I have no guess as to what may be wrong with yours but agree that it doesn't seem right. I would suspect the cylinder bolt spring, but I'm not a gunsmith!

Good luck. Maybe some real expert will answer now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank You, Riverbill!

I was starting to wonder if my deodorant had stopped working. I'd usually expect some wise/experienced veteran of a forum to take pity on a newbie and either chime in with helpful comments, or at least to gloat over my lack thereof and point me to a sticky (which I'd looked for already, of course). To my astonishment a Google search simply dredges up a handful of vague/non-applicable/conflicting postings that were of no use. There's nothing obvious to my eyes broken or wrong with my Navy's internals - the hammer having two complete notches, for instance, but I'll be the first to admit I lack the experience with such revolvers to recognize anything but the most obvious problem such as a part broken in two. You've pointed me to the need to find a gunsmith familiar enough with one of these things to be able to tune or replace parts. THANK YOU!
 

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These hammers only have two notches. Half cock and full cock. As JP states it sounds like somebody has tried to make a 1/4 cock (safety cock) like on the SAA. It should not be possible to have the hammer fall from half cock, because the sear (top of the trigger) is like embedded into a cut out in the back of the notch. If it is possible to have the hammer fall at that notch it is either ground flat, broken or there is some fill up in the cut out. You could even have a sear problem. It is difficult to provide an accurate conclusion without seing the pistol in person. Since you are a Colt collector I assume you know what the internal parts should look like and if I were you I would disassemble the pistol and look for damaged parts. It is even a good idea to just take away the back strap, trigger guard and stocks and turn the pistol upside down and have a close look at the internal parts ( hand, bolt, the left tine of the bolt, sear and hammer) how they interact while moving the hammer and watch how the left tine of the bolt slides over the cam on the hammer. By doing that you will have a good idea about how your pistol works.
Not easy to provide a good explanation in just a few words.

Mel.
 

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Definitely sounds like a hammer problem, maybe a trigger sear problem too. My hunch is once it is removed you will either see broken sear notches or Bubbas proud work with a hand or bench grinder. If so there are people that can rebuild those hammers and make them right. Be careful cycling the action now....messed up hammer notches can cause the bolt which locks the cylinder to be out of time and thus drag on the cylinder, causing those irrepairable deep drag lines all the way around the cylinder. And the 'small force' required to rotate the cylinder is probably due to the bolt still dragging on the cylinder (look under the cylinder and you will probably see the bolt up tight against the cylinder instead of out of the way.) At the half cock notch it should definitely be fully out of the way. There should be no 1/4 cock notch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, if it helps anyone refine their advice, here are some close up photos of potential culprit parts from my Navy. I have little to compare them to. Any observations?

Bolt-1.jpg Bolt-2.jpg Hammer-1.jpg Hammer-2.jpg
 

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It looks like Bubba has done a great deal of work on your parts ! It is no wonder you are able to have the hammer fall from half cock. With that short, rounded off sear and that wide, shallow half cock notch, with only a short tiny spike for locking the sear, it is enough with some force or play from a worn hammer screw or hammer hole to let it off. Neither the cam looks okay to me. The lower part (where the left bolt tine starts to climb) has a ledge which should be smoothed out to meet the flat surface of the hammer in an even slope. If not, the left tine of the bolt is bent abruptly and thusly have a shorter life span. The surface of the cam is not ground properly. As I can see in your photos you have a flat surface running parallelly with the hammer ledge (radius 9 o´clock) when it is preferred to have that flat (shorter, not so wide) surface 90 degrees to the hammer ledge (radius 12 o´clock). As I mentioned before the sear is ground off too much. The hand spring should have a radius and your hand most likely snags in the chimney. I cannot see the left tine of the bolt, but it should be beveled to ease out the strain when it starts its travel over the cam. The trigger arm of the bolt/trigger spring looks to have burrs. A couple of strokes with a stone would make it smooth. This is my judgement of your parts.
Mel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow. Thank you Meland for taking the time to provide a detailed set of observations. It'll help me go about seeking remedies to the problems.

Anyone else have some more to add?
 

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I hope you don't feel bad about buying this Navy. Once you enter the field of antique firearms this is the norm. Yours is over 150 years old and things like this are to be expected. Frankly, part of the fun for me in owning these old guns is to get them timed correctly thus saving them from the scrap bin. The gun will leave your hand better than when you received it. There is a certain satisfaction and joy in that.
Now on to your parts. The trigger/bolt spring looks ok. The bolt itself looks ok. The hand looks ok. The main problem appears to be the hammer notch, the cam, and the trigger. If I owned this, this would be my plan of action. Buy a new trigger. Your old one can certainly be welded up and recut but with new trigger reasonably cheap..... then I would buy a cam ($5 from dixie). Now onto the hammer notch. I have access to skilled laser welders and TIG welders who can do miracles. I would have it welded up, then I would sneak it in to a precision form grinder at work and regrind the notch myself. I am going to assume you do not have access to such equipment so you are left with having to send the hammer out to someone or buy a new one and fit that. However, to me the hammer is an integral major part of the gun. A screw here and there and some internals being swapped isn't an 'ethics' problem to me on a rebuild (it may be to others). But a hammer is major....I would want the original hammer fitted to the gun. Then once you have all the parts it is a matter of fitting them. Meland gave sage advice, as always, about fitting the parts. It is fairly involved since it seems slightly changing part "A" affects the timing of part "B" "D" and "E", but with patience it get accomplished.
Bare bones approach would be a new cam and a new trigger. The main thing tho is a safety issue. You really dont want the hammer falling from half cock anytime, let alone when you are loading it. A new trigger with the current hammer half cock notch may stop that and still give you safe firing of it, but that would have to be determined at the time of fitting.
 

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One other thing. I don't want to imply these parts are necessarily 'drop in' parts. They do need correct fitting for a safe gun. And a few words here on the forum is not necessarily enough instruction to help you do the job. Then again it may be, we simply don't know your mechanical abilities and skills. Timing a revolver is a skill learned by doing. I have only timed a few, off the top of my head 1 SAA, 2 1877's, and 2 1849s and in the works another SAA. I still have to crawl through it when I attempt it. Kuhnhausens book help immensely, as does this forum. If you feel it is beyond you there are several people that do this stuff for a living. If you feel you'd like to tackle it then i'm sure members on this forum will certainly try to help you along the way. This forum has come to my aid many times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Thank you very much Dandak. You're describing my basic trains of thought at this point. Trigger first and see what happens, and then proceed from there. I don't feel bad about getting the Navy (I traded for it). I expected there would be issues. The fellow trading it away was up front about the fact it would cock and the cylinder would rotate, but that the hammer wouldn't fall on its own when the trigger was pulled. He never saw fit to investigate why for some reason or other. A quick glance under the grip before the trade showed me the main spring was simply not engaged under the hammer - like a previous owner had perhaps loosened it so it wouldn't sit in tension as a safe queen or whatever. Re-engaging it and tightening its screw down got the pistol back to basic functionality immediately. But clearly there are timing issues and worse-than-normal cylinder drag marks, and I'm definitely a novice when it comes to revolvers like this. Best to start tapping the brain trust as a starting point... So thanks for being tapped. I don't have the kind of skilled acquaintances necessary for serious metal reworking, let alone access to same at work. I've yet to be made aware of the kind of gunsmith who'd probably welcome such work (or be good at it) in central Oklahoma. If anyone has recommendations, I'm listening...
 

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Agree with what you say dandak 100% about resurrecting old firearms. I have a lovely 3rd Model Colt Dragoon which was manufactured in 1859. Its appearance is just great and all serial numbers match. However, when I first acquired it it was mechanically loose and the timing was shot (pardon pun). Despite that fact that here 'down under' there are very few good Colt gunsmiths, I had the good fortune to be steered onto one. I sent him the Dragoon for him to perform his magic. After examining the Colt he rang to say that it had obviously seen a lot of work over the years (if only it could talk!) but he was confident he could fix the problems. He replaced a few parts, made a couple of others and returned it to me in very similar mechanical state as the day it left Sam's plant in 1959. The pistol now works perfectly; tight as a drum and cycling as it should. While I will never fire it, I am happy that when the Dragoon leaves my hands and passes to my son and then my grandson, i will be a joy to behold and handle.
 

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Agree with what you say dandak 100% about resurrecting old firearms. I have a lovely 3rd Model Colt Dragoon which was manufactured in 1859. Its appearance is just great and all serial numbers match. However, when I first acquired it it was mechanically loose and the timing was shot (pardon pun). Despite that fact that here 'down under' there are very few good Colt gunsmiths, I had the good fortune to be steered onto one. I sent him the Dragoon for him to perform his magic. After examining the Colt he rang to say that it had obviously seen a lot of work over the years (if only it could talk!) but he was confident he could fix the problems. He replaced a few parts, made a couple of others and returned it to me in very similar mechanical state as the day it left Sam's plant in 1959. The pistol now works perfectly; tight as a drum and cycling as it should. While I will never fire it, I am happy that when the Dragoon leaves my hands and passes to my son and then my grandson, i will be a joy to behold and handle.

My I suggest that when your Dragoon reaches your son and then grandson the story would be improved if 'Dad/Grandad had fired it'. It won't hurt it. That's what Sam made them for.
If you look at my avatar, reproduced below, every one of those guns, including the Patterson, has been fired by me as well as others in my collection but not in that cabinet.

Colt case No1.JPG
 

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You certainly have some gems in your collection Stanforth. And while I understand and respect what you say, I won't be firing my Dragoon. It's just a personal thing.

Brian
 
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