Suddenly started getting pan flash ?

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kyron4

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Still new to flintlocks, but I've had a couple range sessions with my traditions Kentucky rifle and things went well firing about 20 shots each time. Today I put a fresh flint in, an English flint from TOW. First few shots fired fine than began to get "flash in the pans". I picked touch hole after each shot and wiped pan, frizzen, and flint. I would keep picking and repriming pan till it fired which could take up to three trys. I even tried filling the pan full over the hole once and that didn't work. Then I started to get a few "click" with no flash. Flint looked pretty dull and beat up for only a few shots. Put a new flint in and next five shot fired as they should. What would has cause the low ignition rate ? Would a dull flint cause a pan flash ? Humidity was about 65% with a 10 mph cross wind, using 2F in pan if that matters. -Thanks
 
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Dull flint might clatch but it won’t effect flash/fire.
Check the size of the hole. Less then 1/16 will often cause flash in the pan.
Is it a patent breach? Sometimes they can flash.
You might try a plug in the hole while loading. A tooth pick works good for that, a quill was common in the old days
 
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I bought my very first black powder gun, a flintlock, just over a year ago so I don't pretend to be an expert. But I have shot my flintlocks a lot over that year and I've noticed a few things that worked for me. One of my guns is the Traditions Kentucky rifle so I'm familiar with what you're shooting.

In my mind when I pull the trigger and the gun does not fire, assuming it's been properly loaded, one of two things has occurred. Either the pan powder did not ignite, which I call a misfire, or the pan ignited but the main charge did not, which I consider a pan flash.

If the pan powder does not ignite it's pretty much always some problem with the flint or frizzen. I always wipe my thumb across the frizzen and flint (carefully as the flint should be sharp) to remove soot, just before bringing the hammer to full cock. On damp or humid days sometimes that's not enough and after every half dozen or so shots I'll wipe both flint and frizzen with an alcohol pad. If I can see that the flint is getting pretty blunt or if I still get a misfire after an alcohol wipe then the flint needs either knapped or replaced. If I can knap the edge then move the flint forward enough to close the gap between flint and frizzen (at half cock) to 1/8" or so the flint is still good, but if it's too short to move forward that much then it needs replaced. I'd say I average about 60 or so shots per flint before they have to be replaced, and they'll have been knapped probably twice by then. This can really vary though as I've had flints that were trash after 10 shots and others that were still good after 100.

Pan flashes are a completely different problem. I do not swab my barrel between shots and usually shoot 24-32 shots from one gun in a session. I always pick the touch hole before each shot, and have noticed that at first I can feel the powder with my pick, but as the shot count goes up sometimes I can't feel it, and that's about when pan flashes are likely to occur. Somewhere around 20 shots is where I usually notice an increase in pan flashes. I always use 4f in my pan and what I've been doing lately that seems to really cut down on pan flashes is to dump a very small quantity of powder into the pan, then tilt the rifle to the left allowing a little powder into the touch hole. Then I add more powder to just below level fill the pan and tap to even it out. Since I've been doing this I seldom get a flash in the pan.

At first I thought this method might give me the fuse effect and cause hang fires but that hasn't been an issue. I know there's a lot of debate about using a different size powder in the pan from the main charge, but I'm simply telling you what's worked for me. On all my .50 caliber Traditions rifles I use 3f as charge and 4f as prime. And just to kick the hornets nest a bit more I'll say that I've tried using 4f as both charge and prime and that method pretty much completely eliminates any flashes in the pan.

I shoot my flintlocks 3 times a week weather permitting and I think I learn a little more about them every time out. You just need to putter around and try things till you find what works best for you. I've tried lots of different things I read here or elsewhere. Some worked out some didn't, but that's all part of what keeps this hobby interesting.
 

rafterob

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Flash in the pan indicates some obstruction between the flash hole and main charge. Moisture or oil residue mixed with fouling can be an issue. Don't over-oil your barrel for storage. Store the rifle barrel down if you can. Dry patch the barrel prior to shooting. Do not "pump" the jag/patch when swabbing. Insert your pick in the touch hole before loading and then remove the pick after you have loaded. All of these steps will help insure you have the best conditions at your breech for ignition.
 
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@kyron4, I was going to say the same things that @rafterob said. Your cleaning procedure has built up enough fouling or jelled oil or grease in your chambered breech that the flame from the pan is not reaching the main charge. That has to be cleaned out before going to the range. Rubbing alcohol is a good solvent to remove the greases and oils from the chambered breech. So is storing the rifle after cleaning with the muzzle down. Get a smaller caliber brush to hold an alcohol soaked patch to clean the chambered breech. Then clean the touch hole with a dental flossing brush. That should get you back to reliable ignition.
 

Cpt Flint

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The OP states the the problem started when a new flint was installed and ended when it was replaced.
 
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The OP states the the problem started when a new flint was installed and ended when it was replaced.

He also stated the prime in the pan went off with the new flint but had an issue with the main charge not going off after after a few shots. His flint failed to ignite the pan shortly thereafter which seems to indicate a bad flint. Good or bad flint as long as the powder in the pan ignites the gun should fire. I would prefer a finer powder than 2f in the pan but if it ignites the gun should fire. I suspect fouling buildup in the breech or possibly powder contamination from the lube used and I believe the issue with the flint was just a coincidence.
 

M. De Land

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Still new to flintlocks, but I've had a couple range sessions with my traditions Kentucky rifle and things went well firing about 20 shots each time. Today I put a fresh flint in, an English flint from TOW. First few shots fired fine than began to get "flash in the pans". I picked touch hole after each shot and wiped pan, frizzen, and flint. I would keep picking and repriming pan till it fired which could take up to three trys. I even tried filling the pan full over the hole once and that didn't work. Then I started to get a few "click" with no flash. Flint looked pretty dull and beat up for only a few shots. Put a new flint in and next five shot fired as they should. What would has cause the low ignition rate ? Would a dull flint cause a pan flash ? Humidity was about 65% with a 10 mph cross wind, using 2F in pan if that matters. -Thanks
A couple of things I would suggest. 1. wipe flint edge with cloth not fingers as body oil tends to retard spark production. 2. After about ten shots scrape the breech plug face to keep fouling build up from blocking flash hole. 3. Try loading with a soft wire pick in the flash hole to keep it open when compressing powder charge. This allows the heat from the pan flash to penetrate to the center of the charge. I don't believe getting the charge as close to the flash as possible is as important to ignition as is a clear flash hole of proper diameter.
 

hanshi

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When I start getting a FIP it's time for me to tap the flint edge a few times. Sometimes just scraping the flint edge with a screwdriver or the back of a knife blade is all it needs and I try that first; if it happens again after just a few shots I knapp the flint.
 

Trapper-Jack

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You said it has a patent breach. My Lyman does too and there is about a half inch at the bottom that is smaller diameter than the barrel. It goes from a .50 in the barrel to about a .45 or .40 within the breach. Check to see if your cleaning jag is going all the way down to the vent. I had fouling build up in the breach that I wasn't able to get to with the cleaning jag and had the same as you, flash and not fire. I now fit a brush onto the end of my rod and it will go all the way down to the vent and if it flashes, it goes.
 

smoothshooter

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Still new to flintlocks, but I've had a couple range sessions with my traditions Kentucky rifle and things went well firing about 20 shots each time. Today I put a fresh flint in, an English flint from TOW. First few shots fired fine than began to get "flash in the pans". I picked touch hole after each shot and wiped pan, frizzen, and flint. I would keep picking and repriming pan till it fired which could take up to three trys. I even tried filling the pan full over the hole once and that didn't work. Then I started to get a few "click" with no flash. Flint looked pretty dull and beat up for only a few shots. Put a new flint in and next five shot fired as they should. What would has cause the low ignition rate ? Would a dull flint cause a pan flash ? Humidity was about 65% with a 10 mph cross wind, using 2F in pan if that matters. -Thanks
That darned patent breech is most of your problem. They can be made to work. It is just more trouble.
 

Versanaut

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The symptom of feeling the powder picking the vent for the first few shots and then not feeling it after a number is exactly what happens on my flinter. I get a pretty solid ring of fouling that grows about where the ball initially sits. After it builds enough (15 shots or so) the powder gets bottlenecked by the fouling and is not compressing well at the vent and the ball starts seating higher. Yes, there is a 'gap' between the ball and the powder charge starting to form after each shot (in MY flinter.. YMMV). The powder is not compressing near the vent so it's a bit harder to catch a spark or flame from the pan flash. After a brief brush session and a few swipes of some dampened patches followed by a drying swipe, I am usually back in business.
 
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a couple days ago i had a very dismal shooting session with my pistol. 4-5 shots, then a string of FIP's. got so frustrated i pulled one charge and then cleaned to GI specs.
next 4 tries were FIP. i was leaving clumps of hair laying about my shooting station. (Ok, not really, but you get the drift)
i started watching the pan. the flash was orange. didn't start out orange. started out the session white flash.
my two active brain cells started discussing what was going on.
the Humidity was 65%. my priming flask was laying on the bench outside the house but under cover.

went inside and got some fresh priming powder in another flask. humidity in the house was 32%
five shots in a row. followed by 4 FIP's.
my powder isn't coated or glazed. i watched several FIP's with the second priming powder. gone from white when i first brought it out, to a orange flash.
repeated cycling of new powder from the drier indoors seemed to bear out my observation.
my two brain cells concluded that the powder was absorbing enough moisture to reduce the heat from the prime.
i ordered a infrared thermometer and when it gets here i am going to test the conclusion.
my initial thought is , white burn=ignition. Orange burn = a FIP with not enough heat to ignite the main charge.
just my .002$ worth
 
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I very rarely get a flash in the pan
,I make sure my flint is sharp and screwed up tight in the jaws. and properly aligned with the frizzen face .
I wipe the , frizzen , pan ,flint and bore with a Isopropyl alcohol wet patch before I start to shoot
I wipe between shots , prick the flash hole after loading ,wipe the pan frizzen and flint with the next bore cleaning patch , prime with ffffg placed up near and under the flash hole .
All my flintlocks throw a mix of red and white sparks , mainly red , but never all white , it doesn't seem to be a problem to me , my observation is the red sparks last longer than the white , the prime flash is always orange red in my peripheral vision ,
I don't usually notice the pan flash unless I put in too much prime
 
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Not really a common or highly recommended practice, but some folks can tune these to the point where a piece will fire just from sparking into an empty pan.
Done it myself just to prove the point.
 

flconch53

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I didn't see what state you are in. In the parts of the country where humidity gets very high you will have more problems with pan flashing. I keep a price of cloth tied to my bag strap to wipe the flint frizzen and clean out the pan after each shot
 

freedom475

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You have carbon buildup in your patent breech. The good news is that it is water soluble. Just use a small rod to push a wet patch into the bottom of your bore. Try to pack it all the way down to the flash hole. Let the moisture work in for 20 minutes. Then use your ball puller to retrieve the patch and a 22 or .177 call bore brush wrapped with a wet patch will finish the job in short order.
 
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