Author Topic: Muzzle Blast-updated  (Read 25422 times)

Offline Acer Saccharum

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19246
    • Thomas  A Curran
Muzzle Blast-updated
« on: August 29, 2009, 08:28:18 PM »
Quote
A most interesting possibility enters the scene.

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning, who tried all kinds of things to get a barrel to ring. Using firecracker fuse, of course, he said he short started balls, but could NOT get the barrel to ring. He said the best way he found to get a bulge in the barrel was this method:

Load powder, ram the patched ball down the bore, seat firmly on the powder.

THEN...short start a ball in the muzzle. This makes a nice bulge in the barrel.

Now, it dawned on me as I had no recollection of short starting, it is also entirely possible I had already pushed a ball down onto the powder, and THEN short started another ball.

Either way, the main ingredient is distraction, balanced by a great big portion of luck. I am glad to be here to tell you about it, and even happier that I am not paying hospital visits to a hurt son or neighbor. Amen.



First time I ever had this happen, and hopefully the last. You might think 'this couldn't happen to me', and I must admit, I never entertained this happening to ME, with MY gun. However, this weekend changed all that.

I was shooting alongside my son Jesse, and one of our neighbors, Bill, was coaching Jesse. I had one ear on what Bill was saying, and less than half my focus on what I was doing. I loaded powder and started the ball, and completely forgot to push the ball all the way down with the loading rod. In hindsight, I had no doubts, no niggling thought to check my gun if I wasn't sure of the load. Nothing. Nothing, that is, until the gun went off with the strangest sound. It didn't dawn on me that something was wrong until the smoke cleared, and the muzzle didn't look right.

I have been shooting Muzzle loaders for about forty years, so experience has nothing to do with this. It's focus on the job at hand that matters for the safety of yourself and others. When someone says safety, I feel like I'm right on that bandwagon, touting safe handling, safe procedure, etc. But this event made me take a step back and re-assess my thinking. This kind of thing can happen to ANYONE, no matter how, young old, or experienced if you don't pay attention to what you're doing.

Most of all, it's FOCUS. If you are distracted, ANYTHING can happen. I have forgotten powder about five or six times in my shooting life. OK, so you pull the ball and start over. Or the vent is full of sludge.
But something like this is not only damaging to the gun, someone could have been hurt or killed if things had gone differently. I count myself as the luckiest man in the world.

The short starter I use puts the ball just at the front sight dovetail. The dovetail makes the barrel weak at this spot. In one way, this gave the barrel a definite place to relieve the pressure. Had I a longer starter, the barrel may have only bulged, but not split? Or could it have blown sideways, and shrapnel hit my neighboring shooter? I shudder to think of what COULD have happened.

.54 swamped, with about .05 wall thickness at the dovetail. Shooting 70 gr FFG. .535 ball  The shsort starter placed the ball RIGHT at the dovetail. You can see the bulge right at the dovetail. I think the split probably started at the thinnest point, and tore fore and aft from there.




The strip of metal peeled forward, but nothing tore off, thank God.



Front sight stuck into the rafters above the firing line.


It gives me the chills to think what MIGHT have happened. If reading this helps someone else pay a little more attention on the line, then this lesson has not been wasted. Don't talk to others while loading or shooting. If you feel distracted or unable to concentrate, take a break. Your safety and that of others is at stake.

I feel like the luckiest man in the world. I learned a terrible lesson at a very low price. I don't give a @!*% about the gun, I can get a new barrel. But I can't replace someone's eye.

Tom
« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 09:00:53 PM by Acer Saccharum »
Tom Curran's web site : http://monstermachineshop.net
Ramrod scrapers are all sold out.

Offline Roger Fisher

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6805
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2009, 08:57:49 PM »
Gee Whiz - to put it mildly :o

I'm surprised that we don't hear of exactly this same thing happened more often than it does.....Now then it behooves all and sundry to check their own short starters and make certain they do not line up the ball at the tennon or sight notch.  

Spread the word and I assume it will be alright with you if we get this incident featured in our state federation newsletter ???

Tom - Do not let this sour you on the game!  Stuff happens and we should educate ourselves and all that may listen to the various safety issues and procedures.. :)

Today at a shoot in Easton, Pa I checked on the guy I had with me as to the length of his short starter.  Turns out it lines the ball up with the barrel tennon.  He is getting a longer starter!!!   I check mine and it lined up with the frt end of the barrel tennon.  Half hr ago I changed to a longer starter to get the started ball behind the tennon dove tail and of course the muzzle..... ::)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 02:19:37 AM by Roger Fisher »

Offline Acer Saccharum

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19246
    • Thomas  A Curran
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2009, 09:10:52 PM »
Roger, far from being soured, I am truly thankful that nothing happened to anyone on the line. Someone at the range thought I must have been really embarrassed, but to tell the truth, it had not occurred to me at that point to be embarrassed. I was so relieved that no one got hurt, that I hadn't had time to think about that side of the event.

I am also thinking that if it was so easy to have an accident like that, that I'd better let everyone know about it before it happens to them.

I seem to remember Taylor is dead set against short starters for this very reason. If the only thing you have to load the gun with is the long rod, then there is a real slim chance that you will fail to push the ball all the way down. It may require crowning/coning the muzzle of the barrel and finding a ball/patch combo that allows an easy load without having to use a starter.

I have taken better pictures and will send them in to Muzzle Blasts. This event has many facets that are noteworthy to mention for builders and shooters alike.

Better view of wall thickness over front sight:


« Last Edit: August 29, 2009, 09:16:55 PM by Acer Saccharum »
Tom Curran's web site : http://monstermachineshop.net
Ramrod scrapers are all sold out.

Offline Ben I. Voss

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 344
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2009, 09:38:25 PM »
Man- that is amazing. Glad no one was hurt!! Interesting how the barrel split, presumably following the grain of the steel.Wow.

Offline Michigan Flinter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 625
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2009, 10:17:58 PM »
Is it the photo or my tired old eyes but the break doesn't look like it is a CLEAN Break. The steel looks rusted where it came apart.  I'm glad you were not hurt and we all had a refreasher in loading. Eric D. Lau Riverdale Mi.

Offline Acer Saccharum

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19246
    • Thomas  A Curran
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2009, 10:25:05 PM »
Eric, no, no, this is a totally clean break. Rusty from sitting all night. Kinda hard to clean now.
Tom Curran's web site : http://monstermachineshop.net
Ramrod scrapers are all sold out.

raldridge-mt

  • Guest
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2009, 10:46:42 PM »
Sorry that this has happened to you , but, another reason NOT to use a short starter... you don't REALLY need that tight of a patch ball and you can learn to load correctly with a ram rod...

Offline Don Getz

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6853
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2009, 11:12:41 PM »
Tom....very interesting.   Great pictures, and sure glad no one was hurt.    Just goes to show ya, it can happen at any time or place.   We can do all the talking and showing pictures of what can happen, but it will happen again to soneone,
not that we are sloppy shooters, but it is just one of those things....just like dry balling.  If you have ever done it you would swear that you put powder down the barrel.  Saw one at the CLA show, just like yours, but this gentleman insists
that he had the ball all the way down, seated on the powder....what do you think?.........Don

Offline SCLoyalist

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 697
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2009, 11:29:12 PM »
Wow.   I'm glad the damage was limited to material and not people.   This provides a pretty good close-out to the recent 'What would have happened' thread.   Thanks for sharing the experience.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2009, 11:29:37 PM by SCLoyalist »

Offline George Sutton

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 725
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2009, 12:20:24 AM »
Tom, thanks for posting this. It shows that no one, regardless of experience, is immune from this type of accident. Thank God that no one was hurt.

If I'm helping a kid or a new shooter, I leave my gun at home. When I'm at a match, I make it a point not to engage in conversation. That may make me sound like a snob but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

George Sutton
Centershot

Offline Acer Saccharum

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19246
    • Thomas  A Curran
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2009, 12:59:52 AM »
A fellow shooter, Sue Connors, was telling me of some of her experiences on the range, but one point of hers in particular that has SO much bearing on this situation:

Do not try to load or shoot while instructing a new shooter.

Now I realize that I was not the instructor in this case, but I was completely distracted. In the future, I will hope to recognize this and focus on ONE task or the OTHER, but not try to do both.

Tom
« Last Edit: August 30, 2009, 05:48:21 AM by Acer Saccharum »
Tom Curran's web site : http://monstermachineshop.net
Ramrod scrapers are all sold out.

roundball

  • Guest
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2009, 01:08:17 AM »
As others have said, you sure dodged a bullet, no pun intended...and the front sight imbedded up in the rafter is a very telling photo...could just as easily have sheared / flipped off to one one side or another...hats off to you for being big enough to post this...a good wake-up call for everyone.

Offline Dennis Glazener

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 16719
    • GillespieRifles
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2009, 01:41:07 AM »
Acer,
Glad you nor anyone else was hurt! I have often worried about short starting a ball and have taken the rifle down, dumped the priming and run the ram rod down to make sure. Felt silly afterwords but after seeing your barrel I would rather be safe than sorry.

I had a friend of mine shoot a steel ram rod down range in my .58 caliber musket! Nearly broke his shoulder but at least it was seated all the way down and didn't do any damage except to his shoulder!
Dennis
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend" - Thomas Jefferson

eseabee1

  • Guest
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2009, 01:49:44 AM »
Glad you or anybody else was not hurt ...wasn`t there a question on here what would happen if a ball was shot just short starting the ball?

Offline Roger Fisher

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6805
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2009, 01:52:04 AM »
Eric, no, no, this is a totally clean break. Rusty from sitting all night. Kinda hard to clean now.
I will add that I have seen more than 1 split barrels and the grainy look of the steel at the break/split makes it appear almost like broken Cast steel altho we know better!

Online Ken G

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5178
  • F & AM #758
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2009, 02:31:53 AM »
Acer,
My hats off to you for posting this for us all to learn from.  Great tutorial on waht happened I might add.  I can't imagine how lucky you must feel that no one was hurt especially seeing that front sight embedded in the rafter. 
Wow! 
Ken
Failure only comes when you stop trying.

Candle Snuffer

  • Guest
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2009, 02:54:56 AM »
Thanks for posting this Acer.  Glad to hear no one was hurt. 

I will also use this as a reminder to my White River Brigade to keep their mind on their loading.  I've seen more then a few times the guys want to visit while loading.  Not good... 

I tell them to keep focused on their loading but my comments of concern last about five minutes, then they're back to B S'n...  Well, maybe if they see this it'll be a wake up call to 'em?



 

Offline Acer Saccharum

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19246
    • Thomas  A Curran
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2009, 05:01:36 AM »
Dennis, I had mentioned before that I had no clue that I'd done this....whenever I doubt my load I check it out. I have dumped my powder out if I ever think I've double charged, or not charged at all. But this time, I had not a doubt at all. This comes from being distracted. Very dangerous.

I am very thankful no one got hurt.

Tom
Tom Curran's web site : http://monstermachineshop.net
Ramrod scrapers are all sold out.

Offline Joey R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 527
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2009, 05:27:25 AM »
Acer, I also thank you for posting and thank God no one was injured. I can't imagine your initial shock and fear at that moment. This post is an excellent tutorial not only about BP shooting but many other potential dangers. Most notably on a personal situation is when I'm in my woodshop or at the reloading bench and the fellows drop by for visit..... the machines get turned off and the canvas cover goes on the reloader press. Again Acer, THANKS!!
Joey.....Donít ever ever ever give up! Winston Churchill

Offline Larry Pletcher

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1734
    • Black Powder Mag
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2009, 06:40:34 AM »
Tom,
It's a relief to hear that all are OK.  It probably should be a cause for caution for all of us.  Even with no one around I fear that I can be so zeroed in on one loading step that I neglect another.  We all need to learn from this.
Regards,
Pletch
Regards,
Pletch
blackpowdermag@gmail.com

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what can never be taken away.

Kayla Mueller - I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.  Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home.

Offline Dphariss

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8715
  • Kill a Commie for your Mommy
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2009, 08:48:26 AM »
And some think I am silly for loading with a rod and no starter if at all possible.

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.

Offline Roger B

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1448
  • You wouldn't have a snack, would you?
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2009, 02:48:31 PM »
I've shot a short started ball once & a ramrod on another occasion, both when I was distracted.  I'm certainly glad that no one was injured & it even looks as if a new barrel will fix the rifle.  This is the inevitable thing that happens when humans & machines get together.
Roger B.
Never underestimate the sheer destructive power of a minimally skilled, but highly motivated man with tools.

Offline Pete G.

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1949
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2009, 03:48:33 PM »
I, too have fired a short started load, but the only result was a weak sounding report and a ball that bounced in the dirt about 60 yards out (thank goodness). Sometimes we get complacent with this stuff and forget what could happen if everything all lines up in the wrong direction. It has never even dawned on me to check the relationship between the short starter and sight dovetail. Thanks for posting this, Tom.

Incidentally, what load, just out of curiosity?

roundball

  • Guest
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2009, 03:53:53 PM »
99% of the time I shoot alone at a small out of the way private place so the primary distractions are just me falling into the subconscious routine of reloading while my mind is a 1000 miles away...has accouted for its share of dry-balls & douple loads...but the witness marks on my range rods have been a god send.
And my range rods have large 2" wooden balls on the ends so they're immediately visible if you shoulder the rifle with the rod still in the bore and I don't worry about shooting a rod out.

But this posting has me sitting here thinking of what additional discipline I can add into my loading sequence as a safeguard...to ensure the range rod gets used every time in the first place.....I want to continue using short starters so I'd like to figure some way that might force me to remember seating the ball all the way down before taking a shot.

Offline Acer Saccharum

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19246
    • Thomas  A Curran
Re: Muzzle Blast
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2009, 05:57:57 PM »
Load: .535 ball, .018 pillow ticking, 70 gr FFg.

Nothing out of the ordinary, nice, comfortable load.

I am curious too, about a procedure that will either eliminate the short starter( preferred), or a system that makes it obvious that I did not use the range rod(very difficult).
Tom Curran's web site : http://monstermachineshop.net
Ramrod scrapers are all sold out.