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BLACK POWDER

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OLDGUNNER
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BLACK POWDER

#1 Post by OLDGUNNER » Tue May 22, 2018 2:54 am

Subject: BLACK POWDER - FWIW
I see where some have been so discouraged with their black powder shooting that they have given up. I think that this may be due to two main reasons. That the makers may have ‘possible’ derated their powder just for safety sake. They may have thought that they wanted to help make sure that there were no or minimum accidents due to over pressure, and this may be their way of trying to help prevent this. They can make their powder so bad that one can ‘pack’ a brass case full AND fill the barrel of a muzzle loading rifle full and not cause unduly over pressure. I haven’t tried it but I have a feeling that the current black powder may be so bad that say in a muzzle loading rife the unburnt powder will be pushed out of the barrel before it will all burn. And the second reason is to SAVE TIME...the makers of the powder want to save time...and the ‘buyers’ definitely want to save time. That is why the buyers choose to just buy it instead of making it. If one is so concerned with saving time, this is not for them. If one would want to enjoy Back Powder shooting without all of the barrel fouling, this may be for them. Of course the makers ‘CAN’ make better powder but it would cost more...isn’t it that the way with most manufactured things?
The last potassium nitrate that I have bought was 12.95 for five pounds at a nursery supply house and the sulphur is so cheap, I forget. Anyway my cost of black powder is less than three dollars per pound. And...I just found this...these caps have gotten pretty expensive. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=bl ... ORM=VRDGAR

I have thought that the quality of the powder mainly depends on the quality of the charcoal. The charcoal is the fuel, the only fuel. I made a simple little electric oven with the heat controlled by a plain light-dimmer (a 1000 watt dimmer) or as in my case, made it also. I char the wood and not burn it like most of the YOU TUBER’s do - I think that this is plain silly. I cut the 1/2 inch diameter main stocks of SEEP WILLOW wood into 2 inch long pieces and then split these into four pieces....to help to get a more uniform charring. I use a simple thermometer with a long probe to control the charring heat. Think about it, if one uses large diameter pieces of wood to char, the outsides will get more charring than the insides and the faster the wood is heated , again, the outside is more charred than the insides. I will call this a first step in making a good Black Powder after collecting the wood.

And of course there are 1000 and 1 different ways to do this...I have been messing with this since I was in the fifth grade and I bought Sodium Nitrate instead of Potassium Nitrate because all that I saw was ‘SALTPETER’, and I just burned some wood to get my charcoal...it didn’t work at all, it just fizzled....slowly. My parents had just bought me a Gilbert Chemistry Set. https://www.bing.com/search?q=A%20Gilbe ... 458A31E416
This did spark my interest in chemistry – I took four college classes of chemistry later...And would have taken more except my job focused on field travel and I spent the last 24 years working outside the country and it was hard to find classes with a lab.

I would buy ‘Educational’ kits and educational computer games for my first grandson, and my daughter would say that, “Oh he is not really interested in the educational things”...and that was very true...and still is.

There is no question about it, one can make much better Black Powder than the more popular brands for sale. When I first moved here I met a fellow in town that was into making Black Powder as a business. He had the necessary license, etc, and he liked to use it...strictly a one man operation. He told me a story about him making a Black Powder team to shoot in a Bisley, England shoot. He said that he used one of his ‘old’ Winchester High Walls in 40-82 to hit an 18 inch circle 9 out of 10 times, at a thousand yards with iron sights of course, to win a spot on the team. I don’t know about anyone here but I couldn’t even think of doing this. He said that he used his own 260 grain bullets and 62 grains of his own powder. Notice 62 and nothing like 82. I have a 40-82. But when he went to board the plane to England they wouldn’t let him take his ammunition into the country so he had to quickly make some new ammo after he arrived there and still came in second or third, I forget.

But he told me that he used ‘SEEP WILLOW’ for his charcoal. Seep Willow is not a real willow and nothing like it. It is a bush and readily available in every state I assume. Just look at it on the web and one can see what it is. There is an unlimited supply right around here and probable most anywhere else in the country. Maybe Balsa wood would be better and I do not recall seeing SEEP WILLOW being mentioned for this but it is free...and I know that it works good. I see all of the yakity-yak about the different woods used...that’s okay.

By paying attention to more detail, one can make it better than all of the other commercial products with their larger amounts....I say.

Anyway, to the making as I make it – I just forget 99% of all the YOU TUBEs...well maybe 100%. I am allowed to do this, okay. AND...AND, I am not trying to recommend that anyone DO THIS...I am just saying that this is the way that I do it.

1. First of all it is not a time saving thing, for me. It is just that I don’t find any better for sale, and I find it an enjoyable thing to make. A next door neighbor sold me his almost brand new Thompson Center deluxe 54 caliber muzzle loader for 75 dollars. He didn’t tell me why at the time, but it was because he had a hard time reloading after two or three shots due to barrel fouling. I found this out very quickly also. And I shot a deer on the run with the first shot during a muzzle loader season. And then I shot a bull elk again with the first shot. AND that was the first and the last thing that I have shot with it, 23 years ago. I have only shot coyotes, foxes, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, grouse and two geese since.
2. I happen to have an old lapidary polishing tumbler....the kind that rotates, not the one that just sets on top and vibrates.
3. I have made my own selection of round ball molds for making lead balls. I have made some from bamboo, but mostly just any hardwood will do.
4. I have made my own oven to make the charcoal with a 1/16 th inch hole punched into the top. It should be air tight except for this hole and where the thermometer is inserted.
5. I select the 1/2 inch diameter main stocks of the Seep Willow, I haven’t decided if it is better to cut them when the sap is up or down, summer or winter, OR, doesn’t make much difference. Strip the bark and cut into 2 inch long pieces and then split those into four pieces.
6. I just found a thing/a can just over two inch high so I could place them on end and completely fill my oven, maybe 3 by 8 inches. One batch will make 4 or 5 lbs of Black Powder.
7. I stick a thermometer into the center of the wood from the side and heat it up ‘slowly’ to just something below charring...as I remember around 400 or 450 degrees F. And after I think that it has stabilized, in maybe a half an hour, to 45 minutes, go ahead and increase the temperature until smoke come out of the 1/16 inch hole. This is when it starts to ‘char’. This should be methane gas and water and other stuff that can’t stand all of that heat. If one runs this through water it will give them wood alcohol, or methyl alcohol. This is one of the kinds of alcohol that one should not drink because it will effect the optic nerves of animals and not in a good way, and, and...if one consumes too much of it it can kill. Well heck, any kind of alcohol can be deadly if too much is consumed of course. But anyway, to not to be too technical, I light this gas, it will burn, and I try to keep the temperature around 500 F or not too much beyond this. When it quits burning I just turn off the heat source and let it cool down.
8. I put these charred pieces in to my tumbler along with maybe 1/4th of a tumbler full of lead balls and tumble for maybe three or four hours – I want the finest powder.
9. I then remove and wash the charcoal from the lead ball...measure the weight of the charcoal and mix with the appropriate amount of powdered potassium nitrate and ball-mill for another 3 or 4 hours. I know that one may hear the warning about this, and I did do this the first time outside of the garage even though the tumbler barrel was made of a stiff rubber and with the lead balls – I guess that I didn’t want to look too foolish if it did blow up and burn the garage down. But I did throw caution to the wind and added the sulphur and continued ball-milling for another 3 or 4 hours.
10. I add water until damp and roll it out thinly on wax paper rolling as hard as I can and let it dry.
11. The next thing that I do is not bother with any ‘granulating’ – I just break it up until it is like an F4 or F5 size...I don’t try to separate out the fine powder.
12. I don’t bother with any drop-tube. I just fill whatever case, pistol or rifle, full and compress with the bullet. I wouldn't use this in a muzzle loader...for this I would use just the larger pieces, like the F2 size.

This always makes the nicest sounding ‘crack’ when fired. And I can shoot all day with out any fouling problems. Only the very smallest wisp of smoke can be seen from firing. Usually with no more fouling than with smokeless powder. Now this is not so with the muzzle loading rifle. But I have an idea where this may be possible to shoot without the fouling problem – I just haven’t gotten around to trying it yet.

Well hey, I just keep tying different things. And let me add this one thing...
https://www.bing.com/search?q=plato%20a ... 2A4D5B6C24 And I say, no one knows anything for sure.
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Re: BLACK POWDER

#2 Post by DaleH » Tue May 22, 2018 12:19 pm

Ehhhhhhh, gems of some good thoughts there, mainly about making your own powdah, but frankly I don’t buy the arguement that the BP of today is any less ‘potent’. My results sure don’t show that ...

Have been shooting BP cartridge guns and muzzleloaders for 40+ years ... and loads proven then hit to the same POI as when using BP today. Heck, loads for 200-yard Schuetzen shooting that my Dad shot for 20-30 or more years before I started even STILL give us the SAME trajectory and results, less typical lot to lot variation, if any. But c’mon ... I mean, even Lee Shaver and the US International Team shooting 1000-yards w/BP are not complaining one bit about the powder made nowadays. Me thinks you’re barking up the wrong tree ...

Even for my muzzleloaders, I can switch between Goex & Schuetzen brands of the same granulation and have the mean group be within an inch of each other at 50-yards. FWIW I’ll see more variance in changing patching types, paper or patched fabrics, than when switching powdah brands. But what do I know, I only shoot between 8 to 10 pounds of black powdah a year ...

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Re: BLACK POWDER

#3 Post by OLDGUNNER » Thu May 24, 2018 10:49 pm

You say ‘my argument’, I don’t like to argue but yes this is my point of view and...and I see nothing wrong with you having your point of view...’except’ for the part about me and the tree...and then your tree.
The only thing that would let me be drawn into a friendly debate of this, is that you sound like a nice guy...and ‘your’ tree.

TALKING POINTS----

1. I am assuming that you are meaning that I was saying, ‘STATING’, not just thinking, that the present day black powder is ‘Bad’ because of poor ‘potency’. I don’t think that I said that, nor meant that. As for potency, and in general I would think that they would have made the powder better over the long years of use. I think that they can make theirs more potent than some others and I think that they can make theirs less potent than some others. I would think that one of their more main concerns, well probable their most concern, would be ‘consistency’, not potency. As for the fouling part, I think that it is bad...in my most humble opinion, I think that it is BAD. Okay, you can say that you think that I am barking up the wrong tree. That is fine – but I still can have my own opinion, I think...let’s say that I am pretty sure of that.

3. I was trying to be on the conservative side by saying ‘I think’. I don’t like to make hard-fast statements because I am pretty sure that if I do, I would probable be wrong. If you look back I ‘hope’ you will find that I tried to use ‘I think’ and not be direct as, ‘I know’. I don’t know anything for sure. Bad is a relative term, more bad than what? Okay I will say that I think that the more popular black powders are more bad than they have to be. I think that they can make a more potent powder...I think that they can make a more cleaner burning powder with less fouling. But I see things as their being in a groove so-to-speak. They have their operation down to a way that works, they like it, it is consistent as reasonable, it sells, you like it, they like that you like it, the more that likes it, the more they like it, they have established a good reputation, the more they would not want to change it. They like the idea of you buying eight or ten pounds a year. Of course it is not the best powder in the world. Best meaning what, less fouling, more potent. There is no such a thing as ‘best’ that hasn’t been found yet. It doesn’t have to be the best, not even better. Can you imagine one of their employees going to the owner and saying, “Hey, I think that we can make this powder better.” They might just get their self fired if the owner wasn’t in a good mood that day. BUT, but...I can say, hey, I think that I can make a better powder and do it, if I am lucky...without the fear of being fired or going to jail. I have already proven to my self that I can make a cleaner burning powder...and I am pretty sure that I could just be more careful with my charring timing and other things and make it better by being more consistent, but I am not going to bother too much with that. Would it sound better if I would say, hey, I think that theirs is less better than mine? No, I don’t have to say that...I can just say that I think that mine is gooder, theirs is badder. As for the potency part, we may just see what we may get in that. I saw in one article where one guy claimed that his homemade powder was just about twice as potent as some brand of commercial. I realize that some/most, whatever of these web articles are to be taken as gospel, of course.

I think, I THINK, that they would know how to make a better Black Powder – of course they would, they meaning the popular powder makers...or any powder maker for that matter. Are there some better powders, of course there are. I would think that most any powder maker would have an idea on how to make a better powder, it’s just the cost and effort part that would probable be the deterrent.
Again, when I said bad, I didn’t have potency in mind, I was thinking more of fouling.

As for potency, I can make my powder more potent or I can make it less potent. I can sieve out the larger pieces and use the more fine or I can sieve out the finer and use the more course. I can add some dextrin to some and this will derate the potency . I see potency as a vague term but can be basically determined. One can do all sorts of things to make their BP more potent. For example one can cut the knots out of the wood that they choose to make their charcoal from, and on and on.

I think that one would have to establish some standards and such before comparing potency. In my back yard I have my range marked off at 25 feet, 50 feet, 50 yards, 100 yards and 200 yards.
So....just for the heck of it, I can do some, comparing. I would like to know also.

I will pick out nine nice looking recently cleaned once fired (supposed) 7.62 Nato Match Brass with the same head markings, check for centered flash holes, remove crimp, clean and recondition primer pockets, clean flash holes, uniform the inside of the flash holes, trim to the same length, resized with the same die, at the same time, prime with the same brand and lot of primers, again just for the heck of it use magnum primers – we are looking for pizazz, right. And use the same weight of three different powders, F3 GOEX, that’s all that I have of GOEX, my course and my finer, and use the same nice new jacketed Match bullets. I have Nosler or Sierra at least. I will weigh out nine for same weight as near as I can with my Ohaus 505 scale, I will fire them from a scoped 308 rifle at 200 yards.

As for this potency I will predict now, my fine powder to shoot higher, the next lowest, my course powder and the lowest , the GOEX. I will shoot the GOEX last because I predict it will foul the most. But...I don’t know just when I may get around to this, this will not be one of my priorities. My to-do list is so long that I don’t even have one on paper.

I read an article where someone or an outfit made some Black Powder that created a pressure of 75,000 psi which is significantly higher than for the typical smokeless powder and of course no indication of the process. And I feel safe to assume that this would be no news that a more potent BP can be achieved by any maker of BP. Since you are ‘not’ a maker you will not fall into this category!!!! I think that it is funny that you think that I have picked the wrong tree to bark up, but you think that you have picked the right one. Hey, don’t get mad, this is normal for most to think this way. It is just fact of life. It is just a way of expressing one’s opinions. By the way in my life time with all of the dogs that I have had I can not recall ever having a dog that barked up the wrong tree. Their smelling and hearing is so acute. Right now, the dog that we have can be just sleeping on the floor inside the house with no windows open and suddenly start barking and go to a window to look out and we both can see this red fox coming up the driveway towards the house 75 feet away. I just think that this is so amazing – I don’t know if it is by hearing or smell or some type of mental telepathy. I can see deer communicating with their young out of sight over a knoll – I will just assume that it is by sounds either lower or higher than I can hear. The same with birds and fish that as a group that will all make a turn at the same time. As a scuba diver, I always wondered just how those fish do that. There can be fish so packed together that one can’t see more just inches into the 25 foot ball of fish and all of them will make the same amount of turn at the same time...it can be a 10 degree turn or what ever. They can all make a 360 degree turn, go up or down,all at the same time. and a second later make another turn. But they do have their school drop-outs...quite often one can be seen that gets confused and goes the wrong way. And some people can’t even communicate worth a darn in their same language.

Anyway, the making of a more potent BP. Just ‘one’ simple way is to use what is called the alcohol infusion process. The same thing can be done with water but alcohol just evaporates faster...and maybe alcohol may work better, just more costly, I don’t know. It is just a step too far for ‘most’ commercial makers to use. But just last night I read where someone ‘said’ that he made some BP that was about twice as potent as some commercial BP using this method I have no reason to not believe this. I feel very confident that I can take this another couple of steps and make a powder even more potent. This would involve taking my controlled charred wood and activating it. In other words make my own activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is used in filters such as in fish tanks and for drinking water and making a better tasting Vodka and gas masks, etc., etc. and in my case, I think, may be used to make a better Black Powder. This is definitely not to say that I would just go out an buy some activated charcoal, not so. I haven’t done this because it has not been a priority for me. If one may be interested in the alcohol infusion process or the making of activated charcoal, this information can be easily found on the web.

I saw where you were saying that a so and so group used some type of commercial black powder. I don’t think it would be much of a team if they could all use whatever powder they wished. I saw on a GOEX web site that the US military is thee biggest customer of their BP. Now some might just jump to the conclusion that GOEX must be the best – Of course not. I am a retiree of 27 years with the US Department of Defense. I am quite familiar with spending tax payer’s money. I like to believe that I saved them more than I spent of it. I know darn well I did. One day at work the boss and I met in an isle and he just causally asked, “What have you done for your country today,” and I replied, “Well I saved them 4 million dollars this morning.” He stopped in his tracks and asked, “How’s that.” I told him and he just said, “Oh that’s your job,” and walked on.

No, if someone would tell me that they thought if someone else happens to be using a certain type or brand of black powder, or that they used it, it must be good. I would think of this as just so much folly.
If someone or more than one uses a Ford or Chevy, would this mean that a Lincoln or Cadillac couldn't, be better? Come on... Now I wouldn’t hold this against you if you would say something like this - you still sound like a nice guy.

Wait a minute...a talking point...You mentioned 40+ years. Do you see this can of DuPont Black Powder? in 1960 I wanted to buy a double barrel .410 shotgun to hunt quail with...I couldn’t find one for sale in the whole of the LA area. I finally came up on a double barrel .28 gauge muzzle loading shotgun, thus the can of DuPont Black powder. Let’s see, 1960...2018, that looks like maybe 58 years...is that right, did I buy that powder before you were born? Well by golly, it looks like it. Actually I got my first muzzle loading shotgun in about 1942 when I was about nine I guess. We had a nice neighbor and he took off to California to work in a ship yard right after the war started. He gave me his old muzzle loader...I still have it. This is why I tried to make black powder when I was kid to shoot it. Do you want to see a picture of it? I have never shot it though, so that doesn’t count either, right? And just having a half of can of this left sure wouldn’t make me close to using 8 or 10 pounds a year. But I know one thing, after you shoot a spell of this, you are a dirty person.

You see that can, well a quarter of a can, of DuPont Black Powder, I bought that 58 years ago and it is probable still good. The 5066, I bought that also about the same time and that is still a darn good clean burning all around powder. I bought a 12 lb keg for 3 dollars, gave half of it away and still working on the six. See that rusty little box of caps – they came with the muzzle loader that the guy gave me in 1942. I wonder if they will still fire?

Remember the old saw, “Those that don’t make any mistakes aren’t doing much.” And like the old song goes, “Let it be, let it be.”

Yes, I will bark up the same tree and you can bark up your tree – No harm, no foul.

Well heck, it won’t let me send the photo – it says file too large. I will try
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OLDGUNNER
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Re: BLACK POWDER

#4 Post by OLDGUNNER » Thu May 24, 2018 11:43 pm

DSC_0050.JPG
Here is the photo that wouldn't fit into my last posting
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Re: BLACK POWDER

#5 Post by OLDGUNNER » Sat May 26, 2018 12:14 pm

I just saw this, it may help, http://survival-manual.com/gunpowder.php in case you are unaware of the alcohol infusion part. Except for his Step # 8 – why on earth he would throw away some of his dissolved potassium nitrate, I don’t know. I see this quite often in a lot of the different ways of making BP. I can only assume that it is some kind of ‘copy cat’ thing that is repeated. I wouldn’t do it of course.
And I would assume that the potassium nitrate could be better infused into the charcoal if it was activated. The activation causes little holes to be made into the particles of the charcoal and I see this as a better way of getting that potassium nitrate ‘infused’ into the charcoal. I haven’t tried this though.

Again, I can understand very well why this is not normally done with most of the commercial Black Powder that you use. I will assume that the main reason that you do use this is for the convenience and consistency. Convenient because you don’t have to bother with making your own and consistency because it would be too awkward for you to make large consistent batches.

I am sure that there would be other ways to make a better BP. Such as maybe using pressure to get ‘more’ of the potassium nitrate infused into those little holes in the activated charcoal. Like using a sledge hammer to force this process for the back-yard maker. Not by hitting the BP directly but by using a piston. Heck, one could use their regular reloading press to help with this. Of course most of the commercial is pressed just to make it more dense, and..and, maybe for this same reason. I have one of these 20 ton presses that I could probable press this pretty good.

Right now here, a neighbor and his club is practicing every Saturday for the up coming state and national ‘Cowboy fast draw championships’ this summer here in Pagosa. They are allowed to have just a little bit of ‘commercial’ BP in their ammo, I forget how much, just for the flare and color of the smoke. They use to have a ‘Seniors’ category but not now. A year age I tried this for the ‘very first time’ in my life at any type of Fast-Draw and the President of the club that day was shooting in the .4’s of a second. My best time was a .6 something, And he at the time was ranked 5th in the world...the last that I saw he was down to tenth place. But he is the reason for it to here this summer. Cowboy fast draw is the slowest and more difficult of the Fast Draw games, as far as I know. That open category is so, so fast...in the .1 and something, but usually in the .2 +.

Anyway may the pleasure of the dirty shooting be with you...only with the muzzle loaders of course.
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Re: BLACK POWDER

#6 Post by OLDGUNNER » Sat May 26, 2018 12:52 pm

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=co ... ORM=VRDGAR

I don't know how to explain this but look at the last of this where the winner had a time of .599.
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