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Old August 9, 2012, 11:34 PM   #1
cdavis
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Questions for the experts

I am writing a novel set in 1851. My main character has a .44 Walker Colt and a flask of black powder that are inside a house that burns down. My questions are these:

1. Would the heat alone cause the flask to explode even if it has a good seal?
2. Could the revolver be cleaned/repaired and used again?
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Old August 10, 2012, 12:27 AM   #2
arcticap
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My guess is that:

1. The powder would burn.

2. The revolver could not be cleaned up, repaired and used again because the metal would have warped and weakened.
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Old August 10, 2012, 07:20 AM   #3
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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To answer your First question: Anything is possible with black powder being involved. At the very least it would just burn.

To answer your Second question: I whole heartily agree with articap's reply. In reality to dig a revolver up out for the ash and coals of a burnt down building. Repair it, and have it shoot accurately again is not likely to happen. Well maybe in the movies it can. For instance in The Outlaw Josey Wales movie. Mr Wales salvaged not only his six gun but also its leather holster from the ash & coals of a burnt out building. But that's a movie. Certainly not reality.
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Old August 10, 2012, 07:25 AM   #4
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I disagree Arcticap....

Clint Eastwood did that in "Josey Wales" and the revolver and ammunition came out fine. Of course he did that some time around 1866. Maybe fires were not quite as hot in 1866 as they were in 1851.









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Old August 10, 2012, 07:27 AM   #5
Shotgun693
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You might consider having the gun and powder in a hole under the 'floor' with a rock over them. This was apparently a fairly common way to store or hide stuff. If the hole is deep and the rock thick enough the contents would survive. IMO, it kinda makes for a dramatic visual with your guy uncovering the hole to pull out the contents.
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Old August 10, 2012, 07:49 AM   #6
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You could be on to something there Doc Hoy.
By the way Doc did you hit that 20 Lustrum mark on your thread yet?_
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Old August 10, 2012, 08:21 AM   #7
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Sure Shot

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Old August 10, 2012, 10:12 AM   #8
Hawg Haggen
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If the flask was airtight or close to it it would explode. The main problem with repairing burned guns is they lose the heat treatment. Walkers were made from wrought iron but the frames were case hardened. If it got hot enough to burn the grips off the case hardening would also be gone. Also all the springs would be shot. The screws would most likely twist off when you tried to remove them. I'm not saying it couldn't be done but by the average guy in 1851 it's not likely. The digging a hole(usually under the hearth)is a much better idea.
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Old August 10, 2012, 10:37 AM   #9
Jim Watson
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If the gun and powder flask were not exposed to flame, they would likely survive. Smoke, fumes, and steam (if there were an effort to fight the fire) would rust the gun but it would not be unsalvageable. If the powder were tightly capped it would not be affected.

From under a hearthstone or out of a root cellar would be a plausable way to recover gun and ammo after a fire.

I have done it!

My house burned, not to the ground but a total loss due to its old style construction and the intensity of the gas-fed fire.
My guns were about the only thing recovered. The ones out of the safe were very finish damaged but salvageable. The ones in the safe were fine.
Fixed ammunition was damaged, misfire rates run from 5 to 40% depending on caliber, brand, and location.
Cans of powder thrown out the window by a fireman are fine.
Primers in factory tray, box, and sleeve are fine.

I have on my new mantelpiece a discolored can of Goex FFFg and a blackened bottle of Jameson's Irish whisky. The contents of both are fine. The Irish was tested 100%.
They were in a cabinet where they were shielded from flame but not smoke and at least some heat. The cabinet door was scorched but not penetrated. It is obvious why wood boxes and cabinets are recommended for powder and ammo storage.

Maybe even a cedar chest would be protection enough for the gun and powder, if you can describe a fire that did not burn it up.

Last edited by Jim Watson; August 10, 2012 at 10:42 AM.
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Old August 10, 2012, 10:37 AM   #10
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Good luck on your novel cdavis! It takes special dedication to work on such large projects.

I am currently working on my graphic novel "MARTYRS" right now. It features A LOT of guns

When I am done with this one, my next graphic novel would be "THE CARAVAN RIDERS". About the exciting life of freight haulers traveling the region between China, Russia, Turkistan and Mongolia in the 1920s. Basically, long haul truck drivers before there were trucks in widespread use. Will also feature a LeMat revolver in that one
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Old August 10, 2012, 12:45 PM   #11
OutlawJoseyWales
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To be completely silly here,
The housefire on Outlaw Josey Wales was amazing. Not only did Josey rescue the revolver and holster, but it changed the pistol into a 1860 cartridge revolver, complete with loading gate, totally amazing.

http://hopelies.com/2011/01/28/later...-of-hereafter/

Last edited by OutlawJoseyWales; August 11, 2012 at 12:10 AM.
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Old August 10, 2012, 07:06 PM   #12
Doc Hoy
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Just to recap....For Mr. Davis...

It looks as though you can write a revolver into your novel which survives a house fire....And you can do it with some credibility.

( I am not certain I trust Josey Wales, but I do trust Mr. Watson.)
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Old August 10, 2012, 10:35 PM   #13
cdavis
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Thank you, everyone. Good information and a few laughs.

I don't actually need the gun to survive the fire -- my heroine has a second revolver not in the house. I just didn't want her to write the gun off as a loss if the fire wouldn't ruin it or salvage it if that wasn't probable. I'll just let the fire do its thing. Although, I like the hidey-hole idea and might use that in another story.

As for the flask of powder, I was hoping for dramatic firework-like pyrotechnics, but I guess that's a little too "hollywood."

Rachen – Good luck back at you.

Again, thanks.
cd
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Old August 11, 2012, 01:38 PM   #14
Hawg Haggen
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Quote:
As for the flask of powder, I was hoping for dramatic firework-like pyrotechnics, but I guess that's a little too "hollywood.
It would be more smoke than flash.
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