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shoebox1.1
February 24, 2009, 12:13 PM
how did they load the cap and ball revolvers back in the old west? each cyl by hand or did people use wooden loading stands? i see these loading stations that you take out the cyl... which are nice but i might want to load my army without disasembly. i was just wondering how did they do it on the trail?

Fingers McGee
February 24, 2009, 01:12 PM
They didn't use stands - or guncarts either for that matter - on the trail, in the field, at the homestead. There may have been some sort of loading stand/table used during formal competitions.


FM

hikingman
February 24, 2009, 01:34 PM
First thing I thought of here, most modern hobbyists have never loaded one bullet at a time, or for that matter with a single stage press? Makes me think of modern words like shortcut, or easy, or "I'm not gonna mess with it if it's too much trouble." :rolleyes:

Hawg
February 24, 2009, 06:02 PM
Hammer on half cock. Pour powder in chamber and place ball on top. Turn cylinder till ball is under ram. Lower ram and press ball into chamber. Repeat five times.:D

shoebox1.1
February 24, 2009, 06:09 PM
hawg i think thats how it was :)

Ozzieman
February 24, 2009, 06:26 PM
Hawg Haggen,,, you’re wrong :D,,,,, you forgot to add bear grease to the end of the cylinder.
Can’t have those multiple firings.:eek:

Hawg
February 24, 2009, 06:31 PM
I think for the most part they didn't use anything altho R.E. Lee's 36 navy had some kind of waxy looking stuff over the balls when it was fired seven years after his death.

kwhi43@kc.rr.com
February 24, 2009, 06:44 PM
Ear wax, no doubt! Thats what I use.

mykeal
February 24, 2009, 06:56 PM
I honestly don't remember how I did it back then.:p

Raider2000
February 24, 2009, 07:10 PM
As far as having something to hold the revolver while loading I doubt it since there isn't anything from that time period that suggests it "at least I haven't seen or heard of it" but maybe a corner of a table was used to help on occasion.

Me, I mostly load in this fashion unless I'm using my cylinder loader.

revolver gripped in my left hand.
pour permeasured powder into chamber.
Wad over the powder "if used."
Ball or prelubed conical.
rotate chamber under the rammer.
unlatch the loading lever.
lever the projectile home.
Crisco over the ball "if used."
Repeat for the remaining empty chambers "load 1, skip 1, load 4 more."

Tom2
February 24, 2009, 07:13 PM
Maybe you kept an extra cylinder loaded for your Remington in your pocket? I think I would wait to put the caps on, though. You probably fired off all your loads and then picked up a club or something to fight off the rest. Or crawled in a hole and tried to reload real fast. You know they made pistol "cartridges" with the ball on top of a load of powder, inside of a tube of thin paper. You still had to break the powder pouch open though to expose the powder. sort of like the loads premade for the muskets. But those were thru the military supply chain, presumably civilian owners had to have balls flask and caps at hand.

Hawg
February 24, 2009, 08:19 PM
You still had to break the powder pouch open though to expose the powder.

Nope, they used nitrated paper. Just load the thing whole. Tea bags make good tough cartridges and you don't have to tear them open to load either.

ZeSpectre
February 24, 2009, 08:47 PM
they used nitrated paper. Just load the thing whole.
Hrmm, learn something every day.

Raider2000
February 24, 2009, 08:53 PM
Paper catridges were available to the civilian market in either 5 or 6 shot containers at many dry goods stores throughout the east & mid west.

They normally were loaded with powder & a conical bullet for the caliber listed, there were even one company that made them & supplied the percussion caps to go along with them in the same container.

Tom2
February 24, 2009, 10:27 PM
Well I was thinking about that, nitrated paper, I could not remember if you had to cut the end or not. But I sure don't have access to nitrated paper so I would probably have to bite the ends off like for a musket! Well wasn't it the Sharps that you insert the bullet with the powder charge encased in paper, and the breech block cuts the end off of it to expose the charge? I guess you can make nitrated paper, if you can get the fine paper and something to soak it in containing the nitrate. I don't have that either.

Raider2000
February 25, 2009, 05:07 AM
I make my paper catridges by using cigarette rolling papers that you can get at most convienient stores.
Their nitrated just enough to ignite for reliable shooting "you just have to pick out some of the remnents of it in each chamber after each volley."

Hawg
February 25, 2009, 05:29 AM
But I sure don't have access to nitrated paper

Try some cheap tea bags. They're tougher than cigarette papers and porous enough for the cap to fire through. No residue left behind.

mec
February 25, 2009, 09:06 AM
nipple picks weren't unheard of as the earliest reolver cartridges were made of metallic foil rather than nitrated paper. Probably didn't hurt to use them with the paper ones either. The colt instructions didn't mention grease though some did use it. Ive seen pictures of civil war revolvers with the bullets clearly visible and ungreasedd in the front of the chambers.
Elmer Keith said that old gunmen actually did use under ball felt wads treated with grease. He wrote about this early enough in the 20th century for ti to be true. He cut the felt wads out of old hats and tallowed them reporting the same results you ge with modern wads from some intrnet sources ( like from The Possibles Shop, not wonderwads) The barel would remain clean for extended firing.

Pocke models without loading levers had deep coned arbors to fit the conical bullets. These could be used for seating.

Raider2000
February 25, 2009, 09:33 AM
Pocke models without loading levers had deep coned arbors to fit the conical bullets. These could be used for seating.

I forgot about that one & I even had a Early production Navy Arms 1849 Pocket Colt "Wells Fargo" that had this feature, but that was a many a moons ago. :rolleyes:

DrLaw
February 25, 2009, 11:17 AM
I made up a bunch of .44 loads using cigarette papers and the only ones that I did not have fire on the first round were the ones where the powder charge was small, like about 15 grains. The paper had not broken when I put it in as the ram could not seat the ball far enough. I went to 20 and had no problems.

Most all of the paper burns and I have not had a problem with paper remaining behind. I just don't overdo it when using cigarette paper, keep the paper to at the most one half overleaf of the roll, and let the things set for a few days before cutting off the 'tail' to as close to the charge as I can get. The glue still holds the tail shut until rammed in, but the paper rips anyway around the ball as it is shoved in, so loose powder still gets behind the paper apparently to help with ignition.

So I figure that the cigarette paper is merely a container for the powder until it gets into the gun.

The Doc is out now. :cool:

Noz
February 25, 2009, 06:05 PM
His instruction for loading was: Pour in 25 grs of powder, ram ball cap and fire.

Dr. Strangelove
February 26, 2009, 09:36 AM
After reading this thread, I had to make some up:

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i193/jthibodeau/Papercartridges.jpg

I haven't tried these at the range yet, but something tells me I'll be shooting the old Remington quite a bit more in the near future.

Gbro
February 26, 2009, 09:16 PM
I make my paper catridges by using cigarette rolling papers that you can get at most convienient stores.
Their nitrated just enough to ignite for reliable shooting
I do believe the treatment on cigarette rolling papers is to retard the burning.
I don't mess with flash paper very much, but I bought a small container of potassium nitrate from the local pharmacy. Easy to make flash paper. mix it with water, saturate paper in nitrate solution, leave papers to dry.
Test with match or spark to see how well they burn.

As for loading back in the day, The 44 cal revolver was loaded with a .440 RB or conical; I don't think there was much shaving of the ball that we do today making it dad-burn near a must to use a loading tool.

The L 1 S 1 L 4 M would have been more likely in self-contained cartridges.

kirpi97
February 26, 2009, 10:07 PM
Ummm. Cigarette paper, gun powder, and a revolver, I see where ol' Smokin Gun got his name.:D:D:D

A cup of tea anyone? I need to get me some bags ready.;)

B.L.E.
February 26, 2009, 10:51 PM
You used to be able to get potassium nitrate in the spice department of grocery stores. They called it saltpeter and was used as an ingredient in sausage making and other cured meats.

Hawg
February 27, 2009, 05:29 AM
The 44 cal revolver was loaded with a .440 RB or conical

Ya think? Lessee, .440 ball, .450 bore and chambers. What kept the balls from rolling out like a marble through a sewer pipe?:confused::D

I don't think there was much shaving of the ball that we do today making it dad-burn near a must to use a loading tool.

Had to have been shaving. I use a .454 ball with a hardness of 6. Pure lead is 5. I've never seen the need for a loading tool. A flat place to put stuff down helps but is not necessary.

simonkenton
February 27, 2009, 06:14 AM
Here is how Robert E. Lee loaded his pistol.
He said to his slave, and body servant, Mack Lee, "Please load my pistol."
In fifteen minutes, the slave replied, "Marse Robert, yo pistol is loaded."

Gbro
February 27, 2009, 09:36 AM
The 44 cal revolver was loaded with a .440 RB or conical

Ya, Your right, I did make a mistake on that.
My round balls are .448 and they are nice and snug and easy to load in frame.
I have loaded .451 "in frame" and I worry more about the lever/plunger as the ball is shaved.
Now the Lyman mold that my friend used to cast the .448 single cavity.was marked .451.
He made a mistake when he sent it back to Lyman because Lyman wouldn't give the mold back, but replaced it 1/2 price for a new .451 double cavity.
Good thing I have several hundred .448 RB's for plinking.
Another live and learn lesson.

Fingers McGee
February 27, 2009, 01:57 PM
Quote:
Ya think? Lessee, .440 ball, .450 bore and chambers. What kept the balls from rolling out like a marble through a sewer pipe?

Had to have been shaving. I use a .454 ball with a hardness of 6. Pure lead is 5. I've never seen the need for a loading tool. A flat place to put stuff down helps but is not necessary.
__________________
Your ramblin don't rattle me.

+1 If you're having trouble shaving lead with the loading lever on your revolvers; you're using the wrong balls.

Dingoboyx
March 7, 2009, 11:59 AM
I know the longarm dudes used to carry the balls in their mouths and shoved in some powder an spit a ball down the muzzle.... but I cant imagine running around with a mouth full of .45's..... and you would need lips like on the simsons to spit them into the old army?? (wouldnt want to cough either)
I always thought too... how annoying would it have been if you just got the last cap on about to cock and fire...... and the bad guy shot you?! how frustrating:rolleyes:

Dreamer42
April 9, 2009, 03:15 PM
Hello to all. I'm new to this forum, but have been shooting blackpowder since the 1970s in Jr. High, and firearms in general since I was a wee little kid.

I consider myself to be one of those "authentic-progressives" when it comes to this hobby (I have been reenacting CW since 1998) and I try to look at history as it was really done back then.
To confirm previous statements, most used factory prepared combustible paper, (animal) skin or foil cartridges. The packages were purchased in 6 rounds to a package. The packages were either cardboard (similar to modern 20 rd. centerfire cartridge boxes) or a block of wood drilled with holes for the cartridges. Some packages were "waxed" to provide some waterproofing. This made them easy to carry in a pocket, or leather pouch on the pistol belt.
Do a search on the web and you'll easily find pictures to copy. I make my repoduction boxes and labels (drawn on Adobe Illustrator) while tracing originals from the web.

As for loading I found about 18 - 19 grains fits nicely into the paper "cup" I made for the cartridge. More than 20 grains and the connical ball may not seat down far enough to rotate the cylinder. It is about 2" long and tapers from the size of the chamber to about 1/8". I use cigarette paper - less is more, just enough to make the cartridge. As for lubing the ball (I fire both round and connical) is use about 50/50 parafin and crisco. I just roll the ball around in the (dried) lubricant and set asside to dry (about 30 minutes). Then place the ball on top of the powder charge in the paper cartridge. The lube is sticky enough to keep the paper snug on the ball so it doesn't fall apart.
This method is very convenient, easy to carry and authentic. If you don't want to mess with the cardboard boxes, you might consider keeping them in some sort of round tin for safety. I made about 36 rounds in one evening while watching a movie (um...Outlaw Josey Whales):rolleyes:

Have fun!

P.S
I have never had a "chain fire" from not packing grease over the chambers. If your ball is the right size, a small ring of lead should come off when loading, thus sealing the chamber.

- Jay Reid
Dreamer42
9th Texas/165th NY

Dreamer42
April 9, 2009, 03:19 PM
Sorry...forgot to mention I pack a Navy Arms 1851 .36 Navy. Great pistol.

- Jay Reid
Dreamer42

Dingoboyx
April 9, 2009, 03:26 PM
You wouldn't want to accidently mistake one of those loads for a fag, and try to light up :eek: You wouldnt want to inhale, thats for sure :D

I shoot Bp here in Oz, Got 2 Rem Old Army's Stainless, 3 Blue Pietta C&B New army Steel frame, brass guards .44's and a Uberti Colt .45 Dragoon :D

Step 1/ I load'em powder in 6, then balls in 6 then cap 6.... then SHOOT 6 :D....
step 2/ repeat step 1 :D

Evidently in the old west, they could load on horseback at a gallop :eek:

I dont use a stand to load, I do everything off the bench, in my hands

vwjoe84
April 9, 2009, 07:30 PM
There's several video's on youtube on how to make paper cartridges, all methods i've seen look like it would take about an hour to make 6 of them though.

Hawg
April 9, 2009, 09:14 PM
It doesn't take that long but they are time consuming to make. Nice to have when you're shooting tho.

madcratebuilder
April 9, 2009, 09:43 PM
I have seen the 'packaged' paper cartridges, even have some repros in some cases sets. I have made cartridges from rolling paper and rb.
My question is how prevalent were manufactured cartridges in more uncivilized areas? From reading period books I gather people carried several revolvers when they thought they would be in harms way. More so than carrying extra cylinders that has been made popular by movies.
Back to the OP, I load powder, grease cookie, then ball, a chamber at a time. I cap after all chambers are loaded.

Hawg
April 10, 2009, 01:58 PM
IMHO paper cartridges were more of a military thing. They were loaded with conicals whereas most civilians used round balls with loose powder.

tdmoparguy
April 10, 2009, 08:27 PM
What else can you use besides saltpeter to make combustible cartridges? I cant find any where I'm from.

mykeal
April 10, 2009, 08:47 PM
Surely the OTASCO store has stump remover.

tdmoparguy
April 10, 2009, 08:51 PM
We haven't had an OTASCO in 25 years

mykeal
April 10, 2009, 09:03 PM
Sorry.

Bad example. I'll try to be less specific. Landscaping and garden supplies stores that sell stump removers containing potassium nitrate, KNO3.

Actually, I think OTASCO closed in 1988, but who's counting.

long rider
April 10, 2009, 09:16 PM
HEY DINGO? what the hell is a fag?:confused::rolleyes:

Mike Irwin
April 10, 2009, 09:34 PM
"What else can you use besides saltpeter to make combustible cartridges? I cant find any where I'm from."

Collodion, which is cellulose nitrate dissolved in alchol and ether.

In the 1800s Colt and possibly other companies provided unitized cartridges where the powder charge was adhered to the bullet with collodion.

Collodion was apparently used to coat a mold and the powder was poured into the mold and a bullet seated. When the collodion dried, you had a complete cartridge (sans cap, of course).

The collodion was tough enough that the cartridge would stand up to fairly rough handling, and more importantly, it was waterproof.

Upon ramming the bullet home, the force fractured the collodion "skin," which allowed the flash to ignite the powder.

Collodion cartridges survived right up to the advent of metallic cartridges.

More information, and a picture, at this site:

http://www.christchurchgunclub.org/html/cgc_art_pc1.htm

Mike Irwin
April 10, 2009, 09:36 PM
HEY DINGO? what the hell is a fag?

The guy is Australian. That's a common nickname for a cigarette, after a faggot of wood.

He certainly doesn't mean a homosexual. That usage is particularly American.

long rider
April 10, 2009, 09:47 PM
Well stufffff me blue sport, how ya going bruce, fairdincome.

tdmoparguy
April 10, 2009, 09:56 PM
I just ordered 2lbs of saltpeter off of ebay. Also Mykeal i was born in 1988.

Hawg
April 10, 2009, 11:18 PM
What else can you use besides saltpeter to make combustible cartridges? I cant find any where I'm from.

You don't need it for paper cartridges. You can use cigarette papers but tea bags work better.