Author Topic: Salvaging blackpowder  (Read 1304 times)

Offline Dobyns

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Salvaging blackpowder
« on: November 23, 2021, 04:50:52 PM »
A few weeks back I was at the range with my flintlock and was approached by an older guy.  "Can you use some blackpowder?" was his question, and I replied that I could.  He asked me to meet him at his place later, so I did.  He had a plastic tub with lid sitting on a trailer behind his garden tractor along with a sheet of roofing rubber.  "I had it down in the bushes in the woods, been there for at least 10 years".  He opened the tub, and there was a heavy, black plastic bag inside, and it was tied shut.  Upon opening the bag, it was evident there was water in the bottom.  ".....insert your own expletives...."

The cans on top didn't look too bad, but there must have been at least a gallon of water in the bottom, and those cans were rusty.   "....more expletives...., I'm sorry, but how could this happen?  Well, if you think you can do anything with it, you can have it".

I loaded it into the back of my truck -  tub, bag, and all.  I placed the cans on my garage floor and got the questionable idea to blow warm air on them with a portable electric heater.  I checked them several times, moving warm to the touch cans further away, and after a couple of days decided to see what was salvageable.

The cans that had been on top sounded like powder when shaken, so were dumped into 5 quart metal bucket for visual observation, beofre transferring into modern plastic powder containers and relabeled.  This was mostly Goex ffg from '96 to '01.

Some of the rusty cans seemed like a solid lump.  Elephant ffg and fffg from '96 and '97 were the worst.  There were a few cans of Goex ffg as well, and one can of Goex Ctg from 1995.  I beat on the cans with my hands to try to  loosen the powder up, but then resorted to slamming the cans onto a 2x8 on the floor.  I started pouring into the bucket, and broke up the lumps.  Some of the cans needed the spouts and tops ripped out to get the big lumps out, but it eventually seemed to break up OK.  This  was all mixed together in one big jug. 

There was a can or two rusted through, some that had a thick crust of blackpowder in the bottoms after dumping out what would come out.  I ended up with one can of very questionable looking stuff that will be reserved for pan powder at best, or maybe will end up as fertilizer.

Patrick




« Last Edit: November 23, 2021, 05:07:15 PM by Dobyns »

Offline Clowdis

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2021, 04:58:57 PM »
I'd see how it works after I know it's dry. It may work just fine.

Offline Dobyns

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2021, 05:02:22 PM »
I've since gone to the range with this salvaged mix.  I used my .58 flintlock as the test mule.  85-100gr Goex fffg is what I normally load, so I went directly to 100gr with this mixed powder.  The first 4 shots at 50 yards made one egg sized splat at point of aim on a steel gong.  I took a couple of shots at 100 yards and saw it was considerably low.  I changed my point of aim and put 3 shots in 3".  At that point I increased the powder charge to 120gr, but it didn't group.  At no point did I feel the need to swab the bore as the mink oil and pillow ticking was sliding down the bore quite easily with the range rod.

What I didn't do during this trip was shoot my normal fffg load, but the points of impact suggest this stuff is considerably slower.  I DID expect this as the mix is probably 60-70% ffg and Ctg.  I don't have a way to check moisture content, but the mix isn't clumping together...yet.

How would someone measure the moisture content of blackpowder?

Patrick

« Last Edit: November 23, 2021, 06:44:09 PM by Dobyns »

Offline EC121

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2021, 08:03:42 PM »
I have read that the Elephant powder is slower than the Goex.  Never had the opportunity to use any myself.

Offline P.W.Berkuta

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2021, 08:36:14 PM »
I purchased 4 cans of 2F Elephant powder back in the late 90's when you could not get any GOEX. I shot it in my shotguns and .54 caliber rifle. I found it to be somewhat dirtier than GOEX and not as powerful. It worked just fine I just had to use a bit more than I was using with GOEX.
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Offline Bob Roller

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2021, 12:09:12 AM »
Never tried Elephant in a muzzle loader but loaded some 45 Colt for the BPCR shoot at Ralph Marcum's and noticed a lower leverl of power even with the compressed loads I used in that pistol.DuPont packed a wallop and was very noticeable.
Bob Roller

Offline Jeff Murray

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2021, 05:40:46 AM »
I shot Elephant for a while many years ago when GOEX was not available locally.  IT seemed a little smokier.  Velocities over the chronograph were around 85-90% of those produced by GOEX.  When the charge was increased to produce the velocity that gave me the best groups with GOEX, the results were very consistent and produced tight groups.  Elephant produced some of the smallest standard deviations in velocity -shot to shot - that I recorded with that rifle.

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2021, 06:53:32 AM »
I shot Elephant for a while many years ago when GOEX was not available locally.  IT seemed a little smokier.  Velocities over the chronograph were around 85-90% of those produced by GOEX.  When the charge was increased to produce the velocity that gave me the best groups with GOEX, the results were very consistent and produced tight groups.  Elephant produced some of the smallest standard deviations in velocity -shot to shot - that I recorded with that rifle.

They did a good job of polishing the powder grains in their polishing barrels.  I wrote a booklet on how that powder plant was operated with a very large number of photos.  But dealing with the plant in Brazil on a daily basis was extremely frustrating.

Offline Marcruger

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2021, 04:27:28 PM »
Dobyns, can I ask why you decided to mix all of the grades/brands of powder together?   You may have had some powder that was acceptable shooting if you had kept them separate.  You are sort of left with an indeterminate grade of low-performing powder now.  Just trying to think through you reasoning.  God Bless,  Marc

Offline hanshi

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2021, 06:02:42 PM »
Around the late '90s and early 2,000s I used quite a bit of Elephant since usually that was all I could get.  I don't recall ever chronographing it.  It did it's job in the woods, was accurate so I was quite satisfied with the results.  Can't say whether or not it was "dirtier" than other powders.  I've just never, ever come across a "clean" black powder.
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Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2021, 04:03:37 AM »
Around the late '90s and early 2,000s I used quite a bit of Elephant since usually that was all I could get.  I don't recall ever chronographing it.  It did it's job in the woods, was accurate so I was quite satisfied with the results.  Can't say whether or not it was "dirtier" than other powders.  I've just never, ever come across a "clean" black powder.

Hanshi,

Went back into my book on the Elephant plant in Brazil.  Looking at data where I was coaching them on getting their powder velocities up to where the Elephant powder would be more competitive with GOEX.  In addition help fill the supply gaps every time GOEX had an explosion at the Moosic plant.  The Elephant could fill in their production gaps and not give the shooters a lot of trouble with the change.  Elephant was to be little more than a back up to GOEX supplies when GOEX supplies stopped.  At the same time WANO, in Germany, was trying to get into the U.S. market through WASAG, USA.  I had little faith in WASAG's WANO powders.  Over rated and over priced.

Test rifle was my Getz barrel .45 caliber Schimmel flinter with a 38" long barrel.  I forget what chronograph I was using at that time, 1995.  Patches were #40 cotton drill from JoAnn's and Tom Decare's original Lehigh Valley lube.  All of this data was shot on one day so there was no big air temperature differences effecting resulting velocities.

WANO 3P
60 grains, 1591 fps
1.05 g/cc loading density

WANO 3F
60 grains, 1625 fps
1.03 g/cc loading density

Elephant 3F
60 grains, 1358 fps
1.15 g/cc loading density. Lot 153/1992

Elephant 3F
60 grains, 1723 fps
1.15 g/cc loading density. Lot 171/1994

GOEX 3F
60 grains, 1708 fps
1.07 g/cc loading density. 1995 May lot.

The velocity jump between the 1992 lot of Elephant and the 1994 lot of Elephant came about after I convinced the plant in Brazil that they had to stop charring their wood to an 85% fixed carbon content.  Once they charred to the 75% fixed carbon content spec. the velocity jumped up to where it should have been.

When these various powder makers wanted to jump into the U.S. market they did not understand that GOEX production was the gold standard they had to match in order to compete.

The thing with WANO was touchy for a year.  The guy who was setting up WASAG, USA to import WANO powders was a retired du Pont explosives man.  But no real bp experience.  He got really upset with me for going with Elephant.  Then a year later he is back at my front door.  Over a beer and pretzels he was appologizing to me.  WANO refused to make any changes to their powder for the American market.  After a year he realized that he would have lost every penny of his du Pont retirement fund with the WANO powder project.  So I had actually saved him a pile of money.


Offline Dobyns

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2021, 03:46:46 PM »
Dobyns, can I ask why you decided to mix all of the grades/brands of powder together?   You may have had some powder that was acceptable shooting if you had kept them separate.  You are sort of left with an indeterminate grade of low-performing powder now.  Just trying to think through you reasoning.  God Bless,  Marc

Dobyns, can I ask why you decided to mix all of the grades/brands of powder together?   You may have had some powder that was acceptable shooting if you had kept them separate.  You are sort of left with an indeterminate grade of low-performing powder now.  Just trying to think through you reasoning.  God Bless,  Marc

I had already repackaged what I perceived to be the best powder out of this mess.  This mixture was stuff I had serious doubts about (other than the can of Goex Ctg), and I had one plastic (smokeless) jug in which to transfer it.  3/4 of it was the old, grey Elephant ffg and fffg, and adding a couple of suspect cans of Goex ffg just made for a bigger lot.  The CTG looks like little black diamonds in the sea of grey, and seems evenly distributed.  The thought of screening had crossed my mind, but I didn't see an excess of dust when pouring through a funnel into the jug, so rejected that idea.

The initial range test suggests it will be OK.  Certainly, it seems slower than the Goex fffg I've been shooting, but this was to be expected in that 3/4 of it is ffg.

Offline Daryl

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2021, 09:52:56 PM »
Hmmm- black diamonds in a sea of grey almost sounds like a smokeless/black powder mix - YIKES, if it is.

A friend once gave me a can of IMR4227 that he bought from a local store as "black powder", but since the granulations didn't look like his previous BP, he hadn't tested it.
in his ML.
Daryl

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Offline Bob McBride

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Re: Salvaging blackpowder
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2021, 05:24:15 PM »
Thatís the guy who overthought safe bp storage.