Finally got my hands on a used and abused flintlock, a circa 1980's Investarms made-in-Italy-but-sold-by-Cabela's .50 caliber Hawken. I paid 100 bucks for it, as it needed a bit of TLC to get it running. The barrel was neglected, and the touch hole liner was frozen among other things. I drilled out the liner and removed it with an EZ-Out, then chased the threads with a 1/4 X 28 tap, and replaced the liner. Scrubbed the barrel with JB Bore Paste, cleaned and lubed the action, and replaced the flint. Bottom line---it shoots like a champ!
But I have a question. I assumed that the diameter of the barrel was consistent from end to end, including the area around the touch hole and breech. But this is not the case. It seems that the breech is significantly smaller, in fact, as I cleaned it with the touch hole liner removed, I expected to see the end of my jag but did not. The jag/patch doesn't make it to the breech, but rather, it stops on what appears to be a shoulder of some sort.
Is this correct? Should there be a shoulder? Why? And if so, how does one clean the breech? Appreciate your help!
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October 29, 2011, 08:36 PM
A patent breech usually has a powder chamber at the bottom that connects to the touch hole.
It may have a diameter of about .30 caliber or so that requires a thinner cleaning rod or wood dowel to access.
They also make fouling scrapers of different shapes to help scrap the fouling out.
One can be made by carving the end of a wood dowel that fits into the powder chamber entrance.
What Articap said about patent breeches, with the breech plug having a smaller diameter than the bore. I generally just remove the barrel from the stock and set the breech end in a pot of water and flush it out with a cleaning jag that fits the bore tight with a cleaning patch by pumping the cleaning rod up and down. On the one flinter I have where the barrel is pinned to the stock, the flash hole liner has a slot for removal by a flat bladed screwdriver. When cleaning, I remove the liner and put in a piece of threaded stock of the same size as the liner with a hole drilled in the center and attach a piece of plastic tubing long enough to reach a pot of water and flush it out the same as above. I also have a brass fouling scraper, that I filed down to fit in the smaller diameter breech, used after extended shooting sessions that generate heavy fouling. I use it before and during the flushing process. To dry it out, after I take the barrel out of the water, I run dry cleaning patches up an down to push air in and out the breech and bore, and put a dry patch on a worm that will fit inside the breech for the final drying.
October 30, 2011, 12:24 AM
My caplock Lyman GPR (made by Investarms) has the reduced-diameter powder chamber Arcticap mentioned. I clean it by wrapping a .50-caliber cleaning patch on a .22-caliber bore brush screwed to the end of my rod. Shove the solvent-dampened patch all the way down to the end of the powder chamber, give it a couple of twists, and withdraw. Usually only takes a couple of patches to get the chamber clean. Nuttin' to it!:D
October 30, 2011, 01:25 AM
I have one of those barrels on my gun. i shove a Q-tip into the end of my ramrod to clean it after cleaning it with hot soapy water. seems to work well.
December 29, 2011, 02:50 PM
I just stumbled onto this thread. I was going to ask the same question. Not only does nobody usually mention the powder chamber, many don't seam to know about it. At first I thought the shoulder of the chamber was a ring. I called and asked the Cabelas tech people about it. He said it was caused by powder build up behind the ball on fireing. He said that bp barrels were bore the same diamiter straight through. I now know it is a powder chamber. I do have to ask, because this will cause an airspace between the powder and ball, and everybody knows this is dangerous. Should we be shooting reduced loads? Shouldn't that chamber be filled with powder? Is it really good idea? It would cause cleaning problems. Powder scrapers are the caliber of the gun it is used on and doesn't fit into this chamber. I hope you all don't mind me reviving this thread, and I hope the OP doesn't mind me stepping on it.
December 29, 2011, 03:12 PM
I do have to ask, because this will cause an airspace between the powder and ball, and everybody knows this is dangerous. Should we be shooting reduced loads? Shouldn't that chamber be filled with powder? Is it really good idea? It would cause cleaning problems. Powder scrapers are the caliber of the gun it is used on and doesn't fit into this chamber.
The narrow powder chamber is located within the breech plug. I don't know what its capacity is but it's usually pretty small. Even if its capacity were 20-30 grains of powder, any remaining air space that's left in it wouldn't be enough to cause any harm because the amount of powder is too small and weak when compared to the extra thick walls of the powder chamber. The amount of air space left in the powder chamber would also be very small. This doesn't add up to creating a dangerous obstruction.
In a perfect world there would be no air spaces between powder and projectile. But in reality there are tiny air spaces in the flash channel, within the nipple, under some hollow base projectiles, in between buckshot or two projectile loads, or even in between powder pellets that can get partially crushed during loading, which doesn't ever seem to cause any harm or danger. And some pellets actually have factory formed holes in the middle of them to aid their ignition.
Some powder chambers are very narrow and may fill up with only 10 -15 grains of powder. So that amount of air space and powder is too small to cause any potential damage or danger verses the strength of strong, modern steel.
December 30, 2011, 12:04 AM
Thanks, arcticap. I just checked my .54 Cabelas flinter, with a ramrod, and tape measure.
Seems to be about 1" long, and about the diamiter of my powder measure. With that I would guestimate it to hold about 40 grains. And I figured out the flash hole is near the back of the chamber. I was getting the impression it was near the middle. I was going to check anyway, so thanks for getting me off my duff, and doing it. I don't plan to shoot less than 50 grains with it. One should be made aware of this, and powder scrapers marked acordingly. A flat one to scrap the shoulder of the chamber and a one for the back of the chamber. I've seen that some are spade shaped, some are round, and some are flat.
December 30, 2011, 09:02 PM
Yep. That patent breech or breech chamber is oft neglected, resulting in all sorts of problems and strange ideas. My Investarms 50 cal percussion gun has a breech chamber of about 35 cal, such that a 35 cal jag with a patch, on the end of the ramrod will fit it about right.
As long as you know it's there you'll come up with a way to clean the gunk out of it. Some guns don't have 'em of course, having a solid breech plug instead.
In the old days some of the flint long rifles had a very short breech plugs (considered dangerous by today's standards). So today's longer plug thread requires a different lockplate, or some fudging elsewhere in the architecture of the gun, if you think about it. Hollowing out the plug could in theory allow both longer threads and the period correct design and placement of the lock and vent. Just thinking aloud here, from an amatuer builder's perspective.
A hooked breech of another manufacturer that I bought as part of a build project for a 50 cal Hawken percussion rifle holds around 30 grains, such that I figure a 35 to 40 grain charge would be the minimum that would allow a ball to seat against the powder for sure. Different deal there, as the percussion snail is part of the breech plug. Very much unlike a typical flinter, the Hawken percussion breech plug MUST be hollow.
December 30, 2011, 10:27 PM
@ Articap: Where does one find a fouling scraper? Mine, too, is an Investarms, and I believe the fouling chamber is ... well ... fouled. Maybe I can send the ramrod down there with a small lump of clay or wax to make an impression and measure. Maybe I'll turn something on the lathe.
December 31, 2011, 12:19 AM
One can always try to carve a scraper to the proper shape from a thicker wood dowel to try to make a custom fit.
Another idea would be to custom fit one from a brass cleaning jag or from one of the larger standard flat scrapers.
A nylon or bronze brush can also be helpful to clean out a powder chamber. The brush can be wrapped with a solvent soaked patch to help pull out loose fouling.
There's also a specialty item called a breech brush to sweep out the very bottom of the powder chamber.
Most ramrods have 10-32 threads, or use a thread adaptor for cleaning rods.
Below are a few outfits that have scrapers of different shapes.
RMC has several scrapers under "Black Powder Cleaning Supplies":