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Thread: Preparing to fire my pop's Lawrence Sharps 45/120 paper patch

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Preparing to fire my pop's Lawrence Sharps 45/120 paper patch

    I got this rifle from my dad. He was meticulous in his research and notes on the rifle starting in the early 1960s. But he only got as far as blank firing it to chamber size a few brass.
    I misplaced his Nonte-Taylor cases and the bullets he cast. So I ordered Norma brass and have received Lyman dies. I found his bullet mold.
    Questions I'll search on this forum include:
    - Bullet O.D. for patching. Do they need to be put through a sizing die?
    - Patching paper? I see plenty of info, so I should be good here.
    - Lead brinell hardness of the cast boolits? I saw a good vid on pencil lead testing.
    - Cartridge wads - where do I find them?

    I'll likely have more once I move forward. Thanks for any pointers.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy okietwolf's Avatar
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    You seem to have done much research on the 45-120, welcome to the club. The wads, I cut my own with a punch wad cutter I got from Buffalo Arms co. Bullet pre patch diameter, relies on your bore dimensions and what works for your individual barrel. Some size some don't. Some guys size to iron on patches, I roll them down my jeans leg (wife loves that). As for supplies, Track of the Wolf and Buffalo Arms seem to have most everything, brass is hit or miss, never when I need any.

  3. #3
    Boolit Mold
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    I would recommend slugging the bore of the rifle. I decided to go for a bore riding bullet and slugging the barrel really helped in knowing what diameter to make my mold as well as helping me choose the right paper.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

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    If your Dad as a mould then cast some and get dia as cast. A lot use 20-1 or 16-1 for alloy. bore dia - bullet dia tells how much under it is. /4 tells what thickness paper for 2 wraps. You want 2 wraps from ogive to just under base for a fold over that leaves a small dia of bullet showing in the center. Patch is a parallelogram with angled matching ends. ends should be 1/32" apart or so when wrapped tight.

    Randolph S. Wrights book titled Loading and shooting the paper patched bullet, A beginners guide is very good and a lot of information. I believe it is available from Shiloh Sharps.

    Paper Patched will shoot very good and be very accurate. To start give walters? vegetable wads a try .060 thick. Start with one brand powder in 1 granulation and work with it. Same with primers. find the best load working with the powder charge and compression first then experiment with wads primers ect. Compression makes a big difference with a powder load. I use a .060 napa rubber fiber wad and 2 tracing paper or newsprint wads under the bullet.

    Oh and buy a few pounds of powder there arnt many rounds for a 45-120 to the pound LOL

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks @country gent. My dad slugged the barrel and the dia is in his notes. He never fired the rifle, but he seemed as cast dia would be good. I'll recheck with a slug. Seems he was stalled at the paper thickness and grade. I've got his heavy box of lead which I will use. But the ratios are unknown to me. I can work my way through conjuring a correct brinell pot, but determining lead-tin is over my head. His lead is mostly old cast smokeless bullets, many pigs, and a stick of antimony.

    That's why the pencil tested brinell of your 20-1, 16-1 would be useful.
    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    The ratio is for every 20 lbs lead add 1lb tin 16-1 is 16 lbs lead to 1 lb tin. With 50 50 solder 19 lbs lead 2 lbs solder you pick up the needed 1 lb lead with the 50 50 solder.

    Here's something to keep in mind with bore riding Paper patched bullets. The lead should never touch the barrel only the paper. and a sifter bullet swells to engage the rifling fully. Ideally the patch is cut but stays in place until its just out of the muzzle. ***** Cole 55w paper, 25% or 50% cotton tracing papers, onion paper all work and the thickness is what matters more as this makes your bullet dia correct. Best is .001 under bore dia or a little closer. Paper thickness in conjunction with the bullet is main. Ideally the shallow seated bullet will be sitting in the rifling centered and straight. When fired it swells and engages the rifling and as it leaves the muzzle the bullet sheds the paper. When fired you will see confetti ( the outer wrap) and the inner wrap with the fold over intact.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    What is a Lawrence Sharps?

  8. #8
    Boolit Mold
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    This gun has two markings: C. Sharps Pat Oct.7 1852 and R.S. Lawrence Pat. 1859. No other markings or s/n. From what I can find the Lawrence patent refers to the original percussion cap mechanism. This rifle is a center fire derivation or rework of the original. This gun doesn't have a cap box in the stock, but there is a recess in the butt plate....probably to accommodate a cap box cover.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Your rifle gets more interesting by the minute. Are you sure it is a 3.25" case though?

  10. #10
    Boolit Mold
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    Hi BrentD. Yes. Heavy Octagon 30 1/4" barrel. Falling block breech, half and full cock hammer. I'll have +-$140 in brass and dies...just to fire it a few times. Mainly to finish my Dad's work and to get one item off my bucket list.

    I know it has a decent value, but I don't know or care how much. Someone tainted it with scope mounts. It will go to my kids.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    ...won't know if the pics came through until I post.

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentD View Post
    Your rifle gets more interesting by the minute. Are you sure it is a 3.25" case though?
    BrentD, please see above. ...still learning this forum's controls. Dave

  12. #12
    Boolit Mold
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    Duplicate - still learning. Disregard
    Last edited by harringtondav; 12-13-2019 at 02:25 PM.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    it looks like an original percussion rifle that was rebarreled. The chambering you have is (arguably) not a historically correct chamber, but so be it. I would be tempted, if the barrel was the right twist and condition, to set it back and rechamber to .45-something smaller (like .45-70). I would also look at some books and photos of original heavy barreled Sharps and then reshape that forearm to match. But as it is, it should shoot fine.

  14. #14
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentD View Post
    it looks like an original percussion rifle that was rebarreled. The chambering you have is (arguably) not a historically correct chamber, but so be it. I would be tempted, if the barrel was the right twist and condition, to set it back and rechamber to .45-something smaller (like .45-70). I would also look at some books and photos of original heavy barreled Sharps and then reshape that forearm to match. But as it is, it should shoot fine.
    You must have known my dad....but he'd be 108 yrs old if he were living.
    ...see his notes on his Sharps below. They align with your comments.

    I found the below box of 45-70 in his possibles. Several fired. I'm clueless on the history. I'll have to wait 'til I cross the Rainbow Bridge to find out.



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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    You have a wonderful task ahead. You do know that BP rounds don't like air space between the powder and the base of the bullet. ---- Just checking. Have fun & report back. Welcome aboard castboolits.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    harringtondav,
    Sounds like your dad did his homework. You might pull one of those cartridges apart and see what's in it.

    Otherwise, I would say, what do your bullets look like. If they are like the ones in the photo, then fill the case with maybe 100 grs of powder (through a drop tube), add a wad, and then see if the bullet will seat about even with the top of the powder column. That would be a good point to start. You should use a wad and I'm going to suggest these, not because I think they are the best wads for everything, but in your case, they will fill up some case volume and let you reduce powder. You can stack as many of these as you want on top of the powder.

    https://www.trackofthewolf.com/Categ.../1/OX-WAD-44-D

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    As for the paper patched bullet, you want them to be a nice gentle snug fit in the muzzle of your rifle. When they are just a friction fit, then they are about the right size. For most modern barrels that's .450". You will need paper that matches with your mold to achieve that. Tell us the diameter of your bullet (after you have cast and measured a few, and we can suggest paper). If we can't get the paper right on the nose thickness wise, then opt for slightly too large and size down with a Lee push-through pistol bullet sizer. ~$35.

    Seat only 0.1" of bullet into the case (hence wads, maybe several), and wipe with 2 damp patches and one dry between shots. This will get you started.

  18. #18
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentD View Post
    As for the paper patched bullet, you want them to be a nice gentle snug fit in the muzzle of your rifle. When they are just a friction fit, then they are about the right size. For most modern barrels that's .450". You will need paper that matches with your mold to achieve that. Tell us the diameter of your bullet (after you have cast and measured a few, and we can suggest paper). If we can't get the paper right on the nose thickness wise, then opt for slightly too large and size down with a Lee push-through pistol bullet sizer. ~$35.

    Seat only 0.1" of bullet into the case (hence wads, maybe several), and wipe with 2 damp patches and one dry between shots. This will get you started.
    Thanks. A lot to process here. The 0.1" seat makes sense. Measuring the mold and the case length I was wondering how I'd achieve the OAL cartridge length shown below. 1/10" answers that.

    Dad also had notes on headspace. Do you recommend a headspace or just stick with the 0.1"?

    Also I watched a vid from Montana Precision Swaging on paper patch reloading. The pro used a drop tube to charge the case. I can conjure up this, or purchase if needed. But what is the purpose? I'm guessing powder compaction. Would vibration or tapping the case achieve the needed results?

    Finally, the Montana guy and pop mentioned a stratified charge beginning with a fine (FFG?) powder and working up more coarse. Is this good practice?

    Finally-finally (I hope), wet/dry swabbing between rounds: What is the wet solution? Just water, water/soap or something else?

    Click image for larger version. 

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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I am not sure what you mean by head space. In these rimmed cartridges that is performed by the rim of the cartridge. I don't know what your dad's notes on the right side are referring too. Maybe case diameters. But they don't seem right for that either, so let's ignore those for now.

    Drop tube is for compaction. You can make one from an aluminum arrow or brass tubing from a hardware or hobby shop. You will need a funnel of course. Vibration can work too, but in a case that tall, I'd definitely go for the drop tube. 18-30" long should do.

    We all use just one granulation - in your case 1f (aka 1fg) would be best,but 2f would work. But be sure it is real blackpowder not the imitation stuff.

    Yup, just water, or dihydrogen oxide, or hydrogen hydroxide. H2O by any other name. but we have to make it sound technical or the guys with the black rifles will think we are all simpletons.

    Depending on your bullet choice it is quite possible that your OAL could be 3.25-0.1+1.5 = 4.65" But I would stick to bullets that are under 1.4" long. How long are the bullets from your mold and what is their diameter? These are the two most important things.

    East central Iowa. Not far. I'm in central central more or less. Story City. If you are over here, I could show you a few things perhaps and cut down the learning curve.

  20. #20
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentD View Post
    I am not sure what you mean by head space. In these rimmed cartridges that is performed by the rim of the cartridge. I don't know what your dad's notes on the right side are referring too. Maybe case diameters. But they don't seem right for that either, so let's ignore those for now.

    Drop tube is for compaction. You can make one from an aluminum arrow or brass tubing from a hardware or hobby shop. You will need a funnel of course. Vibration can work too, but in a case that tall, I'd definitely go for the drop tube. 18-30" long should do.

    We all use just one granulation - in your case 1f (aka 1fg) would be best,but 2f would work. But be sure it is real blackpowder not the imitation stuff.

    Yup, just water, or dihydrogen oxide, or hydrogen hydroxide. H2O by any other name. but we have to make it sound technical or the guys with the black rifles will think we are all simpletons.

    Depending on your bullet choice it is quite possible that your OAL could be 3.25-0.1+1.5 = 4.65" But I would stick to bullets that are under 1.4" long. How long are the bullets from your mold and what is their diameter? These are the two most important things.

    East central Iowa. Not far. I'm in central central more or less. Story City. If you are over here, I could show you a few things perhaps and cut down the learning curve.
    I wondered if I used the correct term. My dad mentioned the OAL cartridge length in terms of bullet nose distance to the start of rifling.

    Dig. caliper measures the mold cavity at .441 - .442 dia. Bullet length approx. 1.51". I suspect there may be some shrink(??). Pic of mold below. The mold appears to be copper. So I was wondering if I should preheat the mold to avoid a chill layer on the bullet.

    Without better guidance I was planning to assemble an empty brass with an unpatched bullet in an expanded neck, after verifying correct case length and fit. Dad mentioned he had to trim his Nonte-Taylor brass to fit. Then force the loose cartridge into the breach and let the rifling seat the bullet, then adjust the seating die to allow for clearance. What do you think?

    Also, I suspect my Lyman three die set has an adjustable crimp ring. Normally I wouldn't use it on a single shot round to avoid overworking the brass. But I read/saw where it is recommended to allow full chamber pressure at detonation. Your thoughts?

    I may take you up on the face-to-face. I live in C.F. and frequently drive to DSM where my son works. Basically past your front door. If not before, my wife flies out of DSM in March. I doubt I'll have the Sharps to a range before then. Her winter honey-do list trumps mine.

    Is there a way to PM on this forum to exchange contact info?

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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"
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check