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Thread: Well, It Happened

  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by rodwha View Post
    In a recent multi-chainfire incident it was shown to likey be from the cylinder's ability to move fore and aft with nipples that way have been slightly too long this hammering 5 of the caps against the recoil shield and firing those 5 of 6 chambers.

    I've also read of tests done in attempts to achieve chainfires by leaving caps off of nipples as well as using undersized balls with neither achieving the result.

    On one hand I see it hard to believe that the flames we see from the nipple side could turn around a slightly loose fitting cap, bend again to slide down the nipple channel far enough to ignite the charge. And then on the other, assuming a proper chamber and projectile, flames passing the driving band.

    In my father's case I don't see how flames could have passed both the ball and the felt wad.

    Despite using Rem #11 caps that required pinching I never got a chainfire. But as soon as that one tin was used I set forth to work on proper cap fit.
    Now that is interesting. I have always believed that chainfires can happen at either end, by penetration of the flame. and I still believe they can do so some of the time. Long ago I used to shoot an original London Navy, which on the basis of serial number and the government's broad arrow mark had some chance of having been down the valley and back in the Charge of the Light Brigade. I tried to work it with the Lee conical bullet and just the lube in the grooves, and got chainfires solely in one chamber which had become oversized. It wasn't a really loose bullet either, for it didn't creep forward under recoil.

    I always mistrust experiments which may not have been repeated often enough for total validity, or with other variables eliminated. The reason for something not happening demands better statistical validity than the reason for something happening. But the non-happening of chainfires with a loaded and uncapped cylinder seems pretty compelling. I don't see any reason why 300 degrees of the breech face couldn't be slightly relieved to prevent contact with the caps. But it might be that gas impact on the caps was doing it.

    There used to be a dodge employed by waterfowl shooters, of having a piece of soft rubber tubing over cap and nipple for waterproofing. (I would think of it as bicycle valve tubing, which dates me.) If chainfires at the rear really are due to penetration of the flame, this would surely eliminate it. At the front, soft grease which goes down into the crack between ogive and chamber wall surely would.

  2. #42
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ballistics in Scotland View Post
    Now that is interesting. I have always believed that chainfires can happen at either end, by penetration of the flame. and I still believe they can do so some of the time. Long ago I used to shoot an original London Navy, which on the basis of serial number and the government's broad arrow mark had some chance of having been down the valley and back in the Charge of the Light Brigade. I tried to work it with the Lee conical bullet and just the lube in the grooves, and got chainfires solely in one chamber which had become oversized. It wasn't a really loose bullet either, for it didn't creep forward under recoil.

    I always mistrust experiments which may not have been repeated often enough for total validity, or with other variables eliminated. The reason for something not happening demands better statistical validity than the reason for something happening. But the non-happening of chainfires with a loaded and uncapped cylinder seems pretty compelling. I don't see any reason why 300 degrees of the breech face couldn't be slightly relieved to prevent contact with the caps. But it might be that gas impact on the caps was doing it.

    There used to be a dodge employed by waterfowl shooters, of having a piece of soft rubber tubing over cap and nipple for waterproofing. (I would think of it as bicycle valve tubing, which dates me.) If chainfires at the rear really are due to penetration of the flame, this would surely eliminate it. At the front, soft grease which goes down into the crack between ogive and chamber wall surely would.
    It certainly is hard to prove what all causes chainfires. Quite frankly it just doesn’t seem all that plausible from flames at the fore or rear as what has to happen just seems so unlikely outside of caps slamming into the recoil shield or caps falling off.

    The history of your pistol is rather exciting. That was a crazy time in history and I enjoy the song The Trooper about it.

  3. #43
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    [QUOTE=rodwha;4303843]It certainly is hard to prove what all causes chainfires. Quite frankly it just doesn’t seem all that plausible from flames at the fore or rear as what has to happen just seems so unlikely outside of caps slamming into the recoil shield or caps falling off.

    I believe that lack of clearance at the recoil shield is an obvious potential cause of chainfires - but its crazy to even think of shooting a capgun like that! Caps falling off nipples ? another obvious potential - but again crazy to do it . I had one double ignition in my life - cant prove where it initiated (none of us can) but it was the one time I forgot to use grease at the front end (I only shoot round ball) - had just recieved my neat little 36 pocket pistol and couldnt wait to shoot it - first shot I thought was a bit loud - three more were ok number five went "click " ----what the ..... that one is empty??????? ......NO ! I loaded all five ..... I backtracked to where I loaded .... no sign of the grease equipment ... oooooops!

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodwha View Post
    Something that is quite hard to prove isn’t it?

    My father went shooting with me with an ASM 1860 Army using wads and got a chai fire. Absolutely no way that came from the front. 100% from the rear. Worn nipples? Caps that didn’t fit quite right? A cylinder with end play that struck a nipple hard enough? Dunno. But 100% came from the rear as it was 101% impossible from the front as there’s just no way any flame could have circumvented a ball and a wad.

    And the only way to get a chainfire from the fore is a void in a ball that left a channel, an undersized projectile, or possibly a chamber wall with a groove or oblong cut allowing space for some flame.
    Well, it has been shown, and is repeatable that when a cylinder gets dirty, powder grains stick to the front of the cylinder and while seating the ball a grain of powder is dragged along with the ball creating a powder trail along the cylinder wall. When an adjacent cylinder is fired, the powder trail is ignited creating a chain fire. While less likely with a felt wad, it is not entirely impossible. Also, have you ever forgotten any component while loading? Is there any scintilla of possibility of your dad forgetting a wad? Were they greased?
    I have had 2 chain fires with my 1858 Rem. Both occurred later in the shooting cycle and both times I didn't add the grease over the balls. I have also loaded all 6 chambers and only capped every other one and fired them without any chain fires. The possibility of recoil causing a chain fire is new to me and I will be checking that scenario out.

  5. #45
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    I have not ever forgotten to load a component. But then I typically just use bullets these days. Not much one could forget. I’m rather methodical, as is my father so I doubt he forgot a wad, but I certainly couldn’t say with 100% certainty he did. And the uses store bought lubed wads of some sort.

    I’ve read of people attempting to create chainfires by not calling or using well undersized balls and not happening. It’s an odd thing for sure. Glad I haven’t had one.

  6. #46
    I was quite sure mine were related to one chamber out of six, the oversized one. It is also possible that if the ball was scarred or dropped to form a flat on it, or the halves of the mould met imperfectly, you might get a momentary jet of gas blowing through even soft grease on top of the bullet.

  7. #47
    Boolit Master

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    I was looking through the current Dixie Gun Works, Inc., (2018) catalog this morning and found this information on page 569-570:

    Cap Size
    Percussion caps are something of a problem to fit correctly on a nipple. The sizes are not exactly standard. Our modern made nipples generally measure .163 " tapered to .168" plus or minus .002" top to bottom. The .167-8 caps will have a snug fit on some nipples, others will fit only by forcing. If the cap that you are using must be forced on your nipples, you can grind or polish the neck of the nipple to reduce the diameter and thus, allow you caps to fit better. It is hoped that this chart will serve to further enlighten the subject.

    Inside Dia. Length of Cap
    No. 10 Alcan 167 .178
    No. 11 Alcan (Italy) 168 .153
    No. 1075 German 170 .170
    Ely No. F4-12 170
    No. 1055 German 170 .220
    No. 11 Remington 170 .190
    No. 11 Italian (Dixie) 172 .206
    Ely No. F4-12 175
    No. 11 Winchester 175 .200
    Ely No. Fr-25 177
    No. 12 Alcan 178 .195
    No. 12 Remington 178 .190

    ************************
    This is how it appears in the catalog, and where numbers are missing that is how it is in the book. I have a feeling that this information is pretty old.
    Is Alcan even around anymore? But maybe some of their caps are, and the information could prove useful. It is obvious that there exists a significant variation in cap dimensions. As pertains to revolvers, Dixie seems to presently only carry Remington # 10 #11, RWS German #11, and CCI #10, #11, #11 Magnum. Note that the dimensions for CCI caps are missing from the above data, so that's another clue that the data may be dated.
    ************************

    So I thought to inspect my revolvers based on indian joe's ideas about chain fires maybe being caused by caps that are too long and which strike the recoil shield upon firing. I have 3 revolvers currently loaded, and all were capped with CCI #11 caps. I was kind of surprised at what I found.
    First revolver, a Uberti 1873 percussion, all the caps were below (just barely) of being flush with the rear face of the cylinder. Second revolver, another Uberti 1873 percussion, had two caps that would actually slightly scrape the recoil shield when the hammer was put on half cock and the cylinder freely turned. Certainly potential trouble there! The third revolver is a Pietta 1860 Army, and all caps were almost exactly flush with the rear face of the cylinder.

    In the case of the second 1873 and the 1860 I tried pressing the caps onto the nipples farther with my fingers with no success. Then, wearing safety glasses and a welder's glove, I tried pushing them on farther with a wooden popsicle stick. No success there either, and some of the caps' top surface actually dented in a bit. Yes, I was nervous, expecting to pop a cap at any time, but it didn't happen. After reflecting on it a bit I decided to leave the 1860 as it was, because if I couldn't get the caps on any farther then they probably wouldn't back out either, but it is something that I'll keep an eye on when I shoot it. But the 1873 with the high caps had to be addressed, so I removed the caps and found two old tins of caps that I've had in my kit for so long I can't remember where I got them, but they're at least 30 years old and maybe older. One is Remington. It doesn't say what size the caps are on the tin, but they fit on the 1873's nipples much better, sat much lower, and seemed to be a snug fit. The other tin contains Navy Arms German-made caps, and they stood too high on every nipple, size stated on the label to be 1075 (Not 1055), but probably close to a #11, as they are larger than a #10 CCI of which I also had one container.

    My conclusion, at this point, is that indian joe has a large part of the answer at to why chain fires occur. I think I just avoided one. I'll be looking to get some more Remington #11 caps, especially since Remington has entered into bankruptcy proceedings and who knows if they'll be around in another couple of years. I could order 1,000 from Dixie, but they want a $30 Haz Mat fee, so that makes for pretty expensive caps. I'll have to see if I can find a tin here and there in likely stores. Another thing I'm going to examine is reducing the length and/or diameter of nipples to fit the rather large stockpile of CCI caps I've stored away. I'm thinking that the diameter might be reduced satisfactorily using a pin vise and a Dremel tool with a Craytex wheel. Of course, buying custom ready-made nipples would be easier, but so far I haven't found too many to be available. There are 3-packs of Pietta-made nipples available from both Dixie and Midway, so if my customization doesn't work out I can at least replace what I ruin.

    Well, all of this "for the good of the order." May your lives be untroubled by chain fires. Click image for larger version. 

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    DG
    Last edited by Der Gebirgsjager; 03-02-2018 at 08:22 PM. Reason: add photo

  8. #48
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    On the subject of caps, I've made it a habit to lower the hammer on each cap and push the cap down with the hammer firmly. No drag, no hangfires. I do it on my single shot cap locks as well.

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  9. #49
    Boolit Master
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    I've been watching these posts on chain fires in C&B revolvers. I shoot a 1858 Remington
    clone and have never had a chain fire. I use a loading block to load the two cylinders I
    have with my blackpowder charge and a .454 dia rb. then I cap the cylinders with cci no.11
    caps. I then take a popcicle stick and push the caps down firmly on the nipples.
    Then (making sure your powder is out of the way) I take a candle and drip the candle
    wax onto the mouths of the cylinder covering the RB's then before the wax hardens
    I wipe any excess off with my finger, leaving a coat of wax on the RB's. Then drip
    some wax on the caps on the nipples. When hard take the popcicle stick and scrape
    off any excess on the top of the caps, leaving the top of the caps free of wax.
    The cylinder is now sealed from any crossfiring and is waterproof. Sounds complicated
    but is not if you are set up for a day of shooting. After shooting wipe the revolver down
    with a rag and start over.
    webfoot10

  10. #50
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    I have used candle wax on the caps as described above when hunting in moist weather (fog, drizzle). Waxing the chamber mouths is an excellent idea for cool weather. Thanks, Webfoot10!

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  11. #51
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks, webfoot10 and TbG for these pointers.
    I'm wondering about how persistent the wax is. Does it start melting out of the unfired cylinder chambers after the first shot or two as the cylinder heats up?
    I'm really liking Battis' wax wads which he showed us back in post #20, but am just a bit reluctant to use my barrels as molds. I'll be looking around for a tube with the right size hole.
    For now, this is where I'm at. Cap guards for waterproofing and extra insurance to keep the caps in place, and grease in the front. As for the waterproofing, this is a good time of year for it!
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  12. #52
    Boolit Master
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    I've never had the wax melt out of my revolver cylinder. Maybe if you left it in the sun too
    long. Another way to load the wax wads is to seat a card wad cut from a waxed milk carton
    on top of the powder then seat your RB. Then fill with wax, You'll still lube the bullet and the barrel.
    you may
    have to back off on your powder charge to allow for the card wad. I used to load shot loads
    in my 1860 colt clone when I lived in California out in the desert. I filled the chamber half
    full of 4f blackpowder then a card wad then filled it with #8 shot, then dripped candle wax
    on the shot to the mouth of cylinder. Made a wax bullet filled with shot. Worked on the dam
    sneaky rattlesnakes. Never had any melt in the desert heat.
    webfoot10

  13. #53
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    Friend of mine way back when bought a pepperbox kit and we spent the day putting it together. What little info I could dig up said that these firearms were prone to chain fire. So advised him to use ox yoke wonder wads over the bullet.He went to his aunt's place to test it out. Not once but twice did he get chain fires. Said it made for an interesting day. Only thing we could figure out was the flame from an exploding cap would set off the one next to it and migrate to the next cap. So ended that pepperbox episode. I polished all the steel and brass and he had all the steel parts blued. Made up a shadow box and as far as I know it's still there today. Frank

  14. #54
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Mountain Hunter- how is that '73 cap & ball working for you?

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  15. #55
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    I think it was Mark Twain who said that the only safe place around a pepperbox is behind it.

  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas by God View Post
    Mountain Hunter- how is that '73 cap & ball working for you?

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    Love it, Tex! Slow to reload, but I've got an extra cylinder on back order with VTI Gunparts. It's as accurate as my 1860 Army. So far I've only shot ball, no conicals, but plan on getting around to it after a careful casting session. I have a few from several years ago, but they came out a bit wrinkly. I used a Dixie GW mold and it's not of the best quality. I'm also going to give Battis' wax wads a try. Fun, fun, fun!

  17. #57
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Lee has the 4502001R mould that might work for you if the 73 is "44" cal.

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  18. #58
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    Fifty years ago we made chamber lube/sealer for our percussion revolvers by melting bees wax on top of boiling water to about 1/8" thickness and when cooled to solid we punched out wads that we then pressed down with the rammer over the seated ball. Using those along with correct fitting caps we never had a chain fire. Since I've been unable to find #9 caps to fit my current old Colt's I'm thinking of making a sizing die and punch to see if I can size down #10 caps to fit. Just don't want to damage the old guns.
    BIG OR SMALL I LIKE THEM ALL, 577 TO 22 HORNET.

  19. #59
    Boolit Master

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    Just wanted to point out that a couple of days ago here on this forum in another thread a member showed how to use small pistol primers and plastic tubing purchased at Home Depot in place/substitution of regular percussion caps. Really ingenious and a good read, recommend reading it, 'cause down the road we don't know what will continue to be available. Works very much like the Cap Guard tubes I'm using, but since the primers don't stand as tall as the caps there would be almost no chance that they'd contact the recoil shield behind the cylinder and chain fire.
    Said to be very reliable ignition, so I'll be trying it when I get the time.

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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