paper cartridges

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wicket

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LeMat, thanks for shaking loose the second video, i was only able to view the Hungarian one in your previous post. I'm a Colt guy, so straight-sided cartridges are pretty much out of the question for me, it would be nice to roll out straight tubes and simply cut off the lengths though.
Two of the most common objections i've read to cartridges is that they are finicky to make, and require too much time, so might as well load loose.
It's a valid point i suppose, though toting along all the makings to loose-load isn't always convenient. Both your posts show methods of cartridge making that appear to be quite practical, thanks for posting them.
Before reading this thread, i used to pan lube my conicals, and then clean off the heel with acetone to get the damn things glued securely into the cartridge mouth, not always sucessfully. One of the participants in the thread described dip-lubing his assembled cartridges, which i had briefly considered, then rejected un-tried for fear it would contaminate the powder. I finally tried it after reading about the poster's experience, and found that dipping worked perfectly. I like a thread where i can learn something useful, no matter how long it takes to read!
 

wicket

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Exactly Tinker! I use 40 gram per square yard archival quality 100% rag paper, it makes perfect cartridges. Actually i don't use nitric acid because it's restricted. There's a viable work-around, but i think discussing it is a violation of the terms of service on this forum.
 

crockett

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I've actually used untreated newsprint which is three times thicker than cigarette paper and with a single layer over the back- 100% ignition. On the original Colt stuff- I have no idea how thick the cases were or the quality (soft or ridgid).
So, on the tapered aspect, simply made that way to make them easier to load?
 

wicket

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Crockett, tissue paper, which seems to be generally preferred for cartridge making, ranges from about 18 to 40 grams per square meter in terms of weight. Cigarette paper, tea bags, curling papers, and Kleenex are all tissue, though they vary in their other physical qualities based on intended use.
I don't know what weight paper was used for cartridges during the Civil War. Various inventors refer to nitrating whatever was used with mixed acids or with mixed acid/salt, but none claim to have invented the process.
So, they had the paper already and everybody knew how to make it, the issue was related to making it waterproof without decreasing combustibility or leaving a lot of fouling behind.
Contemporary black powder shooters face different challenges. Reliable ignition and complete combustion are the central issues, not whether the cartridges can be soaked in water for four hours before firing, or chewed on by the regimental goat and still be loaded into a revolver.
For pure simplicity, a cartridge base capped with a single layer of light tissue paper is the best guarantee of reliable ignition. Twisting or folding the paper may be faster to accomplish, but increasing the amount of paper between the flash hole and the powder invites misfires.
Expecting that the cartridge will rupture massively upon loading and dump loose powder conveniently into the bottom of the chamber is probably a forlorn hope.
 

sixgunner

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wicket said:
Pressed powder ignites instantly, so does nitrocellulose, i've fired both, trust me.Also, there's no comparison between a pan full of powder and a cap containing mercury fulminate. If you set powder off on a piece of paper, it blows upward with a poof. Mercury fulminate blows a hole down through the paper, trust me on that too. Seamless skin cartridges were also tapered, and there were patents on ways to strengthen them by wrapping them with thread, not what you would expect of a cartridge meant to split during loading. Finally, there aren't any patents out of the hundred or so i've read from the period that mention designing a cartridge to split open in the chamber, if it was a consideration, somebody would have mentioned it.
Surely one of the main concerns with paper cartridges was (and is) making them less fragile.
Yet, we don't know for sure. Yours seems to me a very solid argument, still, we don't know for fact. We have to go by hypothesis and deduction.
There are many cases where what seemed trivial and common knowledge wasn't mentioned (particularly in a patent where one is supposed to mention what's not usual...), only to be lost.
A fulminate cap surely can go through onion skin paper. But if we have several layers? Compacted paper is quite resistant to fire...
I myself believe the blast from a cap can pierce even many layers of paper, but then how do you explain the misfires which many shooters seem to experience with paper cartridges (and only with paper cartridges)?
 

wicket

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Interesting post, Sixgunner. One thought worth considering is that period cartridges employed a mercury fulminate cap which may have been more powerful than the lead styphnate based cap of today. Modern caps are designed to fire loose black powder, and it may be that the manufacturers use just enough primer to accomplish that purpose. According to A Practical Treatise On The Fabrication Of Matches, Gun Cotton, Colored Fires And Fulminating Powders by H. Dussance, the copper formerly used in caps was around 12 mil, modern caps are around 5 mil, yet both modern and old examples blow out into about the same flat four petal configuration.
It's more likely though that the problem with modern paper revolver cartridges is simply poor design involving improper materials. The results speak for themselves. Notice that nobody sticks with paper revolver cartridges for long. No matter how functional they claim their products to be, they all return to loading loose powder eventually.
 

crockett

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Sixgunner: remember that the Colt used linen type paper (to the best of my knowledge) but D.C. Sage used treated fish gut that would "crisp" upon being fired, and as stated previously, a couple of manufacturers used a solid type powder attached to the conical with no case- so lots of variety.
I should have kept the source, maybe someone has a definite, but I was told that if you mike the flash hole on the military Colts (Probably all Revolvers) it is slightly larger- letting in more blast from the cap. The military caps might have been more powerful. I think even today the military cartridges have a stronger primer than commercial, sporting primers.
The other issue I'm not sure about is the original cases. Some times if you look at the cartridge case collecting sites on the net some of the old cartridges were broken, the "packet" didn't protect them. What I am trying to say is our modern cigarette paper is soft and pliable, I don't know if the originals were soft or rigid. Did they break from age or was the case solid and got knocked around and broken? I don't know.
 

wicket

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Animal gut cartridges don't age well from what i've heard. NC paper also has a tendency to degrade as a consequence of how it's manufactured. I'd be curious to see the Ordnance specifications regarding cartridges since it appears that efforts were being made by the inventors and manufacturers to achieve some level of durability, at least in the short term.
I make pistol caps from 10 mil copper, and with a .6 grain primer charge they don't blow fully open, though i've yet to have one fail to fire the cartridges i use despite their apparent lower power.
 

crockett

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I'm operating from memory here, would have to look through my files to be sure, but I think the 4 hour soak, I read that in one of Terry White's articles.
 

wicket

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Whether the cartridges shooters make these days are waterproof or not isn't a major consideration. Strength is a consideration though, since a flimsy case is difficult to fill and likely to deform excessively or tear during loading. Obviously the trade-off is between a heavier case that's easier to make and load but leaves residue, and a more delicate one with its associated drawbacks but which burns more cleanly. The same issue existed back in the day, which is why gut cartridges were wrapped with thread, and Colt foil cartridges wrapped individually in paper cylinders with a pull tab.
 

CoSnipe

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I haven't seen it posted here but when I do paper cartridges,I wrap them with zig zags tapered slightly and glued over. To aid in ignition I push a thumb tack in the end of each one and wrap them in a Baggie. Pop the tack out before loading and no ignition problems. Tacks are cheap,and usually not long enough to stab you in the foot if stepped on. Food for thought.
 

Bear Rider

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Interesting, although tacky idea. :grin:

I might try sticking the tacks through a strip of ribbon, then bundling them together in a foil packet. Open the packet, pull the tape, and you're ready to load. The foil, tape, and tacks can be reused.
 

wicket

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The tack idea is pretty good for shooters who find it easier to make cartridges that require pricking after they're loaded. If you carried your cartridges in a drilled wooden packet, you could just glue a tack in the bottom of each cell to puncture and at the same time seal each cartridge.
 

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