View Full Version : B/P Reloading Equipment

05-25-2006, 01:57 PM
I was recently upbraided for using a Lyman Measure for dropping charges. It seems that my Lyman is suppose to be dangerous to use with black powder. I got this measure from my father in law who ought it back in the 40's and the instructions say "For Black or Smokeless Powders". I also use a Ideal Universal made in the 1890's, and this is cast steel and brass.
Where do some of these cautions come from. Why for example is a plastic powder measure a STATIC danger and the plastic jug the powder comes in is not? Why is my cast iron and brass measure that was MADE for black powder in 1890 now too dangerous to use. Has anyone ever tried to set off powder with a static charge? I tried with a taser and you can't get plain B/P to ignite even with an inch long blue spark. My main concern here is that we, by exaggerating the dangers, are disuading youg folk from getting involved. I don't have any problem with taking apropriate safety measures, but some of the stuff I see in print nowdays is going a little far. My daughter in law doesn't want her kids to play in our house because of "all the lead". Hell, I grew up playing with lead soldiers that my grandfather had and now they are too dangerous for my grandkids to touch?

05-25-2006, 02:12 PM
Mostly lawyering. I wouldn't hesitate to use a good quality measure for black powder such as the Lyman 55. It should be well made and tight to keep from dribbling the fines. A plastic hopper can have the static largely eliminated by washing with a liquid soap and letting it dry without rinsing. Getting a powerful enough spark from a plastic hopper to ignite powder just isn't going to happen. Similarly a well made powder measure doesn't strike sparks. If it did then easily ignited smokeless powders would be going off all the time. Use common sense: no open flames, or cigarettes, or hot plates or, or space heaters with glowing elements, or molten lead around black powder or any powder for that matter. Keep primers stored separately. "Don't do notthin' stupid!" and remember it may be fool proof but it isn't damnfool proof.
Jerry Liles

05-25-2006, 04:38 PM
I can only agree with 13Echo - Lawyers getting involved. It is VERY hard to get BP to ignite with static, just be careful with powder fines, and clean the rotor frequently - friction is not a good thing. FWIW, I also use a powder measure to dispense BP.

Larry Gibson
05-25-2006, 05:03 PM

I been throwing BP charges for years with a #55. Not only do the directions say it's for BP but the graduations on the slides are for BP by volume also. One can also "read all about it" in any of the older Ideal loading manuals. Everyone does have one, don't they?

Another non-issue and myth. Actually I've been reading about it for a number of years in the gun rags. Hard to say if it is/was lawyer inspired or not. Many myths are based on someones opinion that gets repeated over and over with no valid proof.

Larry Gibson

05-25-2006, 05:32 PM
The body is non-sparking, with brass 'cutting' the powder. I kinda like the plastic hopper 'cause I can see the powder level and keep it relatively constant during a session.

Read Dave Gallo's comments in the Buffalo Arms catalog.....

05-26-2006, 12:00 AM
Lawyers are the evil root to most of our problems with stupid laws. I guess they can't make enough money defending good laws.

05-26-2006, 02:40 PM
I think it's mainly an old wives tale type of thing, and it just doesn't die out. There's been a couple of tests talked about on various web sites for a couple of years where they tried to get BP to ingnite using sparks and shock type methods (hitting it with a hammer) and they could not do it. I even saw where someone said that no less than Goex has said, off the record, that it's not an issue. Your test with the taser appers to back this up.
I use an RCBS electronic powder dispenser and measure set up for doing powder charges for 45-70 and 38-55 loads and it's the berries. I have put an aluminum hopper on my Dillon powder measure for throwing handgun charges but use MEC bottles for shotgun loading. A fellow I shoot with in Cowboy matches, who shoots only BP, asked MEC if their bottles would be safe for black powder and they said yes, so that's good enough for me.
I think it boils down to common sense and not doing dumb things while doing any type of reloading, like 13 Echo said above.

05-26-2006, 03:31 PM
I dunno. The biologists say a rattlesnake just wants to be left alone when you come across one out in the wilderness. He just wants to go about his way. They are classified as pretty hard to anger into striking and using their precious venom. But do you want to stake your life on that study? I don't. Black powder can be, is, and has been dangerous under certain conditions.

This is going to date me, but it's an interesting story. When me and my best friend Carl were 14 we rode our bicycles out to Hutchinson's gunsmith shop. He sold blackpowder for 50 cents a pound, you bring your own can. Well Carl had an empty IMR 3031 powder can and we got some BP. Imagine that today!!! Anyways we got back to our test lab, Carls basement workbench, and put a wee bit of the BP in a Pepsi soda pop bottle cap. We stood back and threw lit household strike anywhere matches at it. Didn't light. We hit the powder too. Then I made a point of throwing a match at the powder while it was still igniting. Nothing. At this point Carl starting laughing really bad. Said we paid 50 cents for dirt. I said damn it Carl, this has to be BP, John Hutchinson wouldn't have sold us dirt. At that point being brave and dumb, I struck a match immediately sticking it into the powder while it was still igniting. WHOOOOSH !!! A bright flash and giant cloud of white smoke for such a minute amount of powder. I wore glasses and it smoked my lenses grey just like they were sunglasse, and singed my eyebrows. At this point Carl was on the floor in tears laughing. I said "Dirth huh?"

Yeah...I admit, at times it does seem hard to ignite BP.


05-26-2006, 05:30 PM
I dunno. The biologists say a rattlesnake just wants to be left alone when you come across one out in the wilderness.
But do you want to stake your life on that study?
My experience with rattlesnakes is that, even when I provoke them, they will grab at any opportunity to escape. So, I would have to say that when 'experts' make a study of a subject you can usually believe their conclusions.
It does not mean that you can throw caution to the winds. If you're in snake country, they won't come looking for you...but you should be looking for them because it's 'doing something dumb' that gets people bit.

Black powder can be, is, and has been dangerous under certain conditions.
Agreed. But when 'experts' try to ignite it with static electricity...and fail...I believe them when they say it is not an issue.

It's my guess that static electricity has been blamed for some of the fires (explosions) at powder production plants.
Whether that was the actual cause or not is a question, but the lawyers would certainly jump on it's prevention as a 'required safety measure' to keep the company from getting sued.

I measure black powder with an old Redding Master Measure which is made of either steel or iron. I don't feel at all dangerous but I try to stay away from 'doing something dumb'.

05-26-2006, 07:37 PM
If you grind B/P fine enough it will ignite with static, So too will FLOUR. In large granules the carbon in the powder actually seems to keep it from igniting by passing the charge through the powder. When I discussed this with Doc he told me that when he got into the powder business he used a static generator to try and ignite powder and found that it had to be ulta fne dust suspended in the air to go, the same as flour. He said that he had actually browned paper under the powder before he could get it to go and then it was the combustion of the paper that set it off. He also uses a Lyman 55 with a brass drop tube.
B/P is easy to ignite if you can get an individual granule up to the required temperature. That is the rub as the spark has to be very hot to transfer the required temperature to the powder. That is why a flinter works so weel, the spark (actually a shaved sliver of red hot steel) is so hot it ignites the powder instantly. Get a bad flinter that is not hard in the frizzen and those sad little yellow sparks won't do the job. Either way I have yet to strike a spark with my old Lyman measure and so I will continure to use it.

05-26-2006, 08:18 PM
I worked for the Stauffer Chemical Co up in Pitts, Pa for awhile. I was a process operator then a production supervisor. They made a powdered sulfur product for the rubber industry. We had an automated bagging machine that filled a 50 lb bag, weighed it right on the filling spout, kicked it off, and it got palletized. Anyways the spout has a strong vacuum at it's root to suck up any sulfur dust that escapes while bag filling. It's collected in a big "dust collector" that is constantly purged with inert gas. Well one winter I was in the bagging room checking things out, then walked into the control room to see how much material was left in the baggin hopper, when all the sudden..BOOM BOOM...two explosions. Right at the spout it can't be helped that it draws air and in the winter static electricity conditions are high. It exploded right there and also blew the dust collector up. Then everything caught fire. They said had it gone when I was in the bagging room it would have burst both my eardrums. It was 10 below zero and it was a real bugger fighting the fire as the water froze and the ice ended up being about 5-6 inches thick. Back in the old days, I was told, that a bagger sat under the hopper and filled the bags by hand. This one of boy named Willy Pato was one of those people that have alot static electricity and he had so many fires start right there from handling and filling those bags from his static that they had a special grounding cable for him only. Big alligator clip to clip to himself and collected to a ground rod through the floor.

So I do believe BP can be ignited from static electricity, but not the big grain stuff.


05-26-2006, 09:38 PM
If I was Willy Pato, I would have found myself a job supersizing stuff at Buckshot's Whoppertorium!! Maybe less pay, but better longevity ratings! As long as you don't eat the food.

05-26-2006, 09:55 PM

That wasn't the half of it working there. The solvent we used for the sulfur was CS2 (carbon disulfide). I looked it up in the safetly manual one day. It specifically attacks the central nervous system and causes such things as heart attacks. I worked there five years and got out. One of my best friends still works there, but he is supervisor of the parts warehouse, so he's away from production. So I keep in touch with him as to what's going on. Now get this...out of 20 of my friends I knew and worked with, all but two died from heart attacks, the other two were cancer. :violin: One good supervisor friend died from a heart attach at the age of 44, boy and get this, while ontop his girlfriend doing the humpty. We knew cause she rented the company house right next door to the plant and Paul was a big man, over six foot, and two hundred some pounds. She couldn't get him off top her, so called the operator on shift that night so he could summons help. She was able to reach the phone next to the bed obviousily.

I'm glad I got out, don't think I got much CS2 in me. Then I worked at the oil refinery with Toluene, benzine, MEK, etc. Then I got out of the job industry with anything having to do with chemicals.


Four Fingers of Death
05-27-2006, 02:52 AM
I must try my ancient Redding No3 Master Measure with BP. I am on the verge of loading a bit of black and have been thinking about making up brass dippers, etc. I'll put my safety glasses, chainsaw helmet/muffs/face screen kit on and tread warily.

05-27-2006, 10:52 PM
I must try my ancient Redding No3 Master Measure with BP.
When I collecting 'the stuff' for BPCR, I looked long and hard at the various measures which are 'recommended' for BP use. After I got over the 'static thing' the remaining feature in favor of buying a new measure was the size of the measuring chamber. I kinda thought a 'big ol' .45-90 case' just probably held more powder than my old Redding could handle.

As it turns out it is more than adequate, and that fine micrometer adjustment is still a pleasure to use.

Four Fingers of Death
05-28-2006, 04:48 AM
They sure are one sweet machine. Mine is an old one which I picked up with a large and small micrometer for $40. I love the way it so easy to use and especially how it is so easy to return the powder to the tin when you are finished. I soldiered on with an RCBS/Ohaus measure for years, it was ok, but not in the same league as the Redding.

05-28-2006, 11:06 AM
I'm still using a Redding I bought back about 1960. Nice old powder measure, however, I've since gone to the MVA B&M type measure for Black. No particular reason other than I could, and that I always wanted a B&M and the MVA seemed to be the ultimate version of that type measure.

Jerry Liles