Combustible Envelope Cartridges

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Gun Tramp

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For "Colt's Revolving Belt Pistol of Naval Caliber." To avoid stepping on the excellent current thread, "Rollin' My Own," I'll share my experience here with making non-nitrated paper cartridges in .36 caliber, hoping it may be of use to others. Loosely-loaded conical bullets hadn't worked well for me in the past so I wished to try roundballs and learn cartridge-making at the same time.039.JPG
Three hardwood dowels were needed; one became the form for the paper envelopes, the second became a reamer for the loading block, the third, a burnisher for the tapered holes made by the reamer. To begin, a length of mulberry was split and the resulting pieces roughed out with a broadhatchet.011.JPG
With the aid of a stop clamped in the bench vise, the better pieces were brought to square with a plane.016.JPG
Both ends of a used hacksaw blade were ground to the desired cartridge profile, their dimensions identical; one served as a pattern during the project and the other became the reamer cutter. The slot for the cutter is sawn before planing to shape. 005.JPG
To determine the cartridge profile, I used 1.114" as the finished envelope length (chamber depth for my revolver), .375" for the envelope's large diameter (chamber mouth diameter), and .270" for it's small diameter. A slight relief was honed on the cutter, it was epoxied in it's slot, and a Q-tip and lacquer thinner were used to clean up the inevitable excess.006.JPG
A handle was attached to the reamer, and the burnisher and forming dowel were finished with files. A digital caliper was used for all measurements, the hard, fine-grained mulberry lending itself well to precise tolerances.006.JPG
We're just starting to have fun! Loading block is next...
 

Gun Tramp

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Thanks, friends. For the loading block I used old-growth Ponderosa pine from the Uinta mountains of Utah and oriented the grain thusly. The faint scribed line represents the finished depth of the six individual holes for the cartridges (the 1.114" desired envelope length).011.JPG
Hand drilling with graduated bit sizes roughed in the taper and the reamer with a painter's tape depth gauge finished the job. Slowly. The block was then sawn and planed to the line, thereby preventing tear-out of the precious holes.008.JPG
Beeswax was applied to the forming dowel and burnisher and much turning by hand in the respective holes resulted in a fine polish on all.027.JPG
Better post this before our ice storm deletes it; there's more...
 

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Gun Tramp

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Tried to post a link and failed; it can be found in reply #95 in the "Rollin' My Own" thread. Maybe should have opened a new tab and copied it from there? Anyway, photos without narrative did post above. I'm a geometry dummy too, and without the link's "calculator" would have just used trial and error to come up with a template for the paper envelopes. Non-nitrated 9# onion skin paper was cut inside the traced template outlines and I used waterglass to glue the 3/16" lengthwise overlap. Note the excess length is just slightly more than the small diameter. This allows for a perfect, crisp, three-fold finish to the end, without glue. We'll put stuff together next time.
 

Gun Tramp

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United States Magazine toured Colt's facilities in 1857 and reported of the cartridge works, "Nearly the whole labor here is performed by females, about thirty of whom were at work during our visit." Go figure. Festus would have called my endeavor "fiddlety bits." This is what I used for glue; the stick portion of a Q-tip was used as an applicator. It is a forgiving adhesive that sets a bit slow, if anything. Like mucous. 005.JPG
The lengthwise overlap of the paper is visible here and about as about as minimal as I could manage.003.JPG
But. The paper thickness and it's overlap won't allow our precisely fitted forming dowel with paper to fully seat in the loading block! So, that amount is carefully filed from the dowel diameter and now the paper seats flush yet kindly remains when the dowel is removed.013.JPG 014.JPG
I used 17 grains of FFFg for a charge to avoid crowding the mouth of the paper where glue was to be applied to secure the ball. 18 grains might work. My chambers require a .380 ball so a swaged Hornady is too small; not much chance of placing the sprue cut-off on the cast ball exactly "up," so it was placed imperfectly "down." Before the glue sets, the small end of the forming dowel is used to slightly eject the finished cartridge to prevent stray glue from sticking it to the loading block. 024.JPG
The magazine summarized, "Parties who once get a trial of these cartridges will scarcely fail of possessing a supply thereafter."
 

.44 associate

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Meh. If only you had used wood from the Abajo range then you would really have had something.

In all seriousness, you have made some beautiful cartridges and I am deeply impressed. Thank you for your contribution to the game!
 

Gun Tramp

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Kind words. Thank you. If this thread proves useful to others I am most gratified.
 

Dr5x

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United States Magazine toured Colt's facilities in 1857 and reported of the cartridge works, "Nearly the whole labor here is performed by females, about thirty of whom were at work during our visit." Go figure. Festus would have called my endeavor "fiddlety bits." This is what I used for glue; the stick portion of a Q-tip was used as an applicator. It is a forgiving adhesive that sets a bit slow, if anything. Like mucous. View attachment 21090
The lengthwise overlap of the paper is visible here and about as about as minimal as I could manage.View attachment 21091
But. The paper thickness and it's overlap won't allow our precisely fitted forming dowel with paper to fully seat in the loading block! So, that amount is carefully filed from the dowel diameter and now the paper seats flush yet kindly remains when the dowel is removed.View attachment 21093 View attachment 21094
I used 17 grains of FFFg for a charge to avoid crowding the mouth of the paper where glue was to be applied to secure the ball. 18 grains might work. My chambers require a .380 ball so a swaged Hornady is too small; not much chance of placing the sprue cut-off on the cast ball exactly "up," so it was placed imperfectly "down." Before the glue sets, the small end of the forming dowel is used to slightly eject the finished cartridge to prevent stray glue from sticking it to the loading block. View attachment 21096
The magazine summarized, "Parties who once get a trial of these cartridges will scarcely fail of possessing a supply thereafter."
I have no use for your paper cartridges but am very impressed by your ability to demonstrate how you manufactured the device for creating them. Absolutely splendid.
Dutch Schoultz
 

Philip Lebow

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Sadly, we can no longer nitrate our paper, due to potassium nitrate being on the naughty list due to terrorists and other
degenerates using it. At least in California.....
 

Gun Tramp

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Bless you, Dutch. I was once accused of not being able to swing a dead cat without first making a device with which to accomplish the task.
 

Zonie

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Sadly, we can no longer nitrate our paper, due to potassium nitrate being on the naughty list due to terrorists and other
degenerates using it. At least in California.....
You mean to say, Spectracide Stump Remover isn't available at your local Home Depot, Lowes or hardware store?

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Spectracide-16-oz-Stump-Remover/4764059?cm_mmc=shp-_-c-_-prd-_-lwn-_-google-_-lia-_-241-_-grassandweedchemicals-_-4764059-_-0&store_code=1850&placeholder=null&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIw--1j4De5gIVIB6tBh2q-w1YEAQYAiABEgLuwfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

It is almost pure Potassium Nitrate.
 

.44 associate

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I was unable to find it in stores. Our (California) stores appear to carry a different kind of stump remover that is not potassium nitrate. I assumed it was due to California law but was unsure. Amazon sent me a bottle of Spectracide with no fuss. Hopefully I have not broken any laws.
 

Erwan

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sgtsquid

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I've used Spectracide stump remover to make serpentine powder and slow match for my handgonnes. The only place I've been able to find it in California has been Lowe's. I have also known a lot of people who use potassium nitrate for rocket engines and they have had no trouble getting it. They haven't banned it here yet, but I'm sure it is just a matter of time and another manufactured crisis.
 
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I use this method:
It leaves only one layer of curling paper and are incredibly fast and simple to make. They fire every single time even after multiple cylinders full.
 

Erwan

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I've used Spectracide stump remover to make serpentine powder and slow match for my handgonnes. The only place I've been able to find it in California has been Lowe's. I have also known a lot of people who use potassium nitrate for rocket engines and they have had no trouble getting it. They haven't banned it here yet, but I'm sure it is just a matter of time and another manufactured crisis.
Something I don't understand, why you can't found the KNO³ everywhere, this is in fact only a conservator for meat. Here in Europa the code for this is E252 and despite our very restrictive laws in France we can get it very easily inline when only saying that this stuff is only for treating meat...
You can certainly ask a butcher or a pork butcher if he can do something for you (retailing or give an address), I think that could be possible...
One example after asking KNO³ for treating meat (pork treating): https://www.mon-droguiste.com/nitrate-de-potassium-salpetre,fr,4,NITPOT14005DSN.cfm

250 grammes or ~8.82oz:

 

TFoley

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I just use cigarette papers [large size], that way I don't have to look up ANY kind of regulations. They've worked for me for the last fifty years... I guess that here in UK we don't worry about some old f*rt going into a store and buying a few packs. Mind you, if somebody tried to buy a thousand packs at the same time, there might be some degree of concern.

Anyways, the local UK terrorists used to use HUGE quantities of AMMONIUM nitrate to make their devices - up to half a ton in some instances. From fertiliser, y'know.
 

Erwan

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Anyways, the local UK terrorists used to use HUGE quantities of AMMONIUM nitrate to make their devices - up to half a ton in some instances. From fertiliser, y'know
Yes, an this is the reason why this is difficult to buy. They have used a lot of ammonium nitrate and also sodium chlorate the farms of the whole countries have large stocks of it but the chlorate is now forbidden...
For the KNO³ only the professionals can get it like they need or like they want after furnishing what proof that they are professionnals (papers etc), we aren't pro. and with 250g we can largely do what we need for cartridges, so we dont have any risk of problem with this unless ............................. make a large quantity of black powder... :D:D:D
 

Mean Gene

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I could be wrong about this so please correct me if I am, but I thought I read some where that reproduction bp revolver chambers are not tapered like the originals, so if there not then can't the cartridge be straight sided?
 
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