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What do you think of this ramrod?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Kynoch, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. Kynoch

    Kynoch member

    What do you think of this homeade ramrod?


    It seems like a very clever design to me. It's also cheap and I like the idea of using a 1/2 wooden dowl in my .54 caliber front-loader. It may not work well for smaller calibers as the dowl might not be stout enough but for larger calibers it seems like it would be idea.

    I would appreciate any input on homemade ramrods. Thanks.
  2. 25cschaefer

    25cschaefer Well-Known Member

    I don't see anything wrong with it. If it were me, I would use an epoxy that is designed to take shock better but that would detract from the cheapness. You could try the Bondo fiberglass stuff from wallyworld or try impregnating a wad of steel wool, string, fiberglass, ect with epoxy of some kind to hold it together better and prevent cracking.
  3. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Well-Known Member

    I would use a brass case for a 44 mag. Up the cool factor a bit for me by repurposing something. Then on the other end I would put something else handcrafted by simply drilling a hole the size of the dowel...golf ball, 8 ball, bigger dowel, block-o-wood with 1911 grips on it...who knows.
  4. Kynoch

    Kynoch member

    That really is one heck of an idea. Whittle it down a bit so that it would be flush. Capital idea! Thanks!
  5. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    What type of wood? Better check the grain. You don't need it to break while you're using it.

    During the French & Indian War, superfluous iron ramrods were listed on the returns. Wood ramrods were used for a couple of centuries before iron started replacing them.
  6. Skinny 1950

    Skinny 1950 Well-Known Member

    I have an Investarms .54 Cal flinter and the ram that came with the rifle is a bit on the flimsy side.
    I found a fibreglass rod at work that measured .43" in diameter so I made a cap out of brass and threaded it 10-32 to take other tips. I used a dremel like tool fixed on the lathe to cut the fibreglass down to a standard drill size hole in the brass rod. Drilled and tapped the end with a 10-32 thread.
    The first picture shows a special tip that I made for my R.E.A.L bullets also shown are a cleaning tip, a ball puller and a brass brush.

  7. Kynoch

    Kynoch member

    The ones I saw were alder, not hickory. Very tight, strait-grained. I gave one a torture test in the store and it passed with flying colors. The salesperson caught me and said "oh yes, they are tough!"
  8. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    In my experience lumberyard dowels are some of the softer hardwoods out there. And seldom do they have really good straight grain. They would be the very last thing I'd pick for a ramrod I'll be holding with my bare hands.

    Far better to find some good quality maple, osage orange or similar hardwood. Basically if it's a wood that is good for making a self bow (one piece archery bow) then it's a good wood for a ramrod if you can find a long enough board which has a nice straight grain.

    Making the rod is simple if you have a table saw. Simply rip out a suitable size square section.

    What I did recently was to slice the section out of a short board for a pistol ramrod. I cut along the flat edge and then the face edge. The resulting stick fit into he rebate cut to let me hand plane four flats along the edges. The resulting octagonal "dowel" was then held in a hand drill and sandpaper used to make it "round enough" in the blink of an eye.

    One thing to do regardless of if you use lumberyard dowel or make your own from solid. Set the ramrod in a thin tube such as copper water pipe and give the end of it a few good thumps with a hunk of wood padded with a piece of heavy leather or a four fold shop towel. This will simulate a really hard palm thump such as you'd use for seating a stuck ball. And the 1/2" copper pipe or similar size steel tube will simulate the support you'd get from the barrel.

    Hit the end somewhat harder than you ever will with your naked hand. And hit it a few times like this. If it's going to split and splinter you want it to do so NOW and not when it's your hand at risk.

    Something to take note of is that the ball end is really only used for keeping the rod from slipping through your belt. Once the ball is seated there's really no need for the ball end to be thumped hard. And when the ball is at the muzzle end or at mid barrel you should not be pushing from the very end anyway. Doing so with all that rod out in the air is a superb way to make the wood buckle and burst. Ramming needs to be done by grabbing the rod no more than a foot from the muzzle and pushing it home in short segments. And the tighter the ball and patch in the bore the smaller the bites on the rod should be. You need to make the barrel work for you by supporting the rod.

    So all in all I don't really see this hardware store rod being a great idea. Especially given the poor quality of the wood dowel I've typically seen.

    If you insist on using lumberyard dowel then flex test it before using it. Flex it so it curves up about 8 to 10 inches from straight. And then turn it a quarter turn and do it again. Try all 4 quarter turns. If it bows evenly and consistently in every direction and it doesn't split or splinter off one side then it should be OK. But I'd guess that at best one in ten will pass this test.

    And that's if you can even find one that doesn't look like Ol' McGee's walking stick.
  9. Kynoch

    Kynoch member

    As I noted above I already torture-tested the type of dowel (which was extremely straight) which plan to use and it didn't blink. This might not be true if it wasn't 1/2" in diameter but that's what I plan to use.

    Even if the ramrod broke one day (not likely) it's not as if I am going to get hurt. If part of it stuck inside the barrel, a ball extractor and the ramrod that comes with the rifle (or a cleaning rod) would bring it right out -- and I would be out the $2.50 it cost to build.

    It's a good idea -- at least for bigger bores.
  10. kBob

    kBob Well-Known Member

    I wonder if ripping a yard sale baseball, soft ball or cricket bat as described above with boards might not produce a couple or four of decent ram rods.

    I seem to recall my grand father speaking about soaking a piece of thin hardwood to be used in places with side stresses in a tube filled with "Coal Oil" for a week or so.

    As a kid something that always caused awe for me was watching a then sixty year old seed cleaner the size of my bedroom do its shaking and bouncing on WOODEN flat springs. Millions of cycles over the years ( and more than one a second sometimes for three days around the clock straight) and never saw one break, crack ,or splinter. Really wish I knew what the wood was and how it was treated. Can you imagine leaving a fourteen year old alone with tons of moving equipment making as much noise as a very busy air port and dust enough to choke Rommel with no safety equipment for hours at a time these days?

  11. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    The issue isn't if it breaks inside the barrel. The reason the others keep harping about a broken wood ramrod is because the major reason they break is grain runout. That's where the grain runs diagonally from side to side instead of evenly along the whole length of the wood. And when that happens the wood is easy to split apart along this short grain run. When it does the result is a spear like point. And if ramming a sticky ball at the time the most likely place for the break is the exposed part of the wood. And your hand is typically holding this part or ramming down towards it. So the concern is over the idea of a serious injury to the ramming hand. Not a stuck stick.

    At any rate much of my OCD'ism over the wood choice is directed at smaller rods. You are quite right that a .54 bore that uses a 1/2 inch ramrod is less of a concern. But that would not stop me from doing the stress test to make sure that the dowel isn't one with some bad grain runout. And if it breaks during a bending test such as I described then it's a small price to pay to avoid a serious stabbing injury to my hand.

    CANNONMAN Well-Known Member

    Use a cue stick

    Most all cues are Maple. They take a tremendous amount of impact. Check a pawn shop for a cue with a good shaft and lousy grip for a good price. Also, they make cues in graphite and aluminium. Some of these are quite a bit cheaper but you can find them with screw on tips. Now you can use all the cleaning et al, accessories. If the taper on the shaft is too great, insert it into your drill as you pictured and turn in down with sand paper to your desired thickness. Most of all... I think you did a really great job! I love hand made quality.
  13. AJumbo

    AJumbo Well-Known Member

    My ML guru used to make shotgun ramrods from pick handles. First, he'd drive the guy at the hardware store nuts by asking to see ALL the handles in stock, then taking all the time he needed to pick out the best one or two examples. He'd then rip the handles on his tablesaw until he had four decent rough dowels; these would get reduced further with a spokeshave until the were about 90% shaped. These chunks would go into a kerosene bath for six months or so, after which he would attach the ram end and wad puller, and do the final shaping on his lathe. He told me once that he had tried splitting the pick handles with a wedge, but it didn't really produce a better ramrod.

    For rifles, he'd order four hickory blanks from DGW, and be prepared to send two or three of them back. The acceptable rods went in the kerosene.
  14. Kynoch

    Kynoch member

    I built the rod using your .44 mag recommendation. It cost $1.50 for the dowel and $.99 for the wooden "egg" handle. The brass was free and I already had the Watco Oil and epoxy.

    Thanks again for the idea -- it really works like a champ.

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