Author Topic: Amber French or Black English?  (Read 24052 times)

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2013, 05:39:38 PM »
I suggest that people with some interest in the subject buy this. It will do a good job of explaining gunflints in Colonial times from many sites. As a plus they did the testing with photos of the spark patterns.

Price seems too cheap really for 281 pages if its really still 6.95.

http://www.mackinacparks.com/history/index.aspx?l=0,1,4,36,403,432

The English flints of the Colonial era were not the English flints we buy today. The English flints we use today are flaked and there were no flaked English Flints until about 1800.
Dan
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Mark Horvat

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2013, 05:50:55 PM »
My experience with the French amber is they have a tendency for the corners to break.  The very first one I ever tried the corner broke on the first hammer fall.  Since then this has not happened as fast, but it seems that most of my French ambers are discarded because of breakage at the corners.  Interesting enough years ago checking in my arrowhead collection for usable flint, I found I had an orginal French amber flint!  It was found in Colorado someplace, but that is all I could say.  When I first found it, it was just another flint.  I recognized it immediately for a gun flint, though, all these years later now that I shoot a flintlock.  Also interesting enough the corner on it is missing the same as the modern F. ambers.

Mark Horvat

Offline okawbow

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2013, 10:37:42 PM »
My musket came with a black English flint. I got about 30 strikes before a "non flash". It chipped off one corner during use. I got about 30 more good strikes after knapping the edge 2 times, before it was too short to work well.
I replaced it with a good French amber flint from TOW. So far, I have over 30 strikes with no chipping, and the edge is still sharp.
Both seem to work equally well at producing sparks.
As in life; itís the journey, not the destination. How you get there matters most.

Online rich pierce

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2013, 03:34:30 AM »
"French Amber" or "black English" covers a lot of ground.  As Dan said, the method of knapping matters when it affects the shape of the cutting edge.  Angle of the edge, the microstructure of the edge, and the qualities of the rock all matter.  Surface rock may look the same but not be as sound as mined rock from the same location.  I don't think one can generalize about flints based on where they came from.  Every knapper graded their flints also as firsts, seconds, etc. 
Andover, Vermont

William Worth

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2013, 06:15:55 PM »
From Skertchley's book on English flint, the best flint for knapping was the "floor stone" (deep stuff).  The stuff closer to the surface apparently has weathered and developed structural issues.  It was also mentioned that quarried flint was kept wet prior to knapping.  The fresh deep stuff was described as being almost soft as cheese and knapped much better.

Sounds almost like wood in nature.

roundball

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #30 on: June 27, 2013, 01:27:39 PM »
Several years ago when I knew I was totally going to Flintlocks for all my year-round shooting & hunting needs, I contacted Tom Fuller directly and made a lifetime bulk order purchase of his black English flints.

A few years later out of curiosity I bought a couple dozen French amber flints just for the hands on experience of them and they were nothing compared to Fuller's black English flints.

Other than a different / pretty sort of color, they were very expensive, very brittle, had a much shorter flint life, and after using the first dozen, I stopped and resold the rest.

I grant you that experience was a tiny one compared to overall history of course, but nevertheless, nothing about that experience makes me ever want to buy any French amber flints again.

Offline JCKelly

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2013, 04:28:47 AM »
Mr. Phariss sir, thanks for the Mackinac link.
I only live in Michigan & didn't know about it.
Ordered a flint booklet, will surely find more books I must have.

Somewhere there is an old Virginia ad for Best Oiled Gunflints. Anyone have a clue what this means?

Offline Kermit

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2013, 07:26:34 AM »
I seem to recall a discussion of this oiled gunflints stuff. I sort of recall it had to do with the oil filling tiny imperfections in the stone, making them look better. I think there was a connection to unscrupulous gem dealers oiling gemstones to hide imperfections. Was this just an advertising ploy? Can't remember...
"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly." Mae West

rhbrink

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #33 on: June 30, 2013, 01:34:11 PM »
From Skertchley's book on English flint, the best flint for knapping was the "floor stone" (deep stuff).  The stuff closer to the surface apparently has weathered and developed structural issues.  It was also mentioned that quarried flint was kept wet prior to knapping.  The fresh deep stuff was described as being almost soft as cheese and knapped much better.

Sounds almost like wood in nature.
This is interesting a long time ago I read something about keeping your flints in a small jar covered with water. The water is absorbed by the flints making them tougher and it seems to be true but it does take a while to work so be patient. I do it to this day and usually get a 100 shots to a flint easily sometimes they last a lot longer.

RB

Offline smallpatch

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #34 on: July 01, 2013, 04:13:30 AM »
OK guys,

I've heard all the old wives tales as well, BUT we are talking a stone, hard enough to peel metal off a hardened piece of steel.  

I don't know, but I have a REALLY hard time believing that soaking them in water will make them shatterproof, and less likely to break?!?!?!?!?!

I've used black English, French Amber, and White Missouri.  On a well set up lock, I can get easily 75 to 100 shots out of each one. SOMETIMES, other times, you get a softer one, and it shatters, or blunts out really quick, or has a hard nodule in it, and you don't get the same mileage.

I think it's more a natural characteristic of the stone, rather than how much water it has soaked up......... IMHO!!!!
« Last Edit: July 01, 2013, 04:13:47 AM by smallpatch »
In His grip,

Dane

Offline Standing Bear

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #35 on: July 01, 2013, 05:42:21 AM »
X2, Dane.
TC
Nothing is hard if you have the right equipment and know how to use it.  OR have friends who have both.

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rhbrink

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #36 on: July 01, 2013, 12:15:42 PM »
It doesn't cost much to try it, then report back in a year or so.

RB

roundball

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #37 on: July 01, 2013, 06:36:13 PM »

I've heard all the old wives tales as well, BUT we are talking a stone, hard enough to peel metal off a hardened piece of steel.  

I don't know, but I have a REALLY hard time believing that soaking them in water will make them shatterproof, and less likely to break?!?!?!?!?!

Not an authority but I agree as well.
A thing that suggests to me flint can't absorb water is years ago while reading through several websites about flint mining, the very point was made pretty clear by an article.
Working down in a flint mine, when a particular section of flint wall was broken into, out poured a gallon of water that had gotten trapped in a pocket...been in there lord knows how many years...millions?...yet that water was still sitting inside that pocket surrounded by flint rock from the time that deposit was formed.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2013, 06:37:50 PM by roundball »

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #38 on: July 01, 2013, 07:42:10 PM »
I have my doughts about flint absorbing  water but riverstones  are a different matter. Just place one in your campfire and then you will see. Actualy dont place one in your campfire and take my word for it, it will explode to some degree if left there long enough.

Offline wmrike

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #39 on: July 01, 2013, 09:06:24 PM »
Like Mike, in one of the preceding posts, my background is in geology.  If you are looking for porosity, something to absorb moisture, flint ain't it. 

Flint is more of an esthetic term for nice looking chert, be it for reason of color or luster.  The kind and amount of impurities in the chert determines the color and translucency.

As to the quality of the flints used by the British army in the 18th century, French vs. English, that was not a matter of flint quality but of the knapping quality.  The contractors to the British military arms trade were notorious for saving a pence here and there.  The same black flint that gave the army kittens back then is the same stuff that, well knapped, gives me 125+ reliable strikes today

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #40 on: July 01, 2013, 10:52:01 PM »
Flint, as in the nodules mined from the chalk cliffs in England, is much like opal.  It contains a water of hydration from when it was compressed and formed under great pressure.  There are documented writings of water droplets spraying off the nodules during the knapping process.  To make flint more workable, it is common to heat treat it to drive off some of this water.  If it is heated too much, the flint becomes brittle.  Hence the reason why many flints shatter or don't last very long.  Once that water of hydration is driven off, it can never be replaced.

I did a research paper on this subject many years ago and wish I could find it, but I think it resides on an old DOS hard drive in the spare parts box.
Dave Kanger

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Offline Kermit

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #41 on: July 02, 2013, 12:17:59 AM »
"Water of hydration?" In a nonporous stone? Help me understand how that works?

Besides, were we talking about oil-soaked flints? I'm old and easily confused.
"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly." Mae West

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #42 on: July 02, 2013, 02:05:57 AM »
"Water of hydration?" In a nonporous stone? Help me understand how that works?


Scientific Properties:
Mohs Hardness of 7 with a trigonal crystal structure.

""Opal is a mineral species which is amorphous in structure, (without form). It has a chemical composition of SiO2.nH2O. (water content usually 3 to 14% by weight, but sometimes as high as 20%). It is transparent to opaque in appearance and is usually seen cut into cabochons, carvings, and beads and is occasionally faceted. Refractive index is around 1.450 but can go as low as 1.42 depending on the type of Opal. The specific gravity is 2.15 and the hardness is soft, being a 5. Opal is very sensitive to heat or sudden change in temperature. Never clean your Opal jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner, it will crack the Opal.

In other words...opal is created of tiny spheres of amorphous silica gel, which gives it its "Fire" and glittery play of colors. A non-crystalline stone, it is possible for the opal to dry out and crack. It is a delicate stone, and can have as much as thirty percent of it's body weight in encapsulated water. This too explains why too much heat can cause an opal to quickly lose it's luster, and why a crack or craze to the surface may occur by moving from a hot room to the cold outdoors.""

The way that flint nodules are formed and the fact that the chemical composition is similar results in similar properties.

Quote
Besides, were we talking about oil-soaked flints?

Perhaps you were, but others were discussing the absorption of water and how nodules are often found in water pockets.  Further to answer your oil soaked flint question. flints were often stored in coal oil to prevent them from further drying out and it was then believed that oil soaked flints gave a hotter spark.  Coal oil is not kerosene.

Quote
Help me understand how that works?
I'm old and easily confused.

There are people who can help you with that.  Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.
Dave Kanger

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William Worth

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #43 on: July 02, 2013, 02:24:15 AM »
I do have a qualitative feel for our local chert that has been freshly removed from the ground and cracking it open compared to the same batch of rock that has been allowed to sit around in the open air for even a short time.  There is a wetness to the fresh stuff that goes away upon being exposed to the air.  And it gets tougher to break in a controlled manner.  The terms brittle or brash comes to mind.

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #44 on: July 02, 2013, 02:51:41 AM »
Thanks for that info TOF. I never would have thought that but it is info that we can all use. 

Offline Daryl

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #45 on: July 02, 2013, 03:43:24 AM »
Thanks Dave!! well done - it is a wasted day, when nothing is learned. Many of us are enriched by your posts in this thread- well, speak for yourself old man, A? - I am enriched and thank you.

I still have a few of Rich's River Rocks - I really do love them - hot, hot, hot sparks but tough'ern all get out to nap. Love em.

Had to put on an English flint yesterday to finish the trail. My Rich 'flint' finally got too short to hit the pan and kick it open - so it got changed out - I've used it for a trail walk, plus more than 1/2 of the second day of the trail on the weekend, so I expect a good 170 shots on it total.  The first 4 flints I pulled out of my bag would have fit the big lock in my smoothbore, but this Siler needed a smaller one. then came out the nice 3/4" English Fuller flint.  I mounted it, moved my frizzen down and lightly pushed the frizzen's face against the flint- click- a tiny speck dropped off leaving a lovely edge. I guess it's angles were about perfect, as it napped itself, seemingly when it needed it, always exceptional ignition with the 3F I used as prime (too lazy to go get my primer horn in my truck (in the gun box) on the rest of the trail, but I did have a couple 'clatches' when shooting the plank shoot - so - I still prefer Rich's river rocks, especially in that Siler lock - it loves them and so does the larger jawed lock on my folwer.
Daryl

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Offline Kermit

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #46 on: July 02, 2013, 06:17:41 AM »
Excellent lesson. Thanks!
"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly." Mae West

Offline sonny

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #47 on: July 02, 2013, 07:13:03 PM »
when I tried his flints, I found that they flaked quickly an more small chunks fell off gouging the heck out of my frizzen face. Do you find this with your use of his flints?????......sonny

Offline Daryl

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #48 on: July 03, 2013, 11:05:27 PM »
No.
Daryl

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Offline Kermit

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Re: Amber French or Black English?
« Reply #49 on: July 04, 2013, 12:59:54 AM »
Me neither. Your frizzen gone softish?
"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly." Mae West