View Full Version : What is a lubricant?

11-19-2005, 10:53 PM
Walked into Kittery Trading Post a few weeks ago with $300 in cash in my pocket - you know there's trouble brewing when you do that. Looked around- wait a minute, there's a Zouave in unfired condition - .58 caliber of course - and its a commemorative replica, 150th anniversary of Massachusetts Rifle Club with a medallion in the stock, made by Zoli in Italy. - It went home with me, the money stayed at KTP.
My experience with Civil War rifles dates to 50 years ago when as a teenager, a friend had the loan of two .577 Enfields to play with. Went so far as to buy a Lyman mould 575213 Minie ball mould for them. Still have the mould, so why not buty the rifle to fit.
I cast some Minie balls, but they don't fit. Run about .581, too large to easily fit in the bore.
Decided to order a custom die to size the Minies, settled on .572 - Lee will make you a custom die for $25, so also ordered a Lee Minie mould. Fortuitously there also appeared on ebay Minie moulds for three different bullets - a light wad-cutter 575387, a medium wad-cutter 575602, and a heavy round nose 57730. Managed to win all three. So now the moulds are in hand, and I try to size the bullets in the.572 push-though die, with a suitable lube. A friend said he had good shooting results using Crisco, so I tried some on the bullets. No go - bullets won't go through the die. then tried liquid alox - no go.
Tried some lard also - no go. The original Minie would stick so tight the base of the bullet - the skirt - expanded like a mushroom.
Then this morning tried some of my old bullet lubricant, which is simply 2/3 beef tallow, 1/3 beeswax. Bingo! all bullets slipped through the die without any stuck bullets. So the question is - what is it that is allowing those bullets to slip through with minimal effort? Must be the beeswax. Can't imagine that beef tallow is much different fom lard, so it is simply providing a vehical for the beeswax.
Haven't shot any of these yet, but I sized a bunch and am ready now to go to the range.

11-19-2005, 11:29 PM
26 charlie
To get the best results in that Zolie you need to have that minne .001-.002 under bore dia. The italian repops dore dia runs all over the place.I have seen them run .572 up to .584. I size mine with a custom die in a lubersizer.
S&S firearms or Lodgewood has them. I never needed to lube my minnes to get them through the sizer. Them Lee minne moulds cast a real thin skirt.Make sure the base cavity is prefect.Any wrinkle here may lead to a blown skirt.That piece stays stuck in breech and you may never know.
Some people lube the base cavity,some just the grouves,some both.
Most lubes with 40-60% beesway will work well
Give us a range report.

11-20-2005, 12:51 AM
Ah, Kittery....definitely a dangerous place to go with money in one's pocket. My ex used to make me give her my wallet every time we went there, so I learned quickly to remove the plastic before I left the house and put it in a different pocket. She tells me that there's enough showroom in that place to keep a shopper happy for a week, but you know, in all the years I've been going to KTP I've never made it past the guns & shooting supplies section. Every day is shooter's Christmas there, and Santa packs a .44 I betcha!
But I digress, sometimes excessively. Shooter575 has it right. Until you're sure of your bore size, you could end up buying a LOT of molds and sizers that will be useless to you. There is so much variation in the bore sizes of those rifles that they should be stamped ".58 caliber, possible". [smilie=f: It might be easier first to go round ball and vary the patch thickness. I heard a story (unconfirmed) about one guy who was so disgusted that he shoots carboard wads and birdshot out of his. Then again, you might just drive up 16 to Rochester and check out TC's custom shop if all else fails. One can never have too many Contender barrels, either....

11-20-2005, 09:23 AM
...........26Charlie, well shame! I could have made you a push through for $12 and it wouldn't have taken 3 weeks!

I don't know why one would have worked over the other in getting that Minie' up through the die. I'm sure it's possible that different animal fats have more or less the same stuff, but possibly in different quantities? Maybe there are different enzymes or chemical variations? If you look at what was used for Minie', ball, or cartridge boolit lube in the BP era it was all mostly an animal fat.

Here's a real quick and dirty lube comparison I did one day. Yes the one on the left did have one get away up there a bit high. In addition to lube, like Shooter575 mentioned, you'll have to find out WHERE the rifle wants it. My P58 2 Band Enfield cannot abide it on the sides of the slug in the grease grooves. It wants it in the base cavity.

This brings up another thing. Quality and quantity. If I'm shooting a slug with a generous cavity that will hold a lot of lube, like the Lee 505gr I can get by with some pretty good shooting for awile with just Crisco. It WILL evetually foul, but after maybe 20-25 shots. If I was to use a slug like the Lyman 566gr P-H with it's much smaller cavity, Crisco would give me maybe only 5-6 shots.

With that Minie' I have to use something like Bore Butter or Wonder Lube. It's an expensive waste to use that lube with a big base cavity, being as Crisco is so cheap so I will mix the 2 sometimes.

Speaking of Zouaves, this is one I bought about 1969 and made or imported by an outfit called CIE. A REAL El Cheapo thing. I like the looks of the artillery and cavalry carbines so decided to scrabble one up. That noseband is from a M48 Yugo :D and it's on there backwards but it doesn't look too bad.

It has a stock made of Birch and has a 2 piece butt like the Jap Arisakas. Yet it shoots well beyond what you'd expect from it's humble origins. It's really a very nice shooter.


11-20-2005, 11:31 AM
26Charlie, Ditto what others said about the KTP! As for BP bullet lubes, you can't argue with the price & availability of Crisco, but it doesn't "dissolve" powder residue as a proper BP lube will. It just keeps it soft. For Minie- & Maxi-Balls, T/C, Ox-Yoke, et al., BP lubes are quite good, but pricey and some think they're mostly Crisco anyway. Btw, Ox-yoke makes (made?) a BP stick lube for use in a lube-sizer (got several sticks at the KTP). Felix Lube will work, but Emmert's is better and very easy (easier than Felix Lube) to concoct. Here's a recipe:

50% beeswax (by volume)
40% white Crisco (by volume)
10% Canola oil (by volume)

This lube is soft enough to apply by hand or run through a lube-sizer. Btw, I used toilet seals instead of beeswax because I had plenty of the former and none of the latter on hand and it works quite well.

11-20-2005, 09:59 PM
Thanks for the info, all.
My intent with the .572 sizer is to be able to load and shoot even when fouled bore makes it difficult. I tried the bullets in the (clean) bore before I ordered the sizer, and the .575 ones would barely go - the .580 one would have to be hammered in with a starter, not the intent of the Minie. I've also got some .562 round balls, to be shot with greased patch.
The sights are not good enough to do target work with, anyway.
Buckshot - that's anice looking rifle and bullet. What mould is that, not a Lyman as far as I know.

11-21-2005, 09:01 AM
............26Charlie, that Minie' mould came from Maven. I've had it now 4 years or so? The mould was made by Challanger which was an outfit I'd never heard of. It looks very much like a Raphine mould. Neat looking slug, eh? It casts eight at .580" which is perfect for the Enfield but has to be sized to .575" for the Zouave.

You might want to look into a Lee REAL. Th emain attraction for me is twofold. Fist is being a solid base they cast fast and 2 cavity moulds are available. The 2nd is that they're nicely accurate. In the Enfield's .580" bore you have to thump the slug with the palm of your hand to get it all the way into the barrel (designed that way).

The tighter Zouave requires that I use a starter to get them all the way in. You might want to investigate them. The only negative is in lubing, as that can be a bit messy.


11-22-2005, 03:50 PM
26Charlie Like Buckshot said for casual plinking about any greasy lube will work. I shoot N-SSA comp.We shoot rapid fire 5 minute events.So I need to be able to get off 15-16 rounds with out wiping the bore. That type of shooting on a hot day will try any lube.Crisco will just melt as your are loading #10 or so. To shoot in my game you need to have a stiffer lube.Mine is stiffer than SPG. Needs to be a beeswax base with somthing greasy added. Usualy 50-60% wax. I have used Crisco,Oils,[olive,canola,neetsfoot,lard,I know some that swear by Mobile 1 synethic. Looking for lube in a custom rifle I build some years age is what brought to this bunch yahoos on the old shooter.com board.
What I use now is 50% beeswax 25% lanolin and 25% neetsfoot oil.In cold weather below 35 I make it just a bit softer ie 5% more oil.
Here arr some pics of that 55 brass mounted rifle I built


Here are some of the minne moulds I have aquired also


11-22-2005, 11:21 PM
Shooter575 - nice looking rifle - I particularly like the sight. The Zoli just has the 3 flip-up V-notch leaves, rather primitive. Also, the lock looks like a Maynard-type tape primer lock?

11-24-2005, 02:08 AM
Was reading up a post on another site that used Deer and or Bear fat to beeswax 60-40 to 50-50. the process is a bit long in the making but from what I read it is a killer lube.

11-24-2005, 08:48 AM
26Charlie When the army changed to the .58 cal in 1855 they were all made for the maynard tape primer.It was a failure in the field so it was droped in 1861.Maynard primed weapons could use standard musket caps so that is what was issued. The sight on that one is the long range version.Used on some early production models.Later ones used the 1858 sight that is basicly what your Zouave has.
Some sulters are selling blank replacement leaves for you to file and drill away. I like a straight noch on one leif with a peep drilled the other. I have some pics somewhere I will post

DwarvenChef Some critter fat goes rancid so how long you store it makes a diffrence.The bear is OK I seem to recall. Deer not so ok over time. I know that the beeswax/oil combo will last for years with out going rancid.

11-25-2005, 07:30 PM
A gunshop where I go occasionally happened to have a GH&I .580 lube die for the 475213 Minie ball - I glommed on to it and gave the .572 Minies a shot of my 1/3 beeswax, 2/3 tallow lube. I also made a board to hold them - just took a 3/4 forstner bit and drilled some flat-bottom holes for them, into which I put them after they were lubed.
Seems like a lot of getting ready has been required for this gun, not to have shot it yet. Well, tomorrow I'll try to get to the range with all the stuff. Musket caps, five varieties of sized & lubed minie ball, round ball with patches, and a couple grades of powder.
What do you civil war buffs do for cartridges? make some out of newspaper?

As to animal fat, I believe it melts at different temps too - pork (lard) lowest, then beef tallow, then mutton fat, then deer fat although I haven't seen any deer yet this season to see if they are fat or not.

11-26-2005, 12:24 AM
We are not allowed to use paper down bore[fire hazzard] Most skirmishers use plastic caplugs [tube]as a cartage to hold powder and ball.They last forever and it is fast loading.They take up about the same space as orgional type paper cartridges in your cartridge box.They store nice in a MTM shotshell box also. Pic is of .69 roundball load but works the same for conicalsThey come is diffrent sizes. PM me your address and I can send ya some .http://img.photobucket.com/albums/1003/shooter575/RBs.jpg
You should check n-ssa.net home page for info on shooting C/W guns.They have a BB there also

11-27-2005, 09:35 AM
..........Yeah, Jim sent me some of those rubber cartridge dealie's some time back. I have yet to use them for such, but I did stick one on the leadscrew reversing lever on my lathe :D Looks good and sure keeps your fingers from slipping!


12-04-2005, 09:28 PM
Less than sterling, so far. It was about 25 degrees F. and a few snowflakes falling.
I managed to load a minie ball without powder charge, and had to take the nipple out and dribble some powder in, which expelled the ball. I had a couple of hangfires and a misfire which went on the second cap.
Tried to shoot 3-shot groups at 100 yards. Used 60 grains of triple-F for most bullets and the balls, 70 grains with the two heaviest bullets - 575213 and 57730.
The round patched ball put two shots 4 inches apart and the third lost off the cardboard, but they were about 3 1/2 feet above point of aim with the lowest sight picture I could see.
The other groups with the minie balls would put two somewhere near the point of aim, maybe a foot or 18 inches apart, and the third shot lost. The best seemed to be the 575213 with 70 grains, two quite near the sights and the third lost. The 57730 I only tried with 70 grains, and all three were lost. What do I mean by lost? I was using a cardboard panel three feet wide and six feet tall with an SR 100 yard target in the center of it.
I fired twenty shots altogether without cleaning, and the loading went OK with the lubed .572 minies and the patched (crisco lube) round balls. I could see using the 575213/70 gr. load for deer next week, and do a reasonably fast reload in case the shot goes awry. (Always wanted to use "awry" in a sentence.)
I have yet to get what I consider a decent group with all the shots, but then twenty shots is not a lot of experience yet with the gun. I took along the .458 Mag and shot a three shot group so I could tell if it was me or the gun, and got a nice group I'll put on another thread.

12-05-2005, 08:17 AM
...........26Charlie, well at least you started! If it was perfect from the first, where would the fun be in that, HA!? For truly fine accuracy I would suggest either scaling or testing the Minie'. By testing I mean to take a jeweler's file and poking the base of the cavity. You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) at the void that could be hiding just under (or over, depending upon your frame of referance) behind a thin lead cover.

A friend told me once he fired a round and someting hit the ground right in front of his 50 yard target and bounced up onto the 100 yard berm. What he found was a hollow tube of lead. The remains of a Minie' with the center blown out. He said it was obvious there'd been a big void. I've never had one THAT big, but I've found a few that were surprising.

Further, the skirts of the Minie' must be sized to 'just' slide down the bore. I don't know which Lyman 575213 you were shooting but none of them have overly sturdy skirts. Maybe your charge of 60grs of 3FG was too much and you were blowing skirts at the muzzle?

I really like the Lyman slug above.

The mould design is such that you can drop the core pin to cast a heavier Minie'.

Two targets shot at 50 yards using the modified 575611 at 624grs.

As you work at it in finding out what your rifle wants it is very gratifying to see it start to come together.

If you haven't had the barrel out of the stock, you might do that to make sure it or the bands aren't causing it to bind anywhere. The bolster also shouldn't be resting hard on the lockplate. The breechtang should be well fitted into the stock. With the bands off, lay the barrel into the stock and tighten the tangscrew. If the muzzle wants to lift, it needs to be tweaked. Ditto if it tries to pull the end of the stock up against the barrel.