Is my bore ruined?

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JCKelly

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Metal does one interesting thing when heated, and that is, it expands. The colors indicate you got it far hotter than needed to melt lead. The hot side of the barrel expanded more than the other, so it bent a little from the non-uniform heating. In a smoothbore musket I doubt you will ever know the difference, but that barrel is just a little bit bent where it was heated.

Dunno why you worry about its safety. Most new American barrels are made of the very worst steel that can be found. Indian barrels, at least some of them, are made from "seamless" tube. Problem with seamless tubing, any grade of steel, or nickel alloy for that matter, is it can have the worst seams imaginable, starting at the bore.

I have seen this in good ole American 1018 (mild steel) as well as in high nickel alloys.

Yes, I am a P.I.T.A. metallurgist.
 

Walt For 2A

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I sure do appreciate everyone’s comments. You’re all making me feel a little bit better. Thanks for helping out this newbie.
 

jimairwin

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This is not factual information. Please check actual practices of actual ML barrel makers. People solder underlugs on all the time. People braze bayonet lugs on ML barrels. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information. Bill Large never heat treated barrels. Nor Don Getz. Nor Douglas, or GRRW, or many other makers.
Some of us must of had too much whisky when they wrote much/most of the crap posted in this thread. I wouldn't have removed the ball in this way, but I also know there's no issue with having done so. BP gunbarrel steel is low alloy/low strength. Temperatures shown (by color) will not harm the steel. The barrel might have failed IF he had put a bunch of powder loose behind the ball & tried to shoot it out due to pressure waves behind an obstruction.

I've been a machinist/gunmaker/gunsmith over 60 years and metallurgist almost as long.

"It ain't as much what you don't know that'll hurt you as it is what you know for sure that ain't so." Who was it that wrote that famous quote?
 

54ball

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For future shooting of your Bess...shoot it the way it was designed(if you weren't doing that already) Paper cartridge with undersized ball. Fast to load...fast to shoot. Never get anything stuck in the barrel this way. 3-4 shots a minute was the goal.
Paper cartridges, even with the proper sized ball will most assuredly stick and stick fast.
 

andy52

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I've heard of muzzleloader barrels being annealed, or heated for a time to relieve or equalize stresses. Never heard of one being intentionally hardened. In fact, the old "dead iron" rifle barrels, of very soft metal, used to be preferred, as they did not "whip" or vibrate as steel barrels can. As @rich pierce pointed out, sights, underlugs, and even ramrod pipes can be soldered on, and I believe the old Belgian-made doubles had the barrels brazed together. I think Clay Smith fire blues the barrels of some of his rifles. People routinely heat the breeches of their rifles to remove "frozen" plugs and nipples.

If you checked it with a snug-fitting patch and jag down the whole bore and don't feel any loose spots, I think you're okay. The exterior discoloration should clean off with an abrasive.

Don't feel bad about it. Thanks for introducing the topic!

Notchy Bob
Well said, Bob. If anyone is interested I'll show one of my original Belgian SxS where the brass used to braze the barrels together is clearly visalble. Brass melts at a much higher temperature than lead and if the OP only heated the barrel to the melting point of lead I see no problem other than cosmetic.
Just as a personal observation though I would not have done it that way.
 
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Billy Boy

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If you have any doubts, proof it. Double powder, double shot. Remove the barrel, tie or tape it to a tire, mic the area of concern, fuse it with a cotton string soaked in fuel oil into the flash hole, get behind something solid (a stout friend), and light the fuse. You must do this three times to consider it ‘proofed’. If the breech plug is even slightly loose, or if the area of concern has increased in diameter at all, junk the barrel. I don’t think from your description that you have a problem, and proofing is an exercise for the fully awake, rested, snd puckered…
 

Norman Brooks

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Some of us must of had too much whisky when they wrote much/most of the crap posted in this thread. I wouldn't have removed the ball in this way, but I also know there's no issue with having done so. BP gunbarrel steel is low alloy/low strength. Temperatures shown (by color) will not harm the steel. The barrel might have failed IF he had put a bunch of powder loose behind the ball & tried to shoot it out due to pressure waves behind an obstruction.

I've been a machinist/gunmaker/gunsmith over 60 years and metallurgist almost as long.

"It ain't as much what you don't know that'll hurt you as it is what you know for sure that ain't so." Who was it that wrote that famous quote?
I knew somebody would have the answer and not beat around the bush about it. And it's Beer Barrel Bourbon for me. I don't think I would double charge and double ball to proof though. Find out what the manufacturer suggests for max charge and proof it...
 
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Sidney Smith

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I've soldered barrel lugs on round barrels and a it may, or may not have gotten as hot as yours. Mine still had the same bluish coloration. There's no way you made that barrel so hot that you changed its makeup. Maybe if you got the barrel cherry red, Id be concerned, bit otherwise it's fine. My smoothbore has never complained.
 

jimairwin

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The only way that you made it brittle would be if you quenched it in water instead of letting it air cool. I'm not a gun barrel guy, but the guys that are will need a photograph of where that is in relation to the breech. Lead melts at under 640 degrees F, so I don't think that's hot enough to harm the steel, but again not qualified to tell, and I think that farther away from the breech = less risk too.

LD
Not at all true.
 

Flintlock Whiskey

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Ahhh....the pressures we are talking about are no where near that number. Breech pressures in a black powder shotgun/smoothbore are in the 5000-6000 psi range. Farther down the barrel where the heating was done the pressures will be in the 1000-2000 psi range.

You will not change the crystalline structure of the steel unless you heat it to it's critical temp which will be up around 1400 F. And you would only do that to any significant way if you also quenched it at that point. Barrels are soldered (250-400 F) and even brazed (up to 1000 F) on all the time without ill effects.

Also good point about the charcoal bluing that is becoming more popular. Those temps will be in the 700-800 F range.
Thank you for setting me straight on the subject without eviscerating me like shot game animal. The information you stated here will inspire me to do exhaustive research on this subject. Unlike so many others that feel that they must tear one apart like a pack of rabid dogs in their righteous indignation.
 

Walt For 2A

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So here’s a very happy follow up. The barrel is still intact and nothing exploded.

I mounted her in a lead sled, strapped down and with a pull string on the trigger etc. etc. I shot 60 grains without ball, 90 grains without ball, and then 90 grains with a ball. Another two or three shots after that and all is good.

thank you very much everyone for your input.
 

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