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Thread: Mle. 1866 Chassepot Cartridge Construction - DIY Insanity!

  1. #81

    Kudos to All

    Good Afternoon,

    Just back from the range and again had great luck with my tube in a tube system. Completely not authentic but does provide an easier, faster, and cheaper method of cartridge creation. As one who teaches history and military history, I would love to have the time to create these amazingly engineered cartridges for my students and for the range buddies. However, with my Dreyse needing much time to create the sabots, the thought of trying to reproduce the herculean efforts of so many on this board is daunting. I just get exhausted thinking about the effort you all have put in to recreating a piece of our history. Creating the firing needles, getting new springs, and creating good obduration suffices for now.

    As much as I enjoy reading these threads and watching the West brothers on YouTube with their OE spec. cartridges, I just enjoy the extra time I can have at the range putting lead down range, making smoke, and listening for the faint sounds from Sedan.

    Randy

  2. #82
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by yulzari View Post
    As trivia. Some of the Chassepots Modele 1866 went through conversion to Gras as the 1866/74 and then as the 74/80 and finally rebarreled as the M14 in 8mm Lebel and used in WW1 as a second line weapon. Allegedly a few were still used in training and in backwaters in early WW2. Technically that would make them Modele 1866/74/80/14. I have yet to trace any definite WW2 use though.
    As even more pseudo-Chassepot trivia, the Air and Space Museum in San Diego has an aircooled Maxim aircraft machinegun (I don't recall the Allied maker) chambered to fire the 11mm Gras cartridge. The little data card that went with it stated that these were loaded up with incendiary bullets for the purpose of taking out observation balloons (and possibly Zeppelins). I gotta figure there's a lot more room in a 400 grain .45 to pack phosphorous than in those cute little .30 caliber things. . .
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  3. #83
    The Brits too used some unusually large caliber rounds for incendiary work against the Zeppelins bombing England. Randy

  4. #84
    Boolit Master NoAngel's Avatar
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    Very cool thread and great work......but this REALLY makes me appreciate a brass cartridge rifle. Jeez what a bunch of work you've put in!
    When dealing with islam one should always ask themselves: "What would Leonidas do?"

  5. #85
    I also appreciate shooting BPCR. However, my cases have their issues too: cleaning, much work on the press, sperations/splits, costs, dies, case trimming equipment, Etc. So, not sure which method has the best/worst/least/most issues. Randy

  6. #86
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by rescuerandy2 View Post
    I also appreciate shooting BPCR. However, my cases have their issues too: cleaning, much work on the press, sperations/splits, costs, dies, case trimming equipment, Etc. So, not sure which method has the best/worst/least/most issues. Randy
    I think it's safe to say that if you're loading ammo for a Chassepot, you've got issues. This thread is probably as much a "we don't judge" support group as it is a technical guide.
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  7. #87
    Boolit Master
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    I've been shooting my Chassepot for a while.
    While my cartridge is not as traditional as the one here, it seems to work just fine.
    I just got a hold of some 1 1/2F black powder to try.
    I've had good results with 1F, but I just had to try it.
    It needed a little more filler than with the 1F, but it not a problem.
    Measured with a Traditions tube measure.
    70gr and 75gr. 405gr Lyman PB. Carnuba red lube.
    Although it did shoot 8" low at 100yds, groups were 1" to 3".
    At 50yds I could get close to 1" to 2" point of aim.
    I do have a home made high front sight on it.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by abunaitoo; 09-22-2017 at 07:11 PM.

  8. #88
    Boolit Buddy yulzari's Avatar
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    If it all gets too tricky you can use this brass cartridge conversion http://www.hc-collection.com/calibre...982?PGFLngID=1 but then you may as well get a Gras and by pass the whole matter.

  9. #89
    Boolit Bub
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    chassepot

    the brass cartridge conversion is genius.the evolution of this string on loading this demandeng cartredge is worth a prize in itself.

  10. #90
    Boolit Master AllanD's Avatar
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    One thing I can suggest, you complain that the "thinnest spoke" your bicycle shop had was too thick might I suggest you search out "double butted" bicycle spokes that are thick at the ends and thinner in the middle. if you cannot find them locally there are mail order bicycle component suppliers (such as PaloAlto Cycle In California) that may supply what you need that would require less modification.

    One thing that should make you feel good is that the largest spoke
    manufacturer I know of is French.

    They supplied the overly engineered for weight 15/17/15 gauge spokes on my road bike's 700C rims
    Last edited by AllanD; 01-10-2018 at 08:57 PM.

  11. #91
    Boolit Master

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    After about a 2-year hiatus, it would seem to be time for a reboot.

    What Sherman SHOULD have said is "War is Hell. Fabricating French munitions, doubly so"

    Pop and I gave all of this and our various notes a re-read and launched back into it a few days ago.

    BEAR IN MIND THAT RANGE TESTS OF WHAT FOLLOWS ARE STILL PENDING!

    So here is what we are looking at for construction in the current, April 2018 Reboot of this project:

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    At the front of the borax-treated paper tube is a cork wad glued in with Super Glue followed by a couple of cardboard spacer wads that are slid in after. Current powder charge of 63 grains Triple 7 - as noted in earlier tests, a little on the hot side, but the gun as configured seems not to mind. Cap assembly filled with real black and sealed with pink peel-and-stick label material. The mountain bike inner tube got replaced this go-around with about 1/16" thick silicone sheet (EDIT 4/13/18 - BAD IDEA!). Our pink peel-and-stick daisy cutouts hold the silicone in, and a strip of 3M paper medical tape holds it down more effectively. More intricate assembly details to follow.
    Last edited by Bigslug; 04-13-2018 at 10:28 PM. Reason: Range findings contradict!
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  12. #92
    Boolit Master

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Cap assemblies: turns out that a $3 hand held paper punch is the not-quite-ideal tool for punching holes in the center of the cardboard wads. The diameter of the hole is perfect to hold a musket cap tightly; centering it can be a little trick; and the punch is not the most durable thing in the world for punching fiber wad material. Luckily, we had the foresight to buy two and were able to press on. Caps were scooped loosely full of real black and taped over with cut-to-fit pink label material.

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    This is about what a powder fill SHOULD look like. . .assuming the tube got rolled properly. The charge is dropped down a drop tube in two 50% installments; the first gets some manual compression with a dowel, the second. . .well, you'll see.

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    The cap assembly gets inserted and pushed/twisted into place. The cap body displaces some of the main charge, more or less completing the fill.

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    At this point, we CAREFULLY run it up into a powder compression die to finish packing things down. As you'll see, this met with varying degrees of success.

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    In a perfect world, this is what it looks like: a nice straight cylinder with a little gap left at the top which perfectly fits. . .

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    The 1/16" thick silicone disk. (EDIT 4/13/2018 - After range testing, going back to rubber inner tube!)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Seal as before with the peel-and-stick Oopsie Daisy cutout, but we found that the adhesive on these was a little lacking, and the petals weren't staying down. We decided the silk gauze was a ROYAL PITA and instead ran a wrap of 3M paper medical tape cut with pinking shears. In this pic you can see a little crushing at the front end that occurred during the compression stage. We THINK it'll be ok due to some of the mechanical aspects of the rifle centering things up.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Fold down the corners and PRESTO! We made up five with only the 3M tape to see if the daisy cutout is even necessary. I'm hypothesizing that we may wrap the entire paper tube with a layer of the stuff as a bit of reinforcement to make the cartridge act like it has the silk wrap. Firing will tell.

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    Shellac the tubes with Ben's Liquid Lube, wet the paper patches with same, roll them together and tie with dental floss.
    Last edited by Bigslug; 04-13-2018 at 10:30 PM. Reason: Range findings contradict!
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  13. #93
    Boolit Master

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Dad sent me this pic as he was rolling the powder bags onto the bullets. This is illustative of a design feature of the 1866 cartridge: the paper patch wrap NEEDS to go somewhat over the ogive because the patch is responsible for holding the bullet tightly to the rest of the round. Bullet on the right slipped out some - MON DIEU!

    Should have a range report for you guys Friday/Saturday, hopefully, WITH GROUPS!
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  14. #94
    Boolit Master
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    The idea of using rubber or similar materials for the sealing of powder gasses has not faded into history. Springfield Armory has a section of breech loading cannon and clearly you can see a black ring directly behind the domed section of the breech block. In theory that ring compresses which obturates and seals off any powder gasses. Pretty sure that modern artillary uses the same thing. Maybe some of our vets or servicemen who used artillary in their service can confirm this. Enjoyed all these posts, the French not wanting to waste any francs converted many chassepots to centerfire and the next logical step was the gras in cartridge form. I have one of the musketoons with the brass bands, trigger guard and buttplate. Suprisingly the bore rates around very good to near excellent. Frank

  15. #95
    Boolit Master

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    Well, there is the "rubber" O-ring that lives in the front of a Remington 1100's gas system. The physics of the stuff is sound; the real-world durability of it considerably less so.

    I think if I was told to make something like this system today - with no brass cartridge - I'd probably ditch the rearward-thrusting obturator system in favor of a slightly coned breech / bolt arrangement on which the bolt had a series of spring steel AR-15-style "piston rings" that would compress and seal as they enter the "cone". Might have been what those caseless ammo experiments of the 1980's were lacking . . mmmmm. . .yeah.

    I'm reminded of playing with an atlatl (primitive spear thrower) with my cousin. After about an hour of trying to consistently hit a mastodon-sized mulch pile, he said "Well, this has been fun. Let's go inside and invent the bow." The bow, in this instance, being a brass case. . .
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  16. #96
    Boolit Buddy yulzari's Avatar
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    Well done Bigslug! The medical paper tape should keep the powder case together to be pulled out by the bullet just as the silk gauze did in the old days. It all makes Westley Richards Monkey Tail cartridges seem so easy to make by comparison.

  17. #97
    Boolit Master

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    A couple more updates texted to me by the ROMOL (Retired Old Man Of Leisure):

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This was something of a "DUH!" moment - rather than blindly follow the 1866 pattern, design a paper patch template FOR THE BULLET YOU ARE ACTUALLY USING! The Accurate Molds Chassepot offering is close, but after Dad's epiphany of the patch shrink-fitting the ogive to hold the bullet firmly to the powder bag, it seemed a no-brainer to more precisely fit the patch.

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    Another notion - a bit of glue-stick attaching the stern of the patch to the paper tube at location marked by the X's. This should help the tube get dragged downrange more reliably. Since the patch isn't physically bonded to the bullet in any way other than by the shrinkage of wet paper, separation post-bore should be fairly clean.

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    Patch gets moistened, then rolled. . .

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    . . .then tied with a bit of dental floss.

    Test shoot on Friday, is the intention!
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  18. #98
    Boolit Buddy yulzari's Avatar
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    Good luck today.

    See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BF17WQKtTg

    The Chap Chassepots (can that be a verb in Franglais?) in Switzerland

  19. #99
    Boolit Master

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    OKAY! So what we mostly learned today is that while silicone is a wonderful material to replace the original rubber obturator with, it is a LOUSY material to make the rear cap seal with - previous posts have been edited to that effect.

    The first couple shots today went off OK, and then we started getting really sluggish strikes from the firing pin. What we found was that silicone from the cap disk was getting blown or pulled into the channel between the needle and the bolt head, REALLY impeding the needle's movement. The result of this was that we had a lot of rounds requiring multiple strikes, so from here on out, it's back to rubber mountain bike inner tube.

    But we did learn some other stuff.

    We are getting fair expulsion of the cartridge tube, but still a long way from anything remotely battle-ready:

    Out of roughly 20 that we managed to get to fire, I think ALL of the silicone disks remained in the bore and did not travel very far down the bore.

    All but two of the percussion cap assemblies were dragged out of the gun.

    On the one occasion that I forgot to run a brush from the muzzle before loading the next round, crud from the previous round prevented proper chambering. I think the daisies are a liability - or at least the peel-and-stick label material we're making them of is a liability. Pretty much the one consistent bit of junk left behind in the bore seems to be daisy material. Nice thing about the daisy material being day-glow colors is that it makes it obvious what your crumbs started life as before getting lit up by a bunch of black powder substitute.

    Accuracy - still trying to find something like it. The good news is the rifle doesn't seem to have the major windage problem originally thought, but it definitely shoots a couple feet above a "traditional" sight picture at 100 yards. With all of the failures to ignite caused (presumptively) by the aforementioned silicone issue, it was a bit hard to focus on the grouping aspect of the exercise, and one would have to assume that the silicone goobers were making for inconsistent lock time on the rounds that DID go off. From Dad's observations on the spotting scope however, if I was taking a belt-buckle hold on a Prussian at that distance, he'd have had a bad day. . .on the occasions the round was considerate enough to fire.

    We tried a few rounds with the bayonet attached, but we're really going to have to get the ignition issue sorted before we can properly focus on what difference that makes.

    Changes under consideration:

    1. Rubber inner tube is back in for the cap disks. Silicone is OUT!

    2. The daisies may be on their way out. Dad says the 3M paper tape comes in 2" width, which is basically the length of the powder tube. 2 1/4" would be perfect, but we can probably make do. Operating theory is that the adhesive sheet the daisies are currently made of was intended to be turned into shipping labels slapped onto a flat cardboard box, not cut into intricate shapes and stuck to a small diameter tube treated with fire retardant. The 3M stuff bonds MUCH more agressively. Got some theories on how to proceed with that.

    To Be Continued. . .
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  20. #100
    Boolit Buddy yulzari's Avatar
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    FWIW I suspect that the silicone is not stretchy enough to expand back over the bolt nose with the firing pressure and then reverse itself once the pressure leaked behind it becomes greater than the pressure in front once the bullet has left so it doesn't get blown out of the barrel. The period rubber disks were natural rubber which is stretchier than modern synthetic rubbers as in normal inner tubes. I believe that you can get natural rubber inner tubes at a price but of course there is another source of a thin, tough, stretchy rubber substitute................

    Re the POI above the POA at 100 yards. Are you using a fine sight (i.e. just the tip of the foresight visible in the 'V') or the whole blade? At short ranges the bayonet is supposed to be fixed. Otherwise you may not have time to fix it before the unpleasant gentlemen arrive with their pointy sticks at the ready.

    With a fine sight and a bayonet it should be right on at 100 metres which is 25 feet beyond your 100 yard target. In the old days the mantra to fall back on, when setting the sights was too much to grasp, was 'When you can count the buttons shoot at the feet. When you can see the buttons shoot at the middle. When you can't see the buttons shoot at the head'.

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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