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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Anybody know what to do with this?

It's a "from the bench" post but apparently certain people only hit the blog if the correct labels are in place (cough, cough, Tam). Need some help here. How do I take care of this:
There are some markings on it!

Sharps? Or Sharpe?

So the deal is how do I take care of it, can I fire it, and if I can how! This weapon has not been touched for over 40 years for maintenance, but would love to take care of it and fire it if someone knows what to load it with! And as a bonus I have no knowledge of this type of firearm! Any help for the history, care, and firing would be appreciated!

I have lugged this thing around to many gun shows for many years, but no one wants to tell me anything about it other than "how much for it".

28 comments:

  1. You need a zombie hunter who started back after the Korean war. But if Tam doesn't know, NO ONE does.

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  2. @B.- LOL on the pre Korea era bounty hunter! I have just now attempted a poor attempt at a bribe for Tam. Just sent her a book from her Amazon wish list: "Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea". I am keeping a theme up with her wish list of Naval books!

    Glad you are back and hope you are feeling better!

    Kelly

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  3. Truthfully, frontstuffers are a little out of my bailiwick, but I know just the person to ask!

    Let me put on my magic hat of summoning reinforcements!

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  4. @Tam, This thing has been in the family for at least 40 years. Any info would be greatly appreciated. I hope you did not take offense at my meager attempt at a bribe!

    Thanks!

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  5. One thing I do know about those types of arms is that they were commonly used by coachmen for defense against highway robbers.

    A couple sources I've read suggest that the purpose of the belled muzzle was to make them easier to reload on a bouncing stagecoach.

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  6. Pretty cool. A classic blunderbus.

    Throw a palm full of FFg down the bore, followed by the same volume of shot, and a wad of tow or cloth, and tamp it in.

    Prime the pan and fire.

    If you want to be anal about it, maybe 50 to 70 grains of powder, and a standard 12 gauge load of shot.

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  7. The first thing to do is to see if it will still throw a spark. Frizzen of any age can have been "cut" through the surface hardening making it unlikely to spark; find a piece of flint or preferably a piece of chert, and clamp it in the hammer. Use a little piece of leather or lead around the flint. Then cock and fire it and see if it strikes. If you don't get sparks, you'll have to have the frizzen resoled, a decent gunsmith can do it or you can just use a piece of L7 steel and silver solder it on.

    If the frizzen is still pretty thick, you might be able to give it a little surface hardening by heating it with Kasenite, I've used that before with some success.

    In a barrel that short, a little black powder ought not to be that dangerous, I'd still have a gunsmith look at it first. They can take a borescope and look down it. Barrels for old smoothbores were often forged out of strips of steel, and the "seam" is sometimes concealed by the stock. If the weld of the seam has failed or rust has severely damaged the bore, it might not be smart to fire it. You might not get killed, but you might damage a nice historical piece worth hanging on to.

    Also, try to avoid any modern gun oils or lubes, this will want to be cleansed with soap and water and protected with lard or bacon fat. Otherwise, what Kristopher said, and have fun!

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  8. The barrel is probably a constant diameter from the back to about 2/3 of the way up. Check this diameter, which is probably in the .73-.75" range, which would make it a standard 12-bore musket, in which case Kristopher seems to have it pretty well nailed. Anything smaller than that, and I'd ask a musket shooter what the usual load is for that bore.

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  9. A cut-down punt gun, maybe? Sharpe was an English lock maker iirc, but that sort of looks (poor, tired monitor) like a Baker.

    http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/adp/archives/glossary/baker_rifle.html

    Regards,
    Rabbit.

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  10. Og is spot on, as well as Tam.

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  11. "Stand and Deliver!" In accordance with the 1932 Oxford English Dictionary "Blunderbuss: A short gun with a large bore firing many balls or slugs, and capable of doing execution within a limited range without exact aim. (Now superseded, in civilized countries, by other firearms.) That is, in fact the very blunderbuss once owned by Farmer Giles of Ham! Nice piece, and quite effective at getting Giants to turn around.

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  12. However, Farmer Giles's blunderbuss had a wide mouth that opened like a horn, and it did not fire balls or slugs, but anything that he could spare to stuff in. And it did not do execution, because he seldom loaded it, and never let it off. The sight of it was usually enough for his purpose. And this country was not yet civilised, for the blunderbuss was not superseded: it was indeed the only kind of gun that there was, and rare at that.

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  13. Reminds me of the only funny Quaker joke: Quaker in oat-hat is holding burglar at blunderbuss-point, and says to burglar, "Friend, I would not harm thee for the world, but thee are standing where I intend to shoot."

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  14. I don't know much. But from what I have read about, and learned about on the teevee, blunderbusses are the grandpappy of shotguns. They were made to take care of large amounts of business up close and personal. On Locked and Loaded, R. Lee Emery's guest said they where used when storming ships on the high seas....that's about the extent of my knowledge.

    As for pullin' that trigger, you'd probably go with 70grains of black, I personally go with cannon grade GOEX in my shotshells, but 1f or 2f would work. You'd also probably want to use 7 or smaller shot too. I'm not sure how to stuff it without all the shot rollin' out.

    Definitely stay away from petroleum oils and lube. Dixie Gunworks has special lard that doesn't get rancid like regular bacon fat. When I shoot black, I use Ballistol or Bore Butter as the final step in cleaning. First I use HOT water, then patches of Windex with Vinegar, then the Ballistol. As for lube, I use Olive Oil.

    Try contacting some blackpowder shooters at any local clubs/ranges in your area. They might be able to help out a whole bunch.

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  15. Addenda, for Wadding: We used to put three pieces of paper on top of the powder and two over the shot.

    I'm probably going to hell for this, but we used paper from a Gideon pocket bible. Three pages sorta folded into a square were perfect over powder, two over lead.

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  16. Kris & Og have it mostly right. In addition make sure the flash hole is clear. Powder, then wad, shot, wad over the top to keep the shot in place. Kris's charge sounds about right. It could be a replica or maybe not. They really started as wheellocks. They were built throughout the flintlock era and percussion era, too. Without looking at it in person I couldn't tell you and even then, maybe not. Sharpe was a common player in British locks but on replicas that was copied too.

    Most of the British(and others) blunderbuss were kind of mongrel parts guns throughout the rein and most came from cut down muskets. Making one was pretty easy. Take your musket with the damaged barrel, lop it off wherever it looked good, then heat the end, hammer a bit of a bell on it on the pointed end of an anvil. Made it easier to reload quick and sloppy on a moving deck/coach/horse. A little chop of the forend wood and viola, maximum intimidation factor at under 30' with that huge bore pointing at a target. Damn effective at those ranges too.

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  17. Looks like an early 19th Century coach gun to me, tho I'm no expert on coach guns.
    As OG says, check it for spark first. If you can't get a spark off the frizzen, try holding a file on it, then try for spark. If it works, you can have it recut or glue a fine diamond file to it for temp work.
    As to powder, pour a small amount- 3 or 4 grains of triple FG- down the barrel, see if it fires off. If it does, then pour in eight grains and a wad, see if you can get it to go off. (Use Pyrodex or similar modern black powder substitute.) I doubt you'd want to throw solid balls out the barrel due to Damascus twist build- if it's any age at all, it's damascus twist- but it should work well with birdshot up to .36 caliber stuffed over and behind a wad of paper or cloth.
    Try googling/binging black powder blunderbuss'.
    Shy III

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  18. That's not a Quaker joke, that's them for real. Actually, I think I've heard that in Penna Dutch areas, with more current guns.

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  19. Looks like it was probably English-made in the late 18th Century/early 19th Century.

    BEFORE firing please have it inspected by a gunsmith familiar with muzzleloading firearms. On a gun of this age there may be corrosion hidden in the breech which would make it unsafe to fire.

    Re preservation: Do not remove any of the patina or try to refinish it. Doing so will diminish collector's value. Give the metal a coat of oil (Ballistol works well) and if the stock shows any signs of age cracking put some boiled linseed oil on it.

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  20. Thanks everyone! I truly appreciate it! @og- I thought only Miss B. could mention Bacon and firearms in the same post, well done!

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  21. Criminy, are you people CRAZY???

    Palmful of powder? How big a palm, and how full?

    Sheesh.

    First, will the barrel hold a magnet? (Basic test for pot metal.)

    It LOOKS, based on the pictures, like a 1780-1830 period basic blunderbuss, typical English form. More toward the latter half of that period than the earlier.

    It's not a cut down anything, it started life this way. Too small to be a punt gun those were huge, almost light artillery. And it has nothing in common with a Baker rifle other than it's a flintlock shoulder arm.

    If it's been in the family 40 years as you say, then it is almost certainly not a modern fake. The "Sharpe" (or S. Harpe) on the lock looks right, too.

    It SHOULD have visible proof marks on the barrel down by the tang. If so, they will tell you if it's English, or from some other place.

    It may not be proofed, and that's not probative of origin or originality. Only guns offered for sale in England had to be proved, not ones commissioned. And America had no proof system.

    It looks shootable, but one step at a time. GO CAREFULLY.

    I gather your interest is in shooting THIS GUN. If you just want to shoot a flint blunderbuss, get a morern repro. WAY cheaper and WAY WAY safer.

    First, check to see if it's loaded! Run a rod down the barrel until it stops- then put your thumb on the point at which it emerges from the muzzle. Now lay it alongside the barrel- the length of the rod tat went in the barrel SHOULD BE the length from muzzle to touch hole.

    If there's an inch or so of difference, it may well be loaded.

    Then,

    http://shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=33442



    Once it's not loaded,drop a tiny flashlight, butt first, down the barrel. Look good, or is it like the surface of the moon?

    Now you can start taking it to bits. If you like, send me your address and I'll LEND you a book on the subject.

    Once it's apart and clean, you'll have a better idea of whether you might want to take a chance. For all you can tell, it's merely a tracery of rust from the inside.

    A look at the bottom of the barrel, and at the inside of the barrel, will tell you if it's got a "decorator" barrel that's cast or made from seamed tubing.

    I agree that you should hunt up some actual, real life muzzle loader shooters who BUILD GUNS. Get an expert's opinion.

    And once the lock is clean, you can see if it works. NOT in the gun, build a fixture to hold it in a vise!

    The wood is the weakest point in these things. Firing a flintlock puts a big stress on the lock mortoise and wrist of the gun. If it's all oil soaked, it will be very soft and crumbly. You'll find out if it is when you take it apart, too.

    DO NOT BE CAVALIER ABOUT THIS GUN. IT WILL DEFINITELY KILL.

    You'll work up loads slowly, starting with (assuming it's about 75 calibre) HALF the recommended charge of powder and HALF the shot weight. Then up the shot weight gradually, then the powder charge.

    DO NOT SHOOT IT IN THE GUN.

    Get two ropes and sling it from a tree limb or saw horse. Fire it with cannon fuse.

    AND GET BEHIND SOMETHING THAT WILL STOP A BULLET.

    Once you have fired it with whatever you consider to be its maximum load, then see if the lock sparks well in the gun.

    Put it together, and give it a try.

    And no bacon grease!

    Again with the sheesh.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Criminy, are you people CRAZY???

    Palmful of powder? How big a palm, and how full?

    Sheesh.

    First, will the barrel hold a magnet? (Basic test for pot metal.)

    It LOOKS, based on the pictures, like a 1780-1830 period basic blunderbuss, typical English form. More toward the latter half of that period than the earlier.

    It's not a cut down anything, it started life this way. Too small to be a punt gun those were huge, almost light artillery. And it has nothing in common with a Baker rifle other than it's a flintlock shoulder arm.

    If it's been in the family 40 years as you say, then it is almost certainly not a modern fake. The "Sharpe" (or S. Harpe) on the lock looks right, too.

    It SHOULD have visible proof marks on the barrel down by the tang. If so, they will tell you if it's English, or from some other place.

    It may not be proofed, and that's not probative of origin or originality. Only guns offered for sale in England had to be proved, not ones commissioned. And America had no proof system.

    It looks shootable, but one step at a time. GO CAREFULLY.

    I gather your interest is in shooting THIS GUN. If you just want to shoot a flint blunderbuss, get a morern repro. WAY cheaper and WAY WAY safer.

    First, check to see if it's loaded! Run a rod down the barrel until it stops- then put your thumb on the point at which it emerges from the muzzle. Now lay it alongside the barrel- the length of the rod tat went in the barrel SHOULD BE the length from muzzle to touch hole.

    If there's an inch or so of difference, it may well be loaded.

    Then,

    http://shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=33442



    Once it's not loaded,drop a tiny flashlight, butt first, down the barrel. Look good, or is it like the surface of the moon?

    Now you can start taking it to bits. If you like, send me your address and I'll LEND you a book on the subject.

    Once it's apart and clean, you'll have a better idea of whether you might want to take a chance. For all you can tell, it's merely a tracery of rust from the inside.

    A look at the bottom of the barrel, and at the inside of the barrel, will tell you if it's got a "decorator" barrel that's cast or made from seamed tubing.

    I agree that you should hunt up some actual, real life muzzle loader shooters who BUILD GUNS. Get an expert's opinion.

    And once the lock is clean, you can see if it works. NOT in the gun, build a fixture to hold it in a vise!

    The wood is the weakest point in these things. Firing a flintlock puts a big stress on the lock mortoise and wrist of the gun. If it's all oil soaked, it will be very soft and crumbly. You'll find out if it is when you take it apart, too.

    DO NOT BE CAVALIER ABOUT THIS GUN. IT WILL DEFINITELY KILL.

    You'll work up loads slowly, starting with (assuming it's about 75 calibre) HALF the recommended charge of powder and HALF the shot weight. Then up the shot weight gradually, then the powder charge.

    DO NOT SHOOT IT IN THE GUN.

    Get two ropes and sling it from a tree limb or saw horse. Fire it with cannon fuse.

    AND GET BEHIND SOMETHING THAT WILL STOP A BULLET.

    Once you have fired it with whatever you consider to be its maximum load, then see if the lock sparks well in the gun.

    Put it together, and give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. Thank you, staghounds. :)

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  25. So, Stag, the bacon grease I've used on my front stuffer for twenty years is a no-no?

    I've heard people say the salt pork is not good, but I've never had troubles, and I've used it for patches for ages. Certainly the tiny bit of salt is no more of a concern than FFg. If you're concerned, Keads, there are plenty of other suitable lubes out there. As I said, gunsmith before anything.

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  26. Staghounds has the wisdom.

    One WEE disagreement I have with him is as follows -- SOME blunderbusses were made by shortening longer guns, for example, a military musket (for example, the "Brown Bess" family of Long Land Pattern and Short Land Pattern muskets, normally with a 39" - 46" barrel, depending on model) might have the barrel sortened and belled to ge some use out of a gn with a barrel with a flaw further down, often from proof or other early inspection. If there's a noticeable flaw in the last 20" of a 46" barrel, chopping it to 24" and belling it into a blunderbuss is just being "efficient".

    This does NOT appear to be the situation with your gun.

    One thing you DEFINATELY want the (antique muzzle loading expert) gunsmith to look at is the condition of the flashhole -- they tend to rot out pretty badly if not cleaned well before being stored. Especially stored for 40-150 years. . . Worse, the flashhole usually corrodes out from the INSIDE out, leaving little external evidence that the nice tight flashhole is actually a paper thin flash cover over a 1/4" hole. . .

    One thing that does a really god job on the OUTSIDE of the barrel to prevent further corrosion is beeswax. Just rub it on like a crayon.

    I don't have his email, but Staghound's blog is at http://staghounds.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  27. Just post a blog comment, I'll mail you back. I moderate, so it won't be viewable to the hoi polloi.

    The thing I don't like about the fat is that it is fat, and rotting fat can't be good. For lunch, sure, but not on wood or metal.

    Especially on wood that is approaching three centuries old now.

    Regular paste wax works fine, too. And there's a special non organic stuff called Renaissance wax, but it costs the earth.

    And you are right, many a musket or fowler was sawed off and belled. I just meant not this one. It's a handsome little piece. The bell doesn't have to be thick at all, once the load clears the bore diameter there's very little pressure to speak of almost immediately.

    This one looks like a Bess stock and lock with a belled barrel added, or it might be original:

    http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=176745198



    I did see a fake in ATL gun show a few months back, it would have been deceptive in low res pictures but not in real life. Hated telling the owner, he had been deceived or at least acted as though he had.

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  28. Sorry, but I only just found this post. If you still want the correct information on cleaning, maintenance & use of this gun, please contact me.
    Sincere regards, Keith.
    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com.au/

    ReplyDelete