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Thread: Powder horn base cap fit?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master wonderwolf's Avatar
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    Powder horn base cap fit?

    I usually load from a flask but wanted to try the powder horn again. I have one of the commercial type ones sold at the sporting goods store and noticed the fit around the horn base could be a little tighter...I've not noticed powder leaking but when I cleaned up the tip end with a drill bit as some horn material left over was clogging the orifice and followed it up with a spurt from the air compressor to get it out air leaked generously from the horn base plug. My thinking is the fit should be water tight obviously humidity and air temp can cause the fit to adjust over time but what should it be by design?

    Were original horns water proofed at the cap in some way? Should I address this or let it be as powder is not leaking?

    Thanks for the help.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I would try to remove the plug and seal with epoxy, if you can't work some around the plug. I know it's not PC but it will work and it does need to be sealed.

    When I make a horn I turn a tapered plug and soften the horn by boiling and let the horn cool around the plug. I then turn a proper plug and leave it a little tight, boil again and install, with a little epoxy for a seal. A wood lathe is really helpful for this. Of course before this I scrape and shape to the desired finish.

    It is a pain to plug an out of round horn, I've done it but don't plan on it again if I can help it. They are harder to seal than a round plug, did I mention epoxy. Others might know what the old timers used but probably some sort of pitch, beeswax, hide glue. or nothing if the fit was good.

    Some of the old one could come up with some interesting solutions, uneducated maybe but not dumb.

    I like the smell of real black powder on a cool mourning.
    Dave

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    I would bet a lot of the old timers fitted them same a a precision fitting on machines. Carbon soot in the horn and insert the close plug trim high spots and keep inserting the closer you get the less you cut. finishing by lightly scraping the surface until you have the pattern desired. Then nail or pin in place. They also had some glues so that wouldn't be out of place either. The horn I did I did like this with carbon fit the horn very well before I glued it in. Another none traditional way would be to cut a groove around the plug and either use silicone sealant or an o- ring for the seal.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Your horn should be air tight so that when it is empty and you blow in the spout, no air escapes.

    Horn plugs can be made and fitted in two ways - the plug can be turned and then put the large open end of the horn in boiling water to soften it, then insert the plug in and keep in place which should 'round" the horn to fit the plug tightly. In our modern world, it can be glued in with epoxy and pinned - you can use decorative tacks, small 1/8" or similar size wood dowels, locust needles, etc.

    Or, the plug can be "profiled cut" to fit the base - either way, turned or profile cut, the plug will have to be gently tapered to slide in to place.

    If the plug is turned with an overlap on the end of the horn, then when glued with epoxy, it should seal the horn.

    If your plug is already installed, empty it of the powder and warm some beeswax up and seal the cracks with the beeswax. If you want it to run into the crack, then melt it completely and use an artist brush and brush/drip it into the crack and build it out. Let it cool and then take a cotton rag and polish off or the crack/plug. I have used this process a number of times on horns I've made over the years as well as some original horns that weren't water/air tight - and I have seen a number of original horns over the years with remnants of beeswax from just such a repair.

    A variety of plugs can be made to stop the spout. I play fiddle and also repaired them at times. You can buy a new one or get a used one and they make excellent stoppers. I drill the spout and use y taper reamer for fitting the fiddle pegs to the peg box of the fiddle to taper ream the horn spout to match the taper of the fiddle peg. Taper reamers are not cheap but you should be able to sand a fiddle peg to where it will work in a straight bored hole int he spout.
    Last edited by bedbugbilly; 07-16-2017 at 04:01 PM.

  5. #5
    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer


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    Get some beeswax, and rub it into the gap. Old time solution.

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    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  6. #6
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    i wouldn't trust beeswax in hot weather or sitting in a vehicle out in the sun. i'd rather seal the modern and permanent way - pack fine baking soda or acrylic powder (nail salon or "beauty shoppe") into the crack, wick water thin CYA (i use the "hot stuff" brand, from hobby shops or online) into the powder, cures inside of 10 seconds rock hard and totally sealed. CYA is a good tool to have around the shop.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master wonderwolf's Avatar
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    CYA I'm assuming is Cyanoacrylate here? AKA super glue/krazy glue?

    Does the baking powder act as a wick for the CYA or as a filler? or?
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  8. #8
    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer


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    With beeswax, you can just rub any cracks closed again. Most epoxies I have tried over the years have eventually had separation that was more difficult to do an invisible repair. I never leave a powder horn in a hot car, unless well wrapped in a blanket or similar.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderwolf View Post
    CYA I'm assuming is Cyanoacrylate here? AKA super glue/krazy glue?

    Does the baking powder act as a wick for the CYA or as a filler? or?
    CYA isn't an epoxy and the fix will be stronger and last longer than horn or wood.

    CYA is CYAnacrylate, aka "ca" or "superglue". krazy glue is total krap and to be avoided for any use like the plague it is. "medical grade" CYA is the stuff found in hobby shops and what is required. you know, the stuff that the military uses for sealing up wounds in 100% humidity jungle warfare (yeah, 'nam). it comes in three essential viscosities, from water thin to quite thick - we want the water thin. the powder - baking soda, acrylic, bone dust, wood dust, most any fine dust will do and the finer the better - is a filler and the CYA is the bonding agent. water thin CYA works via capillary action, wicking into Everything, including yer fingers if not careful. squeezing a thumb and forefinger together as tight as humanly possible, a drop of water thin CYA the size of a pin head will completely bond those touching finger surfaces tighter than a pair of handcuffs. acetone is the release agent. i use "hot stuff" by the case in my shop. it has many good purposes for wood and metal bonding.

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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
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