Testing loose fitting balls


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Lunie
June 15, 2013, 04:35 PM
Folks, I would like to invite opinions, suggestions, and speculation on some testing I intend to do.

Short version:

Pietta 1860 Army
.440" swaged lead roundballs
~35 gr of FFFg blackpowder
Well fitting caps

I picked up a box of undersized balls to do some testing regarding chainfires. The balls roll in and out of the chambers, and obviously shave no ring of lead whatsoever. Essentially, the interface between the ball and cylinder is all "gap", and should only have 1 theoretical point of contact.

I have read many folks explaining that they smear gobs of lube over the cylinder face to protect against small gaps that they feel can cause chainfires. Another crowd uses wads underneath the ball. Since I am in the "no lube at all" category, I want to do some testing to improve my own understanding of the subject.

I am prepared to cause and deal with chainfires under controlled conditions, should they occur. I'm essentially trying to make them occur. :evil:

If anyone would like to throw out some speculation, observations, or opinions, my flame suit is just back in from the cleaners. Let loose.

If I get around to doing a "proper" experimental study, I will share the results.

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BigG
June 15, 2013, 04:37 PM
I think the balls have to be tight in order to stay in the chamber under recoil. Mine shave a ring every time.

Patocazador
June 15, 2013, 04:52 PM
If you want to purposely cause a chain fire, use the correctly sized ball and cut a slot in one side allowing direct access to the main powder charge. Then sprinkle some powder on the exterior part of the ball.

I think you're crazy and it will be dangerous but they're your eyes and hands. :eek:

rodwha
June 15, 2013, 06:00 PM
Why???

Lunie
June 15, 2013, 09:23 PM
I think the balls have to be tight in order to stay in the chamber under recoil. Mine shave a ring every time.

Yes, that is what the conventional wisdom says... But it wouldn't be an interesting experiment if it did not attempt to challenge a little bit of that conventional wisdom.

If you want to purposely cause a chain fire, use the correctly sized ball and cut a slot in one side allowing direct access to the main powder charge. Then sprinkle some powder on the exterior part of the ball.

I have the option to do that as well, and I may work with that at some point if I feel the need.

Why???

The short answer is to challenge conventional wisdom, and my own, on the subject.

Patrick R
June 15, 2013, 10:13 PM
A few weeks back I was shooting my 1860 Colt Pietta when I ran into a problem while reloading. I tried to put 2 balls into 1 chamber. I ramed it in a little over 1/2 way before I saw my mistake. I had to take off the nipple push them both out with some small dia. brass tubing. I still had 1 chamber ready to fire. When I took the shot flames from the chamber I just unloaded must have had some powder left in it. Flames shot out of both ends of the chamber. I was quickly a bit out of my comfort zone.

Getting my gun to chain fire, no problem! (At least with no ball in it)

Jim K
June 15, 2013, 10:37 PM
The trouble is that an artificial chain fire (as Patocazador describes) would not do much toward understanding what causes chain fires under other conditions. I have never experienced a chain fire myself, but I am sure those who say they have did not cut any grooves in the bullets.

It would be interesting to hear from folks who have had chain fires about what they were able to learn as to the cause. Barring a relic so badly rusted that there were holes between chambers, I have not been able to determine a condition that would reliably cause chain firing.

Jim

col.lemat
June 15, 2013, 10:43 PM
Balderdash

Jim K
June 15, 2013, 11:02 PM
OK, but which post is balderdash?

Jim

J-Bar
June 15, 2013, 11:14 PM
Lunie:

How many of those .440 balls do you have?

I will buy them from you and recast them for my own revolvers and you won't have to risk injury.

Gimme a good price, Pard.

Lunie
June 15, 2013, 11:18 PM
Lunie:

How many of those .440 balls do you have?

I will buy them from you and recast them for my own revolvers and you won't have to risk injury.

Gimme a good price, Pard.
Thank you sir, but I'll have to pass.

I bought the box of 100 with this project specifically in mind.

Although if I have any left over, I will remember that you offered!

mykeal
June 16, 2013, 12:19 AM
I am utterly amazed by the fascination some folks have with chain fires. Really - intentionally shooting a revolver with balls so undersized they leave huge gaps?

All that is necessary (AND sufficient) for a chain fire is for a small, even tiny, leak into the chamber where there is powder and a gas hotter than the ignition temperature of the powder. This isn't rocket science. That leak can be anywhere, at the back from a loose or out of round cap or at the front from a void in a ball that's uncovered by swaging during loading. Sometimes that tiny leak and a very hot gas is all it takes. Sometimes the gas cools enough that it's below the powder ignition temperature and no chain fire occurs even with a huge leak. There's no guarantee that it will happen every time or even 10% of the time, and there's only one guarantee that it won't happen: a complete seal at both the back and front.

Barring a relic so badly rusted that there were holes between chambers, I have not been able to determine a condition that would reliably cause chain firing.
First of all, there's no such thing as a reliable chain fire. You need high temperature gas. There's no control over how that gas flows or how the heat profile is maintained; it's a random event. Having a reliable, repeatable path, like that in a combustion chamber, is what's needed, and you don't have that between the mouth of a revolver chamber and the inside of another chamber. However, assuming the gas gets into the adjacent chamber and is still hot enough, is there a way to get by a round ball that shaved a complete ring? How about this: I've weighed hundreds of round balls, both cast and swaged. I've found lots of them with internal voids (lots more in cast than swaged, but neither is completely immune). All that's necessary is for the swaging process during loading, which peels a ring of lead away from the surface of the ball, to uncover one of those voids, and now you have a gap between the cylinder wall and the ball. A gap is a path for a hot gas to make it's way to the powder behind the ball. All you need is a few molecules at a high enough temperature and you got a chain fire. How often does that happen? Rarely. How often do we have chain fires? Rarely. Oh, and don't forget about the back end: a pinched or wrong sized cap can also allow a leak.

col.lemat
June 16, 2013, 12:58 AM
Darwin award. Go right ahead be my guest.

4v50 Gary
June 16, 2013, 01:08 AM
The ideal way to conduct such an experiment is with a remote control operated from behind a thick concrete wall and with high speed cameras to capture the chain fire.

44 Dave
June 16, 2013, 01:12 AM
Years ago, when I first got my cased 1860 with brass mold I got to experience chain fires. The mold cast undersize balls.
You will have the balls coming loose and may even fall out.
You will have a very smokey mess, but with the powder burning "backwards" there was not as much pressure build up.
I would skip one chamber, the one that lines up with the loading leaver.
Do wear eye and ear protection but I never had gloves on.
You going to do a you tube video?

I use .44s patched in my .45 squirrel rifle and Kentucky pistol.

Oyvind
June 16, 2013, 02:39 AM
I tried to provoke chainfires in an Uberti .44 calibre Remington New Army back in 2007. The results are available here:

Multiple Discharges in Percussion Revolvers (http://www.svartkrutt.net/articles/vis.php?id=13)

Lunie
June 16, 2013, 06:52 PM
My apologies for being a little cryptic, but I would just like to say that my preliminary measurements and testing are producing "expected" results so far.

Unfortunately, it will probably be a few weeks before I have the chance to continue further. (So if I don't say anything else on the subject for a bit, there is no need to worry too much about my eyes, fingers, etc.)

Ideally, you all will get some pictures and a write up about what I find.

In the meantime, please continue with the critiques. Speaking of, why has no one ventured to say that my undersized balls will go rattling down the bore when fired?

Lunie
June 24, 2013, 12:51 AM
Come on folks, give me a walloping. I know there has to be more in there. :cuss:

I'm not asking for personal insults. Only critiques of what I am working on, or insults reasonably associated with a critical comment, please. (By that, I mean that you can call me a moron, but I want you to explain why you think what I am working on won't work, or how it could be done better.)

Thanks. :D

rodwha
June 24, 2013, 01:08 AM
Do you believe the odds of this happening are minimal from the front? I don't understand the point.

Lunie
June 25, 2013, 12:16 AM
Do you believe the odds of this happening are minimal from the front? I don't understand the point.
In a word, "yes", and I think I have an inkling of the reason(s) why.

I want to test to see if those inklings are valid, or to see if I am wrong.

If I am wrong, I guess I might have to start doing the ceremonial application of lube to ward off the evil chain-fire spirits, but if I do it will be because I know it is necessary, and not just because of a peculiar tradition or a 1960's mysticism. ;)

Big Al Mass
June 29, 2013, 10:28 PM
Another thing you might want to test is if a 45 degree bevel on the edge of the chamber mouth has an effect on chain-fires. I read about this on the forum some time last year and remembered it while reading this. Samuel Colt originally came up with the idea reasoning that the gases would be directed away from the cylinder face at an angle, rather than expanding and running parallel to the cylinder face and getting into the chamber mouths.

That said, please go about this unintelligent thing as intelligently as possible.:D I am always interested in this sort of destruction testing.

ontarget
June 30, 2013, 12:44 AM
This could be very bad since the other 5 loose fitting balls will likely dislodge when you fire the first and spill powder and give you a bigger chain fire than you are expecting.

Acorn Mush
June 30, 2013, 12:54 PM
Lunie, would using blank loads give you the answers you seek with a lot less hassle? You could use a thin cardboard wad prepared with one or more small nicks in the perimeter (to mimic a loose-fitting ball) in each chamber. Just a thought.

Lunie
June 30, 2013, 08:10 PM
Another thing you might want to test is if a 45 degree bevel on the edge of the chamber mouth has an effect on chain-fires. I read about this on the forum some time last year and remembered it while reading this. Samuel Colt originally came up with the idea reasoning that the gases would be directed away from the cylinder face at an angle, rather than expanding and running parallel to the cylinder face and getting into the chamber mouths.

Excellent point. Probably outside the current scope, but it might be something to try to evaluate at some point.

That said, please go about this unintelligent thing as intelligently as possible.:D I am always interested in this sort of destruction testing.

As much as is humanly possible. ;)

Lunie, would using blank loads give you the answers you seek with a lot less hassle? You could use a thin cardboard wad prepared with one or more small nicks in the perimeter (to mimic a loose-fitting ball) in each chamber. Just a thought.

Doing so would not completely answer my questions, but thank you for the suggestion.

This could be very bad since the other 5 loose fitting balls will likely dislodge when you fire the first and spill powder and give you a bigger chain fire than you are expecting.

Thank you for mentioning this. I hope to get more comments in this vein.

rodwha
July 1, 2013, 04:34 PM
Have you tried this yet?

Lunie
July 1, 2013, 07:18 PM
Have you tried this yet?
Yes, but not at length, only a set of quick "proof of concept" exercises.

I haven't had the opportunity to do any more actual work since the 16th of June though.

pohill
July 1, 2013, 07:52 PM
I'm willing to bet that with undersized balls, and no grease at all, you will get a chainfire of some sort. The odds are with you. What it proves I don't know.
Do you think that the lack of powder compression created by a smaller ball might influence the results?
While you're at it, try the test with black powder, then with Pryodex. I've always wondered if a chainfire can occur with Pryodex.
What are you trying to prove or disprove again?

Lunie
July 2, 2013, 12:40 AM
I'm willing to bet that with undersized balls, and no grease at all, you will get a chainfire of some sort. The odds are with you. What it proves I don't know.
Do you think that the lack of powder compression created by a smaller ball might influence the results?
While you're at it, try the test with black powder, then with Pryodex. I've always wondered if a chainfire can occur with Pryodex.
What are you trying to prove or disprove again?

While I have a few different brands of holy black on hand, I do not currently have any Pyrodex, and don't currently plan to acquire any. (I don't have a reason to believe it would behave differently in this case, unless you all can enlighten me.) I do have some 777 left, but I don't think there would be much point in testing it either, for the same reason.

I keep getting asked why, and I thought I had answered several times...

Take this thread for example, where they are fussing about lube (Crisco).
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=721187

Due to an oversight on my part, I will have to use Crisco on my .44's instead of wads. I just got to happy shooting the big .44's and used all my wads up! I much prefer wads to greases because it melts off so much with the first discharge! I don't want any chainfires!

Keep your crisco in an iced cooler or the shooting session will get messy but still fun.

I'm not going to pontificate and say other folks are wrong for doing so, but I do wonder why more aren't asking "why do we have to muck with this stuff?".

rodwha
July 2, 2013, 10:33 AM
I no longer use my wads as standard practice, and have never lubed over the projectile. If an oversized ball is used there would need to be two or more defective balls, and close to the surface, for a chain fire to happen from the front. However, my sense of logic has failed me before...

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