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General discussion => Gun Building => Topic started by: Jim Kibler on January 06, 2011, 01:34:44 AM

Title: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Jim Kibler on January 06, 2011, 01:34:44 AM
What matereials were typically used for ramrods on 18th century English and European guns?  I'm working on a mid eighteenth century English fowling piece and need to decide on ramrod material.  The original it's based on has a bailene rod so I need to come up with an alternative.

Thanks,
Jim
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: FlintFan on January 06, 2011, 01:50:05 AM
Ash was a very common ramrod material for English guns. 
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: James Rogers on January 06, 2011, 01:51:47 AM
Ash seems to be what I am finding as common as well Jim.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Dr. Tim-Boone on January 06, 2011, 01:53:12 AM
"Baleen is not in fact composed of bone, but of the protein keratin, the same substance as hair, horn, scales, claws and nails."

So... find a true Texas longhorn............ ;D ::)

Today we use plastic and fiberglass instead of baleen for corset stays etc.....    I would thnk that a carbon fiber rod would work if you don't want to use real baleen.... or that modern fiberglass ::) >:(  rod

"Yes, baleen (normally this is from the endangered bowhead whale) may be legally sold by Alaska Natives as Traditional Native Handicraft under both the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA). The baleen must be cleaned and polished to qualify as handicraft. Once purchased, bowhead baleen may be transported out of State, but may not be subsequently sold or taken outside of the United States."


Yes I have found Ash listed as common in English guns as well.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: smart dog on January 06, 2011, 02:27:29 AM
Hi Jim,
Ash was common but they also occasionally used rosewood (often called Brazil wood).  Walnut and chestnut were also used for rods in Europe.

dave
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: JCKelly on January 06, 2011, 02:29:15 AM
When I shot with the guys in Cincinnati circa 1967, one gentlemen had an old pistol with which he shot very well. Claimed it was because it had a "whalebone ramrod".  Check with an Inuit.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Michael on January 06, 2011, 03:33:18 PM
IIRC the early English King's Muskets, ie: !st Land pattern, used ramrod made from oak.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Feltwad on January 06, 2011, 05:09:15 PM
Jim
The most used wood for a sxs or s/b sporting gun  was ebony or rosewood  these were for the top grade London and Birminghan Guns  .Some were of ash buy these were mainly for the less grade known as working guns .All sporting gun ramrods were fitted with a brass  ramrod tip  and at the opposite end a  brass covered worm ,on some of the  flint locks the ramrod tip was made from horn or bone
Feltwad
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: RonT on January 06, 2011, 05:33:11 PM
I've made a few selfbows out of Osage, Red Elm, Hackberry, Ash, and of course Hickory.  I wouldn't have a problem with any of these woods including Oak .
R
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Ron Scott on January 06, 2011, 05:56:02 PM
Hello Jim,  The only gun of this period that  I was certain had its original rod, appeared to be Ash.  Erhart Wolf in his Jaeger Book Project may have some observations. I will write him and share what I find.  I bought some Ipe flooring wood and cut it down into strips for rod making.  It is very hard, seems to be pretty elastic and is moderate in price. It isn't fancy colored just a medium brown.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Robby on January 06, 2011, 06:37:20 PM
Ron, IPE (greenheart) is also used in bowyery, makes sense that it would make good ramrods as well. It also takes repeated wettings well.
Robby
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: James Rogers on January 06, 2011, 06:43:41 PM
greenheart has documented use in England for early angling poles as well.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Acer Saccharum on January 06, 2011, 07:03:57 PM
Pernambuco is a red wood used for making violin bows. This wood was pulverized for making a red dye in the late 18th and early 19th cent. From Brazil.


I just read this from Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesalpinia_echinata

It looks like the Portuguese were exporting this wood from Brazil as early as 1500's.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: DutchGramps on January 06, 2011, 10:15:32 PM
"Baleen is not in fact composed of bone, but of the protein keratin, the same substance as hair, horn, scales, claws and nails."
<snip>

"Yes, baleen (normally this is from the endangered bowhead whale) may be legally sold by Alaska Natives as Traditional Native Handicraft under both the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA). The baleen must be cleaned and polished to qualify as handicraft. Once purchased, bowhead baleen may be transported out of State, but may not be subsequently sold or taken outside of the United States."

I am looking now for nearly 40 years for an 80cm long piece of whalebone for my 1780 French Vasselon rifle; I would gladly have ordered it from the Inuit, but fear that customs in the Netherlands would immediately confiscate it.... :(
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Feltwad on January 06, 2011, 11:26:03 PM
Enclosed are images of a mixture of original English shotgun ramrods  in ebony, rosewood and ash  with brass ramrod tips and worms,

Feltwad
(http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j152/Ramrod_2006/P1010001-19.jpg)

(http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j152/Ramrod_2006/P1010011-8.jpg)

(http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j152/Ramrod_2006/P1010006-12.jpg)
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Jim Kibler on January 06, 2011, 11:47:48 PM
Thanks for all the information.  Sure appreciate it.  Feltwad, do you have any thoughts on the use of rosewood and ebony in the mid eighteenth century?  I assume the rods shown are likely later than this time period.  Thanks for the pictures.

Jim
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: greybeard on January 07, 2011, 12:21:28 AM
When I was an active collector my interest was Emglish M L sporting guns and I found ebony to be the most commom wood used. Three of the Westley Richards that I had , had serial numbered rods of ebony . Also the Purdy stalking rifle and the rest I am not sure about. If my  memory serves me right is seemd that some had a lighter colored rod but have  no idea of what wood.    cheers  Bob
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: smart dog on January 07, 2011, 12:38:27 AM
Hi Jim,
Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) probably showed up in Europe during the 16th century after the Spanish and Portuguese controlled much of South America.  It was sufficiently popular for gunstocks (at least) such that the authors of Espingarda Perfeyta describe its qualities for that use in the late 17th century.  I suspect East Indian rosewood (Dalbergis latifolia) probably became popular in England via the East India Company and particularly after the Brits gained control of much of India after Plassey in 1757.  There are several 17th century British pistols and guns stocked in rosewood. It was sometimes used by the Scottish makers during the late 16th and 17th centuries for long guns and wooden stocked pistols.   Ebony (Diaspyros spp.) was used in Europe from ancient times.  The trouble with it is that the tree is rarely very large so full stock-size planks were rare and I am sure very expensive.  "Ebonizing" common fruitwood was a popular finish, which tends to indicate the esteem that ebony acquired.  However, ramrods would be easy to make from the available wood.  Ebony would be a nice choice for your project because it polishes to an almost plastic sheen that might look a little like baleen. 

dave
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Feltwad on January 07, 2011, 12:50:42 AM
Jim

If you take the ramrods of s/b and sxs flintlock shotgun from the 1780,s you will find that a large majority  are of rosewood and very thin, this was mainly due that most of these guns were of small bore with the 20 bore  most popular .The second image with the second ramrod from the bottom is a typical ramrod of that period.
Feltwad
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Kermit on January 08, 2011, 07:26:11 PM
Ipe is fairly readily available as decking material, and inexpensive. You could probably find it through just about any lumberyard. VERY rot resistant and VERY hard. It ranks above ebony for hardness. I'd pick through a stack for the straightest grained shortish piece I could find. Use carbide or metalworking tools--I learned that the hard way. One pass ruined a set of HSS planer knives. Should make a great ramrod.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Ron Scott on January 12, 2011, 06:02:40 PM
 
Dear Ron,
 thank you for your e-mail, I am glad you enjoyed my book.
The script and the pictures for my second book have been ready as of mid 2010.
Subject and size will be much like the first one. In the moment I am in negociations
with the publisher. If everything comes right the book could be published by the
end of 2011. Much like I did in the first book I am writing exclusively about fine
hunting weapons of aristocratic ownership. The book talkes about Wheellock Rifles,
Revolver Shotguns, Flintlock Breechloaders and Flintlock Shotguns.
In a book dated 1824 there are mentioned the following kinds of wood they used for
ramrods: Heckenkirsche, Kornelkirsche, Hartriegel, Liguster, Weissdorn, Schwarzdorn,
Esche and Ulme. Please put the names into google search. There you will get all the
information you are looking for.
 
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: keweenaw on January 12, 2011, 10:42:57 PM
The Ipe decking you buy is green.  We don't much mind checking in our decking but not in our ramrods.  It would take some time to cure it to the point where one could use it for a ramrod.  A cabinet maker friend of mine made a bunch of widgets from holding Ipads at a convenient angle on the desk using some ipe that had been in his shop for about 6 years, worked great.  When he got orders for more he bought some decking as it would work with little waste.  Planed and sanded to thickness, cut to lengths, sanded the ends on a huge stack.  Came into the shop the next morning and every piece was checked beyond use on both ends.  Hundreds of dollars worth of small pieces of firewood.

Tom
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: JCKelly on January 12, 2011, 11:11:31 PM
For us Ignorant Folk, what the heck does "IPE" stand for???????
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: kernalvax on January 13, 2011, 12:03:11 AM
Ipe isn't short for anything but is the name of the hardwood, its also know as "Trumpet tree"
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: dannybb55 on January 13, 2011, 12:47:40 AM
You know that after all of this work, you are going to shoot the stick down range. ;D
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Ron Scott on January 13, 2011, 06:18:14 PM
I failed to note that the post I made yesterday was a email reply from Erhard Wolf, the author of the Large Green Book on Jaeger Rifles.  It is interesting to note that he has a new book on European Wheel locks and Flintlocks in process.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: James Rogers on January 20, 2011, 01:40:53 PM
How about Virginia hickory??????

In 1768 the ship Nancy was cleared for London and part of her cargo was 1000 gunrods?

http://research.history.org/DigitalLibrary/VirginiaGazette/VGImagePopup.cfm?ID=2010&Res=HI&CFID=9942962&CFTOKEN=72745923
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Jim Kibler on January 20, 2011, 04:49:11 PM
Thanks Ron for the information.  I'll be looking forward to the new book you mentioned.

Thanks James for this additional information as well.  Interesting stuff.
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: Ian Pratt on January 20, 2011, 08:37:23 PM
Related question - I recently got a copy of " A Pattern Book of Tools and Household Goods", basically a reprint of an early wholesale catalog. There are several pages of gun tools, including some ramrods available japanned, or "best purple wood".  Anybody know what the purple wood may be? I seem to remember seeing this reference somewhere else and it may have been another name for rosewood.     
Title: Re: English and European Ramrods?
Post by: keweenaw on January 20, 2011, 08:57:34 PM
Purple wood would be what we now call purpleheart.  It's a great tropical wood that makes good ramrods for English type guns.  Don Brown used purpleheart for the ramrods on his Alex Henry rifles.  It is absolutely purple when you first cut it.  With time it turns sort of reddish brown.  It seems to be generally available at places like Woodcraft and tropical hardwood dealers.  Here's a link to a good picture and discussion: http://www.righteouswoods.net/purpleheart.html

Tom