Author Topic: Sneaky Smokeless  (Read 4657 times)

Offline JCKelly

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Sneaky Smokeless
« on: March 03, 2017, 06:20:19 PM »
No matter how often we say not to use smokeless in a muzzle loader, someone tries out a little smokeless anyway. The assumption, at least mine would have been, is that the gun will immediately burst.

 Maybe not.

The owner of this .54 cal. rifle fired it about 40 - 50 times using 110 or 115 grains GOEX, FFg or FFFg. The manufacturer at that time normally used 1137MOD steel for barrels. Somewhere along the way the shooter chose to use about 50 grains, by the same volume measure, of Unique®. The gun survived this, and  after about five shots of Unique he went back to black powder only.

But it was too late. As best I can figure, the pressure of those five smokeless loads did serious damage, possibly starting a crack in the free-machining steel.

On the last day he was firing just wads, blank charges of black.
 

At that time I had done a few expert witness jobs on behalf of men injured by poorly made muzzle loaders. A lawyer found me, and sent me the pieces for analysis. I was first told the shooter used about 100 grains of black powder. This puzzled me, as it burst in a manner typical for smokeless failures in such guns. And I even saw a few grains of what looked like FFg black in the breech threads.

Ah, but then Lawyer Becker mentioned these five little shots with Unique. He didn't think it a problem, the shooter reported even less recoil than usual. I wrote Lawyer a complete failure report, with photographs, & sent it to Louisville along with my bill. I also told Lawyer he had no case, as the poor fellow had used smokeless, for which that rifle was not ever intended.  Guess Lawyer's 1986 check got lost in the mail, I'm still waiting.

I get a little emotional even now, when I read what happened to that shooter.

Well, it won't happen to any of us because we know better than to use smokeless.

Yeah.

But . . . About a decade ago I tried hard to convince myself that T/C had learned how to make a proper rifle & maybe I'd get me a used one. Talked with some guy selling on net, he happened to mention that he normally loaded with a small amount of smokeless in his black powder. To get more pizzaz, I guess. I thanked him but passed on the rifle.

Wonder how the guy who eventually bought it fared?

There's a video on this forum showing a couple of guys torturing a Traditions (Spanish-made) rifle with two different grades of Hodgdon® smokeless. At one point the barrel bulged, about in the middle, but more or less survived. A later, and heavier, load blew the entire breech end off the barrel.  Nasty, but I wonder if it means steel used by the Spanish was ductile enough to give that bulge as a warning, before it finally disintegrated? Can only speculate.

Btw, Mr. UPS plans to deliver a Traditions kit to me today. I hope to make it up into something resembling a Leman. Got me some old solid brass tacks, and have a Wilted Lilly patchbox coming from Track. With some help from that Tiger Stripe thread I'll be on my way. If my hands still remember what to do.




Offline hanshi

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2017, 06:39:01 PM »
All I can figure is that some people won't believe facts but fall all over themselves to believe, "Wonder what'll happen if I...."?
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Online Bob Roller

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2017, 08:24:15 PM »
THAT is the first time I ever saw a lock blown in half. Unique?! For these the angels sing.

Bob Roller
« Last Edit: March 09, 2017, 04:05:18 AM by Ky-Flinter »

Offline Daryl

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2017, 11:07:45 PM »
Some people are not teachable.  For those, there is a yearly e-mail list of those who make the "Darwin Award" list - usually about the time the yearly Walmartian E-mail comes around. Should be receiving the 2016 listings soon, once the judges get finished with their lists.
Daryl

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

Offline Marcruger

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2017, 11:20:50 PM »
I think that Darwin members may also keep the smokeless powder and black powder in the same location.  I do NOT!  For several reasons. 


Offline Dphariss

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2017, 11:48:06 PM »
One of the problems with grey powder in MLs is not getting proper ignition of the charge. Under ignited grey powder can do really nasty things even in the brass suppository world or even in modern field pieces.  1137 in a 1" octagonal barre I know will stand really nasty loads of grey powder, 50000 or more in actual testing with no apparent ill effects. Though this i far more than I would want to see as a "service load" with this steel. 
How the rifle in the photos stood up as long as it did is beyond me.
Dan
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Offline Clark Badgett

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2017, 03:23:51 AM »
The Becker Law Office is still around, although Mr. Becker, Esquire either retired or died as it's ran by another fellow now. I get tired of seeing their ambulance chaser commercials on TV when I bother watching.
Psalms 144

Offline Old Ford2

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2017, 03:41:21 AM »
What is "Grey Powder" ??
Fred
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Offline Daryl

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2017, 04:10:12 AM »
Pyrodex,  along with other perchlorate infused powders - just a guess.
Daryl

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

Smoketown

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2017, 01:15:42 PM »
My guess is any powder that is NOT blackpowder ...    ;)

Cheers,
Smoketown

Offline Elnathan

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2017, 02:39:07 PM »
In context it looks like "grey Powder" is smokeless. I don't think anyone is using Pyrodex in modern fieldpieces.
A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition -  Rudyard Kipling

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2017, 03:03:58 PM »
Question:
What is "free-machining steel"?

Concern:
Wonder how many ML rifles are out there for sale that have been subjected to loads with smokeless powder by misguided shooters and then returned to black powder loads.  I don't see a potential pipe bomb with every used ML, but the phrase "due diligence" comes to mind when considering a used ML.


Online Bob Roller

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2017, 04:29:07 PM »
Question:
What is "free-machining steel"?

Concern:
Wonder how many ML rifles are out there for sale that have been subjected to loads with smokeless powder by misguided shooters and then returned to black powder loads.  I don't see a potential pipe bomb with every used ML, but the phrase "due diligence" comes to mind when considering a used ML.

Any steel that can be easily turned or milled with small effort and common tools could be considered as "free machining"
I use 12L14 for lock and trigger screws and I think if it wasn't for the heat it could be machined with a finger nail.
I have a bar of 12L14 that is 9/16" square and made a long range folding tang sight out of a piece of it and was pleasantly
surprised at how easy it was to make this sight using new,sharp end mills in my milling machine.

Bob Roller

Online Bob Roller

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2017, 04:38:58 PM »
Pyrodex,  along with other perchlorate infused powders - just a guess.

I have some Bullseye and IMR4759 that are grey colored and it would be hard to
get these two confused with real black powder and I have old DuPont,GOEX,Meteor
Curtis&Harvey and lastly Swiss. Locally GOEX is now $30 a pound and I refuse to
support that kind of gouging and won't have to.I last shot what you guys call The
Holy Black in 2008.

Bob Roller

nosrettap1958

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Re: Sneaky Smokeless
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2017, 07:16:37 PM »
Looks like half that lock blew into his eye. We can make a replacement hand.  We can make a replacement arm but we cannot make an eye. One precise instrument that the Good Lord created that's a little too complicated for humans to understand let alone duplicate. 
« Last Edit: March 09, 2017, 07:25:26 PM by crawdad »