Mystery Jams with 1860 Army

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I finally took my Pietta 1860 Army out for its inaugural range trip, today, and I was thoroughly impressed with how it did. The range I visited had target stand mounts staked into the ground at 50 feet, and I figured out the best hold-under to get the desired POI. Windage was dead on.

I was pleased with the results and had no failures of caps to detonate. However, when I was on my third cylinder, I went to cock the hammer after firing the second shot, and the hammer/cylinder wouldn't budge. I thought to myself, "No, the infamous cap jam couldn't have just happened so soon!" I went ahead and pulled the wedge, and after removing the barrel and cylinder, the action functioned with absolutely no issues, so it wasn't a cap jam. I reassembled the weapon, ensuring that the capped chambers weren't going to align with the hammer as I seated the barrel, and I had no further issues.

The same thing happened on my fourth cylinder after the third shot. In fact, I pulled the hammer back to put it to half-cock as soon as I had the wedge out and before I'd moved to pull the barrel off.

One thing I'd done with the fourth cylinder was to remove spent caps as soon as I cocked the hammer after firing so as to ensure that none of them were binding when they rotated across the bottom part of the recoil shield, so I can pretty confidently state that cap fragments weren't the culprits.

Has anyone ever had this happen with one of their 1860s? What causes this to happen, and how can it be prevented?
 
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I finally took my Pietta 1860 Army out for its inaugural range trip, today, and I was thoroughly impressed with how it did. The range I visited had target stand mounts staked into the ground at 50 feet, and I figured out the best hold-under to get the desired POI. Windage was dead on.

I was pleased with the results and had no failures of caps to detonate. However, when I was on my third cylinder, I went to cock the hammer after firing the second shot, and the hammer/cylinder wouldn't budge. I thought to myself, "No, the infamous cap jam couldn't have just happened so soon!" I went ahead and pulled the wedge, and after removing the barrel and cylinder, the action functioned with absolutely no issues, so it wasn't a cap jam. I reassembled the weapon, ensuring that the capped chambers weren't going to align with the hammer as I seated the barrel, and I had no further issues.

The same thing happened on my fourth cylinder after the third shot. In fact, I pulled the hammer back to put it to half-cock as soon as I had the wedge out and before I'd moved to pull the barrel off.

One thing I'd done with the fourth cylinder was to remove spent caps as soon as I cocked the hammer after firing so as to ensure that none of them were binding when they rotated across the bottom part of the recoil shield, so I can pretty confidently state that cap fragments weren't the culprits.

Has anyone ever had this happen with one of their 1860s? What causes this to happen, and how can it be prevented?
Not sure, but often pistols of this type need a good cleaning after two cylinders!
 
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It sounds like the bolt is not retracting which will lock the gun up solidly. To reset the hammer has to fall completely and a nipple that is too long can cause that. It's possible there is a cap fragment down in the action stopping the hammer fall sometimes. Then it isn't unknown for a chip from manufacturing being left behind too. They (caps) can get between the frame and hammer breast and be hard to see sometimes. I would disassemble, check for burrs, clean, reassemble and lube. That may cure the problem but if not it could be between the cam on the hammer and the left hand tail of the bolt.
 
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It sounds like the bolt is not retracting which will lock the gun up solidly. To reset the hammer has to fall completely and a nipple that is too long can cause that. It's possible there is a cap fragment down in the action stopping the hammer fall sometimes. Then it isn't unknown for a chip from manufacturing being left behind too. They (caps) can get between the frame and hammer breast and be hard to see sometimes. I would disassemble, check for burrs, clean, reassemble and lube. That may cure the problem but if not it could be between the cam on the hammer and the left hand tail of the bolt.

Dead on.

I betcha the cap fragment thing, but it could be an extra long nipple. Caps can get into the oddest places with these guns. It is easy to see how people moved to cartridge guns when one is fighting with jams.

When you cock the second and subsequent rounds in a BP revolver Colt or Colt clone you should raise the barrel up as you pull back the hammer and give the weapon a little wrist pop as you do it. Helps them spent caps fly away.
There is a finesse to the thing but once you get the action trained it is second nature. And it works....mostly ;)
 
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I posted this in JAN. A complete disassembly and a close inspection found the problem. Hope it helps.
 
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Cap jam is a possibility. On a few 1851 jams I was able to extract the fragment once the barrel was removed and hammer cocked but on my Walker I needed partial disassembly to remove a cap fragment.
 
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@hawkeye2 and @cynthialee ,

You are voicing what I thought but couldn't be too sure of for lack of experience. I like to hear those thoughts confirmed by people who've been through certain situations before.

Specifically, I figured the lockup of the action had to do with the hammer not going all the way forward. I remembered that being mentioned during the discussion from @1950DAVE 's thread.

The fact that the action freed up after I pulled the wedge told me that getting the barrel out of the way allowed the cylinder to shift forward, allowing the hammer to go forward to where it needed to be for a proper reset.

The part that made me wonder about the potential for a cap fragment being in the action was the fact that the hammer and trigger functioned together as they should have when the pistol was disassembled.

Regarding that idea about a nipple being too proud, I had two cylinders fired without issues before the issue arose on the third and fourth cylinders. Is it possible for a cap to not get crushed down far enough onto the nipple that it can keep the hammer from falling that last critical fraction of an inch?
 
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"Regarding that idea about a nipple being too proud, I had two cylinders fired without issues before the issue arose on the third and fourth cylinders. Is it possible for a cap to not get crushed down far enough onto the nipple that it can keep the hammer from falling that last critical fraction of an inch?"

The fact you fired 2 cylinders without a problem would pretty much put the tall nipple to rest. It's possible a cap might not get crushed enough specially if it wasn't all the way on or was on crooked but that kind of thing is not quite one in a million. It's also possible a piece of cap got stuck on the hammer nose (Colt only) and stopped it short but again you would have to be quite unlucky to have that happen more than once. I suspect it isn't resetting but lets hear what you find after you get it all together again.
 
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"Regarding that idea about a nipple being too proud, I had two cylinders fired without issues before the issue arose on the third and fourth cylinders. Is it possible for a cap to not get crushed down far enough onto the nipple that it can keep the hammer from falling that last critical fraction of an inch?"

The fact you fired 2 cylinders without a problem would pretty much put the tall nipple to rest. It's possible a cap might not get crushed enough specially if it wasn't all the way on or was on crooked but that kind of thing is not quite one in a million. It's also possible a piece of cap got stuck on the hammer nose (Colt only) and stopped it short but again you would have to be quite unlucky to have that happen more than once. I suspect it isn't resetting but lets hear what you find after you get it all together again.
This'll be my first time taking apart the Colt. I've read that it's a bit easier than the Remington, and I'm hoping that's the case. Hopefully, I'll see everything in order and a little piece of something come out that shouldn't be in there.
 
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Cap jam is a possibility. On a few 1851 jams I was able to extract the fragment once the barrel was removed and hammer cocked but on my Walker I needed partial disassembly to remove a cap fragment.
That's an interesting point. It makes me think that a fragment could be in there binding things, coming loose, and then binding again, with the fragment coming loose once the barrel is off.

I'll find out after today's disassembly. That's going to be later, though, because the wife wants to go do some things.
 
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Well, I didn't find any fragments inside the action after a tear down of the internals, but I did do a nice cleaning. After the cleaning, I gave everything a nice rub down with Frog Lube, which is some pretty slick stuff and organic, so it won't adversely react with the fouling.

This is different from what I did when I first got the revolver. I didn't take apart the internals to lube them the same way when I first got it. Instead, I just used a q-tip to work olive oil into the action as far as I could from the space between the hammer and frame.

When I did my function test, I found that the action was much smoother. This currently much smooth action leads me to the conclusion that I may have been having those jams as a result of the internal fouling and insufficient lubrication of the internals during my first trip out.

At this point, I'm satisfied with the explanation.
 

cebusey

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Glad you found your problem. I had a tiny cap fragment find it's way into the hand channel. It initially locked the the action but later screwed the timing up intermittently. Due to the small size it was hard to detect. Never underestimate a spent cap
 

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It’s a good idea to tear down the internals for cleaning every time. Even a little fowling can interfere with moving part operations and give you problems at the firing line. I tried something different, sort of a quick and easy action cover. I used air conditioning metallic tape cut to fit over the exposed area of the hammer to keep out cap fragments and most of the fowling. A better method is drilling a small hole on the hammer side and cutting a thin slit to attach a cover made from thin brass sheet. I will eventually do this mod to my pistols. I discovered the tape method kept lots of fowling out of my Dragoon’s internals.
 
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