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Thread: frizzen help

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    frizzen help

    Hello all - not sure if this should be in "gunsmithing" forum or the "muzzleloading" forum, but since this is gunsmithing question, I put it here. I acquired a flintlock pistol and the darn thing just won't spark. I've purchased the "good" flints from Dixie Gun Works, but not sure if they were the Arkansa flint or English flints. The do NOT spark, and I think the frizzen might be the problem. Take a look at this photo:


    Note the metal part that is solder on top of the frizzen? That piece of metal has a "lighter color" than the metal of the frizzen - AND, a file cuts it nicely. Shouldn't the surface of the frizzen be case harden so when the flint strikes it will spark better?

    Before I heat it up to remove that top layer and do a case hardening on the frizzen I wanted opinions from this knowledgeable group.

    Thanks for any guidance,
    Ken H>

  2. #2
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    I'm guessing the original frizzen wouldn't spark at all, and someone who didn't know what they were doing tried to half sole it. I think I would just try to find a new frizzen for it, and toss that one on the scrap heap. If you don't want to do that, remove the bad part, drill the frizzen, and rivet a new piece of high carbon steel on.
    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!


  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    That's sorta what I thought also - buy why put new high carbon steel on frizzen? Would it not work to use Cherry Red and put a good case hardening on the surface of existing frizzen?

    How smooth (or rough) should the frizzen face be for the flint to make sparks? 36 grit sandpaper? 18 grit? 120 grit?

    This pistol isn't going to get shot lots, mostly want to play with it from time to time. I mostly got it to hang in a display case with a flintlock pistol hanging with copy of the Joe Musso Bowie.
    Last edited by KenH; 04-09-2018 at 03:34 PM.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Smooth don't make much difference if you are going to scrape it off anyway. If it was half soled it will come apart if you try to harden it as is Try Track for a new frizzen or PM me dimensions as I have a few old Dixie Locks.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    From looking at the frizzen (and the photo) I think it's for sure it's been half soled, but I think it was soldered on. A good valid way to do it from what I read, but problem is the half sole is easy to file.

    PM on the way.

    Kenh>

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Case hardening may not spark. If it does it will last a very short time because it is just a few microns thick. The frizen can be smooth and still spark. The flint is harder than high carbon steel and will scrape steel and carbon molecules off as sparks.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I think I've been convinced to half sole the frizzen - shouldn't be too hard. Would AEB-L stainless steel spark? It's around .80% carbon I normally HT, then temper back to around 60/61 Rc. I can easy leave it around 62 Rc if need be that hard. The advantage of the AEB-L is I've got plenty that's .040" thick. I do have a piece of 80CRV2 (basically 1084), but it's .130" thick. I can cut a piece and put on surface grinder and bring it down to desired thickness.

    What is the ideal thickness here?

    Thanks to all for the help 'n guidance. Perhaps I should have mentioned this pistol "might" get fired 20 times/yr?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenH View Post
    I think I've been convinced to half sole the frizzen - shouldn't be too hard. Would AEB-L stainless steel spark? It's around .80% carbon I normally HT, then temper back to around 60/61 Rc. I can easy leave it around 62 Rc if need be that hard. The advantage of the AEB-L is I've got plenty that's .040" thick. I do have a piece of 80CRV2 (basically 1084), but it's .130" thick. I can cut a piece and put on surface grinder and bring it down to desired thickness.

    What is the ideal thickness here?

    Thanks to all for the help 'n guidance. Perhaps I should have mentioned this pistol "might" get fired 20 times/yr?
    Stainless doesn't spark for beans.
    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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    Thanks for the comment - I didn't think SS would work. Oh well, now to start grinding to get a thin slice of the high carbon.... 1/32" thick? 1/16" too thick?

    Now, I have a question here wondering if all this work on half soling the frizzen is going to make it work. To my mind, it seems the hammer/flint/frizzen arrangement isn't correct. Take a look at the first photo - does that hammer look like it's far enough back so the stroke is long enough? That is the full cock position, there is NO half cock in this lock.


    This next photo shows where the flint will first strike the frizzen as it's fired - looks to me like it's hitting low on frizzen - comments please.


    The next photo is where I marked the frizzen face with magic marker and dry fired to see where the flint was hitting. You can see the mark in the middle where the flint first struck, then flint moved away and scraped right at the bottom a bit. Maybe the frizzen spring is a bit weak allowing the flint to knock the frizzen back a tad so it skips over the middle of frizzen?


    I'll be removing the half sole on the frizzen pan and making a new half sole from something like 1084. I'll HT and temper. But, I wanted comments from ya'll who know so much about flintlocks. This is the first flintlock I've ever fooled with and would like to learn about them. You know, they say us old folks need to keep the brain active and this is a LOTS more fun that crossword puzzles

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    You want the flint to strike as high as you can with the flint at the end of the stroke to be pointed close to the middle of the pan.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I just turned the flint over and it's got a bit better angle now - hits higher on the frizzen face. Flint tip still doesn't really reach middle of pan. I'm thinking this is just a bad lock design and even with a high carbon half sole it might not spark the way it should.

    Thank you for all your help.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    It is bad geometry ! It looks like that lock is the same as the one I have in my Dixie Tenn rifle about 4 3/4 long by 7/8? I had the same issue shot it a while with flint in bevel down still wasn't happy so I took the cock off clamped it in my vice got out the torch and heated it up and stretched it upwards about 3/16 of an inch . Works good now . Also for a resole a piece of old handsaw blade works well .
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    How about a piece of steel banding, its a nice spring temper and actually a pretty good grade of steel.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I'm sure steel banding would work good. I don't have any at this time. I should have kept a bit of it on the last pallet that was delivered. I removed the existing half sole, it cleaned up being about .045". I heated to cherry red, dunked in water - it actually hardened. Cleaned it up good, I wanted to test it so glued with superglue just to test.

    I dry fired it, could see sparks. I filled the pan with FFF and it lit it right off! I put a light load of FFF down the bore, tamped it down nicely with a paper towel. Put a little FFF in pan, cocked hammer, pulled trigger... It fired! The sparks are NOT what they should be - they are orange, but not many of them. I'm hoping a new lock will work better if I can make it work. Maybe a better frizzen would help? Heck if I know.

    Today is the first time in my life I've seen a flintlock fired in real life, and for sure the first time I've ever fired one! So, you can see my learning curve. I've been fooling with percussion muzzle loaders for many years - got 2 of them now.

    Thanks again - I'm sure having fun learning all this "new" stuff.
    Last edited by KenH; 04-10-2018 at 10:08 PM.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I turned the flint over and now it strikes much higher on the frizzen. I suspect those bad frizzens are why somebody did the half-sole. I suspect they did harden the half-sole, but they silver soldered it to the frizzen.

    Even though they didn't get it hot enough to fully melt the silver solder (high temp over 800⁰F) it was way hotter than the half-sole could stand without losing it's hardness. If you're going to use solder the half-sole, be sure to use the low temp STA-BRITE solder which melts around 420⁰F range - right at the tempering range of high carbon steel.

    It's now sparking with an orange spark, but just not as plentiful as I'd like. It does fire, but I keep expecting it not to fire because of the low spark volume.

    Thanks to all for suggestions and guidance.

    Ken H>
    Last edited by KenH; 04-11-2018 at 11:50 AM.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    I don't think steel banding will do the job. If you can find a piece of spring steel the right size it would be better. Problems are, solder will soften it sometimes and drilling it is a real pain. Probably best to just replace it with a good one. Older files will work because they can be hard all the way through but newer ones are only case hardened. When a file will not cut the frizzen then it is hard enough.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Spring steel would work just fine. ALso, taking a thin section of high carbon steel and working in annealed state will be easy, then simply heat treat it to around 61 Rc or so with a nice smooth surface would be just fine. Heat treating is nothing new to me, I make custom knives and have the stuff to monitor temperature while heat treating so it should turn out good. I can even check the Rc hardness when finished with my tester. I should have new English flints with lead wrapping on Tuesday, and another flintlock is on the way also.

    Thanks again for all the help 'n suggestions - I've sure learned a LOTS about flintlocks over the last week or so.

    Ken H.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenH View Post
    Spring steel would work just fine. ALso, taking a thin section of high carbon steel and working in annealed state will be easy, then simply heat treat it to around 61 Rc or so with a nice smooth surface would be just fine. Heat treating is nothing new to me, I make custom knives and have the stuff to monitor temperature while heat treating so it should turn out good. I can even check the Rc hardness when finished with my tester. I should have new English flints with lead wrapping on Tuesday, and another flintlock is on the way also.

    Thanks again for all the help 'n suggestions - I've sure learned a LOTS about flintlocks over the last week or so.

    Ken H.
    Most experienced flintlock shooters will not use lead wrapped flint. Several makers will not warranty their locks if it is used. I am one builder who won't warranty a gun that the owner uses them.
    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!


  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by waksupi View Post
    Most experienced flintlock shooters will not use lead wrapped flint. Several makers will not warranty their locks if it is used. I am one builder who won't warranty a gun that the owner uses them.
    I always used leather - but whats the problem with lead ?
    thanks .
    Joe

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by indian joe View Post
    I always used leather - but whats the problem with lead ?
    thanks .
    Joe
    Added weight, slow lock time, the extra inertia can break lock parts.

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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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