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Stuck Minie Ball 150 years old...

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by VaTechDude, Jul 17, 2017 at 12:55 AM.

  1. VaTechDude

    VaTechDude Member

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    So I recently purchased an original Springfield 1863 percussion cap. I've heard of them coming loaded from who knows when, so I checked mine when I got it. Sure enough, there's AT LEAST one charge and bullet in there. When comparing how much extra room the ramrod should go down, it seems that there is a double charge or double ball or both down there.

    So I got a bullet puller and screwed it in. It didn't strip out of the bullet, it stripped out of my (admittedly low quality) ramrod. So that go stuck down there too... So I took it to the gunsmith. He then got HIS homemade attachment he's been using for a decade in a half down there too. He left me with the option of taking it home or letting him pull the breech plug and possibly breaking it and requiring replacement. That leaves me with the price of the special wrench he would order, plus possibly a breech plug replacement and his time. So I took it home.

    I tried a CO2 discharger, it didn't budge anything down there, and it broke the part where you screw in the tip from the built up pressure.

    TLDR: Can I take the nipple off and put some powder in at the bottom and shoot it out if I seat everything for sure at the bottom? All old powder has been neutralized with oil. I am concerned about ruining my piece of Civil War history as well as my face.
     
  2. Cooldill

    Cooldill Member

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    Oh yeah? How do you know?

    Some have had luck using a grease gun to pump out whatever's down there.
     
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  3. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Do a search here on hydraulics.
     
  4. Gemmer

    Gemmer Member

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    As suggested above, grease gun and a Zerk fitting. Messy but safe and effective.
     
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  5. Ephraim Kibbey

    Ephraim Kibbey Member

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    I do NOT recommend shooting it out but if you choose to do so, do NOT fire it while holding it.

    Some have test fired with the gun wedged securely in an old tire and a VERY long string attached to the barrel.

    Even so the shrapnel from the destroyed piece of history can be deadly for a long distance.

    The local constabulary may also take a dim view of the explosion of such a valuable "pipe bomb!"

    Pulling the breech plug seems like a reasonable alternative if you do not want a loaded gun hanging on your wall.
     
  6. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    Something else to consider, your assumed diagnosis of whats in the barrel may be wrong, it may have been intentionally plugged ages ago to make it safe. It may have molten lead poured into it. Pulling the breechplug is probably the safest thing to do to figure out whats happening. The grease/hydraulic thing may work, but,...if it was poured with lead, that isnt likely to get pushed out when it conformed to the flash channel and powder chamber parts of the barrel (do those type have a powder chamber area?).

    If it has been loaded for ages, the barrel may be rusted or pitted in the area the powder is in. You have no idea how it was cared for before being left loaded or plugged. Keith mentioned percussion revolvers that were rusted through between chambers and would fire more than one chamber when shot. Shooting it out or hydraulically pushing it out may potentially be problematic if the chamber area has rusted to thin spots. Pulling the breechplug seems the least potentially problematic.

    I, also, wouldnt try shooting out a blockage in an unknown antique gun, even if it was yours. Breech plug costs how much? You bought an antique wild card. There probably isnt a perfect way to clear it. Pick one and jump in. Live with whatever happens. Move on. They made more if it gets ruined, just choose the least likely way to ruin it if thats the fate of that gun.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017 at 12:05 PM
  7. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    You can always buy another piece of Civil War history.....

    Did you buy it as a shooter or a as a piece of memorabilia? If it's the first, then absolutely have the barrel plug removed. It's the only way to verify that the rifle is safe and shootable with what you are describing. Getting the plug refitted wont be that hard for a good gunsmith. Additionally if you really are planning on shooting it a lot, a modern barrel is probably a better option anyway. If it's for memorabilia, then I'd recommend JB welding the flash hole shut (or something similar that doesn't generate heat) and enjoy your wall hanger.

    Trying to shoot out a potential double charge doesn't seem like a good idea if you want to leave the barrel in one piece. Hydraulically pushing it all out would be my preferred choice if you aren't willing to have the breech plug removed. If you are dead set on shooting it out, dismount the barrel, and secure it to something nice and heavy. Then use either a fuse or a trail of black powder to set off the charge you crammed in there. Make sure you are COMPLETELY behind cover. If you have to see what's happening, setup your phone or a GoPro or something.

    -Jenrick
     

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