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Thread: Removing Stuck Wooden Dowel and Soft Lead Sinker from a barrel

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Fire_stick's Avatar
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    Removing Stuck Wooden Dowel and Soft Lead Sinker from a barrel

    When what I am about to describe happened to me, I did a search for an answer, but there is not much information. So I figured I would fess up and admit that I did manage to lodge a wooden dowel and lead sinker in my barrel. On the positive side, I am going to tell you how I eventually got it out. I hope that another lost soul may benefit in some small way.

    First, what I took away from this experience, is don't use wood dowel to slug your barrel. It can be unreliable. I have used it before without issue, but this time it bit me in the ***. "The first time the dog bites you, it is the dogs fault, the second time he bites you it is your fault." - Marvin Johnson

    What start this is I am the proud new owner of a lovely 91/30 Mosin Nagant with laminated stock. She's pretty, and she shoots factory ammo well. But I wanted more. I wanted to cast for her, so being the good caster I aspire to be, I knew I needed to slug the barrel in order to get the groove diameter. Not a problem, I done this before. Well this time things went south just as the soft lead sinker was about to exit the barrel on the receiver end. At that point, somewhere down in the bowels of the barrel, one or more of the sections of "hardwood" dowel decided it was time to split. Like an idiot, I continued to pound away, thinking "it's right there at the edge, I can do it". Nope, I just made things worse.

    The lead was stuck, and the sections of dowel were not coming out, except for a couple of pieces on the muzzle end. What to do, what to do. At the time, I was in the deep woods at the ranch house, and you don't get good cell or internet access there. So I was on my own with my new prize totally unusable. Man I had had plans for that gun that week.

    The next day I drove into town, to the do it center, and picked up one of the longest smallest diameter wood screws I could find, along with washers, 8-32 threaded rod and nuts for the threaded rod. The long wood screw and washers allowed me to tap into the lead, and pry it out very carefully using the washers against the head of the wood screw and leveraging against the back edge of the receiver using a flat head screwdriver. It was not long before the lead was out and I was thinking I had it made. Not so fast, the wood was still in there, and the wood screw was only so long.

    That was okay, I figured, I will pound it out. DON'T DO THIS, IT MAKES THINGS WORSE.

    Okay, so the lead is out, but the wood is not. I did manage to use the same technique on a section of the wood dowel closest to the receiver end. But after that my wood screw was too short, and the threaded rod would not thread into the wood without a pilot hole.

    A couple of days later, I was back home, but commitments kept me from fully pursuing my foe. Eventually, I managed to get to a hardware store and pick up a 1/8" x 12" long drill bit to use to drill a pilot hole in to the wood for the threaded rod idea I had.

    After drilling the pilot hole, I screwed the threaded rod into the wooden dowel and used washers and a nut to pull the threaded rod back out. Tighten the nut against the washers, and IF your threaded rod does not pull out of the wood, you WILL pull the wood out. But you may have to try several times. The deeper the pilot, the better grip the Threaded rod will have on the wood.
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    This worked like a champ the first time, and I figured once I freed those stubborn sections of wood the rest would fall out. Nope, they were stuck too. And they were further down the barrel. Further than my short 12" drill bit could reach.

    After some rest and thought, I remembered an old piece of brass tube I had in a junk box. Wa la, an extender.
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    So, onward I went, chipping away until I finally managed to have only a small portion left, which I was able to drive out with a metal rod.

    I am happy this is behind me, and I do not plan to repeat the event. But I wanted to put my thoughts down in hopes that someone will benefit. Keep in mind all of this transpired over about a weeks time frame. If you find yourself in this predicament, take your time and think it through. I could not put down every detail here, but the gist is here.

    There are probably a lot of smarter folks out there that can add to this. I bet there is a simpler way to undo this problem. Please add to this thread.

    Oh yeah, the groove diameter is .313". I will never forget that dimension.

    After a good scrubbing, the rifling still looks as good as I remember it looking before I started the project. There is one blemish toward the muzzle on the groove, but that might have been there before. I will give her a shot (no pun intended) and see how she shoots versus pre-slugging.
    He who knows best knows how little he knows.
    - Thomas Jefferson

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Long long ago and very far away I had a 1903A3 Springfield that I bought from a co-worker for $50. I already had one but what the heck $50 ain't squat, or wasn't even in 1975/76. The problem was I had .30-06 ammo that was neck sized after having been fired in the previously owned 03A3.

    Wouldn't ya know it, the newly acquired 03A3 had a chamber that was not friendly to neck sized ammo and I proceeded to stick a loaded round in the chamber. When I say stuck I mean the laws of physics were working against me in the form of a very tightly locked taper.

    What to do? A clean deburred steel rod and a big hammer. POUND POUND POUND POUND.

    No go. By this time the bullet was thoroughly buried in the case and of course all that POUNDING just expanded the case walls further locking the dang thing in place. What do you do?

    Get a bigger hammer!

    I beat on that sucker for 3 days. Oiled down the bore and let it soak and kept pounding. By this time I was nervous about all that pounding and a live primer and a live cartridge. But jeez Louise whatcha gonna do? Keep pounding that's what.

    Finally on the 4th day that totally destroyed '06 came out. That was the last time I ever neck sized cases for any gun.

    The moral of the story is: GET A BIGGER HAMMER.

    A clean steel rod that is deburred isn't going to hurt anything except your peace of mind.

    How do those fanatical muzzle stuffing always black dirty stinky rifle shooters get stuck bullets out of a one-ended rifle? A screw. First they drill a little pilot hole and then they run a stuck bullet removing screw and thread it into the lead bullet and start reverse pounding it out. I know nothing about any of this. I just read a lot.

    BTW - 5/16" steel rod is .3125". Perfectomundo.


    Dutch

  3. #3
    Boolit Master XWrench3's Avatar
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    i have broken a wood dowel in a barrel before, but i was fortunate enough that it was in a 6" revolver, and was no trouble getting out.
    "dutch", i did almost the exact same thing on an old "army training rifle", or at least that is what i was told it was. it had a stepped barrel, (like the big ship guns) and a black wood stock. i never did figure out what it was, that was way before my internet days. i got it out with heat from a hair dryer and stp down the bore, and a wood dowel. the heat i think was the key. made the barrel/chamber grow just enough to let loose its grip. at that point, i had never heard of a round cooking off. though i really doubt i would have ever gotten it that hot with a hair dryer. for what it is worth, i was using an 8 ounce hammer, and just tapping the dowel.
    Silver and Gold are for rich men. Lead and Brass is MY silver and gold! And when push comes to shove, one of my silver and gold pieces will be more valuable than a big pile of actual silver and gold.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I use wooden dowels all the time. But I take mine and dip the ends in epoxy and let it harden up. These things are usually so dry that they soak the epoxy up if you do it before the epoxy thickens. If it is a big enough dowel, you can drill into it like 1/16 " holes to increase the amount of epoxy at the point of contact.

    Then it won't expand / break up and wedge. I mean we are talking within reason here. And if you use lube and pure lead, their shouldn't be a problem anyway.

    If you stick something a good way to try and remove it is to put a thin penetrating oil in the bore and let it do it's job. Remember the wood is going to absorb some, so be generous.

    Take a primed case with the strongest primer that you have and pointing the gun is a safe direction OUTSIDE, chamber and fire it. If that is insufficient, put in a safe, small load of a fast powder WITH NO PROJECTILE and repeat.

    Even if that fails, it can alter the galling force and allow you to more removal options.

    It really helps if you go to this method as soon as you realize you have a problem. Long BEFORE you use the Hammer of Thor trick.
    Evaluate everything you read for safety and use common sense.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I have never had such a problem but it's easy to see how it can happen. Very early on, I decided to order some 36" long brass rods is assorted diameters for this purpose. Always be sure to lube the bore before you start and with a brass rod there is little chance of damaging the bore.

    http://www.mcmaster.com/#brass-alloy-rods/=afyr22

  6. #6
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    Hardwood dowels sold in Home Depot, etc, are junk wood with grain all over the place.
    I use only brass rods to slug barrels.
    I would worry about pounding on a stuck loaded round. Some POWDERS will go off when struck hard. Don't worry about the primer. Lots and lots of Kroil would be called for.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Harter66's Avatar
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    +1 for kroil,STP and brass rod .

    I have also pointed and/or cupped the rod ends to better grip the slug nose/base.

    I learned that a 1/4"rod will go into 25s if "lapped"some and that a cupped rod tip on said rod will mushroom just enough to be a huge PIA and that rod may hang up in a 6.5 also. Id rather not say .

    A 5lb ingot and a stop nut threaded on the exposed rod end makes a great slide hammer to get the stuck rod out out. In thinking about it 2 nuts 1 lower and 1 at the tip would make a decent 2 way slide hammer.
    In the time of darkest defeat,our victory may be nearest. Wm. McKinley.

    I was young and stupid then I'm older now. Me 1992

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  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    [QUOTE=Bass Ackward;1110359]I use wooden dowels all the time. But I take mine and dip the ends in epoxy and let it harden up. These things are usually so dry that they soak the epoxy up if you do it before the epoxy thickens. If it is a big enough dowel, you can drill into it like 1/16 " holes to increase the amount of epoxy at the point of contact.

    Then it won't expand / break up and wedge. I mean we are talking within reason here. And if you use lube and pure lead, their shouldn't be a problem anyway.

    QUOTE]

    Bass, that is entirely dependent on the grain structure of the dowel. Riven dowels (all straight grain split out of a log) are the exception to the rule any more. I have seen dowels that are almost a 90 degree cross grain - and many with a cross grain section that is just waiting to split. I have broken one of these pounding a 3" section into a tight hole in hardwood! No way that would survive in a barrel.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    One thing that I've done that might be different is that I cut my wooden dowel (from Home Depot) into short lengths. I'll start out with a 6" length and tap the bullet into the barrel from the chamber end. I don't bother using soft lead any more because I get good results with bullets cast in my regular alloy (L #2). As the bullet goes down the barrel, I just add additional lengths of dowel.

    I've found that once the bullet has engaged the rifling and has gone into the bore an inch or two, it is so easy to continue pushing the bullet that I can almost do it by hand alone, without having to tap with a hammer. I've slugged every single revolver/pistol/rifle this way and haven't had a problem yet!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master



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    As a part time muzzleloader user, I have had a boolit get stuck in a .54 barrel once, in decades of use.

    Used the "screw into the ball, and pull out" technigue.

    OBTW, I threw away the wooden ramrod the day the rifle arrived , and ordered a fiberglass rod for my TC Rifle.

    Had a wooden one split while loading a .45 years ago and a sliver went through the heel of my hand. That cured me of using wooden rods in guns for any use at all.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master odoh's Avatar
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    Alarming thot ~ stuck object is. I've 36"X" brass rod standing in the corner behind the TV. A 13" brass rod in my desk drawer, another in my range bag. I do collect the genuine bamboo chopsticks from our chinese repasts and generally use them for the short barrel guns (so far w/o breakage). Can't recommend the disposable soft wooden ones ~ and bamboo, believe it or not is becoming scarce.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master odoh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by home in oz View Post
    . . . . .

    OBTW, I threw away the wooden ramrod the day the rifle arrived , and ordered a fiberglass rod for my TC Rifle.

    Had a wooden one split while loading a .45 years ago and a sliver went through the heel of my hand. That cured me of using wooden rods in guns for any use at all.
    Yeh, I seen that coming when my TC Grey Ghost arrived and did likewise.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Actually this subject shows up quite regularly on this forum. Whether or not it is easily extracted from archive search- dunno. Use a polished stainless steel rod of sufficient diameter for all such pounding.... problem solved period.

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub woodyubet's Avatar
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    Slip a fired case over the end of the wood dowel before you put it in the barrel

  15. #15
    Boolit Master HighHook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by home in oz View Post
    As a part time muzzleloader user, I have had a boolit get stuck in a .54 barrel once, in decades of use.

    Used the "screw into the ball, and pull out" technigue.

    OBTW, I threw away the wooden ramrod the day the rifle arrived , and ordered a fiberglass rod for my TC Rifle.

    Had a wooden one split while loading a .45 years ago and a sliver went through the heel of my hand. That cured me of using wooden rods in guns for any use at all.
    My muzzleloader sat on my bench for a year and friend said squirt 150 psi through the nipple. Job done 2 seconds! Daaa on me

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    i had a similar incident in a .35rem barrel. was in a rush and could find no brass rods. got a wooden dowel.

    1/2 way thru the slug stops and the dowel splinters at the muzzle.

    luckily a near by electrical store had copper ground rods that fit.

    using a 5lb brass dead blow hammer i was able to drive it all back out the other direction.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Von Gruff's Avatar
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    A reminder to self. Lube bore generously before attempting to pound slug through. Dont ask how I know.

    Von Gruff.
    Von Gruff.

    Exodus 20:1-17

    Acts 4:10-12

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Rocky Raab's Avatar
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    Well geez, fire stick, doncha know that a sinker ALWAYS gets snagged? That was your first mistake right there, LOL! Use a muzzleloader ball next time; they're trained to go down a barrel.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    Bass, that is entirely dependent on the grain structure of the dowel. Riven dowels (all straight grain split out of a log) are the exception to the rule any more. I have seen dowels that are almost a 90 degree cross grain - and many with a cross grain section that is just waiting to split. I have broken one of these pounding a 3" section into a tight hole in hardwood! No way that would survive in a barrel.


    You are correct about grain structure. But mine have done thousands of slugs.

    That's my dilemma in all this.

    When my bores are prepped, after the slug has engraved, the slug / dowel can be pushed through with two fingers. If it can't be, then that bore needs shot / lapped and re-slugged again for accurate information. That's why I slug as things go along and stabilize.

    If anybody is pounding anything other than a throat slug, something is wrong.
    Evaluate everything you read for safety and use common sense.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    I use brass rods. If they do not fit the bore I wrap the end by the slug and points along the way so the rod can't stray from the center of the slug. make sure the bore is very clean, oil slug and bore.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check