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Old 18th September 2014, 02:28 PM   #1
CutlassCollector
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Default Loaded Flintlock - problem or not?

I recently purchased a flintlock sea service pistol which I found is still loaded. I usually stick to edged weapons so I am unsure about this.
I doubt that it is still possible to discharge after all this time but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
So how frequent does this happen and what is the normal procedure? How do you remove the charge, the top wad came out easy but the ball seems firmly stuck. What is the best way to unload?
Any advice appreciated. Thanks.
CC
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Old 18th September 2014, 06:50 PM   #2
Ken Maddock
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Hi
This has happened to me twice
My method of extracting ball same in both cases
I got a coarse threaded screw and sharpened the tip
Welded this onto a steel rod and once I had the rod far enough in to engage the ball then I bent it at 90 degrees so I could rotate rod and drive it into the lead ball
This worked fine both times
With the Brown Bess with a long barel the ball came out and I then scraped what was behind out and put a match to it
It flared up instantly so the powder was live
be careful
Take your time and don't put hands or fingers over the barel when doing the extracting

If doing again I would add water to dampen the potential powder


The powder might be still live or it might be expended
No point in taking a chance
Best of luck
Nice to have a story with the gun
Obviously remove flint if present in the hammer before you do anything
Regards
Ken

Last edited by Ken Maddock : 18th September 2014 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 18th September 2014, 07:08 PM   #3
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Certainly a problem which needs attention. A friend of mine, years ago destroyed his TV by putting a cap on a newly acquired percussion gun without checking first to see if it was loaded!
At the moment YOU own the pistol, but what about a few years down the track.
There is an attachment for clearing rods which looks like a double headed cork screw. This is designed for pulling balls/bullets from muzzle loaders. If you do not have one, then any good gunshop should be able to supply one. They may even agree to do the job for you.
Do not leave the pistol loaded.....very dangerous!
Stu
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Old 18th September 2014, 09:36 PM   #4
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Thanks Ken and Stu for your good advice. I'm glad I asked as I was tending to think the powder would not be viable after maybe 150 years or so. I'll proceed with caution.
CC
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Old 18th September 2014, 09:43 PM   #5
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There are cases of US civil war collectors having 150 year old powder loaded cannon balls exploding and killing them while cleaning the balls with wire brushes
I do not think black powder degrades and becomes more sensitive with time but will happily take a correction

Google civil war collector dies cleaning cannon ball

and you should find the story
Keep we'll
Ken
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Old 18th September 2014, 10:21 PM   #6
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Rather than water, I would dampen the charge with thin oil, like 3 in 1. Let it sit overnight.

This will kill any pyrotechnic tendency.
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Old 19th September 2014, 08:31 AM   #7
Matchlock
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Hi there,


From aspects of science, and especially chemistry, we know that, with fine dust-like blackpowder before ca. 1600, saltpeter is volatile and such "meal" powder will generally not explode any longer than some 30 years after it got mixed.

In the case of grained 18th or 19th century blackpowder, I would basically recommend being careful.


Best,
Michael
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Old 19th September 2014, 07:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakethetrees
Rather than water, I would dampen the charge with thin oil, like 3 in 1. Let it sit overnight.

This will kill any pyrotechnic tendency.


I agree, Id go with this, definitely saturate in oil first....

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Old 19th September 2014, 08:46 PM   #9
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Thanks for the oil advice guys I'll go with that and thanks Michael for the science.
Regards, CC.
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