Cleaning 150/200 years ago

Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by theoldredneck, Oct 26, 2014.

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  1. Oct 31, 2014 #61

    Shifty

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    Well I think that yes some were never really cleaned maybe a nipple cleaned or swapped out,flash channel cleaned,vent picked out,maybe i guess some lube run through on a patch or maybe some spit,thats probly why they said some where freshed out because the bores where slicked over.Now the people in the big trapping units had better chances to service there weapons than the smaller units.Now this is just a guess on my part,i have done some reading on the subject but not much.
     
  2. Oct 31, 2014 #62

    Coot

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    "Many years of experience" can be many years of doing something the wrong way.

    I am sure that in the past that there were some, just as today, that simply used an item without any effort to maintain it until it failed to function. Small engine shop near me says half of their "repairs" are cleaning dirty fuel tanks & carbs. Some will say "its just a tool" but I was taught that a craftsman takes care of his tools. Others milage may vary.
     
  3. Oct 31, 2014 #63

    coloradoclyde

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    Exactly my point, I just took the long way round the barn. :thumbsup:
     
  4. Oct 31, 2014 #64

    Artificer

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    Your example of the Meek episode is a great example of those who had already survived in a hostile environment, absolutely knew what had to be done to survive in it, I.E. keep a gun reasonably clean. It also taught the "Pilgrim" it was necessary for survival and did so before the possibility of losing his life because of a dirty gun that would not function when his life and the lives of the other members of the party might/would need that gun to function.

    Now of course people being people then as now, some people would not have had firearms when traveling into hostile country because they could not afford them. Some people also may have decided out of ignorance, or laziness or stupidity; to not clean/maintain their guns enough to ensure they would reliably work when needed. Some of those folks got away with it. Others were not so fortunate.

    Of course, some people who did "all the right things" still wound up getting killed or dying on the various frontiers or getting captured. Those things happen in a hostile or even survival environment, but they surely happened more to those who were not as well prepared.

    Gus
     
  5. Nov 1, 2014 #65

    bpd303

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    I don't know about way back but I have an 28 gauge smoothbore that someone gave me back in '95 that I used for years as a signal gun to get my big stupid dog to come home. I would load it with about 50gr Goex and a rag wad (no ball or shot)then touch it off and the dog would come running. Then all I did to it was run an oiled (3in1) swab down the bore.
    My dog was killed by a cougar about ten years ago and the gun just sat in the corner of my basement since then. About 6 months ago I noticed the gun and thought the bore would be toast. I gave it my usual cleaning and was amazed that the bore looked like new not a speck of rust.

     
  6. Nov 1, 2014 #66

    Yellowhouse

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    Just a few thoughts:

    There is less urgency to clean a fired weapon in dry climates than humid ones. One fired in south Georgia can rust overnight while the same one might take months in Lubbock, Texas.

    Seasoned bores are much easier to clean than scoured ones. The latter being the bane and gospel of many modern shooters.
     
  7. Nov 1, 2014 #67

    hanshi

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    "Seasoned" bores is just a myth that won't die but I do agree with you on the Ga vs Tx situation.
     
  8. Nov 1, 2014 #68

    Claude Mathis

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  9. Nov 1, 2014 #69

    Jacko50

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    Speculating again it would have been advantages to more than one Firearm. Provided one had the means you would Clean Long Arm, have Pistol at ready, clean Pistol have Long Arm at ready. Then of coarse if things got real interesting you had your Knife.
     
  10. Nov 1, 2014 #70

    TNGhost

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    I recently picked up a flint smoothbore, was advertised as eroded barrels. Given the crud around the touchhole/lock and the rust in the barrel, it looked as though it had been fired once and put away.

    I used some of that ML foaming bore cleaner and a bronze brush after it sat a bit. After a couple of patches the bore came out as bright and shiny as a brand new modern 20 I have.

    Granted it was a smoothbore, and it came from an arid climate area. At least that's where the seller was.

    As far as 150/200 years ago, I'd say human nature played much the same role as today, some cleaned some didn't, some did it better, some did it worse, some made excuses, some used water, some used the latest snake oil,...and some profited by it.
     
  11. Nov 3, 2014 #71

    Yellowhouse

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    Yes, I've read that article but one fact remains. Using natural lube and no petroleum whatsoever there is no hard carbon buildup in the drum and breech area of my 50 caplock nor in the breech of my flinter. Its a lot easier to clean than when I didn't employ this method and thats all I know.
     
  12. Nov 3, 2014 #72

    LaBonte

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  13. Nov 4, 2014 #73

    Zonie

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    I guess it all depends on your definition of "seasoned".

    Most folks think of a cast iron pot or pan which due to the nature of a casting does have a porous surface and having these pores filled with oil/grease and then baked to cause the oil/grease to turn to carbon.

    Few if any people I know would equate this form of "seasoning" with coating the surface of the pan listed in the linked ad ("12 gauge carbon steel", which is sheet metal) with the "seasoning" of a cast iron utensil.

    In fact, most of the people I know would say a sheet metal steel pan coated with hardened vegetable oil isn't seasoned. It's dirty and needs to be washed.

    This leads me to say, I agree with Paul.
    The tightness of the molecular matrix of a piece of steel doesn't lend itself to the traditionally thought of "seasoning" a casting can have.

    Obviously, this issue belongs in a study of semantics. Not in a discussion of cleaning a gun barrel 150-200 years ago. :)
     
  14. Nov 4, 2014 #74

    hanshi

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    Plus, the old barrels weren't made from cast iron; they were made from wrought iron which isn't too far from steel.
     
  15. Nov 4, 2014 #75

    LaBonte

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    Read some of the other links as well and you will see that many call for seasoning steel pans - my own heavy cast steel pan is no different in needing a good seasoning as do my cast iron pans. And as noted rifle/smoothbore barrels were made from wrought iron and not cast iron - two completely different materials and wrought has just as tight a matrix as does steel plus steel does not always have a real tight grain - ask any good knife maker about grain patterns...
    So you may not agree and your opinion about a dirty pan is wrong based on the facts, so if you don't believe the facts then I would suggest asking a professional metallurgist or looking the info up (lots available on line by professionals)rather than depending on Paul's opinions about a subject he was unfortunately lacking knowledge of and yet presented as facts in error...
     
  16. Nov 4, 2014 #76

    Zonie

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    As I said, a topic on cleaning methods used 200 years ago does not need a debate about seasoning steel barrels.
    They didn't have steel barrels 200 years ago.

    Let's get back on the topics subject. I'll start by saying I don't think the people who lived 200 years ago were any different than the people who live now.

    There were undoubtedly many who appreciated their guns and took good care of them. There were also many who either from ignorance or laziness didn't know or care about cleaning their guns so they ended up with the same ruined barrels on 5-20 year old guns I see at gun shows everywhere.
     
  17. Nov 5, 2014 #77

    tljack

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    I own an interesting book titled "The Muzzle Loading Cap Lock Rifle". It was writing in 1949, however the author was very elderly then and grew up as a boy shooting with old timers from probably 1840 or so.

    He describes cleaning as being extremely important. "When out in the weather, no matter how cold or wet you are, take care of the horses, clean, oil, reload your rife and then make dinner".

    The cleaning method he describes is boil 2 qts. of water, put lock at half cock, using a funnel pour the water down bore and capture it in a bucket if indoors. He says to be sure to use a rag on barrel to prevent burns. After all water has run out of lock, turn rifle upside down until it is drained out. While still very warm use 6 to 8 pieces of flannel down bore to clean out and dry. When finished put sperm oil on dry piece flannel and swab bore with 3 or 4 oiled patches. After this oil a smaller piece of flannel until soaked. run this up and down bore several times and leave the bore wet with sperm oil.

    This sounds like he was taught by old timers that cleaning is extremely important. Kind of like today.

    I realize everyone has different thinking about everything including gun cleaning. I am fortunate to own several custom built flintlocks but I still value my production guns and spend as much time and care cleaning them as those costing thousands.
     
  18. Nov 5, 2014 #78

    Artificer

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    That book by Ned Roberts was perhaps the first book I purchased on ML's back in the early 70's. It still has much to offer today.

    I wonder if some of the 18th century sources, that mentioned some folks not cleaning/maintaining their weapons well, were in fact meant as precautionary warnings to others?

    Those going beyond the frontier for long periods of time would have been handicapped by a broken or dirty gun that would not work when needed. We sometimes forget that the Long Hunters were after huge numbers deer skins that needed working guns to gather, besides the use of guns for self defense against Native Americans or Hostile Europeans. So for both economic reasons and self defense, guns were important. The former more true for the success of a Long Hunt, even if they did not run into needing guns for self defense.

    Further, the fact that Long Hunters went out in good sized parties most likely saved the skins of Long Hunters when their guns failed to work from wear or tear and/or lack of proper maintenance. They could always retreat to a gathering point of other Long Hunters when their guns did not work. To put it bluntly, anyone who thought about attacking good sized groups of Long Hunters would not have known whether or not the Long Hunters had working guns until the Long Hunters tried to shoot their guns. Hostiles had to assume that most Long Hunters' guns were in working order. However, Long Hunters would have been up a crick without a paddle if the majority of them did not properly clean and maintain their guns.

    Gus
     
  19. Nov 5, 2014 #79

    coloradoclyde

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    What is seasoning and how do we define it?

    To me, seasoning is when fat, oil or wax is applied to hot metal and it carbonizes forming a thin layer of carbon on the surface of the metal.
    When a blacksmith puts a red hot piece of metal into bucket of oil to quench it the metal gets seasoned.

    When you heat up your cast iron frying pan up real hot and coat it with lard, it gets seasoned the same way.

    Any seasoning that gets done to a gun during its manufacture likely gets removed during the finishing processes.

    I think there is a lot of confusion about the difference between seasoning and carbon fouling.

    A gun barrel does not get hot enough, long enough, from firing to carbonize any fat or oil. What can happen is that the fire from the exploding gunpowder burns the fat, adding to the carbon fouling and not creating any seasoning.

    Soap and water will remove fouling from a gun barrel and seasoning from a frying pan.

    So now you may be thinking, “but why is my clean bore dark instead of shiny?”

    The likely answer is that the darkening of the bore has been created by a chemical reaction from the acids formed from burning black powder, and or a combination of any subsequent cleaning chemicals that one may use. (Similar to bluing).

    Carbon based fouling or layers of carbon based fouling do not produce a seasoned layer upon metal. Seasoning requires a clean surface, and the proper amount of heat, time, fat and protection. These conditions are not achievable inside a gun barrel.

    If you still have doubts! Try to season a brand new unseasoned cast iron frying pan with black powder and bore butter and then fry an egg in it.
     
  20. Nov 5, 2014 #80

    LaBonte

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    But they did by the mid-1830's - drilled through cast steel barrels (a type of steel and not that the barrels were cast to size/shape). Wesson was using them by 1836 and advertised them as superior to wrought iron barrels. By the 1840's Remington was using them as well.


    Steel does not have a molecular matrix - it is of a crystalline structure made up of various elements.

    and yes back to the OP's original question:

    "One evening a wolf came into camp as I was engaged in cleaning my rifle, one barrel of which was still serviceable, and a long hickory wiping stick in it at the time. As I was hidden by a tree, the wolf approached the fire within a few feet, and was soon tugging at an apishamore or saddle cloth of buffalo calfskin, which lay on the ground. Without dreaming the rifle would go off, I put a cap on the useless barrel, and, holding it across my knees in a line with the wolf, snap ph-iz-band went the charge of damp powder, much to my astonishment, igniting the stick which remained in the barrel , and driving it like a fiery comet against the ribs of the beast...
    "George F. Ruxton, 1846, SE Colorado - his rifle was Westley-Richards 25 gauge (.58" caliber nominal) double barrel.

    "La Bonte looked up from the lock of his rifle, which he was cleaning."
    La Bonte's rifle was according to Ruxton a flint Hawken obtained in the mid-1820's -
    "To effect this, he first of all visited the gun-store of Hawken (note: J & S Hawken), whose rifles are renowned in the mountains, and exchanged his own piece, which was of very small bore, for a regular mountain rifle. This was of very heavy metal, carrying about thirty-two balls to the pound (nominally a .54 caliber), stocked to the muzzle, and mounted with brass; its only ornament being a buffalo bull, looking exceedingly ferocious, which was not very artistically engraved upon the trap in the stock.

    A further description of La Bonte's rifle -
    "Each held a rifle across his knees, but””strange sight-in this country””one had its pan thrown open, which was rust-eaten and contained no priming; the other's hammer was without a flint."
    George F. Ruxton, 1846, SE Colorado

    "...a short time after Mr. Smiths departure, their (sic) being about a hundred Indians in the Camp & the Americans busy arranging their arms which got wet the previous day.."
    Arthur Black describing the massacre of Jed Smith's brigade by the Umpqua's in late July 1828 to John McLoughlin, the factor of the HBC post Ft. Vancouver, WA
     

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