T/C New Englander new to me

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Thing is my T/c's were getting a bit cranky sitting around and doing nothing. So I took the New Englander out to do some basic work - like sighting in.
I thought I could mount and shoot after shoulder injuries had me out of the shooting fun for a long while.
This is a .50
caplock. It's been kept clean and properly cared for. Here are the surprises. Nice and clear and pretty warm day.
To the bench first. From a soft bag. Started and stayed with 60gr. 3F and a 490 ball, blue ticking, TOW mink oil on the patches.
After the third I had to ask - just where is this hitting. Turns out about 18 inches high. A schrewed observation noticed a few extra holes on the nearly destroyed foam backing material used to place targets. Looking at the elevator ramp I see that it is flat parallel to the upper sides of the sight base. Gave it 6 clicks down. Luck, a minor drop I'm impact. Dropped 10 more, used a 6'o'clock hold and hit high on the paper.
Dropped 12 more, same hold and hit a tad above the bead. So, ok for this first outing.
The recovered fired patches looked fine. No tears or shreds. I lubed them up 6 months ago. Felt a tad dry but could still feel the lube easy enough.
Next time I'll use more lube.

But what has me puzzled is how hard it was to start the ball. It's a T/C .50, using Hornady 490's. Took real effort to short start. And I admit, after 10-12 shots my old hands were getting sore. So I used the soft hammer to set the ball below the muzzle. Don't much like that part. Accuracy was good for what I wanted to do. Overall it was an ok time on the range.
Next time I'll take the T/C Pa. Hunter flint and do much the same thing. Except - I'll drop that ramp down 15 or 20 clicks before firing. Looks like that Thompson rear sight has .5 min. clicks to change elevation.

The best part was - - - - a couple of younger men came down from the high-power range to check this guy out. Glad to have them. only a hundred questions. They were interested. And they each got a chance to shoot off the bench, then took gong shots at 25. They loved it. They hit that steel center hard. I mean No wiggling plate - just hit center hard swung twice and was still. Yes, It's a pretty heavy round plate hung with 2 angled chains.

So what do you think of the hard to start the ball part ?
 
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Had the balls started easy in the past? If so, maybe the lube dried out enough to change ease of starting. Try fresh lube first and then if still a problem maybe a thinner patch if accuracy doesn’t go to pot.
 
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