Author Topic: Barrel rupture  (Read 9358 times)

Offline Mike from OK

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Barrel rupture
« on: November 05, 2019, 06:22:34 PM »
We all take great pains to avoid this. And with modern materials it is a rare occurrence... usually requiring an engineered/contrived scenario or a serious case of ignorance/wrecklessness.

But how common was it in earlier times when barrels were fashioned by hand?

In Osborne Russell's 'Journal of a Trapper' a member of their party goes missing. He was never found, presumed dead, and Russell noted that one of the possible misfortunes that befell him was that his gun barrel ruptured and killed him.

I found it interesting that Russell mentioned barrel rupture as a possible misfortune. Was it common enough that it would be one of the main suspected causes for a person to lose their life in spite of all the other dangers a trapper in the Rockies would face?

Mike

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2019, 06:52:32 PM »
Id say with a rifle it would be a lot less frequent than with a trade gun. But he should have been carrying a rifle.
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Offline Roger B

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2019, 08:01:36 PM »
I've read most of the fur trade journals that are available & Russel's is the only mention that I've ever seen.  I did read an entry about a "percussing tube" blowing out, though I'm not sure what the writer was referring to.  Perhaps a drum & nipple arrangement.  A lot of trappers went under without a trace, so it may have been more common than we think, but I seriously doubt it. The trade rifle suppliers made pretty good products in the interest of keeping their contracts.
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Offline Daryl

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2019, 08:17:43 PM »
The nipple was the "tube", from British nomenclature.
Forsyth spoke of the "Tube" and which end should be constricted for the flash-hole.
Daryl

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Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2019, 09:19:19 PM »
One of the rifles on the Lewis and Clark expedition ruptured a barrel. It was one of the Harpers Ferry rifles, and obviously it ruptured somewhere beyond the forearm, because it was shortened and presented to one of their native guides. Probably was short started, and fired without roaming the ball down on the powder.

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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2019, 10:55:30 PM »
French trade guns were notorious for barrel failures.
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Offline longcruise

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2019, 05:09:26 AM »
My memory of the Osborne journal entry was pretty much a conjecture that "perhaps his percussion tube burst".  I think they were in the Yellowstone country.
Mike Lee

Offline wmrike

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2019, 05:16:59 PM »
Would a blown barrel necessarily have been tantamount to a fatality?  I will let you decide whether or not there is a viable analogy, but some pretty spectacular barrel/action bursts involving modern firearms rarely result in more than a bruised and mildly cut left hand.  I am certain that today's eye protection quietly contributes the absence of permanent trauma.

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2019, 07:47:11 PM »
 I think unless there was a breech plug issue, most barrel ruptures occurred after the loaded had traveled down the bore a ways, and built up pressure. So, likely many survived barrel ruptures without, or with only minor injuries.
 I believe many more rupture occurred after the conversion to percussion, especially in smoothbores with light barrels.

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Offline Mike from OK

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2019, 04:49:15 AM »
My memory of the Osborne journal entry was pretty much a conjecture that "perhaps his percussion tube burst".  I think they were in the Yellowstone country.

You got me to thinking so I went and looked it up... Yellowstone country is correct.

"July 31st:

...The next day we concluded to stop at this place for the lost man and four men went in search of him, and returned at night without any tidings of him whatever. It was then agreed that his gun had bursted and killed him or his horse had fallen over some tremendous precipice."

Mike

Offline Darkhorse

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2019, 05:15:28 AM »
My memory of the Osborne journal entry was pretty much a conjecture that "perhaps his percussion tube burst".  I think they were in the Yellowstone country.

You got me to thinking so I went and looked it up... Yellowstone country is correct.

"July 31st:

...The next day we concluded to stop at this place for the lost man and four men went in search of him, and returned at night without any tidings of him whatever. It was then agreed that his gun had bursted and killed him or his horse had fallen over some tremendous precipice."

Mike

Sounds like some of those old hunters had healthy imaginations. But limited though as they only admit to 2 possible causes. I would guess that having only one shot contributed to more deaths than bursting barrels or horses falling over cliffs.
American horses of Arabian descent.

Offline Mike from OK

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2019, 06:10:28 PM »
Darkhorse, in the same journal entry Russell goes on to state that the man was 55 years old and had 30 years experience in the wilderness...

I'm thinking mid 50's would make the guy a prime candidate for a heart attack.

But the fact that his horse was not found leads me to think there may have been other things at play.

We'll never know. But the fact that gun rupture was one of the conclusions stuck in my mind.

Mike

Offline Notchy Bob

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2019, 09:39:13 PM »
I've seen several references to ruptured barrels, especially with trade muskets. Samuel Hearne mentioned it, and attributed the problem to the natives' use of odd projectiles when they could not get proper balls.  However, left hand injuries related to firearms accidents were not unusual on the frontier.  Didn't Thomas "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick get his nickname that way?

There are some old illustrations showing trappers with a spare ramrod carried in the rifle bore.  This was not simply a convenient place to carry the spare rod.  I can't speak from personal experience, but I understand that a patched round ball, in a rifle carried on horseback all day, can "drift" up the bore, creating a dead space between the ball and the powder charge, resulting in the same effect as short-starting the ball.  A spare ramrod carried in the bore might help keep the ball in place, and would also allow for a quick visual check.  If the ball had drifted, a smart push on the rod before withdrawing it would re-seat the ball and prevent possible barrel rupture.

Notchy Bob
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Offline longcruise

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2019, 10:46:44 PM »
I think there were hostiles about in the Russel event so that could account for the disappearance of the man and his horse.

That may have been the same hunt where he and his companions lost their entire outfit to Blackfeet and had a very long walk to rejoin their group.
Mike Lee

Offline D. Taylor Sapergia

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2019, 01:56:06 AM »
Here's a barrel rupture from the mid 80's...in this case the barrel was double balled, and the second ball hydraulicked up the bore several inches.  We never found the hammer.  No one was injured, but all shooting stopped for the day.










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Offline Nordnecker

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2019, 03:26:14 PM »
Gadzooks! Was that a modern steel Barrel? I can't believe how it split in straight lines like that.
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2019, 04:25:52 PM »
The gun I blew looked just like that. Only difference is my Buds kept right on shooting once they confirmed all my body parts were intact.
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Offline Robby

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2019, 07:57:14 PM »
General Knox, Washingtons artillery General was missing fingers on one hand as a result of a barrel failure while duck hunting.
Robby
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Offline D. Taylor Sapergia

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2019, 08:41:48 PM »
The example I gave is a 1" x .54 cal. Sharon barrel.  There were shreds of the patch in the torn steel at the end of the split.
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Offline Pukka Bundook

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2019, 04:31:30 PM »
Taylor,
That's the first time I have seen a classic "Banana peel " split ,..... from the Breech end!
That would be Noisy!

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2019, 05:01:44 PM »
Taylor,
That's the first time I have seen a classic "Banana peel " split ,..... from the Breech end!
That would be Noisy!
It is VERY loud, believe me. it's like being hit in the head with a wet mop. My top flat disappeared, never to be seen again. The short started ball was still in the barrel.
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Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2019, 05:02:48 PM »
Barrel ruptures in the old days weren't always considered the end of the road, I have seen quite a few brazed repairs.
NEW WEBSITE! www.mikebrooksflintlocks.com
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Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2019, 05:19:58 PM »
 A friend bought an antique trade gun at a gun show. When we disassembled it, we found that it had ruptured its barrel under the forearm. The wood showed no damage, so I always suspected the barrel ruptured during proofing, and was repaired.


  Hungry Horse

Offline Bob Roller

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2019, 05:53:37 PM »
Gadzooks! Was that a modern steel Barrel? I can't believe how it split in straight lines like that.

That barrel's maker should be published.Too many barrels are around now that were
made from extra easy to machine steels that were never intended for the stresses of
what goes on when a sudden,abrupt internal pressure occurs. I know barrel makers
get defensive about this but IF they have confidence in their products they wouldn't
have to be.
One other thing to look at is the idea of extreme powder charges.The guns I have seen
with original powder measures or flasks do not indicate extreme charges of any kind.
The powder makers/sellers may like the idea of big loads but common sense must be
a factor as well.
Bob Roller

Offline Marcruger

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Re: Barrel rupture
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2019, 08:14:47 PM »
"The powder makers/sellers may like the idea of big loads but common sense must be
a factor as well."

Common sense seems mighty uncommon these days.  Even here on ALR we get questions like, "Can I shoot 120 grains of 3f in a .45?"  I just shake my head. 

My opinion is that with traditional muzzleloaders we have no business shooting at long ranges with open sights and rainbow trajectories.  If hunting is involved, why would someone shoot something that lives and breathes at relatively long ranges?  My ethics must be different than these folks.  Large charges for "flatter trajectory" have no place in my book. 

The other reason I hear is more powder for more power in a given bore.  My answer to that is, if you need a harder hitting load, you need a bigger bore.  Many animals have been taken cleanly with moderate volumes of powder. 

Getting close enough to place a ball in the right spot is of course key. 

With moderate loads and pressures, I believe most modern barrels will easily outlast us if loaded correctly.

My apologies if my rant here has offended. 

God Bless,   Marc