Author Topic: D@mn you breechplug!  (Read 1279 times)

Offline Blacktail

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D@mn you breechplug!
« on: September 13, 2017, 12:27:10 AM »
Just now I was attempting to remove a breech plug in order to install a touchhole liner. New build, never had it out before. I got the swamped barrel in the vise using wood shims to account for its taper, fancied up some leather pieces to account for the taper of the plug compared to the crescent wrench and laid into it. It's stubborn! After reefing away more and more with no results there was a sudden "Bang!" and everything but the plug came loose. The iron base of the vise where it mounts to the bench cracked in two places. Now I need to find a new vise. I'm dead in the water.

Anyone ever have this happen?

Anyone want to take on the job of fitting a touchhole liner for me?

Offline David Price

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 01:55:40 AM »
Blacktail,

First of all get a new quality vise.  In the mean time squirt some mystery oil down the barrel and set the barrel upright until you get your new vise.  When you get your vise all secured to your bench, heat the breach end of the barrel with a propane torch.  Put a  tight wrench on the plug and give it a good hit with a large hammer.  Make sure that the wrench does not extend over the top of the tang because it could make a mark on it.

If you live close enough to me in N.H. you could bring it here and I will take it out for you.  I will also put a new touch hole liner in for you at no charge.

David Price

Offline deepcreekdale

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 01:58:26 AM »
Yep, had it happen with a big 6 inch cast iron vise about 2 years ago. Went and got a forged Wilton, I don't think it will happen again. If it does, it is one tough breech plug and my wife is feeding me vitamins I don't know about. There is no need for breechplugs to be that tight but some of them sure are. Also, get a set of barrel jaws and breech plug wrench from Jason at Rice Barrels. It is as easy as unscrewing a cap on bottled water and won't mess up your barrel
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Offline Joe S.

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 02:11:44 AM »
While the plug in my barrel was a bit of a pain to get out when your breaking a vise :o

Offline Ky-Flinter

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 03:15:59 AM »
..... Put a  tight wrench on the plug and give it a good hit with a large hammer.  .....
David Price

I think the sudden and forceful whack with a hammer is the key to breaking loose a tight plug.

Well, that and making sure I'm trying to twist the plug in the proper direction.  Noooo, never have actually turned one the wrong way.  Never have, honest.

-Ron
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Offline FALout

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 03:32:49 AM »
I've never used a hammer, but have used a cheater bar.
Bob

Offline David R.

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 04:23:14 AM »
Post vice. I like. No break.
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Offline Treebeard

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2017, 04:58:29 AM »
I would like to second the recommendation of the vice jaws and barrel wrench from Rice. They have made a relative pleasure of removing breech plugs. I use them in conjunction with my post vise which is my go to vise-- a pleasure to use.

Offline WadePatton

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2017, 05:27:22 AM »
..... Put a  tight wrench on the plug and give it a good hit with a large hammer.  .....
David Price
I think the sudden and forceful whack with a hammer is the key to breaking loose a tight plug.
Well, that and making sure I'm trying to twist the plug in the proper direction...

I broke the fixed jaw on a four or five-inch bench vise going the wrong way once. It wasn't a good vise, and it was further proof that perspective changes things.  :o


I TOO had a cheap vise, once...until it broke!  :P  Now I don't.

(No it was not a breechplug, and yes it took some "extra effort". )
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 05:37:39 AM by WadePatton »
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Offline Nordnecker

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 02:29:34 PM »
Yeah, I think half of the problems people have with breech plug removal is their cheap, junky, too small vise. GET A POST VISE. i'm fortunate that I come from a blacksmithing background and have several post vises in my shop. When I see a picture of someone using one of those little pieces of junk with the jaggetts on the jaws I just shudder to think of how aukward it must be to have to use something like that. I suppose a parallel vise is better for some things but for building long rifles and associated parts I go for my post vises every time. Get a little hand vise to go with it and you've really got a versatile set-up.
I've tried lining the jaws on one Wilton vise to keep those jaggets from destroying whatever I put in the vise but it's a pain. Lead was nice until it wore through, leather was OK for a while until it wore through. Smooth jaws and something with a little side to side slop is just way better. Then you can actually clamp a tapered object securely.

Offline rick/pa

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2017, 02:57:01 PM »
I had the same problem myself a month back.  I did the same as David Price, heat with a propane torch, use pipe wrench with padded jaws, etc., but I didn't need to whack it with a hammer.  I was getting ready to but the durn thing came loose just as I was ready to reach for the hammer.  While its out, you might also want to check whether its seating on the barrel shoulder. I used Prussian blue to spot it first then used a set of depth gauges to check depth of threads in barrel and length of plug threads just for an accurate measurement.

Offline Bob Roller

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2017, 03:27:13 PM »
Just now I was attempting to remove a breech plug in order to install a touchhole liner. New build, never had it out before. I got the swamped barrel in the vise using wood shims to account for its taper, fancied up some leather pieces to account for the taper of the plug compared to the crescent wrench and laid into it. It's stubborn! After reefing away more and more with no results there was a sudden "Bang!" and everything but the plug came loose. The iron base of the vise where it mounts to the bench cracked in two places. Now I need to find a new vise. I'm dead in the water.

Anyone ever have this happen?

Anyone want to take on the job of fitting a touchhole liner for me?

Send that barrel back to whoever made it if it's a new one,tell the maker
to loosen that plug and send it back along with reimbursement for shipping.
Investment in a heavy duty vise is also a good idea.Hyper tight breech plugs
are not needed and in some cases can be dangerous by creating a fracture line
in a hollow plug.

Bob Roller

Offline Eric Krewson

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 04:18:51 PM »
I broke two chinese vises before I bought an American made Colombian  5 1/2", 25 years later and lots of beating and banging my vise is still intact.

Offline 54ball

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 04:35:18 PM »
..... Put a  tight wrench on the plug and give it a good hit with a large hammer.  .....
David Price

I think the sudden and forceful whack with a hammer is the key to breaking loose a tight plug.

Well, that and making sure I'm trying to twist the plug in the proper direction.  Noooo, never have actually turned one the wrong way.  Never have, honest.

-Ron

 This ^^^

 Sometime it takes a sharp pop or strike to get things going. It's the same principle as a impact hammer. It's a good idea on stuck screws to give them a tap with a hammer on the end of a the driver. Raw steady torque will destroy a screw head that might have otherwise came loose with some tapping....
 For a breech plug...same principle.

 This is basic mechanics...you learn these things by tearing stuff up.....then you know. Cheaper vises don't help but.....still that steady force magnification is not good on any tool. It may actually be a good thing the vise failed. Otherwise it may have been the wood in the jaws...the tool in your hand severely injuring you or damaging the barrel. Brute force should be used with caution.....a few taps may have prevented this.
"These Americans had riflemen-they could hit a man at 200 paces distance. We came to dread them far more than the regular Continentals. At Kings Mountain they destoyed us."

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Offline Long John

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2017, 05:00:27 PM »
Blacktail,

First, I have NEVER received a barrel from any manufacturer and not had to refine the breechplug fit right off the bat.  And I have bought barrels from all of the popular vendors.  I choose to finish the face of the breechplug flat and polished to 600 grit, and fitted so that the plug seats evenly and firmly on the shoulder in the barrel.

Second, in my opinion there is absolutely no justification for torqueing a breechplug that tight.  It does not take a zillion pounds of torque on the plug to achieve a compression seal at the front face of the breechplug if the plug face is properly finished and shaped.  Excess torque is actually stress stored in the joint that reduces the residual available strength of the joint to resist the applied pressure of the powder burn.

Buy a Wilton vise - they are worth it.

Best Regards,

JMC
John Cholin

Offline WadePatton

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2017, 05:35:30 PM »
...
I've tried lining the jaws on one Wilton vise to keep those jaggets from destroying whatever I put in the vise but it's a pain. Lead was nice until it wore through, leather was OK for a while until it wore through...
As I had noticed John's aluminum jawed bench-mounted vise on the very first visit, I eventually took a hunk of junkyard sourced aluminum and made jaw pads for one of my Wiltons. Have yet to wear those out. First thing I do with any new vise is flip the jaws to the smooth side.  I have copper inserts for my bigger Wilton(made from pipe)-and the jaws reversed to smooth. 

A few dollars to purchase ready-made copper inserts and/or magnetically-held aluminum pads could save a fellow a bit of work. I had more time than money... :o   If I ever wear out the paddings that I'm using, I'll purchase replacements.

I have three Wiltons now and have little use for the crackable iron vises so popular now.  ::)
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 05:40:18 PM by WadePatton »
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Offline Gaeckle

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2017, 06:03:17 PM »
It may be that the  threads are galded together  and locked  tight. That can happen if the plug  was run in by a machine as opposed by hand.

Offline Scota4570

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2017, 07:43:29 PM »
"Second, in my opinion there is absolutely no justification for torqueing a breech plug that tight."

When fitting a plug instead of fitting the plug perfectly, you can skip the last half dozen adjustments and just mash it into index by brute force.  That saves time.  It also dissuades end users from messing with the plug. 

The guy who buys the barrel probably will not have a professional quality vice, blocks and wrench.  So he is at a loss on how to get the plug out.  If you fit your own plugs then a bench vice is fine.  You can control the torque required to make it index. 

There is a good chance that a bench vice will not work to remove the factory fitted plug.  I wince when I hear about guys trying to use leather or lead to protect the battel form the vice jaws.  That is a recipe for disaster.  You probably will need a real barrel vice and real fitted blocks.  You won't know what you need until the plug unscrews or the barrel is buggared.  Wrenches matter too, it does not fit perfectly, and is stout, and you might ruin the plug.  How many times have we all seen pipe wrench marks on old guns?  Seems like this is a very old issue. 

Leaning on the cheater bar and giving it a couple of wacks with a big hammer is a standard method to bust a barrel, or a ML plugs, free.  Don't do this unless you have a top quality vice, blocks and wrench though. 
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 11:42:33 PM by Scota4570 »

Offline Blacktail

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2017, 08:27:25 PM »
Thanks for the thoughts gents. As usual much good perspective and advice. The barrel in question is a 31" Rice .58 for an English Sporting Rifle from Chambers. The vise was a 4" Columbian, wherever it was made it can go back there! The mounting system I use for the vise on my bench consists of four T nuts which I sunk in flush with the bench top and epoxied in place. That way I can un-mount the vise when I need the space for other tasks. The problem now will be figuring out which Wilton will fit with with the least amount of surgery to the workbench.

I spoke with Jason at Rice about it this morning. He was very helpful. Unfortunately he's all out of the vise blocks and wrenches and doesn't know when he'll be able to get more made. I think between that and the rigmarole of finding a new vise the reality is I just need to hire the job out so I can finish this rifle and get hunting. If another hunting season passes me by without killing a flintlock deer or two I'll be unhappy. I'd like to have it ready to hunt by November after most of the brown bears go to bed. This is my second build. First was in many ways a debacle. Between work and little kids my building consists of 30-45 minutes here and there when I can grab it. Living half remote doesn't help either-when stuff breaks or needs bought it seems there's no easy way to find what's needed. I'm working on stock finish now and once I get this liner done and barrel polished I can start bluing. Then we're shooting! Finally!   


Offline Scota4570

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2017, 11:54:35 PM »
I now see you are off grid. 

A perfectly acceptable barrel blocks can be made from hard maple.  Use a thinner part of the barrel as a sanding block to get the contour perfect.  Anoint the blocks with rosin mixed with alcohol, let dry.  I use steel V-blocks lined with business card stock, for octagon barrels, just because I have them. 

To make a vice get a couple of beefie pieces of steel, say 3/4"-ish by 2"-ish by 6"-ish.  Stick them to gether with double sided tape.  Drill two matching pilot holes about 4" apart, drill and tap one side for 1/2" NF bolts.  Drill the other side for clearance around the bolts.  You just made a barrel vice.  You could bolt it to your bench or a large vertical post.  This style of vice is much stronger and more powerful than any bench vice. 

Offline 54ball

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Re: D@mn you breechplug!
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2017, 01:25:11 AM »
 Colombian vises were American made They were a good quality general purpose mechanic's vise. A 4inch vise is just too light for this type of work.
 Most of these I have seen are quite old and who knows the history.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 01:26:21 AM by 54ball »
"These Americans had riflemen-they could hit a man at 200 paces distance. We came to dread them far more than the regular Continentals. At Kings Mountain they destoyed us."

 English Captain 1802