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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  The American Plainsmen Society (Moderators: Caleb Hobbs, Tsalagidave)  |  Topic: Historical use of short starters 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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LonesomePigeon
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« on: September 15, 2016, 07:13:11 pm »


 At the local matches pretty much everybody uses a short starter and a range rod, I don't think I've ever seen anybody thumb start and just use the rod that's on the gun. Just for kicks I tried to load my regular patch and ball combo with just the gun's rod and my thumbs and found it virtually impossible for me to get it started. So I'm wondering, would a mountain man be most likely to:
a) use a short starter
b) have really strong thumbs
c) use a less tight(and possibly less accurate) ball and patch combo that is easier to thumb start
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Professor Marvel
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2016, 11:42:36 pm »

Greetings My Good Lonesome -

I thought I recalled, to the best of my knowledge, there is little historical provenance for short starters used in the field.

But over here, we find a discussion of mallets issued to British Riflemen, used both to drive the ball into the muzzle, then
flipped over and used as a short starter:
http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=19243.0

Sooooo .... it happened!

I myself have resorted to using the flat of the handle of my patch knife to start a tight patched ball, and was then able to use the
loading rod as normal. Cannnot say that there is any doco for that either...

If one had that much difficulty loading, I truly believe the Hivernaught would switch to a thinner patch.

Another solution is "coning the muzzle"... here is some discussion along with examples of that occurring in the day:
http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=28972.0

bear in mind, I have been wrong before, and I fully suspect I shall be wrong again :-)

yhs
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Tsalagidave
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Dave Rodgers


« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2016, 11:38:47 pm »

LP,

What is your rifle cal., ball size, and wadding?  I find that if you have about a .05 windage, ramming a good ticking patch is a nice exercise in profanity development.  If this is the case for you, I recommend trying a lighter patch.  Although a shot out wadding has an effect on ballistics, I haven't seen a bad enough really jynx up my 150-200 yd. shots when they do blow out.  Still, I'd avoid the cheap, print calicoes.  Might as well use newsprint wadding than that. Cheaper way to have the same issues.

I have a starter but never carry it on the trail.  It's one more thing to lose and  after looking at the Prof's post, I'd say he covers the answer perfectly.

Try your grease or spit patch, choke  down on the rammer so you have only 2-inches to seat with.  If its still giving you fits, use a lighter patch or switch to balls with a .1 cal windage.

-Dave

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LonesomePigeon
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2016, 12:00:53 am »

I was using a .53cal Santa Fe Hawken with .526 ball. Not sure what the patches were, just whatever was available at the local gun seller, I think they were .015.
I have some .520 balls and will be ordering some patch material in various thicknesses. I'll need to get a patch knife too. I'll let you know how it goes.
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Tsalagidave
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Dave Rodgers


« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2016, 01:28:18 am »

Yep, that's a tight squeeze brother. I had a similar problem stuffing  a .395 ball into a .40 custom bore.  My tick patches that worked great in my other rifles just did not happen with a .05 windage in this one.  Like the other guys here, I've used the flat side of a knife to seat it but in this case, I wound up using my blade to bite into the side of the ball so that I could unseat it.  It felt like I needed a jackhammer to get it down.

I think your .526 ball with the same patch will sort it out.

If you take pics, please share.

-Dave

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Sir Charles deMouton-Black
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2016, 09:56:08 am »

I was using a .53cal Santa Fe Hawken with .526 ball. Not sure what the patches were, just whatever was available at the local gun seller, I think they were .015.
I have some .520 balls and will be ordering some patch material in various thicknesses. I'll need to get a patch knife too. I'll let you know how it goes.

Take your micrometer down to a fabric store. Measure the thickness of various 100% cotton fabrics. The clerks will hover like flies and will pant as you explain what you are doing Wink

Even better; Find a once useful workshirt and measure the thickness. In my experience it will be about .012. Worn bluejean material will be about .018. Keep trying until you find the thickness that is the best balance of ease of loading and accuracy.

OH! That old flannel shirt makes beauty cleaning patches.

Reduce, Re use and Recycle!
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Blair
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2016, 11:45:26 am »

Measuring fabric thickness used for patching round ball is a very good idea, as Sir Charles suggest.
This is even more important if one wishes to use a somewhat over sized round ball for the minimum diameter bore fit.
If the patch material is too thin, then it burns out due to the powder charge.
If the patch is too thick, then it may be difficult to start and/or cut by the edges of the grooves. Both of these may cause the patch to fail before leaving the bore of the gun.

A patch material that is .005 thick, should have that measurement doubled to .010, because the patch covers two sides of the round ball when set into the bore.
A .50 cal. rifle, using a .005 thick patch, should use a round ball of about .490 diameter. (.010 smaller than the bore due to the double thickness of a .005 thick patch that is doubled) In this case, one might be able to use a patch that is .006 to .007 thick.

Please note; my example for a .50 cal. firearm and a .005 thick patch is just a minimum combination. The grove depth of the rifling can also be a variable along with the type of rifling used in the firearm.
My best,
 Blair  
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Blair Taylor
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Gabriel Law
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2016, 08:07:12 pm »

I have been shooting muzzle loading rifles, shotguns and pistols for all of my adult life and a portion of my teenage years as well.  That gives me about 50 years of experience, though I surely would never say I know everything, or am an expert.
All that said, I learned most of what I have gleaned by reading "The Muzzle Loading Caplock Rifle" by Major Ned Roberts, as well as everything else I could get my hands on over the years.  Mr. Roberts learned about shooting from his Uncle who fought in the Civil War, and had first hand experience with the firearms of the era we are attempting to emulate.  Roberts was taught to use a short starter and a tight patch/ball combination in order to extract the ultimate accuracy a rifle possesses.  I will concede that all this was after the flint rifle era, when very little is recorded about loading techniques.  So whether the longhunter used short starters or not is now and likely will forever be a mystery.
But it doesn't matter - to me anyway.  The short starter is an indispensable tool if you choose to load a rifle as I have learned, and that is to load a DEAD SOFT lead ball .005 " - .010" smaller than the bore diameter, and a tightly woven pure cotton fabric patch that is between .018" - .025" thick, saturated to the point of dripping with saliva or other appropriate patch lubricant.  Loading this combination is greatly facilitated by polishing the sharp edges from the crown of the muzzle by rotating abrasive paper or cloth with the tip of your thumb back and forth a couple of dozen twists, and changing 180 degrees and repeating the process.  this takes off the knife edges of the crown and allows the ball and patch to be swaged into the bore and grooves of the rifling.  The patch must go to the bottom of the grooves with enough compression to imprint the weave into the lead.  Material that is thinner than that that I have listed won't do that...the math won't add up.
Loading with this combination is very easy.  Place the soaked patch on the muzzle, either in strip for cutting after seating the ball flush, or pre-cut disc or square, place the ball on the patch, sprue up, give the ball a smart whack with the butt of the starter handle, or with a short (1/4") brass pin fixed to the side of the handle, and this will seat the patch and ball flush with or just below the muzzle.  Now the ball and patch are the same size as the inside of the barrel, and it is a simple matter to drive it down another five or so inches.  the only reason for this 5" thrust is to make it easier for the ramrod to guide itself STRAIGHT down the bore making loading easy and avoiding breaking your ramrod.  the ramrod, held in about 10" segments is used to finish loading until the ball/patch is seated firmly on the charge.  You will know when you are there because it will stop.  You are using some effort to load, and this is sufficient compression of the powder.  Throwing the rod onto the ball is not only unnecessary but will affect your accuracy negatively.
With this kind of loading regime I shoot all day without ever having to wipe the bore - EVER!  I clean the rifle back in camp or in my shop, and flush with tepid water only.  My cleaning bucket will be only grey in colour.  The only fouling in the bore is that that remains from the last shot and that which was in the chamber area during the day...that's it.
I feel very strongly about this process and have have many National and International trophies to attest to its validity.  But I wouldn't ever criticize someone else's method.  Use what works for you.
Oh yeah - starters.  Great tool!!!
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Sir Charles deMouton-Black
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2016, 03:17:09 pm »

I think young Gabriel Law is being quite modest. He is a fine craftsman, has built many ML arms, and is a fine shot. I have seen him get 10 shots on a six inch bullseye at 100 yards time after time.

OFF HAND!
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NCOWS #1154, SCORRS, STORM, BROW, 1860 Henry, Dirty Rat 502, CHINOOK COUNTRY
THE SUBLYME & HOLY ORDER OF THE SOOT (SHOTS)
Those who are no longer ignorant of History may relive it,
without the Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
With apologies to George Santayana & W. S. Churchill

"As Mark Twain once put it, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
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