Friday, September 20, 2013

The Carving of a Full size Replica of an 1861 Remington Cap and Ball Revolver – Part 2

Making the Cylinder
Unless you have access to a lathe, making the Cylinder is liable to be the most difficult portion of the project.  It is “carve-able” but getting it round will require some real effort.

Once the cylinder was turned, I took a strip of paper that was as long as the circumference of the cylinder and subdivided it into 6 equal parts.  I wrapped the paper around the cylinder and marked the locations of the 6 chambers on 60˚ spacing. 

I drilled out the chambers, flipped it over and drilled the percussion cap “pockets”.    I drilled a 3/16” diameter into the center of each of pockets and glued a short piece of 3/16 dowel into each hole.  This results in a reasonably good looking percussion cap “nipple”.

A couple words of advice on how to hold the cylinder steady so that you can drill the holes.  

·         Unless you have a very steady hand, I would not try this without a drill press.
·         I recommend using a brad-point drill bit.
·         Drill a ¼” hole in a piece of scrap lumber and insert a short length of dowel rod.
This will ensure that the cylinder will remain vertical while you drill.
·         I wrapped a small rubber strap wrench around the body of the cyilnder
       to prevent the cylinder from moving while I drilled.

Making the Barrel

I recently read a tip that I used in the laying out of the barrel.  While the grain runs generally in the direction of the barrel’s length, I didn’t cutout exactly along grain line.  The reason for this is that it is very difficult to carve a straight line directly along the grain because the grain is constantly trying to align your cut with the grain.  This can result in a very crooked line.  By intentionally skewing the centerline slightly away from the grain line you retain most of the strength without being a slave to the grain direction.

I turned the “threaded” portion of the barrel (i.e. the part that “screws into the frame”) between centers taking great care to make that portion straight, smooth and true.  I turned a few grooves in the last 3/8” or so this portion to simulate the threads on the barrel.  Make them as small and close together as you can.

I next chucked up the barrel in a vise and drilled the “bore hole” of the barrel.  You don’t want to drill very deep because that will just weaken the barrel.   I went about 1” deep so that when it is painted black it “appears” to go the whole way through.  

I shaped the four major sides of the barrel first, and then attacked each of the corners until all 8 sides were uniform.  Note there is a slight taper to the barrel.  I used a small wood plane to shape the barrel partly because I could and I knew it would be the quickest, truest way to shape it but mostly because there is something truly magical about using a plane. That “shhhhhhwock” sound it makes as you draw it along and that paper thin curl of wood that shoots out makes planning a truly satisfying experience.  If you’ve never done it before try it!  

Making the Trigger and guard

Although it could have been left as part of the overall frame, I intentionally left the trigger guard a separate piece.  The reason I chose to do this is sort of historical.  When I carved the rifle, I found that I could make it look much more realistic by carving each “assembly” and letting it into the stock as a gunsmith would have done.    

Cut the piece out and drill through between the trigger and the guard.  It is attached both at the top and bottom to inhibit its being snapped off due to rough handling.  

The only other advisory is to ensure that the upper surface of the trigger guard and the lower surface of the frame are both flat so that they glue together well.  I didn’t worry too much about hiding the seam because the trigger guard will be painted antique brass and retaining the seam will make that easier to accomplish.

Carving the Hammer

There is not much to say about this.  I cut out the entire hammer from a piece of ~1/4” thick basswood.  However, with the grain running up and down there is not much strength in the hammer and it could possibly break off with even normal handling.  So before running to the bandsaw, I drilled a 1/8" hole into the hammer from the rearmost tip of the of the hammer and glued a 1/8" dowel rod.  Once the glue had dried, I cut out the piece and carved and sanded it to final shape.

Carving and Installing the Loading Lever

Since this was a cap and ball revolver and because the cylinder lies within the frame of the revolver during loading, it was necessary for Remington (Colt did it, too) to make provision for an internal “ramrod” to compress the ball into place over the black powder.  The ramrod is operated by the loading lever located beneath the barrel.  Rotating the loading lever down and to the rear forces the ramrod it against the ball of the cylinder chamber oriented behind it.  

This is one place where the replica had to make serious deviation from reality.  The just wasn’t room within the revolver’s frame to allow for the loading lever, the ramrod and the tiny linkage to connect them. So, the linkage and the ramrod were omitted – you really wouldn’t be able to see them very well anyway.  I couldn't make a "real" catch to hold the loading lever up but I did provide for the loading lever to move and then be locked back in place under the barrel.  I located some very tiny neodymium magnets (.050 in diameter and .050 long) on the Internet and inset one into the underside of the barrel and another into the top surface of the loading lever.  When returned to the “fully upright and locked position”, the lever literally snaps into position.  If you chose to use this technique, make sure that you maintain the proper North-South orientations for the two magnets or your loading lever will never lock in place but will fly open every time you attempt to close it:-).

End of Part 2

No comments: