Seized actions on Revolutionary War era military muskets

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by dogfood, May 22, 2019.

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  1. May 25, 2019 #21

    dogfood

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    Dave-
    I'll have to take a closer look next time I'm in that particular part of the department and get back to you. Most of my time is spent researching/cataloging more obscure items in the collection.
    It's the Rhode Island Historical Society.
    -Ken
     
  2. May 25, 2019 #22

    Artificer

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    Nick,
    Just the opposite was true in the period for British Soldiers.

    From Cuthbertson's System for the Complete Interior Management and Oeconomy of a Battalion of Infantry, 1768

    “Page 91,
    VII.


    Every Soldier (and in a very particular manner a Recruit) should be instructed by the Serjeant or Corporal of the squad of Inspection he belongs to, in the proper methods of cleaning a firelock, how to take the lock asunder, and how to join the several parts again, making him perfectly acquainted with the name and use of each; that nothing may ever be out of order, through his unskillfulness or ignorance.

    VIII.
    It should be insisted on, that a Soldier at all times keeps his arms in such a state of perfection, as never to be ashamed to shew them: by having the inside of the lock well oiled,


    Page 93
    XII
    It is absolutely necessary, that every Soldier be furnished with a Worm and Turn-Key, else it should be impossible to clean the inside of his barrel of his Firelock, in the manner which ought to be expected, or to manage the Screws about the Lock, without having recourse to his bayonet; a practice that must be forbidden, otherwise, the edges will always be full of notches, and by that means have a most unsightly appearance….. “


    (though the above is a little confusing, Cuthbertson means using a bayonet to loosen/tighten the side lock screws of the lock will bugger up the screw slots)

    https://books.google.com/books?id=1SxEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA89&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

    There are further quotes about the daily practice of removing, cleaning and oiling the lock and replacing it in stock in Dr. Bailey's works, in "A soldier like way," and other sources. The only time they were excused from this practice was preparation for or during battle.

    However, full disassembly and reassembly of the Lock was only allowed by Serjeants and Artificers/Armorers.

    Gus
     
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  3. May 25, 2019 #23

    PluggedNickel

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    Very interesting, and believable. And as time passed by, efforts were made to improve and "Bubba Proof" military firearms as much as possible. KISS theory. Keep it simple stupid, OR stupid will find a way to bugger it up! LOL I'd love to read a book written by one of those old time Artificers/Armorers with stories of weapons modified to keep the troops from finding a way to bugger them up, or worse killing themselves with them. One story has it that the Colt Walker's reputation for being able to kill a horse with one shot, comes from a report an errant trooper/ranger had a negligent discharge while mounted on his horse, and sure nuff, killed that critter deader than dead with one shot!
    I'll bet the ole Sargent had a boot up that ranger's ass!
     
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  4. May 25, 2019 #24

    FlinterNick

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    Great info Gus !

    It seems the British and French were similar in cleaning their musket orders.

    The French of course developed muskets with barrel bands however were still not permitted to remove them for cleaning or repairs, only artificers could or troops denoted as arms engineers.

    The turnkey or multi tool is a great field addition, I often see oil bottles made of horn parts and copper on various reilactor websites, I've always wondered what oils were used, likely whale.

    I would think with older muskets the hardest part to keep clean was the pan and frizzen joints. Those areas would foul up fast, I could picture a soldier picking it in the field.

    I'll have to get to Dr. Baily's books, his work is remarkable.
     
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  5. May 25, 2019 #25

    FlinterNick

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    Hey Gus I found this, I thought you might find it interesting. I've actually seen this musket at the Williamsburg collection. As the write explains the Americanization of British muskets really sets into motion that almost any pre revolutionary war musket made of parts can be used for Revolutionary War Rein-acting.

    On the few 1740's I've seen with steel ramrods, it seems that the ramrod was 'oversized' to compensation for the larger diameter pipes and rod channel. I would think this would make the musket extra heavy by about 1 lb.

    http://emuseum.history.org/media/vi...ate:flow=1d5cc419-afda-448b-bf4e-4ae30399a5ce
     
  6. May 25, 2019 #26

    dogfood

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    Wowee!
    This thread is wonderfully informative. Thanks everyone for your input. I just recently joined a state-chartered reenactment unit (the Pawtuxet Rangers of Rhode Island) and will soon be buying my first musket. With the information provided upthread, I feel more confident in my abilities to maintain the firelock (we use short land Brown Besses). Now the only question that remains is where to get it from.
    Thanks again everyone,
    Ken
     
  7. May 25, 2019 #27

    dave_person

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    Hi Ken,
    You'll want to get to know Joe Puleo who lives in RI. He authored papers on the Ketland family of gunmakers who exported much to America, and he is an expert on Rev War and New England guns. Another resource for you is Richard Colton who lives in Turners Falls, MA. Richard was the staff historian at the NPS Springfield Armory in MA. He probably knows more about NE firearms than anyone alive today.

    dave
     
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  8. May 25, 2019 #28

    dogfood

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    Dave,
    I am most assuredly going to take up those leads. Do you know of either gentleman has an online presence?
    Gratefully yours,
    Ken
     
  9. May 26, 2019 #29

    Artificer

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    LOL!!

    I served a 26 year career as a regular Small Arms Armorer, then a NM Armorer, then as an Ordnance Chief and twice as an Ordnance Officer. I worked the NSSA Spring and Fall Nationals doing trigger jobs and gunsmithing for over half the years between 1974-2005 and twice as the Team Armourer for the U.S. International Muzzle Loading Team, including two World Championships. I was also the "Unit Artificer/Armorer" for UnCivil War and AWI periods.

    Two common questions Artificers/Armorers come up with are: "You did WHAT ?!!" and "WHY did you do that ?!!"

    Your idea sounds like an interesting idea for a fun thread.

    Gus
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
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  10. May 26, 2019 #30

    Artificer

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    QUOTE="FlinterNick, post: 1570000, member: 32271"]

    The turnkey or multi tool is a great field addition, I often see oil bottles made of horn parts and copper on various reilactor websites, I've always wondered what oils were used, likely whale.
    [/QUOTE]

    Nick,

    Most period documentation on the 18th century British Army shows they preferred Olive Oil over most other oils, though flax seed oil was sometimes mentioned. I imagine this because the English did not have a huge whaling tradition and had to import that oil, though English clock makers also liked whale oil.

    Hunting in England was pretty much done only by the wealthy, so the only way they had to get animal fat to render into greases and oils was from the butcher shops. Yet, the British Army tended not to use animal oils, probably due to the fact they went rancid.

    American gunsmiths, artificers and clock makers preferred whale oil when they could obtain it, as it is a superior oil for moving parts, but they also used Olive Oil and flax seed oil. Actually, any kind of "sweet oil" as they wrote it and meaning a plant/vegetable base oil was used when what they preferred was not available.

    Since there was also a much larger hunting tradition in America, animal fat was also rendered into greases and oils and used here.

    Gus
     
  11. May 26, 2019 #31

    Artificer

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    Nick,

    When I first approached The Major's Coy, the 42nd RHR reenactment unit to join, I was HIGHLY impressed by the fact they had just finished a blank firing demonstration and first thing back at camp was they took the locks off their muskets and cleaned/oiled the outside of their barrels and locks. Some even cleaned the inside of their barrels. It is surprising how fast you can clean at least the outside of the barrels and the locks in camp by using a damp rag, then a clean rag, then a slightly oily rag - if you don't allow the black powder residue to stay on the musket/gun too long. I imagine the British and British American Soldiers did the same thing in the period when they could.

    After a battle, they also cleaned their muskets as quickly as possible for the same reasons. I ran across one period documentation after the battle and they were excused to their tents, where one Soldier in the squad of 8 soldiers began cooking supper for his squad while the others cleaned their muskets and helped clean the cook's musket. Of course that was really necessary when the barrels and locks were left "bright."

    Gus
     
  12. May 26, 2019 #32

    Artificer

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    Nick,

    The common way the British Army converted Wood Rammer Muskets to Iron/Steel Rammer Muskets was by using brass tubes soldered into the Rammer Pipes to better fit the smaller diameter Steel Rammers and a Spoon Shaped Spring that was attached inside the Entry Pipe by a rivet. Looking at the size of the Rammer Pipes in the link you provided, I would bet that is how that musket was converted.

    BTW, we have some original Artificers' Repair Parts lists sent here during the FIW that list the parts to do this conversion and of course the Iron/Steel Rammers as well.

    In the Books "The Brown Bess," "A Soldier Like Way" and "Of Sorts for Provincials," they show pictures of these parts. The last two books also have period documentation on the problems encountered with the convernsion. Basically, the Spoon shaped Springs lost tension, or broke or the rivets did not securely hold the Iron/Steel Rammers in place. The early Iron/Steel Rammers were not made of a good steel alloy and/or were not properly hardened/annealed and thus bent too much to return through the Rammer Pipes.

    Bailey accredits the Birmingham Gunsmith William Grice as coming up with a way to correctly make/harden/anneal the Steel Rammers, but that was not until after the British Army switched to all Steel Rammers with the P 1756 Series Arms.

    Gus
     
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  13. May 26, 2019 #33

    PluggedNickel

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    Thanks for your service, and have a great Memorial weekend! Same to all the veterans reading!
     
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  14. May 26, 2019 #34

    Artificer

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  15. May 26, 2019 #35

    Artificer

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    Thank you for the kind words. We all owe a great debt to those who gave their lives for our country.

    Gus
     
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  16. May 26, 2019 #36

    PluggedNickel

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    Great heads up Gus! I use it on just about anything I value, hand tools, guns, machine tools, Jeep, wood cases, brass/metal accoutrements! Great stuff, does not attract dust either. Not the cheapest wax maybe, but the best IMHO anyway! Every time I get it out to wax something, I find something else I can wax as well! It doesn’t give a high gloss polish, more of a semi-gloss sheen! Perfect for gunstocks, it won’t yellow with age.
    Amazon.com carries it to.
     
  17. May 26, 2019 #37

    FlinterNick

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    I've read about the sleeved pipes, and that actually works well. The earlier Steel Rammers were not high quality,

    wow riveting a spoon shaped spring to the inside of the entry pipe, that must have been a small spring, I doubt that worked very well as you pointed out. I know that the French muskets used a spoon shaped spring that was pinned to a barrel lug and the barrel channel breech area was cut out to accept it, this worked well, 30-50 years later they were just pinning the springs directly to the stock, many third model Brown Bess's were reworded this way in the event the rod was not tightly fit. On my miruko Charleville I added a rod spring and used the barrel spring pin as an anchor point.

    I've seen some repro conversions from the TOW repro Wilets musket, the sleeved pipes I've seen but no spring. I've only seen one repro that was actually set up as a 1750 musket with a steel rammer and it was drilled for a .235 steel rod, not very period correct.
     
  18. May 26, 2019 #38

    Artificer

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    The stem of that spring was rather small and only having one rivet meant it was going to loosen us fairly fast since they pulled and returned the rammers so much. I'm not surprised they didn't use a small screw instead of a rivet as their technology meant that would have been very expensive. Still, a wider stem to the spring and using two screws would have worked much better.

    Yes, the larger Rammer Return Springs pinned to stock were a definite improvement decades later.

    Gus
     
  19. May 26, 2019 #39

    Artificer

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    Ken,

    Since I don't know what you do or don't know about lock maintenance on antique arms, I hope you will indulge me to suggest a warning NOT to use wedges to pry the cock (period name for the hammer) loose, unless as a serious last resort. The reply above by Pluggednickel reminded me of an instance one of our members in The Major's Coy did and that's why I mention it.

    This member was a retired Army LtCol and we got along famously. He called me prior to our second time at the Colonial Williamsburg event "Under the Red Coat" and asked if I could help him get the lock off his Bess. I said sure and we agreed to meet an hour earlier than we had planned, so I could do it for him with my modern tools at the CW parking lot.

    When he arrived, he pulled out his Brown Bess and the cock was missing from the lock. I looked at him and asked what happened? He explained in the UnCivil War reenactment unit he had belonged to prior to joining The Major's Coy, they did it all the time to thoroughly clean the percussion hammers on their Rifle Muskets. I stared at him with my jaw dropped for a few seconds, then attempted to get the lock out. Took me a couple of minutes to figure out the tumbler was all the way forward, so I wrapped the tumbler square in leather and grabbed it with pliers to pull it back to half cock. Then it was easy to get the lock out.

    As I'm sitting there disassembling his lock, I asked for the Cock and he gave it to me. Sure enough it was loose on the Tumbler Square, which it is not supposed to be. I did not have sheet steel or brass with me, so I had to peen the outer edges of the square hole on the cock to tighten it back up. Before I drove the Cock back onto the tumbler, I cleaned the area that is hard to clean because it is over the lock, then I lightly oiled it and wiped it dry. Then I spread a little RIG grease on that area and wiped it dry as I could again. Then I drove the hammer back onto the tumbler with the tumbler in place in the lock plate and reassembled the lock parts and reassembled it to the stock. Fortunately, there was no other damage to the parts and the lock worked perfectly.

    Then as I handed him the Bess back, I informed him whoever had told him to pry hammers off a percussion lock for normal cleaning was absolutely wrong and forbade him from ever doing it again, except if there was a problem that required full disassembly of the lock. Since we fired so many blank rounds, I did inform him that if so much black powder residue built up under the cock, we would partially disassemble the lock in camp, soak the lock plate/tumbler/cock in boiling water with a little dishwashing soap in it for 5-10 minutes, pull it out and let the heat dry the parts, then oil the parts liberally and then dry most of the oil off and reassemble the lock. I won't write what I said about the idiot who told him to pry the hammer off his percussion lock all the time. :eek::rolleyes::D

    Gus
     
  20. May 26, 2019 #40

    45man

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    If you don't have Kroil, Mix 50-50 ATF and acetone.
     

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