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Old 15th May 2016, 01:48 PM   #1
Pukka Bundook
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Default Torador breeching.

Just a note on a torador breech set-up;

Said gun is in poor shape, and has bits missing at present, looks Rajasthan and late 18th century.
Very slim stock.
Bore about .58"

Have discussed breech arrangements with Rick here, as these barrels appear to nearly always have a chamber for powder, a constricted area, then the bore proper.
As near as I can tell, the breech on this one is made as follows;

Bore of the barrel is straight at .about .58 cal, to within 4" of the breech.
Bore constricted at this point, to maybe 1/2" .
After the constriction, the chamber opens up to about the same calibre as the bore, (.58" as far as I can tell).............but tapers Smaller to the breech, so that for the last inch or so, a 7/16" dowel is a snug fit right down to the breech face.

Although the powder chamber is not as large as the bore for its entire length, it Still holds about 180 grains of powder, which for a .58 calibre would be a really healthy charge!
This powder chamber can best be described as pear -shaped, with the wider part to-wards the muzzle.
Just thought this may be of interest to Rick at any rate!

Best,
Richard.
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Old 16th May 2016, 12:06 AM   #2
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Hi Richard.
WOW!! Now that is interesting. And really strange. Hmmmm.....
The breech on yours seems to be the same pear shape as mine - but in the opposite direction ???? I honestly don't know what to make of that. You just have to wonder what some of their thinking was??
The breech on my barrel seems to be designed just like the photo here from the YouTube vidio.
Speaking of which. I was expecting my barrel back from the barrelsmith around the end of March. I was almost next in line. But then he had to have knee surgery and would be limited to about two hours of work a day for about 6 weeks. DARN. So It's now looking like sometime in June.
Please post your matchlock when you have the opportunity. And thanks for telling me about the barrel. Seems like another varient (?).
Rick.
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Old 16th May 2016, 02:30 PM   #3
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Rick,

My camera has 'turned up missing' at present, but when it comes out of hiding I will attach a few pics.

I think the only important criteria with the chamber, was that a ball had a seat which prevented it over-compressing the powder. This May just be a carry-over from the European design as shown in your picture above, as with serperntine mealed powder, over -compressed powder will not ignite.
With corned powder, (as we all know) there is no such need for a chamber.
Did India in general continue with mealed powder longer?.........or was the old chamber design merely copied without much thought?

I do know from contemporary sources, that the matchlock was known (in general) to be more accurate and outrange the British musket. Did the huge powder capacity of the chamber help? I'd think so, at least in range!

Richard.
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Old 17th May 2016, 02:12 AM   #4
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Hi Richard.
Well, we know change came very slowly in this part of the world during the 19th Century. So the meal powder and breech design theory, at least early on makes sense. And if they thought the matchlocks proved accurate for it's day, there was probably no reason to change the design, even at the introduction of corn powder.
Of course, I'm just speculating here. But the fact that they continued to manufacture and use these matchlocks all the way up to the 1880's is a real mystery to me. That's well into the black powder cartridge period.
It seems that their thinking was after ignition, that building up initial pressure in the breech area, combined with the long barrel, offered better velocity and thus accuracy versus "building" velocity as it travels down the barrel. Just a thought.
In any case, the restriction in the bore seems to be designed to keep the ball from compressing against the powder.
By the way, do you think the picture posted here, showing the inside of the bore originated from a European matchlock design ?
If you've seen the YouTube video "Mughal Matchlock", they cut the breech of a Torador breech lengthwise. But the only show it for about 3 seconds. But it does show the design similar to the above photo. Which seems to duplicate my barrel.
Rick.
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Old 17th May 2016, 01:37 PM   #5
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Rick,

I think the matchlock continued in use so long in India because it suited irregular troops well. Easy to find /make ammo for including clay balls at times. no flint to find for the lock, no brass cases needed, and as long as the use was limited to irregular skirmish and not pitched battle, it worked very well.
It seems a good few flintlocks were converted to matchlock for use by Arab mercenaries, as that bis what they were used to and preferred.

The picture you post I shard to figure out what it is of, apart from a matchlock, as it doesn't really look like anything I have seen before. :-)

I believe the chambered breech is a copy of the European idea, but with the difference that in most European chambered barrels, the chamber is smaller than the bore proper, and as we have seen, chambers on Indian arms can vary. The important part of the chamber merely being to prevent the ball or other projectiles from over -compressing the powder.
I have been fine-boring this barrel, and that isn't as easy without a removable breech plug!........the reason being that the bore is a bit rough & pitted, so just smoothing it up a bit to see if it could be once again brought into use.
These are the seller's pictures below;
My camera still hiding.
The stock is So slim that it's just about not there at all!!

Richard.
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Old 21st May 2016, 08:29 PM   #6
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Hi Richard.
I agree with all your assessments and comments above. As you mention, the restriction in the bore was meant to keep the ball from compressing against the powder. While the breech designs do seem to vary, they all seem designed to handle heavy charges of black powder. The barrel walls at the breech are very thick.
Thanks for posting pics of your Matchlock. Yes, that would be a tough job with the bore not having a removeable breech plug. But the gun definately looks restorable. There appears to be a missing piece of wood behind the breech area of the stock. From the photos, it doesn't look broke. Just missing. Originally, maybe a different colored piece of wood, maybe with a horn cap ? Or maybe one piece of elaphant ivory somebody removed But I don't notice any holes in the bottom section where nails or pins might have been (?). Anyway, be careful with that forearm. Sounds like it might be delicate.
Rick.
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Old 22nd May 2016, 02:39 PM   #7
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Rick,

Thank you for your reply.

Yes, the fore-end is like paper it's so thin!

I too wondered about the missing block behind the breech, as there are no holes where pins or nails held it in place, and no signs of glue either!
Looking at the sideplate, I can't see where a match -holder was located, so think it may have had a hole in the rear end of the missing block.

Any ideas of age on this?
Also usage?
I Think possibly made for sporting use, as it is a bit thin and delicate for warfare. (Think!)
I do wish these were easier to date, but looking at it overall, and the shape of the (very thin) sideplates, I Think late 18th C.
Again just think and would appreciate your thoughts.

It seems a book could be written about these. A book with actual facts that is, And dates for specific changes over the centuries.
Yes, I know it may never happen, and one has to look at lots of photos to try and figure out the finer details which often vary over the sub-continent.

I have another 2 recent purchases, and these are both still in the UK.
Will attach photos in separate threads.

Best,
Richard.
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Old 28th May 2016, 03:36 PM   #8
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Hi Richard.
Been traveling the last couple weeks.
Before I forget, I want to congratulate you on this barrel still having it's original pan cover. They are usually missing. Assuming the pans that were made with a cover. As we know, some were not.
Date: Well, my guess would not be any better than your's. LOL. These guns are so difficult to try and date. The "general" overall design of the stocks and barrels seem to remain the same for some 300+ years. The gun could have been made in 1700 or 1800 LOL. I don't even know which style/changes, etc. would be considered early versus later.
As you mention, a book could probably be written about the history/design, etc.about these guns. But the book would be seriously expensive since you and I might be the only customers. LOL
In the book Indian and Oriental Armour there is a few pages that do give some interesting details of how the barrels were made. I had to re-read it 3-4 times to get an understanding. LOL. But no discussion of interior bore/breech design. And, as you mentioned, without a removeable breech plug, it makes study of the breech design that much more difficult.
I have noticed only two variations of breech plug design. One, as used on my barrel, is an iron plug, smaller diameter than the breech, forge welded in place, with the rear sight mounted directly on top of the breech. The other style, utilizes a flat plate, slightly larger diameter than the breech, with the rear sight cut into the top of the plate. And I assume also forge welded in place.

Sometime in June, my barrelsmith will be working on my barrel. In the process, he will be drilling out the hole I already made larger till it meets the barrel walls. Hopefully, this will allow for some better photos of the breech end, and maybe the restrcted area, before installing a new threaded breech plug (and liner if necessary). So maybe we will get some more information on breech design.

Again, thanks for your discussion on this subject.
Rick
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Old 29th May 2016, 03:32 AM   #9
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And, Thank You rick for your thoughts and comments on both these threads.
We appear in a minority when it comes to interest in the Torador.

I have this barrel pretty well smoothed out now, and it Just takes a .530" ball without a patch.
Trouble is, that breech still want to hold about 200 grains of powder, so would need to use loose wadding that could ram into the narrower chamber to take up some of the space!

Dating is difficult. (Dating Toradors I mean!)
The Mughal art-work depicting Dara Shikoh, , Shah Jajan & even Akbar all show matchlocks very similar to what we see today.
A book Does need to be written, but who knows the answers to write the book?

I do look forward to hearing of progress with your barrel!
Keep me posted won't you?!

Richard.
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Old 30th May 2016, 01:40 PM   #10
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Hi Richard.

If a .530 ball will "just" fit the muzzle without a patch, it sounds like the nominal bore size is about .540 (Make sure there is no swell at the muzzle end to ease loading. (But I've never seen Torador barrels with a swell in the bore at the muzzle end). Since it's a smooth bore you will need a ball about 2-3 calibers smaller than the nominal bore size, as you probably know. They do make ready cast balls in both .520 and .526. You could probably use the .520 with a .010 patch. (They use to make a thin .005 patch, but no longer do to my knowledge). Another option: .540 caliber is equal to 20 guage. They make pre-lubed wads and over-shot cards for this size for use in loading ML shotguns. But many smooth bore shooters prefer to load their single ball barrels in this manner versus a lubed patch.
POWDER VOLUMN: I too would not shoot the barrel with 200 grain loads
But here's a thought that just occured to me last night. Do you think you could load say 60-85 grains of FFG powder - and that volumn meet the vent hole ? If so, you could fill the rest of the chamber with Corn Meal, all the way up to the restricted area. Then just load the patched ball like any other muzzle loader. Sounds like a lot of corn meal. But I think that would be better than all the loose wadding. What do you think ?

But I'm still lost on how to properly clean the breech area after firing.

MY BARREL: If it wasn't for the breech cleaning issue, I could simply have the restriced area drilled out, the bore burnished smooth again, and a threaded breech plug installed. And shoot it via the corn meal method per above. Which I may have to do anyway if the barrelsmith can't make a one-piece liner to accomodate both the barrel a larger breech area. But he has been able to fix barrels that I otherwise would not believe he could do.

Rick
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Old 30th May 2016, 02:32 PM   #11
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Rick,

I somehow had a senior moment! The ball is a .570" I don't know what made me think .530"....
Still, it makes no odds in the long run.
The only problem with cornmeal as a filler, is that it can cause extra pressure in a constricted area. That is why we don't use it in the Martini-Henry, as it rams up solid in the neck.

Seeing as this barrel isn't so much constricted at the chamber, but more reduced in bore for the chamber, the cornmeal might do very well though. (the slight constriction there was, I reamed /fine -bored out, to simplify it! )
With this constriction removed, I can now tell that the chamber does not enlarge to bore diameter as I figured previously, so in essence a slight tapering towards the breech if anything.

We have been working on loads for an International musket competition we are just starting, to be run in conjunction with our annual "Victorian Riflemen Shoot" here on the farm on 25th & 26th June.
Most of us have had good luck with a ball using thick wads of felt, and plenty of lube, and no patch..
At 50 metres, they seem like they will group in the black allright off-hand, so that will be something to try.


Re. patches;
I used to wander around thrift /fabric shops with a micrometer in my pocket, seeking out the thickness of good dense linen I needed!! I have a good selection still. :-)

The touch-hole on this barrel is right at the breech face, so any small amount of powder could be used, as long as wadding can be rammed down into the narrower breech area. (or cornmeal)
To all intents & purposes, this barrel is (now) simply a .57" or so bore, then a narrower breech area, with parralell (nearly!) sides.
For cleaning;

a wool mop or brush on the rod would work for both our barrels, as being flexible they should pass through a constriction in your case, or into the narrower chamber in my case, without too much trouble.

Let me know how you get on with your barrel!

Richard.

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Old 30th May 2016, 04:07 PM   #12
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Hi Richard.

That's OK. I get senior moments all the time. LOL
Here in the States there is a supplier that has ready made cast round balls in .550 caliber. But there is also a fellow in the U.K. that custom makes moulds in ANY caliber. But you probably know that.
I can definately see not using corn meal in BP Cartridge guns. As you say, it won't compress. Especially in a bottle neck cartridge like the Martini. I think today they use something else for filler, but not sure what it is.

OK. That is an interesting result you found out about your bore after removing the restriced area where the ball would have originally been forced to sit. I think that once this constriced area is removed, it's much simpler to configure how we go about loading, shooting, and cleaning.
And, I may be overly concerned about cleaning the larger breech area. Yes, between a larger diameter brush and some wool felt, I can figure out something.

I was thinking, you and I may be the first ones to attempt to put these Torador barrels in firing condition. LOL And the bore/breech area study along the way. It will be interesting to see what conclusions we end up with.

Normally, I would not shoot a barrel without a THREADED breech plug. But after drilling out the breech face of my barrel, I can see that the forge welding of the plug appears very sturdy. That coupled with the extreme barrel wall thickness, I can't see why the barrel would not hold up to normal charges of black powder.
In the case of my barrel, there is already a hole in the breech face. So the threaded plug is my only option there. Drilling out the constriced area to nominal bore size all the way through the breech face, burnishing the bore and breech area, and installing the threaded plug may be all I need. And may be my only option if he can't make a liner whose O.D. will accomodate both the bore and larger breech areas. But he says he can taper or flare a liner the same as making a new barrel, as long as he knows the measurements. If he can, I will probably go this route since he is already going to this much trouble. LOL I'll keep you posted what we decide to do.
Rick
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Old 31st May 2016, 02:08 AM   #13
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Rick,

I have often wondered about people firing the toreador, as nothing shows up on line that I can find.

Odd thing about the threaded breech;
We don't trust them without, and in India they didn't trust them With threads!
You are lucky to have a competent gunsmith to do work for you! They are hard to find.
I tend to do it myself, for the latter reason. It started when I was a kid, and the local gunsmith soldered some ramrod pipes on for me and they fell off when I got home, so did it myself!
For a start, I will try a close -fitting ball with no patch, using thick felt wads over and under it, with plenty of lube.
I will also try a remote shot or two to test the barrel prior to shouldering it. :-)
Re. charges,;
I don't want to give the wrong idea here, but Sam Fadala in one of his M/loading books did tests on barrels made of Normal copper water pipe (!)
These barrels had makeshift breechplugs of a bean tin/can, filled with molten lead and the copper pipe dropped in.
A .530" patched ball fit perfectly, and the charge was 130 grains of 2F.
A hole being drilled at the breech for ignition, these 'barrels' were tied to a plank and remote fired.
Result was that the copper pipe did not expand at all when firing the 130 gr charge and close fitting ball.
If however an airspace was left between powder and ball, the barrel swelled up like a snake that had eaten an egg.
A bit more gap between powder and ball & the barrel split.

We both know that we shouldn't leave an airspace between powder and projectile, (you can with BP cartridges as long as the airspace is limited!)
But my point is, that a fairly decent barrel well breeched should be Ok with nominal charges, as what we will be attempting to fire is a lot better than a piece of copper water -pipe. :-)
Caution is the key whether we use threaded or welded breech.
It will be interesting to see our developments. :-)

Richard.
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Old 4th June 2016, 03:18 PM   #14
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Hi Richard.

I too have never been able to locate anything on line with reference to firing these Torador barrels, except for the Mughal Matchlock YouTube video, which was to brief for our level of interest. LOL.
I remember reading that also as the Indians did not trust the threaded breech plug. Curious. But after drilling the hole in the breach of my barrel, I can see where the quality of forge welding was much better than I expected. With the constriction now removed, I don't think you should have any problems. Yes, the lubed felt wads above and below the ball would be a good starting place. And yes, of course, test the barrel seperately from a distance. But I don't think you will have any issues. Anxious to hear your findings.
I'm also anticipating the barrelsmith begining work on my barrel this month. I'll keep you posted in that regard.

Here is another question I have with these Toradors. Did they fire these guns with the end of the butt stock at the shoulder, as would normally be assumed ? Or did they cup the butt stock UNDER the armpit ? At least with mine, I notice I can get a sight picture holding it either way. What do you think?

Rick
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Old 5th June 2016, 08:17 PM   #15
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Rick,

Bit short of time right now, but I think the torador fired from the shoulder would hurt!
The one I have in hand is short enough that if merely hand -held, the 'butt' would be clear of the shoulder. It isn't long enough to fit under the arm, unless on held the firing hand in close to the chest.
Maybe I will get to try it out before too long!

Richard.
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Old 13th February 2018, 01:45 AM   #16
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Default Clay balls

Recently read I think in Elgoods book that clay balls were used for birds and the like seems lodical not to waste lead. Pukka bundock also mentioned them here in this thread. The story goes that rocks were shot really how many correctly sized round rocks can you find in a week? So it would seem this is another story that has no merit. Clay balls likely looked like rocks and were no doubt fired at times. Steve
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Old 13th February 2018, 02:54 AM   #17
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Steve,

Clay balls is another thing for us to try !

At least clay is cheap. (Ice at present would be cheaper still, but less common in Mughal India most of the time. )

Your finding that manure -(Cow manure or some such) was used as wadding helps an awful lot with the chamber problem, and for the record, I did try this at the weekend and it Does work Very well!

(Dry manure,...not fresh. ) :-)
I know I stated the above in your recent Interesting barrel thread, but wanted to put it here as well for future searches.

Actually, it is all getting very exciting....how readily available most of the loading components are. :-)
As I get down to measuring other chambers, I will keep you posted on volumes and measurements, as close as possible.

Thanks again,

Richard.
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Old 13th February 2018, 10:46 AM   #18
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Watching these torador threads with a lot of interest. I have one myself, bought years ago, and always wondered what they would be like to shoot.

I read an account of Skinners Horse (Yellowboys) demonstrating their skills, and they shot at bottles hung from a tree branch, while at full gallop.
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Old 13th February 2018, 12:52 PM   #19
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David,

Do you have a link to your matchlock?
If not, I'd love to see it somewhere!

The "enquiring mind" on these is what got me interested in firing one as well!

I would really like to hear if and when you do get yours running. :-)
Yes, I know these are antique artefacts, but so much remains academic unless we can fill out the picture to some degree.

To me, the more we learn about these, and the people /culture, the richer our experience becomes. Have been enjoying looking at miniature paintings of hunting scenes, (Moghul etc. ) So vibrant and full of life and humour!
We should start a thread on these!

Very best,
Richard.
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Old 13th February 2018, 03:47 PM   #20
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Hi Richard,
Waiting your trial runs with clay. My guess is that for birds and other small
game the clay balls might be aimed in front and below the target. Fragmenting into crude shot with a similar effect to barking a squirrel Daniel Boone style.
Know any potters or will Moms oven work? Steve
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Old 14th February 2018, 01:17 PM   #21
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Archer,

Please do not hold your breath on the clay balls! You will go a funny colour.

The ground is very frozen and must thaw first, and before that, the foot or two of snow must melt. It has been cold this winter, and minus 30C to minus 38C or more not uncommon.

(Coldest recorded here was Minus 91F!.............with the wind they reckon.)
Froze a lot of cows that winter.

Re clay balls;
Been thinking how they could be made a consistent size. A mould with relief grooves to allow excess to 'squidge' out seems practical.

More than likely just roll a ball and see'f it fits!
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Old 14th February 2018, 06:44 PM   #22
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Hi Richard,
Any suitable lead mold should do fine. Iím trying to say decide whether to get snow out of Drive or off deck first. Steve
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Old 18th February 2018, 02:24 PM   #23
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Embarrassed, I STILL have not had my Torador out for test firing
Between regular work and working on gun projects, I don't seem to find the time. I have so many guns that need test firing, including the Torador.
But I'm going to change this situation starting this Spring.

I can imagine the clay balls acting as a crude form of shot after leaving the muzzle. Would be interesting to try that out at about 15 yards.

Rick
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