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Old August 29, 2010, 10:26 AM   #51
Zathras
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I was just wondering..I just bought a pietta 1851 colt navy ..how long can one keep black powder guns loaded?? does the gunpowder have a "shelf life"?? or the caps??
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Old August 29, 2010, 11:15 AM   #52
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Neither real black powder or percussion caps have a 'shelf life'; they will last indefinitely. However, one is advised to keep them dry. They can be recovered but it takes some effort if they get wet.

Substitute black powders have been reported to degrade over time and are much harder to recover from wet conditions.

Keeping a black powder gun loaded over along period is not problematic, but considering that one should practice with the gun regularly to maintain proficiency it makes little sense from a practical standpoint.
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Old August 29, 2010, 12:08 PM   #53
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Zathras

You can read many posts on this and other forums from folks who ran across BP weapons that had lane dormant for dozens of years. The person finding the weapon also found, much to his or her dismay, that the weapon was loaded.

Probably someone will respond whith their own personal story. It has never happened to me but I think others on the forum may have something to add.
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Old August 30, 2010, 10:05 AM   #54
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the reason I asked is I figured that these in there day were pretty formidable weapons in thier own right...although I keep all my modern weapons loaded for home defense, and thought it couldnt hurt to keep this one loaded as well..but again, I'm brand new to the BP thing...And many thanks to you all for the comments...I am probably going to get a .44 as well as the Hickock white handle version.
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Old September 12, 2010, 12:28 PM   #55
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Old Caps do work

Mykeal; I found some caps in my garage last year, that I had forgotten about in one of a thousand junk boxes stacked out there. I had used some of these caps way back when I had bought them. This particular cap container wound up in a junk box, probably from my wife doing house or car cleaning thing. These were Eley musket caps that were purchased from a friend in 1985, who had a small embrionic gunshop business then. I have bought thousands of caps since then. Anyway, I put these old caps in my shooting box after I found them. When I went shooting, the old caps behaved just the same as my new caps. You could not really tell any difference, visually or ignition-wise. They shot the same.

I had them stored in the factory container, which is pretty much air tight. That must have had a lot to do with it.
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Old September 12, 2010, 12:37 PM   #56
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Doc Hoy, here is some stories for you.

A guy took a barrel off from an old gun because he stuck the rod down the barrell, and determined it had a load in it. He was worried the load would rust out the barrell. He was inexperienced with firearms. He owned a torch. He put steel wool pads on his vise, and used the vise to hold the barrel while he attempted to use the torch to melt the bullet and pour it in liquid state out of the barrel. He did this in his garage. A neighbor came over to visit. The neighbor stood there talking in the garage while he is waving the torch over the barrel. The barrell got very hot and went BOOM. Either the heat set off the powder, or flame entered the touch hole. A lead bullet came out and hit the neighbor in the upper arm, blowing out meat and shattering the upper arm bone. The lead bullet was obviously not melted.

Some guys were holding a christmas party in someone's cabin in Tennessee. They built a mountain of a fire in the fireplace. There were some old cannon projectiles from the civil war days in that cabin. They stacked some of them up in the fire place to stop the burning wood stack from tumbling off of the grate. A little while after, there was an explosion in the fireplace. One man was killed by the flying debris or flak from the projectile entering his skull. Some say that he might have been the last person killed by a bonafide civil war produced munition. One of the cannon projectiles in the collection appeared to be hollow and filled with an explosive powder or black powder. The heat from the fire set it off.

Last edited by Gator Weiss; September 12, 2010 at 12:44 PM.
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Old September 26, 2010, 09:48 AM   #57
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my pietta 1851 navy Clone broke down well, ( after I got the hang of it)..after shooting, I cleaned it per professional instructions here...I was wondering whats a good brush to use when cleaning the areas on the cylinder where the nipples go in?? I used a regular ( Id assume) plastic fiber brush) but theres still some fouling stuck on it....
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Old September 26, 2010, 09:33 PM   #58
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I save my old tooth brushes for the task. Also use pipe cleaners.
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Old November 12, 2010, 10:18 PM   #59
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Not sure if I mentioned it in this post, when I created it originally.
But, a good assortment of nylon or bristle, small brushes may be found in gourmet stores, particularly in the cake decorating or kitchen cleaning sections.
A toothbrush will work, but some may be too wide. Cutting away some of the plastic side of the toothbrush, to make it narrow enough to get into tight spaces, will work too.
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Old November 13, 2010, 05:57 PM   #60
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Percussion caps

Earlier in this excellent thread someone recommended pinching caps to make them sit tighter . . . is it OK to do that with one's thumbnail, or would pliers be safer? (I just bought my first C & B revolver)
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Old November 13, 2010, 06:10 PM   #61
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Two things

Harbor Freight sells an assortment of brushes of various sizes in a bag. Some of them are perfect for the threaded holes in the cylinder. Some work for the chambers and barrel. There is also a large size that works very well for the gunk between the arbor and the frame and in the hammer channel.

As for pinching caps, I think it is not a good idea. I think it is worthwhile to get the right size caps and if you can't find the right size caps, change the nipples.

I have only had one chain fire but I am about 90 percent certain it came from a poorly fitting cap. It loosened the arbor and I don't shoot the pistol any more.
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Old November 19, 2010, 08:36 AM   #62
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This is it

This is the brush assortment I was speaking of. At five bucks a bag, it is hard to go wrong.

http://www.harborfreight.com/9-piece...set-90631.html

If you need more umph, here is a metal bristle set.

http://www.harborfreight.com/10-piec...kit-95947.html

Seven dollars

For certain things, I swear by harbor freight.
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Old November 28, 2010, 07:14 PM   #63
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I don't find any potential danger in pinching the cap into an elliptical shape. Been doing it with my fingers for years.
Though the cap may be elliptical, once placed on the nipple it returns to its round shape. However, it retains some tension from being out-of-round and clings better to the cap.
I've looked to see a gap between the nipple and cap after placing it, and never seen one. Nor have I ever experienced a multiple ignition while using caps that were pinched into an elliptical shape.
In a perfect world, you'd find caps that fit nipples perfectly, but this isn't always the case.
I experienced a multiple ignition on three separate occasions with the same .44-caliber 1851 Navy back in the early 1970s. The caps were not pinched, but placed on the nipples as-is. They fit fine, leaving no gap twixt cap and nipple, but they wouldn't stay on the nipple as tightly as the pinched variety.
I believe all multiple ignitions were caused by caps falling off unnoticed during firing, or knocked off or loosened by recoil.
I was using a .451 inch ball and either Crisco or Hodgdon Spit Ball over the seated lead ball.
In later years, after reading Elmer Keith's recommendation for the cap and ball revolver, I began using greased felt wads.
Later still, I began using a slightly larger ball: .380 inch in the .36, and .454 or .457 inch in the .44s.
Since using the larger ball, greased felt wad between ball and powder, and pinched caps I have never experienced a multiple ignition.
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Old November 28, 2010, 08:55 PM   #64
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Back to topic.

Great notes on cleaning, but I see it this way.

I clean without disassembling the frame of my Pietta 1850 Remington. Take the cylinder out, into hot soapy water, clean the frame best I can with hot, soapy water and a Q-tip, swap the barrel with soapy water on a patch, , run a bronze brush, run some dry patches, run lightly oiled patch, one more dry patch. Dry well with hair dryer, light coat of oil, back in the storage case.

These pistols are available new for less than $200, and I figure the time I save cleaning in detail is time I can spend shooting. And then buy a new pistol a year or two down the road.

Of course I shoot for fun. If you are shooting for competition, clean VERY well.

Last edited by jolasa; November 28, 2010 at 10:30 PM.
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Old December 10, 2010, 04:34 PM   #65
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pinching

Quote:
I don't find any potential danger in pinching the cap into an elliptical shape. Been doing it with my fingers for years.
Though the cap may be elliptical, once placed on the nipple it returns to its round shape. However, it retains some tension from being out-of-round and clings better to the cap.
thank you - I was assuming that the way to do it was to place cap on nipple and then pinch tighter . . . I'm using #11 caps as I cannot find anyone locally with #10's (must try harder) - shooting the gun is good fun though!
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Old December 10, 2010, 04:49 PM   #66
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Just got myself a Pedersoli .451 muzzle loader, going to use it for mid-range (200, 300, 500 yards) and long-range (800, 900, 1000 yards) competition shooting. It takes # 11 caps.

On my 1858 revolver, the # 10 caps fit down snug on the nipple, i.e. the top of the nipple is sitting against the bottom of the cap.

On the Gibbs, the # 11 caps have about a 1.5 mm gap from the top of the nipple to the bottom of the cap, i.e. the cap does not seem to be fully seated to me. Is this a problem if the cap is not fully down on the nipple. Should I file or sand the nipple diameter so that the cap sits down lower on the nipple? Or just leave it like it is.

Jon
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Old December 10, 2010, 06:34 PM   #67
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It is a problem, although not a serious one. It will lead to failures to fire - the hammer will drive the cap down on the nipple but not provide enough impact (shock) to set off the explosive. A second strike by the hammer will set off the cap as it will now be properly seated on the nipple. The problem can be corrected by filing the nipple as you have noted. Or, you can get bigger (or more likely, shorter) caps.
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Old January 18, 2011, 03:17 PM   #68
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First off, thanks to you all for the great information in this thread. I just became a proud owner of a 1860 Army and since this is all new to me. One question in regards to rust prevention: I got my gun used and to be honest it wasnt very well taken care of. There is rust in the cylinder chambers and in the barrel. Also some minor rusting on the barrel assembly as well. As such I am pretty worried about making sure it doesn't get any worse. I have gotten as much rust and gunk off as possible with petro-based cleaners. But now that I am ready to begin shooting it I have cleaned it thoroughly with dish soap and hot water (all traces of petro-based stuff is gone). I have Crisco and canola oil available to me to use.

Is the natural oils like Crisco and canola oil going to prevent rust in between times when I am shooting? I hear mumbling that its not so good in that department but would like to hear from you guys that know.

Also would you advise completely breaking down the revolver (including the frame, grip, and trigger assemblies) and cleaning it after every outing? Or just the barrel, cylinder, and frame with occasional complete clean?

Thanks.
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Old January 19, 2011, 06:46 AM   #69
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It's probably best to start a new thread with your questions as you will get wider distribution; many folks won't see your posting in an old thread of general interest that they've already read a number of times. One of the great advantages of internet forums is the wide variety of experience available - you don't want to cheat yourself of that.

Vegetable oils will provide adequate rust prevention and are often used for short term storage. They have the down side of becoming rancid over long periods, however. I personally use Birchwood Casey's Barricade; there are many similar products available. Most are mineral oil based and do not have the issues associated with petroleum based products.

Many folks do a complete teardown and cleaning after every shooting session; regular cleaning and maintenance is not too great a price to keep fine tools working well. However, in my opinion it's not absolutely necessary. The action parts inside the frame are not subject to combustion chamber temperatures and thus do not accumulate the more corrosive black powder fouling compounds. They do require occasional cleaning, however, as dust and powder residue do build up inside. I do a complete teardown about every 3 to 5 uses; guns that rarely get used get a semi-annual complete cleaning regardless of usage.

Last edited by mykeal; January 19, 2011 at 06:51 AM.
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Old January 19, 2011, 12:22 PM   #70
jolasa
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Recommended by Mike Venturino in his book "Black Powder Cartridge Reloading Primer" -about cartridges obviously, but carries over to cap and ball:

Cleaning right after shooting:
Prestone Advanced Formula Antifreeze + distilled water (50:50)

Final cleaning before putting away until next shooting:
NAPA auto transmission fluid (great rust protection, better than any gun oil)

Last edited by jolasa; January 19, 2011 at 12:52 PM.
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Old February 19, 2011, 02:02 PM   #71
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What kind of rust preventative you need will probably depend upon the humidity in which you live, and how the gun is stored.
I live in the remote Utah desert. Humidity can be high at times, but on the whole it's low.
So, I use olive oil to protect my black powder arms. It's all that's needed.
My guns are stored in a gun safe, in the house, away from moisture-attracting dirt and dust, and extreme temperature swings.
And I never store my guns in a case, box or plastic bag. Air circulates inside the safe, keeping moisture from being trapped.
A glass of ice water soon acquires droplets on the exterior of the glass, through condensation.
Same thing can happen to a gun left in a cold vehicle, then brought into a warm house: tiny droplets of moisture condense on the surface, promoting rust.
For me, olive oil works fine. If your guns are exposed to humidity or temperature swings, you may need something more protective. But I think you'll find that olive oil, and checking the gun for rust every other week or month (depending on rust-promoting conditions) will keep it rust-free.
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Old February 19, 2011, 02:23 PM   #72
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....and your guns probably smell better too!
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Old February 20, 2011, 07:17 AM   #73
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Olive Oil?

Olive Oil may have higher levels of acid. You are dealing with oil extracted from plant material. Often there will be acids. Have to be just a little careful because olive oil differs from batch to batch, year to year, and the first pressing will have the most acid.

CANOLA OIL = Canadian Oil Low Acid

It is made from rapeseed, pressed into cakes and then steamed. It is used as a steam cylinder anti-seize oil. It is used as an extreme pressure lubricant. What you find in the grocery store works just fine on guns.

Save your olive oil for your salad.

As old as olive oil is, and as long as it has been used on the planet, there is no doubt that it probably has been used on knives, swords, guns, and mechanical apparatus, and it probably works. I can see why you experimented with it.
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Old February 20, 2011, 07:24 AM   #74
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Soak the cylinder ?

The gentleman with the soiled cylinder might try soaking it.

I also found that by using oil to begin the cleaning process with, the tough stuff seems to loosen in the oil, and then it comes off better when the dishwater hits it. I dont know why this is. But it seems to work.

I have a stainless 1858 Rem, and it gets some weird foul around the nipples that is a real bitch to clean off. I set the cylinder in a little bit of oil - nipple side down - and I let it sit. Later, when I scrub, the foul comes off easier. I am using canola kitchen oil. I use an old vienna sausage can to soak my cylinder in. You still have to scrub, but the job seems much easier after the soaking.
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Old February 20, 2011, 07:35 AM   #75
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Repeatedly dis-assembly and re-assembly wears the weapon?

Some of the older Army publications indicate repeatedly dis-assembly and re-assembly cause unnecessary wear and tear on the weapon. This is probably true to some degree and true, depending on the exact mechanical nature of the thing that is taken apart and put back together again.

The gentleman that says he does his complete take down only occasionally may have the right thing going on here. But you have to find a way to keep the weapon preserved in-between times with either oiling or wiping or both.

I have immersed locks and that sort of thing in oil and dishwater and oil again without taking them apart, and it has worked well enough for light soiling.

Many of the black powder guns are soft steel, and screw and bolt heads will show signs of wear, as will threads if they are disturbed too often, or even disturbed with a tool that doesnt quite fit; such as a screw driver of the wrong size, or using pliers when you should be using something else, etc, etc.

I would imagine good tools, and only occasional deep dis-assembly would be the best idea, with adequate oils at all times.

The Hawken is really a great system, because it comes apart easy, and even removing the lock is the easiest thing in the world. Few fasteners and few contact points. Cleaning my Hawken is a piece of cake compared to some of my other guns.
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