Can't Remove Breech Plug!

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fishmusic

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I am building an Early Lancaster flintlock with a 42" swamped barrel. For the life of me I can't remove the breech plug. Every attempt causes the barrel to slip out of the vise. I have used leather to cushion the barrel from the vice jaws and then wood but the barrel still slips. I have a pattern makers vice and I tried it in that because the jaws will align with the flats on the barrel. (makes me want to take up a new vice 😁 ). The barrel is a Colerain .45 caliber with a B profile. Any hints out there? I' sure I am not the only one who has had this issue.
 

Flintfan69

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The vast majority of home shop vises are woefully outmatched when it comes to removing breech plugs. Adding padding/shims to the jaws only makes the problem worse. Even small amounts of torque can cam the jaws apart.

The best vise I have ever found for removing breech plugs is a 6" milling vise. It's not the clamping force that is important, it's finding a vise that doesn't allow itself to be cammed open. Milling vises have a rock solid positive hold.

If you happen to have a machinist friend, see if you you could use one.
 
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I am building an Early Lancaster flintlock with a 42" swamped barrel. For the life of me I can't remove the breech plug. Every attempt causes the barrel to slip out of the vise. I have used leather to cushion the barrel from the vice jaws and then wood but the barrel still slips. I have a pattern makers vice and I tried it in that because the jaws will align with the flats on the barrel. (makes me want to take up a new vice 😁 ). The barrel is a Colerain .45 caliber with a B profile. Any hints out there? I' sure I am not the only one who has had this issue.
It slips out because you are only holding two flats opposite each other. Phil is right on with his set up. If you want to do breech plugs in and out, a set of octagon aluminum vice jaw inserts are a must, along with a heavy duty BP wrench.
Larry
 
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The best way to hold on to a barrel in a vise is with these from Rice Barrel Co. They are only $40.
Kevin
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ord sgt

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I am building an Early Lancaster flintlock with a 42" swamped barrel. For the life of me I can't remove the breech plug. Every attempt causes the barrel to slip out of the vise. I have used leather to cushion the barrel from the vice jaws and then wood but the barrel still slips. I have a pattern makers vice and I tried it in that because the jaws will align with the flats on the barrel. (makes me want to take up a new vice 😁 ). The barrel is a Colerain .45 caliber with a B profile. Any hints out there? I' sure I am not the only one who has had this issue.
My question is this.... Why must you remove the breech plug? An obstruction in the bore? If the bore is clear, you are making more work than is needed. Or do you want to put anti seize compound on the threads of the plug? I have used a set of barrel clamps , bought from Brownells. The clamps are rounded on the outside to fit into a benchtop barrel vise.
 

SDSmlf

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My question is this.... Why must you remove the breech plug? An obstruction in the bore? If the bore is clear, you are making more work than is needed.
I am building an Early Lancaster flintlock with a 42" swamped barrel. For the life of me I can't remove the breech plug
@ord sgt , do you inlet the barrel into stock when building a gun with the breech plug installed? I remove the breech plug.
 
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Can't imagine any reason to remove a breech plug , on a new build. If you must , you must have a good enough heavy bench vice , with sheet metal jaw covers. Also a 12 to 18 inch crescent wrench , or similar. Don't crush the barrel in the bench vise. Most breech plug tangs are a little too long. It's good to estimate the proper length of the tang by where the tang bolt passes through the trigger plate. The tang can be bent to fit the top contour of the wrist , by putting the last 1/2 " of the tang in the bench vise , while the plug is in the barrel. and pull the barrel toward you gently until the tang can be inlet into the wrist contour through trial and error. Also , to mark the actual breech plug face ,simply insert a ramrod longer than the breached bore , mark and transfer to the outside of the barrel. Luck to ya.
 
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Can't imagine any reason to remove a breech plug , on a new build. If you must , you must have a good enough heavy bench vice , with sheet metal jaw covers. Also a 12 to 18 inch crescent wrench , or similar. Don't crush the barrel in the bench vise. Most breech plug tangs are a little too long. It's good to estimate the proper length of the tang by where the tang bolt passes through the trigger plate. Luck to ya.
Two reasons for me. One, because it is easier to inlet the barrel without the tang as SDSmlf has said. I also like to trim the TH liner on inside instead of measuring and hoping it is a good fit. Taking a new breech plug out with the right tools is no big deal. Righty tighty lefty loosey .
Larry
 

zimmerstutzen

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If the breech plug was fitted and installed in the barrel by the maker, removing it will only help screw that up. Each removal and install deforms the threads and causes eventual sloppy fit. IMHO, it is unwise to remove the breech plug unless it is an absolute life and death necessity. Why spend the money to have a professional fitted breech plug and then screw it up. Inlet the barrel the way it is. It aint rocket science.
 

SDSmlf

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If the breech plug was fitted and installed in the barrel by the maker, removing it will only help screw that up. Each removal and install deforms the threads and causes eventual sloppy fit. IMHO, it is unwise to remove the breech plug unless it is an absolute life and death necessity. Why spend the money to have a professional fitted breech plug and then screw it up. Inlet the barrel the way it is. It aint rocket science.
I was always taught to inlet the barrel (not talking about trimming a few slivers and corners with a kit, but an actual build) without the breech plug installed by those that taught me, plus that is what is written in just about every respected book on gun building I have. As an example, here is the ‘Order of Procedure’ recommended by Shumway in Recreating the American Longrifle: Step 5, Inlet barrel without breech-plug in it……. Step 8, shape and inlet the barrel tang.
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The vast majority of home shop vises are woefully outmatched when it comes to removing breech plugs. Adding padding/shims to the jaws only makes the problem worse. Even small amounts of torque can cam the jaws apart.

The best vise I have ever found for removing breech plugs is a 6" milling vise. It's not the clamping force that is important, it's finding a vise that doesn't allow itself to be cammed open. Milling vises have a rock solid positive hold.

If you happen to have a machinist friend, see if you you could use one.
Also, from rebarreling scores of unmentionables, a sharp blow on the wrench with a properly sized hammer is much preferred over trying to torque it out pushing/pulling on the wrench. Many square thread ‘03s have surrendered thusly and also many breech plugs.
 

zimmerstutzen

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I was always taught to inlet the barrel (not talking about trimming a few slivers and corners with a kit, but an actual build) without the breech plug installed by those that taught me, plus that is what is written in just about every respected book on gun building I have. As an example, here is the ‘Order of Procedure’ recommended by Shumway in Recreating the American Longrifle: Step 5, Inlet barrel without breech-plug in it……. Step 8, shape and inlet the barrel tang.


OF course, back in the days BEFORE makers installed the breech plugs for you. people had to install breech plugs themselves and many did a terrible job of it. You are comparing todays offerings with half century old building advice. Times change, materials change, tools change.. Maybe you should have gotten an unbreeched barrel and installed the breech plug your self. or asked the maker to install and then back it off a quarter turn so you could inlet. That book was written for folks who were starting their stock from a plank. I remember those days. I made a few from planks. Keep in mind that back then, a great many $600 premium parts sets became $100 rifles. (I bought a few screwed up builds dirt cheap and stripped them for parts). Now we have CNC machinery, pre inlet stocks, better machine fits of breech plugs, etc. Gosh I remember when fellows had to tap the threads themselves. started crooked many times. .
 
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I too have had this problem and found that using two thin brass sheets on the vice jaws works best to stop the barrel from turning. Then put a 5 ft or so piece of pipe on the wrench handle and make it loosen. I believe you will find that the person that threaded the barrel did not use a bottoming die to finish-thread it after he used the regular tapered die -- and you will need to buy a bottoming (plug) die to thread it properly; and, you may even need to re-thread the breach plug itself because he messed up the threads tightening it up into a non-threaded area of the barrel. If you thread the barrel all the way out to the end, it will not be that hard to get apart in the future.
 
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For who ever said they couldn't see any reason to pull a breechplug, it you build your own guns you will have them in and out a bit during the process. Rice barrels have the plugs properly fitted to the breech face, not so with a Colerain or a GM on which you have to time the plug yourself if you want it to have a proper seal, there is a lot of in and out and marking with Prussian blue to achieve this proper timing.

Then there is that dry ball that you just can't get out or the time you may punch an over powder card down the barrel of you 12ga before you put in the powder, speaking from experience, I guarantee you won't be getting that out without pulling the plug.

For some reason many people fear pulling a breechplug, I have the tools and experience, I can pull a barrel and have the plug out in a minute or so, no big deal. As far as wallowing out the threads by pulling the breechplug, I don't fit them to where I have to stand on a wrench to get them out, after the initial fitting and completed build I may take a breech plug out 2 or 3 times during the life of a rifle or not at all, all dependent on how many senior moments during the loading procedure that I might have somewhere down the road.

My old vice pads would conform to a barrel and work just fine but I really had to torque the jaws down to keep the barrel from rolling.

vise pads.jpg


squirrel rifel start 001.JPG


I used the above setup for years but splurged on a Rice barrel barrel clamp and breech plug wrench, some of the best gun building money I ever spent. I put some thin leather inside the vice clamps and they never mar a barrel.

rice.JPG
 
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