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Medieval gunpowder packed a modern punch...

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Mike Irwin, Sep 10, 2003.

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  1. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Member

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    Just two minutes from sanity.
    Instead of all this yawping about what fools those pointy-headed intellectuals are, shouldn't someone express a little pleasure that somebody in Britain still has an interest in weapons?
     
  2. cracked butt

    cracked butt Member

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    I think their interest almost lies along the lines of gaping at a horrible traffic accident;)

    Probably in a generation or two from now a military historian/archaiologist will take a look at a Lee Enfield and be amazed at how great of a rifle it is. There won't be anyone left there that has any experience with the weapon:what:



    On a fun note, I watched a Brittish documentery about how two groups of Brittish engineers and craftsmen each built a trebuchet to compete in a contest to knock down a replica of a castle wall built by yet another group of craftsmen. They used only tools and materials that were available 700-800 years ago and built a pair of very bitchin siege engines that could accurately throw a huge stone ball several hundred yards
    :D
     
  3. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Not to blow my own horn, but.. OK I will: toot! I expressed satisfaction about it quite a while ago. :neener:
     
  4. Quartus

    Quartus Member

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    TOOTT TOOT! for BigG!

    7 extra brownie points for you today, sir!


    :D
     
  5. WilderBill

    WilderBill Member

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    No doubt that the homebrewed blackpowder recreation is the very best powder available...


    for a medival firearm.
    Anything better would be dangerous to these intrepid explorerers!
     
  6. GinSlinger

    GinSlinger Member

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    IIRC, Serpentine (sp?) was mixed with urine. Specifically human urine, and sources indicate that urine collected at "taverns" was the best. Wonder if those scientists will be following the recipe that close? "Okay, mates, join around the Watley's--it't time to make some urine."

    GinSlinger
     
  7. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

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    Guiness Extra Stout for magnum loadings.

    I would imagine that in the very very early days....strength was bellcurvish. A lot of it adequate. Some of it weak or useless. And some of it broke things cause it was too good.

    Sam
     
  8. HankB

    HankB Member

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    I once read that early powder had to be "consecrated" by the urine of a priest to keep the devils away. (It smelled of brimstone, the mark of Hell, so something "holy" was needed.)

    Of course, this wasn't done for free . . .

    In addition to the safety of mixing powder wet instead of dry, there's also the benefit of more thorough compounding. No matter how fine a Medieval alchemist would grind the charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter, he'd still get a mixture of three different powders. BUT if it's done WET, the saltpeter partially dissolves ("All nitrates are soluble") and thoroughly impregnates the other ingredients. They found ways of drying the powder slurry which resulted in granules, which further improved performance. (IIRC this was done by extruding the slurry through a sieve.)

    Given the basic formula, there's not really much room for improvement in performance, though I expect uniformity is a bit better today.
     
  9. 20cows

    20cows Member

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    Serpentine powder is what you get by just pulverizing the ingredients to a fine powder separately and mixing them together "dry". It was not as efficient and fouling was a major drawback as not all the saltpeter burned and crysalized in the bore. Mixing the ingredients "wet" made the mixture much more homogeneous and burn much more completely.

    The calcium salt residue is a much greater fouling problem (not as soluable) than the sodium or potassium salts. Also, the reactivity of the calcium nitrate would be, I believe, a lot less than that of potassium or sodium. Perhaps this is a situation where the journalist does not know come here from sick'em nor potassium nitrate from calcium nitrate and reported that part in error.

    I teach a little science on the side, but I was a geology major, not chemistry.
     
  10. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    IIRC, in the 15th century or so, the Vietnamese discovered that cylindrical grains burned better in cannons, and used molds of some kind to squish wet-mixed black powder into long, cylindrical grains.
     
  11. mfree

    mfree Member

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    calcium nitrate == deliberate obfuscation, to thwart the high school kiddies with too much time on their hands?
     
  12. 20cows

    20cows Member

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    "calcium nitrate == deliberate obfuscation, to thwart the high school kiddies with too much time on their hands?"

    EURICA! THAT'S IT!

    As a physical science teacher who liked to make things go boom in demonstrations, I believe that is very likely.
     
  13. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    Hmmm... maybe I've been ignoring a potential source of income! :D
     
  14. Bart Noir

    Bart Noir Member

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    Preacherman, only if you are a Roman Catholic priest! The Protestant Reformation forever changed the industry of powder making. There is an obscure German saying that roughly means, "Use priestly pizzle or get cannon powder fizzle." Very obscure, I might add :)

    Bart Noir
     
  15. 20cows

    20cows Member

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    Does it rhyme in both languages?
     
  16. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    All right. I give up. When did "gobsmacked" become a scientific term?
     
  17. Roadkill

    Roadkill Member

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    I read somewhere that the ingredients caused a lot of casualties from sickness when the soldiers in the War of Northern Aggression bit off the end of the paper cartridges to pour the powder down the barrel. Now I know why. After an engagement you could recognize the fighters because of the black around their mouths.

    rk
     
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