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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I bought this off a guy who had a "messed up 1860 Colt" he wanted to get rid of for $300. It is 100% legit. I paid the whopping sum of his full asking price for it. Look what I found...















BARF












I'm way out of my depth on this one as these are not in my wheelhouse. They're out of the wheelhouse, on the deck and about to go overboard. I would love your input on what you think, and what to do with it in terms of repairing/replacing/leaving as is. Here is what I think I've figured out...

The good is that there are only 11 known examples of the Richards 12 stop conversions. This one is all original and matching as it is, even the grip is still numbered to the gun. All assembly numbers match as well. The condition inside is actually pretty dang good with strong rifling and no rust issues going on inside and outside it ain't too shabby. The markings are all there and readable.

The bad is that it is missing some screws, a wedge, a mainspring, a trigger spring, and worst of all someone drilled out the cyilnder notches on the stops over the cylinder so they wouldn't blow themselves up I suppose.

So, anyway, I'm about to go cartwheel down the street and when I get back I'll see what you've all posted up. Thanks for any help you can provide. Here is where I gathered most of my info from:

Rare and Desirable Colt Richards Conversion Revolver with 12-Stop Cylinder
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
...and just for fun, the full story is that I was totally bait-and-switched on this one. When he emailed me about it, I asked for a picture, and this is what he sent in reply.

 

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Very nice. I have always admired those conversions. It has good eye appeal as is so, if it were mine, all I would do for now is to get a wedge and screw and replace the other internal missing parts. Then, I would bide my time making inquiries to restorers about the holes in the cylinder and see what my options would be. I think they could be cosmetically plugged for strictly display and collecting but would not hold up in shooting it. That would require welding or some kind of permanant plugs.
 

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...and just for fun, the full story is that I was totally bait-and-switched on this one. When he emailed me about it, I asked for a picture, and this is what he sent in reply.
Seems like he tried to pull the wool over your eyes but only managed to shoot himself in the foot. I would not be able to resist sending him the RIA link. Great find!!
 

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Are you sure the holes have been drilled out? I have seen examples where the notches have worn through. A friend of mine had one years ago, but at the time I didn't have the $ for it. And by the way, there are more fake 12 stop's out there than real ones. Not saying yours is, just saying. The # on yours is in the correct early metallic range.

They didn't make many because it was felt the extra notches could cause jamming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Are you sure the holes have been drilled out? I have seen examples where the notches have worn through. A friend of mine had one years ago, but at the time I didn't have the $ for it. And by the way, there are more fake 12 stop's out there than real ones. Not saying yours is, just saying. The # on yours is in the correct early metallic range.

They didn't make many because it was felt the extra notches could cause jamming.
I'm pretty sure they are drilled or punched. The holes are fairly circular, in the same location on each stop, and there is a pronounced rim of rough material inside the cylinder from where the holes are at.

I don't get any of the feel that this one is faked. Based on the whole feel of the gun, and the fact the seller obviously had no idea what it was since he wanted to pass it off to me as an 1860 Army, none of my alarm bells are ringing. I know that this is the place where the experts are at, so I'm all ears, and willing to take whatever extra pictures are necessary. If there really are only 11 known examples of these, I want to make sure and do things right.

Do these Richards 1860 parts interchange with a regular 1860 Army? I'd like to restore it to working condition. I'd imagine everything does interchange, except perhaps the hand?

As much as I'm chomping at the bit and head over heels, I want to make sure and do this right if this really is as rare and unique a find as it seems it may be.
 

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Those holes are sure odd...they go into the Cartridge Chambers?


Anyway, I sure like the looks of it! What a great Adventure Story and a Treasure!


Can you post some images of it 'Field Stripped' and looking into the Cylinder Chambers from the rear of the Cylinder?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I will get pictures of the insides of the cylinders and disassembled tomorrow for sure. I just need some natural light. I'll take any other pictures requested between now and then, too.

Thanks for all the help.
 

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Richards 12 stop conversions were THE first large bore conversions done by Colt, who ironically never called them conversions, but rather "altered" Colts. Colt used the original percussion cylinder for these which was soon discovered to be too thin in the rebated section, note the holes in the sample. Colt then made new cylinders sometimes later during the run of 1,000 + Richards 1st Model conversions for the Military in late 1871 which thereafter were used on all Richards conversions.

This gun is chambered for the .44 Colt ctg. which is heel based bullet/outside lube design. These first ones were chambered for the .44 Colt Martin ctg. These holes are most likely where the chambers blew out in the bolt stop cutouts due to paper thin metal in that area. Buy this book for complete info:

A Study of Colt Conversions and Other Percussion Revolvers: R. Bruce McDowell: 9780873414463: Amazon.com: Books
 

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I don't know who designed this cylinder, may have been Richards. The thought behind the cylinder with these additional notches was for safety reasons. A notch cut between each cylinder would allow the shooter to fully load the cylinder. but not rely on the hammer notch, ( as a safety ) but lower the hammer with the cylinder locked between cylinders. This feature eliminates a live cartridge being directly under the firing pin....Almost all of the 12 notch cylinders have holes in the original notches. It is caused by the locking bolt. Milling the notches left the walls too thin and breaking through....Jim
 

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Caliber 38: I hate to disagree, but aren't the notches that wear through the original notches and not the extra's . The extra notches were milled in between the chambers. the original notches wore through because the chambers had to be bored out (All 12 stop's used original 1860 cylinders) leaving the area too thin. New cylinders were used on later Richard's and the thickness on the rebated part of the cylinder was increased. At least that is my understanding of it. See McDowell page 176.
 

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If you study the conversions.(I forget who wrote a great book on them,help me ,guys),one of the reasons they quit making the 12 notch is due to the wear thru as you have on yours.I had one with the same issue and it had been sleeved and converted to 38 special.Shot fine with light loads,but the holes in some of the notches were visible and almost perfectly round. The sleeving prevented blow outs.You've got a nice gun,but there were many made early with 12 notches.Appreciate it for what it is and DON"T try to shoot it!
 

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Damaged notches are due to failure of the thin notch walls and are good indicator that gun is an original 12 stop conversion which used the gun' guns original cylinder. Colt later made a number of slightly larger radius 12 stop cylinders, many of which were used in non-factory 12 stop conversions and some of which still show up at gun shows. The difference can be easily determined by measurement of the cylinder as covered in McDowel's Book.

As another example, Conversion No. 88.






 

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Every now and then, this business makes my day. I just love it when one of us finds a jewel. Go slowly, seek help, READ everything you can find and don't touch it until you are 100% sure. See what the Judge can come up with, his library is extensive. If you are not a master smith don't do the work, hire someone. Q
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Every now and then, this business makes my day. I just love it when one of us finds a jewel. Go slowly, seek help, READ everything you can find and don't touch it until you are 100% sure. See what the Judge can come up with, his library is extensive. If you are not a master smith don't do the work, hire someone. Q
Funny you should mention that, because that is the exact question I came here to ask. I would like to get this restored, who should I send it to? There is a master smith who lives by me who is actually quite good, but if there is that guy who is THE guy, I'll spend the money to do it right. I imagine that working the action will only further erode the holes and shouldn't be done once it is working, correct?

I'm sorry that I've been remiss in getting pictures. I spent the last two days sorting and cleaning about 10,000 5.56 cases. I ordered the missing parts and am ready to send it to someone to be installed.

Lastly, what is something like this worth? Would Colt have a factory letter or record on it? Who would be the one to see about getting a blessing and having them verify that this is (or perhaps isn't) a factory 12-stop Richards.

Thanks fellas. I promise to have field stripped pictures up tomorrow.
 
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