Author Topic: Black powder accident  (Read 9181 times)

Offline Dennis Glazener

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Black powder accident
« on: November 12, 2009, 06:03:08 PM »
I wanted to post this for two reasons, first to let our members know of this tragic accident and secondly to make you aware of what can happen in the blink of an eye!

I got this email from James Rogers, one of our ALR members that is a friend of the Roope. Troy and his wife Shannon run Stonewall Creek Outfitters in Concord VA. I know some of our members are friends and/or do business with them. Now we need to keep Troy and his family in our prayers.

Quote
Troy was badly injured while testing a lock he had been working on Saturday morning. The priming flask exploded in his hand. He has had two operations for skin grafts and pins at UVA. He has lost his left index finger(he's left handed), most of his thumb and part of his middle finger. He was also badly burned on his right hand.
He is back home as of this afternoon.
Keep him and his family in your prayers.
 
James Rogers
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend" - Thomas Jefferson

Mike R

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2009, 06:13:18 PM »
sorry to hear about this and I hope he recovers soon.  if you know any details of how this happened it might help prevent someone else from the same fate.  one reason some folks do not prime from the main horn is that the danger exists of it all going off in your face [up to a pound of powder potentially depending on horn size].  many pan primers hold much less powder, but the brass spring loaded ones are like mini-grenades I guess capable of shrapnel.  I have two small horns and one brass charger, but rarely use them. I will rethink using the big horn, however...

Daryl

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2009, 06:23:06 PM »
Thanks for posting this Dennis.  I feel for him and his family- what a horrid thing to happen to him.  It certainly is an eye-opener as I've recently switched to a small horn priming horn from the larger of the cylindrical brass, screw on both ends chargers.  I was cleaning it and lost the spring, so I switched to the horns.  At the time, I reflected on the previous post about the brass priming chargers being grenades, and deceided to switch.  Glad I did.

Offline Kermit

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2009, 06:45:23 PM »
Those brass chargers have always looked a lot like a .38-55 case waiting to be set off...

Be careful! :o

Prayers and thoughts.
"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly." Mae West

doug

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2009, 07:33:39 PM »
      I think the real issue is how did the explosion occur?  My best guess is that he primed the lock and fired it while still holding the priming horn/charger in his hand and that his hand was close to the lock.  In the initial posting he was testing the lock.

cheers Doug

Daryl

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2009, 05:59:47 PM »
Roger - I'm feeling the same way.  It's interesting how be get less 'bullet proof' as we become older and perhaps, somewhat wiser.  Could be the older we get, the more 'accidents' we see happen to other people that could have happened to us?

doug

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2009, 07:18:56 PM »

 .... If the prime ignites due to the cock falling if not in half draw notch properly or God forbid a shooter primes with her on full draw and said primer plunger is being depressed at that instant the whole works can and maybe did go 'up'! :'(

      A worn tumbler or similar is only 1/2 the answer ---- the frizzen had to be closed for the lock to spark.  Whether the spout was open or not, (presumably was open), the accident appears to have been caused by not returning the priming horn or brass charger to a safe(r) location before closing the frizzen.  He must have either closed the frizzen with the charger in his hand and the cock slipped or perhaps closed the frizzen and fired the lock with the charger still in his hand, otherwise the injuries would have been somewhere else on his body.

cheers Doug

fingers

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2009, 07:29:47 PM »
Sorry to hear about the accident.  Glad it wasnt any worse.  Here's to a speedy recovery.

Offline Brian

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2009, 07:42:38 PM »
Excellent point Doug.  The frizzen would have to be down.  I understand he is left handed, but was working on a right hand rifle.  Perhaps he primed and was still holding the priming flask in his left hand when the lock fired - either because it slipped before he was ready, or because he test fired it.  Sparks jumped, the priming horn was open, and ..........  ???

Anyway, it's all just speculation.  Until we hear from Troy we don't know what happened.  The only certain thing is that he was hurt, and that's extremly unfortunate.  I hope there is something we can do as a group to help him and his family through this.

As has been mentioned, it does make one think about priming horns.  I've got serveral of those little brass ones.   Cute, and efficient, but as has been said - kind of like little grenades!  Never really thought of it until now.  I think I'll be looking at making one out of really light horn.  Still potentially dangerous, but not as nasty as that little brass pipe bomb.
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Offline Dphariss

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2009, 07:53:08 PM »
I cannot comment on the accident since I really know nothing of it other than I am very sorry for the injured man and hope he can work around the loss successfully.

However.
The brass primers are usually made of material that is too thick. If there is an "event" they will develop far too much pressure before venting or failing.
I was using one I thought was really neat until having a conversation with "Monk" a few years ago then I retired it as I realized he was right. These contain the pressure too well.
BP poorly contained is a very low order explosive that is mostly flash. Contain it sufficiently and it will get more and more violent as the containment gets stronger its not an HE by any means but it will kill or maim just the same. In closed bomb tests (unburstable container) BP will produce 100000 psi. So if the container is strong enough to contain 20000 or 50000 psi the powder charge may well produce this and a very serious explosion will result. A horn with a wood plug will fail at far, far less thus it will produce a lower order explosion that is mostly flash. Clothing will protect well from flash but not from explosion of 10000-50000 psi.
This is why the typical metal flasks were made of thin metal soft soldered together. Low pressure containment.
My recommendation is if you have one of the thick wall (thicker than a metal powder flask) brass primers/flasks retire it as I did. I won't even sell or trade it for obvious reasons. I consider it a brass pipe bomb.

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

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2009, 08:12:45 PM »
I never thought of that, Dan (that a too strongly constructed powder container is more dangerous). Maybe this is why black powder cans are made as they are. 
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Offline D. Taylor Sapergia

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2009, 09:58:04 PM »
I really appreciate this discussion.  I have two of those primers machined from brass stock, with screw ends and plunger dispensers, and I shall retire them forthwith.  A small horn, particularly a flat one, is a great priming device.  
This accident reminds me of a minor accident that I had quite a few years ago.  In those days, I must have been bringing the cock to full bent, primed the pan, and then snapped the frizzen closed.  I was holding my rifle in the left hand, and closed the frizzen with the fingers of my right, and the rifle fired.  My right hand was directly in the path of the gases exiting the vent, and I still bear the tattoo, particularly between my fingers where the skin is not so tough.  Had I still had the primer in my right hand when I closed the frizzen, ......yikes!!
So now, I never bring the cock to full bent until I am ready to address the target.  
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Offline Roger Fisher

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2009, 10:13:22 PM »

 .... If the prime ignites due to the cock falling if not in half draw notch properly or God forbid a shooter primes with her on full draw and said primer plunger is being depressed at that instant the whole works can and maybe did go 'up'! :'(

      A worn tumbler or similar is only 1/2 the answer ---- the frizzen had to be closed for the lock to spark.  Whether the spout was open or not, (presumably was open), the accident appears to have been caused by not returning the priming horn or brass charger to a safe(r) location before closing the frizzen.  He must have either closed the frizzen with the charger in his hand and the cock slipped or perhaps closed the frizzen and fired the lock with the charger still in his hand, otherwise the injuries would have been somewhere else on his body.

cheers Doug
Well now young fella, you are certainly correct re; the frizzen must be closed to get spark off of it,  (unless a 'glow' was present from previous ignition which I doubt during his 'test' of the lock)  I have no clue where my brain was when I entered that post!! ::)  :-[And I won't ask!  Lets hope that Troy heals quickly and cleanly!
« Last Edit: November 13, 2009, 10:30:05 PM by Roger Fisher »

Offline Roger Fisher

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2009, 10:28:27 PM »
I really appreciate this discussion.  I have two of those primers machined from brass stock, with screw ends and plunger dispensers, and I shall retire them forthwith.  A small horn, particularly a flat one, is a great priming device.  
This accident reminds me of a minor accident that I had quite a few years ago.  In those days, I must have been bringing the cock to full bent, primed the pan, and then snapped the frizzen closed.  I was holding my rifle in the left hand, and closed the frizzen with the fingers of my right, and the rifle fired.  My right hand was directly in the path of the gases exiting the vent, and I still bear the tattoo, particularly between my fingers where the skin is not so tough.  Had I still had the primer in my right hand when I closed the frizzen, ......yikes!!
So now, I never bring the cock to full bent until I am ready to address the target.  
Most of us can list examples of near misses etc and not to hijack any part of this thread I will add just one near miss of 1 winter or three ago.   I was pouring a charge from main horn in to seperate powder measure and noticed smoke curling above my left hand holding the measure, needless to say the measure hit the ground pretty quick.  I was wearing knitted woolen fingerless glove on my left hand and the glove was smouldering from the flintlock flash of previous shot since I place my left hand just forward of the lock in offhand position,.  I now use leather glove on my left hand when I must....A near miss for certain.  So, boys and girls be aware of the woolen glove danger... :o
« Last Edit: November 13, 2009, 10:31:38 PM by Roger Fisher »

Offline Dr. Tim-Boone

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2009, 10:39:01 PM »
Roundball, You can have your cake and eat it too.  I made a small flat priming horn and put a spring plunger spout on it. Low volume, thin horn, wood buttplug and spring plunger...... I made one from an antler tip too.....maybe too strong???
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Offline Jerry V Lape

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2009, 07:35:50 AM »
Seems like it would be simple enough to put a blowout plug on the brass primers bycutting out rectangular hole of adequate size along the  side and soldering a very thin patch of brass over it.  Maybe a section of brass from the side of a .45-70 case would work.  When I get a few minutes I will modify mine.    
« Last Edit: November 14, 2009, 07:38:44 AM by Jerry V Lape »

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2009, 07:47:58 AM »
Easier and I think safer to just put a plunger type valve in a horn. But of course if these are put in the pound spout down or get turned spout down that can leak a lot of powder into the pouch. Don't ask. But its only happened once.
They are not waterproof enough to be carried outside the pouch.
I have a piece of antelope horn from the first one I killed with one of the metering spouts installed. Been using it since 1977 or so.
I have another spout in a drawer but have not yet made another. I have a priming horn or 2 that I also use. These are waterproof or very nearly so.
Its really personal choice.

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

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2009, 11:59:26 PM »
This piece of antelope horn has been in use for about 30 years. And has been carried many miles on foot and horseback.



Its a little big for a small pouch but I get by.

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

tiger955

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2009, 09:36:10 PM »
I like my brass plunger type primer and don't want to give it up. Perhaps I will not use the screw in brass cap and instead replace it with a cork or piece of wood that will pop out easily instead of containing pressure.

Offline frogwalking

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2009, 06:03:39 AM »
Well, I thought I left a comment very early in this string, but no matter.  My thoughts have been echoed half a dozen times. 

Let me throw in a different possibility.  Someone said Troy was testing a lock.  I am guessing it was a new or refurbished one, so the idea of it slipping off half cock, while priming with the frizzen miraculously closed is not really reasonable.  My home is about a dozen miles from Troy's place. It seems like the humidity was high most of the time when the accident could have happened, but the priming horn, which I have, is much more likely to build static electricity than is the brass primer with the plunger.  The empty plunger is placed against the pan, making electrical contact.  Any spark will occur then, with no powder present, then when one pushes the plunger the thing is already grounded and no spark should occur.  The horn, with the plug pulled, could well initiate a static spark.  (More likely if he humidity were low.) Just my thoughts.

Of course, I see with permanent black spots in my eye where a flinter fired with no prime in the pan when I was a teenager.  sh_t does indeed happen.  I suppose a spark could have occured with the brass plunger primer and ignited the thin film of powder that clings to the inside of the spout.  I am going to pull the end plug out of my brass primer and either cram a cork or soft wood plug in there. 
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Offline JCKelly

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2009, 10:02:05 PM »
Dennis Glazener, my sympathy to that gentleman who had the accident.

Would you happen to know exactly what kind of priming flask it was--horn, or brass tube?

I do agree with those who have discarded their strong brass primers, but would like to know just what style priming horn was involved with this particular accident.

California Kid

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2009, 10:18:19 PM »
From what I understand it was made from a .50 cal machine gun case.

AZ Longrifle

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Brass Tube Powder primer
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2009, 01:47:07 AM »
Mine was turned into a 75grn Powder measure today.
I cut it down with a Jeweler's Saw and polished the end.
The spout and fitting I'll make into a Horn Primer with wooden pins holding the
end cap in as a "break away" cap, in case of detonation.
I might get burned, but I'll keep my fingers!
« Last Edit: November 19, 2009, 02:51:21 AM by AZ Longrifle »

Offline Bill of the 45th

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2009, 02:28:18 AM »
Talked with Jim Chambers last night, and he said it was a commercial pan primer, andTroy was testing a lock by itself, not on a gun.  The primer was in his left hand, and he was manually actuating the lock to check function, thus the primer was in close proximity to the lock at the time of the accident.  Troy, and his family are fine folks, and that fine southern Mountain that Ken just displayed are from one of his parts sets.  I've already sent him off a get well card.  Anyone else wanting to do so, here's the address

Troy Roope, and family
3598 Paradise Rd.
Concord Va. 24538

I'm sure they would love well wishes from the M/L family.

Bill
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Candle Snuffer

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Re: Black powder accident
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2009, 02:54:45 AM »
Was sure sorry to read about the accident.  I don't know Troy, but he's part of the brotherhood of us muzzle loader folk so I'll be sure to send him a get well card.

Thanks for address Bill.