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Discussion Starter #1
Especially Pocatello.

Have you ever tried dropping a slightly overbore wad of wasp nest ( chewed into paper wood/weeds nest material ) over the powder and behind the patched ball? You can reduce your powder charge by 10% ( 10 to 15 grains in 54 cal ) and still maintain or even slightly increase the MV. That dab of wasp nest acts like a gas sealing cup behind the ball and you can use a slightly thinner patch material because the patch only needs to engage the ball and rifling to impart spin instead of trying to act as a seal too. Your patched ball rams a lot easier and smoother in a slightly powder fouled bore so that second shot ( if needed ) follows in 9 seconds instead of 13 seconds.

Don T ( who apologizes for being er, tongue in cheek on Yoyeslayer's thread )
 

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I would try your recipe, except the wasp nest I have available is 40' up in a tree that is too skinny to climb, and I don't know how to start my new chainsaw to cut the tree down. And, I don't know how to cut a tree down safely, either.
 

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Forgot to include in my previous. Does the wasp nest material over the powder burn up during ignition and that's where you get the increase in MV?
 

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No I haven't. I use commercial patches rather than pillow ticking. Years ago I had a can of boot treatment called something like Bear Grease. It was similar to Sno Seal, but not quite as waxy. I heated it and soaked the patches in it, then put them on paper towel to dry. I carried them in a 35 mm plastic film can along with a half dozen or so balls, and individually measured powder charges in another half dozen or so film cans. When I checked used patches at the range there did not seem to be any leakage or burn through. Nowadays I just carry a small bottle of Hoppes black powder solvent and wet the patch just before loading. This was suggested to me by our local black powder expert, Davy Crockett (that's his real name - no lie!). Again, examination of used patches shows no leakage or burn through.
 

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Good advice from Flashmax. The use of Hornets Nest over the powder charge was suggested many years ago in the books published by Sam Fadala, the hornets nest material acting almost like asbestos regards protecting the patch.


The same thing can be accomplished usting the Ox-Yoke felt wads. Improves accuracy as well.



Bill
 

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A guy would have to be a hardcore muzzle loader shooter to go to the effort of recovering the wasp nest material. Last encounter I had with wasps didn't work out too well for me or my GSP Gus. I disturbed a fairly large colony while raking out a flower bed and before I could get away from the bastards I had a swarm on me with a bout a dozen or so actual stings. Make me pretty sick for about 1/2 hour. Gus did't fair much better.

The following morning, I hooked the piece of driftwood they were hiding in up behind a quad and drug the whole mess over a nice little fire I had built. The wasps started flowing out of the wood and the ones that crawled away from the flames got smacked with the backside of a shovel. It was war. We won that bout.

So I guess I'll just stick with bore butter on my ball patches for a while longer.
 

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Fellows,
First, wasp nest for wadding in ML's is not a myth and is as old as the hills. It was primariy used as wadding in ML shotguns more than rifles. Besides being hard to find and secure, there are better products available today than can be re-created by wasp nest material. The wadding alone will not increase muzzle velocity to the extent that the powder charge can be reduced. Changing grades of powder, 2F to 3E, will reduce powder charges that are measured by volume and may create a slight velocity increase. Properly sized and lubed patches and balls will, by actual use, increase velocitry and accuracy. Some of us put a cushioned wad between patched ball and powder but the effect is questionable. Two things should NEVER be mentioned in the same sentence regarding muzzleloading; "muzzleloaders" and "smokeless powder". That is nothing less than a recipe for disaster.
Mark
 

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Damn, just when I figgered a way to cut that skinny tree down for the wasp nest material. And I bought the guy that was going to do it 5 shots of rye whiskey!!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The below information comes from the linked site. I found it interesting and -almost- matching what I wrote to start this thread. My own shooting with the wasp nest wad let me drop the powder charge and still shoot tight groups as well as drop Mr. Whitetail with ease.

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6. For the past 60 years or more we have been stuck with the idea that the cloth patch we use with a round ball performs two functions: it grabs the ball and imparts the spin of the rifling to the ball as it travels down the barrel, and it seals the bore so that gases behind the ball cannot cut past the edge of the ball and melt or blow away parts of the ball. We measure our patches and tweak our loads with micrometers to find the right ball and patch combination to achieve this mythical goal, so that we can provide that perfect seal. But, even in the best of guns, time lapse photography shows that gases make it past the patched ball and exit the barrel in front of the ball. Our guns are rifled fully to the muzzle, and we have to use a short starter to seat the bullet or ball. When we examine 19th Century possible bags we find no short starters before 1870, and no loops or straps to hold the short starter in the bag. When we examine old guns, the muzzles all appear to be worn, but tighten up a couple of inches below the muzzle. What happened?

Davie Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Simon Kenton did not take micrometers to the range with them to measure cloth thickness. And they surely didn't carry such a thing through the Cumberland Pass into Kentucky, where they spent as much as a year at a time, hunting and exploring the country while planning to move their families west.

The Cloth they had was homespun, not cloth made at a mill. Yes, expensive cloth was available to the wealthy city people from the mills in England and other European countries, but the folks who explored and settled this country lived a far rougher existence.

If they had clothes made of cloth, it was homespun wool or flax (linen). Cotton came later. Wool was turned to thread using a spinning wheel, and then the threads were made into cloth using looms. The cloth these explorers had was anything but consistent, and no one had any accurate method to measure its thickness, anyway.

The muzzles of their guns were routinely coned, or tapered, so that the patch and ball could be pushed into the barrel quickly with the thumb, and would be centered and slowly grabbed by the patch as it was pushed down with the ramrod. No short starter needed. No manufacturer today cones its barrels.

So, what was really going on back then? How did they get guns to fire so accurately, as we know from historical accounts that they did? I believe that the patch served one purpose, which was to center the ball in the barrel. In a rifle, the patch did transfer the spin of the rifling to the ball as it traveled down the barrel. But they sealed the bore from the gases another way.

There are numerous references about longhunters keeping wasps nests in their hunting shirts, and it is this that I believe they used to seal the powder behind the bullet. If they ran out of wasps nest, they used whatever was available, including rawhide, leaves, tobacco, broad grasses, bark (especially birch bark), weeds, etc.

But the nest was desirable for a couple of reasons. First, it could be found throughout eastern North America. Second, it is made from digested cellulose fibers that are regurgitated by the wasps to make the nest. It has a fine smooth silken texture to it, and it is strong, although it can be crushed easily in the hand when dry, just as can tobacco leaves. A pinch of wasps nest could be crushed between fingers or rolled in the palm of the hand, and then it would be dropped down the barrel of the gun.

About half an inch of this fine material would provide a very good seal for the bore. It would compact under the patched ball driven down on top of it, sealing the powder away from the patch and ball. This gives more consistent velocity to the load, and protects the patch around the ball from being burned, which in turn protects the ball from being melted or cut. All of which contributes to accuracy.

The patch material needs to be thick enough to fill the deep rifling characteristic of a traditional muzzle loading rifle, where each groove is typically cut 6 thousands of an inch deep. We usually use a .015" to .020" thick cloth patch made of pillow ticking, or denim, or some coarse cotton or linen material, and this thickness compresses sufficiently to get down into the rifling.

So, the final secret is to find one patch and ball combination that will serve the function of filling and cleaning out the gunk from the rifling, as well as grabbing and centering the ball in the barrel. Then, to seal the bore, use a separate wad or filler, such as corn meal (yes the same kind you buy to make corn bread), PufLon (a synthetic filler now being sold for straight wall rifle cartridges), or try wasps nest, birch bark, tobacco, or whatever else you can find.

You can buy card wads from Butler Creek in most standard calibers and gauges, or buy a punch from Dixie or Brownells and make your own out of Styrofoam plates. I generally prefer to use cardboard wads, as they hold up well in the barrel and seal well. Celotex, commonly used as an insulating material in construction, is often used to make the thicker shotgun wads. It can be used in rifles, too.


Don T
 
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