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12L14 Steel good enough?

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I asked a gunsmith friend and retired US Army armorer who is a Douglas barrel devotee about this. He said in the 1970s, he saw as many as 30 Pratt and Whitney rifling machines making ML barrels at Douglas -- until some guy did in fact fail to seat a ball and blew up one of their 12L14 barrels. They just stopped making them. His recommendation: 4140 tubing.
 
Although it's leaded steel for good machinability, it's still pretty strong and will likely work okay but I'd have to research some numbers to say for sure. Some materials might surprise you.

I use to do alot of stupid stuff as a kid. That included taking a 8 inch length of 1/2 ID plumbing pipe, hammering a crappy cast steel 3/8 socket (the dark gray Chinese ones) into the back of it, and it really took some force because it was oversized, and then I poured a palm full of black powder into it and screwed on a pipe cap that had a fuse hole drilled into it. Set it out on the back stone wall aiming towards the woods and lit the fuse and ran to hide behind the garage.

💥 BOOM.... I thought for sure it exploded but it actually shot the socket out and didn't even bulge the piece of pipe.
 
It does not matter what material one uses for a barrel. As long as you make the barrel suit the material. Old time cannon were made of cast iron and worked fine with balls weighing by the pound not the grain yet people would be incensed it one made a musket out of cast iron. Wood, bamboo and copper have all been used to make guns of some sort.12L14 will work fine if you treat it within its ability. If such barrels have failed then either the user mistreated them or the maker did not use enough of it for the task and/or made it badly.
 
We are gonna turn a Hand Gonne out of 12L14. The chamber area will be 2" Thick with a .750 bore. No way that thing is coming apart with measly 40 -50 grain charge.
Sounds impressive - a barrel wall thickness of .625 per side! So long as normal precautions and procedures are used, I would feel very comfortable shooting with that arrangement.
Have fun with the build and keep us posted with progress
 
It's probably gonna be a bit on the heavy side. But we will see. I'll post up some progress pics whenever we get started. My Friend down at the Mill, has to have a knee replacement coming up soon, so we won't be able to start on it until he gets a little better after surgery.
Best wishes to you and your bud on milling. Are you planning to taper the barrel towards the muzzle? Full Octgon or ??
 
Oh yeah we will taper it down to the muzzle and turn down the rear section that the tiller will go in to. The bulk will be in the chamber area. I'm kinda basing it off the one that I have now with maybe some ques to the ones sold on sites like military heritage. My buddy thinks he's gonna help me for me. We will churn it out, and I will put a tiller on it and give it to him. I saw how he reacted to mine when took it down there to turn a handle for it. So he's gonna get this one.
 
It does not matter what material one uses for a barrel. As long as you make the barrel suit the material. Old time cannon were made of cast iron and worked fine with balls weighing by the pound not the grain yet people would be incensed it one made a musket out of cast iron. Wood, bamboo and copper have all been used to make guns of some sort.12L14 will work fine if you treat it within its ability. If such barrels have failed then either the user mistreated them or the maker did not use enough of it for the task and/or made it badly.

Personally i think 12L14 is fine, I’ve never seen or heard of one blowing up from regular use.

Hoyt, Rice, and Colerain all use a 12L14 grade of steel to cut their smoothbore barrels and rifled barrels.

I know Ed Rayl, I’m a regular customer of his, and Bobby Hoyt, Ed uses 8620 steel and I’ve even asked him personally about using 12L14, he says he’s used it and there’s nothing wrong with using it, he just prefers to machine with 8620. Neither Ed or Bobby use 4140 steel because of of its complications to machine and its cost prices out their customers.
 
It is true; it's why they stopped production years ago. I remember it.

It is true; it's why they stopped production years ago. I remember it.

According to THEM they stopped making black powder barrels all together to focus on other opportunities with stainless barrels, and this makes sense, as there is not a whole lot of profitability min making black powder barrels for business like the Rifle Shoppe.

In all of muzzle loading Years and experiences, I’ve only seen one 12L14 barrel fail and it was test a Don Getz, Don had tested the barrel with five times the normal load, didnt fail. The only time it failed was then the ball was short started at the muzzle, the barrel burst at the muzzle and this was done deliberately.
 
I'm thinking about ordering this.
https://militaryheritage.com/musket31.htm
11 bang bang's burst test gives me confidence that the so called "sewer pipe" barrel will hold up. It took something ridiculous like 1200 grains of powder to burst the barrel on his Indian Musket.
If I get it and it can hit a pie plate at 25-30 yards or so. Don't think I won't be sitting in a blind this year with a match cord smoldering. :D I got bored taking game with modern tools with high quality optics. I have taken enough to fill a roll off dumpster in my time that way. Now I prefer getting closer to them and using old style tools.
Hey, Front, you want a challenge? Try a flint knife while running beside the squirrel!
 
According to THEM they stopped making black powder barrels all together to focus on other opportunities with stainless barrels, and this makes sense, as there is not a whole lot of profitability min making black powder barrels for business like the Rifle Shoppe.

In all of muzzle loading Years and experiences, I’ve only seen one 12L14 barrel fail and it was test a Don Getz, Don had tested the barrel with five times the normal load, didnt fail. The only time it failed was then the ball was short started at the muzzle, the barrel burst at the muzzle and this was done deliberately.
I don't expect Douglas would ever state they made a barrel where the material used could be less than optimal. Lawyers have a way of advising companies to frame their responses to some inquiries in a certain fashion.
Cold weather was suspected in a few of the failures and I remember hearing of this back then though I never actually saw it happen.
A lot was written at the time, and it was written for a reason.
Many people today use barrels made of 12L14 and see no harm in it but I won't use them because I don't feel the material makes a more durable barrel.
Folks are free to use what they want.
 
Here are some reasons why 12L14 can be suitable:
Machinability: 12L14 steel has excellent machining properties, making it easy to work with on a lathe. This is especially helpful when creating custom features like a longer barrel and dovetail sights.
Ductility: 12L14 is a leaded steel, which means it has higher ductility compared to other carbon steels. This property can be beneficial for a Gonne barrel, as it may help absorb some of the stresses caused by firing the weapon.
Strength: Although 12L14 is not the strongest steel, it should be more than adequate for a .75 caliber Gonne barrel. As long as you ensure sufficient wall thickness, the barrel should be able to withstand the pressures generated when firing.
As for your idea of turning down the chamber area on your existing Gonne, it can be a viable option to reduce weight.
 
So, bought a barrel off Ebay the other day. Haven't seen it yet. Picture, yeah but not very informative. Seller didn't know terminology or how to sell it, apparently. No manufacturer name, we'll see when it arrives. The barrel is in the white, unfired, never received a breech, no cuts, drilled holes, no dovetails no crown work.
Been reading the Forum.
Learned that manufacturers use three types of steel for barrels.
Question: How to identify the steel used and/or the maker?
Oh, it's 1" @ the flats, 50 caliber, 32½". Thanks, Steve
 
It does not matter what material one uses for a barrel. As long as you make the barrel suit the material. Old time cannon were made of cast iron and worked fine with balls weighing by the pound not the grain yet people would be incensed it one made a musket out of cast iron. Wood, bamboo and copper have all been used to make guns of some sort.12L14 will work fine if you treat it within its ability. If such barrels have failed then either the user mistreated them or the maker did not use enough of it for the task and/or made it badly.
Copper pipe special's! what Schoolboy hasn't tried them ! . incidently was it you or' Old Dog'wanted info on the Bisley Short Range Fire that time Ive got pics I can remit .
Cheers Rudyard
 
Rudyard,
Starting this trip, I hoped the chemistry make up of different quality ML manufacturers would be reflected in the quality of their barrels. Not so. Because the one bought hasn't a manufacturer stamp I consider the purchased barrel may be a cull. Still, by knowing a quality manufacture rejecting a product not quite acceptable would in it self make the one I bought better quality and thereby safer.
I know nothing about Bisley Short. Except a Dr. by that name was my heart doctor.
Thanks,Steve
 
Rudyard,
Starting this trip, I hoped the chemistry make up of different quality ML manufacturers would be reflected in the quality of their barrels. Not so. Because the one bought hasn't a manufacturer stamp I consider the purchased barrel may be a cull. Still, by knowing a quality manufacture rejecting a product not quite acceptable would in it self make the one I bought better quality and thereby safer.
I know nothing about Bisley Short. Except a Dr. by that name was my heart doctor.
Thanks,Steve
Dear Stevan . Wow not looking at steels & just making up guns from whatever barrel came my way including old Damascus barrels (as a Preference ) I never managed to burst any. At or well away from any official proof house (,In my case Birmingham). Not even the vilified Indian barrels . I don't worry about steels or even impurity ridden iron ones . After many years & well over 200 guns no body managed to burst one as I know of .
I offered my three hundred year warrentee. that is if its found faulty they must bring them back in three hundred years & Ile fix them free .Plus they wont burst more than once .
Shades of a verse I found in an old Medical book in the Shanta Bhwaan Mission hospital up in Kathmandu , I had Blackwater fever no fun at all .
vis


"Whenever patients come to me , I physics bleeds & swetts em."
"If After that they choose to die ," What's that to me ? " . (I Lettsome MD)
Regards Rudyard
 
Dear Stevan . Wow not looking at steels & just making up guns from whatever barrel came my way including old Damascus barrels (as a Preference ) I never managed to burst any. At or well away from any official proof house (,In my case Birmingham). Not even the vilified Indian barrels . I don't worry about steels or even impurity ridden iron ones . After many years & well over 200 guns no body managed to burst one as I know of .
I offered my three hundred year warrentee. that is if its found faulty they must bring them back in three hundred years & Ile fix them free .Plus they wont burst more than once .
Shades of a verse I found in an old Medical book in the Shanta Bhwaan Mission hospital up in Kathmandu , I had Blackwater fever no fun at all .
vis


"Whenever patients come to me , I physics bleeds & swetts em."
"If After that they choose to die ," What's that to me ? " . (I Lettsome MD)
Regards Rudyard
Rudyard,
Sounds like you know about barrels. Interesting.
When a golfer hits his ball its destination is no longer in his control. He may elect to hit another claiming he deserves another mulligan. If he doesn't adjust his attitude, that ball will closely follow the first.
I'll wait to see what I have and then think, then make a decision remembering and maybe, re-read your posts. Thanks, Steve
 

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