How I Make A Ramrod and Range Rod

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N.Y. Yankee

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This may not be H.C. or P.C. but I felt like sharing and I have time to write it. You may disagree but it's what I do and has worked well for quite a few. I thought it might help newer guys make a good rod. I don't have a workshop so I only use simple tools but the results are what counts.

I order 48 inch hickory dowels (usually 3/8 inch) and a few brass thimbles the same diameter from Track or where ever and inspect them well when they arrive. Of course, I look for straightness but more important, grain run-out, knots, and chatter marks where the cutting tool has torn the wood. Small chatter can be filled with epoxy but large areas are a no-go and get set aside. For a ramrod, usually shorter barrels up to 40 inches, I'm going to select the best "section" on the dowel and trim off the "bad end" with a fine tooth saw. I give the dowel a quick sand with 320 paper to clean it up and make it easier to see imperfections, also remove any splinters. If the rod has a gentle curve, I tend to leave it but snakey bends get heated and straightened, or cut off if possible. For range rods, I want them to be full length so the nicest, straightest ones are selected for that.

If the lower end (the end that goes into the pipes first) is to be left plain, I'll sand the end grain well with 320, rounding the edge well to help keep the end from chipping out. I make sure the end is very smooth. If there is to be metal thimbles on both ends, I mark 1 inch from the end in 3 places around the rod, then use masking tape to go around the rod at the marks. This is my "cut line". I use a very fine hobby saw (Exacto) to score the shaft (not too deep) all the way around at the tape line. If I'm careful, this gives me a straight line all around. I use a sharp blade and a rasp to slowly reduce the diameter by scraping and filing to fit the thimble with a slight slip fit, meaning a tad loose. You need a bit of room for some glue but not wobbly loose. This is most usually done while watching a movie and drinking a nice mug of hot chocolate as it does take some time going slow and careful. I try to make the wood rough before I glue the thimble on and I use a stainless steel rifle brush on a drill to roughen up the inner surface of the thimble then screw in a patch worm or something to keep any glue out of the threads. I glue the thimble on with 5 minute epoxy and wrap the joint between metal and wood with tape to keep the thimble straight. I turn it to be sure it is on straight. When the glue is cured, I insert the rod into the gun to test fit the rod and see if the diameter is good or too tight or loose. I take the other thimble and hold it up to the end of the gun to see where I want it on the rod and mark the spot where the end comes to on the rod. Measure one inch up from that and cut off the excess rod. Repeat the process of installing the thimble.

Once the glue has cured for 24 hours, I drill a 1/16 inch or 3/32 hole (depending on what brass stock I have) crossways through the exact center of the thickness of the thimble. I cut a 1 inch piece of brass rod and put it in the drill. A quick turn in some 320 paper roughens it a bit for the glue. I then glue the brass rod into the hole being sure there is full coverage of the glue inside. I work it in well. Once the glue is cured well, I use a small grinder to carefully remove the excess rod. I then use a flat mill file to file the rest smooth and flush to the surface of the thimble. I realize many want the pin peened on each side, but this is how I like it and it works well for me. You can peen it just as well.

When this is done, I go outside again and use a propane torch or charcoal grill (cooked some burgers and hots for dinner!) and carefully brown the surface of the wood with the heat. It's much easier to use the torch because I can make sure I'm not heating the brass and the glue. Once the wood is browned, I'll take a rag and run over the wood to clean and smooth it. A light sanding with very fine paper could be done too, but I don't bother.

I give the rod several (up to 10) wipe-downs with Watco Danish Oil on a cloth, allowing each one to dry overnight and soak into the wood. Sometimes I will go to the effort of using beeswax to rub on the rod as additional protection, but usually, I just rub on another coat or two of the Danish Oil when I am cleaning the gun, and I give it another coat whenever I'm bored. I don't recommend using polyurethane or varnish as this makes a hard slick surface that can be tough to grab onto when you want to use the rod, plus, it scratches and peels off after a while so I don't use it. You can just use wood stain too if you want but it has it's own problems too. There are many types of wood finishes, or you could just leave it plain and oil it or rub in some patch lube or whatever.

That's all. If you want a good durable rod that you can make, get some hickory dowels. You will be surprised how tough they are. I have never broken one and neither have my friends who use them.
 
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LeonardC

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Thank you!

Edit: I broke my TC rod and need to replace it soon. I have a couple of Al rods (range and shop) that don't fit under the barrel.
 

N.Y. Yankee

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Nice write-up, but I need more specifics on the hot chocolate. ; )
I would but my wife makes it, so, dunno. I do know it has milk and choc powder, sugar, I think vanilla believe it or not, and is made in a pan on the stove. Maybe one day I can weasle the proportions out of her and post it here but she hasnt let me watch just yet. Kind of her "bargaining chip" she uses on me
 

Grenadier1758

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I think that recipe for hot chocolate is printed on the side of the Hershey's Chocolate container. Its not really that much different from the historical mix of about a teaspoon of scrapings off the block of chocolate, a heaping spoon full of cone sugar in a cup of milk and stirred with a red hot poker.
 

rebs

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Can oak be used for a range rod ?
 

Two Feathers

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This may not be H.C. or P.C. but I felt like sharing and I have time to write it. You may disagree but it's what I do and has worked well for quite a few. I thought it might help newer guys make a good rod. I don't have a workshop so I only use simple tools but the results are what counts.

I order 48 inch hickory dowels (usually 3/8 inch) and a few brass thimbles the same diameter from Track or where ever and inspect them well when they arrive. Of course, I look for straightness but more important, grain run-out, knots, and chatter marks where the cutting tool has torn the wood. Small chatter can be filled with epoxy but large areas are a no-go and get set aside. For a ramrod, usually shorter barrels up to 40 inches, I'm going to select the best "section" on the dowel and trim off the "bad end" with a fine tooth saw. I give the dowel a quick sand with 320 paper to clean it up and make it easier to see imperfections, also remove any splinters. If the rod has a gentle curve, I tend to leave it but snakey bends get heated and straightened, or cut off if possible. For range rods, I want them to be full length so the nicest, straightest ones are selected for that.

If the lower end (the end that goes into the pipes first) is to be left plain, I'll sand the end grain well with 320, rounding the edge well to help keep the end from chipping out. I make sure the end is very smooth. If there is to be metal thimbles on both ends, I mark 1 inch from the end in 3 places around the rod, then use masking tape to go around the rod at the marks. This is my "cut line". I use a very fine hobby saw (Exacto) to score the shaft (not too deep) all the way around at the tape line. If I'm careful, this gives me a straight line all around. I use a sharp blade and a rasp to slowly reduce the diameter by scraping and filing to fit the thimble with a slight slip fit, meaning a tad loose. You need a bit of room for some glue but not wobbly loose. This is most usually done while watching a movie and drinking a nice mug of hot chocolate as it does take some time going slow and careful. I try to make the wood rough before I glue the thimble on and I use a stainless steel rifle brush on a drill to roughen up the inner surface of the thimble then screw in a patch worm or something to keep any glue out of the threads. I glue the thimble on with 5 minute epoxy and wrap the joint between metal and wood with tape to keep the thimble straight. I turn it to be sure it is on straight. When the glue is cured, I insert the rod into the gun to test fit the rod and see if the diameter is good or too tight or loose. I take the other thimble and hold it up to the end of the gun to see where I want it on the rod and mark the spot where the end comes to on the rod. Measure one inch up from that and cut off the excess rod. Repeat the process of installing the thimble.

Once the glue has cured for 24 hours, I drill a 1/16 inch or 3/32 hole (depending on what brass stock I have) crossways through the exact center of the thickness of the thimble. I cut a 1 inch piece of brass rod and put it in the drill. A quick turn in some 320 paper roughens it a bit for the glue. I then glue the brass rod into the hole being sure there is full coverage of the glue inside. I work it in well. Once the glue is cured well, I use a small grinder to carefully remove the excess rod. I then use a flat mill file to file the rest smooth and flush to the surface of the thimble. I realize many want the pin peened on each side, but this is how I like it and it works well for me. You can peen it just as well.

When this is done, I go outside again and use a propane torch or charcoal grill (cooked some burgers and hots for dinner!) and carefully brown the surface of the wood with the heat. It's much easier to use the torch because I can make sure I'm not heating the brass and the glue. Once the wood is browned, I'll take a rag and run over the wood to clean and smooth it. A light sanding with very fine paper could be done too, but I don't bother.

I give the rod several (up to 10) wipe-downs with Watco Danish Oil on a cloth, allowing each one to dry overnight and soak into the wood. Sometimes I will go to the effort of using beeswax to rub on the rod as additional protection, but usually, I just rub on another coat or two of the Danish Oil when I am cleaning the gun, and I give it another coat whenever I'm bored. I don't recommend using polyurethane or varnish as this makes a hard slick surface that can be tough to grab onto when you want to use the rod, plus, it scratches and peels off after a while so I don't use it. You can just use wood stain too if you want but it has it's own problems too. There are many types of wood finishes, or you could just leave it plain and oil it or rub in some patch lube or whatever.

That's all. If you want a good durable rod that you can make, get some hickory dowels. You will be surprised how tough they are. I have never broken one and neither have my friends who use them.
Howdy N.Y. Yankee:
This sounds very good, but may I make a suggestion? It's a fairly cheap suggestion. Go to the hardware store and get a "Small" tubing cutter. Use that to score your "stop" line for your ram rod thimbles. Just mark thre spot like you do with tape and keep going around the rod with the cutter until you're just as deep as you want to be. I've been doing it like this for 50+ years, NEVER had a bad score line and a lot easier (less time consuming and tedious) than with a fine tooth saw. Just my $0.02. Keep it up buddy.
God bless:
Two Feathers
 

rebs

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Is 1/8th rod to big to use to pin the ends on the ramrod ?
 

Two Feathers

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Is 1/8th rod to big to use to pin the ends on the ramrod ?
In my opinion YES!!! But, a lot of it has to do with how big the rod is. You might be able to get away with 1/8" if you're making a 1/2" ramrod? You do whatever works for you and reduces the risk of breaking the rod or bit in the process. I have a Drill press; a Vee block, and vise so it's a lot easier for me. 1/16" bits are notorious for breaking with hand drills. Be sure to put a piece steel rod (drill shank, whatever) inside the thimble and lightly center punch it first to reduce the chances of the bit "walking" and breaking or getting an off center hole?
I hope that helped somewhat?
God bless:
Two Feathers
 
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Howdy N.Y. Yankee:
This sounds very good, but may I make a suggestion? It's a fairly cheap suggestion. Go to the hardware store and get a "Small" tubing cutter. Use that to score your "stop" line for your ram rod thimbles. Just mark thre spot like you do with tape and keep going around the rod with the cutter until you're just as deep as you want to be. I've been doing it like this for 50+ years, NEVER had a bad score line and a lot easier (less time consuming and tedious) than with a fine tooth saw. Just my $0.02. Keep it up buddy.
God bless:
Two Feathers
I am a tubing cutter guy also, works great. and no worries about it of being uneven around the circumference.
 

deerstalkert

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Howdy N.Y. Yankee:
This sounds very good, but may I make a suggestion? It's a fairly cheap suggestion. Go to the hardware store and get a "Small" tubing cutter. Use that to score your "stop" line for your ram rod thimbles. Just mark thre spot like you do with tape and keep going around the rod with the cutter until you're just as deep as you want to be. I've been doing it like this for 50+ years, NEVER had a bad score line and a lot easier (less time consuming and tedious) than with a fine tooth saw. Just my $0.02. Keep it up buddy.
God bless:
Two Feathers
i mark different loads on my rods this way. just a light score and it eventually fills with powder residue making a nice set of telltale black rings .
 

Two Feathers

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Clint:
I hear ya.' Brother. Fiberglass is the ONLY way to go, IF you don't give a hang but PC/HA?
Unfortunately, far too many who show up at Rondys DO!
I haven't heard from my supplier yet, but it's still too early in his business for personal stuff.
I'm hoping to hear from him before the end of the day. If I don't, I'll look elsewhere. There's ALWAYS a back-up.:~)))) I could just go to Lowes and get a 7/16" Birch dowel and stain it, but that wouldn't be PC enough for me.
Dave
 

SPQR70AD

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Clint:
I hear ya.' Brother. Fiberglass is the ONLY way to go, IF you don't give a hang but PC/HA?
Unfortunately, far too many who show up at Rondys DO!
I haven't heard from my supplier yet, but it's still too early in his business for personal stuff.
I'm hoping to hear from him before the end of the day. If I don't, I'll look elsewhere. There's ALWAYS a back-up.:~)))) I could just go to Lowes and get a 7/16" Birch dowel and stain it, but that wouldn't be PC enough for me.
Dave
do not know why you think what I said was PC lol
 
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