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Old February 20, 2013, 06:34 PM   #1
Daekar
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Using lead fouling to fill barrel pitting

My wife's grandfather gave me an old muzzleloader a few years ago. He hadn't shot it in years, and it appears that he didn't clean it after shooting it last, because the bore is quite badly pitted. I cleaned it up, polished the brass fittings, and cleaned the barrel with enough bore butter and BP solvents that it has not deteriorated any further while sitting in the safe. I have been trying to figure out how to get rid of the pitting without spending much money on it, just so I can take it to the range and hit paper plates at 50 yards with a patched lead ball. I was thinking though... could I fire a few balls or Minieballs through unpatched and use the lead fouling to actually smooth the barrel out? I know it's unorthodox, but when I say badly pitted, I mean that the cleaning jag with patch feels like it is running over motocross tracks built for small ants. Would this even work at all? Or would the lead balls simply have poorer accuracy without the patch? I understand leading in the context of modern smokeless arms, but not in this case.
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Old February 20, 2013, 07:29 PM   #2
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You could try lapping the bore. That would at least take the roughness out of it.
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Old February 20, 2013, 07:41 PM   #3
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I second the lapping idea, I've lapped about all my guns after getting a kit for my revolver that I couldn't get the groups down enough. The kit I got was from LBT and was supposed to do a few guns, but I still have compound and have done most of my guns including my b/p ones. You are supposed to use bore size soft lead slugs and enough powder to push the bullet out of the barrel. I used maxi balls for my b/p job, you roll the bullets in the compound between glass or smooth metal plates and the compound gets imbedded in the soft lead. My original pistol went from a 3+" group to less than 1" at 50 yds ande all my other guns showed significant improvement and the b/p's are much easier to clean. I would shoot 10 rounds then clean and test fire a few rounds and if not satisfied I fired 10 more and on til satisfied.
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Old February 20, 2013, 07:43 PM   #4
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Might still be a shooter???

Quote:
I was thinking though... could I fire a few balls or Minieballs through unpatched and use the lead fouling to actually smooth the barrel out?
Now this is a great question that most folks have never seen or asked. However, this happens more often than you think. You are talking old-school "Buckskinner" stuff. Bottom line is, you won't have much luck and will probably be relagated to the wall. I have cleaned up pitted bores and they shot suprisingly well. I always read the patches or sabots to see what the effects are. Right off, your patch will be destoyed long before it leaves the barrel. Accuracy will be effected but you will have to determine this, yourself. Just shoot light loads. These bores are not much fun to work with. ....

Some time back, I read an article on smoothing these up, in an effort to reduce the effects of the pitting and fouling. I don't remember the process but perhaps others might.. ...

Be Safe !!!
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Old February 21, 2013, 03:32 PM   #5
maillemaker
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I'd shoot it and see how it does.

If it really is bad, another option is to have the barrel sleeved. Shops like Hoyt and Whitacre can do this. This can be done with rifled or smooth bore barrels.

Sometimes the barrel must be cut and "stretched". He tries to do this under a barrel band.

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Old February 21, 2013, 04:34 PM   #6
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Going to have to get rough with it !!!

If what I suspect is true, lapping the bore could never get the job done. I used emery cloth on one and even though it smoothed out, it was still pretty rough. I still retained some rifling and it did shoot and cleaned better. You go through a bunch of patches to get it half-a$$ cleaned. I'd say do your best and if you are serious about shooting it, get a new barrel or spend a bit more and get it sleeved. Grandpas are very special and understanding !! ...

Be Safe !!!
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Old February 21, 2013, 06:31 PM   #7
Daekar
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Yeah, lapping the barrel would be like trying to polish away the grand canyon, I'm afraid. It might make it slightly easier to clean, though. I'm afraid I might just have to leave it as-is for a while, with bills for house repair coming in there aren't many free-floating pennies with my name on them as usual!
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Old February 21, 2013, 06:34 PM   #8
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All great advice - I'd try Hawg's suggestion first.

The OP doesn't state what kind of barrel or muzzleloader it is.

Is it military? If so, does it have the typical 3 land/groove rifling? If so - polish it and try it out.

If it's a civilian style - just what is it and how deep is the rifling in it - also what caliber. I've polished some original barrels out and tried them - usually some pitting doesn't have that much effect on how well they shoot. As stated, "read" the patches.

Your question about "leading" the barrel is a good theory but I don't think that it is the answer. Leading will attract more leading - even with a patched ball sometimes. In theory, the patch keeps the ball from the bore but if it's rough and it cuts the patch, walla, it will add more lead.

Since the rifle was given to you and has some sentimental value, I wouldn't give up on it. Work on the existing bore and see what comes of it. First of all, since you don't mention what the rifle is, make sure that it is safe to shoot. If it is an antique - and the bore is in that bad of shape - the breech should be checked out by a competent gunsmith with experience in BP firearms. Antique barrels usually have a breechplug with a much coarser thread pitch than is used today - I've inspected some originals that if they were shot, the threads were in danger of giving way and nobody wants a breechplug between the yes - a bad way to die.

If it is shootable and you can't get the bore cleaned up to where it will shoot well - explore the possibility of having it "freshed out" to either a larger caliber (if the barrel wall thickness is thick enough) or having it sleeved. Two very good recommendations were made - Hoyt and Whitacre - they do outstanding work. There are others out there as well. It very well could be worth the price. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
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Old February 21, 2013, 09:21 PM   #9
Daekar
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Ha, guess I didn't give many details, did I? It is an inexpensive Italian version of a long rifle, typical brass fittings, brass curved buttplate, a little door for necessaries in the stock, 45 caliber, octagonal barrel, sidelock percussion cap. It is certainly safe, it's not in THAT bad a condition and it's not that old. I bet it's around 20 years old. I've shot 100 grain loads in it repeatedly, but I can't figure out where the shots go until I drop to a charge closer to 80 grain of 777. I've settled on a 75 grain charge for the time being, on the occasions when I get to shoot it, those pattern about 5" at 25 yards based on the few shots I took the other day.

It's a civilian pattern, but I can't really tell anything about the rifling. It's not as deep as in my centerfire rifles, but it's still there. Well, except in the really bad pitting spots.
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Old February 21, 2013, 09:25 PM   #10
4V50 Gary
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The pitting won't ever go away. You can refresh the barrel (have it bored out and re-rifled) or have it relined.

If it shoots good, I wouldn't worry about it. Flush it thoroughly though if you shoot it.
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Old March 2, 2013, 02:16 PM   #11
barnowl12
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80+ grains of 777 in a .45???

Whoa, I'd back that charge WAAAAY back down!! A normal charge of B/P in a .45 is 30 to 45 grains, and 777 is a lot hotter than real B/P.
You might see much better accuracy with 25 to 35 grains of 777. MHO
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Old March 2, 2013, 02:37 PM   #12
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80 grains of 777 equals 92 grains of bp. That might be a little much for a rifle but not by a lot. 80 grains of bp isn't unreasonable in a .45, 75 grains equals 86 grains. 30-45 grains are pistol loads.
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Old March 2, 2013, 04:27 PM   #13
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Just clean it up as best you can. It takes allot of rust to spoil the accuracy of a B/P rifle. My advise buy a wooden dowel around 5/16th dia. Split its end a little. Put a small piece of emery cloth on it. Spin it in a slow speed drill and run it up and down a dry barrel a few times. Doing so will level those pits out some and make it a bit easier to load. That's about as cheap a fix I know that may work. After that its barrel liners or boring to a larger caliber.
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Old March 2, 2013, 04:34 PM   #14
Pahoo
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Good avice !!!

Quote:
My advise take a wooden dowel split its end a little. Put a piece of emery cloth on it spin it in a slow and run it
Now that's better and;
Be Safe !!!
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Old March 2, 2013, 05:19 PM   #15
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i. e. Accidental posting of unfinished threads.
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Old March 2, 2013, 06:05 PM   #16
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Shoot it first and see how it does. I've got a few black powder guns here that are on the other side of a hundred years old whose barrels look pretty sketchy, but you'd be surprised what just a hint of rifling in that pitting will do to stabilize a bullet. The only gun that I've been tempted to sleeve is a Winchester 1906 that was converted from .22 shorts to .22s/l/lr, but shot with corrosive shorts. It eroded the chamber to the point that the brass won't extract because the case mouth is expanded too far. But it's still quite accurate.
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Old March 2, 2013, 06:12 PM   #17
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Lead fouling won't do it, but zinc might. Know where you can get some zinc Minie balls? I'm kind of half joking and half serious; it's a ridiculous suggestion but it might work.
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Old March 2, 2013, 06:54 PM   #18
robhof
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Does your gun look like mine? Mine says Euroarms, Brescia Italy. The barrels actually come up for auction on Ebay quite regularly, the percussion ones at least, I've only seen one flinter aqnd mine wears it. The Spanish barrels won't line up quite right, make sure it's Italian and measure the diameter across the flats. My barrel was unfired and was only $80, of course that was a few years ago. The touch hole on my original was rusted out and heqavy rust in the bottom of the bore, but I only paid $100 for the original so I've got $180 total and it's a great shooter and really likes the .456 Lee bullets for the ROA.
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