Author Topic: chain fire  (Read 592 times)

Offline Bunk Stagnerg

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chain fire
« on: December 12, 2019, 09:53:51 pm »
Chain fire
Personally, I am puzzled by all the talk about the dreaded ?CHAIN FIRE?.
I have been shooting C&B guns for a very long time starting with an original 1851 Colt Navy made by Colt Patent Firearm Mfg. Co Hartford CT.USA. in about 1950.

To date there are only two chain fire occurrences that I have personal knowledge of. One was a six-chamber surprise in an original 1861 Army. The occurrence was during a plinking session after the gun had been shot several times. Same load, same caps, same Crisco over the ball which was the method of sealing the chamber at that time which was in about 1952
.
The other one was mine last year with a Uberti 1851 Navy using a lube wad over 20 grains DuPont FFFg (yes, I still have some) and a hand cast ball. One chamber chained much to my surprise. The other three fired as usual. I think it was a cull ball that slipped by my sorting. When the balls were rechecked, there were a couple that should have been in the reject pile
It is possible carelessness in handling powder, haste in loading, or loose caps may be the cause. None of the above are excuses.
Mine was my fault strictly. It was a wake up call.
Yr? Obt? Svt?
Bunk

Offline Professor Marvel

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2019, 01:37:45 am »
My Good Bunk
I have had only one, about 40 some years ago, as a greenhorn.
I had been shooting an 1860 and then got an 1851, and had read of making your own paper cartridges.
I got some cigarette papers, but had trouble squishing poaper-wrapped  RB into the chamber.

Unfortunately, being a cheap barstich poor youngster, I used what I had, some .357 hollow base wadcutters.
They loaded fine, seemed to stay there, but  unfortunately they were too loose even wrapped in paper.

When I touched off the first round, they all went off together.

It was quite a revelation and a  spectacle, it seemed as tho a ball of fire had appeared at the end of my fist.

Fortunately, there was no harm done to me or the 1851. After that I stuck to RB and grease.

yhs
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Offline AntiqueSledMan

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2019, 04:58:13 am »
Hello Bunk,

You failed to mention if the cap was fired on the chamber which chain fired.
I've read reports where the chain fired chamber failed to fire the cap.

AntiqueSledMan.

Offline Bunk Stagnerg

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2019, 07:26:08 am »
No the cap was still in place. A #10 remington on a Slixshot nipple. Actually my reaction was a what happened? I had just gotten the gun back from Mike Brackett and had shot it about 30 times that day.
I suspect a poorly formed ball that did not seal. My chamber mouths are beveled to allow easier loading ( thanks Geojohn) and the ball swages down to form a good tight seal.
It is still a mystery and something I do not care to have happen again. Actually both balls hit the target.
Bunk

Offline scrubby2009

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2019, 09:05:28 am »
A few thoughts... ( been shooting C&B revolvers since Reagan's 2nd term)... cooler heads in the ongoing "chainfire panic" discussions seem to agree that loose caps or caps that fall off may, in fact, be a greater cause for these events than failure to schmear some slime over the top of a loaded chamber or the absence of wads and such.
I've never had a "chainfire". Never heard of one except in panicky threads on the Interwebs. But I've always been very meticulous about how I load and what materials I use. Here's my latest thoughts though, regarding caps falling off and "pinched" caps, etc.

My cherished transition NMA, upon resurrection from Wallhanger Hell, Had original and very rusty nipples. I would load and cap all 6 chambers, and after two rounds fired, two or three caps would have fallen free, sometimes down in the action, needing to be picked out before re-capping and continuing to fire the weapon. I worried, initially, about chainfires occurring because of flashover into an uncapped but loaded chamber. But it never happened. Eventually I got the olf nipples drilled and easy-outed and replaced with Track of the Wolf replacements, but not before I'd fired over 200 rounds on the old rusted nipples.
I ask myself, "why no chainfires, dum-dum?" and here's a possible explanation. When I brought the old pistol back to use, I bought Mark Hubbs rebated bullet mold, cast my own conical bullets and built paper cartridges with Goex FFFg. So there is no loose powder anywhere on my weapon, It seems that indirect sparks from the possible flashover isn't enough to ignite the hemp papers I use. However, a properly capped chamber has failed to fire perhaps three times in about 500 rounds over the last two years. Every occasion, it was after 20 or 30 rounds had already been fired and unburnt paper pieces were the culprit. A simple piercing through the nipple with a pick and a fresh cap and I have ignition. Everytime.
My conclusion is that proper care to not have loose powder stuck in some greasy mess on the front of the cylinder and frame, the persistent use of paper cartridges and real blackpowder are the reasons I have no chainfire/unintended ignition issues AND I get consistent ignition even from old worn parts. Thanks for your indulgence in this long epistle. 
Responsive, timely, tactically accurate, and strategically precise fire.

Offline Bunk Stagnerg

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2019, 10:09:29 am »
Scrubby you got it correct.
Look up this
http://www.geojohn.org/BlackPowder/Revolver.html

He has a lot of good information and is worthwhile reading. Some of my experience is different than his but I would recommend John for a lot of good reading.
MAKE SMOKE!!
Bunk.

Online Coffinmaker

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2019, 11:33:53 am »

Da De Da De La De Da  :D  While walking down the street one day ......  :P

Here is the problem.  Chain Fire is erratic.  No one I know, or know of, or have heard of, has ever had a high-speed photo apparatus (camera) set up to record when a Chain Fire occurred.  Also very difficult to duplicate.  No body can actually explain what, why, where, when, how come and/or why fore.  Nobody.  The reason is all speculation.  If one hasn't had a chain fire, one simply hasn't been shooting percussion long enough.  Or you're just deprived. 

I have on the other hand, seen a common ordinary film of a chain fire occurrence that even when reduced to slow motion, failed to show the root cause.  Still speculation.  If anyone sincerely looks you inna eye and says "they know why" just walk away.  They are stupid.  They don't know why any more than anyone else does.  Unless your standing in dry tall grass, the fireball is mostly harmless.  Impressive and exciting but harmless.

Oh, also, I also must recommend geojohn.org as required reading.  Lots and lots of good information and a light sprinkling of Old Wives Tails but by and large really good stuff.

HAPPY FRIDAY

Offline wildman1

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2019, 12:33:08 pm »
I saw a chain fire happen caused by none of the above. It seems it had happened before with this same revolver. Upon close inspection there was a crack between two of the cylinder walls.
wM1
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Offline Bunk Stagnerg

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2019, 12:57:56 pm »
Wildman,
that will do it every time.
Adapting a flying thing there are two people about chain fire.
Those who have had one
Those who are going to have one.
I had mine how 'bout you?
Bunk

Offline Major 2

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2019, 02:39:31 pm »
after 40 odd years nary a live chain fire ...but that said I have had a blank(s) chair fire ...the most spectacular was @ Olustee Battle reenactment
one of my pommel holster LaMats chain fired ....looked like Liberties torch it did !....... Poof
« Last Edit: December 14, 2019, 03:24:29 pm by Major 2 »
when planets align...do the deal !

Offline PlowboysGhost

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2019, 02:45:46 pm »
 I've had one chainfire (with projectiles)... since i started shooting cap and ball revolvers in '97. It was in a Pietta steel framed "Navy" .44 a year or 2 ago.  The next chamber in line to be fired went off with the one being fired. The ball struck the wedge...apparently splitting the soft .454 Hornady ball.

 It did NO harm, whatsoever.

 I don't use wads or grease in my cap and ball revolvers...and i use SlixShot nipples and CCI/Winchester #11 Magnum caps. Those caps fit snug without pinching and once pushed on, require a knife blade or the like to scrape them off the nipple....so they fit good.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 06:19:04 pm by PlowboysGhost »

Offline pony express

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2019, 05:54:32 pm »
I've got a chain fire story for ya'll?.

Was shooting many years ago at Land Run, one of my 1860s got to chain firing-every stage, on the same chamber, but not the adjacent chamber, but when one certain chamber fired, the second chamber over also fired( at about the 7 o'clock position). Didn't realize what was happening at first, just that 2 shots later, I'd just get a "click". Couldn't feel the difference. It took someone observing from the side of me to figure it out. I still don't know what was causing it, I just removed the nipple from the offending chamber and didn't load that one, and it stayed that was for the next 10 years or so.

Offline AntiqueSledMan

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2019, 04:16:16 am »
Well Guys,

I've read & re-read the geojohn articles and from what I've heard of other stories of chain fires have come up with this conclusion, Cartridges are the way to go. Either Brass, or Paper. I've heard of multi fires caused by a badly hammered support ring on a Brass Framed revolver, but I do believe the actual "Chain Fire" comes from the front (or a passage between chambers). I have not heard of anyone getting hurt, other than pride from having to change their shorts.
But just the same, I don't want to experience one.

AntiqueSledMan.

Offline wildman1

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2019, 06:34:26 am »
No Bunk I haven't but never say never. I have had a hang fire with a light load inna 45. Every body heard the primer pop then about 3 seconds later bang. I had not tried to shoot the next round as I thought I might have a squib.
wM1
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Offline swampman

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2019, 07:04:23 am »
after 40 odd years nary alive chain fire ...but that said I have had a blank(s) chair fire ...the most spectacular was @ Olustee Battle reenactment
one of my pommel holster LaMats chain fired ....looked like Liberties torch it did Poof

I've never had a chain-fire with shooting live but plenty with blanks back in my reenacting days. I was able to load a revolver in such a way it could chain on cue if a scripted scenario called for it. There was one incident where my LT just got his 'promotion' and it kinda went to his head. I always loaded his revolver for him because he knew it wouldn't chain. So we decided to give him a reality check and I'd rig it for all six to go at once. Well, 5 out of the 6 chained as planned. I don't know why #6 didn't go too but he got the point. He said he about shit himself! Really brought him back down to earth.  Never f**k with your unit Armorer.  ::)
A lot of what is taken for engineering fact, if you dig into it far enough, is often just someone's opinion.

Offline Johnson Barr

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2019, 08:21:46 am »
My 5 out 6 chamber detonation was the actual result of nipples not fully seated in the cylinder. They had backed off just enough that when the first charge fired the cylinder, reward recoil slammed four capped nipples into the recoil shield. Sadly chamber at the rammer position was part of the chain and stripped ram, lever and retainer stud from the barrel and they went away in a most grandiose cloud of billowing white smoke never to be seen again. Tightened the nipples, sawed the barrel and now an Angel arises from the smoke.   
"Peace is that glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading"  -Thomas Jefferson

Offline Driftwood Johnson

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2019, 10:28:19 am »
Howdy

I too had a chain fire over 40 years ago. Uberti brass framed 44 caliber 'Navy'. Yes, I learned later there was no such thing as a 44 caliber Navy.

I was drawing a bead on a woodchuck, and when I pulled the trigger the gun almost jumped out of my hand. Round under the hammer went off as well as the one next to it.

I have no idea if it was from a loose cap or a poorly fitted ball that left a path for a spark to reach the powder charge in the next chamber.

Those were the days when I was using Crisco over the ball, just like everybody else in those days. In my humble opinion, Crisco is a poor 'spark arrestor as the Crisco over the ball in the chamber next to the one at battery melts from the hot gasses jetting out of the barrel/cylinder gap. After that I started using Wonder Wads under the ball.

Have not shot C&B in years, I much prefer cartridges these days.

I did witness a pard have a chain fire at a SASS event a couple of years ago. Very experienced C&B shooter with a pair of 1860 Colt replicas. He did appear a bit shaken after the chain fire.

Dunno what caused his chain fire.
That’s bad business! How long do you think I’d stay in operation if it cost me money every time I pulled a job? If he’d pay me that much to stop robbing him, I’d stop robbing him.

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Offline Professor Marvel

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2019, 01:56:11 pm »
.....
I did witness a pard have a chain fire at a SASS event a couple of years ago. Very experienced C&B shooter with a pair of 1860 Colt replicas. He did appear a bit shaken after the chain fire.

Dunno what caused his chain fire.

Greetings My Dear Driftwood -
Since the SASS targets are so close, I really must ask -
    Did the fellow hit the targets with the other rounds, or did he have to take them as misses?
    ;D

all the best and
Merry Christmas
prof marbles
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Offline Abilene

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2019, 02:49:23 pm »
That got me to thinking.  Too bad the duckfoot is not SASS legal...  ;D

Offline Navy Six

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2019, 04:05:47 pm »
Bunk, the one and only chain fire I ever had was two years ago and pretty much duplicated your situation. Uberti Pocket Navy, Slix-Shot nipples and Remington # 10 caps.  A badly hand cast (me).375 round ball that I KNEW I should have rejected. Lube over the ball. One adjacent chamber went off and I was able to determine the cap was still firmly seated and unexploded. Mea Culpa, at least in that case. By the way, I realize Slix-Shots don't quite fit the Pocket Ubertis, but I turned down the shoulders to stock Uberti dimensions. Did it to that gun and a Uberti 49 Pocket. Since the thread size is the same as the 51, 60 & 61, it works out pretty good.
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Offline Bunk Stagnerg

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Re: chain fire
« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2019, 04:13:42 pm »
After reviewing all the responses, it is my opinion that sometimes, to put it politely, stercus accidit, and you never know when if the stercus may accidit.
Therefore, I put worries about chain fires right along with worries about being hit by  piece of the space junk or a meteor.
Thanks for the input
Yr? Obt? Svt?
Bunk

 

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