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ralph h
Posted - 07/05/2004 : 6:34:11 PM
Greetings, Gentlemen,

Time again to post results of my last antique revolver restoration. It is an 1854 Lefaucheux. The logo and low serial number (LF 5889) tells me it was made in France and a few years before our Civil War. Have no idea how it got here.

Ordinarily, my area of interest is in the very early, large caliber, centerfire revolvers of European pursuasion. Why the pinfire, you ask? Sometime during the useful life of this revolver, it was modified to use either pinfire and/or centerfire cartridges. Thinking this is somewhat unusual, I decided this would be my next project.

Like most of the other antique revolvers I have acquired, this one needed a lot of work to bring it back into reliable service.
Short make list:
All new screws (except one)
New cylinder stop
New main spring
New main spring contact roller and shaft in hammer
Recut loading and full cock notches in hammer
New trigger
New hand spring and rework hand
Straighten grip frame
Straighten trigger guard
New ebony grip panels
Tapered shim to align barrel to frame

The tender loving care being executed, my attention was turned to making cartridges for the old girl.

The cylinder was recessed for a thick rim centerfire, though not as thick as the 12 mm Perrin. Sorting through my choices of modern brass to use, I found the perfect case. Enter the 45 auto rim.

For the centerfire all I had to do was shorten the case to .690". With 13 gr. fffg Goex and the same .452-230 gr. RN swaged bullet that I use for the .450 Adams, there is slight powder compression with the crimp at top of lube groove. Give 490 fps velocity and I can use my 450 Adams dies with a 45 auto rim shellholder.

For the pinfire I use the 45 auto rim case. Lathe turned the rim down to the bottom of the primer pocket. Silver brazed the flash hole shut, and faced off flat with a slight chamfer on the edge of base. Shortened case to .690". h/200475181322_45 auto rim cases.jpg
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For the pin guide I used PVC rod cut into discs, .430" diameter,.175" thick, slightly tapered. Cut a "V" notch in circumference. This, when pressed into the case, will position the the pin and hold the percussion cap. Once the guide is in place, the case goes to the drill jig to be drilled for pin. The hole is .082" diameter. The pin is made of .0815" diameter brass, .562" long, radiused on one end. h/20047518172_Components.jpg
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Drill jig. Long plastic piece on left positions percussion cap notch at 6: 0'clock. h/200475182017_Drill Jig.jpg
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Looking into mouth of case. Location of components. h/200475182248_View in Case.jpg
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The percussion cap is inserted into guide notch and pin is firmly pushed into case with radiused end in cap. Charged with 13 gr. fffg Goex and same .452-230 bullet, crimped at top of lube groove. Chronographed at 490 fps velocity. h/200475182641_Pin Handloads.jpg
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Now I am ready to target.

The old revolver is as smooth as silk, and functions perfectly. The target was set at 40 feet, chrono at 20 feet.

Cylinder was loaded alternately with pinfire and centerfire. Shot a total of 36 rounds. At about number 24 the cylinder rotation got a little stiff. A couple drops of Hoppes #9 plus on the cylinder arbor freed it right up. h/200475182935_Lefaucheux 1.jpg
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The target has 12 rounds through it. 6 pin, 6 center. h/200475183229_Lefaucheux.jpg
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I wish I could find the words to describe the joy and satisfaction I feel each time I bring back to life one of these old guns.

Thank you all for your indulgence.

Posted - 07/05/2004 : 8:36:14 PM
Very informative well thoughtout post! Thanks for the info.

Sgt Neutron
Posted - 07/07/2004 : 08:33:45 AM
Beautiful job!! Especially the pinfire cartridges. Made this a "sticky" so it'll stay at the top of the forum to highlight the hard work & craftsmanship you put into it. Again, EXCELLENT work!

Posted - 07/07/2004 : 11:47:05 AM
ralph: very nice, you are a true artist. mark

Posted - 08/14/2004 : 6:48:44 PM
Great job Ralph. I always love to see your work. Thanks to Sgt Nuetron for making this a sticky.

Posted - 08/28/2004 : 08:55:33 AM
You inspire me, good work Ralph, rcb.

Joe Turner
Posted - 01/29/2005 : 9:39:17 PM
Just browsing this forum and saw your work. What a beautiful job and the work and skill that went into the cartridges is nothing less than fantastic. what craftsmanship. You have every right to be proud and siplay your work. My own restoratio work is a bit more common but I know how you must feel when uyou have not only saved another old firrearm from the scrap heap or parts bin but make it shoot again! Bravo! Joe Turner

Posted - 11/30/2005 : 09:37:39 AM
Hi Ralph,
My compliments for the great restauration. Just two questions

- how did you fix the percussion cap and the pin into the shellcase? How are they held in place?

Second question - did you silver braze the flash-hole with hardsolder or did you use a piece of brass to solder into the flashhole?

Hope to hear from you!

ralph h
Posted - 11/30/2005 : 9:10:16 PM
Greetings, Hopster,

When the guide is bottomed out in the case, the "V" notch closes to some degree. The .082" hole is drilled through the case and the guide. The percussion cap fits tightly in the notch. The radiused end of the pin is pushed through the case, guide, and into the open end of the cap, pushing firmly so cap is solid against inner wall of case. The pin is held tightly by the pvc guide, as the drilled hole in the pvc guide is actually smaller than pin. Upon firing, I experienced no gas leakage around pin.

The flash hole was brazed shut with 45% silver brazing rod, and black flux. Bonding temperature is about 1100 degrees F. For all practical purposes, the bottom of the case is solid.

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Posted - 12/02/2005 : 03:36:38 AM
very nice. you've done a remarkable job.
now THAT'S what restoration is all about

Posted - 12/05/2005 : 2:14:19 PM
Hi Ralph,

I was looking through my toolshed today and found a solid rod of brass. Had a diameter of around 11,5 mm. So I cut off a piece, turned it to a correct diameter (11 mm), drilled a 9,5 mm hole in leaving a 7 mm thick bottom, neckturned the inside. Then took a 4 mm drill and drilled and asymetical guide notch in the bottom, 4 mm deep. Made a makeshift drill jig and drilled a 0,75 mm hole from the top into the guide notch. Percussion cap just fits in the guide notch. A small thin brass rod of 0,8 mm as pin. Testfired the darn thing and it works just fine!

Now I'll have to try it on the firing range. Gotta get me some bullets first though!

Posted - 08/29/2006 : 12:13:02 PM
Congratulation for this pinfire work.
I am a french man, I Propose you too sea that:

Posted - 09/04/2006 : 11:48:58 AM

Very interesting reloading equipment.

Nice to see there enough commercial interest to build things like this.

143 Posts
Ok, I am new to this forum, but I had to do a lot of research on pinfires in general for a writing project a while back. If you look around online, you will find a company out of Belgium that makes pinfire cases, pins and bullets. They used to sell on ebay, but, well we all know what happened there. Check under pinfires at some of the gun auction sites. I picked up a set of each caliber to experiment with. Now I just have to find a revolver...

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