Flintlock Question

Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by ugly old guy, Nov 6, 2019.

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  1. Nov 6, 2019 #1

    ugly old guy

    ugly old guy

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    I've recently seen numerous referances to "having to re-harden the Frizzen".

    Why is this necessary?

    It seems to me that if the frizzen was properly hardened in the first place, it should never need rehardening.

    Sure, the flash in the pan is really hot, but the duration of that flash is not going to heat the frizzen enough to ruin the heat treat. It is cold to the touch by the time the arm is reloaded.

    Leaving a knife in the glove box of your car all day during the summer - even if you are located in Las Vegas, NV (120° in the shade is not uncommon) does not ruin the heat treat of the knife blade(s).
    Why/How does a momentary flash of heat ruin the temper of a frizzin?
    It doesn't ruin the temper of the pan itself or lock plate ...

    I'm sorry, but the entire concept makes no logical sense to me.
     
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  2. Nov 6, 2019 #2

    wcubed

    wcubed

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    Good question!

    I have a 200+/- year old flintlock that sparks beautifully to this day. I doubt it ever had to be re-hardened, and it certainly hasn't had work done to it by anyone in many decades.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Nov 6, 2019 #3

    Zonie

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    The number of sparks and the intensity they burn with is a product of the amount of carbon in the steel. If there isn't enough carbon the sparks will be fewer and they will not burn as hot.

    If someone's frizzen is producing these cooler sparks their first thought is, they need to reharden the frizzen. This isn't always a good solution to the problem but sometimes it helps.

    When all is said and done, rehardening the frizzen will not make more hot sparks. It will only keep the flint from digging deeper into the frizzen face when it strikes it. If they want to really improve their frizzen's they will need to add carbon to the steel to improve the intensity that the steel burns with.
    This is only needed on some old reproductions where the maker used a low carbon steel and then case hardened it to provide the hard, high carbon steel needed to make good sparks. Some old CVA guns have this problem with their frizzens.

    As for modern frizzens offered on commercial locks, they are almost always made from high carbon, thru hardening alloy steels which work very well.
    They are usually hard and the real problem is with the flint that is being used to produce the sparks or the angle of the flint as it is held in the cock.

    IMO, if trying to file the frizzen face doesn't produce any filings, the frizzen is fine the way it is so the person should look at the flint they are using. Often changing it will solve the problem.

     
  4. Nov 6, 2019 #4

    ugly old guy

    ugly old guy

    ugly old guy

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    Thanks.
    I didn't think it was necessary.

    I had to case harden the hammer on a (percussion) derringer kit once. Instructions said to cover the hammer in powdered charcoal (provided) "bake" in the oven for 45 minues to an hour at 550° or 600°, then qiench in running hot water.
    It must have worked, it shot fine. I didn't get much of a color case-hardened finish though. :(
     
  5. Nov 6, 2019 #5

    Britsmoothy

    Britsmoothy

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    No one that I know of suggested the flash from the pan softens the frizzen ??

    Two of my repros made by staff that don't care really have needed case hardening to get satisfactory results.
    One of them the flint was gouging the frizzen out.
    That has been halted.
     
  6. Nov 6, 2019 #6

    Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave

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    'Zactly!

    But the problem is, was it properly hardened, and did it have enough carbon in the first place? o_O

    Zonie's right, it's often a lock geometry problem, or sometimes a mainspring problem, or perhaps both. I've done countless "field expedient lock adjustments" to musket locks, by simply taking a piece of lead about the diameter of a small wooden match, and placing that under the rear of the flint to act as a shim and thus raising the back end of the flint, changing the angle of impact on the frizzen of the front edge of the flint. Voila, sparks and less erosion of the flint edge per shot. ;)

    Occasionally, I've seen Pedersoli frizzens that were too soft. The flints were gouging the frizzen faces and a check with a hand file confirmed them too soft. A proper rehardening followed by a proper tempering was in order. I've never seen a Jap Bess frizzen have a problem.

    The knuckle heads on YouTube who wrap their frizzens in leather, put that in a steel can , crush the can around the frizzen and leather and toss it on the fire...., are fooling themselves...…. in fact that's a good way to reduce the effectiveness of the frizzen, not to help it. :confused:

    Sometimes the frizzens coming out of India need a proper rehardening, and for good measure the folks that do that often also use Cherry Red to give the face a bit more carbon. True, extra carbon is always only a temporary fix, but it is an improvement when it's needed. :)

    LD
     
  7. Nov 6, 2019 #7

    Erwan

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    The frizzen hardening is almost good on all the moderns flinters but not all all the production and sometime you have to harden the freezen or change this for a new one.

    If you look the base of the frizzen on a normal old rifle you can see a slight gap between the pan and the freezen, this is for the last solution before changing or smithing a new one whent the frizzen is too old: after much hardenings and use you have to solder a new sole in hard steel over the old freezen: you can't harden and the freezen is too old (the flint engages in the steel not hard enough and destroys it and with the time..... :( ) and also with the years of use it becomes too thin and distorted .
    Mostly a simple hardening with some produce like like Kasenit is sufficient but after a very long time it must be forged and must have for the minimum a new plane surface for the flint.
     
  8. Nov 6, 2019 #8

    GREENSWLDE

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    IMO Zonie may have Umwittingly cracked the cool spank problem in Para4 of post No.3.when he refers to "modern alloy steels".In days of yor the modern alloy steels were unknown as such,but the steels they did have carried a higher carbon content.(I have many examples of this as my family's business was founded in1756 and as frugal Brummys never threw anything away).It is highly probable that the smiths of that period were skilled enough to forge on a thin layer of Steel to the face of the Wrought Iron Hammers(frizzens) they made. Some of the Press tool dies I have are made of 1/2 & 1/2.A steel face welded onto a wrought iron backing to save Money.High Carbon Tool (Crucible) Steel was every expensive up until the late 19th century..Old wood saw blades make excellent new faces for hammers .I always Silver solder mine and quench face down into "transmission fluid" straight from soldering temp.I'm told that it's the nearest thing to "whale oil" that is legal these days on this side..All the Old tools I have carry WHITE sparks when touched on a tool grinder.
    OLD DOG
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
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  9. Nov 6, 2019 #9

    Erwan

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    That's right, reasonable and conform to history : in the past it was like that in Europe too ... :)
     
  10. Nov 6, 2019 #10

    Pukka Bundook

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    Forgive me if I missed this above, but case -hardening can be thinner or thicker, and if thin, can be worn away as the flint scrapes the frizzen face, hence the need to re-harden.
    Very basic, but just wanted to clarify the reason for doing it.

    Best,
    R.
     
  11. Nov 6, 2019 #11

    GREENSWLDE

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    The case hardening Varies in depth depending on the process used. Commerial GAS Carburizing is the best method but a barrier is needed to only allow the face to be cased. Of the several other methods may be KASENIT or an equivalent is the easyist Heat up the Hammer face to Bright(Cherry) Red and put it face down into a small shallow tin of powder.When the face has cooled from red take it out and re-heat with a blow lamp melting the powder to red again and repeat the process 3 or 4 times, then quench in either tin oil or warm water.A harder face can be obtained either with Salt water or water with high nitrate content (urine)--Bit smelly..
    OLD DOG..
     
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  12. Nov 6, 2019 #12

    Rudyard

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    On this theme If Kasenit cant be found and at one point it was hard to find .Then a witches brew of charred and rendered into small pieces & dust old dogs bones or any bone that is about
    just char it . Then horse hair, your hair, old leather items , horn bits & dust any such all cheaply had this is traditionally surrounding the parts in a covered iron box and cooked in a fire and hour or so . But a tin can works the same it will all melt & settle but use enough and cover well .Then stick it in a fire till it all glows let it cook then deftly grab it with pliers swiftly bring it over and dump the contents into a bucket of cold water (some say salty water , Cutlers used to use water with oil on top . ), quik as and whatever you do DONT let the tin go into the water at all (Unless you have an interest in volcanology ) This mix all imparts carbon into the steel or wrought iron to give a surface layer of steel. It will be glass hard, So in such as lock plates you might want to make bright and heat until a straw or darker colour show its been tempered back a bit .
    With lock plates
    like blades its best to plunge them vertically lest they warp. For' steels' most call' frizzens 'though they called them' hammers' back in the day. But this just confuses moderns so I go with' steels' its best to face them with a known carbon face of steel . saws, scrapers , any such thin steel. Some solder others braize you can Aroldite or rivet & silver solder . But end results the same. The rivet idea it to secure the face while its all heated red to run silver solder before plunging to harden it .I used EN9 as I used a cutlers slit hearth & he had the steel stock for scrapers . . Since steels vary and tempering back varies accordingly you will have to experiment . I cant tell you a sure fire plan . In India I recall they would send out the shops boy to buy cyanide which he brought back in a small paper bag like it was lingo fizz or other sweety this they used to harden the lock internals .I often mused that if he stumbled in the ever crowded streets in wind he could take out half the street called Majeed Amed Rd . .But that was India seemingly people don't want to live forever and they have lots to spare .Luckily he never did else I might not be here to write this . Rudyard
     
  13. Nov 7, 2019 #13

    Grumpa

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    Rudyard, your entire post is informative, and even better...delightful.
    I am enjoying this entire thread. All good responses.

    Richard/Grumpa
     
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  14. Nov 7, 2019 #14

    Britsmoothy

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    I did this with one of my hammers. Crushed charcoal and old engine oil paste in the wood burner. Failed first two times but increased the heat on the third and the iron took the carbon.
    The hammer still has baked on carbon on it to this day. I quenched with boiling water.
     
  15. Nov 7, 2019 #15

    Loyalist Dave

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    One can see the same thing with very old anvils, having a surface that is steel of proper make and a body of iron.

    Well the "original" Kasenit was mostly sodium ferrocyanide, and the "cyanide" is what got the product "pulled". (Which is odd since you can find sodium ferrocyanide for sale on the internet) The product that has replaced it in a lot of applications is called "Cherry Red". I've been taught that while Cherry Red works fine for a basic application, an old style crucible using charcoal (bone charcoal I believe) does a much better and much deeper job of adding carbon to the steel than does Cherry Red or that did Kasenit.

    No idea as I squirreled away two full cans of Kasenit when the stuff was rumored to be discontinued, and I follow the directions and don't need much per frizzen, and don't do very many frizzens…

    LD
     
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  16. Nov 7, 2019 #16

    rich pierce

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    I’ve gone to re-facing frizzens with high carbon steel. The trick is to REALLY remove enough material from the face of the frizzen to allow attachment of the sole and end up with the same geometry and fit. To do this I make a series of hacksaw cuts across the frizzen face deep as the sole is thick. Then I file to remove that material. Take a piece of 1095 or a thin file ground smooth and anneal, bend to fit. Take a piece of 0.016” sheet brass and make a sandwich of frizzen, sheet brass, and sole. Wire it in place. Heat to red, slather on the borax and heat till the brass runs. Allow heat to return to orange and plunge in brine. Temper the whole business to yellow and the pan and toe to purple/blue. Then pickle then grind and polish. This will never wear out.
    If I had forge access I would certainly case hardening 4 hours instead. That will increase the carbon above 1% and give the best result.
    Kasenit will work but nothing for thousands upon thousands of shots.
     
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  17. Nov 8, 2019 #17

    GREENSWLDE

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    Going from Sublime to Ridiculous--When I'm making from new I always finish the shape of the Steel face but leave the rest about .025" over size. I have a good friend Gas Carburize the whole to .030" without quenching it. I can finish the Hammer(Frizzen) complete, Then harden from Cherry Red leaving the Steel face with a deep case and the rest with about .005"case .This method gives a very high Carbon content to the face and nice white(HOT) sparks. The Leather/ Bone meal process gives nearly as good a result. I'm sure a deep Cyanide case would give the same results but I DON'T LIKE CYANIDE.(You never get time to enjoy the taste).. If you are using L/B method for the whole of the lock parts try airiating the quenching water with a High pressure jet of water and see the pretty patterns emerge but as Rudyard says "only tip the contents of the container into the quench".
    OLD DOG..
     
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  18. Nov 8, 2019 #18

    Rifleman1776

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    Good to know. I have a full can of the original and plan to harden a Navy Arms/Pedersoli Brown Bess frizzen soon. But, "follow the directions" is certainly a novel approach. :rolleyes:
     
  19. Nov 8, 2019 #19

    Ezeikel

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    My favourite method when making a frizzen is to make the blade from an old half round file suitably let down then shaped. You need to use modern methods to weld it to the pan cover but there are never any wear issues from one and they never dont spark
     
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  20. Nov 8, 2019 #20

    Erwan

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    For the current produce Pedersoli is the best quality in Europeans replicas ans the locks of the BB like much others are good but, sometimes, those parts aren't in the norms, I can't say why but it's like so.
    Its like the rifling of the Gibbs of that mark: sometime they burns and sometime you don't get any problem with this in your life, sometime you get more plumbing than with another Gibbs for the same use. I'm user of Pedersoli rifles and I have three of them but I have to accept the fact that this this manufacturer has defective parts ..
    Normally you don't need to re-harden a freezen of BB with Kasenit or an equivalent stuff and if you take that way don't forget that in the time and use you will have to do this work several times and may be is it not the best choice and replacing the defective part is the best way: hardening with Kasenit is only a "surface" treatment y adding a bit more carbon but it's not in right way of the durability...

    That's only my opinion about hardening: this is never for a long time and the flint'll eat again this one, the best is the new sol but not always simple to do...

    Erwan.
     

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