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Thread: Flintlock mythbusters

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    Flintlock mythbusters

    http://www.blackpowdermag.com/featur...lock-movie.php

    This page has some real eye openers, as far as vent position, priming position, and various other things we think we "know". Follow through the various parts of the page, and you will find interviews with some of the best builders in the country.
    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!


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    Finally had time to watch these all the way through............wow...eye opening.....and pretty dern cool


    thanks

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    That's a great web site Ric. It has been duly bookmarked...Ray
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    Myth: Caplocks ignite faster than a properly tuned Flintlock.

    I've seen flinters go off as fast as a cartridge gun.

    And a properly tuned flintlock will also fire UPSIDE-DOWN.

    They are amazing machines.
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    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    You may also wish to read Larry Pletcher's "Pan/Vent Experiments" in the March 2009 "Muzzle Blasts" (NMLRA publication). Larry's research questions the conventional wisdom about vent position relative to the pan as well as powder placement in the pan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maven View Post
    You may also wish to read Larry Pletcher's "Pan/Vent Experiments" in the March 2009 "Muzzle Blasts" (NMLRA publication). Larry's research questions the conventional wisdom about vent position relative to the pan as well as powder placement in the pan.
    Maven, I don't get Muzzle Blasts. Could you give me a synopsis?
    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!


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    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    Glad to Ric! Larry questioned the effect of vent location* (even with the pan v. slightly above the pan v. slightly below the pan) on ignition speed/time. In short, after many trials, he found that it had little effect and that the conventional wisdom was misleading if not mistaken. The other test had to do with powder location in the pan: away from the vent v. level priming v. next to the vent, as the conventional wisdom teaches. (He even varied the vent location when testing this.) Once again, he found fastest ignition with the powder next to the vent, regardless of whether it was lower, level with, or higher than the pan. The powder banked away from the pan (all 3 locations) gave the slowest ignition times.

    When I got my Dixie TN Mtn. rifle, I read and reread Sam Fadala's BP Handbook, particularly the part about flintocks. He was pretty emphatic about using a small priming charge backed away from the vent. I followed his advice and got many flashes in the pan. With a full, but level pan things improved. After reading Pletcher's article, I'm going to bank the powder next to the vent and continue to clear the vent with a brass wire to see if I can ignite the main charge 100% of the time.



    *Larry had a lockplate fixture that enabled him to vary the pan : vent height.

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    Doh! The video of this experiment is on a link of the originally posted page.

    http://www.blackpowdermag.com/featur...xperiments.php

    Follow the other links on the page for more interesting stuff.

    Thanks Maven
    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!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Maven View Post
    Glad to Ric! Larry questioned the effect of vent location* (even with the pan v. slightly above the pan v. slightly below the pan) on ignition speed/time. In short, after many trials, he found that it had little effect and that the conventional wisdom was misleading if not mistaken. The other test had to do with powder location in the pan: away from the vent v. level priming v. next to the vent, as the conventional wisdom teaches. (He even varied the vent location when testing this.) Once again, he found fastest ignition with the powder next to the vent, regardless of whether it was lower, level with, or higher than the pan. The powder banked away from the pan (all 3 locations) gave the slowest ignition times.

    When I got my Dixie TN Mtn. rifle, I read and reread Sam Fadala's BP Handbook, particularly the part about flintocks. He was pretty emphatic about using a small priming charge backed away from the vent. I followed his advice and got many flashes in the pan. With a full, but level pan things improved. After reading Pletcher's article, I'm going to bank the powder next to the vent and continue to clear the vent with a brass wire to see if I can ignite the main charge 100% of the time.



    *Larry had a lockplate fixture that enabled him to vary the pan : vent height.
    I locate my vent so a pan full of powder will be centered at the vent hole. No banking or short priming, just fill the pan.
    No matter what anyone says, if the powder is over the vent, it has to burn down to the hole before flame can enter. Granted that powder burns fast but it only takes a millisecond to move the gun. You want the very first contact with the frizzen to throw sparks in the pan, the gun will fire before the cock is all the way down and the frizzen is fully open.
    Banked powder away from the touch hole makes for a long flame travel and it might not go in the hole at all. In that case it is better to just cover the hole a little if it is too low.
    A poor lock has to drag the flint all the way down the frizzen face, or the flint will break making less sparks. That is the main reason for slow firing. The harder the steel, the hotter the sparks are so as locks get cheaper so do the sparks until there are none at all with some of the imported repro guns.
    I would rather use a 200 year old lock then some of the junk put on guns today. You have to start with a quality lock.

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    I just watched the movies and was surprised to see few sparks at flint contact and the flint was in the pan before ignition. I just checked mine and got a pile of sparks right off and if I hold the gun sideways to try and see where it starts to spark, sparks fell on the carpet, thought I would start it on fire. I would sure like to see mine in slow motion.
    This rifle is extremely fast.

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    Paul, just to throw another stick on the fire. When we have a fairly close "gimme" target, there are several of us who shoot our flinters upside down. The ignition is still fast, although you do notice the fire falling from the pan on ignition. And, it amazes those not familiar with flinters, especially when we hit the target!
    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!


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    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    Upside down? That's impresive, as I'm just managing to hold that long, untapered bbl. on the Dixie steady right side up! However, I have learned a few things about its preferences: (1) It needs longer & flints than I originally thought. (2) Bevel down is better than bevel up. (3) Four "doses" from the pan charger (I've gone back to using it) banked toward the touchhole give pretty reliable ignition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by waksupi View Post
    Paul, just to throw another stick on the fire. When we have a fairly close "gimme" target, there are several of us who shoot our flinters upside down. The ignition is still fast, although you do notice the fire falling from the pan on ignition. And, it amazes those not familiar with flinters, especially when we hit the target!
    I was gonna mention that. A properly timed flint with good 4F or finer will fire upside down almost every time (humidity makes a difference...)
    A Democrat that owns Guns is like a Vegan that owns Cats...
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    I remember reading in books of the flint era of the firing of a flintlock held upside down to have been a measure of the gunmakers (or lock makers) expertise.

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    Boolit Master Lead Fred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Ironsights View Post
    Myth: Caplocks ignite faster than a properly tuned Flintlock.

    Anyone who owns a flintlock, knows better
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lead Fred View Post
    Anyone who owns a flintlock, knows better

    Rocklocks Rule!
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    Boolit Bub Ron60's Avatar
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    For what it's worth.
    I always modify flint locks on guns I build (last 20 years or so) so that the outer end of the pan is both deeper and wider than the portion which is closest to the vent. I weld the pans up so I can make the pan not much larger at the vent than the size of the vent hole.
    This borrows from some technology familliar to explosives users called a shaped charge.
    I position the vent so that the center of the hole is on the same level as the center of the top of the pan. With the pan full of 4FG there's still 50% of the vent open.
    The hot jet of gas produced by the priming powder burning is what ignites the main charge. This set up gets the powder both close to the vent so close to the charge and there's plenty of it with the larger capacity for powder at the outer end.
    Personally I prefer the bulk of the prime at the outside of the pan. But with this set up there's still some right at the vent. The large capacity of primer simply makes for good reliable ignition even if everything is not perfect. This arrangement does not quite guarantee ignition with the lock up side down or canted away from the vent.
    If anyone is interest I can try to post some digrams of how I do this. The British had if figured out pretty early.
    Hope this helps someone out there. Not all flint locks are created equal. It can safely be said that it's a lot more trouble coming up with a good, fast, and reliable flint lock than a cap lock that simply works.
    Ron Paull

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    Boolit Bub Ron60's Avatar
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    PS.
    The "Lab Tests" were interesting and well done.
    I do have to wonder however how things would change - if at all - on a normally loaded rifle or smooth bore with a 50 to 100 grain charges behind a patched ball - using the gun's complete lock system and allowing for the variables that will impart to the testing.
    Under field conditions and using the pan design I make, ignition 'seems' to be more reliable when I tap the butt of the rifle in a way that more or less assures there's no prime completely covering the vent. I've always thought it worked well in a normal pan arrangement but the tests here suggest otherwise.
    Of corse I have never used the testing methods and precision in these tests. I'm not sure that would be possible with a completely assembled arm with field loads and natural flint.
    In other words; the flint lock arm is almost an 'organic' thing born of art as much as science and may resist lab testing in that what happens in the field with a hand loaded gun that is carried around in varying conditions would not closely approximate what happens in a lab under controlled circumstances.
    Besides - and this is strictly subjective - are not most named firearms given feminine monikers - - - for a reason??!!
    Just another 2 cents.

  19. #19
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    Hey Ron, good to hear from you. I heard you had moved to Alaska. Get tired of Cut Bank?

    Interesting thoughts on pan shape.

    Ric Carter
    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!


  20. #20
    Boolit Bub Ron60's Avatar
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    Actually, no. Jean and loved the folks in Cut Bank - the geography was something else but the people made up for it. Was pastoring there and got what on the face of it looked like a "great opportunity" in Lewistown - lasted 11 months and I couldn't stand it any more. The Alaska thing was a God Send and just seemed to work out naturally. It's awesome here. Great people and great country and as far from the shenanigans going on is D.C. as possible. It's almost like a different country. A throw back to what America was 40 - 50 years ago.
    On Flint locks; it's tough country here for them. Lots of rain and high humidity. So they have to be tuned to a fair thee well.
    As noted in the tests the human senses are a terrible measure of the minute variations in lock time. So I have made my main criteria speed and reliability. If you ever read the story of Simon Kenton you'll recall as "fast" rifle lock almost cost him his life and did cost him a long stay in captivity. Once free he had him a gun made using a well tuned musket lock. Not quite as fast as a nice sporting rifle lock but it was reliable.
    If I ever get to hunt a brown bear with a flint lock here reliability - then speed is going to be the order of my tuning efforts. Any good flint shooter knows than once the trigger is squeezed you have to be ready for anything from super quick ignition to hang fires so you practice, practice follow through.
    How's things in Somers? I heard it was really hot this year. Yesterday was our warmest day of the summer at 71 - - - for about three hours.
    Ron

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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