View Full Version : Lets talk patches

March 13, 2012, 11:53 PM
Alright I need a little more Edumocation. What is the difference in the different style patches. Like Pillow tiking, etc. The patches I have say they are just .015 prelubed. Please shed some light on this for me.

March 14, 2012, 12:37 AM
Ticking is a light/medium/heavy cotton material that was used in the making of feather pillows and mattress covers when straw and other similar materials were used to stuff them. The dense tough weave prevented the stuffing from getting thru and interfering with ones sleeping.

Pillow ticking usually is striped and when held up to a bright light, no light should be visible thru it, if you can see light the weave isn't close enough.

Upholstery/Mattress ticking is similar to denim in weight and usually without a busy pattern.

Last time I bought Ticking, to replace some that I appropriated from both my mothers sewing room and that of the significant other:D, ran about 15 dollars per yard US for pillow ticking and nearer 25 dollars per yard Mattress/upholstery.

The material is fairly strong and provided it is thick enough can withstand being used in a muzzle loader, without cutting or being/burned shredded enough during firing to hurt the accuracy of a round ball, when fired from a muzzle loader.

The thickness makes up the difference between the ball and the bore or depth of the rifling of the muzzle loader. measure the ball, measure the depth of the rifling and choose the patch of the appropriate size, that makes up the difference.

You will find the best way is to go out to the range with various patch thickness and find what works the best, measurement will only take you so far and actual trigger time and examination of the patch and target accuracy are about the only way to know if you have everything right.

To thin a patch and the propellant gases may/will shred the patch and the ball will basically get shoved down the barrel without any real spin being imparted to it, because the patch was not thick enough to engage the rifling and spin the ball.

Too thick can make loading a pain, usually requiring a solid steel/brass rod and a hammer to load seat the ball safely against the powder, resulting in a deformed ball and possibly a cut patch, accuracy is lost and one really needs to be careful when dealing with BP in that sparks and heavy impacts are not a good thing with this powder. You can also damage the toe of the butt stock during loading if one needs to hammer the ball home.

Lubrication helps the patch slide down the bore and has the added advantage , dependent on the lube of course, of softening the left over fouling.

There are entire books written about running round ball rifle/muskets and they go into much more detail than the above, but I hope this helps.

March 14, 2012, 12:55 AM
Wow, That is a great explaination. Thank you! So now I gotta get some Pillow ticking patches. Say I go buy a quarter yard of ticking from the fabric store, can you just measure the thickness with a caliper? Or is the thickness usually on the packaging? I know the thickness is listed on there if you buy them in a shooting supply store. But what about just a fabric store. I know I could easily buy them, but there is just something about making my own shooting stuff that draws me in. And for lubing patches, can I use the Gatofeo Lube?

March 14, 2012, 01:12 AM
Pillow ticking is surprisingly stiff for its thickness and very durable.
The TC pillow ticking patches have a thickness of about .018.
It's another patch size to experiment with when working up a load, i.e. when trying a out a round ball that has a slightly smaller diameter, or is from another manufacturer or if using cast balls.
And not all pillow ticking is of the same quality or has the same thickness.


Ideal Tool
March 14, 2012, 01:14 AM
Just do what I did..stroll in the fabric store with my trusty 0-1" Starrett...Ask to see their ticking..and start measuring..the look on those salesladys faces was priceless!

March 14, 2012, 01:19 AM
I think I used a caliper the last time I purchased some, but I have seen them sell it by weight/thread count and occasionally by thickness, usually because a BP shooter ordered some in.

Dixie gunworks and Track of the wolf are two places that should have it in various thickness to name a place or two off the top of my head (please don't hold me responsible if you find you are spending /purchasing a lot of stuff from either site:D).
If you can only find one size/thickness..say like .016 then you can work around it, by trying various sized round balls, then getting a mold to cast your own once you find the right combination

You will also need to get a Hollow punch cutter (can't remember what the are called) of the appropriate size, to cut round patches, I use to use one for cutting the wads for a 12 gauge out of Buffalo board and had another that was just the right size for a .58 rifled musket that I occasional shot both minnie and round ball out of.

I was using wonder lube for a while, played with a synthetic whale oil and various homemade paste/wax/natural lube recipes..but have to admit I am not familiar with the lube you mention...one can use cutting fluid cut with water as a quick and dirty patch lube too.

Lee McNelly
March 14, 2012, 01:26 AM


March 14, 2012, 01:39 AM
But what about just a fabric store.

A lot of folks buy it in the Walmart fabric dept. but it's often reported to be thicker than .018, more like .020 - .022.
It's also recommended to wash it first to remove any sizing that's added at the factory.
However if buying it in bulk strips from RMC Oxyoke or sheets from Eastern Maine Shooting Supplies then washing it is not necessary.




Mention the March Special Discount Code EMSS03 for phone or fax orders and receive a 7% discount. :)

March 14, 2012, 01:48 AM
Another very popular patch material is #40 Drill Cloth which is sold at JoAnn's Fabrics.

March 14, 2012, 04:21 AM
Some folks swear by t shirt material. I use pillow ticking.

March 14, 2012, 06:13 AM
Ticking, drill, denim...bottom line is a dense weave all cotton fabric, thickness as required by the ball and bore combination. Don't get hung up on minutia - 0.015 is pretty much the same as 0.016, and even 0.018. One of the great campfire arguments is whether you measure the 'crushed' or 'uncrushed' thickness - doesn't matter as long as you figure out what works for you and do it that way each time.

Surprising nobody has mentioned an old pair of skivvies...

March 14, 2012, 09:44 AM
Surprising nobody has mentioned an old pair of skivvies...

YEEEEWWWWW!:eek: Nobody but you Mykeal.:D

March 14, 2012, 10:50 AM
Now be honest. In a pinch....;)

March 14, 2012, 11:20 AM
I do know someone who uses material from old fashioned long underware (wool/wool composite or linen blend) though from experience with it's use it poses a potential fire risk, since it can smolder for quite some time and in tall grass or dry condition it may start a fire, pillow ticking "CAN" at times contain embers, but, is not as likely to keep smoldering and extinguishes rather quickly on it's own, usually before hitting the ground.

Worn out underware (long/boxer/brief/tunics) usually makes better cleaning material than patch, though it can be used for wad when playing with buck and ball in smooth bore muskets or miniature cannons.

March 14, 2012, 02:38 PM
Reminds of the time at one of our 3-day shoots. I had just built my fire with
flint & steel and had it burned down to real good coals. Some of my friends
came over and I was cooking pork chops for them. They were done and every
one was sitting around muching on a pork chop and saying how good it taste
and how it had such a good flavor. They were all saying how everything taste
better when the fire is made with Flint & Steel. I then showed them my
Char cloth you use when making a fire. It said, are you ready for this?
"Fruit of the Loom" Yes, my old under garments. Makes read good Char Cloth.
I thought they were all going to choke. Yes this is a true story. Really:eek:

March 14, 2012, 02:44 PM
And they say I'M a sick puppy.:eek::p

Sure Shot Mc Gee
March 14, 2012, 02:53 PM
Try a little silk sometime Gentleman. Old silk tie's work real good. As does your squeeze's old silk teddy or skirt-> a nice thin patch can be had from those garments.:) Got a Question?: Is that what mykeal meant by "an old pair of skivvies" Can it be? Those he-men from the U.P. of Mich where snow is on the ground until June 1st are wearing silk undees? Do my eyes deceive? :cool: He did say Hanes did he not?:confused: I feel embarrassed just asking for clarity:o
'Fruit of the Looms', that you probably don't want to be spit patching?
To mykeal: Oh No. Not me. No way!!:eek: But I do have an inclination to on those used Teddys >If without getting caught at it< :p

March 14, 2012, 02:57 PM
Do I need to mention that, if you do use material from your 'Fruit of the Looms', that you probably don't want to be spit patching?:D

March 14, 2012, 02:57 PM
Fine cotton "Linen"
The thinner you can shoot, the better. ... ;)

Remember the scene, in Last of the Mohicans, when Hawkeye was trying to gain another 40yds. on his flinter, so he used silk. Personally tried it and no big deal. Sure worked in the movie !! ... :)

Be Safe !!!

Lee McNelly
March 14, 2012, 03:34 PM

March 15, 2012, 06:31 AM
A patch cutter that works really well is one of these punches. I modified it by sawing off the long shank and then center punching, drilling, and tapping it for a short 5/16 x 18 hex head screw. Now I can chuck a 1/2 inch socket into my electric drill and cut out enough patches in an hour to last me all year.


March 15, 2012, 08:25 PM
I tried pre-cut patches one time and really never cared for them.

Everybody prepares their patching differently and of course, you have to find what works best with our rifle. In my rifles and even in my smoothbore Fusil, I've always used pillow ticking.

If you go to a material (yard goods store) you want to be sure that the material you are buying is a "natural" material - cotton or linen. We all know where cotton comes from - linen is woven from spun flax. When you buy yard goods, the majority of cotton is "sized". This allows the material to look like it is pressed and very neat. I found that with any material, you should wash it first to remove the "sizing". Check the end of the bolt for what the material is as well. It should say 100 % cotton or 100 % linen, etc. If someone gives you material and you aren't sure - take a small cutting and give it the "flame test" with a kitchen match. If it contains any polyester, etc. - it will usually "drip" and you'll be able to tell that it isn't 100 % natural.

Over the years, I've tried a wide variety of patch lubricants. Anything from Crisco to tallow to bacon grease. Quite a few years ago, there was a guy advertising in Muzzle Blasts where you could send $ and he would send you his "secret" to patches and lubricant which would improve your shooting scores. My brother and I sent for the info and it was well worth the money. His secret was the use of a water soluble oil that you diluted and soaked your patching material in. After trying it, we found that it worked great. It helped cut down on fouling and it had enough lubricant to easily get the ball down the barrel. Our groups tightened up. I washed my pillow ticking to remove the sizing, cut it into strips that were about a yard long and soaked it in the solution. I'd pull the ticking through my fingers to "wring" it out and then set it in the sun to dry. After it was dry, I'd roll it up and I'd store each roll in the little plastic container that 35mm film used to come in. The last batch I made, I think I used up around 3 or 4 yards of 60" ticking - I still have a bunch of it at home.

Everyone has to work their own system out as far as what work for them. I always keep a strip of the lubricated ticking tied to the strap of my hunting pouch along with a plain, washed strip that I can cut a quick square off of to use as a spit patch between shots. Of course to do it this way, you have to use a short starter to seat the ball and patching material just under the end of the muzzle and then use a patch knife to cut it.

I don't have the name of the water soluble oil with me here in AZ but if you check with an automotive supplier they should be able to help you out. We got it at the NAPA store and a quart of it wasn't that expensive. We mixed it with the water and then kept it stored in an old milk jug for the next time we needed to make patches. It's just another option to give a try.

March 15, 2012, 08:35 PM

I bought 6 yards. Washed it with a tiny bit of laundry soap and then tumbled it in the dryer on low setting without any dryer sheets.

Works great.

March 15, 2012, 08:40 PM
Patches cut at the muzzle are always better.

March 15, 2012, 08:48 PM
I've been using the Napa cutting oil and water for lube. Works good.

It's a water soluble oil, so it does mix well with water. It's in a blue plastic bottle. 1 pint is about $8 with tax. I'm using a mix ratio of 15% oil and 85% water.

A lot of the guys at the local club are using cheap window cleaner as a cleaning agent. They keep 3 or 4 oz in a spray bottle and mist a cleaning patch. Then swab the barrel with it every few shots. They say it helps clean some of the fouling between shots. I bought some and a spray bottle but have not had a chance to go shooting and try it out yet.

March 15, 2012, 09:37 PM
That guy in Muzzle Blasts was Dutch Schoultz and what he sold was his system for shooting a muzzle loading rifle accurately. He still sells it from a web site: Black Powder Rifle Accuracy System (http://www.blackpowderrifleaccuracy.com/).

Dutch is now in his 80's and doesn't shoot any more. Selling this is his only income besides social security. It's the best $20 I've ever spent on black powder stuff without question.

BTW, he now recommends Ballistol instead of the cutting oil.

March 15, 2012, 10:57 PM
Could you explain how this is done. I'm guessing you cut a square patch and seat the ball with the short starter, then trim the excess?? Is this right?

March 16, 2012, 02:03 AM
The ball is started and then the excess patching is cut flush at the muzzle with a patch knife.
Folks often use strips of patch material that have been pre-lubed so there's some excess to hold on to in for cutting it.

March 16, 2012, 04:35 AM
I use a long strip and seat the ball flush with the muzzle so there's no overlap. You don't want patch material coming over the front of the ball.

March 16, 2012, 05:27 AM
Like Hawg I use a long strip of patch material (pillow ticking, cut into strips 1 1/4" wide, soaked with 1:6 ratio of Ballistol to water and dried); lay the end of the strip across the muzzle, set the ball on top of the material and start it into the muzzle with my thumb, use a ball starter to push it in until it's flush with the muzzle, hold the strip tight and cut across the muzzle with a very sharp patch knife. I then use the ball starter to ram it down a couple of inches and finish with a solid brass range rod.

Never thought about excess patch material in front of the ball. Seems to me it would get pushed out of the way. But, as Hawg said, seating the ball flush with the end and cutting across the muzzle pretty much cleans it up anyway.