Author Topic: Flintlock longrifle cleaning  (Read 7617 times)

Offline Bushfire

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Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« on: July 14, 2021, 08:45:10 AM »
So after reading and rereading the last thread I've been convinced to go for a long rifle.

My next question as someone who hasn't shot a Longrifle or a flintlock is how do you clean them and how does it differ from a percussion?

To clean my hawkens I remove the barrel and sit it in a bucket of water and go from there. Thinking with a long rifle this isn't the most common way to do it. How do you clean them without removing the barrel? And what specific flintlock cleaning things do I need to keep in mind?

Offline WadePatton

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2021, 02:44:59 PM »
Plug the hole with a toothpick--shortened or you'll snag it and leak funky water.  Fill the barrel with water and let it soak for a bit. Pour it out. repeat if you like.  At some point wrap some tow on a tow worm and run that a few times. repeat until clean. Tow can be rinsed out and re-used.  Dry it out with water displacing oil and then apply rust preventative and you're done.  Unblock the touch hole.

There will be more replies, but that's how I do it.
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Offline Nessmuck

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2021, 04:05:13 PM »
If your barrel is pinned ….no need to remove it. Like noted above…put a tooth pick in the touch hole…Fill with hot tap water…put a wet patch on the jag…remove toothpick and Ram that Ram rod down….and a 20 foot spray of gunk will fly out the touch hole…repeat until clean

Offline EC121

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2021, 04:37:45 PM »
I have found that it helps to put a little grease on the toothpick.  Seals without as much pressure.
Brice Stultz

Online Frank

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2021, 05:21:13 PM »
Been shooting flintlocks for over 40 years and never found the need to fill the barrel with water. Remove lock. Wet a few patches with black powder solvent, been using ballistol and water half and half, run two or three wet patches down the bore and follow up with dry patches. Wipe bore dry and then run patch down with WD 40. Clean the outside of the barrel with damp patch. Clean the lock by running hot water from the faucet, wipe dry and spray it with WD40. Lube with a few drops of oil on the moving parts.

Follow up the next day with an oil patch down the barrel.

Offline MuskratMike

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2021, 06:39:35 PM »
Bushfire: Simply follow what Wade told you. If you don't have or want to use tow simply fill the barrel with warm water (be sure to put a toothpick in the vent hole) let it stand for a couple of minutes then drain. Wet 1 cotton cleaning patch run it up and down the bore, followed by a quick up and down a couple of times with a nylon bore brush to loosen the fouling, one more barrel fill with warm (NEVER HOT) water, followed by dry patches until they come out clean. Let bore dry a short while then run an oiled patch down. I remove my lock after shooting and really clean and oil it but I am a little obsessive compulsive. Unless you really know what you are doing don't disassemble the lock just run it under warm water and give it a good brushing with an old tooth brush let it dry and oil it on all its bearing surfaces. I can do this in under a half hour and only use 7 patches. I never remove my barrels. If you are new to flintlocks I can not implore more strongly to buy the book: "Flintlocks A Practical Guide for their Use and Appreciation by Eric Bye. Available from N.M.L.R.A. or directly from the author, (message me and I can send you his address).
"Muskrat" Mike
« Last Edit: July 14, 2021, 07:59:11 PM by MuskratMike »
"Muskrat" Mike McGuire
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Offline ScottNE

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2021, 06:52:49 PM »
So after reading and rereading the last thread I've been convinced to go for a long rifle.

My next question as someone who hasn't shot a Longrifle or a flintlock is how do you clean them and how does it differ from a percussion?

To clean my hawkens I remove the barrel and sit it in a bucket of water and go from there. Thinking with a long rifle this isn't the most common way to do it. How do you clean them without removing the barrel? And what specific flintlock cleaning things do I need to keep in mind?

I used to clean by running patches. Now I fill the barrel with hot water mixed with either ballistol or oil soap depending on what I have to hand, plug the touch hole (I always tie a towel around the touch hole area and muzzle as well), let it sit for about 10 minutes, then pour it out and run patches. Seems faster than just patches. I don’t remove the barrel for cleaning.

While the barrel is sitting, I clean the lock. I disassemble my locks completely, usually find pockets of thick black powder residue in places I wouldn’t be able to reach without dissembling. After thoroughly drying out the barrel I run an endoscope down and make sure all looks as it should, then heavily oil the bore and inside of the lock, and wipe oil down less generously on the exterior. I usually check on my guns every weekend just to wipe off any film of rust.

Takes about 20 minutes total.

Offline Marcruger

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2021, 08:25:42 PM »
Hello,

I think the main thing to remember is to be diligent whatever method you use.  Clean the gun immediately, oil well, and check the next day. 

There is no difference in percussion cleaning versus flint.  The difference comes in whether you have a pinned-in barrel versus some sort of hooked breech that is easily removed. 

Wade wrote "Plug the hole with a toothpick--shortened or you'll snag it and leak funky water.  Fill the barrel with water and let it soak for a bit. Pour it out. repeat if you like.  At some point wrap some tow on a tow worm and run that a few times. repeat until clean. Tow can be rinsed out and re-used.  Dry it out with water displacing oil and then apply rust preventative and you're done.  Unblock the touch hole."

This is a good basic plan.  I differ a little so let me elaborate. 

I have used a toothpick to plug the hole for years (it works), but recently got a strong wafer-shaped rare earth magnet (thank you Ron Hess).  I cut the finger off of a surgical glove, and dropped the magnet inside the finger tip.  The rubber is for a seal.  Place the magnet/fingertip over the touchhole and it seals off any leakage.  I like it a bit better than a toothpick.  If you use a toothpick, fold a patch over it to catch any fugitive drips, and trap pick/patch both in place with the frizzen.

Stand the gun up, and use a funnel to fill the bore.  DO NOT USE HOT WATER.  There is no advantage to hot water, as lukewarm cleans just as well.  Hot water can/will flash rust your bore.  Why chance it?  I don't know where this hot water idea came from, but it has persisted.

I have also recently converted to using cheap blue windshield washer fluid (thank you Bob) for cleaning, and it seems to work faster than plain water.  Let the fluid sit in the bore for a few minutes, slosh back and forth with your thumb over the muzzle, and pour out. 

At this point I run a nylon bore brush back and forth a few times.  I then refill and let sit for 5 minutes.   Pour that out. 

I do not use tow for cleaning, though some do.  I find a good brass jag with Butch's Bore Shine cotton twill patches to fit the bore tightly and do a great job of getting in nooks and crannies (corners of the grooves).  I just use those patches with blue washer fluid until the bore comes out clean.  I find adding soap makes a foamy mess with my cleaning. 

IMPORTANT STEP - I dry the bore, then wet patch it with Mr Flintlock lube, or LVL, which will remove any graphite left from our blackpowder.  This will usually reveal black on patches that did not come out with the washer fluid.  Graphite.  Thank you Mad Monk. 

Dry the bore, and lube it well with WD-40 for moisture displacement. 

The following day, wipe out the WD-40 moisture displacement and replace it with your bore preservative oil of choice.  There are times that you'll see a light bit of surface rust on the second day, depending on humidity conditions.  Hence the second day checkup and wipe out. 

REMEMBER - That black-filled water from the bore can flat out ruin a gun's finish.  Be very careful when handling that wet stuff to keep it off the wood.  It can also quickly turn your brass black.  Just fair warning for newcomers.  For that reason I tie a microfiber cloth around the breech to catch any drips that might run down.  Once you've seen a light colored wandering line down a stock, you'll want to make sure it doesn't happen to you. 

This is my procedure based upon experience and the advice of others who are successful.  I hope this helps.  God Bless,   Marc

Offline Darkhorse

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2021, 09:13:57 PM »
For many of us the hot water idea came from Thompson Center. In the book that came with a new TC rifle, in the section for cleaning we were told to use hot water to heat the metal and that would evaporate the water left in little cracks and such. At least that 's how I remember it. I haven't read one of those manuals in a couple of decades.
I hunted with a TC for 15 or so  years and followed their advice. I heated water on the stove top with a few flakes of soap added until it was almost boiling. Then cleaned the barrel until I needed a rag to hold onto it because it was so hot. Drained the barrel and ran a couple of dry patches through it and wiped off the outside then turned it upside down and propped it in a corner.
I never at any time observed flash rust on the inside or outside metal. And I did it this way for 15 years or so. I understand most people do have the flash rust problem but I never did. I can't explain why.
Now I shoot longrifles with pinned barrels that I built. Sometimes when I do a lot of shooting I will remove the barrel and clean it the old TC way except I use room temperature water. Except for the lock. That goes under hot water from the faucet, gets brushed with a toothbrush and dishwashing soap until clean and hot.
As for the barrel I do it much the way Wade described with a toothpick in the touchhole. Except I don't use tow just regular patches.
As described in a previous post I will blast some of that water through the TH as that serves to help clean the inside of the TH. I lay the rifle horizontally almost level with the TH down so most of the dirty water gets blasted out and down instead of on the stock.
I think most of us generally do it this way with personal methods that we are comfortable using.
It takes me a lot longer to clean my rifles now than it did with my old TC because I am compulsive about removing all the fouling from the metal. But that doesn't bother me as I just enjoy handling my rifles and cleaning just comes with the territory.
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Offline WadePatton

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2021, 11:34:46 PM »
I like the magnet thingy!

Toothpicks can leak no doubt.  My first finish repair was from leaky pick--fortunately it's extremely easy to repair beeswax!  I've patched that finish twice already with no problems--but that's a whole 'nuther can o' wigglers.

Then I realized my magnets have holes in them--but the glove/seal should make that a non-issue.

Two more tricks I employ is a little funnel (or a spout) and a marked level on the water vessel* to prevent overflowing the muzzle and making a mess.

*It's a small jelly jar in which I store the funnel and extra tow and the washed tow.  I keep the oily tow bagged.
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Offline Spalding

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2021, 01:42:52 AM »

Thank you all for the replies, sounds pretty straight forward.

On the topic of oils, what preservative oils are you all using? I'm not overly happy with mine and would like to change.

Good question though there’s probably a couple hundred answers.
I’ve been doing the toothpick, water flush, patches till clean, WD40 dance, then a clean patch the next day, followed by a slightly damp patch with Hoppes gun oil.
What are the rest of you using for the final oil wipe in the bore patch?

Bob

Offline Tilefish

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2021, 02:22:54 AM »
I live in south Florida and have tried ever oil and grease known to man. Are humidity is always over 80%. Only thing I found that work's in the bore to prevent rust is RIG grease for long term storage. And LUCAS EXTREME DUTY gun oil. Both stay where you put them.
Chad

Offline Badenpowell

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2021, 03:08:29 AM »
Mike: Do you know if Mr. Bye is ordering another printing of his book?

Offline Don Steele

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2021, 03:31:34 AM »
Plenty of great suggestions already posted to clean your rifle so I’m not going to take time with another one. The one thing I will add is that if your chosen method  involves the use of a bristle brush in your barrel, take a little time online and research “ how to remove a STUCK bristle brush from a muzzleloader barrel.”. You might find that to be a useful skill set.  ::)
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Offline Marcruger

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2021, 03:55:49 AM »
Hey Don,

You'll note that I said a NYLON bristle brush.  Pretty hard to stick one of those in a bore. 

The trick to getting a stuck copper bristle brush out is a quarter or half clockwise twist at the bottom of the bore, and then pull it out. 

Good point, and thank you for catching that good sir. 

God Bless,   Marc

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2021, 04:50:33 AM »
darkhorse comments on the use of hot water when cleaning the bore after a trip to the range.

This goes back to the days of Ox-Yoke Wonder Lube and 1000 shot lube and some of the earlier patch and bullet lubes.  With wax based lubes you must melt the wax coating in the bore to remove powder combustion fouling mixed in with it.   When you used hot water with a bit of soap you would melt the wax and emulsify it into the cleaning water.  If you left any of the lube wax in the bore that had powder residue mixed in it you would see a good bit of rust. 

I am reminded of Ox-Yoke adds where they claimed they had fired 1000 rounds through a ml rifle shown leaning up against a tree.  The truth was that that rifle was never out of their shooting building where they did their velocity testing.  They controlled the air conditions in the building.  Kept the R.H. at 30% where you will not see any after rusting in the bore.  That also kept bore fouling dry and they could turn the rifle muzzle down and drop it on the muzzle several times to knock the fouling out of the bore since when the bore fouling is very dry it has little adhesion to the bore metal. 

They did all of their BP powder testing in their rifles in that climate controlled building to give accurate reproducible velocity data since the temperature of the powder charge when you fire it has a lot to do with both velocity and amount of bore fouling.  Going back to the days of the Buckskin Report.  My buddy Woody used to converse with Sam Fadala.  When they published velocity data in the magazine there would be letters from readers who could not reproduce their velocities.  It wasn't until I got deep into my work that I saw this direct relationship between temperature of the charge at the time of firing and the resulting velocity.    It also explained to me why the same can of black powder could give widely varying results different times of the year.

Some others posting in this thread talk about using hot water and flash rusting of the bore shortly after the barrel drains.  That hot water flash rusting problem is why I simply used the cold water faucet here at home.

Offline davec2

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Offline MuskratMike

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2021, 06:32:38 AM »
Badenpowell: I didn't know it was out of print. You might drop him a note and see if he has any left.
"Muskrat" Mike McGuire
Keep your eyes on the skyline, your flint sharp and powder dry.

Offline Hatchet-Jack

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2021, 09:36:47 PM »
I've used the toothpick method. I like the rare earth magnet trick suggested here. I've got some of those, I'll have to give it a try. I recently bought one of those brass flush kits from TOTW. I remove the lock, clamp it on the barrel, drop the weighted end of the tube into a bucket or bottle of water, then run several wetted patches up and down the barrel. It sucks water in and out the touch hole pushing all of the fowling out. Remove the clamp. Run a few dry patches, then a Clenzoil soaked patch, then oil it with Ballistol. Wash the lock off in the bucket of water scrub it with a toothbrush, oil it with Ballistol, wipe the barrel and furniture with Ballistol, done.

Offline Daryl

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2021, 10:05:42 PM »
https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=45793.msg450069#msg450069

Good stuff, Dave. Now why didn't I think of the rare earth magnets?
Thanks for posting this.
Daryl

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Offline AZshot

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2021, 10:07:31 PM »
I must have read the hot water method back in the 70s too, and it never caused flash rust, until I got back into BP this time.  The bore flash rusted the first 4-5 patches, just minutes after pouring out the water.  I switched to room temp water from then on with no problems. 

My patch sessions still seem to take dozens.  It's a round bottom groove rifle.  I pour and drain about 4 barrels full of water, then start on patches, alternating wet with dry.  They come out dirty for ages.  I need to try the bristle brush, and let the water sit in the bore a few minutes.  I've been just pouring it in, then right back out.  Optimizing the process.....or try to.

Offline Daryl

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2021, 12:54:40 AM »
In 1972 when I started with a TC, I also started with hot water - very hot in a bucket  flushing the barrel with it, drawing it in, and forcing it out.
 I got flash rusting every time.
The same happened to Pete N.'s .40 Taylor made for him, now a departed friend. Pete used nothing but hot water, would use nothing else. After
Taylor got the rifle back, we had to lead-lap the bore twice. It was finely pitted, one end to the other. Over time, flash rusting adds up.
I expect AZ, you didn't get flash rusting until after 4-5 patches because it took that many to expose the actual bore to the moisture and heat.
Up until that time, it was fouled and the fouling was protecting the bore.
Daryl

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Offline hanshi

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2021, 01:04:39 AM »
Using a magnet is brilliant (but don't let it go to your head), marcruger.

I use cold tap water with or without a drop of Dawn.  And no way have I ever been able to clean a pinned barrel rifle with 3 to 5 patches.  It also takes me a dozen or two wet & dry before I'm ready to add rust protection.  The only thing that comes off my longrifles is the lock.  It doesn't get disassembled, just cleaned with water and oiled.  If I use brushes they are the plastic bristle ones.  The vent liner gets a toothpick and the bore gets filled with water.  At the range I do swab the bore with a wet then dry patch prior to packing up to leave.  I've now gotten into the habit of drying the cleaned bore and patching it with alcohol.  Then I swab it with WD40 and leave it for the next day.  All that's required when I get back to it is alcohol the bore and swab it with a Barricade patch and install the lock; only takes a few minutes.

I used to do other methods of cleaning in the dim past, and they worked too.  Whatever you do to clean and however you do it just remember they are your babies and treat them as such.
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Offline Badenpowell

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2021, 02:38:25 AM »
Beg pardon, but can someone refresh me on how a small farmer on the western Carolina frontier in 1765 would clean a rifle he depended on to protect his family and livestock, and provide food for the table -- a rifle that was among his most valuable possessions? I am pretty sure water and tow are part of the recipe.

Offline snapper

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Re: Flintlock longrifle cleaning
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2021, 03:09:37 AM »
Cut up some disinfectant wipes to clean the bore.   Works great.

Fleener
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