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How does the flint rub on the way down the frizzen?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by BCRider, Jan 19, 2014.

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  1. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Going out tomorrow for a flintlock day with my club. I was swapping out my flint and thought I'd clean up the face of the frizzen since it was getting pretty chewed up. Ran a Dremel drum sander over the face to smooth and blend the little worn hollow and restore a nice smooth sweep. So far so good. Cocked and triggered the flint to check on sparking. Not a whole lot but it may be the flints I've got.

    But more worrisome was the fact that the flint must have chattered it's way down the face. There's one mark where it first hits then a gap of darn near 1/4 inch then 5 or 6 little mini strikes that are spaced about 1/16 inch apart the rest of the way.

    Hints please? Or is this pretty normal?

    I'll have to muddle through tomorrow but I can't help but think that I'd have a bigger shower of sparks if the flint stayed in contact with the frizzen all the way down.
     
  2. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    Which lock are you using? It almost sounds like a weak frizzen spring is allowing the frizzen to snap back and forth.

    Flintlocks are fun but take a bit of work to get in order.
     
  3. Chawbaccer

    Chawbaccer Member

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    I hope you didn't Dremel the case hardening off the frizzen or sparks will be pretty rare until you re-harden it.
     
  4. kwhi43@kc.rr.com

    [email protected] Member

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    Sounds like the Frizzen is soft.
     
  5. INGarand

    INGarand Member

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    Sparks from the frizzen are small pieces of metal shaved by the flint from the frizzen. Yes long smoother strike causes more sparks, if the frizzen is hardened correctly and the the lock is tuned correctly. The frizzen spring only holds the frizzen closed and a correctly tuned lock doesn't need the frizzen spring to fire. There is never a need to smooth the frizzen face. I have locks that have the frizzen almost cut in half and still spark. There will be a time when they will need to be replaced. Thousands of shots later. A frizzen must be hardend correctly. Too soft and no sparks, too hard and you run the risk of snapping the frizzen in half. When you attend the shoot find a shooter that shoots only flint and he can help you by looking at your lock.
     
  6. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    It worked out OK. Had about 3 or 4 flint falls that didn't set off the priming powder. I'd LIKE to see it produce more sparks so there's likely room for improvement.

    The lock is the one on my Lyman Great Plains .50 caliber.

    Given that the sparks tend to be few and rather orange instead of bright and sparkly like I get when grinding tool steels I'm tempted to look at re-hardening the frizzen. Do you folks think that this would help?

    If I did this I'm thinking that I'd temper back only the elbow and pivot area by immersing the upper portion in a dish of water while I heat up the exposed "foot". Thoughts on this idea?
     
  7. kwhi43@kc.rr.com

    [email protected] Member

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    Here Is A Good Slow- Motion Of It

    anigif.gif
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  8. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    What I have learned: Clean the face of the frizzen with alcohol on a cotton rag to make sure that no lube of any kind is on the face. If you think it needs to be dressed, use a small bit of emery cloth and rub it sideways across the face of the frizzen with your thumb. If the frizzen is not too soft it should produce sparks when struck by the flint.
     
  9. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    If you are only getting a few orange sparks, and smoothing it with a dremel..., sounds like it's a bit soft. It also has a problem with rebounding as you mentioned. Try This:

    Take a toothpick or wood match stick (without the head) and place it under the back end of the flint near the jaw screw to cause the flint to angle down just a bit. See if you get some better results with that for now, but you may want to look into obtaining a replacement or having the frizzen rehardened.

    Rehardening a frizzen is not for a beginner. I was taught how to do it by a professional lock builder, and there are variations on the steps depending on the lock, and other factors. Rehardening is not the same as surface case hardening with Cherry Red or the no longer produced Kasenit, either..., though surface case hardening will temporarily fix the problem.

    YouTube has many videos on how to do it at home, the majority of which are very very wrong. :barf:

    LD
     
  10. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Dave, I've made my own shop tooling from O-1 oil hardening rod with great results so hardening and tempering isn't an unknown skill to me.

    But in looking around based on the seed of doubt you planted I see that some frizzens are simply case hardened and some are hardened fully through the metal.

    What I've got here is a Layman Great Plains Rifle. Can anyone tell me for sure if the locks used by Lyman are case or through hardened?

    I did remove a good two or three thousandths when I polished the face with the sanding drum on the Dremel. So from what I know of case hardening and the fact that I'm still getting about the same sparks from it as I was it suggests that it's fully through hardened. Or is it one of those "it depends" sort of deals?
     
  11. kwhi43@kc.rr.com

    [email protected] Member

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    I think your Frizzen is probably hard all the way thru. I still think it is on the soft
    side. You can tell by the color of the sparks. Mine here the Frizzen is extremely
    hard. It has been water hardned. That's why the sparks are white. The white
    chert flints I use are very hard also. A lot harder than the black English. This
    Frizzen has been cooked in carbon also. Larry Zorn does Excellcent Frizzen hardening .
    Call Tim at Davis Locks.


    BestSpark2.jpg


    3c2edf20cee87e3ab50af44f0f44e075.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  12. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Those bright white star like sparks is how sparks from full hard tool steel SHOULD look. Not the dull orange ones I'm getting. Grind or belt sand a metal file and the sparks look like yours.

    I've got nothing to lose really by trying to re-harden the frizzen..... unless it cracks that is.. :D But then I get to see how good Lyman is for spare parts.

    I think I'll go with an oil quench just for the slightly lesser stress it produces. Oil quenching doesn't tend to produce quite as hard a makeup. But it tends to leave the metal a little tougher and it's a little less likely to warp the part. If it still doesn't produce a good shower of star like sparks I'll give water quenching a try.
     
  13. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    The quench medium depends upon the steel, which also determines the temperature at which you quench. After cooling the hardened part must be drawn back at 400 to 500 degrees to relieve stresses and temper the hardness a bit. Trying to determine the type of steel used in a frizzen is probably an impossible task for the layman but it probably won't hurt to experiment. When I was in the Tool and Die business we used chiefly air hardening and some oil hardening tool steel but there is water hardening steel available. The quench medium is not interchangeable for proper heat treating, but if the part is made from mild steel it would probably benefit from a carbon pack heat treat as it would allow the piece to absorb enough carbon to at least harded the exterior. Remember, in heat treating properly you bring the metal to maximum hardness and if left in that condition it is very brittle so the proper amount of temper must be applied after the hardening process. A straw yellow color in steel is about 400 degrees and a blue color is approaching 600 degrees if I remember correctly. Oil hardening steel needs to be around 1200 degrees before being quenched which is a dull cherry red color. Feel free to try your own but real heat treating is a science with fixed metalurgy, temperature, soak time, and tempering process.
     
  14. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Yep, much of that I already know.

    My choice to start with oil quenching is based on the idea that the oil quench produces less stress in the part and less likelihood of the metal cracking. If it turns out that it's a water hardening steel then it simply won't harden or will harden poorly. In that case I can clean it up and re-heat then quench in water. So my plan to go with oil first is based on a bit of safety for the part.

    On the other hand if it turns out that I ground off the case hardening then heating and quenching in either medium won't harden the metal. And in that case I'll proceed onward to case hardening the frizzen.

    The choice of the options and the order to try them should result in the least risk of damage to the frizzen. It also seems reasonable since there's not much I can do to determine the nature of the metal.

    However in the hopes that Lyman can help out with information I'm also going to send off an email to them before I proceed with putting frizzen to torch.

    To test the situation as it sits now I just put a file to the edge of the face. It cut into the metal relatively easily. So it was either not hardened well, was tempered too far back or I cut away the case hardening that was there. Not that there was much to lose. The face was well gouged and scraped by the flints rubbing against it.
     
  15. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    No more Dremel, OK? Others have cited why.
     
  16. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    (I am pulling this from memory so it might not be complete.)

    Years ago, Muzzle Blasts ran an article on dealing with a soft frizzen. One of the solutions that might be an option for you was to face the frizzen with a piece of saw blade, than harden it. I believe the blade was riveted to the frizzen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  17. kwhi43@kc.rr.com

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    Actually , you don't hardened it. Just take a piece of saw blade and holding it
    in your hand, grind off the teeth . When it get's too hot to hold lay it down. Grind
    it to shape . Tin one side with solder, and tin your Frizzen. Hold the two together
    with a clamp and heat it just until the solder flows. By holding either the Frizzen
    or saw blade in your bare hand while grinding this will tell you when it's too hot.
    and if you stop at that point you don't run the risk of drawing it back to where
    it's too soft. Your hand acts as your thrometer. You should hold the Frizzen face
    on a 6 inch grinding wheel with your hand again to smooth it out. A smooth
    face Frizzen will spark more than a rough one. Again, when it gets too hot to
    hold, stop and lay it down until it cools off enough to handle it again.
     
  18. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    I could also look at using a wood working scraper blade as a source of thin hardening metal. As they come they are too soft. But I could form it to the curve of the frizzen and then harden it fully. At that point I could soft solder it to the face of the frizzen. The relatively low temperature used for soft soldering would ease the full hardness a hair. Plug the extra hard layer would be supported by the body of the frizzen. With a thin enough solder joint it would be sort of like the forge welded Japanese knives and chisels that use a tough softer back with a thin high hardness level face. So pluses on every front.

    Lots of options and I thank you all for the suggestions.
     
  19. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    Soft solder melts at around 230 degrees so as long as the heating was even and gradual it should not impact the hardness of either piece. Maybe a good way to do it would be to heat both pieces in an oven to about 240 degrees, then apply the flux, solder, and a clamp to hold everything together and then dunk the whole mess in some warm water. You could probably make a jig from a small piece of hardwood so the clamped areas would be held together uniformly.
     
  20. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Using the cooler end of the flame and playing it over the assembly with a little patience raises the heat slowly enough that there would not be any hot spots. Been there, done that when I wanted to solder other hardened steels into holders or other parts of an assembly. Works like a charm.
     
  21. loose noose

    loose noose Member

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    BC Rider, I've also got a Lyman Great Plains flint lock, The only problem I've had with mine was a couple of months ago when my grandson and I were out shooting, the frizzen spring broke on it. I got a hold of Lyman via the internet and they sent me out a new on at a premium price naturally. I do believe the frizzen is hardened all the way thru, as I've shot at least 200 rounds thru mine and only wipe it down after cleaning it, with some alcohol and a clean cloth. I've been using the English flints I got from TOW. Seem to work really well and I get an immediate bang each time I squeeze that trigger, man that is very light with that set trigger.
     
  22. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    I hear ya about the set trigger. Let a guy shoot it and warned him about the trigger. He touched it before he was ready and the shot went wide.

    From the file test I reported on a few posts back there's no doubt that mine is far softer than it should be. Gottal get a few other things done before I get back to it to try the hardening.
     
  23. Col4570

    Col4570 Member

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    RebarreledFlintlock09012014001.jpg
    I built this Lock from Castings,I could never get a good spark so I faced the Frizzen with some thin Springsteel,by riveting at three points,then hardening by heating to cherry red and quenching in water.
     
  24. Palehorseman

    Palehorseman Member

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    A quality frizzen is not CH, they are hardened through and through.
     
  25. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Just to repeat. Even when I first got the rifle which had obviously been only shot a little the frizzen did not give the best of sparks. It has always given off few spars that are rather orange. So the apparently soft frizzen issue has been with this rifle from day one.
     
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