First Chainfire

Discussion in 'Handguns' started by gooddw, Jun 15, 2005.

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum by donating:

  1. Jul 20, 2005 #161

    arcticap

    arcticap

    arcticap

    54 Cal.

    Joined:
    May 20, 2005
    Messages:
    2,116
    Likes Received:
    257
    Location:
    Central Connecticut
    1. Does cylinder temperature and resultant chamber expansion affect projectile movement during recoil?
    2. Do different batches, brands, types of powder or their substitutes affect or contribute to the degree of risk of a chainfire?
    3. Do different projectiles?
    4. How many thousandths of an inch of chamber diameter variation might or might not affect the degree of potential for projectile movement during recoil, at what rate and where in the chamber does that become a factor?
    5. In what way does using a wad or not using wad or using crisco, or anything else involved in loading for that matter affect the degree of potential risk for a chainfire?
    6. How much does the relative closeness of the nipples, or chambers, or recoil shield of one model verses another model affect the degree of potential for a chainfire?
    7. What's the affect of cylinder looseness on caps or ball movement during recoil, etc...?

    You might notice that I use the term "degree" a lot. Nearly everything in the world can be described in terms of "to a greater or lesser degree", as in certainty. Or how about what's affected by the measurement of the relative "proximity" of any "things"?
    Sure manufacturers and scientists and universities and governments could do research on all of these kinds of things and more. As they say in medicine, anything is possible. There are still many unexplained mysteries in the world. There is such a thing as spontaneous combustion where human beings have been known throughout history to have "spontaneously" caught on fire without any known cause! But the bottom line remains essentially the same no
    matter what any research would "conclude"...Seal your chambers, seal your nipples and keep your hands out of the way. This is the most practical common sense approach that any human being could take. Forewarned is forearmed, and this thread has helped me and a lot of others to be more aware of the potential risks associated with the use of cap revolvers.
    I think that maybe research could help companies build safer revolvers. But would they be cheaper? Would they be authentic? Would they have four, five or six chambers? Would they use brass cases? Whoops! :kid:
     
  2. Jul 20, 2005 #162

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    1
    A .445 diameter ball (or maybe .440 if the gun has really tight chambers) will work in attempting to obtain some recoil related data for testing the "loose ball theory". I have already done some basic testing--using inert filler beneath the undersize balls in the adjacent chambers. It's not difficult to pull the cylinder and easily remove the balls.
    Since I don't want to destroy the test gun, or lose parts of my shooting hand... I have NOT tried the same test with "live" powder charges on the adjacent chambers. If I would do this, I would post the results.

    Something else that is not considered. .454 diameter is what most of the .44 caliber cap-n-ball revolver I've owned used. Some guns with very tight chambers will take a .451. BUT, the .451 balls WILL WORK in the guns that prefer the .454 diameter, AND they can be knocked loose just from regular carry use and from heavy recoil. The use of grease over the ball seems to make a "seal around the ball" if it was on the small side. It helps keep it in place as well as lubricating it. Those over powder wads, though handy, do nothing to help keep a loose ball in place in the chamber--but may block the flare from getting to the powder from the front if the ball has fallen out completely or moved forward enough.

    Regards, and Shoot Safely!
    WV_Hillbilly
     
  3. Jul 20, 2005 #163

    Nightwind

    Nightwind

    Nightwind

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    Messages:
    257
    Likes Received:
    0
    Lying awake at night, here's another thought that crossed my mind. Thinking more about the front end of the cylinder possibility of chainfires (see, I'm not totally prejudiced against the thought of chainfores coming from the front end).

    It's been said that an uncapped nipple will "suck in" flame from a nearby charge. Where does that "vacuum" come from? Possibly from a loose ball sliding forward and creating a small amount of vacuum in the chamber, thereby sucking in enough flame from a nearby shot to ignite itself. Again, this goes back to the loose or fallen off cap.

    Now, lets look at the same law of physics happening from the front end. A loose undersized ball (especially a badly wrinkled one) slides forward and creates a miniscule amount of vacuum behind itself. If the nipple has a tight fitting cap on it, the draw of the vacuum may(?) pull in enough flame alongside the wrinkles on the ball to ignite a chamber from a nearby shot. This is assuming that there is no grease covering the ball or filler/wad between the ball and the powder in the chamber.

    We all know of the tremendous amount of flame that surrounds the front end of a cylinder because of blowby as the ball slams into the forcing cone. So, if we add together the amount of vacuum behind a forward moving ball on the next chamber, and the amount of blowby pressure being exerted on it from the front, would that be enough to cause flame to get by a wrinkled and/or an undersized ball and ignite the charge?

    I was also recalling a previous message I'd wrote about a friend having a chainfire with his Ruger Old Army. Remembering that I had not miked the chambers on mine, I did so and found out that the chamber is straight walled. Not tapered like my Piettas and Rogers and Spencer. So that kind of eliminates the idea that tapered chambers may have the tendency to "pinch" the ball forward during a recoil?

    Questions, questions, questions, my brain is starting to hurt! :p :p
     
  4. Jul 20, 2005 #164

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    1
    Your reasoning is logical, whether it can be exactly recreated in reality is the question.

    I do know that the longer a round ball is loaded that the "looser it becomes" just by virtue of the fact that the coefficient of friction between the dissimilar metals becomes less and less over time.

    That has been proven by other testing of different materials but in a greatly different scenario than a BP cap-n-ball revolver. To put it in slightly less vulgar terms... "Same snot, different nose". Some of the testing I was involved with verified that decrease of friction theory. I am not at liberty to describe it further, though the principles are generally the same. Here's a little hint: Why do you think they put grooves, cleats, knurls, on metal that is not positively attached/fixed to mating surfaces?

    Does ANY one think friction alone keeps them in place indefinitely? :hmm:

    Or better yet... WHY do manufacturers warn you that you should tamp down the load in the second unfired barrel of a muzzleloading shotgun after you've fired the first barrel? OR to tamp down BOTH loads (again!) if you've carried the gun for a significant period of time and/or over rough terrain? OR to make sure that you have the patched round ball seated against the powder (tamp it down again before firing) after you've only carried the gun for some unspecified length of time?

    Regarding the creation of an artificial vacuum induced by rapid burning or ignition--let's just say that it's very possible to happen that way.

    I think that should clarify things.

    Shoot Safely!
    WV_Hillbilly

    Headaches? You aren't alone my fellow muzzleloaders... :cry:
     
  5. Jul 20, 2005 #165

    Guest

    Articap,

    My point exactly - anything can be overanalyzed so follow the "80/20" rule and do what makes sense for the majority.
     
  6. Jul 20, 2005 #166

    crockett

    crockett

    crockett

    Cannon

    Joined:
    May 1, 2004
    Messages:
    6,352
    Likes Received:
    9
    I agree, imperfect test but the pepper boxes chain fired and the test gun I was discussing was sort of a "pocket pistol" of the day- in other words such modified guns existed- at least I've seen pictures of them.
    That delay on the third chamber would have to be an ember, etc. It wouldn't be from flash or gas. Any more details such as caps, lube. no lube, wads, etc.
     
  7. Jul 20, 2005 #167

    Guest

    Crockett,

    I have shot sessions with my friend and he buys whatever caps and balls are cheapest, uses Goex 3F, puts lube over the ball and does not use wads. He has a Pietta 1860 Army.

    I have never had a chainfire (knock on wood). I use Remington #10 caps, Hornady .457 balls, Goex 3F, either a home made or store bought, lubed felt wad under the ball and usually no lube over the ball. I use my home made lube in long sessions at targets but do not use it in the field - either hunting or plinking. I have a Uberti 1860 Army.

    One thing that occurred to me is whether Pyrodex would chain like black. It is harder to ignite so would it be better in C&B revolvers? :hmm:
     
  8. Jul 20, 2005 #168

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    1
    My comments are in blue, Tarq had a good idea with that, so I though I'd try it.

    That's a good point that should have perhaps been tested by Hodgdon when Pyrodex was first marketed... and does anyone know the ignition temperatures of the various substitutes for black powder? Would you qualify your statement about your "home- made lube"--does that mean you use a loose grease over the balls during target shooting and the over powder lubed wads during field use, or that you only use your "home-made" wads during target sessions and the store bought wads during hunting & field use? It was a little bit confusing... but anymore everything is getting to be so.

    Shoot Safely!
    WV_Hillbilly
     
  9. Jul 21, 2005 #169

    brubincam

    brubincam

    brubincam

    62 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Messages:
    2,722
    Likes Received:
    0
    ever hear of a double barrel shot gun firing both barrels,,percussion or flint----how about a swivel percussion or flint double firing---went to a gun shop years ago,the guy that owned it said if he had small balls he used a patch on a revolver,,,,[i wont go back to his shop] :huh:
     
  10. Jul 21, 2005 #170

    Nightwind

    Nightwind

    Nightwind

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    Messages:
    257
    Likes Received:
    0
    Patched round ball in a revolver..... I've seen it at national competitions. These were top masters doing that, aannnd.... I even saw one top master playing around with practice targets using his Ruger Old Army and sabots!!! With eye popping results too!
     
  11. Jul 21, 2005 #171

    Guest

    WVHB,

    I don't know how to do blue text and this thread is getting awful long...whewww. I mentioned somewhere above (page 8 maybe?) that a friend of mine had experienced a chain fire a while back. Then Crockett asked about the details so I provided them as best I could.

    Sorry for the confusion on my loads - I always use a lubed felt wad - period. When I am shooting long strings at targets and have my kit, I also put lube over the ball. My home brew is (by weight) 8 oz Crisco, 4 oz beeswax, 4 oz Murphy's Oil Soap and 1 oz castor oil. I use this for all BP shooting or soaking home made felt wads. It is pasty at room temp and mostly stays put in the chambers after each shot so long as the weather isn't too hot - then it flies everywhere.

    When I am carrying a pistol in the field, either to hunt or plink, I omit the lube because I don't want to deal with the extra step and/or mess.

    I've had four BP revolvers over 30 years and none ever chain fired (again, knock on wood). One was an original Colt 1860, one was a Dixie 1858 Remington, another a Uberti 1851 and the one I have now is a Uberti 1860. I probably averaged 200 rounds a year over that time - some years I did no shooting and at other times in my life I was able to get out every week.
     
  12. Jul 21, 2005 #172

    unspellable

    unspellable

    unspellable

    32 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2005
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    2
    I am going to suggest that the moderator(s) lock this thread and start a new one on the same continued subject, simply because this one is getting so long as to be clumsy and shows no signs of slowing down.
     
  13. Jul 22, 2005 #173

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    1
    Yes, I'm surprised, but there still is a good bit of interest on this subject. I would have liked to see it reach 2000 hits and climbing, but I'm not in charge.

    I have seen much worse as far as threads having over 25 pages AND more on other boards. So I don't know if it actually slows things down--except for looking back through for certain info. But it's a good reason to use the SEARCH feature if you know a word or two that you think might be part of the post.

    I'm OK with it either way. Onward as is, or restarted... but I think some users may lose interest as it might start out as more of a technical exercise for a very small group of determined individuals rather than a discussion that everyone "could" be a part of... don't know, maybe some feel "left out" as it stands like this...

    Shoot Safely!
    WV_Hillbilly
     
  14. Jul 22, 2005 #174

    Nightwind

    Nightwind

    Nightwind

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    Messages:
    257
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would prefer it continued on rather than starting a new post, just to help keep the info in one place. Like a library, I'd prefer to get all the information from one book instead of looking all over the place.

    If this was just a bunch of rambling ons, ok. But there's alot of good ideas and suggestions, and maybe the answer or clue lies within. :m2c:
     
  15. Jul 22, 2005 #175

    wwfeatherston

    wwfeatherston

    wwfeatherston

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't have any real experience shooting BP, but a hell of a lot as an engineer who figures out 'what went wrong!'

    Using Occams Razor (simplest explaination is most likely the correct one), the most probable cause is that ALL the reasons are right!

    It probably take a combination of two or more factors to caue a chain-fire.

    Undersized ball, no grease
    Loose primer, large charge with lots of flashover

    That sort of thing.

    I found that rare intermittant problems were usually the reult of MORE THAN ONE FACTOR.

    Many years ago, I helped in an experiment to find out when ammo would start to cook off in a hot barrel. We could never duplicate the results from one wepon to another. Shot a couple of Browning .30's until the barrels glowed red and they wouldn't do it...
     
  16. Jul 22, 2005 #176

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    1
    I had tried to reply last night, but my 'puter went down hard on me. Nothing lost and got it percolating again.

    Anyway,
    I agree, that I have always though that it is likely a combination of factors or conditions, whether inherent to the design or artificially created by loading procedures that may or may not have been followed properly.

    I have alluded to this in several posts/replies that it is looking more and more like the natural recoil of a cap-n-ball gun is one of the resultant effects of firing that might initiate the whole process. Which means knocking off loose fitting caps or letting loose fitting balls slide forward and creating a dangerous "vent" at EITHER END of the revolver's cylinder. YES, you heard me correctly. I've never excluded the possibilities of BOTH being a cause, but that there is NO prescribed "preventative measure" that can keep a cap from coming loose or falling off in loading manuals,

    However, there is a prescribed method of preventing a chain-fire at the front of the cylinder by using a correctly fitting ball, and either a lubed wad over the powder or loose grease over the ball. Never have I read or heard of the old-timers using catgut or some other natural elastic material to keep their caps on--as part of a common practice. It WAS known though that wax was melted and put around the capped nipples to prevent them from falling off due to rough handling or having them capped for long periods between usage. Like I said, the coefficients of friction between the dissimilar metals DOES decrease over time. That's been a proven fact for a long time. If it weren't so, then we wouldn't need a lot of the various "fastening methods" for some of the technological machines... and things would just "stay stuck to each other" always.

    There are too many variables that belong in the set of user control than are standardized amoung shooters. Everyone has their own little way(s) of doing things. No, these may not be big variations, but since some have NEVER experienced a "chain-fire", it goes without saying that there must be a "human factor" in there somehow...

    It is notable that the cap-n-ball revolver was one of the shortest lived "muzzle-loading" firearms. Although it doesn't actually load from the muzzle literally, it loads from the mouth of the chambers. That makes it unique and unlike any other percussion gun. Also notable, that technological advancements in firearms were taking off at a tremendous rate around 1880 and therefore the end of the cap-n-ball era was ushered in "like a summer thunderstorm".

    I really think that's why in modern times, that no one has tested or wants to test the cap-n-ball revolver for inherent flaws and design problems as there has been too long a gap in both time and technology since it's flourishing period expired. We keep seeing new advances in inline rifles almost every year now, but the cap-n-ball guns never change. I don't include the use of more modern metals and coil spring usage in the Ruger Old Army models. They are not replicas but are in the same class of gun as far as loading/shooting procedures. So a chain-fire "could" just as easily happen in a Ruger OA model.

    Someone commented that they've never heard of double barrel percussion guns having a multiple ignition or "chain-fire", and that is probably because of the long barrels and the more or less improbability being so outrageously high of the muzzle flash travelling back down the unfired barrel (24 inches maybe?) and igniting the other load. Yet pepperbox revolvers were known to have multiple discharges occur, I haven't found where these were actually referred to as a "chain-fire".

    Sorry, this turned into a long post again. I really am trying to keep these shorter for easier reading and keeping track of the information better--especially for searches and such.

    "WHEN" this thread finally does end, I'd love to be able to download it for a reference... How about any others? Would you also like a copy of it for possible reference OR to be able to read the whole thing offline sometime?

    Thanks again, I was hoping that we had a couple of engineers on the forum who would comment. And please forgive any disparaging remarks I may have made in reference to the engineers "that I have worked with". The old saying about something "needing a rocket scientist to understand or put it together", was NEVER made by a I & C technician who had to work with them (rocket scientists, that is). Enuff said, you can figure that one out pretty easily.

    Shoot Safely,
    WV_Hillbilly
     
  17. Jul 25, 2005 #177

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    1
    In case anyone is wondering how things are going and what I've been up to lately.

    I found out something interesting... A .440 ball will stay in a chamber of a ".44cal" revolver, and likewise a .445 ball (though somewhat better fitting) will stay also. Neither of these diameters are recommended or safe to use, as they are likely to easily fall back out at some point in time.

    Question: Does anyone know what size a .454 ball gets reduced to after ramming it into a chamber?. (You do need a ball/bullet puller to get it out and measure it)

    Shoot Safely!
    WV_Hillbilly

    PS Does anyone have a guess where this is leading up to?
     
  18. Jul 25, 2005 #178

    Guest

    A reduced ball would be chamber diameter - whatever that is - correct? It can't get bigger than the chamber.

    Bear in mind that a pure lead ball will expand when you ram it, so a thumb push slip fit would likely upset if seated on powder with any force.

    You might be able to remove the nipple and push the ball out from the back - or - remove the barrel (Colt design) and secure the cylinder with the wedge and a washer, then seat ball over powder and fire into a water tank.

    Don't know if you have access to a set of pin gages but that would be an accurate way to measure each chamber.
     
  19. Jul 26, 2005 #179

    wwfeatherston

    wwfeatherston

    wwfeatherston

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sure can see where this is going, Hillbilly! It wouldn't be hard to get the wrong sized balls, for whatever silly reason- I could think of any number.

    I keep all my projectiles in clearly marked containers (9mm and .357 slugs are close, but not the same), as I don't want to mix them and it would be easy to do so!

    Undersized balls, hot gases, no grease or wad- and we have a chainfire- sometimes.
     
  20. Jul 26, 2005 #180

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    WV_Hillbilly

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    1
    Unfortunately, I do not have access (anymore) to that kind of calibrated instrumentation. I can only do an inside (dial) caliper measurement which is coming up with .450 for chamber diameter and with almost ZERO variation.

    I think that a .445 ball may "stick" a little better and also upset somewhat better than that .440 ball--which in a clean & empty chamber could roll all the way in and out freely.


    It is also notable that Ruguer suggests a .457 diameter ball for use in their Old Army cap-n-ball revolver. However the chambers measure .450 which is the same as just about every replica .44 cap-n-ball revolver chamber that I've ever had and measured. I think that's how they force a tighter seal and get higher performance from the gun. There's nothing magical about the Old Army. If you use .454 balls vs. .451 balls in a gun with .450 chambers, you will also gain some additional performance (slightly higher velocity). I think in the case of the Ruger though, it can withstand more pressure and that's why they opted to use .457 diameter. Remember the Old Army used to be referred to as a .45 caliber revolver and NOT as a .44 caliber (which the replicas are all considered to be--.44 caliber, that is).

    The old timers may have slathered the grease to the front of the loaded chambers to create a kind of pressure seal that would use the gas produced by the fired chamber to push back on the other nearby chambers and that is why a somewhat loose fitting ball may stay in place. I have to do some experimenting with that possibility also.

    Safe Shooting!
    WV_Hillbilly
     

Share This Page


arrow_white