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Old May 18, 2009, 03:45 PM   #1
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now this is funny...

this guy is telling his childhood stories messing around with blackpowder, the Colt/Remington story is the last paragraph. The cannon stories preceding it are hilarious

"My earliest memories of black powder smoke are of my Dad shooting some black powder loads in his old .45 Colt. The boom and belch of smoke was truly impressive. Seems we always had some around. When I was about 8 or 9 I can remember Dad blowing a stump with a home-made black powder "stump blaster". The concussion was heard and felt for miles. Of course this exposure to black powder at an early age affected me, traumatising my inner self and making me want to create my own clouds of powder smoke.

"Dad started me reloading with black powder when I was around 12 years of age. I had an old "El Tigre" .44-40 lever action (Spanish copy of a Winchester 92) and he got me reloading for it using a round ball and a light charge of black powder. I used it to hold off wild savages, re-take the Alamo and I even bagged a bunny with it now and then. I have an old picture of me with the rifle and some poor little old ground squirrel that I potted with it."

"I also purchased an original box of UMC .44-40 factory loads. Balloon-head cases and black powder. I do not know how old they were but most of them fired. A few, when you pulled the trigger, would go "HISSSSS-BANG" - sometimes delaying as long as 15 seconds or so. But it helped your follow-through and sight picture training, holding on the target and praying the cartridge fired soon."

"Somewhere along the way I picked up an Italian-made replica of the Remington .44 cap & ball revolver. I previously had copy of a Colt .36 Navy, but the barrel departed from the frame due to heavy loads of smokeless and black powder mixes. The cylinder pin pulled clean out of the frame one day as I fired it and the whole barrel, loading lever cylinder and stud went downrange a few feet. I figured the Remington with it's solid frame would be much stronger. And I was correct. Over the years the gun was modified with a Smith & Wesson target front sight, the barrel was rethroated and I did a lot of work with and on the gun. It shot very well, with some duplex loads, reaching around 1200 fps. The big secret of power with it was the cylinder had been reamed to accept .456" diameter round balls. The barrel was only .445", but I had a long tapered throat in the barrel that allowed the ball to enter and then shrink down. Pressures were high for this type of firearm. With a full charge of 4Fg it would blow the hammer back to full cock when you fired it, which was sort of hard on the lockwork. I used the gun one Javelina season to kill a nice boar. I eased up to within 40 yards and plinked him right through the shoulder and neck and dropped him immediately. The old guns had more power than most give them credit for. A few years later I traded it off. Someplace out there someone has a Remington copy that could tell some stories if it could talk! I don't fool with black powder much anymore. I dug out the cannon I made years ago and fired it this last Fourth of July. It belched a nice cloud of smoke and shook the ground in a most satisfying way. The blast wave brought the neighbours (who live a half-mile east) out of their house, the chickens quit laying for a several days and an old wild heifer ran off through a 5-wire fence, but other than that nothing unusual happened. Except that ever since then we have had a black helicopter flying over real low every few days."

Last edited by CaptainCrossman; May 18, 2009 at 04:06 PM.
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Old May 24, 2009, 10:32 AM   #2
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That's pretty good. HA!HA!HA!
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Old May 24, 2009, 11:51 AM   #3
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Got me laughing

nearly swallowd my toung when he was talkin' about black & smokeless mixed powders tho no wonder the barrel tried to race the projectile to the target (scarey thought)
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Old May 24, 2009, 12:06 PM   #4
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That there was some funny stuff!!!!
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Old May 26, 2009, 07:05 AM   #5
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Brings to mind the time I fired my cannon (1" bore) down the street with a load of black powder mixed with titanium filings. I made the cannon when I worked at A-----t out of a piece of 347 stainless. Made the carriage out of oak with wheels out of maple. Steel tires shrunk on the wheels. I can relate this tale now, because I am retired from the company. I used to get it out once in a while and wake up the neighborhood. A fistful of black and a newspaper wad would make a huge bang, cloud of white smoke, and the delight of all the neighborhood kids. I also made a mold for it that produced 1" round balls that weighed 1/4 lb. But, that's another story.

Anyway, one day I wanted to see if the titanium would produce colored flame when mixed with the BP, so I took some filings I had made at work when cutting some titanium on a power hack saw. I washed the cutting oil out of the chips and dried them for a couple of days, then mixed them with the black. About 10% Ti to the black.

I lived on a street that T'd into another street a block away so I pointed the cannon down the street. No projectile ,just a wad of newspaper over the charge. With all the kids watching (it was saturday) I touched off the fuse.

The cannon roared, and a huge ball of fire shot out, and went all the way down the street and exploded against the garage door of the house at the end.

Reeling with shock and fear, I grabbed the cannon and hightailed it into the house where I shook and trembled for a while. I NEVER expected anything like that.

Then I walked down the street to see what damage I had done, with visions of a hole in the door and mayhem inside. At the very least, I expected to have to face the ire of an outraged homeowner or the Police I was sure he had called.

When I got to the driveway I was surprised to see no apparent mark on the door. I rang the bell but no one was home.

I left hurriedly.

I never again fired the cannon at home since I figured I had used up all the luck I had coming. I did fire cannon balls out of it in a safe location and was surprised to be able to hit fairly small targets at ranges of 600 Yds or better.
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Last edited by MacGille; May 26, 2009 at 07:22 AM.
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Old May 26, 2009, 02:11 PM   #6
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That's a good one too Mac.

Your titanium shavings tale reminds me of the time my buddies and I decided to add magnesium shavings to some smokeless powder in order to see what kind of colors/flame we'd get. We'd spent the afternoon husking 12ga shells that we'd kipped from our fathers and had a nice pile of powder going. For the magnesium we'd gone after a Lawnboy lawnmower chassis with a bur grinder and had a nice pile of that going as well.

We'd built a mini mortar out of steel pipe and had it buried in the dirt a bit to hold it up and I must say that the first "test" went really well - nice high flame with great sparks and some good noise except that the magnesium made the flame burn so hot that my buddy Dan lost most of the hair on his hand lighting it off with a match. It's obvious at this juncture that we were fools so of course we decided to do it again but this time the certified nerd amongst us mentioned that he was mixing some strontium nitrate powder that he'd gotten at the local nerd supply shop into our batch as well. "Should spice things up a bit," he told us.

Well whatever the case was all I know is that as my buddy was pouring the next batch down the pipe from the coffee can full of mixture that we'd worked up (with me peering directly over his shoulder of course) the whole thing spontaneously lit off and went up in our faces. Thank God we were using smokeless powder and not black because as such we had the fraction of a second needed to jerk our heads back and only suffered the loss of all facial, forehead and arm hair as well as some scorched corneas that (again, thank God) healed up in a day or two. Damn that was bloody close! The worst of it, of course, is that our "buddies" ran all over town telling everyone about it and given the scorching sun burns we had on our faces and alien freak show hair scene as well we certainly couldn't bluff our way out of it! We were screwed and had to put up with abuse over it until we left high school and I still hear about it when I go back for reunions.

And don't even get me going on our pipe bomb phase or the gasoline/farm chemicals phase we'd gone through before that! Growing up in farm country back in the day was simply OUTSTANDING fun...if you survived.

By our senior year we'd moved on to building black powder guns from kits that our fathers would purchase for us and the rest, as they say, is history.

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