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Thread: Trapdoor shooters - hints, tricks on bore swabbing, thorough cleaning, etc.?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Trapdoor shooters - hints, tricks on bore swabbing, thorough cleaning, etc.?

    I have been shooting BP for over 55 years so am well versed on cleaning round ball rifles, rifled muskets, revolvers, etc. BUT, I have found a decent Springfield 45/70 trapdoor and am in the process of purchasing it from a good member here and by design, it is a “different animal” from a muzzleloader.

    My question pertains to swabbing the bore when shooting between shots or strings of shots and a thorough cleaning after a shooting session. On muzzleloaders, I usually use a fiberglass, wood or brass cleaning rod with a muzzle protector bushing and use a jag to wet and dry patch to remove fouling when necessary.

    On my Smith carbine, which is easy as it is a break action, I usually wet and dry patch to remove fouling when shooting by using wet and dry patching from the breech towards the muzzle, pushing the fouling towards and out of the muzzle so it does not build up in the chamber/breech area.

    I know that the trapdoor was historically cleaned from the muzzle. That is obvious from the muzzle wear seen on many of them. I’m planning on shooting the trapdoor often and of course I can give it a good and complete cleaning after shooting sessions. During shooting sessions – for trapdoor owners – what is your normal method of wet/dry patching when necessary to take care of fouling build up. If running a wet patch down from the muzzle and then dry patching – it seems to me that you could be pushing a lot of fouling into the chamber of the rifle which could cause issues when chambering the next cartridge.
    Close breech and mark rod to know when you are at the throat and don’t go beyond? Open breech and push patch through to open breech past the chamber?

    Or – am I “over-thinking” on what the actual fouling will be as far as build up? I’ll be starting out with Grafs (Goex) 2F and the Lee 459-405 HB with finger lubed grooves.

    I have never used a blow tube before so also have some question on using one. I understand the principle of them and keeping fouling soft – I figured I would use a section of flexible plastic tubing for one – but what diameter ID would work best? I am assuming it is inserted in the open breech so the end is near where the throat/rifling meet? Will a blow tube eliminate the necessity of wet/dry patching after a number of shots?

    I used to shoot N-SSA so am fully aware of what the fouling build up can be in a rifled musket during a relay when quite a few rounds are fired. However, I am wondering if I am over estimating what the fouling build up can be in the bore of a 45/70 trapdoor? Historically, a trooper/soldier utilizing a McKeever cartridge pouch would have a minimum of 20 rounds available and I am assuming that through field trials, a quantity of 20 BP rounds could be fired during an engagement – or more than 20 – without a lot of fouling issues or other issues that would prevent the firearm from being fired.

    For those that normally shoot BP loads in their trapdoors – any hints, tricks, etc. in regards to the fouling when shooting and the overall cleaning of the trapdoor after a shooting session would be appreciated. I’m trying to think ahead so that I can have what I need on hand once I get the rifle to shoot. On a thorough cleaning of a trapdoor – any issues with removing the barrel, putting the breech in to a bucket of hot soapy water and using a patch and jag to draw the water up into the bore, etc. to remove fouling (I use this method for many of my muzzleloaders – and then completely drying the barrel inside and out, the breech block, etc. and then re-oiling the breechblock internals and bore, etc.?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    Drill out a .45-70 case, insert tube for blow tube. Clean from muzzle with breach open, pushing all the way thru.

    Done shooting, use a small funnel and with the rifle muzzle down, pour a cup of water down the barrel from the breech. Dry patch, oil patch, wipe out the trap.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Drydoc - thank you - that helps greatly. The cartridge case blow tube will be easy enough to do - appreciate that suggestion greatly.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    On your cleaning rod, use one of the brass tapered cones that slides over the rod and sits in the muzzle. I clean everything that way to prevent that wear. Also a good coated rod, like a Proshot is your friend.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    rockrat's Avatar
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    How about a Bore Snake?

  6. #6
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    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    A friend of mine got a length of 5/16” (or maybe 3/8”) Delrin rod, whittled a jag tip on the end and used it to clean his Trapdoor from the breech. It’s flexible enough to bend past the action and allow cleaning this way.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    The Derlin rods have become quite popular, and are certainly an excellent way to proceed. Make sure you're using classic BP design bullets that carry plenty of BP lubricant to keep the fouling soft. The 3 groove rifling of the Trapdoors is very tolerant of fouling, (in the field, troops wore a 50 round mills belt, the Mckeever was for barracks wear.) I have shot a 60 round combat match with only the occasional blow across the muzzle into a cupped hand to put a little moisture in the end of the barrel, you'll find the hardest fouling tends to accumulate in the last few inchs of barrel. The Lee 405 HB is an excellent design for such applications if your rifle has the older ramp and ladder sights. However, if you have a Buffington sight, I would recommend this mold https://accuratemolds.com/bullet_det...=46-500D-D.png

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  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    I use a 3/8" delrin rod in my TDs. As you know from skirmishing accurate measuring of the bore size is very important but tricky with 3 grooves. In a TD, it's groove size and still tricky, but slugging the bore is essential. Don't assume that a .459/405 HB will shoot well. Most .45-70 TDs have over size groove depths that may need a .462-.463 bullet. I never had very much luck with the 405 HB. The hollow base expanding to groove depth is a myth. That's not what it was intended for. My TD does much better with a .462 500 gr Government cast 20:1.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    One method I've used is to leave a fired case in the chamber, and then push a couple wet patches down the bore, and into the empty case.

    The case catches most of the fouling and moisture, and not the chamber. Your rod needs to release the dirty patch into the case, and not drag it half way up into the bore. On a hot day fire a couple rounds and use a patch, on a humid day maybe 10 shots.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy tmanbuckhunter's Avatar
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    I blow tube between shots, and for deep cleaning I use a muzzle protector. Don't over think it; just be gentle.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Here is how I wipe my TD between shots as well as clean from the breech
    beltfed/arnieClick image for larger version. 

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  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy tmanbuckhunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beltfed View Post
    Here is how I wipe my TD between shots as well as clean from the breech
    beltfed/arnieClick image for larger version. 

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    Where can one acquire one of these wiping rods?

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    Shiloh Rifles, C. Sharps Arms or one of the suppliers like Buffalo Arms or Sagebrush ought to have them. Or you could buy a yard of Delrin rod from Professional Plastics or another supplier and make your own.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Thank you all – great information and very helpful.

    I thought I had a trapdoor purchased from a member here – it looked good in the photos and the fellow’s shooting experience with it attested to the accuracy it was capable of. Unfortunately, the seller lives in California - I committed to buying it, but things just seemed to happen on his end that kept driving the price up and I bowed out – I’ll leave it at that.

    I have everything together now to load 45/70 BP. I have not given up on a trapdoor but am also leaving my options open for other rifles that will work for the non-competition shooting that I want to do with the 45/70. As they say, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of pigs before you find a princess. I don’t expect a 130 plus year old rifle to be perfect – I have shot some original Civil War era rifled muskets that some folks would call basket cases, but the bores were good and they functioned fine. I have run across several trapdoors, but I passed them as they had been “rode hard and put away wet” – the bores were pretty bad or if the bores were good further down the barrel, they had a lot of cleaning rod muzzle wear.

    I’m still looking and will come up with something at some point – just looking for a good single shot so I am not eliminating other rifle styles. I greatly appreciate all of the help and advice on the trapdoors and have copy and pasted the information and run it off to add to my reloading notebook. My thanks again to everyone.

    Jim

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    tmanbuckhunter,
    I sent you a PM
    beltfed/arnie

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drydock View Post
    Drill out a .45-70 case, insert tube for blow tube. Clean from muzzle with breach open, pushing all the way thru.

    Done shooting, use a small funnel and with the rifle muzzle down, pour a cup of water down the barrel from the breech. Dry patch, oil patch, wipe out the trap.
    The blow tube is standard procedure but there is no need for pouring water thru the barrel. My method is to run a brush down the barrel followed by patches dampened with water from a pump-spray bottle. I run damp patches until they come out clean, usually 3 or 4, then follow with dry patches. I finish with a patch dampened with Ed's Red which is wiped out before the next shoot.

    When shooting matches I wipe the bore between relays., or shot strings, with damp patches followed by dry patches.
    There is no need to complicate this with old wives tales of woe.

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