First flintlock, tons of questions

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Asch

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Greetings!

I recently acquired my first flintlock that happens to also be my first smooth-bore. Nothing fancy or even "authentic," it's a made in Japan Ultra-Hi that appears to have been a kit build some years ago, but it was in good shape, clean, and inexpensive. I've never been much in with the way of the flintlock, always had done percussion, so I need to get some flint under my belt, and have a bunch of questions.

First is the ball itself. It was labelled as a .65 cal, dropping in a gauge shows it to be .66 diameter at the muzzle. I have some .648 balls, but they seem to be just a hair too small, with a patch, it fits a little snug, but still goes in with ease with my thumb. Is there an available size that would work better?

For the flint, I've seen both lead and leather, and see it seems to be very much dependent on the individual user, but I'm curious about any resources on use of either in history, if there are any.

For the frizzen, is there anything that can be done at home without great cost? For me, this is more a "starter" gun to see if I have enough interest to invest $600+ into a better one, so cost is a major factor. The flint is scoring it pretty good, not horribly, and still sparks reliably and gets a good flash.

I think that's where I'll leave this one for now.

Thanks!
 

Hatchet-Jack

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If the muzzle is .66 a .648 RB should work with a patch, maybe start with a .015 patch. You'll just have to try some different thicknesses.

If the frizzen sparks well enough to ignite the powder you should be good. The scoring is normal.
 

Sparkitoff

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Since it's smoothbore, you could put a nitro card or a fibre wad over the powder and either seat a patched ball or a loose ball with an over card to hold it in place. Try both to see how accuracy is. Lead is pretty easy, just pound a ball flat and snip off a little rectangle. For leather, cut the brand/size label off a pair of jeans and you have 4 or 5 pieces of leather flint holders. On the scoring, try the flint bevel up or down. See how easily the frizzen opens and consider loosening the spring but working it or compressing it so it opens easy as the flint glides along it.
 

Osseon

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Since it's smoothbore, you could put a nitro card or a fibre wad over the powder and either seat a patched ball or a loose ball with an over card to hold it in place. Try both to see how accuracy is. Lead is pretty easy, just pound a ball flat and snip off a little rectangle. For leather, cut the brand/size label off a pair of jeans and you have 4 or 5 pieces of leather flint holders. On the scoring, try the flint bevel up or down. See how easily the frizzen opens and consider loosening the spring but working it or compressing it so it opens easy as the flint glides along it.
How do you loosen the frizzen spring easily?
 

Grenadier1758

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One uses stones to take some of the long edge off the frizzen spring. Always take metal from the length of a spring. Use stones as the spring is hardened and a file won't cut the spring. Avoid grinding the spring as you can heat up the spring and remove temper.

The stoning process is easy, but time consuming.

One can polish the toe of the frizzen to have a smooth surface riding on the frizzen spring unless the frizzen has a roller riding on the spring. A little dab of grease on the toe of the frizzen is good too.
 

Larry (Omaha)

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How do you loosen the frizzen spring easily?
Adding to Grenadier: I file if the spring will allow, or grind if file doesn't work. (lengthwise) and then stone & polish. All scratches and grooves must be removed with a stone to avoid making the spring subject to breakage. A note on grinding: Never get the metal warmer than comfortable in a bare hand. Excess heat will disrupt the temper that was originally placed on the spring when it was made.
 

starman

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Hatchet-Jack

You suggested to start with a .015 patch. If that is still a little loose, can you use two .015 patches together for .030?
 

Hatchet-Jack

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Hatchet-Jack

You suggested to start with a .015 patch. If that is still a little loose, can you use two .015 patches together for .030?
I personally wouldn't mess around with using two. And actually doing the math if his bore is .660 and his RB is .648 that leaves a .012 space or .006 on each side. Probably should start with a thinner patch or just load it as mentioned above with a powder, card, ball, wad (no patch).
 

Yewbender

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Welcome and you are going to love smoothbores once you figure them out! From ball to shot they will do it all and then in no time you will be having one built.

For holding the flint i use leather. I have different thickness of leather i use because of the difference in the hump on flints. Flints can go from thin to thick so i use the different size leather to get the flint to strike the frizzen about 1/3 the way down from the top and bevel is up or down what ever gives you the most sparks.

As from patching i agree with Hatch-jack and his math. You don’t need a super tight patch, just enought to keep the ball centered and from moving off the charge. If you want use a nitro hard card, 1/8 wool wad, or 1/2 fiber wad for a gas seal. The wool and fiber wad will hold lube nicely and then you only have to lube the patch lightly. Also by doing this you don’t have to worry about lead buildup in the barrel. Another thing is start with 60grains of powder and shoot close untill you figure out your sight picture and aiming. Once figured out then try different powder charges to get your best groups. You don’t need a heavy charge as they are only as accurate as you can shoot them without a rear sight. In my .62 smoothie which is .615 i shoot 70 grains 2F, 1/2 lubed fiber was, and .600 rb patched with .015 ticking and can ring steel gongs out to 60ish if i do my part. Good luck and more help will be on the way!
 

Daryl Crawford

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I agree on the patch material. You'll want to try varied thicknesses of patch, though I'm not the biggest fan of double patch. Trying over powder cards with thin patch. Maybe try .012, .015, and even .02 to see how it shoots.
For the lock, I'm not as experienced as the fellows above, but I'd recommend the first thing you do is give it an excessive cleaning the a good lubing to see if you improve the smoothness. Check the size of flint and possibly reverse the bevel. If that doesn't work, then you may need to do the stone work mentioned above.
 

EC121

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The frizzen should snap open at about 30-40deg. Polish the toe and spring then grease the contact points and oil the pivot screw. The frizzen should snap open just as the flint hits the bottom corner of the frizzen, and the flint should end up pointing to the middle of the pan. If it doesn't snap where you want it to, you can eyeball the area on the spring where it should snap and stone a small angle there to make it break over.
 

satwel

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I have smoothed the face of a scored frizzen by holding it against an 8" grinding wheel. A light touch is required so as to not remove too much metal. Keep a bowl of water handy in which to dunk the frizzen. If you let it get too hot, you will draw out the hardness. ( unless you want to learn how to reharden and then temper the frizzen so that it will throw sparks again) When the frizzen gets too hot to hold with bare fingers, dunk it.

Lead flint wraps are ok for large, military musket locks with robust flint cocks, but if you have a fowler with a more graceful flint cock, use leather to wrap the flint.

IMHO a moderately loose ball and patch combination will give you the best results in your smoothbore. Thumb pressure should be all you need to start the ball into the muzzle. If you need a short starter, your patch is too thick.

Good luck. Smoothbores are fun to shoot once you figure them out.
 

hanshi

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Greetings!

I recently acquired my first flintlock that happens to also be my first smooth-bore. Nothing fancy or even "authentic," it's a made in Japan Ultra-Hi that appears to have been a kit build some years ago, but it was in good shape, clean, and inexpensive. I've never been much in with the way of the flintlock, always had done percussion, so I need to get some flint under my belt, and have a bunch of questions.

First is the ball itself. It was labelled as a .65 cal, dropping in a gauge shows it to be .66 diameter at the muzzle. I have some .648 balls, but they seem to be just a hair too small, with a patch, it fits a little snug, but still goes in with ease with my thumb. Is there an available size that would work better?
For a smoothbore a ball around .020" to .015" is recommended for a patched ball.

For the flint, I've seen both lead and leather, and see it seems to be very much dependent on the individual user, but I'm curious about any resources on use of either in history, if there are any.
I and most others prefer leather for sporting guns.
For the frizzen, is there anything that can be done at home without great cost? For me, this is more a "starter" gun to see if I have enough interest to invest $600+ into a better one, so cost is a major factor. The flint is scoring it pretty good, not horribly, and still sparks reliably and gets a good flash.
If it's working well enough to your satisfaction, leave alone for the time being.

I think that's where I'll leave this one for now.

Thanks!
 

Bill Bryan

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Don't worry about scoring of the frizzen as long as it gives off good sparks. It can be rehardened with a few simple tools. Instructions are on line. I use a flattened lead ball to hold the flint. I tighten it after a few shots and then I'm good to go for the day. A smooth bore isn't going to be super accurate. A snug fit should do you fine. If you can keep it on the target at 100 yards that's a good days work. Bill
 

Grenadier1758

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@Asch, I recommend that the wrap to hold the flint in the jaws of the hammer should be leather. The Japanese Ultra-HI does not have the robust lock that is needed to take proper advantage of a lead wrap. Sure, there are some who may use a lead wrap. But in that lock, I don't see any benefit. In fact, I use a leather wrap in my King's Musket.

Scoring on the face of the frizzen is normal. After all, the flint is scraping red hot shards of steel off the face of the frizzen.
 

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