Brown Bess Update/More Questions re cleaning

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shaman

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Huzzah!

I'm pleased to report that I finally got my Brown Bess out over the weekend and fired it for the first time. I got good results with some FFG Goex. I did not get many shots off, but the 'Bess functioned well.

I tried both the .69 ball in a paper cartridge load as well as a patched .715 ball. Both worked well.

Now comes the next question: How do you clean the thing?

I've cleaned muzzleloaders before, but the design usually let me release the barrel from the stock/action and just take it into the shower with me. 'Bess is not going to be as easy.

I realized as I was Googling the issue this morning that I did not have a breech scraper jag. I do have a nice cleaning jag, plenty of 2X2 cleaning patches, and a worm.
 
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Clean it as soon as you can after shooting. The polished “in the white” finish of a Bess will rust overnight. If you shot yesterday and you’re asking this question this morning it’s probably already rusting. If you don’t have a good range rod with appropriate jags get one. Pretty much anything will work to clean it. Water, windex, or the 1000s of cleaning concoctions people recommend on this site. Get on it.
 

shaman

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Clean it as soon as you can after shooting. The polished “in the white” finish of a Bess will rust overnight. If you shot yesterday and you’re asking this question this morning it’s probably already rusting. If you don’t have a good range rod with appropriate jags get one. Pretty much anything will work to clean it. Water, windex, or the 1000s of cleaning concoctions people recommend on this site. Get on it.


10-4. Message received. Will comply.


UPDATE: I'm down at our hunting cabin, so I didn't have my whole shop at home to draw on. I ran water through the coffee maker, used Dawn dishwashing liquid and combination of cloth patches and paper towels. After accumulating a large pile, and switching to cold water for a rinse, I can say a stiff dry patch run down the bore comes back clean dry, and the lock looks shiny and new.

Luckily, I never encountered anything resembling rust.

I'm looking around the larder, and I have vegetable oil. In my range back I've got modern gun oil. What kind of lube does this thing require?
 
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Hi,
You can remove the barrel on the Bess. Is this a Pedersoli? If so, take out the lock bolts and remove the lock for cleaning. Then remove the tang bolt on the barrel and there are barrel pins to be tapped out with a pin punch or a nail with the point ground flat. You will see pins for the ramrod pipes and the barrel pins are the other ones. If a Pedersoli, the forward sling swivel screw does not need to be removed as it would on a real Bess. It doesn't make any real difference on a Pedersoli but on real Besses all pins are tapped from lock side to be removed from the side plate side. They are installed from the side plate side. Be careful to tap the pins slowly the first time and make sure the end coming out does not catch any wood splintering it. If it looks to be pushing up wood, tap it back in and try removing it from the other side. Now, a little trick. When the pins are removed the first time, file or grind them slightly shorter so they will only be flush with the wood on one side. That way the hole on the other side will guide your punch in the future when removing the barrel again and keep it from slipping off the end of the pin marring the stock. Also, sand the edges of the ends a little before inserting the pins after cleaning the barrel. With the tang bolt and pins out, hold the gun barrel side down over a bench or table with the muzzle resting on the surface but the breech held up slightly above the bench and give the stock a good rap on the bottom by the breech until the barrel drops out onto the bench. That is a better way to remove a barrel rather than grabbing it at the muzzle and levering it out. The latter way can wear the stock at the breech. Clean the barrel and lock as you normally do. I recommend rubbing the bottom of the barrel with beeswax or buff a little paste wax on it. Return it to the stock, tap the barrel pins in (if you want to be authentic, tap them in from the side plate side), screw in the tang bolt, install the lock and screw in the lock bolts. Do not crank down on any bolt. Just tighen them until snug and no more.

dave
 

shaman

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Dave: Yes, it's a Pedersoli, and I really appreciate the instruction. My only question: is the procedure you describe something I need to do after each firing? I'm having a hard time imagining your average Lobsterback, after a hard day of infringing the liberties of the natives, having to sit about the campfire playing with pins. Yikes!
 
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No need to remove the barrel, remove the lock and plug the touch hole (I prefer bamboo toothpicks but regular ones work OK) pour water in the barrel and let soak while you clean the lock, pour out the water and pull the toothpick, scrub out the barrel until happy and then rub everything down with your favorite oil.

Anything more is just added work for no benefit.
 

Daveboone

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I prefer to use boiling hot water, only a few drops of dish soap. Lots will argue the need for hot water or the soap.The hot water argument saying bare steel will flash rust. I am in a very humid area and in the amount of time it takes to clean , dry and oil, never had a problem. The boiling water I like because it heats the steel and helps evaporate any remainder water. I then also give a good squirt of WD 40 (for water displacement...not lube) down the bore or on a thoroughly soaked patch, , then dry patch THEN an oily patch. Only takes as long as it does to describe. Just a few minutes paying attention to the cleaning details after shooting guarantees good care. Just remember to check the rifle quickly over the next day or two to be sure nothing (rust ) is developing.
 
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As @French Colonial has stated, there is no need to remove the barrel to clean the Pedersoli musket. Or any other musket or barrel pinned to the stock firearm. A bit more care should be taken to keep the cleaning solution from getting on the wood. The lock should be removed to give full access to the touch hole and to clean the internals of the lock. I have used the bamboo skewers to plug the touch hole. I have also used a rare-earth magnet with a layer of black plastic electrical tape as a gasket to seal off the touch hole. A paper towel needs to be placed in the lock mortise to capture any cleaning solution that seeps out from the blocked touch hole. I fill the barrel with cleaning solution to dissolve most of the fouling from the bore. I repeat that several times as I clean the lock and the stock. Then with some cleaning solution on the patch and cleaning jag I clean the bore. @shaman's Pedersoli does not have a patent breech. The earlier applications of cleaning solution have softened the fouling at the breech so when the cleaning patch is at the breech, the cleaning jag can be rotated clockwise to effectively scrape the breech face. Once the barrel is cleaned and dried, a temporary oiling of cooking oil or the gun oil can be applied. For long term storage, a rust inhibiting lubricant which dries to a protective layer such as Barricade is best used to protect the bore and other metal parts. A modest wipe with a green scrubbing pad will keep the barrel shiny and in the white.

Full removal as @dave_person says is probably only needed about once a year. Do follow his instructions for removing the barrel.
 
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Dave: Yes, it's a Pedersoli, and I really appreciate the instruction. My only question: is the procedure you describe something I need to do after each firing? I'm having a hard time imagining your average Lobsterback, after a hard day of infringing the liberties of the natives, having to sit about the campfire playing with pins. Yikes!
Hi,
No, the soldiers did not remove the barrels each time the musket was used, however at least once or twice a year an armorer would clean the muskets and repair them doing a full disassemble. But the important point is that muskets issued to soldiers were never expected to last longer than 7-10 years depending on intensity of service. I expect you would like to have your gun in good shape for much longer. You don't have to remove the barrel for every cleaning but you should at least once a year for maintenance. I always remove my barrels after shooting to clean them because I do it efficiently and easily and see no reason not to.

dave
 

Ray-Vigo

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Shooting the smoothbore flintlock musket is fun and challenging. The cleaning and maintenance is not bad once you get a routine established.

The basics are covered pretty well above. A few finer points:

Bamboo tooth pick is a better as a touch hole plug than a common wood toothpick. They seal up nicely and seem pretty break-resistant.

The bore and the stock should be treated quite differently. Don't be afraid to really get the bore wet with the cleaning solution, and don't be afraid to scrub with patches in the bore until they come out nice and clean. The stock should be treated much more sparingly. Use a damp cloth with soap and water on it to gently wipe fouling off the wood. But do not soak or over-oil the wood. Water and a little dish soap is OK, water and Murphy's is OK, even plain water is OK, but be gentle with it and don't soak. The bore does not object to being scrubbed, but the stock takes a lighter touch and a simpler cleaning. In fact, the two worst things you can do are under-clean the bore (rust results eventually) and over-clean the stock (the wood degrades if it takes too much oil or water).

As others say, removal of the pinned barrel from the stock is a periodic thing, perhaps once or twice a season to check that rust is not getting on the underside. It's not something to be afraid of, but you don't need to do it every time either. You'll get a routine down with some practice.
 
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sportster73hp

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Not hc/pc or normal . I removed the lock. Plugged the touch hole filling the barrel with hot tap water and let sit. Cleaned the lock. Returned to the barrel and put my thumb over the muzzle and sloshed water back and forth. Repeated until water was clean.
Then the not normal . I used a 12 gauge brush with a patch over it and some oil to scrub the bore. Fresh patch and repeat till satisfied .
I do have a jag somewhere and a scraper both new never used.
 
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All my guns are pinned and several years go by between barrel removals. For me I get paste furniture wax and glob it in to the channel then replace the barrels. It oozes out and makes a big mess. I clean off all the ooze and it’s good. Over time it gets near solid as a candle well protecting the wood and the bottom of the barrel.
Tow on a worm is good to wipe the barrel with when cleaning and it has some scrubbing effect I tell myself anyway.
But water in a plugged barrel, fill and dumped works real well.
I like animal or veggie oils. I use lots of mink oil and lard and have used ‘sweet oil’ (olive oil) and I can’t say any works better then the others.
Tow seems hard to find these past few years, but wal mart or craft stores sell hemp. Cut in one foot strings you can wuickly unwind to a good bag full of fibers
 
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I have a pinned Tennessee mountain rifle I built in 2001. It’s been shot 1000s of times. It didn’t have anything under the barrel protecting it other than the browning since I built it. Recently I unpinned it to touch up and refinish the stock. It was just as clean and non-rusty as it was when I put it together 20+ years ago. Take yours apart and coat it with wax and don’t worry about it. I’m gonna sit back now and let others yell at me for being wrong and slacking in my cleaning methods.
 
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I have a pinned Tennessee mountain rifle I built in 2001. It’s been shot 1000s of times. It didn’t have anything under the barrel protecting it other than the browning since I built it. Recently I unpinned it to touch up and refinish the stock. It was just as clean and non-rusty as it was when I put it together 20+ years ago. Take yours apart and coat it with wax and don’t worry about it. I’m gonna sit back now and let others yell at me for being wrong and slacking in my cleaning methods.
Middlesex arms has a web sight. Now I’m not praising tgem or recommending them in any way, but he does have some good post on it.
They produced a Kirkland officers fusil that they based on an original in their collection. They disassembled the gun to get measurements and found on this old rusty beat up gun the original blue barrel finish clean and unsullied in the barrel channel.
Id for one not say your slacking
 
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Middlesex arms has a web sight. Now I’m not praising tgem or recommending them in any way, but he does have some good post on it.
They produced a Kirkland officers fusil that they based on an original in their collection. They disassembled the gun to get measurements and found on this old rusty beat up gun the original blue barrel finish clean and unsullied in the barrel channel.
Id for one not say your slacking
Very interesting. I feel better now lol. I’m gonna look that up on their site.
 

mark_fare

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I have a Pedersoli Bess that I shoot fairly often. I clean it at the range with Ballistol and about 5 or 6 patches. When I get home, I have these 6" bamboo cooking skewers, and I take one and use it to plug up the vent. Then I pour approx 4 oz of water in the barrel, warm or cold, it doesn't matter. Then I plug the muzzle with my thumb, and give Old Bess a good shake. Then I pour the water out of the muzzle, and run dry patches thru her. Then a couple of Ballistol soaked patches, then dry again. The I lube the bore with CLP, and I'm done.
 

shaman

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As this was the first time, I figured it was at least worth popping out the lock and seeing what had accumulated back there. The short answer is nothing of significance.

The long answer is that I could barely get the two screws out. After considerable work, I found one of the screws had been put in at the factory with a slightly munged-up thread. I went down to the hardware store, got a 6mm stainless nut, and spent the next hour or so running the aflicted screw through the nut with a mix of gun oil and Flitz abrasive. Eventually, the thread got easier to work and then I Flitzed the screw a bit in the lock.

The screw that holds the hammer on is similarly afflicted, but I've got no pressing reason to work on that for a while. I may give it to the 'smith at some point and have him get it loose for me. My smith broke his back last year, and is currently out of commission.
 
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I made a rest that holds the gun (any) with the muzzle tipped downward. This prevents water from running out the touch hole and lets me work with both hands instead of having to hold the gun.
I did the same thing. Only with a twist. I modified a pump up sprayer with a piece of copper tubing. Run the tubing in to touch the breech plug, pull the trigger and the water flushes out all the powder fouling. Then dry and oil the bore. I use it on all the smoothbores and rifles that it is a pain to remove the barrel. The idea came from Pedersoli cleaning with a steam cleaner.
sprayer 001.jpg
 
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