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When your range rod doesn't go "clank"

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Upon prepping for my range trip today I did the usual by running a range rod with jagged tip down the bore so I could check for "unloaded" and also mark the rod for that unloaded length. Except today when I did that, instead of the range rod going "clank" upon hitting the breech face, it went "thump". Thought to myself "that's not rignt". It went in what seemed to be proper depth, but it felt "spongy", and it didn't make the right noise upon hitting the breech face. Looking down the bore with a flashlight, I could see nothing. The breech face appeared light, except maybe not as "shiny" as I'd expect.

So, I replaced the jag with a worm, went in with the rod and screwed well down, and then pulled out what appeared to be a compacted remnant of a cleaning patch. I usually double up my patches so as to "dig into" the rifling, and apparently one patch got loose from the jag and stayed down against the breech face, probably to be additionally compressed by any subsequent bore strokes. If a patch is compressed up against the breech face, you can't really tell by looking down the bore with a flashlight. You can see black powder fouling, but you can't see something that's basically the same color as the breech face.

Lesson learned: check for proper depth AND proper "clank" after cleaning as well as before shooting.
 
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Upon prepping for my range trip today I did the usual by running a range rod with jagged tip down the bore so I could check for "unloaded" and also mark the rod for that unloaded length. Except today when I did that, instead of the range rod going "clank" upon hitting the breech face, it went "thump". Thought to myself "that's not rignt". It went in what seemed to be proper depth, but it felt "spongy", and it didn't make the right noise upon hitting the breech face. Looking down the bore with a flashlight, I could see nothing. The breech face appeared light, except maybe not as "shiny" as I'd expect.

So, I replaced the jag with a worm, went in with the rod and screwed well down, and then pulled out what appeared to be a compacted remnant of a cleaning patch. I usually double up my patches so as to "dig into" the rifling, and apparently one patch got loose from the jag and stayed down against the breech face, probably to be additionally compressed by any additional bore strokes. If a patch is compressed up against the breech face, you can't really tell by looking down the bore with a flashlight. You can see black powder fouling, but you can't see something that's basically the same color.

Lesson learned: check for proper depth AND proper "clank" after cleaning as well as before shooting.
Thanks. I'll remember that for sure! 👍
 
Upon prepping for my range trip today I did the usual by running a range rod with jagged tip down the bore so I could check for "unloaded" and also mark the rod for that unloaded length. Except today when I did that, instead of the range rod going "clank" upon hitting the breech face, it went "thump". Thought to myself "that's not rignt". It went in what seemed to be proper depth, but it felt "spongy", and it didn't make the right noise upon hitting the breech face. Looking down the bore with a flashlight, I could see nothing. The breech face appeared light, except maybe not as "shiny" as I'd expect.

So, I replaced the jag with a worm, went in with the rod and screwed well down, and then pulled out what appeared to be a compacted remnant of a cleaning patch. I usually double up my patches so as to "dig into" the rifling, and apparently one patch got loose from the jag and stayed down against the breech face, probably to be additionally compressed by any subsequent bore strokes. If a patch is compressed up against the breech face, you can't really tell by looking down the bore with a flashlight. You can see black powder fouling, but you can't see something that's basically the same color as the breech face.

Lesson learned: check for proper depth AND proper "clank" after cleaning as well as before shooting.
Good post! It is always best to check equipment (especially guns) before using.
In my younger years I had a ML pistol with a flat faced breech plug. After cleaning I liked to run a patch with oil down and leave it on the breech to soak a bit. Well one time I forgot to take it out period. The next shooting match the pistol would not go off. Did I put powder down says I ?? Yes sir I did! Well after pulling the ball and dumping the powder I found the oil soaked patch. Never forgot that, nor did it again😂.
Larry
 
Good for you. I bought a TC Hawken flintlock several years ago because the guy said he couldn't get it to go off. I only wanted it for the stock and he wanted $50 for ot so I grabbed it.
I pulled the PRB out with a bullet puller and dumped the powder. I then removed the flash hole vent and there was a tightly wadded up patch or patches way down in the breech. After about an hour of digging and picking I got it all out.
Turned out to be a great rifle.
 
Good post, @wiscoaster . Checking for loaded/unloaded status, as well as foreign material in the bore, is a good habit for any muzzleloading shooter. “Pinging” a metal or metal-tipped rod against the breech face is an important part of the pre-event safety check at reenactment and living history venues.

I can see that a simple depth check with your rod would not have revealed that lost patch, but the dull thud instead of a “ping”let you know it was there.

I can only speculate, but if the gun had fired with that patch in the breech, there would have been high potential for a burning ember and a “cook off” with the next load. Good catch!

Notchy Bob
 
Was cleaning my .56 a couple weeks ago. I don't have a proper jag for it so I doubled up some patching and used my .54 jag. Ended up with the same problem. Lost a patch in there and didn't know it. Dropped my RR in there and noticed the same thud. Used a patch worm but had a hard time getting it out for some reason. Guess I need a bigger jag. Good post with good advice.
 
I reckon this is a good reminder for those that choose to double up cleaning patches. No don’t it’s a good reminder to check the sound and index mark on a ramrod or range rod.

However, to be honest, and I mean no offense or disrespect to anyone, but Im not understanding why anyone would want to double up cleaning patches. If I was uncertain whether or not my patches were too small or might be prone to coming off the jag (for whatever reason) I would cut some a little larger. Indeed, sometimes things happen, however.

Not long ago I had a cleaning patch come off down by the breech. I had turned it over so I’m pretty sure the jag poked a hole through the patch. I was nearly done with the cleaning process and it was one of the last clean patches where I wanted to make sure there was no more fouling in the bore. Try as I did, I could not grab ahold of that patch. So, I put a few grains of powder down the flash hole, installed the nipple, inserted a cap and fired it out of the barrel.

Only a very few times has a patch come off the jag on me, certainly no more than 3-4 times since 1981.
 
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