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Thread: My homemade black powder

  1. #4061
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAGS View Post
    The wood burns up as the Zinc cools.
    Harder woods do better .
    I never tried getting the wood wet.
    I was always afraid there could be a steam explosion.
    Zinc cools a lot slower than lead.
    I thought it wouldn't be a good idea either, but was reading something somewhere (can't remember now) about guys pouring their lead into their copper pieces for media and using a wood block with holes to place the copper pieces in. But, he was saying not doesn't work because the lead just runs out underneath and soaking the wood overnight prevents that due to acting as a heat sink.

    I certainly wouldn't want to toss a wet piece of wood into a pot of molten zinc

  2. #4062
    Boolit Master
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    I haven't done it with casting Zinc yet,
    But with lead casting in wood , I line the mold with aluminium foil.
    Remember,
    This type of casting using wood forms is just to get a hunk of metal cast into a general shape.

  3. #4063
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    For this, I would check with metal suppliers or a fab shop for a hunk of 3/8" or 1/2" thick aluminum. Wouldn't need to be very large/expensive. Then bore blind holes in it, and cast away with your zinc. A 1/2" milling bit would work better than a drill bit for boring the blind holes, but either could work.

    Doctor's appt. right now; later I'll post a pic of my aluminum block.

    Vettepilot
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  4. #4064
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    I have in the past , cast melted aluminum cans and poured them into metal pans or square molds made out of sand.
    But that was back when I had a forge made out of an old truck brake drum.
    But In small amounts , you could probably just use a torch to melt small amounts of cans.

  5. #4065
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    I've cast silver rings using a wooden mold with no problems except a lot of smoke and flame. Since zinc has a lower melting temperature using a hard wood like oak would work fine. The mold might need to be split apart to release the slug of zinc.

  6. #4066
    Boolit Master OldBearHair's Avatar
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    Has anyone tried Plaster of Paris molds? Years ago I used it to make molds for lead fishing sinkers. After you poured a few, little bits of the mold would come out on the lead. And, casting with zinc might be a lot worse. The molds are really cheap to make.. I used small trinket cardboard boxes, filling 1/2 of the way then pushing the sinker down into the mix half way. After it set up drill a counter sunk line up hole in opposite corners of the mold . Used a mold release then filled the box completely and let it set up. Next remove the sinker and make the pour hole. Then cook the mold hot enough to evaporate the moisture. One could round up some of those odd shaped balls mentioned here by using some sort of anvil and a hammer while rotating it. My first plaster casts were Boy Scout slide emblems for the neckerchief. We did paint them the proper color. WE were a poor troup and had to make do with what we had.

  7. #4067
    Boolit Buddy Doughty's Avatar
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    Just learned a bit of information that might be of interest to others in western and northern parts of the country. Found out that Scouler's Willow is very common in the forest in these areas. Also found out that in other areas, Scouler's Willow is known as black willow.

    I just finished making my first batch of black powder, using Scouler's Willow. As the man said, "It will kill." My oldest grandson has been helping me make it. Tomorrow we plan to go out so he can try it in a "Philadelphia Derringer."

    And a thanks to all in this thread for the information provided.
    AKA "Old Vic"
    "I am a great believer in powder-burning".
    --Theodore Roosevelt, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman

  8. #4068
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    I have made molds out of Plaster of Paris.
    They worked good.
    But be sure you dry the mold slowly and get all the moisture out.
    If you cook the molds too fast , they tend to crack.
    But this type of mold is a good idea.

  9. #4069
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAGS View Post
    I have made molds out of Plaster of Paris.
    They worked good.
    But be sure you dry the mold slowly and get all the moisture out.
    If you cook the molds too fast , they tend to crack.
    But this type of mold is a good idea.
    That's a great idea. My grandfather has operated a small plaster shop for probably 50 years now... He's about 90 and still goes out there every day and casts figurines from plaster, paints them, casts hollow poor concrete figurines, paint them and experiments with all kinds of mold making techniques out there. He also used to play AAA minor league baseball for the indians and was a knuckle curve pitcher. He is my idol, to say the least.

    This gives me great ideas for making a bullet mold involving plaster and latex and a bullet, but it wouldn't work so it's actually not a very good idea.

    But, I think you could probably utilize plaster to cast some brass hardware for your old muzzleloader. That would be a fun project.

  10. #4070
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    When I had my forge,
    I did cast some brass objects and parts for some rifles.
    It was a satisfying hobby , but lots of work.
    At the time .
    I worked for a Demolition contractor.
    I got tons of Brass valves , copper Pipe and Lead flashing to work with.
    So that kept my costs way down.
    If someone had a casting furnace and made plaster of Paris molds , they could cast brass balls for our Ball Mills.
    I would get back into it but , I retired and don't have access to all the scrap I use to get in construction or demolition.
    I only have about 300 lbs of lead left and sold off most of my brass scrap.

  11. #4071
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    Here's the results of round 2 of my high/low temp charcoal testing.

    My initial results just from burning the powder on paper led me to believe the low temperature was likely slower and dirtier. After tumbling the low temp longer because of a mill problem, it sped it up to where it may have been about the same as the high temp.

    Two important variables here that are skewing my results a little are:

    1. Cedar #1 was pressed from meal and prepressed then ground powder. I didn't remill the stuff that was already pressed. It also wasn't dried after pressing the first time, so there was moisture already in there than cedar #2. So, I pressed a little liquid out by accident, but not much. Maybe 0.5-0.75mL from 60g powder. I don't know if that is enough to lower speed the amount that is shown in my shooting.

    #2. Since it had been pressed once and not milled again, pressing it again made it more dense than cedar #2, just because I didn't alter my pressing process and the powder grounds were more dense to start. The research article shows that a denser powder burns slower. I don't know how much. My Lee measure, which is for a 30-06, consistently measured about 48.25g for cedar #1 and about 47.25g for cedar #2. Not a big difference, but it's something.

    Also, it's worth noting that my grain size distribution was very close to identical on both; they're a mix of what stays on my 30 and 40 screen, this time in a 75/25 ratio.

    I did not clean the bore or wipe it between shots for each 10 shot string. I only cleaned between the powders. I didn't use a blow tube either. I shot in strings of 3-4, the. Waited for the barrel to cool, with periods of 10 minutes between strings at times.

    In the results, the speeds for cedar #1 were slower. Which contradicts my very initial prediction due to reading something about the leftover volatiles from a lower char process making a faster powder. It's possible this isn't true, but it's possible that the 2 variables above skewed the velocities enough to give a false conclusion and it's also possible that the temperature my charcoal was done at was too low, basically making undercooked charcoal that negated the benefits of leftover volatiles.

    For cleanliness, looking at my patches , I think #1 might edge out #2, but it's close. For the cedar #2, I ended up having some fliers in the last few shots. I think my shots were well executed and shouldn't be shooter error. I checked my bore when I got home and there was extremely minimal leading, so I don't believe that is the cause either. Either it's complete coincidence, or the higher temp charcoal didn't have any of that creosote that Swiss reportedly has, allowing a shooter to shoot longer strings before fouling causes fliers due to hard fouling. Maybe the lower temp powder had more creosote left in it, leaving the fouling soft. The patches are front and back wiped.

    Cedar #1
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    Cedar #2
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  12. #4072
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    Hay guys.
    I think I found something else to try for tumbling media that lessens exposed lead.
    I am going to half fill some 9mm casings with lead.
    Then I will press and roll crimp a .38/357 Copper Gas Check into the casing to cap it off and cover the exposed lead in the casing.
    If it works , I may make some out of old brass .45 acp casings for larger heavier tumbling media.
    Not all of you cast and load for center-fire guns.
    But there are enough of us that may be able to make up and supply you with thing you want.

    Hmmm.
    I wonder if you can find gas checks that would fit snugly in a section of copper tubing to cap off both ends and cover up your exposed lead in your copper tumbling media.
    Last edited by LAGS; 06-17-2021 at 11:51 PM.

  13. #4073
    Boolit Buddy Doughty's Avatar
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    Well I must confess to putting out some bad info. Last night I talked to a friend that I shoot with who is a professor at the University of Montana. His specialty being wood products. After telling him of my great discovery about finding some of the famed black willow, he kindly informed me that the scientific name for "black willow" is salix nigra whereas what I had, Scouler's Willow is salix scouleriana. So, not the holy grail of willow, but still makes some very usable charcoal.
    AKA "Old Vic"
    "I am a great believer in powder-burning".
    --Theodore Roosevelt, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman

  14. #4074
    Boolit Master
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    It is nice that your friend gave you the proper Latin name for your wood.
    But it is all Greek to me

  15. #4075
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAGS View Post
    Hay guys.
    I think I found something else to try for tumbling media that lessens exposed lead.
    I am going to half fill some 9mm casings with lead.
    Then I will press and roll crimp a .38/357 Copper Gas Check into the casing to cap it off and cover the exposed lead in the casing.
    If it works , I may make some out of old brass .45 acp casings for larger heavier tumbling media.
    Not all of you cast and load for center-fire guns.
    But there are enough of us that may be able to make up and supply you with thing you want.

    Hmmm.
    I wonder if you can find gas checks that would fit snugly in a section of copper tubing to cap off both ends and cover up your exposed lead in your copper tumbling media.
    Hey Larry, Fly and I talked about this several years ago. I decided to give it a try, and found 45acp brass works great. Pour the casings about 75% max full, the lead will anneal them well enough you can use a round nose seater die to to crimp the mouth of the cases shut. Makes darn good CHEAP tumbling media. Being a cheap **** is why I came upon the idea (so I didn't spend $$ on copper pipe lol).
    An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. "Inside me two wolves fight," he told the boy.
    "One is evil - he is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, lies, false pride, and ego. The other is good - he is joy, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, generosity, truth and faith. The same fight is inside you - and every other person, too."
    The grandson thought for a minute and asked,"Which wolf will win?"
    The old Cherokee replied, "The one you feed."

  16. #4076
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    It will make Cheap Media.
    But with the ammo shortage finding old casings can be a little hard.
    People are hoarding them.
    But I do have a fair amount of spare casings that I won't reload like some brass .45 cases with small pistol primers pockets.

  17. #4077
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAGS View Post
    It will make Cheap Media.
    But with the ammo shortage finding old casings can be a little hard.
    People are hoarding them.
    But I do have a fair amount of spare casings that I won't reload like some brass .45 cases with small pistol primers pockets.
    I like your idea. As long as the gas checks stay in place. Maybe a drop of thin super glue on them after they're pressed together?

    I think the reason the copper tube + lead media works so well is that you have impact going on while tumbling, just like using balls, but the sharp tubing edges provide a shearing action as well. The combo makes for very efficient milling. Your idea of using .45 cal brass, filled with lead and capped with a gas check should have these qualities as well. Personally, I would install the gas checks with the concave towards the inside, to maintain that sharp edge on the assembly. (They would be a heck of a lot easier to mate this way as well...)

    Edit to add: My brain is already storming on how to make these. They would be better than my copper tube media in my small test tumbler I believe... In order to easily fill each cartridge case with the correct amount of lead, I'm going to braze a handle on a .45 acp case, making a perfect size scoop/lead ladle. I think using the bottom pour lead pot would result in a lot of over and under fills of the brass cases with lead. Squeeze a little pour spout into the "cartridge ladle", oh yeah, this could work well. You can use cheap, pure lead too. If anyone has access to lead wire or rod, they could just cut to length and not even have to cast the lead!

    Vettepilot
    Last edited by Vettepilot; 06-18-2021 at 04:49 PM.
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  18. #4078
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    Whoa!! As I said, "brainstorming" here. According to Wikipedia, guess what size 3/8" type "m" copper tubing is in internal diameter. .450"!!

    So we don't need brass cartridge cases! Cut this above mentioned tubing to length, install a .45 acp gas check, pour in the lead, install another gas check to cap it off, and you're good to go!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_tubing

    Vettepilot
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  19. #4079
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    Brainstorming is why we are here.
    It is great
    Last edited by LAGS; 06-18-2021 at 09:50 PM.

  20. #4080
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    Hmmm... regardless of what Wikipedia says, I'm having a hard time finding that size. However, Online Metals shows .5" od copper pipe with a .035" wall. This has an id of .430", which should work with 44 magnum gas checks.

    https://www.onlinemetals.com/en/buy/...hoCUsMQAvD_BwE

    My common 1/2" copper pipe, bought at Lowes, measures .573" id. Not a very common gas check size. But the above combo using 44 mag checks should work...

    Vettepilot
    Last edited by Vettepilot; 06-18-2021 at 05:46 PM.
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

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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