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Old 11-11-2011, 10:57 AM   #1
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What to do?

A friend has shown me an old black powder Colt revolver. When he described it to me I thought it was an 1851 navy, but it turns out that it's a .31 caliber Model 1849 Pocket Pistol. Condition is rough, but appears basically complete and original. Date of manufacture is before the Civil War.

The question is, why doesn't the cylinder turn? I have the gun on loan, for examination on behalf of an estate. I reluctantly and gingerly opened it up, and I found to my surprise that the hand spring is intact -- but there's nothing making the hand move up when the hammer is cocked. I've never been inside one of these old guns before but, based on looking at schematics of the 1851 Navy, I'm guessing that the hand has a pin or rod that mounts into a hole in the lower part of the hammer body. If that's correct, the hand pin has sheared off at the interface with the hammer, which allows the hammer to rotate without moving the hand.

Assuming all this is correct -- would a hand for an 1851 Navy (clone) fit the 1849 Pocket Pistol? Is there another way to repair this problem other than replacing the hand?

Perhaps most important -- given the age and condition of the gun, should the broken hand be repaired or replaced, or is the gun more valuable in its current (non-functioning) original condition?

The pistol:













Thank you for your wisdom.
 
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:28 PM   #2
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Replacement hand and spring assemblies are available for the 1849, and I'd go for one specifically made for it, not the 1851 which may be different.

I suspect that most are Italian made replicas, but should be usable with fitting and adjusting.
It's possible some are genuine Colt original parts.

Colt 1849 Pocket

Also try Dixie Gun Works.

If the pin is broken, it's possible a new pin could be riveted in place.

As to whether the gun would be worth more or less if repaired with a replacement part, that's debatable.
Guns are valued by how much original finish is remaining and whether it's in working condition.
Assuming yours is in 10% original condition the value would be around $500.
 
Old 11-11-2011, 06:04 PM   #3
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Many thanks. I'm amazed that the part is still available. I have e-mailed the estate's representative and asked if he'd like me to order the part for him. Should be interesting if he decides to repair it.

Thank you again.
 
 
Old 12-22-2011, 09:12 PM   #4
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The part came in. The pin had to be sanded down a smidge to fit, but the cylinder now functions. I'm still going to return it with a strong recommendation NOT to fire it, but it's nice to see it spinning around on command.

Thanks, gents.
 
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