Ignition plus stuck ball puzzle

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JBrandon

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Shooting my Harper's Ferry the other day. Ignition has gotten worse and worse. I think the frizzen is wearing out, and it doesn't kick open reliably, even with a long flint. So after shooting a bit, nothing but misfires and a couple flash-in-pans. I wanted to unload, even tried igniting powder in pan with a match, and that didn't fire the gun. I could get my pricker thru the touch hole, so it wasn't blocked, and it felt like there was powder crunching in there, at least at first.
Gave up, took it home, back the next day, spent half hr dribbling 4F into the touchhole and pushing it in with pricker until I had at least 40-50 grains in, lit with fuse, fired out my ball.
But here's the puzzle: why was there empty space behind the ball, enough for 40-50 grains powder? I know I didn't dry ball it, and if I had, the ball + patch would fill that space. Ramrod was down to 'loaded' mark as normal. Is it possible that my powder burnt out without a proper explosion? The touchhole is normal size. You would think I would notice a roman candle coming out the touch hole anyway? Ideas?
 

Stykbow

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Is it possible that you accidentally loaded a powder charge so light that it didn’t make it up to the touch hole? This seems unlikely, but I know little about flintlock guns. If that isn’t a possibility it really sounds like an accidental dry ball with the ball stopping at a crud ring making it seem like it’s fully loaded.
 

Larry (Omaha)

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I think Winchester 97 nailed it.
"Ramrod was down to 'loaded' mark as normal" (original poster) I have no idea what is going on, but the facts don't seem to add up.
Does a Harpers Ferry have a chambered breech?
Larry
 

Grenadier1758

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My 1803 (Rifle Shoppe) does not have a chambered breech.

If the ramrod was down to the loaded mark, then there would be room behind a dry ball resting on a heavy crust ring for a full charge of powder.
 
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hawkeye2

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If you had a normal load and added 40 to 50 grains of 4f to that I'm sure you would have been aware when you shot it out. It sounds like you dryballed and the ball stopped short of the breech face. If the powder had burned and came out the vent you would have certainly have seen it happen.

If it's an Italian Harpers Ferry I'm sure the lock needs a good tuning and probably the frizzen needs rehardening.
 

Brokennock

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As far as reliability getting progressively worse, I'm wondering if your flint isn't just getting too short. I rarely have flashes of the pan,,, until I stop attending to my flint. Get a flash with no bang and put a spacer between the flint and the jaw screw and the problem goes away for a while.

As for the gun not firing even with a match?? Not sure. I guess the previous mentioned crust ring theory is the best so far. At least until we know for sure if that particular gun does or doesn't have some type of chambered breach. If it does, I'd bet a bridge of crud blocked powder getting into the chamber.
 

Loyalist Dave

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My 1803 (Rifle Shoppe) does not have a chambered breech.

If the ramrod was down to the loaded mark, then there would be room behind a dry ball resting on a heavy crust ring for a full charge of powder.
Ah but the Italian copies I think DO..., pretty sure the one I once owned, did...,

WHICH would explain the problem if the chamber was getting yucky (sorry for the highly technical terminology folks) then what was reported is about right...

I'd simply get about 10 grains of 4Fg into the breech via the touch hole, and fire her off...

LD
 

Larry (Omaha)

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As far as reliability getting progressively worse, I'm wondering if your flint isn't just getting too short. I rarely have flashes of the pan,,, until I stop attending to my flint. Get a flash with no bang and put a spacer between the flint and the jaw screw and the problem goes away for a while.

As for the gun not firing even with a match?? Not sure. I guess the previous mentioned crust ring theory is the best so far. At least until we know for sure if that particular gun does or doesn't have some type of chambered breach. If it does, I'd bet a bridge of crud blocked powder getting into the chamber.
This is off OPs topic, but help me out here: I get flashes in the pan without ignition too, but, I always attest that to poor prime placement, or a plugged TH. Here is where I am coming from.........If you have ignition of pan, how does a short flint have anything to do with no bang? Not trying to be difficult, just don't understand your reply.
Thanks
Larry
 

Brokennock

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This is off OPs topic, but help me out here: I get flashes in the pan without ignition too, but, I always attest that to poor prime placement, or a plugged TH. Here is where I am coming from.........If you have ignition of pan, how does a short flint have anything to do with no bang? Not trying to be difficult, just don't understand your reply.
Thanks
Larry
Honestly. Doesn't make sense to me either when it happens. Not sure if the pan powder is burning slower due to only one ignition point and thus not producing enough heat. Again, I don't really have an explanation for it. Also can't say that I'm certain I'm not picking the vent at the time of moving the flint, it happens very rarely and I could be confusing the even/solution.

(I also hadn't finished my 1st cup of coffee of the day when I replied and might not have thought the whole thing through, lol)
 

Larry (Omaha)

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Honestly. Doesn't make sense to me either when it happens. Not sure if the pan powder is burning slower due to only one ignition point and thus not producing enough heat. Again, I don't really have an explanation for it. Also can't say that I'm certain I'm not picking the vent at the time of moving the flint, it happens very rarely and I could be confusing the even/solution.

(I also hadn't finished my 1st cup of coffee of the day when I replied and might not have thought the whole thing through, lol)
Now! I can really relate to that!!!😂
I did consider a lazy flash start, but it still does flash!
Thanks
Larry
 

deerstalkert

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i have observed environmental conditions can make quite a difference in how my priming powder flashes. priming powder should always go woosh! not woooooosh. how's that for technical terminology ? take a small amount and put it on a hard dry surface, ignite with a long match as a test.
on a very humid, or damp day the pan will sometimes get moist and needs wiped just prior to priming. just my observance.
 

Britsmoothy

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Oil anyone? Nobody mentioned oil yet!
If anything ever put a fire out in a muzzle next to water it's oil!
Is JBrandon using oil for storing the gun?
If so. Stop doing that 👍
 

JBrandon

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Friends, thanks for the helpful ideas.
There are multiple problems, including the frizzen, which can be fixed.
For this time,
Crud ring seems most likely to me, I'll check that out.
Oil - no, ran patch before shooting, prick thru hole before each shot to make sure it's clear.
Flint too short - yes, sometimes, but I change them frequently. They get et up in this gun, which tells me they are meeting the frizzen too steeply.
 
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A flat breech face requires scraping with a scraper tool. IF you don't hard fouling will build up to the point that crud will block the touch hole. I scrape the breech plug clean after every shooting session.
 

Britsmoothy

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Friends, thanks for the helpful ideas.
There are multiple problems, including the frizzen, which can be fixed.
For this time,
Crud ring seems most likely to me, I'll check that out.
Oil - no, ran patch before shooting, prick thru hole before each shot to make sure it's clear.
Flint too short - yes, sometimes, but I change them frequently. They get et up in this gun, which tells me they are meeting the frizzen too steeply.
So you do use oil?
Voila!
 
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