Field Stripping the 1849 Revolver

The disassembly for cleaning starts by removing the barrel wedge. A tap with a brass or wood hammer will push it to the left for removal. The wedge is tapered along its width and acts to push the barrel back toward the frame. Too tight, and the cylinder won't rotate. Too loose and the power of the gunpowder is allowed to leak away.

Cleaning was vital. Gunpowder leaves a corrosive residue on the gun. The soot gets everywhere and quickly will jam the weapon. Most commonly, the cylinder and barrel were boiled, swabbed, and then oiled. Eventually the action needed cleaning too.
Three big partsThree big parts

Looking at the barrel assembly from behind, we see the wedge pushed all the way to the left. The large hole under the barrel receives the cylinder pin. The loading lever has been pushed down and we see the ramrod pushing towards us. Its surface has a rounded depression that centers the bullet for ramming into the cylinder. Rear view, barrel assemblyRear view, barrel assembly
The side view shows how the ramrod is pushed backwards by the loading lever. This example is missing the loading lever latch that normally keeps the lever from dropping down when the gun is in use. Loading lever actionLoading lever action
With the barrel removed, the slot in the cylinder pin is visible. When assembled, the wedge passes through the slot and presses the barrel assembly backwards toward the cylinder. Cylinder on frameCylinder on frame
Sliding the cylinder forward, we are left with the cylinder pin fully exposed. The pin is grooved to retain lubrication for the cylinder. Notice also the bad fit between the grip parts in this example. This is because of the marriage between several guns. Although Colt was mass-producing, the parts still had individual fitting and variations, even within the same year of manufacture. Cylinder pinCylinder pin
Looking into the frame we can see the relationship between pin, frame, and hammer. The opening in the long part of the frame is for the cylinder bolt. View of frameView of frame
The back of the cylinder shows the teeth that are engaged by the hand to move the cylinder. The protruding nipples receive the percussion caps when the gun is loaded. Cylinder, rearCylinder, rear
The front of the fluted cylinder shows the chambers that receive gunpowder and bullet. Cylinder, frontCylinder, front

Next - Grip and Frame