Dragoon, continued


     I selected a 1/4 inch die grinder with a carbide grinding bit and carefully ground down much of the brass until I removed most of the excess material. I then used a fine file to continue removing excess brazing material from the frame and flattening the area to match the frame.

  After flattening the damaged area, I used a random orbital wood sander to help clean the area. This tool worked well and smoothed the remaining brazing material to be level with the receiver without leaving deep marks in the metal.

Figure 2

  Figure 2 shows the right side of the receiver after finishing the process of removing the brazing material from the receiver. I must admit that I lost some control over the grinding tool and it gouged the receiver a little. This will be repaired along with the finishing of other damage after I create and mount the extractor housing.

Figure 3

  A previous owner had used a bench grinder to alter the action by grinding away at the sear. Even a light pass with a bench grinder removes enough of the hardened surface material to expose the softer steel underneath.

  I tested this by using an ordinary file and found the file would grab the steel. This means the steel is too soft to continue using as a hammer and will have to be case hardened.

  A problem with the hammer sear is that the mating surfaces were ground at odd angles on the grinder and need to be cleaned up. I was taught never to use a bench grinder on a sear, but the damage had already been done and the grinder is the quickest way to clean up the mess.

  I used a bench grinder with a fine side-cutting wheel to square up the surfaces and bring the sear depth to about .025 inches for a crisp trigger break. I set the sear angle to about two degrees of positive engagement to prevent accidental misfires. I used an Arkansas stone to finish polishing the metal by cleaning up any grinding marks that were left in the steel.
  Before hardening the hammer, I assembled the gun with the trigger and dry fired it to test the break of the hammer. The trigger break was clean and crisp with the factory springs installed.

  Figure 4

  Figure 4 illustrates the hammer components after being cleaned up. I did not take it to a mirror finish to allow some recesses to hold lubricant. The most important part of cleaning the sear was to provide a uniform ramp that will allow the mating parts to slide over the ramp without dragging on machining marks.

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  My early posts about the project resulted in another cowboy shooter sending me a backing plate he had made many years ago for a project he never completed. I took the cylinder and backing plate to a local machine shop for an evaluation of of the machining needed.

  The machinist showed me what had to be done and I realized it would take several weeks making special tools or I would have to spend a lot of money buying the special tooling to convert the cylinder. I decided it was too time consuming to personally modify the cylinder unless requests come in from my readers to actually show the cylinder conversion process.

  I didn't have my camera when the cylinder was done, but I learned a lot about how to create the special tools needed to machine the cylinder. I would not want to make all of these tools unless I was going to modify several cylinders and may make them for some future Remington projects.

  We started by drawing some diagrams, doing a lot of measuring, and doing a lot of calculations. Everything was checked several times. When we were satisfied with the measurements and the plan, we went to the lathe and the machinist cut a guide bushing for the inside of the chambers. The outside diameter of the guide bushing was machined to slip inside each chamber from the open end. He then drilled a pilot hole down the center of the bushing using the tailpiece chuck on the lathe to perfectly center the hole.

  The machinist used the arbor hole of the cylinder to bolt the it to a steel plate with the open chambers up to keep it from moving out of alignment as drilling is done. He used a pilot drill and drilled a hole down the middle of each chamber as a guide for a future operation.

  With the pilot hole in each chamber, he turned the chamber over and bolted it back down to the steel plate with the guide bushing still in one of the chambers. The assembly was moved to a drill press where a special drill bit was used to cut the base relief.

Figure 5

  This drill set was custom made for an old project and was made up of hollow drills with a guide pin installed down the center of the drill. The guide pin goes down through the pilot hole that was just drilled and into the guide bushing to prevent the drill from flexing as it is pushed down to cut the relief for the base of the cartridge.

  After using a drill that was the proper diameter of a .45 colt cartridge base, we had our relief for the cartridge base, but it had the taper that matches the point of the special drill. After each chamber was completed, a drill of the same diameter that looked like an old end mill was used to clean up the hole and make it flat.

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 This left us with a hole that a .45 cartridge could be slid down backwards and it was time to hone the cylinders to their new diameter. A reamer was selected after a quick call to a gunsmith to learn the proper diameter of a .45 chamber. This was a pretty straightforward operation that was done with a reamer in a drill press to size each chamber to the proper diameter. He used a lot of cutting fluid to keep the cutter cool.

  We could now insert a cartridge down the rear of the cylinder, but it stopped about a half inch down the hole where the cartridge will seat itself when we were finished. It was time for the last operation, which was to remove the metal down to the cartridge base relief to provide a place for the backing plate to sit.

  We chucked the cylinder into a lathe and started cutting from right to left to remove the material from where the nipples used to be and down to expose the cartridge relief. Because of the critical nature of this operation, we assembled the gun and checked the fit with some blank casings and found we had not provided much play for cartridges. I decided to leave it the way we were since it will prevent the cylinder from turning with even a slightly high primer. Additional headspace can be added in the future by shaving just a little bit off the front of the cylinder if needed.

Figure 6

  Figure 5 shows the completed cylinder that was photographed about a week after the test firing of the revolver. Some rust and discoloration can be seen in the chamber and needs to be addressed.

Figure 6 shows the cylinder with the donated backing plate sitting in its proper position. The fit in the frame of the gun is tight, but it works very well and I was pleased with the results.

  There was a problem that did develop from a step we forgot in the machining diagrams we made. We forgot to machine the front of the cylinder slightly smaller than the rear to align the bullet with the forcing cone.

  We should have reamed the chamber to the size of the bullet and then cut a larger diameter rear chamber to the size for the cartridge. This gives us a chamber that is about .025 larger than the bullet. Will this be a show stopper? No. I already know that it will work.

  Next month we will cut the loading port, test fire the gun, look at screwing the backing plate to the standing breech, and work on making the loading gate.

Mohave Gambler

Hot tip--

If you are like me, you are tired of polishing the brass trigger guard from your 58 Remington revolvers. After several years of trying to keep that part clean and polished, I finally tossed one into my vibrator brass cleaner and it came out nice and shiny.