Brick dust and wood

Discussion in 'Revolutionary War' started by tenngun, Jun 14, 2019.

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum by donating:

  1. Jun 14, 2019 #1

    tenngun

    tenngun

    tenngun

    Cannon

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    10,387
    Likes Received:
    1,198
    Location:
    Republic mo
    I was cleaning my gun today with an in the white barrel. I was thinking about military guns kept bright and shiny. Another thread was about polishing brass.
    Brick dust was a common issue for the men to use to buff.
    So,
    One had to have slipped and got in to the wood. Yet old besses I’ve seen don’t seem to have a lot of wear from that. The guns were varnished, but they must have freshened the wood finish pretty regular. Any idea on what the army boys oiled stocks with?
     
  2. Jun 15, 2019 #2

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Artificer

    Cannon MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    9,388
    Likes Received:
    823
    Cuthbertson tells us either what his Regiment did during the FIW and/or what he proposed should be done to preserve their King's Muskets (Brown Bess's) a few years after the war, when he first published his treatise.

    "By going to some little expense, it will not be difficult to bring the stocks of the firelock to one uniform colour: by staining them either black, red, or yellow; and by then laying on a varnish; to preserve them always in a glossy, shining condition."

    Cuthbertson later goes on to suggest this as part of the maintenance done by British Soldiers to preserve their muskets, though probably not on their normal/daily cleaning of the muskets. This because unlike today when we can walk into a store and buy varnish whenever we want, they had to make it every time they used it.

    There is little doubt that some kind of Varnish was the best protective finish during the 18th and 19th century in the period of this forum.

    More info on traditional Varnish finishes:
    https://www.muzzleblasts.com/archives/vol5no2/articles/mbo52-1.shtml

    More info on Period Varnishes;
    http://prorestorers.org/notes/earlyFinishes.htm

    Gus
     
  3. Jun 25, 2019 #3

    FlinterNick

    FlinterNick

    FlinterNick

    40 cal - b

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2018
    Messages:
    488
    Likes Received:
    163
    Brick dust was a common polishing compound used during the revolutionary war, other compounds used pasts (a mixture of wax base, pine resin and arsenic or a type of powder) made of crushed sand and glass.

    In the field of course all of this makes logical sense.

    In an early gunsmithing shop they wheel buffed the gun parts to a high sheen, I believe they used a top of cloth based Emory, some gunsmiths even developed tumbling devices that would be attached to a wheel gear of some sort then turned for days with a windmill, water mill, or manual labor.
     
  4. Jun 25, 2019 #4

    tenngun

    tenngun

    tenngun

    Cannon

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    10,387
    Likes Received:
    1,198
    Location:
    Republic mo
    The brick dust was used, my question was what did they do to protect the wood when polishing metal. privates didn’t dissembled their gun, but rubbing brick dust on the edge of wood would quickly strip varnish off the wood. What did private Jack do to keep up his wood?
     
  5. Jun 25, 2019 #5

    FlinterNick

    FlinterNick

    FlinterNick

    40 cal - b

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2018
    Messages:
    488
    Likes Received:
    163
    Military muskets of the 18th century were coated in organic linseed oil and sometime more less common and expensive, oils such as Tung and Walnut oil; I wouldn’t call an oil finish a varnish, its not nearly as durable, Tung oil is pretty durable. To my knowledge, soldiers carried around a clump of bees wax to rub on their guns, same as a surfer rubs wax on a surfboard. Was it effective, not really. Soldiers in the field would have been exposed to rough elements, same would their muskets. As far as the Brick Dust scratching the finish off the gun, they would place the dust in a type of cloth, like a cheese cloth and rub in down on the metal, I would assume they tried to avoid wood areas and mortise areas.
     
  6. Jun 25, 2019 #6

    Zonie

    Zonie

    Zonie

    Moderator Staff Member MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    28,894
    Likes Received:
    1,480
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    I don't believe tung oil was widely available in Europe in the 19th century or earlier. The earliest date I can find for importation of a Tung tree to the US was in 1905.

    Linseed oil on the other hand has been available in Europe for over 1000 years making it the most likely oil to be used on the Military muskets in the 18th century.
     
    FlinterNick likes this.
  7. Jun 25, 2019 #7

    FlinterNick

    FlinterNick

    FlinterNick

    40 cal - b

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2018
    Messages:
    488
    Likes Received:
    163
    Tung oil was used mostly in Asia in the 15-18th centuries and made its way to Europe via trade with Europe .... however it’s unlikely to have been used on military muskets as it was in very short supply. It was mostly used by artists and on very fine furniture. Used on guns probably for personal rifles.

    It’s certainly the best drying oil for overal protecting wood
     

Share This Page

arrow_white