Misfire question

Discussion in 'Percussion Rifles' started by Russ Treml, Jun 11, 2019.

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  1. Jun 11, 2019 #1

    Russ Treml

    Russ Treml

    Russ Treml

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    So, I’ve always had flintlocks and happened to pick up a percussion rifle. I was under, I suppose, a misguided impression that a percussion rifle would be almost 100% reliable. However, while on my home range I’ve had several misfires. I’ve had the gun fire after two or three attempts with the same cap and also was unable to get it to fire at all until I switched caps. I’ve also had half a dozen shots go off in a row as expected. Any comments on this or suggestions for me?
     
  2. Jun 11, 2019 #2

    Zonie

    Zonie

    Zonie

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    The most likely reason you had problems with the gun is the nipple cone is slightly too large for the caps that were causing the problem.
    When this happens, the cap stops on the cone too soon and the priming powder is not touching the end of the nipple.
    With percussion caps that are too small for the nipple the first hammer blow pounds the cap further down on the nipple. This usually ends up with the cap firing the next time the hammer is cocked and fired but as you found, not always.

    Caps made by different companies are slightly different in size so by switching to a different brand, you found some caps that fit the nipple better so they fired as they should.

    Many of us who have had this problem have lightly chucked the nipple in an electric drill and then, with the drill slowly running, used a flat file to carefully reduce the size of the cone. This can be hard on files because the nipples are hardened but the file will cut them.
    If you try this I recommend chucking on the body of the nipple rather than the threads. Try to match the existing angle of the cone with the file. Also, stop often and check the fit of the problem caps. You don't want to remove too much of the cone.

    Being a flintlock shooter you were probably using real black powder which should fire easily. If you were using one of the synthetic powders their higher ignition temperature will sometimes cause a hang fire or a mis-fire.
     
  3. Jun 11, 2019 #3

    FishDFly

    FishDFly

    FishDFly

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    Sounds like time for a new nipple/different brand nipple.
     
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  4. Jun 11, 2019 #4

    BruceHH

    BruceHH

    BruceHH

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    There are a few things that could be causing this. One is bad caps or caps that are too hard for your lock. Another is your main spring inside the lock (or something else) is contacting wood and dragging causing a slow hammer fall. Next is less likely, but does ocassionaly happen. You may have a nipple that is a little short, not allowing the hammer to fully contact it.

    First thing I would check is if the hammer falls with authority and fully contacts the nipple. You can also try another batch or brand of cap(s). Almost forgot one thing. Check to make sure the depression in the hammer nose is not full of spent caps. They can accumulate there and soften the blow. Lastly, check to make sure your hammer is not dragging on the inside against wood between it and the tang.

    The best bet is something dragging inside or out. Take your lock out and coat the main spring, sear and other moving parts with inletting black or something as simple as a magic marker. Make sure to coat the edges also. Assemble, work the lock and then take apart and look for transfer/rub marks.

    One thing I did not cover is a weak main spring that can be encountered with some production locks, but if it fires some - that is probably not the issue.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. Jun 11, 2019 #5

    Russ Treml

    Russ Treml

    Russ Treml

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    Thank you for the advise. I just placed an order for some other things from Dixie Gun Works and wish I would have ordered a new nipple too. Oh well. I will mess around with different caps as well. I did notice that I had some spent caps on the hammer at one point. I’ll keep an eye on that too. Thanks for all the quick replies.
     
  6. Jun 11, 2019 #6

    BrownBear

    BrownBear

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    That's a pretty good formula for misfires right there.
     
  7. Jun 11, 2019 #7

    Mark Herman

    Mark Herman

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    Sounds to me like you may have #10 pistol caps. If so they are to small for a #11 nipple. When they are put on the larger nipple the hammer "seats" the cap and it may take a couple of strikes to get it down. Until it is seated on the nipple it won't explode.
    Mark
     
  8. Jun 11, 2019 #8

    Grimord

    Grimord

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    One other possibility is the lock bolt is tightened too much and may protrude enough to let the hammer drag against the end of the bolt. These bolts do not have to be torqued down, just snug.
     
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  9. Jun 11, 2019 #9

    Pete44ru

    Pete44ru

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    Could you please tell us exactly WHAT percussion rifle you have, as some makers (for whatever reason) made the ignition channel convoluted, with a turn or three for the spark to travel around.

    Also, if it's a used rifle, there could be a hard crud build up in the ignition channel and/or powder chamber (if the rifle has one).
     
  10. Jun 11, 2019 #10

    Grenadier1758

    Grenadier1758

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    Steps to take from easiest to hardest.

    Tell us the model and manufacturer.

    1. Replace the nipple and verify that the caps are correct for the nipple.
    2. Clean the flash channel from the nipple seat to the flash chamber with a pipe cleaner. With a bore light, look to see if you can see the pipe cleaner.
    2a. If it has a chambered breech, get a sub caliber brush and clean out the chamber.
    2b. If the barrel can be easily removed, put the breech in a bucket of soapy water and flush the barrel and breech.
    3. Remove the lock and verify that the internal bolts holding the bridle on the tumbler are snug and there is sufficient clearance for the tumbler to rotate. Check to see if the mainspring is not rubbing on the lock plate.
    4. Reinstall the lock and verify that the lock bolts are just snug and the rear lock bolt is not rubbing on the hammer. Look at the hammer and verify that the hammer is not rubbing on the lock plate.
     
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  11. Jun 11, 2019 #11

    Eutycus

    Eutycus

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    I had a derringer that was not firing consistently, Turns out the hammer wasn't hitting the cap/nipple squarely. I had to deepen the inletting for the lock plate. If I had a torch I could have just bent the hammer a little. I don't recommend "cold hammer bending". They tend to break before they bend.
     
  12. Jun 11, 2019 #12

    Grenadier1758

    Grenadier1758

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    Eutycus, You just added number 5 to the list above.

    5. Verify that the cap is squarely hitting the nipple.
     
  13. Jun 11, 2019 #13

    Eutycus

    Eutycus

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    It was one of my first kits and I just sIapped it together. You'd have thought I'd have caught it just by "eye balling" it. But hey WE were young.
     

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