Author Topic: Shot Making  (Read 21360 times)

northmn

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2008, 05:53:09 PM »
The Sparks shot towere built in 1808 that gave a 150 foot drop was said to have supplied ball for the war of 1812.  Bishop a co owner had to sell out his interests because he was a Quaker and did not believe in manufacturing war goods. 
What fascinates me the most about these towers is not the fact that they made shot shell shot but the amount of production in general.  One tower sold over 400,000 25 pound bags of shot to the US Government a year.  Each could put out at least 2 ton a day.  The market was much larger than I had thought.
My original ideas about colonial shooting was that they bought a rifle, a mold was made with the rifle, and they casted what was needed.  Looking at the figures for output on the shot towers and the fact that the British and French were exporting shot and ball to the country before this time I am speculating that shooters liked to purchase as close to a "box of ammo" as they could.   There is more than one thing leading to this speculation.  I am sure a fair amount of shot and ball was exported for the fur trade to the Indians.  It makes a great deal of sense to me that they would buy ready made shot and ball.  The NW Trade Gun remained basically a 24 gauge for at least 70 years.  While there are many explanations for this, a uniformity of ammunition availability could play in.
We have all seen these small bag molds that no modern caster really wants to use and carries more for decor, because they are a real PITA to use produce any amount of ball.  They make a lot of sense if carried as a supplement to the supply.  It was stated that they would resuse ball dug out of game.  For casting a very few ball by a campfire, they make sense.  Looking at original rifles, one does notice a commonality in caliber selections.   Be fun to have the KRA look into this. 
Ball molds of the time were not nearly as convenient as we have today.  There were claims of some being made out of wood even.  I doubt if the machining tolerances, especially in the Revolutionary times could produce molds within .001 round as done today. 
As stated a desire to purchase ready to shoot ammunition may have been a very central factor.  It was stated that the Sparks tower was built because Sparks and Bishop got tired of paying high prices for hunting shot and built the tower.  Jefferson's embargo also played in.  Most people today and back to the start of the cartridge era bought loaded ammo.  Handloaders were of course people like the buffalo hunters, but typical rifle and pistol owners bought loaded ammo.
Almost all reference to guns was by gauge.  Did they sell ball by count to get a pound?  IE 24 ball to equal a pound for the tradegun?  At the reenactment Fort William in Thunder Bay, they had a bin of musket balls on display as an example of sale items.
A lot of shooters likely did cast their own, and there are references to the homemade shot for shotguns, but there must have been a very large market for ready to load ball and shot.  French and British imports would have been very costly, and it seems the shot towers made ball and shot more affordable. 

DP
The air draft systems were invented in 1849 as a means to eliminate the need for higher towers, but I think it was  to try to make them under the 150 feet.  Another interesting aside is that some used other means for gaining heights like mine shafts. 

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2008, 08:29:43 PM »
Popular Science Magazine has a 1 pager on a guy trying to make drop shot.
Sept 08 page 77
Might be on their web site at popsci.com. But it keeps freezing up my browser.
It would appear that dropping pure lead does not work. At least from as high as 40ft.
Dan
Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.  Jame Madison
 Its been happening for over 100 years.

northmn

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2008, 12:35:05 AM »
I looked on the website and found a lot of interesting articles but not that one.  Likely he did not use "poisened" shot like Rupert and Watts recommended. 
I am still interested in shot manufacture before the towers.  I suspect the towers enabled a practical manufacture of smaller shot.  If duck shot was 20 caliber then I would think casting shot would have been one way of manufacture.  All indications are that shot was quite expensive before the towers.  Still, 20 caliber would take a lot of casting as one load could be as much as 35 -50 pellets.

DP 

Daryl

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2008, 02:23:57 AM »
DP- BB size, in lead, works well on geese, but only to between 50 and 55 yards due to loss of pattern density - using 2 ounce loads and from a gun that will patern them about 85%(40 yards), ie; extremely tight full choke patterns.  Even though the percentage was high, the few nunger of pellets let the load fall down on pellet density past 55yds.  #2 lead however patterned 94% and worked well to about 85/90 yards.
; BB's used on geese past 55 yards resulted in a few feathers and fly-offs, or gentle glide-downs that landed up to 1/2 mile away. They just weren't good. Inside 55yards, they'd fold geese, but then, #2's did that to 85/90yards. You would not believe how far you have to lead a goose on a pass shoot at 90 yards.   

northmn

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2008, 03:11:50 PM »
Daryl, they have had the same sort of problem with F steel.  There just are not enough pellets.  Wing shooting is a game of probability in that you need so many pellets to hit a bird with the hopes that one or two hit the vitals.  The Olin study stated a five pellet hit average for mallards.  Jack O'Connor claimed 3 in the body but also liked to see a wing broken.  I quit using 7 1/2 on grouse and went to 7's and 6's because I saw a lot of feathers fly on straight aways and no grouse.  I personally think that early fowling was more decoying or getting close to swimming birds and then pot shooting them.  I am positive that the Natives did that.  For that, finer shot works best, but if all they had was heavier shot, then they still may get more than one per shot.  Wing shooting was popular with the wealthy in Europe and thus would have had adherents in the US.  Market hunting is a matter of getting the most for the least and became popular as citys popped up.

Daryl

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2008, 05:12:26 PM »
I agree, David - multiple hits are necessary to increase the odds of a couple fatal pellets.  A big flurry of feathers usually means a butt-hit bird, and it's a long way forward through the guts ot find a vital spot, hense heavier shot needed.  I've used 7 1/2's very effectively on decoyed ducks, mallards, teal and gadwall, but always used 4's or 5's for pass shooting, and 6's for 'ruffled' grouse on the wing.   

northmn

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2008, 02:34:13 AM »
Still pursuing the history angle, I picked up comments that the flintlock development in the 1600's made wingshooting practical for even some of the "common' men in England.  One historian claimed that shot was said to be made by shaving off lead and rounding it between steel plates. This form of  "hobbing" keeps coming up as a method.  It would take a lot of shaving for a normal days shooting.  Shot sizes must have been larger.  There are 135 4's to an ounce and 90 2's, such that making shot even this fine would take some time.   The shot towers were given credit for making the sport more practical and affordable. 

DP

Offline TPH

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #32 on: August 14, 2008, 05:59:37 PM »
There is still one left, maybe it is time for a trip? Shot Tower Historical State Park here in Virginia:

http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/shottowr.shtml

150 feet from the sieve to the kettle at the bottom of the shaft.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2008, 06:00:28 PM by TPH »
T.P. Hern

northmn

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2008, 07:27:42 PM »
TP, Virginia would be a great visit.  Right after the first one, shot towers seemed to grow up all over the country close to lead deposits. Part of the reason was due to patents running out.  Most were about 150 drop as in Virginias.  They all made shot of varying sizes including rifle ball and musket ball. 

DP 

Offline TPH

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #34 on: August 14, 2008, 10:16:00 PM »
northmn, it is a great place, not just to visit but to live, come on down.  ;D  The lead mines in Wythe (pronounced "with") County were used from before the Revolution until well after the Civil War so lead was very handy to this shot tower and were the reason for its location there.
T.P. Hern

Offline TPH

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #35 on: August 14, 2008, 10:59:58 PM »
Sorry to wonder slightly off topic, but here is more information on the history of the lead mines with mention of the shot tower:

http://www.cwc.lsu.edu/cwc/inter-aspects/geol(mines).htm
T.P. Hern

Offline Robert Wolfe

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #36 on: August 15, 2008, 12:12:36 AM »
TPH - very interesting, thanks. I've been to the shot tower several times but never knew about the nearby lead mines.
Robert Wolfe
Northern Indiana

northmn

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #37 on: August 15, 2008, 01:37:31 AM »
I posted a question on the Antique board concerning shotguns, as I feel they may have evolved with the availability of finer shot.  Be interesting to see if there is a correlation.  I should have visited the East more on vacations.  I took a trip out to the Black Hills before all the towns went to casinos.  Trouble with visiting the west is that there is a lot of space in between historical sites.  Northern Minnesota is not a bad place to visit either.  A lot of people do every summer.
I am getting a lot of second hand info about early shot making, escept for the Rupert method where one finds writings.  Like to find more original sources.

DP

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shot Making
« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2008, 05:34:38 AM »
northmn, it is a great place, not just to visit but to live, come on down.  ;D  The lead mines in Wythe (pronounced "with") County were used from before the Revolution until well after the Civil War so lead was very handy to this shot tower and were the reason for its location there.
The lead mines at Galena, Ill were the reason the ill fated Dubuque, IA tower was built I am sure.
Dan
Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.  Jame Madison
 Its been happening for over 100 years.