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Do you think I can harden this?

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  • Do you think I can harden this?

    Anyone know if a chrome-vanadium steel socket can be hardened by oil or water quenching after doing some "rework" to it??

    I ground a slot across the flats (on business end) to create a type of "spanner socket" and want to harden the "ears" to make them less susceptable to bending. I don't want to harden them so much that they break like glass. Just sufficient to make it a little tougher to bend.

    Problem.........A friend has this black powder pistol with a stuck primer nipple in one cylinder. Actually all six nipples were stuck, but he managed to remove all but one, but in the process destroyed 2 of the "removal tools" that he bought for the task. They cost him about $10 each and he'd rather not invest in too many more. He has a 3rd that he wants to use to put the nipples back in after he cleans the pistol, but didn't want to chance tearing it up.

    The original nipples were apparently installed too tightly at the factory.

    Seems these removal tools are a mild steel and can't take too much torque without distorting/bending the tabs on the side. He tried straightening the
    bent tabs and heated them (cherry red......he said) and quenched them in oil but they wouldn't harden. Just stayed soft.

    I offered to try and make a "tool" for him, but I don't have any drill rod the correct size or I'd use that.

    I thought that a small 3/16" hex socket "modified" might work.

    The nipple has 2 flats on opposite sides of a round base (flats are 3/16 wide). Below is a photo showing nipple, damaged removal tool, and the modified socket that I made.

    Just need to find out if I should be able to harden the socket in the area that I cut. I'm sure it's not hardened now, as I was able to use a file on the slotted area to clean it up a little. The outside is chromed, so that was fairly hard, but once I got past that, it was pretty soft.


    Last edited by RPease; 01-17-2009, 06:32 PM.

  • #2
    Do a spark test and see if you have hardenable steel. More important when you put the nipples back use a heavy grease or never seize on the threads. The black powder residue and time tends to lock them up. Then each time it is cleaned remove the nipples and re-coat.



    • #3
      If it is really a chrome-vanadium steel socket it is most likely very hard already. Gary P. Hansen
      In memory of Marine Engineer Paul Miller who gave his life for his country 7-19-2010 Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Freedom is not free, it is paid for with blood.


      • #4
        Sockets aren't all that hard. You don't want one to shatter while you're using it. They're very tough and a good high-tensile steel. If you use a good brand of socket and don't overheat it while cutting it, it will be miles better than that plain low-carbon wrench. I wouldn't try to harden it any further than it is already. If you want to harden one of those commercial nipple wrenches, you'd have to case harden with Kasenit. Doesn't have enough carbon to just heat and quench.


        • #5
          I'll try the spark test and see. I also told the guy to use anti-seez. It certainly can't hurt.

          As far as the socket being Chrome-Vanadium........It's a Japanese socket with C-V on the side. I took that as Chrome-Vanadium......but it could easily stand for Cheese-Vegetable . Once I got through the chrome and (I presume) case hardened layer, it cut reasonably well with a jewelers file. Their good quality files (got them from an old retired jeweler friend....he didn't buy cheap tools), I'm hoping that means something.

          My slot is a good snug fit on the nipple sides. That should help Only needs to work on 1 piece, so we'll see........

          I kind of figured that the nipple wrench was a low carbon steel. My files cut through it like butter. Much easier than on the socket.

          Thank you all for the help..............Rodg


          • #6
            Re: Nipple Wrench Idea

            RPease...Just a thought here. If you make a steel sleve to fit over the commercial nipple wrench, that you can slide down over the nipple while you are putting tension on it, It should keep the jaws from flexing. I know that there is not much clearance but even a sleve with a 30-40 thou thickness might be enough to do the trick. I have a replica of a Remmington 1858 New Model Army cap and ball that has the same nipple arrangement.

            Good luck
            Jim (KB4IVH)

            Only fools abuse their tools.


            • #7
              Sounds like a possible approach Jim. I'll mention it to the guy if he can't get the nipple out.

              I gave him the socket today so I'll probably find out tomorrow how it worked. I also reworked the original (damaged) wrench, so he'll have a spare. He told me that the "fit" on the socket and repaired wrench was much better than the original. That might explain why they didn't work too well. Sort of like using the wrong size screwdriver on a screw. If they fit well they usually work better.

              I gave him 1 more option. Since I made a "socket" tool, I gave him an impact driver to try (if all else failed). Sometimes a sudden impact in conjuction with a rotation (CCW) will loosen stuck screws. Hopefully he makes sure that the cylinder is well supported and protected when he tries the impact tool.



              • #8
                +1 on the sleeve idea

                those nipples are designed to be easy to turn with an open end wrench but no way one will ever reach. If they just put hexes on them with room for a socket life would be so much nicer :-)

                The angles are such that they will want to spring any kind of socket arrangement and a sleeve will help to prevent that. Make it as thick-walled as you can. Use lots of penetrating oil and let it work for a while...right now the tool is the weakest point, but the threads could be the next.