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Thread: Measuring cloth thickness for patches.

  1. #1
    Boolit Master



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    Measuring cloth thickness for patches.

    Any advice for measuring the thickness of cloth for patches? I assume a micrometer is best. How much pressure do you apply before taking a reading? Any other tips?
    My .445 ball rolls down and out easily. I now have a .440 mold and have casted a few already to try if needed. I’ve also casted both sizes in pure lead too.
    Thanks for all comments and advise.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master pietro's Avatar
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    .

    I never bothered to measure, since AFAIK Walmart pillow ticking is fairly uniform in thickness, about .017" before washing - with the red stripe ticking a tad thicker than the blue stripe ticking. (or vise-versa ?)

    Just be sure to lubricate whatever you use.

    I've had some bores so tight that I had to use much thinner t-shirt material.

    Half the satisfaction in setting up a BP gun is playing with the patch thickness.

    .
    Experience is a wonderful thing - It lets you recognize a mistake, when you make it again.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    Greg,

    Why do you need to measure? I have too many muzzleloaders, cast balls and maxis and am a happy camper. As for balls, I have several patch thickness patches from .080, .10. .12. .15 and .18" I try each as needed until I secure a nice snug fit on a clean bore and a ball and go smaller as needed. I never need to measure as my rifle "tells" me what it prefers.

    Adam

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

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    If you measure, do it consistent. You could have 3 different guys measure a piece of cloth and likely everyone would have a different measurement. I don't compress, myself I let the clutch work so I have some kind of consistency. I just use it for a guide so I know somewhere where I am at. I'm not out for benchrest accuracy. I also have many MLs to shoot and I'm not going to have a different cloth for each.
    Aim small, miss small!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregLaROCHE View Post
    Any advice for measuring the thickness of cloth for patches? I assume a micrometer is best. How much pressure do you apply before taking a reading? Any other tips?
    My .445 ball rolls down and out easily. I now have a .440 mold and have casted a few already to try if needed. I’ve also casted both sizes in pure lead too.
    Thanks for all comments and advise.
    Mike with force ,only way to get where you want to be. A patched ball needs to engage rifling and that is tite!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    I follow Dutch Schoultze’s advice—tighten the micrometer thimble down as tight as you can. No “feather touch” here.

    That’s the patch thickness the ball will see when it is pressing the patch against the rifling, tightly but short of tearing it.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    what ed and bent said - tight mic the cloth and use that as a *guideline* because all cloth is different, sometimes even within the same lot. when you find a cloth that works well for ya, buy up as much as you can and yer set for that gun and that ball cast from the same mould with the same lead and stuck above the same powder brand and charge with that same patch and that same lube.

    for the mostest and bestest accuracy, that will almost always require a *tight* patched ball load that will at the very least require a forceful slap of a short rod past the muzzle, if not the use of a mallet.
    "Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." - Jeff Cooper

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by rfd View Post
    what ed and bent said - tight mic the cloth and use that as a *guideline* because all cloth is different, sometimes even within the same lot. when you find a cloth that works well for ya, buy up as much as you can and yer set for that gun and that ball cast from the same mould with the same lead and stuck above the same powder brand and charge with that same patch and that same lube.

    for the mostest and bestest accuracy, that will almost always require a *tight* patched ball load that will at the very least require a forceful slap of a short rod past the muzzle, if not the use of a mallet.
    Dont wanna argue with you about tight patches (well I do really but......) so I say it this way - there are less than one guy in 20 can shoot an open sighted muzzle loader good enough to prove that correct - standing offhand more like one guy in a hundred - for most of us tight patch ball accuracy is a myth - unless I have a different definition of tight and slick than everbody else. (I use a short starter but mallets are for driving in tent pegs)

  9. #9
    Joe - you are exactly right. I want my rifles to load easy - it's of no use if you have to fight it in the woods when you really need a second shot.
    I can shoot more than well enough to tell the difference, and they shoot plenty good enough when they thumb start and slide right on down.
    Good solid consistant seating on the powder will do more for accuracy than a tight patch. You can prove that to yourself with a chronograph.
    All my rifles use blue tick from Fort Sam Walton, and they like it.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregLaROCHE View Post
    Any advice for measuring the thickness of cloth for patches? I assume a micrometer is best. How much pressure do you apply before taking a reading? Any other tips?
    My .445 ball rolls down and out easily. I now have a .440 mold and have casted a few already to try if needed. I’ve also casted both sizes in pure lead too.
    Thanks for all comments and advise.
    Greg
    keep it simple
    For a shallow rifled barrel - thinner patches - heres my rough guide
    1)the thinnest material that will work is cotton japara I have not been able to buy it the last several years (maybe pocket lining fills that gap?)
    2) next is calico - easy to find runs about 10-12 thou I think
    3) then pillow ticking (from the same store) will be a bit heavier - but you will find it in several different weights - depending on the store and where they source stuff (India , bangladesh etc)
    4) If You suffer blowouts with ticking or are loading heavy - cotton drill measures about the same thick as pillow ticking but is a tighter weave, tougher cloth, and it works good - drill has a pattern though so I always load it outside to the ball - inside to the rifling, other way might work but keep it same side each time.

    I never measure the cloth but I was a professional woolclasser for many years, trained my sense of touch on textile stuff pretty good.

    Always wash your cloth before cutting patches to get the "sizing" out of it (some starch like gunk they use to make it look nicer on the roll and cut easier) then I iron my patch material and fold several thicknesses over to cut it using a wad punch - can cut 8 or sometimes even 16 thicknesses at the time like that.

    Try some pillow ticking with your 440 ball and if that loads too easy - move to the 445 ball - too tight - try some calico patch material - have fun with it!

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by indian joe View Post
    Dont wanna argue with you about tight patches (well I do really but......) so I say it this way - there are less than one guy in 20 can shoot an open sighted muzzle loader good enough to prove that correct - standing offhand more like one guy in a hundred - for most of us tight patch ball accuracy is a myth - unless I have a different definition of tight and slick than everbody else. (I use a short starter but mallets are for driving in tent pegs)
    i'll stand by my experience and that of the target folks - tight patched loads that require a stout short starter and a brass rod win the vast majority of matches. period.

    HOWEVER, tight loads are simply not my style with a flintlock long gun. this means NO mallet and NO short starter - only the rod that's on the gun is used. it's the way it was clearly done back in the day (18th century) and that's my particular focus for me and flintlock long guns.

    does a "loose load" mean a loss of accuracy? it all depends on what is considered "good accuracy" - what target size and at what distance. i will contend that loose loads will be a handicap of sorts when up against those folks loading tight. ymmv.
    "Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." - Jeff Cooper

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    My advice is to forget about it. The idea of measuring a fabric with any kind of accuracy is ludicrous. You could hand the same calipers or micrometer, with the same fabric to 5 guys, and get 5 different measurements. Once I realized this, I simply found various suitable fabrics, and tried them for real in the gun. No measurement can predict how much a fabric will compress in actual use. For example, pockets from my jeans measure thinner than your run of the mill pillow ticking from the store. Yet it seems to me that pocket fabric loads much harder than pillow ticking.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    My advice is to forget about it. The idea of measuring a fabric with any kind of accuracy is ludicrous. You could hand the same calipers or micrometer, with the same fabric to 5 guys, and get 5 different measurements. Once I realized this, I simply found various suitable fabrics, and tried them for real in the gun. No measurement can predict how much a fabric will compress in actual use. For example, pockets from my jeans measure thinner than your run of the mill pillow ticking from the store. Yet it seems to me that pocket fabric loads much harder than pillow ticking.
    correct with one exception - if the measuring is done in a controlled manner it becomes an "experiment of one" that will only matter to the experimenter. been there, done that for over 65 years of muzzleloading.
    "Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." - Jeff Cooper

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Funny that this thread came up today.
    Yesterday I went to the range to specifically see what patch and ball combination two of my TC .50 Cal's liked.
    One with the original 1:48 twist and the Relined barrel in 1:60 twist
    They both were very easy to load with a .008 patch.
    The .010" loaded a little more firm but was easy to ram home even on a fouled barrel.
    One loaded tight with a .015 but the other that I just had Re Lined by Hoyt was difficult to load with a .015" patch unless it was a Very Clean bore.
    I was shooting .490 Tumbled Lead Balls in both Rifles.
    Now my .61 cal Rebored by Hoyt with a deep rifling takes or likes a .020" patch with a .600 bore and .640 groove diameter using a .600 ball cast from a Lee mold.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    This is kind of true, but I just don't see what valid information measuring can provide. For example, pillow ticking. It can measure up to around .015"-.017" depending on how gentle you are on the wheel, yet by squeezing it, It could be .010", .009", I even got it to read .008".

    My point is that I can take two fabrics side by side, and tell you which is thicker with nothing but my own fingers, and it will be just as accurate an estimation as a calipers.

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master



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    For industry various types of gauges are used. They apply a specific load on a specific area. Cheap one can be had on evil bay or Amazon.

    https://www.amazon.com/s?k=dial+Thic...ref=nb_sb_noss
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."
    – Amber Veal

    "The Highest form of ignorance is when your reject something you don't know anything about".
    - Wayne Dyer

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    I bring my mike to the fabric store just because I am the operator (NO ONE ELSE)and you use it the same tool ,you get the same result every time WITH OUT FAIL and without the tool you don"t (EXCEPTION Indian Joe). Treated as a bench mark it may read different for you but without exception it will be consistent for measuring patch thickness . Different charges /different ball size/alloy will require different patch material(AND thickness) for best accuracy and that is a fact not changed by opinion but proven when you have a blown patch . And anyone says otherwise start with no patch and work yur way up in thickness and weave until your thrilled with your group , now try and repeat that with out a mike (just by feel/looks) . You will be making many runs to the fabric store rather than admiring targets and trying to remember what you did with micrometer !

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master

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    A better way to measure soft materials, cloth rubber sponge cork ect ect is to obtain 2 .250 thk X 1 1/2 square blocks and measure with the material between the blocks, then subtract 1/2". Mine are .5 thk and I use my 1-2" set. AT one time Starret and some others made a set with 1/2" measuring faces for paper and soft materials. Another is with a height gauge stand and indicator to "compare" thicknesses. here the indicators spring tension sets the tension

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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