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Howdah ammo advice

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Packman, Feb 5, 2013.

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  1. EljaySL

    EljaySL Member

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    You're right to double the thickness. The conventional wisdom is that you want some compression. So I'd buy .15 and .18 and also maybe get one box of .610 balls and try those with .10 and .15. (somebody check my math). Then see what's the most accurate and go from there.
     
  2. EljaySL

    EljaySL Member

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    Mine appears to be closer to .620, maybe a tiny bit larger. So I'll probably go with a .600 ball and try .10's and .15's.
     
  3. Doak

    Doak Member

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    Yeah, ya gotta try patch/ball/lube combos 'til ya find the one your shooter likes. It may not necessarily be the tightest one.

    The only criterion I would recommend, and insist upon for myself, is pure linen for patch material. A simple 90' weave. And cut your patches, from a pre-lubed, rolled up strip, at the muzzle, w/a patch knife. Don't use pre-cut round patches. I think I covered this on another thread.

    Cutting the patch material off, flush w/the muzzle, after the ball is started, always ensures the ball will be centered in the patch. That's very important. When the patch "sabot's", upon exiting the muzzle, ya want it to leave, off the back of the ball, w/neutral force vectors. If more material is flappin' off one side of the ball than the other, ya ain't got neutral force vectors anymore.

    Pre-cut patches, never win matches...:-D

    Linen is made from flax. When flax straw is broken, scraped, & combed, it makes "flax tow". Tow is what our ancestors used for cleaning "patches". It looks like beautiful blond hair, from a distance. Hence the nickname "tow-head" for blond kids.

    When tow is woven into fabric, it becomes "linen". It's very tuff, and doesn't smolder like cotton patches do. And rifling won't cut thru it. It engraves well into lead balls, to grip 'em, while the rifling grabs the linen. The 90' weave grips better than bias patterns, like pillow ticking, which is cotton. You can orient, or position, the patch, relative to the bore, the same way every load, cuz it's a simple crisscross weave. This conforms to the priciple of "repeatability". Doing the exact same thing every load, which translates into accuracy.

    I've shot just about every usable material there is, and linen beats 'em all, hands down.
    The proof is on the paper. Your groups will shrink.

    Linseed Oil = Linen Seed Oil = Flax Seed Oil...from pressing flax seeds.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  4. Pete D.

    Pete D. Member

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    Howdah

    The box/towel is how I do it.
    Note....when you are done with developing your loads for round balls, remember to load some birdshot, and also some buckshot, and pattern the gun. I would do the patterning at 15 or 20 yards. Closer with buckshot...I did mine at 10 yards.

    About loads.....remember that you have a 20 gauge gun with a very short barrel. An 80 grain load of BP is nearly a full 3 dram load (81 is 3dr.) That is normally associated with a 12 gauge shotgun with a substantially longer barrel. I keep my Howdah loads at two drams (54 grains) with either LRBs or birdshot. Others may have different advice, or course.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  5. EljaySL

    EljaySL Member

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    So, I shot mine today. Turns out .600 balls and .015 patches ends up being thumb startable but nice and snug on mine. I'd probably go up to .018 if I were really trying for accuracy. But given the sights I think I'm just going to roll with it. No problem hitting A zones on an IPSC target but it's not exactly a precision tool.

    One caution - I was using 777 powder and getting no ignition. Luckily I had a little real black with me and got her started. But I only had a little (my flintlock priming flask) so I just did duplex loads - dropping in a little of the real deal and then substitute on top of that. I normally only use the real black on the flintlocks because it's hard to get here and you can only have so much at one time blah blah blah.

    I tried multiple brands of caps with no difference. I did notice that the CCI #11s were a bit loose and after shooting one side the other would come off, oops.

    I'll probably put on some different nipples and see if that improves matters anyway, but it was running 100% with the duplex load so it's no big deal if I have to keep doing that. And let's put it this way - it was fun enough and going well enough that I was pretty irritated when I realized I'd shot through my bag of 25 balls.
     
  6. EljaySL

    EljaySL Member

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    Also, to follow up on the casting, I did that today. Sure enough it's really easy. Just make sure you have all the safety gear (goggles, welding gloves, work clothing) and follow one of the many guides online and no problem. I cast .600 balls because that's the caliber I care least about accuracy (I expect less from the Howdah than a Hawken!). Did a couple of runs until I had the feel for it, dumped those balls back in, cast 60 until I found my mind starting to drift a bit so I decided to declare victory and unplug everything. I weighed the balls and they were pretty consistent - I did throw two light ones back in the pot for next time so I got 58 balls out of it, which should be enough for two range sessions. They all have some minor visual surface flaws but nothing that should affect accuracy noticeably in a Howdah - I can't even feel most of it. If I really cared I'd just tumble them for a bit or something.

    Proof's in the pudding, of course, and I haven't shot them yet, but I definitely encourage you to try casting if it sounds like something you would enjoy and/or you think you'll shoot enough to recover the cost.
     
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