Author Topic: Air Tight Horns?  (Read 920 times)

Offline Mark Elliott

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Air Tight Horns?
« on: August 23, 2019, 12:03:28 AM »
I often go to a lot of trouble to make my horns air tight.  My question is; do powder horns really need to be air tight?   Were originals air tight?

Online Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2019, 12:18:39 AM »
Hey Mark, I've had a bunch of old horns here now and then, and none are air tight.  However, of course we're looking at something 200 years old plus so who knows what they were like when new.

I've got a few screw tips that Roland Cadle made and a couple of others by unknown makers, and none of them are air tight either (if you blow into an empty horn).  Never had a problem while using them, though, and that includes muggy, damp, lousy PA weather.

Moral of the story, don't blow into an empty horn.
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Offline hanshi

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2019, 12:30:39 AM »
It's not necessary for them to be air tight; but they should be reasonably water tight.  By that I mean they should keep the powder dry in wet weather; and due care should be taken, of course.  Way back when?  I have no idea.
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Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2019, 12:49:08 AM »
 I would imagine that back in the day if you were crossing rivers, steams, caught in rain storms, your life depended on your rifle an air tight horn would come in handy. Not having the luxury a lot of time to sit around and wait for your powder to dry was not an option I would think. If I make a horn that air will blow through it gets fixed.

  Tim 

Online Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2019, 01:21:40 AM »
I would be curious to know if there is any evidence of some form of period waterproofing treatment, anywhere?  For example, I understand leather canteens for example are frequently sealed internally with some form of heated and fluid pitch.  Is there any evidence of a completed horn being internally sealed with some sort of substance, i.e. pitch or perhaps an oil or varnish etc. ?
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Offline hornturner

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2019, 01:38:09 AM »
I think it is fair to say I have had the opportunity to handle and examine hundreds, if not several thousand original antique horns.  As Eric Kettenburg has observed, none of these were air tight.  While it is true that wood dries and horns may change slightly due to aging, I am quite confident that horns were not made to intentionally be air-tight as we judge them today.  The makers fit the wood butts to be "tight" but did not ever intend for the horn to be perfectly air tight.

I have also had to privilege of working on over 600 antique horns doing restoration work.  Many of these jobs required me to have the wood butt out of the horn to do the necessary repairs.  I have only ever seen two horns that had any evidence of an attempt to seal the horn at the butt end by the original maker.  Both of these horns we horns made in the York shop and both showed a slight amount of thick glue (probably hide glue) applied around the inside of the rim of the horn body before the butt was installed.

We are not making pressure vessels or flotation devices here.  Horns need to be reasonably tight to keep out moisture and dampness.  A snug fit of the butt is good, such that the butt is not loose to the point of falling out, that that is all that was considered "commercially acceptable" in the period.

Art DeCamp

Online Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2019, 01:50:21 AM »
Thanks for sounding off Art!  Good information from someone who knows best.  I'm particularly interested in your comments about the lack of applied sealants - I'm not a Horner, but it's something I've always wondered about.

"Floatation device!" love it.  :D
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Offline sqrldog

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2019, 02:40:39 AM »
I find it reasonable to expect a horn to keep your powder DRY and accessible.  Perhaps horns that rest on a mantle or hang on a wall can leak all they want and be no problem. I use a horn when I hunt and that includes inclement weather. I want my powder dry. I personally think a horn that leaks enough for water to infiltrate the powder during a drenching downpour isn't much of a horn regardless of who or when  it was made

Offline Mike from OK

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2019, 07:50:00 AM »
Well good gravy! Now y'all tell me.

Mike

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2019, 07:52:11 AM »
I often go to a lot of trouble to make my horns air tight.  My question is; do powder horns really need to be air tight?   Were originals air tight?
I think so. But I used to use my stuff pretty hard. Every had a horse wreck in a beaver pond at 7000 ft or so on nice fall morning in Montana?
Kept the rifle dry but had a couple inches of water in the pouch.... Or a 10 day hunt when it rains about everyday, or wet snow. Don't want the horn leaking.

Dan
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Offline snapper

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2019, 02:10:59 PM »
I have only made a handful of horns, but everyone is watertight.    Perhaps this is wrong to some, but will all the modern glue and epoxy and a tight fitting spout I did not find it that hard to do.

Fleener
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Offline Carney Pace

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2019, 04:29:01 PM »
I have made a few horns for personal use and they were made air tight.
When the butt plug was out  they were pine pitched with a tight fit. The first one over 50 years still cannot be blown through.

Carney

Offline hanshi

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2019, 10:07:09 PM »
I reworked/salvaged two horns that I still use.  While it wasn't a issue with me as I worked with them, I'd be willing to bet that they are air tight.  The only place for air leakage would be around the plug/tip.  I certainly don't worry about water bothering them.
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
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Offline KentSmith

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2019, 04:41:35 AM »
If you want an air tight horn get an air tight horn, check it out.  If you don't care then fine.  I am sure a guy in 1770 traveling in the conditions described above would take all due caution to protect his powder whether his horn was water tight or not.  It isn't something you could afford to make a mistake about.    Personally I try to make my horns air tight but I also would take precautions and not wade through a stream dragging my horn through the water. I have found that customers who blow into horns and find an air leak don't tend to buy that horn.

Now a rum horn is different and I don't want it to leak at all.

Mark I do not believe air tightness was a quality control issue in the 18th century horn business.  We have much higher expectations in a much safer age.

Offline wattlebuster

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2019, 05:51:46 PM »
I have 9 horns from 3 different makers that I have used for yrs. I blew into each as they came in from purchase an were air tight. Had they had not been they most certainly would have been sent back. Im a hunter first an foremost an though I dont like to hunt in the rain I have been caught in some downpours getting back to the house so a airtight horn is a plus as I will take every advantage I can get using these flintlock guns we all love so well
Nothing beats the feel of a handmade southern iron mounted flintlock on a cold frosty morning

Offline Elnathan

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2019, 10:48:13 PM »
I've never had all that much trouble getting an air-tight fit even without the benefit of pine pitch or other sealing mediums. I  have always
filed the taper of the plug to match the side of the horn it was going into, though, so that the plug will bear against the horn for its whole depth. I suspect that most people just file or turn their plugs with a cone shape - that is what Sibley does in his books, IIRC - which means that the horn and the plug only contact each other at a little ring right at the end.

The horn-making procedure I came up with is really different from the way most folks go about it, and I usually fit the plug about halfway through the process, before the horn is completely shaped and the outside of the plug rasped and sanded flush with the horn. I don't know how easy it would be to fit a plug in the fashion just described with anything more elaborate than the basic flat plugs I've used up to this point.
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Offline Bull Shannon

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Re: Air Tight Horns?
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2019, 11:08:11 AM »
I've got a question as far as this conversation goes. Since pine was often used and at the time the limited choices for final finish of a pine or any other wooden plug were not waterproof, wouldn't high humidity or outright rain cause the plug to swell, thereby sealing the horn?