Author Topic: Wedge musings  (Read 426 times)

Offline ssb73q

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Wedge musings
« on: August 19, 2017, 07:33:32 AM »
Hi, have you ever had a Colt wedge that was either too tight or too loose? Too tight is easily fixed by stoning the wedge sides. Most of our issues with the wedge is it becoming too loose after many shootings, cleanings, and barrel removals. Sometimes just buying a new wedge doesn't correct the problem if the issue is in the barrel slot or arbor, a new wedge is still too loose. An easy fix for Pietta 1851 & 1860 Colts is to buy the equivalent model Uberti wedge. The Uberti wedges are slightly wider than the Pietta's. So what can we do if we have a Uberti revolver with a loose wedge?

I recently had a problem with a Pietta Paterson wedge becoming too loose. That Paterson wedge is very soft compared to the other Colt wedges I have. I was able to cold hammer the deformed metal of the wedge back into shape where the wedge now fits. I have surface hardening compound coming where I will surface harden that wedge. To better prepare the wedge, I heated the wedge red hot and hammered the wedge thickness so that the wedge is ~0.005" wider than before. Red hot steel hammers easily. I also noticed that there is now a beautiful fire blue on the wedge. My hopes for surface hardening maybe a fools errand. Surface hardening is used mostly for wear resistance. Since the hardened surface is less than a thousandths of an inch thick, it may not prevent wedge distortion on firing, removals or insertions. I will do that experiment, but doubt success. It's a through hardening of the wedge that would make a difference. The only way to thoroughly harden soft steel is by work hardening it, hammering it.

So what does all this connector mean for other alloy steel Colt wedges? As most of us know, most wedges are hardened steel. Other than weld on more steel on the wedge side, the only way to widen a too loose wedge is by heating and beating it. Just like with the Paterson wedge, heat the wedge red hot and then hammer the flat side of the wedge to widen it. By heating and beating it you will also flatten the wedge spring. If you let the part cool in air, you can bend the annealed spring into shape. The last step is to reheat the part red hot and plunge into cold water. IMO this should work and provide a wedge that is wider and hard. The wedge spring will also be hardened.

As the title of this thread says musings. This is simply my conjecture to encourage discussion. Experiments will need to be done to prove the theory.

Regards,
Richard
There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline Hawg

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2017, 08:26:51 AM »
Heating a spring to red hot and cooling it in water makes it not a spring anymore. It will just be a piece of hard, thin, brittle metal and will break sooner rather than later. Hardening a wedge on a Pietta with correct arbor length will probably do no harm but make it harder than the arbor/barrel assembly on a Uberti that hasn't had the arbor length corrected and you're going to trash one or both of those parts. Wedges are cheap.

Offline ssb73q

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2017, 08:31:08 AM »
Hi Hawg, yes, wedges are cheap, but a new wedge that still is too loose isn't a solution. BTW, the spring can be tempered a little if a brittle spring breakage is an issue. Brownell's bluing salts can be used to temper the spring.

Regards,
Richard
There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline Hawg

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2017, 08:57:32 AM »
Heat it to red and cool it in water. Then submerge it in a pot of melted lead( keep in mind steel floats in lead) until lead no longer sticks to it and then let it cool on it's own.

Offline ssb73q

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 10:03:09 AM »
Hi Hawg, that's a good tip for those that don't have the bluing salts. Thanks.

Regards,
Richard
There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline 45 Dragoon

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2017, 10:46:51 AM »
The best way I've found to keep wedges from distorting is a corrected arbor fitting.  As far as wear, a set screw that resides in the end of the arbor (through to the wedge slot) can be screwed in to contact the wedge will compensate. This allows the original wedge to stay "the " wedge. If you want to return it back to original, a 1/4" x 28 screw cut to length will fit the bill.

 Also, removing the spring may be best if you're hardening the wedge .  .  .  .  .  .  just a thought .  .  .  .  (that's what I do! Lol!!)

Also, make sure the rear part of the wedge slot in the barrel isn't flush with (or past) the rear most part of the slot in the arbor.
The wedge contact points are front - the forward end of the arbor slot ,  and rear-  the rear part of the slot in the barrel. These are the 3 points of the triangulation.

Mike
www.goonsgunworks.com
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« Last Edit: August 19, 2017, 11:25:49 AM by 45 Dragoon »

Offline ssb73q

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2017, 12:31:25 PM »
Hi Mike, I know you have a good solution to this wedge issue. The only potential issue of concern I have is the removal of metal at the end of the arbor. Have you ever had a arbor end fail because of using the 1/4" set screw? One other problem I have experienced with new wedges is where the spring isn't staked on square where the spring interferes with the wedge slot. It's a bear to rotate a staked in spring.

To the other members here that have a too loose a wedge that they can't resolve themselves, I suggest you contact Goon's to get your revolver wedge issue repaired. A too loose wedge is a killer of revolver accuracy.

Regards,
Richard

There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline ssb73q

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2017, 04:53:57 AM »
Hi, the Cherry Red Surface Hardening compound arrived yesterday. Per the instructions on the container, the Paterson wedge was heated red hot and then inserted in the hardening compound. The wedge being coated smoked like crazy with the compound melting on the wedge. The wedge was again heated red hot for ~ one minute and then quenched in water.

The wedge is now surface hardened where a file just skips off the wedge. An unfortunate issue of doing the surface hardening on the wedge is that the previously beautiful bluing is gone. The wedge now looks like a poorly parkerized part, ugly, see:



I tried to cold blue the wedge after surface hardening, but the bluing didn't take. I doubt that just a surface hardened wedge will work any longer than the original soft steel wedge. My guess is that work hardening the Pietta Paterson wedge by hammering is probably the best anyone can do to harden the soft steel wedge. Of course a tool steel wedge could be machined with the right equipment if desired.

Regards,
Richard

There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline 45 Dragoon

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2017, 10:50:32 AM »
 Richard,
  Never had a problem with the arbor end being drilled. I think the weakest part of the arbor is what's left from the slot cut. Again,  I believe a tight wedge is paramount.  With the end of the arbor held against the barrel with tension, the end can't come off because of the transmission of force through the entire arm and the fact there isn't "room" for it to break away to. If there was a loose fit because of an ill fitted arbor or a loose wedge (or both) then, forces are working against you and breakage can happen. I've heard of this happening on rare occasions but again, set up properly, ain't gonna happen. The Walkers and Dragoons that eat max loads of Triple 7 with heavy bullets as a normal diet would tell the tail I think.

The experience I've had with both strictly hunters and competition shooters has been a great "proving ground" for the deviations in my service such as lubes and coil spring conversions and have reinforced the basics I had established early on.
  That's the way I see it anyway .  .  .  .   

Mike
www.goonsgunworks.com
Follow me on Instagram @ goonsgunworks

Offline ssb73q

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2017, 11:46:34 AM »
Hi Mike, thanks for the reply. Most all the original parts of the Pietta Paterson are the softest steel I have ever seen in a BP revolver. If the Paterson wedge continues to be a problem I will do the set screw mod on the end of the Paterson arbor as you suggest.

I thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with us amateurs.

Regards,
Richard

There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline LonesomePigeon

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2017, 04:56:03 PM »
Just found this thread. Richard, have you had a chance to shoot the Paterson since hardening the wedge with Cherry Red?

Offline ssb73q

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2017, 08:02:39 PM »
Hi LonesomePigeon, no I haven't shot it since fixing the wedge. IMO the hardening compound only surface hardens the wedge. IMO what's better is to just work harden the total thickness of the wedge by work hardening (hammering it). What's nice is that the Paterson wedge has no spring to mess with, just beat on the wedge until the wedge is wider.

Regards,
Richard
There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline mazo kid

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2017, 09:00:49 AM »
Richard, just out of curiosity (and ignorance about such matters...LOL), will any other model's wedges fit the Paterson?

Offline ssb73q

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2017, 10:33:28 AM »
Hi mazo, I never checked if any other Colt replica model wedge would fit. All the other Colt replicas have a wedge spring, the Paterson doesn't have a spring that makes beating it an easy job.

Regards,
Richard
There’s nothing better in the morning than the smell of bacon and black powder smoke!

Offline mazo kid

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Re: Wedge musings
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2017, 06:01:50 PM »
Springs can be removed.... L@J