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Making a Batch of Ramrods

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FlinterNick

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My old ramrods started to to wear a little too thin on my .62 and .54 caliber guns.

Making two new rods for each gun and 1 Brown Bess Ramrod.

Brown Bess is gonna taper from 11/32 to 3/8 up to 7/16 at the last 6 inches with a sheet brass tip.

Making two from White Ash at 3/8 straight with the very end being 7/16, 42 1/2inches.

Making one from red oak, no tip trumpet an concaved at the tip.

Making one from yellow birch, gona give this a try, its a more waxy type of birth that is used in long bow arrows.
 

Rifleman1776

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Don't know about the birch. But any oak seems to me to be a poor choice for a rammer. Hickory, ash, delrin, etc. are reliable choices.
 

Sidney Smith

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Oak is ok for doing a smoothbore rod as there isnt as much resistance when loading ball versus a rifle. Using an oak rod for shot only is not an issue either as all your doing here is just lightly tamping the shot charge onto the powder.

For a tight fitting ball patch combo I think most oak rods are not suitable as they mostly have too much run out in their grain.
 

longcruise

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I have selected straight grained oak dowels at the Big Box for ramrods and they have worked out fine. I think it's all about the selection.
 

Notchy Bob

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The oak family is pretty diverse. I could see that white oak might work very well for a ramrod. It is tough, and if you pick the right tree, the grain runs very straight. My grandfather used to weave baskets out of white oak "splits" which could be worked down to a surprising thinness and length, just splitting them with the grain. I believe white oak was also the wood of choice for drumsticks by native people who lived north of hickory habitat, and it was also used for making barrel staves (which were "riven," or split with the grain) and wagon spokes.

I don't doubt that most varieties of oak would have some runout. Lord knows, I split enough of it for firewood when I was younger. A good, straight white oak tree, though, can provide wood that is tough, elastic, and straight-grained. Three properties required for a wooden ramrod. I wouldn't be afraid to use a rod split from white oak.

Notchy Bob
 

FlinterNick

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So far the White Ash is working excellent.

The tapering is working really well with the cutters I have and the grain Doesn’t run out, well one of them the runout is more near the end, but I had these sent to me, so I couldn’t examine them each.

the yellow Birch I set aside, it doesn’t seem ram rod quality, going to use those for cleaning rods. It has pulls on it and almost has the scent and feeling of pine.

The Oak is working out very well, I had pre-soaked the oak in food grade mineral oil (cutting board oil) and it seems to provide some additional spring to the rod. Its a darker oak so I wasn’t too worried about staining it.

The ones I’m eager to try out are the elm and pacific YEW, Yew is used on Native American Bows.
 

FlinterNick

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I had done some research with French made muskets. Early french muskets and fusils used holm oak for the ramrods which were measured a little larger than 3/8 In diameter. The 1717 musket used a holm oak rod but was found to be a failure because the musket used a barrel band in the middle which shaved the rod when returned causing it to weaken.

Holm Oak isn’t easy to find, as its a Mediterranean variety of oak.
 

FlinterNick

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I recall an article from Muzzleloaders Magazine about ramrods and how they were soaked in coal oil or kerosine to make they more pliable. I have to admit I’ve never tried this or would even know where to acquire coal oil.

I’ve tried lemon oil with no noticeable benefit.

Butcher’s block oil or mineral oil seems to do the trick and when left in an ’unfinished‘ state (unvarnished or stained).

I usually finish my rods by turning them with a bar of furniture wax to make a smooth finish, and burnished in with 7-10,000 grit paper makes for a pretty attractive finish and adds a natural preservative to the rod.
 

FlinterNick

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I’m repairing a busted rod that I accidentally leaned on at the range, its not broke through but spit from the tip slightly. I’m gonan give brass wire as a wrapping and weaving a try with some resin holding the crack, I saw this once where copper wire was threaded around the middle to end of the rod As a decorative feature.
 

beardedhorse

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Straight grained hickory if air dried is hard to beat. Ordered some ramin tfrom Dixie or Track of the Wolf to test and use also as arrow shafts but there was a lot of variance in quality and toughness. Some. broke barely flexing to straighten. Used to be an excellent arrow shaft material when suppliers went from birch to ramin and now to oak and yellow poplar in hardware stores and lumber yards. Not readily available. Have used flowering dogwood, tapered for trade gun. I have a moisture meter for checking moisture content on bow staves and can check questionable kiln dried dowelling. Unless oak were 1/2. or 7/16th inch diameter and very straight grained, I wouldn't trust it. Used ebony on a dueling pistol for ramrod. Some local shooters were using brass tubing with inserts for jags.
 

FlinterNick

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Straight grained hickory if air dried is hard to beat. Ordered some ramin tfrom Dixie or Track of the Wolf to test and use also as arrow shafts but there was a lot of variance in quality and toughness. Some. broke barely flexing to straighten. Used to be an excellent arrow shaft material when suppliers went from birch to ramin and now to oak and yellow poplar in hardware stores and lumber yards. Not readily available. Have used flowering dogwood, tapered for trade gun. I have a moisture meter for checking moisture content on bow staves and can check questionable kiln dried dowelling. Unless oak were 1/2. or 7/16th inch diameter and very straight grained, I wouldn't trust it. Used ebony on a dueling pistol for ramrod. Some local shooters were using brass tubing with inserts for jags.
Yea, Hickory is absolutely the best quality rod i have. I’ve had some some success with Ash rods too, they look nicer too but the main problem I’ve had is that the ash supplied has consistent grain runoff. They tend to save the straight grained ash for pool stick / queue makers and I have some really good ash rods, that I don’t use to keep them in show quality.

I’m waiting on a shipment of Pacific Yew, this is famously used on Native American bows.
 

FlinterNick

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Wearing thin? Never thought about that happening. What is doing the wearing to thin them down?

Spence
They’re just old rods, been sanded refinished over too many times. These rods are about 15 years old, they’ve done well.
 

Spence10

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Thanks. I had visions of rods rubbing against the bore in loading and cleaning enough to wear them thin.

Spence
 

tenngun

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Wearing thin? Never thought about that happening. What is doing the wearing to thin them down?

Spence
Mine seem to wear in the middle. I find use a gaurd and my crowns are not sharp but it seems just touching the sides wears down the rod
 

Carbon 6

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For a tight fitting ball patch combo I think most oak rods are not suitable as they mostly have too much run out in their grain.
I've been using oak on several rifles for about 10 years now without any problems. (.45 & .50 cal )
They were all big box dowel rods, I had to go through the entire bin to find 3 suitable for making ramrods, but they have been working just fine and I swab after very shot and use it to clean so they get extra working.
 

Carbon 6

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I think I've broken 3.
One was a cheap factory rod that broke due to run-out.
The second was the first rod I made, it broke just above the rod end, poor fitting on my part.
Third one slid out of the thimbles and I tripped over it on a deer drive.

I've pulled a few ends off here and there too.
 

FlinterNick

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I have a few oak rods I made, but only straight, not tapered. The oak works well, but I don’t want to test it with a tapering. Its almost impossible to find an oak dowel with no runoff.

I’ve had excellent success with using white Ash for my rods, even with grain runoff, they still work very well.
 
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