Rehardened My Frizzen

Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by Loyalist Dave, May 19, 2019.

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  1. May 19, 2019 #1

    Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave

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    I fired up the concrete forge, with some hardwood charcoal, and following the directions on my can of Kasenit.... which I horded when the stuff was going to be discontinued..., I re-hardened my frizzen on my Loyalist Arms Serjeant's Carbine. Sparks good now. :D

    LD
     
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  2. May 20, 2019 #2

    Col. Batguano

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    You tempered it after hardening didn't you?
     
  3. May 20, 2019 #3

    Zonie

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    IMO, it's always a good idea to temper the frizzen a bit but not too much. Perhaps at something like 450°F to remove the brittleness of a fully hardened piece of steel.

    If the frizzen is made out of a low carbon steel casting it would need the case hardening to work like it should but tempering wouldn't be required because the core of the material would still be soft low carbon steel.

    Then, a lot of frizzens today are made from alloy steels that harden all the way thru when they are quenched. These don't need the case hardening but they must be tempered or they will break.

    In either case, tempering the hardened frizzen can't hurt anything as long as they are not heated over 800°F. (That, IMO would soften them too much for use as a frizzen.)
     
  4. May 20, 2019 #4

    Stony Broke

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    I had a friend that owned a TC flinter and couldn't get it to spark good, so he bought a new frizzen. Just out of curiosity, I took an old file and contoured it to match the old frizzen, and just soft soldered it to the frizzen. I didn't harden or temper anything...other than a little heat that it took to solder it on. It sparks better than the new one he bought !
     
  5. May 20, 2019 #5

    rrebuck

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    I was having trouble with the frizzen on my Lyman Great Plains not sparking when I used to shoot in a league. I was told that it was surface hardened and I'd worn through that surface. At the yearly championships, a shooter from another town was there and he had a shop in Fairmont, WV and said he'd weld/solder on a piece of spring steel for under $25 and it's been working fine since then. This was 15 yrs ago.
     
  6. May 20, 2019 #6

    Rifleman1776

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    What would you recommend for a ca. 1970 Navy Arms/Pedersoli Brown Bess? Like LD I have a can of original Kasenit but don't know how to judge temps. I can heat with propane torch or MAPP or a mix of both. Should I quench in oil or water?
     
  7. May 20, 2019 #7

    Zonie

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    The first thing I would do is to check the existing frizzen for hardness. If a good metal cutting flat file won't cut into the surface, it is already hard enough.
    By "cut into", I mean actually remove metal chips. Even with a hard frizzen a file will leave a mark that looks like it was polished.

    With a small part like a frizzen, a Propane or MAPP torch will be fine. These usually won't work with larger parts like a lock plate.

    Kasenit, which is no longer sold, requires the steel to be heated to over 1450°F for it to penetrate the surface. This is a bright, red-orange color.
    The part must be held at this temperature for quite a while for the carbon to penetrate the steel surface. While holding it at this temperature the Kasenit will melt and slightly burn off so I think it is a good idea to plunge the red hot part into the Kasenit several times to provide as much of it as possible on the part.
    Continue to keep the part in the red-orange condition for at least 5 minutes. (Longer is better.)
    Even a 5 minute soak will only produce a very thin coating of high carbon steel**.

    When it has "soaked" long enough, drop the still red hot part into some light weight (thin) oil. It is best to have this oil heated to around 110°F before the part is dropped in.
    There will be a loud "POP" sound as the melted Kasenit hardens and pops off of the steel surface and some oil may be splashed out of the container.

    As I say, Kasenit is no longer available. That's because a bunch of people who don't know when to be afraid found out that this is actually a cyanide process and the presence of cyanide scared them. Actually, the cyanide is locked into a compound that can't hurt you so none of it is ever released. I don't recommend eating it though.

    Another product has replaced Kasenit, called Cherry Red. It is used the same and gives the same results. It also takes a long time to penetrate the surface of the steel deep enough to be worth the trouble.

    ** When carburizing gear teeth for jet engine gearboxes the parts are often "soaked" for over 1/2 hour. Even with this much time, the case depth is often not deeper than .020-.030 of an inch.

    For people who are scared of Cherry Red, here is a link to its Material Data Safety Sheet.

    http://www1.mscdirect.com/MSDS/MSDS00026/77470417-20110713.PDF
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  8. May 20, 2019 #8

    Col. Batguano

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    You should use oil for quenching. Heat it up first though. use something like salad oil heated pretty hot in a coffee cup in your microwave. You want it cooling down to an initial temp like 100F-200F quickly and then rather slowly rather than something like an an immediate quench from 1450F in to a dunk in ice water. That may cause it to shatter. There are others here with better knowledge of the correct process than me though.
     
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  9. May 21, 2019 #9

    Rifleman1776

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    Thanks for the info. The frizzen gave good sparking service for decades then stopped. I suspect I finally wore through the face hardening. Will follow your instructions when I get around to refurbishing the ole BB.
     
  10. May 21, 2019 #10

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    To properly harden a modern cast frizzen, which is likely 1095 steel, heat to bright red and quench in warm canola or quenching oil. Mine is usually about 130 degrees. Then temper the frizzen at 375 degrees for 1 hour and let cool slowly. Finally, it is usually best to heat the toe and pivot arm to blue with a propane torch. When casehardening, I pack the frizzen in a mix of bone and wood charcoal in a metal box with lid. I heat that to 1550 degrees and hold it there for at least 90 minutes then quench in room temperature water. Some quench in brine but I've had no problems with the pack quenched in water. I then temper as I described previously. If the frizzen was made of mild steel or actual wrought iron, tempering may not be required. I caseharden all of my frizzens regardless of their alloy because it always gives me superior performance. I casehardening, time and temp are critical to the depth of the case. Hardening compounds like Kasenit applied the way most folks do it doesn't give a very deep case.

    dave
     
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  11. May 21, 2019 #11

    QuinnTheEskimo

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    Maybe this is a dumb question, but can you do all this heating and soaking in an electric furnace or does it have to be done in a forge or something ?
     
  12. May 22, 2019 #12

    Loyalist Dave

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    Nope..., and here's why..., I have access to a master lock maker. I know the color of good steel when it's being turned into a proper frizzen, as he taught me. The problem is, it has to have the carbon in the steel for it to work. Not enough carbon, it simply won't get hardened enough.

    The directions on the Kasenit are to heat the steel to bright red/orange and the label says 1650 degrees. Then you apply the Kasenit, and you leave it as it bubbles. Then you water quench the steel. Then repeat the process. I actually did mine a bit darker, closer to 1500 degrees.

    With a good frizzen the color is yellow, so the heat is getting up near 2000 degrees, and is then quenched in a specific quenching oil. No Kasenit needed, and then tempered in an oven. One can test a good frizzen after quenching and before tempering as a file won't bit into the steel. (don't use a treasured file when you do the test) My India frizzen probably doesn't have enough steel in it for tempering to matter.

    As far as a TC, Lyman, or a Miroku frizzen, the steel is probably much better, so I'd heat it hotter, and definitely temper the piece after quenching.

    LD
     
  13. May 22, 2019 #13

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    I use an electric furnace that has a programmable controller. A forge also works.

    dave
     
  14. May 22, 2019 #14

    zimmerstutzen

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    I have epoxied a piece of old clock spring to a TC frizzen. Swapped the gun to my bother a couple years later and he has been hunting with it for 30 years now. Always sparks.
     
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  15. May 22, 2019 #15

    LRB

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    Old clock springs are 1095 steel, and do make very good frizzen faces.
     
  16. May 22, 2019 #16

    LRB

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    Fact. You heat steel up to a yellow heat, you will have extreme grain growth. Large grain = weak steel. Just saying. Hypereutectic steel, steel that has more than .80 carbon content, should never be taken much beyond 1475°for the hardening quench, or grain growth will begin.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  17. May 24, 2019 #17

    Artificer

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    I am certainly not any kind of expert on hardening steel, but I was taught to use a mineral oil and water mix as a "general" quenching media for small parts. The idea was there would be between 1/2 inch and an Inch of mineral oil floating on the surface of the water and that would not be as much of a shock to the metal when it passed through the oil and into the water. This was meant to keep the part from cracking instead of hitting plain water when it first entered the quenching liquid.

    Oh, I also use this in a somewhat tall, clear plastic container and then use a long pair of pliers to fish the part out after the quench. That way I can use it again and again before it finally gets too cloudy to see the part in the container.
    '
    I'm no mechanical engineer and cannot speak to any scientific reason why this works, but it always worked for me when case hardening frizzens, tumblers and sears.

    Gus
     
  18. May 24, 2019 #18

    Walkingeagle

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    I am the furthest thing from an expert, having only quenched anything once after forging a hammer for my flint to cap conversion on my gpr. I was told by my grandfather to quench in used motor oil. He was a blacksmith so I listened.
    Walk
     
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  19. May 25, 2019 #19

    LRB

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    Oil on water is OK enough on some 10XX steels, most other carbon steels need oil. For the best results, there are specific oil quench mediums for specific types of steel, but they are costly. In most cases the right oil negates the use of water at all. NO. Used motor oil is a very poor quench oil. New motor oil is hardly better. If you are not wanting to use a formulated quench oil, you can get by with using vege cooking oils, and for some steels, mineral oil. All of these oils do best if heated to around 125/130°f. Hot oil quenches better and faster than cold or ambient. 01 steel can be quenched well enough in mineral oil, and pretty good in ATF. 1095 needs a very fast cooling quench, and will do pretty well in canola oil. Tests have shown canola oil to be the fastest quench of all the vegetable oils. For 1095 strikers use warm brine. One common box of salt makes two gallons of brine. Brine quenching is paradoxical in cooling action. It cools faster than just water, but salt greatly reduces the chances of cracking the steel. Uneven cooling is the greatest cause of cracked steel in a so called water quench. Red hot steel going into water instantly forms a surrounding of the steel of a vapored steam, that prevents even contact of the water with the steel. Steel going into brine is instantly covered/coated by the salt. The salt prevents or reduces the vapor jacket/bubble around the steel object that plain water causes that prevents even contact with the water. As far as hardening a frizzen, the oil/water trick is obviously useful, but warmed canola oil would give you about the same hardness as the oil/water with even lesser risk of cracking. A triple reducing heat cycling would reduce the risk even more yet. 1st cycle at bright orange. Let cool to ambient. 2nd cycle at a red heat. Let cool to ambient. 3rd cycle at a low red and still non-magnetic. let cool to ambient. Your piece will now have a velvet smooth grain size and be stronger. Now you can do your hardening process and have a stronger frizzen. This heat cycling is especially beneficial for cast steel parts.
    For any of you using 1095 steel for knives, you have but two choices of oil quenches. Best choice, formulated commercial quench oil, such as Parks #50, or canola oil. For the adventurous, leave your edge a little thick and brine quench. Brine is the only quench that brings 1095 to it's maximum hardness. Temper as soon as you can handle it with bare hands.
     
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  20. May 25, 2019 #20

    LRB

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    Using a file to test hardness is about all most of us are going to be able to use, without access to a mechanical hardness tester, but the file can lie. Some times a steel does not completely harden, and yet a file skips right off of it, leaving not the slightest scratch. Being partially hardened it will be a structure of fine hard and soft spots only seen by magnification, or found by a real hardness tester. Think of the steel as a gob of play dough full of tiny hard pebbles. The file skips on the pebbles never touching the playdough. Even when a hardness tester is used, most often it is tried in at least three different places on the steel.
    In the case of a frizzen or striker, all that really counts is does it spark well. In cutlery, it can be the difference in edge holding ability. In moving parts, it can be the difference of longevity of the parts.
     
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