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Thread: "Extreme" boolit lube, The Quest...

  1. #1
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    "Extreme" boolit lube, The Quest...

    Some discussions elsewhere recently made me think this topic deserves a thread of it's own, so here goes.

    The mission is to develop a temperature-insensitive boolit lube primarily for hunting rifles with a goal of accuracy on par with the best lube formulas currently available in for temperature extreme, from below freezing to 100+ degree Texas (or anywhere else) heat, and in the temperate zone between the extremes as well. The lube needs to address, specifically, the common phenom of first-shot or "cold barrel" flyers while also being relatively immune to "lube purging" or progressive layering and purging in a barrel, and also be consistent through long strings of shooting and cumulative barrel heat.

    Some lube formulas are excellent at either temperature extreme and some only in between, exhibiting all of the desired properties outlined above, but none that I'm aware of will perform to my satisfaction in all temperture ranges.

    The problem in achieving a universal "wonder lube", from my limited perspective, is twofold: First, the "carrier" in most lube formulas has a narrow range of temperature for ideal performance, and second, very few people, least of all me, seem to have a good grasp of exactly what a boolit lube actually DOES. It's very difficult to manipulate a substance for certain attributes when one doesn't know exactly what mechanisms are at play which affect the outcome. This thread is intended to explore these mechanisms and hopefully lead to not only a better understanding of current formulas, but perhaps to better formulas themselves.

    I'd like to postulate on the properties of a good boolit lube and the things that do work to achieve them, along with some theorizing of what lube is really doing. This is not presented as absolute fact, but only as a sort of summary of my own understanding of what's going on with boolit lube.

    I believe that a boolit lube does two basic things to assist a cast boolit from a piece of fixed ammunition to its target: It provides a delicate and dynamic gas seal between the boolit and the barrel, thus preventing lead deposits from microscopic (or worse) powder gas leaks and the resulting gas abrasion of the boolit. The lube also acts as a film lubricant, preventing metal-to-metal contact in the rifle's bore. This last may appear simple, but lots of shooting with various lube formulas and bore conditions has proven to me that the surface upon which a boolit rides is absolutely critical to accuracy, and the ability of a lube to leave a consistent bore condition under extreme conditions and through long strings of firing is a key attribute of a good lube.

    So, from cartridge case to target a lube must seal the bore like engine oil seals compression in a reciprocating engine, it must provide a consistent runway surface (for consistent friction), and it must either remain in the grooves all the way to the target or leave the boolit immediately and completely upon muzzle exit once its job in the barrel is completed so it doesn't affect the balance of the boolit on the free path to the target.

    In order to do this, a boolit lube must:
    1. Have the correct viscosity to match the pressure sealing requirements of a given load and alloy,
    2. Have the correct amount of "drag" each shot, which may be a factor of both viscosity and lubricity,
    3. Have the correct lubricity to maintain consistent bore surface,
    4 Maintain the correct viscosity and lubricity through temperature extremes of both atmosphere, chamber, and barrel,
    5. Have enough tack to stick to a boolit during handling, storage, and loading,
    6. Not have so much tack that it only partially jettisons in flight.
    7. Some other things that strike me as important are the ability of a lube to be left in a barrel without danger of corrosion, no "weeping" of oils in the heat to contaminate powder, no bad reaction with the cartridge brass during long-term storage, immunity to humidity, and compatibility with standard lube application equipment.

    Traditionally, it seems that the trend in recipes has been to start with a "carrier" which is a foundation for the lube, usually a wax of some sort, which will absorb lubricating oils within its structure like a sponge and deliver them to the barrel while providing some substance to the liquid oils such that they can be installed in the grooves. This "substance" is the overall viscosity which also seems to aid the "stop leak" attributes so necessary to a good lube formula. Other things are added to modify the properties of these two general classes of lube ingredients or to add desireable properties of their own, such as graphite, carnauba wax, moly disulfide, etc. Some additives, like metal or organic soaps, are almost a third class unto themselves that I would call "binders". The various Aloxes and many EP greases contain calcium soaps, and the lithium soaps also make the greases sometimes used in lubes a carrier/lube combination unto themselves. Stearates also apply to this class, sodium stearate and stearic acid come to mind, there are others. These soaps provide lubricating properties of their own, and also can serve to bind lube ingredients together in a robust, homogenous mix.

    The big issue for me has been to get all the properties of the 1-7 list in a lube with the commonly used and understood lube ingredients, and here's where the discussion gets interesting. What does each ingredient do, what is the failure point, how does it fail, and how can a formula be put together that will offer better all-season performance than the usual suspects of lube recipes?

    Let that soak in for a minute and I'll start another post with a discussion of some formulas I use and why I think they work, and why they have limits.

    Gear
    You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something. --Stephen Adams

    To universalize one's experience and state it as the norm is always thin ice on which to stand.--CharGar

    Being able to separate the wheat from the chaff has always been a valuable skill in all of life's activities. --Bwana


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    Some observations about lubes I've used. I primarily use what is essentially Felix lube for most of my shooting because it does what I need it to from .45 ACP plinking loads all the way to 2700 fps paper-patch lube, and particularly it provides the best, most consistent accuracy in my regular cast boolit rifle loads in the temperatures I most commonly shoot, from 50 degrees to well over 100, and will put the first shot in the same group as the last, be it the only shot or one of fifty or more. All this through hundreds of rounds without significant barrel cleaning. By significant, I mean I might push a clean, dry patch through it for a month or two of storage, only to remove the hygroscopic surface powder dust and prevent rusting. No other lube I've tried can do this quite as well, proof that Felix knew what he was doing when he invented the stuff, and I'm most grateful that he shared his formula with us and has offered so much "tech support" over the years.

    I wish I knew exactly why Felix lube works so well, and I have learned volumes by tweaking it and observing the effects, but still it's basically a mystery to me. I know it does 1-7 of the previous list, but there are two things I've found through a variety of testing that it doesn't do quite as well as I'd like unless I adjust it: First shot, cold barrel flyers, usually high and to one side, about 1-2 MOA out of the group, when it's cold. I mean below 50 degrees, really below freezing for it to show up in a bad way. Adding Vaseline or more lanolin tends to fix this, but also tends to cause purge flyers in hot weather. The other thing is it just isn't quite as accurate in cold weather, even from a warm barrel, as it is in the heat. Adding more of the lubricating oils fixes this and make it shoot great again, but blows the groups in hot weather because, as is said, "it's too slippery". Obviously a balance must be found and maintained, but I want ONE lube to cover all the bases. I'd also like world peace and to live in a country governed of, by, and for the people, which might be more likely.

    I've mentioned it before, 357Maximum's formula "MML", was developed for cold weather shooting, my understanding being it specifically addresses the cold barrel flyer syndrome. I've made it and tested it and it does very well. In the cold. Much above 80 degrees it starts the purge flyer thing, which goes away if you dry-patch after every shot and don't let your ammo sit in the sun. Great stuff for what it was designed for.

    Alox is something I fundamentally don't like. I used Lyman's version of the NRA lube for 15 years before I figured out there was better stuff. The problems seemed to stem from the residue it left in the barrel. Even liquid Alox leaves an ash residue in the barrel, and with any formula containing Alox seems to require frequent barrel cleanings to maintain accuracy. It makes cast boolits act just like a target rifle does to copper fouling accumulation: Groups just start getting bigger and bigger until you clean it with a solvent and patch, then it's back to normal for ten shots or so. I attribute this to the high calcium soap content leaving a cumulative residue in the bore, but I could be wrong. One member here makes so much noise about Javelina Alox that I bought some and tried it in a new-to-me Lyman 45 I'd just cleaned up. It does the same thing the Lyman stuff does in rifles, so I lubed a bunch of pistol stuff with it and it's gone now.

    White Label Carnauba Red does the same thing Felix lube does, but is even more pronounced at lower temperatures. It responds favorably to similar modifications for cold weather use. I call it a "high temp, high pressure, high velocity" lube, and it's very well suited for what it does.

    I've tried a variety of lubes in rifles and handguns and done lots of reading about what others have experienced, but all the formulas seem to have their ideal window of use, and none encompass the range of shooting weather I and many others endure. Many commercial and home-made concoctions do much worse than the three I mentioned above. There are quite a few I've tested, but not thoroughly enough to draw any conclusions. Among these are Bullshop's Speed Green and Lotak, the LBT lubes, Randyrat's lubes, Jake's and White Label 2500+, but perhaps others have. I'd like to hear from everyone, see what experiences they have with these and any others I haven't mentioned.

    I'd love to just mix MML and Felix lube together and be done with it, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way, although it does make a very good lube unto itself for mild-weather shooting!

    Gear
    You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something. --Stephen Adams

    To universalize one's experience and state it as the norm is always thin ice on which to stand.--CharGar

    Being able to separate the wheat from the chaff has always been a valuable skill in all of life's activities. --Bwana


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    i got your p.m.
    i will comment on your other thread and let this one run it's course.
    we are both working in the same direction.
    as i done some other stuff like you mentioned in the p.m.

    let's put on our thinking caps here guy's.
    the only thing i will add is that E.P. greases get thier ep rating because of the solids added to the calcium soap.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    the more i find out about shootin boolits, the more it contradicts everything i ever learned about shooting jaxketed.

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    If you ever get a lube to: WORK PERFECTLY, EVERYTIME, FROM SUB ZERO TO 110 DEGREES WITH GREAT ACCURACY AT EVERY IMAGINEABLE SPEED WITH NO ISSUES WHATSOEVER.

    call me customer Numeral Uno please. I will take the first 10lbs of the stuff off your hands........I await your PM


    In all seriousness I wish you luck. I have found that just as in life, lube also requires some compromise. What works for me on cool November mornings in Michigan most likely ain't gonna work so well in Death Valley in July. The only thing I have found that would do that is wrapping the cast boolit with paper, but you may want "THE QUEST" worse than I did. I spent 5 years and about $600 before I settled at "CLOSE NUFF FER ME" .

  5. #5
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    I really think that a lube needs to lay down a consistent "bed" on the bore to maintain good accuracy. The problem with Carnuba Red for me was the cold barrel flyers. It took me aout 5 rounds in my Marlin 32-20 to get it to settle down at temps below 50 degrees. After that it was fine, unless it sat long enough for the barrel to cool back down. Seems to me that the lube remaining in the barrel must get just stiff enough to cause a problem when it cools down enough. I also think the low velocity, light bullet made it worse. I have not noticed this in my 45-70 at all.

    I think the carrier is much more of an issue than the lube part is. We know of many, many good oils and stuff to add for slipperiness. When you look at the various lube recipes they use only a small umber of carriers. Most are beeswax, paraffin, or micro wax based. I think our Holy Grail lies in finding a carrier, or mix of carriers, that give the properties we need.

    I will soon be testing MMl in the summer heat. I have liked it so far for cool weather. I may need to do some accuracy testing along with rapid fire work to give it a good test in extremes.

  6. #6
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    Hey 357 Max, did you ever try a mix of beeswax and microwax in your lube? Just wondering if it might adjust the melt point and give a viable hardness over a wider temp range. I know the microwax has a very specific, sharp melt point. Wondering if adding beeswax might stretch that point over a wider range giving a lube with a wider range of useful temps.

    Just thinking out loud.

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    Are we are saying in this thread that we need a "paper" jacket that is easy to apply? Lube with cellulose as principal component would be the cat's meow. The paper jacket represents immediate purging, and that is the primary result of the lube we are after. ... felix
    felix

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    Mike, I'll put you first on the list! The paper jacket indeed eliminates all the BS, and allows a 50% velocity increase in a 10"-twist .30 caliber without loss of accuracy, but I also still like to shoot greasers and I think there has to be a way to at least reduce the compromise.

    Brad, I also believe the carrier, or the overall viscosity of the lube changing with temperature, is the culprit. R5R and I are pretty much after the same thing by trying to find a thermally stable carrier. Mike also adds some beeswax to one of his formulas for the reasons you mention.

    Felix, I've thought about that a lot too. Operating from the premise that paper fibers and gun metal have compatible friction characteristics, I've sought a cellulose-based thickener or lube base that would be thermally stable and hold some oil, but haven't found anything that works yet. So far I've tried cornstarch, baker's flour, whole wheat flour, Metamucil, Benefiber, and a few other things including polyethylene powder, talc and graphite. Pulping paper without water has been an issue. Last night I shredded some Viva paper towel material and mixed it with various things to try to get it to stick to the grooves, but haven't found anything worth trying to shoot yet. If some sort of wax or grease-based substance could be used to bind the paper fibers I think it would make an outstanding stop-leak and wouldn't need to be as viscous or sticky as traditional lubes to help the seal, therefore could be formulated to "let go" much better. I don't expect any traditional lube to be able to perform as well as a paper jacket simply because lube can't strengthen the driving bands like paper will, but it could be made with paper fibers or wood pulp and possibly improve the overall quality of traditional lube.

    What I'm playing with now is a two-part formula using simply Ivory soap as a "carrier" and various synthetic oils as "lubes" and viscosity modifiers. The soap is fairly temperature stable, has some interesting lube qualities of its own, and the synthetic oils are viscosity-stable as well. It's tough to make the stuff, but I'm ending up with cookie-dough-like stuff that is sticky enough but not too sticky, does a good job of filling the grooves, seems to be the "right" consistency, and might just survive humidity issues. If it doesn't corrode steel or brass and doesn't suck up too much water once laid down in a gun barrel, and if it shoots worth a darn to begin with, it might have some promise.

    Gear
    You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something. --Stephen Adams

    To universalize one's experience and state it as the norm is always thin ice on which to stand.--CharGar

    Being able to separate the wheat from the chaff has always been a valuable skill in all of life's activities. --Bwana


  9. #9
    Boolit Master nanuk's Avatar
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    this is why I love this site

    I will be watching with interest

    I expect we noobs will be able to learn more about the mechanics and characteristics of lube from this thread, added to the many others, than we could ever on our own by reading books

    the dynamic nature of the "Forum" environment is spectacular for these types of discussions.

  10. #10
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    just marking it but--

    What do you think of posting the lube recipes we know have particular characterics we like. GEAR has already given the pros and cons of MML and FWFL.
    Seems it would be easy to follow and/or understand what we know and what we don't know if we can reference quickly the particular recipes of the lubes that have those desirable qualities and the cons, especially for those of use who are just following along and trying to pick up the mechanics of the whole thing.

  11. #11
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    { GEAR Wrote
    Felix, I've thought about that a lot too. Operating from the premise that paper fibers and gun metal have compatible friction characteristics, I've sought a cellulose-based thickener or lube base that would be thermally stable and hold some oil, but haven't found anything that works yet. So far I've tried cornstarch, baker's flour, whole wheat flour, Metamucil, Benefiber, and a few other things including polyethylene powder, talc and graphite. Pulping paper without water has been an issue. Last night I shredded some Viva paper towel material and mixed it with various things to try to get it to stick to the grooves, but haven't found anything worth trying to shoot yet.}

    I think your crazy, but in a good way. Your not thinking in the box at all. I think your looking for a very short grain pulp fiber and something that will break it down. Dry it into a powder and then mix a "kind a lube" with it..I think you may have a great idea there. We need a paper expert, or a paper/pulp scientist.

    all (I think) you need is to cut or shred paper against the grain in very small pieces so you have very short grains of pulp, mix it while it is drying then find a binder that is a lube, mix and apply...I'll bet you could apply it with a lube sizer. the paper content could be used in different proportions until a balance is found.

    OR
    Just buy my lube it works down to -10 degs F....Any colder I have not tested it. the strong urge to warm up is stronger than the urge to test.
    FOR SALE BEESWAX, TAC 1, TAC X, LANOLIN, CARNAUBA WAX and more check out the link below
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/foru...e-amp-products

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    True, 375, I'm assuming a lot here on the part of the reader. Some of the recipes we reference are known, others are trade secrets, and some of them are very subjective depending on the grade of components used. Most of the recipes like FWFL, MML, Darr, Saeco Green, Emmert's, and dozens of others are listed in the lube recipe sticky, although, like you say, it isn't exactly a quick reference.

    The thing is, with most of the commonly used ingredients, like Mike explained, you can't get "there" from "here". Just about every conceivable combination of beeswax, soy wax, natural oils, paraffins (liquid and solid), grease, other waxes, soaps, etc. has been tried, and none of them are quite it yet for all purposes, although some are very close to perfection for wide ranges of precision shooting.

    It's time for a fresh look at things.

    Gear
    You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something. --Stephen Adams

    To universalize one's experience and state it as the norm is always thin ice on which to stand.--CharGar

    Being able to separate the wheat from the chaff has always been a valuable skill in all of life's activities. --Bwana


  13. #13
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    Randy, a lube that works well down to 10 below isn't tough to find. It is getting that same lube to work well at 100 degrees too that is a problem.
    I don't know about paper as a "lube". It would need to be easily applied with normal lube sizers or simple tools. I eagerly await Gears testing in this area.
    What we need is a wax that exhibits the charecteristics of a multi viscosity oil. Something with a wide range of useful viscosity and no tendency to get stiff at 0 F and runny at 100 F. Anybody know a 10W40 honeybee?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by btroj View Post
    ....
    What we need is a wax that exhibits the charecteristics of a multi viscosity oil. Something with a wide range of useful viscosity and no tendency to get stiff at 0 F and runny at 100 F. Anybody know a 10W40 honeybee?
    You got it!

    DuPont makes some interesting synthetic wax that might fit the bill, but you have to buy it by the container load.

    Gear
    You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something. --Stephen Adams

    To universalize one's experience and state it as the norm is always thin ice on which to stand.--CharGar

    Being able to separate the wheat from the chaff has always been a valuable skill in all of life's activities. --Bwana


  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I am not gonna honcho that group buy.
    We need something that goes against normal logic. Something that gets softer as the temp goes down. That is going to be a pretty unusual substance. Then to ask it to be safe to handle, non corrosive, and that it has properties that allow it to "work" as a fluid gasket in our bore.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master DrCaveman's Avatar
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    Though they melt at low temps, I haven't really heard any mentions of animal fats or renderings. Maybe mixed with a 2-cycle oil & candle wax you have a lube covering more range?

    I have not tested this, but maybe it sets some wheels spinning for concoctions.

  17. #17
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    gear: cotton or wool....
    length will be your biggest obstacle, but either will take the lube the carrier will take them too.
    i'd bet cattails would too and might be easier to work with.
    we don't need a multi visc carrier we need a non changing modifiable one.
    i did get some testing with the "j"- lube today, it's a synthetic grease and glycol solid lube.
    it did excellent.
    pushing a 190 gr boolit with 18 grs of 2400 and 18 with 1.5 grs of filler through my 8x57.
    the 18 had a cold bbl first shot three times in a row that was within a half inch all three times.
    twice high and once low.
    the fillered load done no better and at one point i fired 20 shots in a row, i had a couple of flyers one was definately me.
    and the other had to have been a bad boolit or case as i had a hard time chambering the round.
    this is not a target rifle it will be used for hunting this year with this boolit.
    it is just a rem 700 in 8x57 with a 3x9 leupold bdc scope.
    the alloy is 7 lbs of plain 22 lead and 1 lb of linotype waterdropped.
    50 rounds of this was fired with no leading whatsoever and no surprises. i could tell that i have 4 lands in the bbl though.
    i now have a baseline to work from.
    the air temp was right at 50f.
    i shot two other lubes also today, my normal winter mix. [no surprises here it did what it does]
    and my 50/50-50/50 [60-40] 25/1 quick drying tumble lube.
    an interesting note on this one following the 20 fillered rounds.
    the boolit holes started out right of my aiming point, come left across the aiming point slightly, then back to the aiming point, and stayed there making a very large hole in the target.

    150 rounds of 8mm today and well over 100 from the 223 waiting for the 8's bbl to cool off.
    plus assembling new 200 yd and 100 yd backstop frames at the club made for a long day.
    anyways there's a first report.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    the more i find out about shootin boolits, the more it contradicts everything i ever learned about shooting jaxketed.

  18. #18
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    when I was in the Navy we used to have to do PM on lots of stuff and if it had a wire rope Cable we used to grease it down with this stuff that was a grease and it also had a lot of fibrous elements to it I wonder if it would be a good lube base for boolits.

  19. #19
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    it might. i know on aircraft carriers they go through something like 200 gallons of grease a day.
    everything from greasing the cables to oil for the launcher.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    the more i find out about shootin boolits, the more it contradicts everything i ever learned about shooting jaxketed.

  20. #20
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    Gear and R5R,
    years ago I read an article in G&A about powders, and an interesting point in the article was about the celluloid material used as the base. Before WWII it was cotton linters, then the production volumes for WWII required a cheaper source of celluloid, and the powder manufacturers (OLIN was first if I recall correctly) found wood pulp to be their best substitute. I don't remember if it was in the same article or something I came across later, but it seems that the wood fibers were ground to a pulping-friendly fiber size, and soaked in an alkali solution to break the fibers down to usable size (much like hominy is done). At some point the alkali was probably neutralized, then the rest of the process begun to turn the pulp into nitro cellulose. Not sure what it would take to approximate the first part of that process, but that may be worth looking at. Hope this info helps.
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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
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