Swamping a straight barrel by hand?

Discussion in 'The Gun Builder's Bench' started by jrmflintlock, May 8, 2018.

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  1. May 8, 2018 #1

    jrmflintlock

    jrmflintlock

    jrmflintlock

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    I have a straight 13/16 .36 caliber barrel, and I was wondering if anyone has ever swamped a straight barrel? I know it will probably be hard but has any one done it. When I bought it I was not wise to the greatness of a swamped barrel.

    I don’t really want to go through the “trouble” of selling it and then buying a swamped barrel. I would rather go through the “trouble” of sending it to someone who would machine it and pay them. Or swamp it by hand. I know that sounds silly but I always loose money when I sell stuff.

    Any pointers in how to do it. Thanks!!!
     
  2. May 8, 2018 #2

    Stophel

    Stophel

    Stophel

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    Go ahead, give it a try. File away.... you'll get about 20 minutes into it before you decide that it's a total exercise in futility. :wink:

    They do NOT file quickly nor easily. Unless you have a machine shop, it simply is not a practical thing to do.... not by a long shot. And it wouldn't really be practical even if you did have a machine shop.

    And assuming you could find a shop that would do it for you (highly unlikely), it would probably cost several times as much as simply buying a barrel.
     
  3. May 8, 2018 #3

    dave_person

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    If it is a Green Mountain barrel, I suggest you sell it and get a swamped barrel. Their steel is really tough and is very difficult to file down quickly. Most other maker's barrels are softer steel and can be worked more easily. I hand swamped a Green Mountain barrel and I will not do that again but I have also swamped several other rifle and pistol barrels. The way I do it is to file flats every 6" that are the dimensions of the barrel at that point. Then using a coarse single cut lathe file, I file the barrel down between the index flats. The result will initially be lumpy and you place your lathe file with as much of the file in contact with the barrel as you can (it is almost pointed straight down the barrel) and smooth away the lumps. It takes me about a full 12 hours to swamp a 42" barrel. I do this out of necessity because for some 17th and 16th century guns there are no barrel profiles offered that are correct so I have to make my own.

    dave
     
  4. May 8, 2018 #4

    Larry Akers

    Larry Akers

    Larry Akers

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    I have done it by draw filing. It just takes a lot of time and elbow grease. I once filed an octagon barrel from the round but won't do another--that was a chore.
     
  5. May 8, 2018 #5

    Elkeater

    Elkeater

    Elkeater

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    Can you recommend an electric hand held tool?

    A belt sander or orbital grinder or.....?
     
  6. May 8, 2018 #6

    dave_person

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    A belt sander or a stationary edge sander works very well and will speed up the process. I used a 6" wide edge sander to grind one barrel down to the index marks and then used the lathe file to smooth the lumps. Lathe files, such as those sold by Brownells, cut very quickly and smoothly but you have to file straight forward as much as possible.

    dave
     
  7. May 8, 2018 #7

    Artificer

    Artificer

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    Hi Dave,

    Sounds like very good tips to do the job!

    One time I cut out a medium length "Rifleman's Knife" from a flat bar of 01 Tool Steel and then completely hand filed it to shape. This during my apprenticeship and while I was learning to hand file and draw file. It taught me a LOT about hand filing; but I never, Never, NEVER did that again as it was too much work for even a good end result!!!! :haha:

    Your methods would be the only way I would draw file a straight barrel down, but only if like you, I could not find anything close to what I needed for a specific build and was not available otherwise.

    Gus
     
  8. May 8, 2018 #8

    Pukka Bundook

    Pukka Bundook

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    Years ago I made a barrel from 3X tubing. (1 1/16" OD and 7/16 ID. drawn)
    Fine bored and rifled it. Put flats on by hand and swamped it.
    A flat took about 20 minutes using a "draw knife" made from a reaper file. Barrel was 43".

    A tough steel would take more work. this one was nice soft stuff, pretty well like iron.
    In the "snapping matchlock" thread, I made that barrel the same way, (draw knife) but it is only 24": so less work.

    Best,
    meself.
     
  9. May 8, 2018 #9

    Elnathan

    Elnathan

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    One thing you might think about is 13/16 is an awfully skinny starting for a swamped barrel, so I suspect that you'd only put in about 1/16" or so of a swamp. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, if you are doing a 19th century mountain rifle (which all kinds of interesting profiles, including some that had the muzzle and breech the same width or even with a wider muzzle than breech), and wouldn't require removing a lot of metal, but won't radically alter the balance of the finished gun relative to a straight barrel.
     
  10. May 8, 2018 #10

    Artificer

    Artificer

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    RJDH,

    I know I have read of that in researching 18th century gunsmithing. I think they even had a special name for that tool, though I can't think of it now.

    They also had large to downright HUGE two man files they called "rubbers" that sheared off quite a bit of Iron from the barrels as well and probably used right after the scrapers. I have even found what were probably smaller versions of "rubbers" listed in the British Military Artificers'/Armorers' list of tools they brought over here in the FIW and the AWI.

    Very interesting. Thank you.

    Gus
     
  11. May 8, 2018 #11

    Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776

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    Never having done this, I'm just supposing a knife grinder could do the job. It would be an expensive purchase for a one time project. :shocked2:
     
  12. May 8, 2018 #12

    stubshaft

    stubshaft

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    Half the cost of a new barrel.
     
  13. May 8, 2018 #13

    BigBoreBLR

    BigBoreBLR

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    I bought a 45 cal 42 inch 13/16th's barrel. Too nose heavy...

    My solution, I cut it to 36" and hand crowned the barrel. Even 38" would be nicer to handle.
     
  14. May 8, 2018 #14

    Scota4570

    Scota4570

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    13/16 is too thin starting out. Attacking it with at grinder or belt sander will likely ruin it. Much better to save some money and buy what you want. Or, use the 13/16 as is.

    IF I were to machine a swamped barrel I would use a horizontal mill. Set up would require head scratching. I trashed a thick 20 ga shotgun barrel trying to make a half octagon pistol barrel with a milling machine. IT seemed easy until the chips started to fly.
     
  15. May 8, 2018 #15

    Tinker2

    Tinker2

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    I have not done one in a while but have done some.

    When I did I used an old large bench grinder with as coarse of a wheel as I could get.
    Then when ground to shape I just clean it up by draw filing.

    Now, that said, unless you are quite versed in said tools and trust your skills, pass on it.
    Sell it, trade it, use it on the next gun and just buy what you want.
    Don’t think you would gain much on a 13/16 barrel anyhow.

    Tell us more about your straight 13/16 .36 caliber barrel?
    Brand, length, breach, other?

    Appears to me there are a lot of folks wanting a .36
    As of today I have 3 long guns 2 rifles and one smooth bore and one flint pistol that needs a new stock.
    Also have barrels on hand for 2 or 3 rifles and two smooth bores.
    You may not have as much trouble selling your barrel as you think.



    Good luck.
    William Alexander
     
  16. May 8, 2018 #16

    jrmflintlock

    jrmflintlock

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    Thanks for all the replies and information!

    I can not for the life of me remember where I got this barrel I "think" I got it from FCI. I have had it for several years. It had round bottom rifling but no markings. The breach has yet to be installed.

    I have a .50 caliber project in line before I can start this one but you guys have given me a lot to consider! Thank you!!

    If someone jumps up and says then just want a 13/16 .36 caliber 36 inch barrel, Maybe I'll sell it. If not I guess only time will tell. I'll keep you posted!

    Much thanks Friends!!
     
  17. May 9, 2018 #17

    Elkeater

    Elkeater

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    Thanks Dave,
    I have a 1 - 66S Rice54 42" straight barrel. About how much weight would be removed?
     
  18. May 9, 2018 #18

    nhmoose

    nhmoose

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    Realy , I do not think so A cheap 2"x72 knife grinder with 1 contact wheel is about $650 delivered.

    A new barrel Maybe up to $250\

    I would buy the swamped barrel and sell the straight one. That make good economical sense.

    Draw filling it to swamped , I will pass on that. Draw filling is a lot of work.
     
  19. May 9, 2018 #19

    Elnathan

    Elnathan

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    I just watched Mike Miller's video, "Finishing the Hand-forged Barrel" and a fair bit of it is on how to profile a swamped barrel. He is truing up a barrel already swamped while forging rather than swamping a straight barrel, but the process shouldn't be too different. He has to remove a significant amount of material, too - it isn't just a quick clean-up.

    He uses an auto-body file with great curved teeth and basically goes by eye. No fancy equipment needed.

    I've got an Ed Rayl barrel that I'll probably be reprofiling slightly, so this is useful information.
     
  20. May 9, 2018 #20

    Elnathan

    Elnathan

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    I'm not Dave, but I think that the answer to that question is going to depend greatly on what diameter the barrel is now and what dimensions you intend to end up with.
     

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