Stuck ball, now with drill bit

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Flinty Scot

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Waiting for the borescope is a good 1st stop.
There's little point in guessing what's happened/ing with the drill bit and the bore/rifling.
Trying any of the tried and true ways to free a stuck ball, without knowing exactly what you are up against, is courting damage (expensive) to the bore/rifling.
Before doing anything else, I'd clean and lube the bore above the ball. It should make whatever removal technique work easier.

IF the ball is cocked, with the drill bit wedged into the rifling, the 1st task is the get it centered in the bore again.
The .54 bore should give a bit of manipulation space - hopefully around the bore scope, so you won't be working blind.
You may be able to bend a hook or twist in the end of a thin rod, to catch the drill shank & maneuver it as you push on the ball w/ another straight rod. (Just like building a ship in a - very long, thin bottle,)

IF you can get the drill shank centered, then you can try to slip a protective tube over it, to keep it centered, as you push the ball out.

Slow, steady and controlled makes sense to me. That means pushing it out - slowly- on a column of grease.

Once the ball/bore gouge is safely out, I suggest you mount it on a trophy board, as a reminder to pause, consider - and repeat- before tackling such a project again.

Inspect the bore closely for damage (you'll have the scope for that)..

1. Get a good ball screw, for .54 - with a centering collar to keep it centered on the next stuck ball. (There WILL be another; likely several.)
2. If you don't have one, get a strong range rod (which fits the screw) for this kind of problem.
3. Might as well get a patch worm, if you don't have one. You'll need that too.

Relax. Swear never to do anything like this again. Realize that you probably will - we all do. Relax again.
Shoot you Hawken & have fun!
 

Boomerang

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Never. Also never had a lead ball stuck and drilled a hole through it. But figure a direct application of high heat to the lead is better than heating the whole barrel. Use of a zerk and pressure is, to me, the preferred method. But first he must restore the pressure integrity of the bullet in order to go that route. Hence my plan.
How is he suppose to get the hot rod against the ball to melt it if he has a drill bit sticking out of it?
 

Scota@4570

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I still have no idea what a drill bit was supposed to accomplish, the bore is probably ruined already.

Now that the drill bit is in there, moving it will further maul the bore.

This is getting unnecessarily confusing for the OP. Assuming it is unloaded I would melt the ball by heating the barrel. I have melted out a bore filled with lead and did not mess up the barrel (M1873 fencing musket) . Position the barrel muzzle down, use a propane torch, when the lead melts it will drip out.
 

Grenadier1758

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The drill bit is to provide an opening through the bullet so that the threaded ball puller will easily enter the ball and not expand it deeper into the grooves. There should be a disk to center the drill and the threaded puller in the bore.
 

Scota@4570

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It seems we are over thinking a simple tool.

The threaded ball pullers I purchased from Track are very pointy and have a brass pilot. No predrilling is necessary or desirable. It does not matter if the ball expands, it will, is need to be tight on the threads, it is OK.

I thread the puller on a steel T-handle rod. I drop the puller and rod on to the ball with moderate force to start it. I then threads it into the ball. I pull the ball by hooking the t-handle on a bench top and give it a few whacks with a the rifle being used as a slide hammer. Once the ball moves it can be pulled by hand.
 

shorthair

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Yep, there's the easy way and the hard way.

Was shooting muzzleloaders with other folks when a man who was not in our party dry balled. We all recommended removing the nipple and working some powder into the flash channel and under the nipple, re-installing the nipple and shooting the ball out.

Nope, the guy got out his ramrod and ball puller and broke the ramrod off inside the barrel. He took the nice rifle to a local "gunsmith" who used a grease gun to remove the ball. The "gunsmith" buggered the nipple threads: The nipple blew out the next time the rifle was fired.

This is the same "gunsmith" who removed the magazine tube on a friends high grade model 12 Winchester shotgun with a pipe wrench.
Pipe wrench on my model 12's might be one of the fastest ways to get seriously hurt.
 

beardedhorse

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I would not try to shoot a ball out of the barrel unless it is firmly seated on top of the powder. That is shooting with an obstruction in the barrel. Never a good idea. If you use a light charge of powder and upon firing it only pushes the ball part way up the barrel (checked by putting a ramrod in bore and measuring how deep it goes) add more powder and reseat the ball over the heavier charge. Grease gun and air compressor with zerk fitting can work when CO 2 cartridge ball discharger doesn't work. Don't bulge the barrel by shooting load of powder without the ball seated on top. They make special coarse and aggressive threaded (wood screw like ) ball pullers that screw into a brass or steel work rod. Center the rod and jag with a bore protector in the muzzle. If the patched ball was dry balled (no powder), pouring water to lube the patch will ease the pulling with a proper jag. Improperly designed jags can expand the stuck ball making the pulling difficult or fail with the ball left with. big hole in the front. Then you might not be able to use or find a larger diameter threaded ball puller. I would not heat my rifle barrel hot enough to melt the lead.
 

Britsmoothy

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I would not try to shoot a ball out of the barrel unless it is firmly seated on top of the powder. That is shooting with an obstruction in the barrel. Never a good idea. If you use a light charge of powder and upon firing it only pushes the ball part way up the barrel (checked by putting a ramrod in bore and measuring how deep it goes) add more powder and reseat the ball over the heavier charge. Grease gun and air compressor with zerk fitting can work when CO 2 cartridge ball discharger doesn't work. Don't bulge the barrel by shooting load of powder without the ball seated on top. They make special coarse and aggressive threaded (wood screw like ) ball pullers that screw into a brass or steel work rod. Center the rod and jag with a bore protector in the muzzle. If the patched ball was dry balled (no powder), pouring water to lube the patch will ease the pulling with a proper jag. Improperly designed jags can expand the stuck ball making the pulling difficult or fail with the ball left with. big hole in the front. Then you might not be able to use or find a larger diameter threaded ball puller. I would not heat my rifle barrel hot enough to melt the lead.
Generally you are correct but just a light charge of 10gns will not achieve a dangerous level of pressure. It will however make for a sufficient volume of gas rapidly enough to dislodge the stubborn ball.
 

flntlokr

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Hi,

I have a problem with my Pedersoli Rocky Mountain Hawken 54 cal.

A ball got stuck, so I glued a drill bit to the end of a wooden dowel, slid the dowel down the barrel and screwed the bit into the ball; this has worked perfectly other times. However, this time the glue didn’t hold, and I ended up pulling out an empty stick, and the ball, now with drill bit, still stuck in the barrel.

After reading on this forum, I then used the Universal Unloader from DGW. The ball moved about 6 in forward and stopped. Apparently the drill bit dug into the inside of the barrel.

I’ve been trying to take the breech plug apart, but no luck. Doesn’t seem to move.

Checked with Pedersoli. New barrel is $740+.
  1. Any ideas on how to remove the breech plug? Maybe they aren’t meant be taken apart.
  2. Any ideas on what to do next to remove? I've seen some suggestions re: melting the lead, but wouldn't it end up coating the barrel?
  3. Haven't had success in finding an alternative replacement barrel. Any suggestions on who to check with?
  4. Any recommendations re: gunsmith for this?
Thank you for any suggestions.
What the hell were you thinking to stick a hardened drill bit down there? Now, that's off my mind. Use powder (shoot it out with about 5-10 gr of powdeer down the nipple hole) or compressed air to push the ball out, but if it has a hole through it, that won't work. You can remove the barrel and heat it over a flame to melt the lead (A camp stove will do it; heat just enough to melt the lead, and let it air cool after the lead is out). The lead wiil not stick inside the barrel. Maybe, if you are lucky, the drill will not have gouged your barrel while you were fooling around. Examine it closely for damage; if it isn't gouged, you are good to go.
Air extractor5.JPG
Invest in a CO2 ball discharger , or make an adaptor as in my pic; either will save you a lot of trouble. In your case, thread the small end to match whatever thread Pedersoli uses.
 

Grenadier1758

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The use of a bigger hammer is sometimes advisable when removing a breech plug and you have a properly fitting breech plug tool. However without knowing the status or position of the drill bit in the barrel getting out the hammer is not yet advised.
 

smoothshooter

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These are all excellent ideas. I think my next step is to get a bore scope and see what the situation is with that drill bit.

Not too sure if the grease gun method would work, as I don't think the ball is 'sealing' the barrel anymore. The first time I used a CO2 cartridge, the ball moved 6" and stopped. Tried using CO2 a few more times; air went right past the ball.
As you know now, glueing a drill bit or a puller to the end of a rod to pull a ball is a terrible idea. I really am surprised it ever worked at all.
When you order the proper threaded rod attachment with a drill bit, e sure and get the one that has the brass collar of the proper bore diameter so the bit stays centered while the hole is being drilled.
When you get the ball out, if the bore is damaged, sent it to Bobby Hoyt up in PA.
He will reline it or recut the rifling for MUCH less than a replacement barrel will cost you, and it will shoot at least as well as a factory barrel.

“ Now, go forth and sin no more “.
 

Big Ugly

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While I have read much of this thread, but not all, several have suggested heating the barrel, or other methods to melt the lead. There is some doubt whether or not there is any powder in the barrel. With this in mind, I would highly recommend against these types of removal. From what a brief search tells me, bp will combust around 450*. If you were able to start melting the ball, wouldn't you possibly ignite the powder? Is it safe to even risk it? Go for the CO2 or grease gun methods.
 

Zonie

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While I have read much of this thread, but not all, several have suggested heating the barrel, or other methods to melt the lead. There is some doubt whether or not there is any powder in the barrel. With this in mind, I would highly recommend against these types of removal. From what a brief search tells me, bp will combust around 450*. If you were able to start melting the ball, wouldn't you possibly ignite the powder? Is it safe to even risk it? Go for the CO2 or grease gun methods.
IMO, yes, there is a good chance of black powder igniting if the gun was loaded when the barrel was heated hot enough to melt lead.
Not only that but because of the increased temperature of the barrel, the steel is weaker than it is at room temperature. One steel I just happen to have data on looses 38% of its yield strength when it's heated to 800°F.
If that happens and the powder ignites it could cause the barrel to blow up.
 

Tom511

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OP here.
The borescope is fantastic! (Teslong Rifle Borescope, flexible, $46 on Amazon).

The Good: The drill bit is not hitting the bore.

The Bad: There is a hole is the ball, so air, grease, shooting out will likely not work. (Verified several weeks ago; tried CO2 a few times. First time, ball moved a bit; second time, air just shot out of the muzzle.)

More info:
  • Dry ball, no powder and have not added any
  • Drill bit is 1/8” about 3” long. In making this homemade ball puller, I drilled a hole to a depth of 1½” into the end of the dowel, added glue and inserted the drill bit. Used it once or twice, worked fine, but likely the glue weakened with each use, resulting in major fail this time.
  • Barrel is 36” long, rod goes in 30”.
Close-up of drill bit:
1615780536496.png

I backed up a bit to get an ‘overall’ view. I didn’t try pushing the camera down past the drill bit and risk having the camera get caught.
1615780618930.png


Have not yet decided on next steps.
Breech block is extraordinarily tight. Seems impossible to move.
Would like to get something that grabs onto the end of the drill bit to pull it out.
Very thankful for all the great ideas.
 

SDSmlf

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The borescope is a wonderful item to have in your toolbox.

Not suggesting the following, just asking a few questions. Do you think you could push the drill through the ball to the point that it is past the flutes and the solid shank is in the hole? Might seal the hole sufficiently to allow CO2 to push ball out? Or is there enough room below the ball to push the drill through the ball so you could get a ball puller onto the hole to pull the ball, or plug the hole enough with a screw to allow CO2 to push the ball out? Have seen screw (from ball puller) plug the hole in a ball sufficiently to allow grease to push the ball out.

Thought for grabbing the drill, though I don’t have a lot of confidence it would work. Do you think you could get the drill shank back in the hole in your dowel? If there was epoxy in the hole would it grip the drill sufficiently enough to allow you to pull the drill out??

Again, not suggesting you try above at this point, just brainstorming ideas.
 
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