Author Topic: patching  (Read 3346 times)

Offline whitebear

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« on: December 29, 2011, 09:22:46 PM »
After reading the post on "Historical Loading of Round Balls in Smoothbores" I got to thinking  about patching in guns, rifle, pistol, SB on the frontier.  These people woulden't have a digital micrometer to use to measure cloth thickness at the local walmart or trading post and I can't envision homespun being a very constant thickness SO how did the old timers decide on what piece of cloth to use for patching, and how did they come close to duplicating the thickness from one time to another?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 09:25:13 PM by whitebear »
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Al Lapp

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Re: patching
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2011, 02:41:27 AM »
In my opinion I don't think they were very concerned as long as they hit what they were aiming at. I am meaning the woodsman of course. Probably long shots were not the norm. Just my two cents worth.   Al

Offline Stormrider51

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Re: patching
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2011, 05:13:07 AM »
An elderly gentleman I knew when I was a kid remembered shooting muzzleloaders with his grandfather.  He said that his grandpa taught him that the measure of a patch material was if it "fit right" and "didn't come apart".  Didn't mean much to me back then and is not what you would call scientific evidence today but those weren't scientific times.  I do remember it because later on it occurred to me that "fit right" could well mean a ball and patch that were tight and "didn't come apart" could mean that it wasn't loose enough to allow blow by to burn it.  There are other possibilities but I think we all know when a patched ball feels right going down the bore.  Fit right?  We examine our fired patches for burns or shredding.  Didn't come apart?  Just a pure guess on my part.  We should also keep in mind that the average shooter back then didn't fire his rifle nearly as often as most of us do today.  The rifle was a tool and powder and ball were expensive items.  A good batch of patch material probably lasted quite a while.



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Re: patching
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2011, 04:37:08 PM »
I've been picking up hints here and there in my ongoing reads of original journals. Can't dredge up all the references at this hour of the day, but Mishach Browning referenced patches in around 1800, saying that during a rain storm he used one of his linen rifle patches "well-greased with tallow" to cover his rifle's lock. In a description of the home life during the same time period on the frontier of western Maryland his wife was carding their own wool and flax to make their own fabric and clothing.  It's pretty easy to make the jump that he had at least a little "say" in the thickness of linen he used for patch material.

In another account from about the same year, he mentioned tow.  He was carrying it for cleaning his gun, but in this instance snow and hail was getting into his ears as he tried to sleep, so he used some to fashion ear plugs and "slept well as a result."

Gerrard made quick reference to patches a couple of times in his account of a round trip between St. Louis and Taos in 1846-1847, but my memory is foggy at the moment. About all I can dredge up is that it was fabric, and that he didn't specify details.

Offline Pete G.

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Re: patching
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2011, 05:41:23 PM »
If I had to guess I would say that "fit right" meant that the rifle felt right loading. Everybody that has loaded a rifle very much can pretty much recognize what a proper load feels like when loading, just as you can tell when the barrel needs a quick wipe.

Offline David R. Pennington

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Re: patching
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2012, 07:29:07 AM »
Meshach Brownings book is a treasure. I just finished reading it again for about the 3rd or 4th time. Some new detail will pop out each time I read it. One thing I noticed is how he always tried to stalk as close as possible before making a shot. He does reference greased patches and his wife was making their homespun cloth and I'm sure there was little scientific consistency which only gives me more respect for these folks skill as hunters. Another thing I noticed this time through is that he used a large bore rifle "that carried an ounce ball". If the table I consulted is correct that would be around .66 caliber.


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Re: patching
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2012, 09:28:19 PM »
Yes - a 16 bore ball weighs 1 ounce in pure lead.  To be normal for the day, that 16 bore ball (.663") would be fired from at least a 15 bore rifle and maybe a 14 bore.  15 is .677" and 14 is .693". To use very heavy patching, ie: buckskin, with a large ball like that, the bore would have to be 14 bore or larger yet, perhaps 13 or even 12 bore.  
« Last Edit: January 02, 2012, 09:30:58 PM by Daryl »