Author Topic: Curtis and Harvey BP.  (Read 17529 times)

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Curtis and Harvey BP.
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2016, 05:16:25 PM »
When did they quit making this stuff? I opened a can off 3fff and am shooting it in my .36 Deep River gun. Works great. Little fouling and very quick clean up. Accurate too.

Depends on which C&H you are thinking of. Sometime in the early 20th c. they lost the ability to get Spanish Dogwood and stopped making Diamond Grain, the premier powder in the late 19th c., they could not make the powder without the proper charcoal. The C&H we got in the late 1960s and 70's was made in a blasting powder plant in Scotland and was very poor choice for a propellant powder. This apparent when looking at Lymans first edition BP Handbook and the charge weights needed to equal GOI (Goex) velocities which at the time was not a great propellant powder by 1850 standards.  The C&H was likely significantly contaminated with Sodium Nitrate since it was from a blasting powder plant and I suspect it was milled for a shorter period of time for "slow" like a blasting powder would be. Sodium is a disaster for a propellant since it will absorb moisture from the air and there is no ballistic uniformity (ballistic uniformity is not important to blasting). While Goex was pretty grime at the time and would not reproduce 19th c ballistics, it was still far better than the last production C&H available here. I have been told by the generation before me that pretty darned good C&H was available in the US in the 1950s I assume this came from a plant used to make propellant powders OR by someone who understood propellant powder making at the Scotland plant.  The closest we can get to a real high quality sporting grade powder today is Swiss which is very good powder in all respects and far better than anything else currently on the market. Though Schuetzen brand is also pretty good. Most modern powders are far better than the powder available in America in the 1770s (when stamp mills were the norm and even screen granulated powders as well) and probably better than the majority of powders prior to 1800 or even later here. Remember why Dupont came here from France to make powder.  He traveled to America and was appalled at the "quality" of the powder he used here. Powder makers were phobic over Saltpeter purity. The Navy, for example, could not have a hygroscopic powder in the hold of a ship on a 1 year mission. The powder, in this humid environment would soon become very weak if not useless.

Dan
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Offline Dphariss

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Re: Curtis and Harvey BP.
« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2016, 05:20:35 PM »
This is really "Mad Monk's" field. His input would be invaluable.
He who dares not offend cannot be honest. Thomas Paine

Online Daryl

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Re: Curtis and Harvey BP.
« Reply #27 on: April 27, 2016, 07:13:20 PM »
Thanks Dan - we are all indebted for your explanation of these powders.

IIRC from Firearms of the American West, this is concerning the US powder quality improvement in their Military ctgs.  In the 1700's into the early 1800's, the powder was weak indeed and the standard charge for the .69 musket ctgs. was 165gr. which included  4 to 6gr. for priming as the pan was primed and hammer closed before loading the barrel.

After the development of more highly refined powder(in and around 1820?), the issued ctg. charge for the .69 army Muskets was reduced to 135gr. including the prime. This newer powder gave the same ballistics as the old charge had produced prior to the powder improvement.
Daryl

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Offline JBJ

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Re: Curtis and Harvey BP.
« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2016, 07:40:36 PM »
I ran across the following tday re Curtis and harvey powder, Thought it would be of interest to the Forum.

http://britishmilitariaforums.yuku.com/topic/20420/Curtis-Harvey-Black-Powder-happened-company?page=-1#.VyOM8_krLIU

Scroll down to the post by Curtis.
J.B.

Online Daryl

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Re: Curtis and Harvey BP.
« Reply #29 on: April 29, 2016, 07:57:21 PM »
Very interesting - especially about the powder quality of the 1960's.
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Offline heelerau

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Re: Curtis and Harvey BP.
« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2016, 04:09:44 AM »
Daryl,
        I posted this question on the British Military Forum, took awhile to get some answers, Bill Curtis I believe is a descendant of the company founders and I see finally posted  a full answer as I hoped he would.

Cheers

gordon
Keep yor  hoss well shod an' yor powdah dry !

Offline Skirmisher

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Re: Curtis and Harvey BP.
« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2016, 01:39:27 AM »
I think Dan explains why my experience with C&H back in the early '70s was not all that positive.  We got tremendous amounts of hard fouling from the stuff and were glad to go back to DuPont.  These days I am rather taken with Old Eyensford.  It is not as clean as Swiss but seems to be easier to pour into a barrel.  It certainly is superior to anything we could buy over the counter 40 years ago.

I have a tin of Hazard's Kentucky Rifle, and about once a year I go shoot a couple shots with it out of an old .32 squirrel rifle.  Now that was nice powder.

Jim

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Curtis and Harvey BP.
« Reply #32 on: May 17, 2016, 07:53:14 PM »
A bit of C&H history.

Up until roughly 1970 the C&H bp plant at Ardeer Scotland used glossy buckthorn alder wood from the South of France.  Around 1968 the French military took black powder off their strategic supplies list.  The French black powder plant that cancelled their contracts with wood collecting farmers in southern France.  So C&H (ICI) no longer had a supply of this wood which is critical to the performance of a sporting burn rate black powder.

They then tried to produce their small-arms black powder using other commercial chars out of the Scandinavian countries.  That produced powders slower in burn rates and very dirty burning in the gun.  Then about 1972 they had a corning mill explosion that shut the works down.  ICI felt it was not worth rebuilding and restarting the operation.  Within a short time the machinery was dismantled and shipped off to what was then West Germany.  It was used to set up an operation run by Dynamit Nobel.  This plant's powder showed up in West German produced black powder shotgun shells imported by Navy arms.  Rather horrid stuff.  The Dynamit Nobel plant ran about a year before an explosion put it out of business leaving WANO as the dominate producer in Europe. 

There as been mention of the C&H powder results seen in the first edition of the Lyman Black Powder Handbook put out around 1974.  The powder used in that was the powder made after the change from glossy buckthorn alder charcoal to the Scandinavian made commercial charcoal.

All of the production records from the C&H Ardeer plant were either lost or destroyed shortly after the works was closed.  Some of the duplicate copies of the C&H production process and experimental work was found in boxes when my buddy in Australia pulled used machinery out of a ICI owned black powder plant in Australia.  He made photo copies of all of it and sent it to me.  I did not want to store all of that here so I hauled it all down to the Hagley Museum for storage in the records building for future researchers.

Some of my black powder work centered on documenting the way various black powder plants operated.  Then seeing that the findings ended up in a safe storage facility that could be used when future historians looked at the old powder plants.  In most cases when these bp plants go out of business the records end up in some dump.


Bill Knight

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Curtis and Harvey BP.
« Reply #33 on: May 17, 2016, 09:21:36 PM »
Thanks for that info, your contribution to this forum is greatly appreciated. Interesting topic.