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Thread: Musket and Powder Question

  1. #1

    Default Musket and Powder Question

    OK - I bummed a pound of powder from a friend last fall. In his own words, he said "It's not a new can, but I can't remember how old it is. Rolled up rounds for Perryville (70 gr., remember, I have that picky 1861.) Had trouble getting them to fire. Took some of the same rounds to an event this weekend. Same problem. 70 grains and the musket wouldn't fire the standard, non-rammed reenacting "squib." However, off-battlefield, it would fire the same charge wadded and rammed just fine. No trouble at all. Each time, I know the musket was clean and the caps were new. So, what is the problem? Is it old powder? Is there any hope for the 60 or so rounds I have left or should I just use them for something else?
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Bedford, Virginia
    Posts
    458

    Default

    Could it be Pyrodex?
    Boyd Miles

    I dream of a world where a chicken can cross a road without having its motives called into question.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,196

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    It sounds to me as if the powder may be "mixed", If you compress it and it fires. I have heard of some fellas who trying to
    use up or extend their different powders mix them together. Such as 1/4 pound of pory, and 1/4 pound of True black mixed together. In my experience pyro needs the compression to fire as a blank, such as ramming paper after wards, or in ramming a ball or conical. My other experience is that "old" blak powder capped and stored properly never grows old, the same as any of the synthetic powders. I have a couple of the synthetic powders that are dated in the late 80's who still provide the ommph to push a ball downrange.
    Cris Westphal
    Civil War Reenactor

  4. #4

    Default

    I'd be surprised if it were mixed, since he's kind of a purist about his powders. I've never had a problem with powder before, so that's why I'm so stumped. I have a flintlock that will fire anything slightly more explosive than dirt; if I can't get it to fire out of that, I'm going to give up on it.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  5. #5

    Default

    Hallo!

    Well covered already...

    Performance sounds like Pyrodex.

    "Mixed" powder types (and I forget at the moment what the hobby name for mixes are... "reenactorpowder' maybe ??? ).... can vary depending upon how the mixer "formulates' his "blend."

    Hobby wise... sometimes we see mixes and blends where there is a powder issue and the host unit or sponsor has scavenged powder and made a Mulligan Stew out of various donated supplies. ( I have received FF and FFF mixes...)

    And as an aside, there were several lads, businesses, crossing over in the risky realm of mixing smokeless and black powder. But that sounds to NOT be the case here as what was described sounds like hard-to-ignite- not more easily flashable.

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    California People's Republic
    Posts
    226

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    This may be asking the obvious, but is the powder completely dry?

    Most modern black powder is glazed with graphite and is more resistant than old black powder to absorbing moisture. GOEX, for instance, is made to US military requirements (the US military is the largest single consumer of black powder; I'm an Army Ordnance officer, and we still use black powder in fuse trains, signals, smokes and pyrotechnics, etc). Potassium nitrate "saltpeter" is extremely hygroscopic. It will absorb moisture out of the air, and especially in humid places, it can absorb enough moisture to degrade performance and ignition. This can happen without the powder appearing to be wet or damp at all.

    Perhaps the lid of the can wasn't screwed on fully tight? Slightly dampened powder can be dried out again, as long as it hasn't gotten so wet that it has caused the potassium nitrate to decrystallize, separating itself from the charcoal, to recrystallize again.

    Powder with high moisture content will often still fire if compressed, even if it won't fire (or fires with reluctance and difficulty) without compression.

    There is also a distinct possibility that your powder had gotten very damp at one point in its life, and when it dried out again the potassium nitrate recrystallized, pretty much ruining the stuff.

    Or it could just be pyrodex....
    Brett Gibbons
    3rd Regt. C.S. Engineers, Co. E
    www.cartridgetubes.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Va.
    Posts
    731

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    Was it in a can? If so, what brand. I used a can of Goex "Reenacotor Powder" once and was not pleased with it's performance. The grains are a mixed size, usually larger than 2F. Didn't get a good boom out of it and it fouled the barrel quicker than Goex 2F or 3F. It however, did ignite every time.
    Jim Mayo
    Member of the old vets mess.

    http://www.angelfire.com/ma4/j_mayo/index.html

  8. #8

    Default

    It was in a Goex can, FFF. Yes, the problem is "hard to ignite" not "won't ignite at all." I'm thinking that it got damp at some point, unknown in time, and then did indeed dry out again. I've fired rounds that were wet and dried out, and the performance was similar, though not exactly the same. With the stuff that I knew had been dried out, I could get it to fire, but the sound was more like "puff" and you could almost hear the individual grains igniting. This was more like cap 6 or 7 times, add maybe a second cartridge, cap 4 or 5 more times and it'll fire. I don't really like my 1861 all that much because it tends to be tempermental about blanks, so I'm a bit quick to blame the gun.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  9. #9

    Default

    Hallo!

    Sometimes it is the gun that deserves some blame.

    The right angle flash channels of the repro M1861's reduces the amount of flash to the charge even when the channel is absolutely clean of accumulated fouling/coke, and the black powder is new/fresh.

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Warsaw. Mo
    Posts
    94

    Default

    I was gonna ask about the cone vent too. Are you using a standard "hunting" type cone (nipple) with small orfice, or a "reenactor" type with an enlarged orfice? I had to go with the reenactor type for my brand-new Enfield.

    Bushwhacker
    http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h8...clothes007.jpg


    Bushwhacker
    Pvt.;10th Mo. Infantry/Artillery CSA

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