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Old May 5, 2005, 08:42 PM   #1
Cowled_Wolfe
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Anyone ever make their own BP firearm?

Anyone here ever make their own BP firearm? Not like kits or something, but an actual made from the raw materials working BP gun.

I've been toying with the idea for some time now, but before I even consider actually trying something like this I'm interested in hearing what's happened to people who've done it before -- good, bad, ugly, awsome... Etc.

As an aside for anyone who has tried... How difficult was it? Did you end up witha safe final piece?
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Old May 6, 2005, 08:33 AM   #2
Erich
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No, but I've read a neat old book on it. It was intriguing, but WAY beyond my level of skill.
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Old May 6, 2005, 02:52 PM   #3
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A friend of mine had a cousin who was a pilot during the Vietnam War that took worn out .50cal. barrels and made cap and ball pistols from them. My friend brought one to the range one day and it was awesome. Quantrill
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Old May 7, 2005, 12:50 AM   #4
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If you're talking hand forging a barrel and lock and making all the other parts, only a few people have actually done it. All the master gunsmiths at Williamsburg have (Wallace Gusler, Gary Brumfield and whosoever may be the current master), Brad Innis of North Carolina. I'm sure there are others, but I don't know who they are.

Now, I've also known folks who have built guns from kits (locks and barrels already made) and have assembled them onto a plank of wood they cut and carve into a stock. They've also relief carved and did fancy wire inlays and engraved it. Plenty of those running around and probably more now than in the old days.
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Old May 7, 2005, 01:24 AM   #5
novus collectus
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I made a few zip guns (legally) using blackpowder. I don't want anyone to repeat what I did, but I basically made guns w/o handle or grips (they were the next step I never got to) out of a couple of different items such as a couple of sockets out of a couple of socket wrench sets. The small socket was to hold the percussion cap and the bigger one that I welded the small one to held the powder and made to fit slug. I pounded some lead into the end of the larger socket to make a fit for the slug. It actually worked but I was at a safe (not completely though) distance when I used a pellet gun to set off the primer in the zip gun that was held in a vice. The gun could have easily have exploded and made the shrapnel do me serious harm.

But a real Blackpowder gun made from scratch? Buy a book written by W.L. Greener (I forget the title right now) that was last updated a hundred years ago (but is still in print) and was first written decades earlier. It describes the different methods used by the gun owners that had to make their own guns from scratch in the boonies. There were a couple of different methods that could be done with a simple forge, an anvil, and some basic tools. One method actually used coiled metal strap to form the barrel and it wasn't a solid piece of metal in the beginning.
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Old May 7, 2005, 08:58 AM   #6
Erich
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Yes - let's no one use THAT method of making a barrel today, please.

Gary, that neat little book I read (it's in the SF Public Library, if anyone wants to interlibrary loan it - I can get you the title) actually describes how to make locks. As I said, WAY above my skill level.

(It's The Gun and its development, IIRC.)
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Old May 7, 2005, 09:44 AM   #7
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SF Public Library has Greener's book? Wow. I've read it and it's an excellent one. Ned Roberts' book, The Muzzleloading Cap-Lock Rifle, is also an excellent read. BTW, I've seen Melvin at Conner Prairie hand make a 10" barrel over the course of a couple of days. Given a week, he'd give you a 40" bbl. He turned it over to someone else to bore and rifle and it was going for some $$$ at Jim Chambers' booth at Friendship last year. It's way beyond my meagre budget.

The other way to make a barrel was to wrap it lengthwise around a mandrel such that it would have one continuous seam for its length.

There's suppose to be a blacksmith on the SF Peninsula who made the dies to hand forge a lock. He had some Boy Scouts make their own under his supervision. I'm too old to be a scout, but darn if I wouldn't tag along to make my own.
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Old May 7, 2005, 10:26 PM   #8
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Conner Prairie back home in Indiana?
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Old May 7, 2005, 10:55 PM   #9
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I believe Remington got his start in business after someone admired the rifle he made for himself.
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Old May 7, 2005, 11:28 PM   #10
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Yep Erich. The same Conner Prairie. They have a week of gun building and it's darn fun too.
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Old May 8, 2005, 08:31 AM   #11
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Neat! They didn't demonstrate that for us on our elementary school field trips.
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Old May 8, 2005, 10:16 AM   #12
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The most any kiddy will see is the blacksmith shop. They don't have a gunsmith shop at Conner Prairie (but darn if I was retired I would love to be the gunsmith there).
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Old May 9, 2005, 07:51 AM   #13
Erich
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By the way, the Greener book is at home in my bookshelf (when I was managing the gun store between college and law school, the owner of the store presented me with a copy of the book and said, "You need this. It's a 'gun guy' book."). The SF library has a dedicated "how to make black powder firearms" type book - an older one - that discusses making locks.
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Old May 9, 2005, 12:24 PM   #14
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Anyone here ever make their own BP firearm?

Yes, two. They were both "match-locks" I guess you would say. They were BP cannons that used a fuse (lit with a match).
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Old May 10, 2005, 05:50 PM   #15
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20cows...

How'd ya make them? Like, what kinda meterials/wall thicknesses, caliber, etc... Did they seem safe to use?

Wolfe.
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Old May 13, 2005, 12:35 PM   #16
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I made them after hours on a school metal shop lathe with the assistance of the shop teacher who is a friend. The barrels were made out of cold-rolled steel with the larger one 4x19" and the smaller one being 3x16". The trunions were made out of smaller stock and press-fitted into the barrel with a BIG hydraulic press (they ain't commin' out). With the tools and equipment I had availible the bore one the larger is .875" and the smaller is .750".

I made the smaller one for my brother. It's prettier (better proportioned), but mine is the better shooter. I made a field artillery carriage out of wood and used a pair of large spoked bicycle wheels (I'm not a wheelwright). The canon with it's carriage is 26" wide, 26" tall and ~40" long.

I can hit a coke can at 25 yds, a 55 gal drum at 100 yds or a 6' boulder at about 300-400 yds. Though the barrels taper like they're supposed too, I made the swell at the muzzle end the same diameter as the breech. This makes it very simple to "aim". The barrel weighs 40 lbs and just rolls back with recoil like the big boys do. I have loaded it from 180 to 360 gr of black powder, but usually use 240. Loaded with 360 gr it will send the ~1000gr lead round ball all the way through a railrode cross-tie.

I have shot it many times and knowing how much steel it's got in it, I feel very confident in it's safety with the levels of powder I use.
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Old May 17, 2005, 08:47 PM   #17
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I returned on Sunday evening from Oregon where I attended the Oregon Gun Makers' Fair. We had some very experienced, talented and well known presenters including Ron Scott (the organizer. Ron had a jager rifle that was included in the Three Centuries of Tradition exhibit), Jerry Huddleston (whose engraved guns have appeared in Muzzle Loader), Dave Rase (who won 5 out of 6 last year in CLA's accoutrements), Mike Keller, etc. Each presented a different topic on a particular aspect of gun building. Attending were several other builders and many hobbyists like myself (OK, I've written more than I've built).

Dave Rase spoke about inlays, Mike Keller about lock tuning and project planning (for pistols), Steve Nelson demonstrated hot bluing on a Coleman stove , Jerry Huddleston discussed color case hardening, Ron Scott showed us how to turn & carve a turned butt for a powder horn, Andy Evans (the man who once EDM a frizzen for his 1803 Harper's Ferry Rifle) talked about polishing & burnishing, Gary Sheetz, a hobbyist gunbuilder, talked about his ancestors who were gunbuilders by trade before the Revolution and continued to do so well into the 19th Century. Cost is very reasonable. If you're interested, contact Ron Scott.

If you haven't read about it, there's an article in Feb. Muzzle Blasts magazine on last year's fair and the tips/hints and tricks that were taught at the Fair.
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Old June 3, 2005, 10:27 PM   #18
kiwi Rob
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make a muzzle loader

Hi All , I have made a few muzzle loading rifles some with barrels I have bought from "Green mountain" the rest with barrels I have made ...I made one shot gun using a Browning barrel this was an under hammer percussion , also made 2 other percussion under hammer guns , using my own design of action , these rifles shot a bullet ..I then cocentrated on flint locks , and bought 3 from Ken Stuck in Hillsdale Michigan (now deceased) and made 3 rifles using those then began to make my own locks ..I have converted several percussion guns to flint using my locks and have been over the top with the remarks made about the speed with which my guns and conversions ingnite , compared to the guns purchased from commercial suppliers ... I designed and made my own rifling machine and have rifled one tube I bored myself , the rest from tube , several old ford steering colums , and the rest from boiler stay tube ...It isn't all that hard , you just have to do the study , then start and do one small thing at a time ,then in a while it is all done .. All of the guns I have finished have been accurate rifles , shot a few quale with the shotgun ..Rob
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Old June 3, 2005, 11:21 PM   #19
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Have a personal copy of the WW Greener book .....in a deluxe leatherbound addition

good reading

paperback

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846
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Old June 5, 2005, 01:57 AM   #20
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Hmm...

I've been away for a couple weeks... Kudos to all of you for the information/accounts you've provided.

I've aquired four BP barrels for $40, so now all that's left is lock/stock design... Anyone have a good source of diagrams for the lock?
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Old June 5, 2005, 06:00 PM   #21
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Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away

We did metal casting in High School. My class mates made a lot of lead and brass hammer heads, and metal art. I used the brass I got from a scrap yard to cast a .451 caliber copy of a Civil War Dahlgren Cannon similar to what was used on the U.S.S. Monitor. I would have used steel but our furnance did not have the capability. It was made by glueing two pieces of wood together, shaping on a lathe, separating the wood die, pressing the die halves into a two piece sand mold, and pouring molten brass. Local gunsmith inspected it, gave the ok for boring to .451 and loading with round ball and 30 grains of fffg. Using cannon fuse for ignition it shot great. I used to fire a powder and wad load lin the backyard every Independence Day before the days of Police Sound Locators and kids getting shot by idiots shooting bullets into the air.


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Old June 6, 2005, 05:29 PM   #22
kiwi Rob
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make a bp rifle

HI , I f you really want to know how it was done way back then , go to the National muzzle loading Rifle assocation and buy their book called "Journal of Historical Armsmaking Technology" it has all you may need to know picutres , measurments , instruction .. I didn't forge may flint hammers but fabricated them , it was easier for me , a good source of spring steel is ford window winders ,well the older fords had good springs in their window winders ,but a visit to an old wrecking yard should be on your list of things to do ..Rob
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Old June 6, 2005, 07:59 PM   #23
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Good luck in finding copies of those journals. They've been snapped up when the NMLRA announced it was getting out of the publishing/sales business. They actually have material for a Vol. 6, but haven't printed it. Years ago I suggested they farm out the printing and the sales. They don't listen.
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Old June 6, 2005, 11:43 PM   #24
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http://www.bookshopinc.com/cgi-bin/bsp455/154287.html

http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product...75d624cefba2d6
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Old June 17, 2005, 05:27 PM   #25
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I have!

I ran across this post while doing a Google search and had to respond. I have made six longrifles and one pistol to date. All the rifles were from a blank. There are lots of others who also build traditional muzzleloading arms. Check out www.AmericanLongrifles.com. It is a web site for builders, collectors, and shooters of traditional muzzle loading arms. You can also visit my site at www.VALongrifles.com.

Thanks,

Mark
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