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Thread: Circa 1900 Lube? Need a recommendation.

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Circa 1900 Lube? Need a recommendation.

    Ok, lube gurus. I have read all the stickyís and am not finding an answer to my question. Iím doing an experiment with a circa 1900 Ideal #6 30-30 W reloading tool, and am looking for a lube that would have been available in that time frame. Iím not sure Alox was available then. What would have your average shooter used to lube a batch of bullets? Iíve never tried pan lubing, but would be willing to give her a try. One basic recipe is saw is beeswax, Crisco, and canola oil. Pretty sure nobody knew what the heck canola oil was in 1900. Can somebody suggest a period lube for this experiment, if Alox hadnít been invented yet? Only a small batch to lube maybe 50 bullets will be required.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    More "This is what happened when I,,,,," and less "What would happen if I,,,,"

    Last of the original Group Buy Honcho's.

    https://youtu.be/a9ePkrmwT3c

    "Salient rules: Heavier the boolit, less twist is needed; more pointed a boolit, less twist is needed; longer the boolit, more twist is needed; the windier the condition, more twist is needed; longer the range, more twist is needed; more of a boattail, more twist is needed; more hollow the point, less twist is needed." ... felix

  3. #3
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if the OLD NRA lube dates back to 1900, but the ingredients do.
    Equal parts:
    petroleum jelly
    Paraffin
    Beeswax

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...A-Lube-formula

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    Hamish, thanks for a really great article. Looks like Alox is a 1950s invention, but unless I’m missed no something I don’t see anything here on historical lead bullet lubes.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    IDEAL recommended a mix of 4 parts Bayberry wax, 1 part beeswax, and 1 or 2 parts Cosmoline in their 1897 catalog (Ideal #9).
    http://www.castpics.net/subsite/HistMolds/default.html

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    I think rwadley's post deserves this one: (a little background/history of some of the more common lube ingredients)

    http://www.lasc.us/LubeIngredients.htm
    More "This is what happened when I,,,,," and less "What would happen if I,,,,"

    Last of the original Group Buy Honcho's.

    https://youtu.be/a9ePkrmwT3c

    "Salient rules: Heavier the boolit, less twist is needed; more pointed a boolit, less twist is needed; longer the boolit, more twist is needed; the windier the condition, more twist is needed; longer the range, more twist is needed; more of a boattail, more twist is needed; more hollow the point, less twist is needed." ... felix

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    Educated guess

    I can just about bet the bank on 2 ingredients used most of the time at that period.
    Beeswax and Lard (to soften it up)

    Think about it, who in their right mind would buy Vegetable oil when lard was available everywhere. Cotton seed oils were just coming about, but were not on our tables until early 1900s (1910 Crisco, hydrogenated vegetable oil) Lard was widely used until just after 1910...I think I am close on the dates

    The other oil widely used was Wale oil, but I think were being used much less by the 1900s

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Toymaker's Avatar
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    First thing I thought of was paper patching, sperm whale oil and jojoba oil. I know a dab of the two oils were often used on paper patches. They could have been mixed with bees wax for a "grease". The two oils were excellent lubricants, resisted high temperatures and were available in your time period. Jojoba replaced sperm whale oil and was the cause of the collapse of the sperm whale oil market. Both were used as lubricants for firearms.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Bayberry wax is funny stuff..I bought a pound of it and had to use a wood chisel to break it into usable pieces. When cut, it was so hard, lots of very fine particles & dust..best to do this on large clean sheet of paper. I thought this stuff is really going to harden up a lube mix...wrong! what it does do is give a very smooth consistency to lube mix. Mutton tallow was also used in early mixes..but I only use it for black powder loads & water clean-up due to possibility of salt content.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Equal parts of beeswax and beef or mutton tallow was a common black powder lube used by the British Army. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was sparked in part by a rumor that the issue of new .577 cartridges for the Enfield rifle was lubricated with cow and pig fat. Cows being sacred to Hindus and pigs being anathema to Muslims. The lubricant was changed to mutton tallow.

    "Confederate Army Lube" was 50-50 lard and and beeswax, they didn't have to worry about offending muslims...

    Italian Army lube was 1:4 olive oil and beeswax, which works very well for either smokeless or black.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master dbosman's Avatar
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    For Winchester military ammo, Japan wax.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Steam cylinder oil which was actually used to lubricate the cylinders of steam engines, acchossins graphite and oil dag whatever that was. Bayberry wax, bees wax, mutton tallow rendered down and strained. All were used for lubricating cast bullets. Frank

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I believe Emmerts dates back that far also.
    50% beeswax
    40% Crisco shortening or tallow
    10% canola oil

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub
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    See Post #10. Outpost is dead on. I have used my BP lube on smokeless and it is very,very accurate. One down side is in a revolver the gun is covered in residue after about 50 rounds. 40% bear oil/tallow and beeswax at 60% by volume. Soft in hot weather. This lube is the most accurate lube I have ever tested but only in revolvers. I think Mutton tallow would also work but have never given it as long a test as I did bear oil. Also Bear oil cannot be legally purchased, you must harvest yourself or be gifted some. Mutton tallow can be found on internet. I have used deer, beef and hog and not hit on the right mix yet.
    Oh, one thing, One 250 lb bear will yield 2 lifetime supply's of fat just off the hide not counting meat fat.
    Tony

  15. #15
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    My early research shows Beeswax to be the most prominent component of vintage lubes softened with beef and mutton tallow, sperm oil, cylinder oil, and often contained graphite. Vaseline was introduced in the 1870s so that was probably used too. Other ingredients include Bayberry wax, Japan wax (carnauba wax), castile soap, cosmoline, oildag, yellow laundry soap and lanolin.

    I've not used most of the above listed and a couple of my favorites is beeswax softened with Marvel's Mystery oil, and alox with a bit of carnauba wax...
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdi View Post
    My early research shows Beeswax to be the most prominent component of vintage lubes softened with beef and mutton tallow, sperm oil, cylinder oil, and often contained graphite. Vaseline was introduced in the 1870s so that was probably used too. Other ingredients include Bayberry wax, Japan wax (carnauba wax), castile soap, cosmoline, oildag, yellow laundry soap and lanolin.

    I've not used most of the above listed and a couple of my favorites is beeswax softened with Marvel's Mystery oil, and alox with a bit of carnauba wax...
    Can you give a ratio for the amount of oil to beeswax? Or maybe an approximate amount of MMO to a 1/2 lb block of beeswax?

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by retread View Post
    Can you give a ratio for the amount of oil to beeswax? Or maybe an approximate amount of MMO to a 1/2 lb block of beeswax?
    I use 1:4 ATF-Beeswax for a smokeless powder lube, measuring the parts by liquid volume, blending the ATF into the melted beeswax. MMO is very similar to ATF and can be blended the same way.

    If you live in a hot climate and want a harder lube, try 1:5 for your first batch and see how it performs.

    For an appropriate 1900 period lube, substitute Jojoba oil for the ATF. Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez was introduced to a medicinal skin oil and lubricant that the Aztecs used called Jojoba. It is almost the chemical duplicate of spermaceti, the oil from the head of the sperm whale. Both are esters, not (hydrocarbon) oils. Esters occur when an acid is reacted with an alcohol. Esters have strong atomic bonds and do not oxidize easily, They do however handle heat well.

    Rapeseed or canola oil is also in this category and is used in some transmission additives and also makes an excellent additive to your beeswax as a high velocity bullet lube for smokeless powder use.
    Last edited by Outpost75; 10-11-2018 at 03:29 PM.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master
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    IIRC; I start with a 3 to 1 ratio of most bees wax mixes, (BW to Oil) and adjust as I feel necessary. I've used bees wax softened with MMO, ATF, mineral oil, 2 cycle motor oil, alox, lanolin, and a few others. I mostly pan lube and use a mixture that is sticky, but not too soft and this has worked in all my handguns, but for my Magnum (hot) cast bullet loads I use C-Red...

    I've not tried any "vintage" lube components/recipes 'cause mutton tallow and sperm oil was hard to find in L.A....
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  19. #19
    Boolit Bub
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    Barlow's Bullet Lubricant (Recommended by H.M. Pope)

    Mutton Tallow 6 oz (Chop, warm and strain through a tea strainer)
    Bee's Wax 2 oz
    Bay (Berry) Wax 4 oz
    Steam Cylinder Oil 2 oz
    Acheson Electric Graphite #2301, 2 heaping tablespoons full (about 170 grains)

    I have a sneaking suspicion this lives on as...
    Click image for larger version. 

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  20. #20
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Wind's Wonder Wax:

    Bees wax at 50% of batch = 20 ounces

    Crisco at 40% of batch = 16 ounces

    Vaseline at 10% of batch = 4 ounces

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