flinters of the old school

Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by BlackHillsBob, May 2, 2019.

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  1. May 2, 2019 #1

    BlackHillsBob

    BlackHillsBob

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    went to the college gym a chadron ne. to try to keep alive to day . on the way home i passed by the museum of the fur trade and it was open. paid my 5 dollars and spent about a couple of hours their. saw in close detail up front in my eyes a couple of hundred stone locks trade rifle to the natives. this is what i saw. some of the holes were at the place most of you said they should be. but most were not. from what ive read by most of you stone lock experts is that the touch hole should be cut in half by the part that the powder lies in. most were not. also i could tell that most touch holes were bigger than 1/16 th. some alot larger. so i figured this. those guns went off well and the holes were a lot largwer than 1/16 th and they were well below the the frizzen or what ever you call it and they still went of and served the natives well. so what is the real skinny on rock locs. fill me in on the real practical deal as i saw it today and im sure all these guns served their owners well.
     
  2. May 2, 2019 #2

    plmeek

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    Here are some of the best testing done to attempt to answer some of your question.

    https://www.blackpowdermag.com/category/articles/vent-liners/

    There's lots of good information on the website linked above. You might want to explore around in it.

    I'm sure your observations at the Museum of the Fur Trade are valid, though you should keep a few things in mind about what you saw there.
    • A lot of antique guns are not in their original condition today
    • Many antique guns have been converted to percussion during their working life and reconverted to flintlock in modern times
    • Not all conversions have been done properly with the correct type of cock, pan, and frizzen that were likely originally on the gun
    • Some re-conversions simply replace the whole lock
    • Antique guns exhibit various stages of use and abuse
    • Trade guns were made by a number of different gun makers over a long period of time and have natural variations
    • Trade guns were some of the least expensive guns made in the day, they were made to minimally acceptable standards
     
  3. May 2, 2019 #3

    Col. Batguano

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    Flinters are remarkably tolerant of touch hole location. What people regard as the best or perfect location is as many have said; centered in the pan, and straight across a line that would be at the top. If it's lower than that, and buried by the priming powder, lock speed will slow due to the "fuse effect" of the powder having to burn down to it before the main charge ignites. A larger hole will let the fire in more easily, and give more reliable ignition, but it also lets more gas OUT from the igniting main charge which can slow total barrel dwell time for the projectile.

    Over time, wood has a tendency to shrink too, so the 150+ years these guns have been around may have shrunken the stocks some to effectively move the TH too.

    People talk about 1/16" because it seems to be a size that seems to work pretty well, and is small enough to keep MOST of the FFFg powder from coming out the TH during loading. Let me ask; of the historical pieces you viewed, what kind of shape were they in? Time and rust can eat away at metal and rust the hole to be larger, just like a ton of shooting can erode it to be bigger too. Where were the TH's? Forward of center, or rear of it?
     
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  4. May 2, 2019 #4

    S.Kenton

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    Along with what has already been said, I’ll add this; keep in mind that guns that were traded to the Native Americans may it have been among the greatest quality. I’ve read before that ( can’t remember exactly where) the natives got the lower quality of firearm in every manner. That could very well be why some of the touchholes were not in the places they should be. Just my thoughts..
     
  5. May 2, 2019 #5

    BlackHillsBob

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    90 percent of the hundreds of flinters were in steller shape. they were the trade rifles with the big trigger guards and smooth bores. many other flinters their also. the very best made were by the russians. the russians bought their rifles from belgiums mostly. very very well made. saw none that cut the hole in half like i read here. some were kentucky penn rifles. most holes looked bigger than 1/16. figured they all went off well. they were not worn out junkers. guys, go to the museum of the fur traders, you will get a eye full.my favorite rifle their is a springfield 50/70 conversion. it looks like new. would love to own that one. their is also a 44/40 first generation colt taken from the battle of the little big horn field. has to worth a lot of money.again the russian flint and precussion are the best made rifles ive ever seen from those days. heavy and well made.
     
  6. May 2, 2019 #6

    jrmflintlock

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    Just my two cents and worth exactly what you paid for it, but here it is anyway.

    The advice given for the 1/16 size touch hole centered in the pan is ideal in most ways, but it is not the only way. As said anything outside of this location "can" have ignition issues. Many times simply enlarging the touch hole solves the ignition problem. Granted it may have other issues, but those are easily overcome. Many times there is a reduction in pressure. Easy answer, more powder! Another issue us powder comes out of that big ol' touch hole when loading, what I have heard, Powder back then was not as fine as the powder we use so the issue of it coming out of the touch hole while loading was probably not much of an issue, and if so, Easy answer, More Powder!

    My thoughts are if it went boom relatively reliably, they were happy! Many ways to make these suckers go boom!! Hey, we have been making inferior quality muzzleoaders go boom since the 60's (?). Yes they look good and are relatively well made, but they are not the same as a piece built by a craftsman who really wanted his client to be happy! Who puts the 1/16 touch hole centered in the pan at the sunrise location!

    The Native Americans were just like anyone getting into blackpowder for the first time! How many of us fell in love with an old Invest arms or Jukar or the like, I'm talking only flintlocks now, and loved it with all its flaws and then were "unlucky/lucky" enough to shoot a nice custom rifle only to realize there is a difference!

    If the ones in the museum were in great shape, its because they did not get much use.
    Hmmm I wonder why?? Maybe it had ignition issues and was quickly traded for one that was better and was used to death.

    ;)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
  7. May 2, 2019 #7

    S.Kenton

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    I agree with what you said except the part about the natives getting into black powder, I’m sure they didn’t exactly fall in love with black powder, they did it rather out of necessity. The natives saw a chance to, somewhat equal the battlefield and took advantage of it. I don’t think the black powder bug bit them....they were using any means necessary to remove the threat.
     
  8. May 3, 2019 #8

    Zonie

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    Several different books I've read have quoted statements from the companies that did business with the Indians, selling them trade guns.
    These statements often stressed that the Indians were very fussy about new guns that were being sold to them and they would not accept poorly made ones.

    In one case, a company was sent some trade guns without the markings the Indians were used to seeing and they wouldn't buy these guns. (I think the marking was a fox.)

    If Spence 10 would get off of his sabbatical, I'm sure he could post several quotes that were made on this issue.

    As for touch hole location, yes, the "ideal" place for it is, "In line with the top of the pan under the frizzen", and "Centered in the pan, fore and aft".

    Although this is considered "ideal" it is not really necessary for a flintlock to work reliably. As long as the hole is above the bottom of the pan and below the top of the closed frizzen cover, and in front of the rear of the pan and behind the front of the pan, it will work quite nicely. This is why I always recommend a flintlock for a "first build" on one of the advanced "kits" from TOTW or one of the other suppliers. Little goof ups in locating the touch hole won't matter.

    As for the size of the vent, of all of the original flintlocks I've seen, none of them had a vent hole smaller than 1/16". In fact, I would say that many of them are closer to being about 5/64" or larger. Of course they undoubtedly had some wear in them and that would have made them bigger but when it comes down to getting game animals for food or saving your own life, a rapid, dependable ignition beats any "power loss" or "powder spilling out of the oversize touch hole" negatives every time.
    A large vent hole will help to assure that the gun will fire when it is needed.
     
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  9. May 3, 2019 #9

    jrmflintlock

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    Agreed and agreed. I guess my point was that there are were varying degrees of quality, some are better than others. Just as there is today. Aside from total pieces of junk. They will perform.

    I bet if you looked at 100 flintlocks at rendezvous many would not have the touch hole in the perfect spot and drilled exactly 1/16. And most of them perform fine.

    Good discussion!!!
     
  10. May 3, 2019 #10

    BlackHillsBob

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    Zonie, you can bring sense to any post and thank you for that. when someone tells me what i saw and its not what i saw and they dont even know what a trade rifle is and they know it all, that just suprisingly i dont know what. the rifles were in good shape because they were well taken care of. some barrels were cut short as these were used to run buffalo from a horse. these were quality guns well taken care of. again i would like to hear info on all the russain guns ive seen over the years. they didnt make their own but they bought the best of the best. they were very very well made but heavy to carry. the workmanship on them was perfect.my favorite part of the musem visit was the cree moccisins. somthing my great grandmother may have worn. she was a small olive skinned french cree woman.
     
  11. May 3, 2019 #11

    Pete G

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    A lot of museum pieces are "cleaned up" by the staff and do not carry the patina that collectors love.
     
  12. May 3, 2019 #12

    Rat

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    I have an original rifle that has been in the family since 1846, is well documented as to it's use and history, and it's barrel was cut shorter, from around 40+" to about 32" in the 1850's, for the purpose of being carried on horse back. In fact, one time, it went horse-back from Oregon, to St.Louis, and back again, (in the company of Joe Meeks) besides chasing the Cayuse all over the place after the Whitman "massacre". So yeah, barrels did get cut down for various reasons.
     
  13. May 3, 2019 #13

    BlackHillsBob

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  14. May 5, 2019 #14

    nagantino

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    I doubt I will ever get to visit this museum but the little YouTube video might help.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2019
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  15. May 5, 2019 #15

    BlackHillsBob

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    it is just 25 miles from me, my great grandmother was apart of this as a french cree women. my son married a french cree women so my grand children and great grand children are apart of this. thank you for the video. im apart of this. thanks many times over for this video.
     
  16. May 7, 2019 #16

    tenngun

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    Most touch holes at that time were just simple holes drilled in the barrel. They burnt out back then. I know of a price list from the early seventeenth century for placeing a liner in a burned out touch hole. By the late eighteenth century gold and platinum liners were being placed on fine guns.
    I would think that some of these larger holes were just burnthroughs.
    One other thing to consider. A hole that’s slightly bigger then 1/16 loaded with the gun on half cock and frizzen down will self prime when you ram home.
    While unsafe, military loaded primed guns then. It will slow ignition. The lag is enough to make you miss an x or even a 9 ring, but not enough to make you miss buff, deer or bunny. Indians modified their guns in ways that made them serve their purpose that might not be approved of by gun experts today. And certainly not ways that would pass muster at an NMLRA shoot.
     
  17. May 7, 2019 #17

    hanshi

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    Tenngun, I always drill out the vent holes with a 1/16" bit. I found they can definitely self-prime with the 3F I normally use. In fact I've fired unprimed rifles and all I had to do was smack the side opposite the lock with my hand; sometimes even that wasn't necessary. Wonder how many of us actually realize this possibility? PICT0379.jpg
     
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  18. May 7, 2019 #18

    BlackHillsBob

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    that is a very learning reply, thanks.
     
  19. May 7, 2019 #19

    SDSmlf

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    A good sparking gun will light up the main charge with an empty pan. Tried this a few years back with a couple of guns with 1/16” and 5/64” touch holes. Didn’t take more than a handful of attempts before the ‘ah ha’ moment with each gun. When carrying or storing and not intending to shoot, always suggest a plugged vent hole and a hammer stall. Like wearing a belt even if you are using suspenders. Difference is, you may look silly if your pants drop or you reveal plumbers crack, but with a flintlock you may put a hole in something or someone that really doesn’t need it.
     
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  20. May 7, 2019 #20

    tenngun

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    I’ve not ever fired an unprimed gun but have seen it happen more then once, two of the times to the surprise of the owners.
     
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