Looking for info on fine tuning a flintlock

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Snooterpup

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I’m looking forward to learning about flintlocks, their geometry, the different schools producing such distinctive styles and anything I can do to fine tune a lock.I’m particularly interested in the angle of the cock in relation to the frizzen as well as spring tension to kick the frizzen forward.
Thanks again! Cold in Minnesota Ja Sure!
 

Darkhorse

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Do a search. Most of these things have been covered many times by various people. But....I adjust my frizzen spring so the frizzen opens as near to 3 pounds as possible. I consider the 3 pound mark to be most important if using set triggers. I use a hand grinder with a sanding roll attachment and sand the top of the spring. Don't overheat the spring and check frequently. I check mine with a trigger gage.
I don't worry much about the cock angle. I can shorten or lengthen (shim) the flint to put it where I want it to be. I'm not saying some cocks aren't right and require bending. I'm just saying I've never had to deal with one.
Probably the best post about this subject was made by Smart Dog some time back. Look for it.
 

FlinterNick

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In most cases Tuning a lock will require, polishing moving parts and a joined areas, adjusting screws (too long, top-heavy etc), re-working the sear paw for good half and full cock action reworking would involve possibly filing the groove deeper or shaving down the sear edge. Adding or reducing spring tension with hardening and tempering methods, possibly surface hardening parts like the flintcock and or frizzen.
 

Many Klatch

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Tuning a flintlock means removing as many sources of friction as possible. Dismantle the lock. Polish the inside of the lock plate until it is mirror bright. I use a file to make sure everything is level then different grades of sandpaper up to 400 grit. Then polish any moving part that touches the lock plate. Polish the ends of the main spring where it rides on the tumbler. Look closely at the tumbler. Lightly remove material from the lockplate side of the tumbler so that you leave a small "washer" of metal around the center, this reduces the amount of friction. Make sure that you don't tighten all the screws down machinist tight. Sometimes you have to leave a little play in the action so every can work quickly. After you are done, reassemble the lock. Then work it several times. Then disassemble again and check the lockplate for signs of parts dragging. You may have to lightly reduce and polish the lockplate side of the mainspring to eliminate friction there.

Anyway, lots of fiddling and messing about with the lock but you will notice an improvement. A lot of guns today are sold with the locks in "As Cast" condition. A lot of filing and polishing will make a big difference.
 

Loyalist Dave

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In most cases Tuning a lock will require, polishing moving parts and a joined areas, adjusting screws (too long, top-heavy etc), re-working the sear paw for good half and full cock action reworking would involve possibly filing the groove deeper or shaving down the sear edge. Adding or reducing spring tension with hardening and tempering methods, possibly surface hardening parts like the flintcock and or frizzen.
Yes I agree, I have been taught that "tuning" a lock or action on a firearm, means more than polishing surfaces, it means adjusting the sear interface, and in the case of flintlocks, adjusting angles on the cock jaws when needed.

I was also taught that when one is not trained how to do that adjustment of the sear and tumbler on a muzzle loader lock, NOT to attempt it. The reason being it is amazingly simple to remove a tiny bit of metal in the wrong place to render a lock that has difficulty working into a lock that will not hold full cock, and requires then a lot more work and probably replacement parts. :confused:

One thing I've learned is that a great many folks mis-diagnose the lock problem. I often hear, "My spring is too strong", when in fact what really is wrong is "my parts are too rough". The results I've seen is folks who grind off the side of a leaf spring, only to ruin it, when that wasn't the problem.

There are parts on a flintlock, especially on factory made locks, that may be polished by Joe-Muzzleloader, without FUBAR-ing the lock. The easiest that come to mind are...
the interior surface of the lock plate where the mainspring touches,
the edge of the mainspring where it touches the lock plate,
the upper surface of the frizzen spring where it touches the frizzen-cam, and where it touches the lock plate,
the frizzen cam where it touches the frizzen spring, and...,
the sides of the frizzen where it touches the lock.

ALL of these areas may be polished by hand using emory paper and some oil, to get a much smoother are where the surfaces meet, often do a world of good. They also don't run the risk of screwing up the part. ;)

LD
 

fourbore

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I am newly returning to flintlock shooting. I am feeling a little overwhelmed with variables.

While not new, I never understood anything about tuning. Today, I have a Lyman GPR producing a very few sparks. And an older pre-warning TC with a generous amount of spark. I have not yet attempted to fire either. it looks like someone took a dremel and very slightly rough up the frizzen surface of the TC. The Lyman is smooth. Is it good practice to slightly roughen up the frizzen or did the last owner of the TC make a mistake? Is this all considered part of the tune up?

How important is the leading edge of the flint?

Can some one suggest a good reference (book) that starts with the basics like flint and progresses to more advanced considerations?
 

Commodore Swab

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While most of the descriptions here work with making good locks better. I have done a great deal of work on guns from India and making them reliable. Tuning can be done with different goals in mind. Maybe you are looking for something that will be very fast and reliable say a hunting rifle. Perhaps you are a reenactor portraying a battle and know you will be firing 40-60 times and want it to fire every time without cleaning or knapping and are looking for longevity of the flint. A good lock will deliver 50-100 shots before knapping is required and that flint can last 2-300.

If strong springs and speed are required flint and steel would not work. There is a balance to be achieved.
 

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Grimord

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I am newly returning to flintlock shooting. I am feeling a little overwhelmed with variables.

While not new, I never understood anything about tuning. Today, I have a Lyman GPR producing a very few sparks. And an older pre-warning TC with a generous amount of spark. I have not yet attempted to fire either. it looks like someone took a dremel and very slightly rough up the frizzen surface of the TC. The Lyman is smooth. Is it good practice to slightly roughen up the frizzen or did the last owner of the TC make a mistake? Is this all considered part of the tune up?

How important is the leading edge of the flint?

Check out Eric Bye's book regarding Flint locks. Very good reference.

Can some one suggest a good reference (book) that starts with the basics like flint and progresses to more advanced considerations?
 

sawyer04

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Is it good practice to slightly roughen up the frizzen or did the last owner of the TC make a mistake?
I want my frizzens smooth as glass, but hard to shower parks. The flint should come down with the edge in the center of the touch hole. Sometimes the flint has to be turned over to accomplish this. The frizzen should be closed and with a credit card should require little force to be opened. It should require a greater force to be closed with the same card.
A good reference is Gun Flints and how to make them by GJ Kelly. A chapter is designated for the flint placement in the lock and it's performance. I have the Kindle edition of 2011. The above description is from the book.
 

Gonetocamp

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Following up on the OP's question is the GPR's coil mainspring generally considered to be to strong, to weak or just right?
 

Snooterpup

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Hello all and thank you for all of the information. I have a Hatfield .50 flintlock with a percussion lock for conversion but will be using primarily as a flintlock. It has a Pedersoli flintlock with was made by a guy that perhaps had a bit too much vino the night before. The hole for the lock bolt wall drilled and tapped through the bolster at a downward angle of approx 10 degrees. I had to remove the bolster, braze the hole shut, and re-drill and tap correctly. (See photos below) Now the lock fits at the correct angle. Disassembled the lock and cleaned then polished the plate interior of the tumbler area and after reassembly found I need to do that in the mainspring area as well. One post recommended mirror polishing the pan cavity which is now doneIMG_1569.JPG IMG_1570.JPG . The lock sparks well but the frizzen is showing wear where the flint strikes it first. Any suggestions as to high up on the frizzen the flint should make first contact?
Half cock and full cock are great. This gun fires only after rear trigger is set. The forward trigger bar isn't long enough to actuate the sear on its own. Any thoughts on lengthening it or would I be better trying to find new set triggers?

Again, thanks for all of the suggestions, I'm learning constantly from the wealth of information out there!

Snooterpup
 

FlinterNick

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Hello all and thank you for all of the information. I have a Hatfield .50 flintlock with a percussion lock for conversion but will be using primarily as a flintlock. It has a Pedersoli flintlock with was made by a guy that perhaps had a bit too much vino the night before. The hole for the lock bolt wall drilled and tapped through the bolster at a downward angle of approx 10 degrees. I had to remove the bolster, braze the hole shut, and re-drill and tap correctly. (See photos below) Now the lock fits at the correct angle. Disassembled the lock and cleaned then polished the plate interior of the tumbler area and after reassembly found I need to do that in the mainspring area as well. One post recommended mirror polishing the pan cavity which is now doneView attachment 25003 View attachment 25004 . The lock sparks well but the frizzen is showing wear where the flint strikes it first. Any suggestions as to high up on the frizzen the flint should make first contact?
Half cock and full cock are great. This gun fires only after rear trigger is set. The forward trigger bar isn't long enough to actuate the sear on its own. Any thoughts on lengthening it or would I be better trying to find new set triggers?

Again, thanks for all of the suggestions, I'm learning constantly from the wealth of information out there!

Snooterpup
A shaky frizzen is usually due to the frizzen spring losing tension.

What I’ve done is heat the spring to red hot (like annealing) then spread the legs very slightly, let air cool. heat again to cherry red (with MAP torch), then quench in cooking oil. Polish the spring, then temper at around 700-800 on a stove top under in a cast iron pan, when you get a nice color of blue, then the spring should be drawn well enough to a temper.

For the Frizzen being worn down, I’m assuming you mean the cut marks from the flint striking it. You can just polish that out with a Dremmel tool sanding drum of 120 grit then 220 and then 400 grit. The frizzen will spark better. It that still fails then it may need to be rehardened with some compound. Most pedersoli frizzens are hardened through very well, so polishing it wont really get to the softer inner alloy.
 

FlinterNick

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I want my frizzens smooth as glass, but hard to shower parks. The flint should come down with the edge in the center of the touch hole. Sometimes the flint has to be turned over to accomplish this. The frizzen should be closed and with a credit card should require little force to be opened. It should require a greater force to be closed with the same card.
A good reference is Gun Flints and how to make them by GJ Kelly. A chapter is designated for the flint placement in the lock and it's performance. I have the Kindle edition of 2011. The above description is from the book.
Polished at 400 grit leaves a good enough course surface to spark, I polish mine up before use. Sometimes reharden but not often, if I reharden with cherry red and I quench in a heavy mixture of salt water, the salt water seems to work well for adding carbon, and for some reasons frizzens really harden well with a high intensity torch head and propane.
 

FlinterNick

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Yes I agree, I have been taught that "tuning" a lock or action on a firearm, means more than polishing surfaces, it means adjusting the sear interface, and in the case of flintlocks, adjusting angles on the cock jaws when needed.

I was also taught that when one is not trained how to do that adjustment of the sear and tumbler on a muzzle loader lock, NOT to attempt it. The reason being it is amazingly simple to remove a tiny bit of metal in the wrong place to render a lock that has difficulty working into a lock that will not hold full cock, and requires then a lot more work and probably replacement parts. :confused:

One thing I've learned is that a great many folks mis-diagnose the lock problem. I often hear, "My spring is too strong", when in fact what really is wrong is "my parts are too rough". The results I've seen is folks who grind off the side of a leaf spring, only to ruin it, when that wasn't the problem.

There are parts on a flintlock, especially on factory made locks, that may be polished by Joe-Muzzleloader, without FUBAR-ing the lock. The easiest that come to mind are...
the interior surface of the lock plate where the mainspring touches,
the edge of the mainspring where it touches the lock plate,
the upper surface of the frizzen spring where it touches the frizzen-cam, and where it touches the lock plate,
the frizzen cam where it touches the frizzen spring, and...,
the sides of the frizzen where it touches the lock.

ALL of these areas may be polished by hand using emory paper and some oil, to get a much smoother are where the surfaces meet, often do a world of good. They also don't run the risk of screwing up the part. ;)

LD
Polishing parts produces great results. Sometime but not often a bridle could bind the sear and tumbler on a factory lock.
 

rich pierce

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Lots of good information here. Polishing bearing surfaces is always a good idea.

But there are sometimes issues that are more basic. Diagnosing those is critical. Sort of like a patient that shows up at the doctors office. Step one is diagnosing what problems are presenting themselves. Seeing, listening, feeling are about all we have to diagnose issues preventing great function in a flintlock. Summarizing or cataloguing all the issues that could arise is challenging.
 

Snooterpup

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Polished at 400 grit leaves a good enough course surface to spark, I polish mine up before use. Sometimes reharden but not often, if I reharden with cherry red and I quench in a heavy mixture of salt water, the salt water seems to work well for adding carbon, and for some reasons frizzens really harden well with a high intensity torch head and propane.
A shaky frizzen is usually due to the frizzen spring losing tension.

What I’ve done is heat the spring to red hot (like annealing) then spread the legs very slightly, let air cool. heat again to cherry red (with MAP torch), then quench in cooking oil. Polish the spring, then temper at around 700-800 on a stove top under in a cast iron pan, when you get a nice color of blue, then the spring should be drawn well enough to a temper.

For the Frizzen being worn down, I’m assuming you mean the cut marks from the flint striking it. You can just polish that out with a Dremmel tool sanding drum of 120 grit then 220 and then 400 grit. The frizzen will spark better. It that still fails then it may need to be rehardened with some compound. Most pedersoli frizzens are hardened through very well, so polishing it wont really get to the softer inner alloy.
 

Snooterpup

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Hello flinternick,
Thanks for the frizzen advice. I probably wasn’t clear when I stated the frizzen had wobble. I probably should have said side play. When the lock is assembled the spring is tight and frizzen has good action. The channel the frizzen fits in is wider than the frizzen allowing some side play. I wonder if shims through the screw would be a good idea to tighten it a bit. Also the screw hole in the frizzen is a bit larger than the screw allowing a small amount of wobble with the spring removed. The assembled frizzen does work well even though it can occasionally lightly scratch the barrel when closing it.
I will follow your advice on dressing the frizzen surface lightly to get it smooth.
Thank you for all of your suggestions!
Snooterpup
 

Griz44Mag

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Polished at 400 grit leaves a good enough course surface to spark, I polish mine up before use. Sometimes reharden but not often, if I reharden with cherry red and I quench in a heavy mixture of salt water, the salt water seems to work well for adding carbon, and for some reasons frizzens really harden well with a high intensity torch head and propane.
Please explain how salt (sodium and chlorine) water (Hydrogen and Oxygen) has carbon in it?
 
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