A Brief Tour of a Really Good Musket Lock

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Hi,
I've been attending quite a few Rev War period living history events over the last few years and it is clear that many Rev War units are getting pretty old. I noticed that some folks struggle to cock their muskets because the springs are often way too stiff and they are not as strong as they once were. So, when I can and have time, I will help some of those folks "age in place" with their musket locks. That means I weaken the mainspring and balance the frizzen spring along with it. The end result is as good or better performance without so much strain. Ironically, I usually have to strengthen the frizzen spring because many reenactors subscribe to the notion that the frizzen spring just needs to be strong enough to hold the pan cover closed. That is one reason why when they pull the trigger 10 times, they have 3 misfires. They don't believe me when I tell them the British Army expected their Brown Bess lock to ignite the pan priming 40 times in a row with no misfires and using 1 flint.

At Kempton, a friend handed me his Navy Arms Charleville musket to "age in place" his lock and improve its performance. These muskets were made by Miroku and were the best reproductions of any Rev War musket commercially made. The lock is superb and I just needed to clean up the lock, polish the bearing surfaces, weaken the mainspring, and adjust the frizzen spring. I also adjusted the sear spring to allow a lighter trigger pull. I had not worked on one of these for years and forgot how good they are.





The musket reproduces the French model 1766 or 1768 infantry musket. It was also known as the "light 63" because it was a substantially lightened version of the first model 1763 musket issued. Didier Bianchi wrote in his book "French Military Small Arms" that the locks on these muskets were the best flintlocks ever used on French muskets and probably on any 18th century muskets. They were expected to ignite the pan 120 times without a misfire and using only 3 flints in the process. There are many features of this lock that are superior to the British Brown Bess locks. The double throated flint cock is incredibly strong and the geometry of the lock puts the sparks right in the pan. The throw of the cock is shorter than the Brown Bess making it a faster lock. The detachable pan is a very nice feature when it comes to cleaning and servicing the lock. One feature I wanted to highlight is the way the mainspring and tumbler interact. The first photo shows the hook of the mainspring on the tumbler foot when the lock is at rest.



The next photo shows the lock at full cock. Note the end of the hook is positioned right in the inside corner of the tumbler foot. What happens, is the tumbler both lifts the spring up as you cock the lock but also rotates around the round nose of the mainspring hook.



In the photos below, the black tape marks the position of the mainspring at rest showing how far the spring moved going to half cock. Then the tape is moved up and the lock is drawn to full cock so the tape shows how little the spring moved from half to full cock. That combination of limited movement up and rotation of the tumbler around the hook provides mechanical advantage making the force required to pull the lock back to full less than the force required to pull it to half cock. That offers options for a lighter trigger pull without sacrificing any power in the mainspring. It is an excellent design and Miroku did a great job reproducing it.






Of course the proof is how well does it spark. Even with a dull flint it does really well! In the last photo, which is the next instant after the second photo was taken, you can see residual sparks still burning inside the pan and out like a sparkler.







This lock teaches a lot about good lock design.

dave
 
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Great Post Dave.

I agree whole hardly that this is without question the best performing musket lock I’ve ever used, I have had four of these muskets over my reenactment life and each one has never failed.

I really wish I could have seen how miroku did the mainspring, I’ve had a few copies of the mainspring made to replace broken ones, and when hardened and tempered back at 700 it doesn’t produce the same power.

While it does fit in the universe of the 1766 - 1768 models, its a little more robust than some of the original locks I’ve see from the three factories, granted the variations are incredible between all three. The plate, pan, cock, springs and internals are all beefier, than the original 66/68s i’ve compared this lock to, and even slightly beefier than a 63 which had a longer but thinner plate. I suspect these are all modern day improvements to extend its useful life and quality.

Side by side next a rifle shoppe 1763 lock, its ironically heavier but not as long, and the mainspring on the miroku lock is much stronger but shorter.

The 1763 lock by TRS does not have the detached pan, I did attempt to detach it unsuccessfully. The quality of the 1763 by TRS is very good, throws a great shower inspite the less stronger spring (pic below).

The Miroku bess lock, while functionally a very strong lock, seems to suffer from some other issues that the charleville lock does not.
 

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Here is a printed comparison of some original french locks i have in my collection (Gazette De Armes, 12F, 1979).
 

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Yankee

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Hi,
I've been attending quite a few Rev War period living history events over the last few years and it is clear that many Rev War units are getting pretty old. I noticed that some folks struggle to cock their muskets because the springs are often way too stiff and they are not as strong as they once were. So, when I can and have time, I will help some of those folks "age in place" with their musket locks. That means I weaken the mainspring and balance the frizzen spring along with it. The end result is as good or better performance without so much strain. Ironically, I usually have to strengthen the frizzen spring because many reenactors subscribe to the notion that the frizzen spring just needs to be strong enough to hold the pan cover closed. That is one reason why when they pull the trigger 10 times, they have 3 misfires. They don't believe me when I tell them the British Army expected their Brown Bess lock to ignite the pan priming 40 times in a row with no misfires and using 1 flint.

At Kempton, a friend handed me his Navy Arms Charleville musket to "age in place" his lock and improve its performance. These muskets were made by Miroku and were the best reproductions of any Rev War musket commercially made. The lock is superb and I just needed to clean up the lock, polish the bearing surfaces, weaken the mainspring, and adjust the frizzen spring. I also adjusted the sear spring to allow a lighter trigger pull. I had not worked on one of these for years and forgot how good they are.





The musket reproduces the French model 1766 or 1768 infantry musket. It was also known as the "light 63" because it was a substantially lightened version of the first model 1763 musket issued. Didier Bianchi wrote in his book "French Military Small Arms" that the locks on these muskets were the best flintlocks ever used on French muskets and probably on any 18th century muskets. They were expected to ignite the pan 120 times without a misfire and using only 3 flints in the process. There are many features of this lock that are superior to the British Brown Bess locks. The double throated flint cock is incredibly strong and the geometry of the lock puts the sparks right in the pan. The throw of the cock is shorter than the Brown Bess making it a faster lock. The detachable pan is a very nice feature when it comes to cleaning and servicing the lock. One feature I wanted to highlight is the way the mainspring and tumbler interact. The first photo shows the hook of the mainspring on the tumbler foot when the lock is at rest.



The next photo shows the lock at full cock. Note the end of the hook is positioned right in the inside corner of the tumbler foot. What happens, is the tumbler both lifts the spring up as you cock the lock but also rotates around the round nose of the mainspring hook.



In the photos below, the black tape marks the position of the mainspring at rest showing how far the spring moved going to half cock. Then the tape is moved up and the lock is drawn to full cock so the tape shows how little the spring moved from half to full cock. That combination of limited movement up and rotation of the tumbler around the hook provides mechanical advantage making the force required to pull the lock back to full less than the force required to pull it to half cock. That offers options for a lighter trigger pull without sacrificing any power in the mainspring. It is an excellent design and Miroku did a great job reproducing it.






Of course the proof is how well does it spark. Even with a dull flint it does really well! In the last photo, which is the next instant after the second photo was taken, you can see residual sparks still burning inside the pan and out like a sparkler.







This lock teaches a lot about good lock design.

dave
Dave,
Thanks for this article. I am the guy you see struggling with his lock. Last Sunday, I attended a gravemarking ceremony for a Revolutionary War Vet. We were supposed to do a musket salute. I could not get my Charleville replica from half cock to full cock in order to fire. What a downer. This has not been the first time this has happened. I need my lock to work first time every time. When I got home I took the lock off and began to inspect it. Not being very mechanical I wasn't sure what I should be looking for. I suspected my problem was at least caused, in part, by the main spring. I have very little to no space between the leaves (arms) of the spring. When at half cock, the spring is completely closed. So, I am guessing I need to replace my main spring? Can you suggest where I might find a good replacement? Would you think the old spring is completely trash? Thanks for your help! Dan
 
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Dave,
Thanks for this article. I am the guy you see struggling with his lock. Last Sunday, I attended a gravemarking ceremony for a Revolutionary War Vet. We were supposed to do a musket salute. I could not get my Charleville replica from half cock to full cock in order to fire. What a downer. This has not been the first time this has happened. I need my lock to work first time every time. When I got home I took the lock off and began to inspect it. Not being very mechanical I wasn't sure what I should be looking for. I suspected my problem was at least caused, in part, by the main spring. I have very little to no space between the leaves (arms) of the spring. When at half cock, the spring is completely closed. So, I am guessing I need to replace my main spring? Can you suggest where I might find a good replacement? Would you think the old spring is completely trash? Thanks for your help! Dan
Hi Yankee,
Can you post a photo of it? What is the lock and musket, or gun?

dave
 

Yankee

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Dave,

Thanks! The musket is a model 1768 Charleville. It was originally purchased through Veterans Arms and I believe they deal with Indian made products. I have attached a photo showing the lock in half cock position.

Dan
 

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Eterry

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Hi,
I've been attending quite a few Rev War period living history events over the last few years and it is clear that many Rev War units are getting pretty old. I noticed that some folks struggle to cock their muskets because the springs are often way too stiff and they are not as strong as they once were. So, when I can and have time, I will help some of those folks "age in place" with their musket locks. That means I weaken the mainspring and balance the frizzen spring along with it. The end result is as good or better performance without so much strain. Ironically, I usually have to strengthen the frizzen spring because many reenactors subscribe to the notion that the frizzen spring just needs to be strong enough to hold the pan cover closed. That is one reason why when they pull the trigger 10 times, they have 3 misfires. They don't believe me when I tell them the British Army expected their Brown Bess lock to ignite the pan priming 40 times in a row with no misfires and using 1 flint.

At Kempton, a friend handed me his Navy Arms Charleville musket to "age in place" his lock and improve its performance. These muskets were made by Miroku and were the best reproductions of any Rev War musket commercially made. The lock is superb and I just needed to clean up the lock, polish the bearing surfaces, weaken the mainspring, and adjust the frizzen spring. I also adjusted the sear spring to allow a lighter trigger pull. I had not worked on one of these for years and forgot how good they are.





The musket reproduces the French model 1766 or 1768 infantry musket. It was also known as the "light 63" because it was a substantially lightened version of the first model 1763 musket issued. Didier Bianchi wrote in his book "French Military Small Arms" that the locks on these muskets were the best flintlocks ever used on French muskets and probably on any 18th century muskets. They were expected to ignite the pan 120 times without a misfire and using only 3 flints in the process. There are many features of this lock that are superior to the British Brown Bess locks. The double throated flint cock is incredibly strong and the geometry of the lock puts the sparks right in the pan. The throw of the cock is shorter than the Brown Bess making it a faster lock. The detachable pan is a very nice feature when it comes to cleaning and servicing the lock. One feature I wanted to highlight is the way the mainspring and tumbler interact. The first photo shows the hook of the mainspring on the tumbler foot when the lock is at rest.



The next photo shows the lock at full cock. Note the end of the hook is positioned right in the inside corner of the tumbler foot. What happens, is the tumbler both lifts the spring up as you cock the lock but also rotates around the round nose of the mainspring hook.



In the photos below, the black tape marks the position of the mainspring at rest showing how far the spring moved going to half cock. Then the tape is moved up and the lock is drawn to full cock so the tape shows how little the spring moved from half to full cock. That combination of limited movement up and rotation of the tumbler around the hook provides mechanical advantage making the force required to pull the lock back to full less than the force required to pull it to half cock. That offers options for a lighter trigger pull without sacrificing any power in the mainspring. It is an excellent design and Miroku did a great job reproducing it.






Of course the proof is how well does it spark. Even with a dull flint it does really well! In the last photo, which is the next instant after the second photo was taken, you can see residual sparks still burning inside the pan and out like a sparkler.







This lock teaches a lot about good lock design.

dave

Hello Dave, I've missed our talks.
If ANYONE in this site, (or ANY OTHER site), should know how to tune a lock, it is undoubtedly YOU, my friend.
Take care, be safe.
 
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Dave, an excellent post. What work did you do on the mainspring and sear spring?
Hi,
I apologize for not answering you more quickly. Somehow, I missed seeing your post. The Miroku mainspring is too strong for anybody. It does not need to be anywhere near that stiff. I could have simply ground the lower leaf thinner and put more bevel on it but I sped things up by first annealing the spring. Once soft, I ground the lower leaf thinner tapering it a little toward the hook. I also compressed the main bend just slightly by heating it bright red and tapping the bend with a hammer on an anvil. Then I heated it bright red, quenched in canola oil, and tempered it at 750 degrees F for 1 hour. That did the trick. I also annealed the sear spring and closed the bend a little as well. I thinned the lower leaf a little then hardened and tempered it. I also worked over the frizzen spring. Miroku makes them with a big wide bend such that the top leaf is almost horizontal. It works but does not look like the originals. So I closed the bend a little and angled the upper leaf upward slightly. Then hardened and tempered it. I polished the upper surface of the spring highly where the toe of the frizzen slides. Finally, I simply polished all the bearing surfaces on the inside of the lock and the inside of the plate, making sure it is really flat, which it was. After assembly, I checked the relative power of the frizzen spring and mainspring with a small hand held luggage scale. I wanted the power needed to open the frizzen to be about 30% of the force needed to bring the cock from rest to full cock. I ended up with the frizzen force at about 20-25%, which seemed to work best for this lock. The frizzen is large and heavy, and that mass works in its favor causing resistance to the flint without the frizzen spring needing to exert a lot of pressure. My hope is the owner can now cock his musket with the thumb of his right hand rather then having to grab the cock with his whole hand. I did not have the musket in hand so I could not adjust trigger pull but changing the springs and polishing probably brought that pull down to 3-4 lbs or so. On a reenactor's gun I rarely go any lower than that.

dave
 
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Dave,

Thanks! The musket is a model 1768 Charleville. It was originally purchased through Veterans Arms and I believe they deal with Indian made products. I have attached a photo showing the lock in half cock position.

Dan
Hi Dan,
There are so many things wrong with that lock. Shame on Veteran Arms for selling anything like that. I believe you diagnosed your problem well but the fix is going to be very difficult because the spring sits so low on the plate. Look at how much space is below the lower leaf of the mainspring on the Miroku lock I posted and then look at yours. The main bend of your spring needs to be opened slightly so at full cock, the lower leaf is not jamming into the upper leaf. However, you have no room under the spring on the lock plate to open that bend. I doubt you can get a replacement because the locks are hand made and even then the holes drilled in the lock plate are going to position the spring in the same attitude. You might try grinding the lower leaf thinner particularly toward the hook to see if that helps. However, the spring will have a fulcrum where the lower leaf touches the upper and the leaf will likely bend a little upward at that point. That could eventually break the spring. To open the bend the spring has to be annealed and then hardened and tempered again. A tiny opening might be all you need and perhaps may still stay within the boundaries of the lock plate but it will be close to the bottom. I suspect you would also have to do some inletting in the lock mortise to make it fit. There are other issues with that lock. The fit of the frizzen to the pan is atrocious and the sear appears to drop below the lock plate. I shudder to think what the tumbler looks like on that lock.

dave
 
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Hi Dan,
There are so many things wrong with that lock. Shame on Veteran Arms for selling anything like that. I believe you diagnosed your problem well but the fix is going to be very difficult because the spring sits so low on the plate. Look at how much space is below the lower leaf of the mainspring on the Miroku lock I posted and then look at yours. The main bend of your spring needs to be opened slightly so at full cock, the lower leaf is not jamming into the upper leaf. However, you have no room under the spring on the lock plate to open that bend. I doubt you can get a replacement because the locks are hand made and even then the holes drilled in the lock plate are going to position the spring in the same attitude. You might try grinding the lower leaf thinner particularly toward the hook to see if that helps. However, the spring will have a fulcrum where the lower leaf touches the upper and the leaf will likely bend a little upward at that point. That could eventually break the spring. To open the bend the spring has to be annealed and then hardened and tempered again. A tiny opening might be all you need and perhaps may still stay within the boundaries of the lock plate but it will be close to the bottom. I suspect you would also have to do some inletting in the lock mortise to make it fit. There are other issues with that lock. The fit of the frizzen to the pan is atrocious and the sear appears to drop below the lock plate. I shudder to think what the tumbler looks like on that lock.

dave


Hi Dave I worked on three of these locks from Veteran Arms, each one has its own set of issues, the most common one I’ve seen is the sear to too big for the tumbler and doesn’t engage the notches. The tumblers are pretty much buzzsaws, with so many burrs it eats away the plate and bridle with every turn of the cock.
 

Yankee

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Hi Dan,
There are so many things wrong with that lock. Shame on Veteran Arms for selling anything like that. I believe you diagnosed your problem well but the fix is going to be very difficult because the spring sits so low on the plate. Look at how much space is below the lower leaf of the mainspring on the Miroku lock I posted and then look at yours. The main bend of your spring needs to be opened slightly so at full cock, the lower leaf is not jamming into the upper leaf. However, you have no room under the spring on the lock plate to open that bend. I doubt you can get a replacement because the locks are hand made and even then the holes drilled in the lock plate are going to position the spring in the same attitude. You might try grinding the lower leaf thinner particularly toward the hook to see if that helps. However, the spring will have a fulcrum where the lower leaf touches the upper and the leaf will likely bend a little upward at that point. That could eventually break the spring. To open the bend the spring has to be annealed and then hardened and tempered again. A tiny opening might be all you need and perhaps may still stay within the boundaries of the lock plate but it will be close to the bottom. I suspect you would also have to do some inletting in the lock mortise to make it fit. There are other issues with that lock. The fit of the frizzen to the pan is atrocious and the sear appears to drop below the lock plate. I shudder to think what the tumbler looks like on that lock.

dave
Hi Dave,

Thanks for your response and analysis. I am not mechanically inclined, I beieve I understand most of what you are telling me. I do not possess the knowledge or tools to perform the work that this lock needs I have never done any work on the lock besides cleaning and oiling. And inspecting it when it did not operate correctly. It was your post that pointed me to concerns about the mainspring. I could immediately tell a huge difference between your lock and mine. Would you consider working on my lock to bring it up to speed? If so, would you give me a quote for the cost to make all the corrections you mentioned?

Dan
 
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Hi Dan,
We should continue our discussion via private message not on this thread. Use the little "envelope" button near the search function on the upper right of your screen.

dave
 
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Dave,

Thanks! The musket is a model 1768 Charleville. It was originally purchased through Veterans Arms and I believe they deal with Indian made products. I have attached a photo showing the lock in half cock position.

Dan
Uh-Oh! that looks bad. It will take a Dave Persons to offer advice on how to fix that.
 

vetarms

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There are so many things wrong with that lock. Shame on Veteran Arms for selling anything like that.

Good grief - exaggerate much?

In any case, Veteran Arms services all of the pieces they sell. (I know because I own the company.) All that is required to have one serviced is to contact them.

As for Dave_Person and 1776, anyone who has been around this forum very long knows exactly what axes are being ground by those two.

Admins, you wanna step in here?
 
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Surfinator58

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Good grief - exaggerate much?

In any case, Veteran Arms services all of the pieces they sell. (I know because I own the company.) All that is required to have one serviced is to contact them.

As for Dave_Person and 1776, anyone who has been around this forum very long knows exactly what axes are being ground by those two.

Admins, you wanna step in here?
I agree I have six India flintlocks ranging from blunderbuss, pistol ,and ,musket all have needed a tune-up on the lock but none have been unserviceable. I just reduce the thickness of the main spring clean up any burrs on the lock plate and tumbler give it a good cleaning then use Grease on everything and that seems to fix the problem
 
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Good grief - exaggerate much?

In any case, Veteran Arms services all of the pieces they sell. (I know because I own the company.) All that is required to have one serviced is to contact them.

As for Dave_Person and 1776, anyone who has been around this forum very long knows exactly what axes are being ground by those two.

Admins, you wanna step in here?

Dave is not exaggerating and is 100% correct, the locks from Veteran Arms, Middlesex are of the worst quality I’ve seen on indian made locks.

I’ve worked on two Brown Bess locks, and a french 1728 lock from Veteran Arms. They were all in need to extensive reworking, not what I would describe as a tuneup. Internals were soft, file marks were polished over causing the lock time to slow, springs are of extremely poor quality and screw holes needed to be TIG welded and moved.

These locks are so bad I’ve recommended that members of my group look elsewhere for a more quality product, loyalist arms produces a slightly better quality product with less headaches.
 
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Good grief - exaggerate much?

In any case, Veteran Arms services all of the pieces they sell. (I know because I own the company.) All that is required to have one serviced is to contact them.

As for Dave_Person and 1776, anyone who has been around this forum very long knows exactly what axes are being ground by those two.

Admins, you wanna step in here?
Hi,
I am objective and even handed when I discuss India-made guns. No one need take anyone's opinion here but simply look at the photo of that lock and the fact the owner cannot cock it to full. When I wrote "shame" on you that presumes you can do better so hopefully you will contact the owner and solve his problem.

dave
 
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Brokennock

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Good grief - exaggerate much?

In any case, Veteran Arms services all of the pieces they sell. (I know because I own the company.) All that is required to have one serviced is to contact them.

As for Dave_Person and 1776, anyone who has been around this forum very long knows exactly what axes are being ground by those two.

Admins, you wanna step in here?
Why should administrators step in over an honest opinion?
Dave knows more about this stuff than most. You however have a personal financial interest and therefore are the one who can not seem to be objective.
Are you seriously going to defend this junk lock by attacking and individual as well learned and respected as @dave_person who has no reason to not be objective and honest? Can you show us where he, or anyone else here has any benefit to gain by pointing out junk as being junk?
Maybe it is a "lemon" that slipped through.
Maybe you could have come on here and offered to replace the lock right here on a public forum?
That might have gained you some consumer confidence. As it is, with a response like yours, I for one will never spend a dime for one of your products, and I hope no one else who sees your response does either.
 

sturmkatze

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It's depressing. I would hope Charles from Veteran Arms will continue to post here. There is so much good info, but you have to really work to filter stuff. DaveP and Nick and Artificer post a lot of good info.

Anyway, the internet has just made things so much harder.
 

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