paper cartridges

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deadidick

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I've made several paper cartridges for my Walker with rolling papers 30grns pyrodex and a 44cal conical 5 out of 6 fired with the first cap the sixth took 3 caps to ignite, anybody know of a liquid chemical that could be applied to the end of the paper cartridge to ensure ignition?
 

Grumpa

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The old paper cartridges were made with nitrated paper to aid combustion. The paper was soaked in a potassium nitrate solution, and then dried. This improved flammability, and made for more complete combustion. It was made from bat guano. If you don't have a pile of that lying handy :grin: you should be able to find potassium nitrate at a garden shop, Lowe's or Home Depot etc. or from a friend who gardens. I don't have a recipe for the solution.

the paper was glued to the bullet with sodium silicate. (courtesy of Wikipedia.)

If you're gonna make 'em, might as well make 'em right. Let me know how they turn out. I might want to try it myself.
 

deadidick

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thanks, thinking just dab the end of cartridge to help ensure ignition, I'll try potassium nitrate and post results
 

Grumpa

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A little quick research...the solution is made by putting PN in water until it won't dissolve anymore.

For paper, rice paper (art supplies) or perm paper (beauty shop supplies) will be cheaper than cig rolling paper, and will burn better once nitrated - cig paper is meant to burn slowly, (unless you're rolling exploding cigarettes).
 

wicket

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Those interested in the development of the combustible cartridge will find these patents interesting:

J. Henry Ferguson pat. no. 24548
Hotchkiss pat. no. 34367
Bartholow pat. no. 32345
Johnston and Dow pat. no. 34061
Doremus and Budd pat. no. 34725

There is more to making combustible cartridges than simply soaking cigarette papers in potassium nitrate, which explains why many contemporary shooters who have experimented with making them have found their results unsatisfactory.
 

Don

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It involves an extra loading step but you could just use a nipple pick to puncture the cartridge once its loaded. I never had a problem with ignition when I did that.

Don
 

Grumpa

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Use hot water - it will dissolve more nitrate for a 'SUPER-SATURATED" solution.
 

wicket

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Something to keep in mind with regard to absorbing KNO3 into paper is that it leaves a slag-like residue upon combustion. Nitrate in excess of what's required to support the combustion of the paper simply creates more slag. Employing sodium silicate as an adhesive adds to the problem, since it is a high temperature refractory.
A strong light-weight paper without absorbed nitrates and employing a nitrocellulose based adhesive might be a better material for making combustible cartridges.
Unfortunately, the physical characteristics which contribute to the ideal combustible cartridge make for a rather fragile and difficult to fabricate product, a problem all too familiar to cartridge makers 150 years ago.
 

cynthialee

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Don said:
It involves an extra loading step but you could just use a nipple pick to puncture the cartridge once its loaded. I never had a problem with ignition when I did that.

Don
this was my thought but ya beat me to it
I just break the back end open a bit so some loose powder gets down in there before I send the cartridge home. Works every time.

Beware with paper cartridges that are not nitrated. There will likely be some paper still in the chamber. If this paper should happen to be smoldering as you try to ram home a new charge.....
Also even if the paper is not burning in the chamber, it only takes about the third shot of left over paper to cause you issues.

So I would suggest nitrating your paper completely instead of just on the bottom.
 

Bear Rider

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If you form your cartridge around a tapered rod so that it is long and thin, it will be easier to insert into the chamber, and will burst when the ball is rammed down, exposing powder to the cap.

Also the cap can make a difference. I found that Remington caps were much more reliable than those from CCI, for instance.
 

wicket

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Few points:
Helps ignition to have a thin cap on the bottom of the cartridge the way Colt did their combustibles.
Accidental ignition from an ember is a major risk, and i wouldn't bet my hands on a wad of paper soaked in stump remover.
There are reasons why with the ever-growing popularity of percussion revolvers since the Centennial nobody is manufacturing and selling a combustible cartridge.
Arguably the best material for making combustible cartridges isn't discussed on this forum, and shouldn't be.
 

poordevil

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I read somewhere, maybe even here, that Magician Flash Paper will work. Find it via magic shops or online suppliers.
 

crockett

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Well, I don't want to belabor the point as we've talked about this before but if the paper shell is made properly you don't need to do anything. Make the paper case so there is only a single layer of paper at the base-the percussion cap will blow right through it and explode the powder. I'd use black powder.
To make such a case have a square piece of cigarette paper with an attached circle midway along the bottom. Roll the sides to make a tube and fold the round tab/circle over the back of the tube- hence the single layer at the base. Use a glue stick to hold it all together.
Cigarette paper residue in the fired chamber might hold an ember, make sure you inspect the chambers before seating a live round on a just-fired chamber.
 

cynthialee

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well I can not agree with you there. I have had a number of homemade cartridges with just a thin paper layer fail to fire. Now if I break it open as I put the cart in or I pick them from the back before putting caps on it prevents this issue.
 

wicket

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The discussion does tend to go around and around in the same tired circles on this subject; a bit like the subject of chain fires.
I would suggest that those who swear by nitrate saturated paper take care to keep the nitrate salts in the same general fuel/oxidizer ratio as gun powder, since extra nitrate only contributes to additional fouling.
Embers are a problem, and wadded paper even if treated with nitrate is perfectly capable of creating an ember. Keeping the cartridge thin, whether treated or untreated is simple common sense.
I haven't tried commercial flash paper, but can state from experience that nitrocellulose, which is what flash paper is, is far superior to ordinary paper, whether nitrate saturated or not, in the making of combustible cartridges. They always fire and don't leave embers or ash.
An issue with flash paper, whether home-made or purchased is that cellulose is extremely absorbent, and the fibers can hold residual acid even if the paper appears dry. The residual acid can cause spontaneous combustion of the paper. This bit of chemistry should be kept in mind by those inclined to make up a large supply of combustible cartridges employing flash paper. I have read that commercial flash paper is shipped wet, and after drying by the end user has a limited shelf-life.
Considering the amount of paper consumed in the construction of a carefully made cartridge, commercial flash paper might be worth trying. My suspicion is that it's nitrated tissue and probably not mechanically substantial enough to readily form into useful cartridges, perhaps double wrapping would work.
I would not suggest wrapping flash paper up over the bullet, lower grades of nitrocellulose paper generally don't ignite past a pinch-point, but one never knows.
 

AZbpBurner

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40 years ago I made up some nitrated rolling papers, tapered dowel and all. They never satisfactorily worked to ram down to have the tapered paper open up to properly expose the powder. Got a lot of hangfires, and there was almost always a little smoldering paper residue left in the bore. Any possible advantage to using a paper ctg, IMO, was negated by the need to wet mop the bore before loading for the next shot.

I still have a small pkg of minie's with the tapered paper attached, waiting to fill with powder. I'm debating on just tearing off the paper to put the bullets to use, and lighting up the pile of paper to watch it go 'poof' but in just a few years, they'll be antiques in their own right ... The paper ctgs I made up for revolver use worked best by tearing them open, pouring in the powder, and then using the paper as an over-the-powder wad.

Nobody I've ever met or read of, has been able to admit to making a working paper cartridge they're fully satisfied with.

Those with whatever supposed 'secret recipe' they're unwilling to divulge, are either just prevaricating, or still have some deficiency in performance to prevent them from showing off their handiwork.

As far as I'm concerned, a patched ball or minie ahead of powder measured with one of several of my homemade powder measures work just fine & I'm of no mind to pursue it any further.
 

Poor Private

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I have tried making even blank cartridges for use for civil war reenacting. BAHHH hum bug. Not worth the effort. You figure in your time in making them, then securing them in a cartridge pack,and then a extra pouch to carry them and placing tins of caps in your pocket, and hoping none don't break open while your waling out and about. Next either tearing the end open for ignition, and risk dumping out the powder on the ground, and worrying about a preigniton(by not swabbing the chamber), or even if it will ignite if you don't puncture it in some way.
NAHHH give me my powder flask, a few round balls and a measure and some caps. OR if you really want to load quickly carry a spare cylinder loaded except for caps( your option) in a cylinder pouch. Or even to heck with and carry a 2nd pistol!
 

wicket

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Making a safe effective combustible cartridge is beyond the capabilities of most modern shooters. It's time consuming, potentially dangerous, and not something that can be learned by asking questions in a black powder forum.
The shooter wishing to experiment with paper cartridges can find all manner of relatively safe methods endlessly repeated among the black powder shooting community out here. Whether it's worth the effort is a matter for the individual shooter to decide.
 

crockett

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Cynthialee: :grin: I know we have been over this before and I can't figure out the difference in experiences. All I can think of is that the original nipples on my colt wore out and I replaced them with a new set and maybe they emit a lot more flash from the caps. When I bought them they were labeled "Hotfire" or something like that. I reload modern cartridges and have a micrometer (I have calipers as well but the mic is more accurate). IAE I mic'ed plain newsprint, and cigarette paper. The newsprint is about three times as thick. I did the newsprint as an experiment since it is untreated and you'll get A LOT of residue but IAE I still got 100% using newsprint. I then looked for some sort of metal foil- like Colt originally used- and all I could find is the stuff they wrap up candies. This is backed with paper you have to peel off. IAE I made some cartridges with the foil. Iginition then dropped to only 70% and the fouling was so bad that after 3 rounds I could not seat another cartridge fully in the chamber.
The Colt foil cartridges passed the military's test so figure 100% ignition but even the Colt left a lot of residue and after 6 rounds in a chamber a soldier had to clean out the chamber because another round could not be fully seated.
Well, I guess I'm a lucky guy if others are having troubles.
Finally, on the safety for the newbies that might be reading. This is something to do at a range and with the spare ammo covered up and protected. For the field, just carry components in an Altoid can- at least that's what I do.
Somewhere in the back of my mind is a faint memory that military Colts had nipples with a larger flash hole. Maybe someone has something on that- I cant recall where I heard/read it.
I seldom have to remove spent caps, they always blow off- so maybe the nipples I'm using are the difference.
 

deadidick

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well it appears to be a controversy with no end. I personally enjoy making the cartridges in my spare time. guess I'll crack open the rear of the cartridge when loading and a little extra cleaning and caution is in order. I will continue to play with this. Imagine had the Dodge Bros. given up we would all be driving Ford or Chevy trucks :rotf:
 
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