Matchlock Build

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Wolfram
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Matchlock Build

Post by Wolfram » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:49 am

So.....I recently started building a matchlock. Nothing fancy, I'm no master gunsmith or craftsman like Rifleman's father or probably about a dozen other forum members here. The only relevant formal training I have is one semester of woodshop class back in high school where I built a stool that I didn't bother to varnish. There's also that 2 years of college training to be an aircraft mechanic, worked a lot with sheet aluminum but never touched any steel or wood at all. Much of the information and know-how for this build had to be scrounged from the internet. The matchlock is partially complete at the moment, and at its current state its far from decent. The stock is a piece of old pine 2x2 I found lying around. Definitely not here to win any contests or make any sales. Just wanted to share.

So here it is:
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This was just a little project/experiment to see if I could knock out a functioning firearm without the aid of a lathe or milling machine - just hand tools one would find in any decently equipped home workshop or garage, a sort of Macgyver-proof of concept if you would. So far the heaviest piece of equipment I used was a 18v cordless drill for making the touchhole & breech plug and a cordless circular saw to rough cut the lumber. Other tools include a set of woodworking chisels from my high school woodshop days, my trusty hacksaw, a pair of files and aviation snips I acquired in college, and an assortment of sandpaper I bought for the occasion. All the materials were either scrap I had laying around or stuff I bought from the local hardware store.

YES, this is all above board for where I reside. Matchlocks are legally considered antiques, anyone could build one without a license and there's no need to register with the government. If you have a firearm license, you can even build a cartridge or cap firing long-gun, provided it meets calibre, minimum barrel and overall length regulations from assembly to finish. My matchlock does and would meet the length considerations throughout its making, so I meet both requirement if I ever decided to go from matchlock to percussion cap.

The barrel is made from a 24 in. piece of very common C1026 DOM seamless tubing I bought from the local steel shop. I would had prefer 4130, but the C1026 should hold up to the load pressures I have in mind. It is 0.75" OD and 0.188" wall thickness, giving it a bore of about .37 cal. A fellow from the muzzleloading forum tested a particular piece of 1026 DOM tubing to failure, a larger bore of .62 with the same wall thickness, it held up to a proof charge of 200 grains black powder and double shot. I believe it took an 10 inch short-start to finally burst that particular barrel.

Lacking a tap-and-die set, I had to jerry-rig a non-conventional breechplug, drilling a 3/8" perpendicular hole straight through the side of the tube for a 3/8" hex bolt, and using the shank of the bolt to hold against a tightly fitted 3/8 aluminum round bar base piece. As seen, the bolt also serves to attach the barrel to the stock. Calculating from a proof shear strength of 30,000 psi for a Grade 5 steel bolt, the bolt should hold onto about 6,600 pounds of back thrust before it starts yielding. It would take about 60,000 psi of chamber pressure to remotely shear the bolt, which by then would had blown the barrel to smithereens. The barrel itself, calculating from Barlow's Formula and a yield strength of 60,000 psi, the tubing ought to take 30,000 psi of working pressure. ASTM 513 standards for 1026 DOM actually give a minimum yield of 70,000 psi, but I like a room of safety to account for any corrosion or defects within the tubing.

Trying my best to keep an adequate factor of safety building this thing, it took about a year of research and planning on paper before I got the courage to finally start for real. I'll be keeping the loads for this piece to a minimum, probably 20 grains of powder and roundball at most, 10 to 15 grains more likely in practice. Want to keep pressures below 10,000 psi, using coarse FFg powder for extra insurance. Don't really have much expectation for this gun other that it goes bang and knock out a squirrel or crow.

Again, just want to see if it can be done. Not trying to make it a business gun, I have a .357 mag carbine for that.
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Re: Matchlock Build

Post by gun toting monkeyboy » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:11 pm

You are loading that think awfully light. I would be concerned about getting a squib load. I believe .36 caliber rifle loads start at around 40 grains of FFFg. Here is a link listing T/C's load data:
http://hunting.about.com/od/blackpowder ... eloads.htm

I have a .45 caliber snapping matchlock. It is fun. It is also a very good learning experience. You discover things like gunpowder isn't nearly as easy to light as you would think. And that sometimes the larger grain sizes are more useful than you would expect. You also get to find out why people wanted to get away from the damned things in the first place.

I ended up making my own match cord, because let's face it, nobody else really makes it anymore. I found some woven cotton cord that I was able to pull the synthetic core out of. I then soaked it in a KNO3 solution and dried it flat. Don't hag it up to dry, as the solution will run down to the end of the cord with gravity, and you end up with an inconsistent burn rate. I have also tried sisal, manila rope and I even managed to find some non-oiled hemp rope. Make sure you get the non-oiled hemp rope, or it won't absorb the KNO3 solution. Most of the hemp rope available these days is oiled, and intended for... Um... adult entertainment. Evidently is it a thing with the BDSM community. All and all, I found the cotton was easiest to work with.

It looks like you just have a touch hole right now. You will probably want to set up some kind of pan to hold some powder charge to help with your ignition. Black powder is extremely flammable, but... You can end up sitting there with your glowing match trying to get it to ignite for quite a while. I have a pan on mine that the serpentine slams the cord into when you pull the trigger. And I have had the cord get extinguished repeatedly in the pan of gunpowder. Yes, the glowing hot coal. And gunpowder. Snuff. Then nothing. That gives you a WTF? moment the first time it happens. The finer the gunpowder, the more often it happens with these stupid things. You crush the match down and the finer powders don't allow enough oxygen in between the particles for the cord to stay lit long enough to ignite it. I ended up going with FFg instead of FFFg, simply because it provided more reliable ignition.

I think that is about it for advice I can give you. Have fun, and try not to blow your fingers off.

-Mb

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Wolfram
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Re: Matchlock Build

Post by Wolfram » Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:12 am

I finished making the matchlock functional last week, have been testing it with pretty light loads these last few days and its been a hoot to shoot. I'm a little surprise with the quickness of ignition - I was expecting a matchlock to fire with a poof, then bang - but it was an instant bang the moment that match touched the pan powder. My 3/8th bolt breech seems to be holding up dandy, no sign of any gas leakage through the aluminum base piece (which I further obturated with some aluminum foil wadding hammered down the barrel).

I've loaded with powder charges as light as 4 grains of FFg, no squib with round ball loads so far. I think your worries about squibs Monkey might be more a concern for a rifled barrel with a tightly patched ball. At 4-5 grains, the lead balls are coming out of the smoothbore barrel at BB gun velocities, quieter than my .177 pellet rifle. I set up a sort of shooting gallery in the garage and plink at a phone book target, the 0.360 round are barely embedding themselves in the pages. My only problem with the light loads so far is that they do not like greased patches, they get contaminated pretty easily from the Crisco being rammed down with my wadding and I get misfires either from the grease blocking the touch hole or soaking the powder, then I have to dismantle and clear the barrel. No problems with 10 and 15 grain loads.

As for slow match, I didn't bother to make any. I been using prayer incense sticks as my match, my dad used them to light firework fuses when I was a kid. They burn with a slow but hot ember, the same way as a slow match I guess, and they're cheaply and readily available. I think I might even try using a cigarette just to see if it can serve as a slow match. For pan powder, I just used the same FFg. The pan was made from some scrap gutter aluminum.

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Aesthetics are definitely lacking, but this was proof-of-concept and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It's a functioning firearm that I made with some hand tools and a cordless drill :clap: . I might "pretty" it up a bit, just so to give me some practice with the woodwork since I'm hoping to make another and better one, this time with a true rifled barrel and maybe a cap lock from Track of the Wolf.
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Re: Matchlock Build

Post by gun toting monkeyboy » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:00 pm

I believe they sell some dry lube patches that might work for you. And yes, the squibs are much more of a concern for the tight fitting balls and rifled barrels. Have you considered having the wooden piece you are using to hold the match/punk extend down below the stock, so you can use it more like a trigger, or the tiller on a crossbow? Heck, even adding a nail and a rubber band might give you enough tension to make it easier to manipulate the serpentine. (the thing holding the match) It looks like fun, regardless. Since you are using a smoothbore, have you considered using smaller shot and going after rabbits or rodents with it?

-Mb

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Wolfram
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Re: Matchlock Build

Post by Wolfram » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:32 pm

gun toting monkeyboy wrote:I believe they sell some dry lube patches that might work for you. And yes, the squibs are much more of a concern for the tight fitting balls and rifled barrels. Have you considered having the wooden piece you are using to hold the match/punk extend down below the stock, so you can use it more like a trigger, or the tiller on a crossbow? Heck, even adding a nail and a rubber band might give you enough tension to make it easier to manipulate the serpentine. (the thing holding the match) It looks like fun, regardless. Since you are using a smoothbore, have you considered using smaller shot and going after rabbits or rodents with it?

-Mb
I forgot to include a close up shot of the trigger mechanism, but its already a toggle/tumbler lock with a pull trigger. One inch pull of the trigger is enough to rotate the serpentine a quarter of a turn down into the pan, and I did use a rubber band to make it a returning action. The trigger housing is in sort of in a tight spot to take a photo from, but here's a rough diagram of how it works:

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I did test fire with some steel BBs. With the 21 inch barrel, a load of seven BBs spread to the size of my hand at 5 yards. Mind you, I didn't use proper wadding for this, just a wad of paper follow by the BBs than another paper wad on top. I checked with some shotgun charts, the spread is in line with pattern from a cylinder choke, maybe I'll get some improvement with some proper cutted wads.
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Re: Matchlock Build

Post by gun toting monkeyboy » Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:20 pm

Clever trigger set up. And rather than BBs, you might look at #7 1/2 shot. I don't know how much difference wadding cut to a specific size will make. But you should be able to reproduce the old 9mm Flobert garden gun, and use it for pest control. From what I understand, those are legal or have very few restrictions even in many European countries. Speaking of which, I can't find anything in your profile for where you are at.

-Mb

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procyon
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Re: Matchlock Build

Post by procyon » Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:44 pm

I would say to stay away from steel BB's.
To much of a chance that they could lodge going down the barrel and end up with a problem.
With your 10-15 grain loads, I doubt you would blow the barrel. But tearing up your pan, getting hot gases in the face, and/or a bulged barrel are still not good things.

But I would think that with 1/2 oz of lead shot (8, 7 1/2, 6 sizes would give decent pattern density) it would be decent for small game/birds at close ranges.
With no choke, you probably won't be able to reliably hit much past 15 yards or so (depending on how small the critter is, big bunnies might be ok to 20-25 yds), but it could still be fun.

And I am not sure how you clean it, but that wad of aluminum foil at the breech would worry me. It is going to end up with a lot of corrosive powder residue stuck in places you can't easily get out of the gun (without pulling the foil out and then cleaning the bore). Eventually it will cause rust at the breech which could let gases escape (unpleasant) or a rupture.

Looks like a fun 'can I do this' project. Nice job.
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Wolfram
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Re: Matchlock Build

Post by Wolfram » Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:42 am

procyon wrote:I would say to stay away from steel BB's.
To much of a chance that they could lodge going down the barrel and end up with a problem.
With your 10-15 grain loads, I doubt you would blow the barrel. But tearing up your pan, getting hot gases in the face, and/or a bulged barrel are still not good things.

But I would think that with 1/2 oz of lead shot (8, 7 1/2, 6 sizes would give decent pattern density) it would be decent for small game/birds at close ranges.
With no choke, you probably won't be able to reliably hit much past 15 yards or so (depending on how small the critter is, big bunnies might be ok to 20-25 yds), but it could still be fun.

And I am not sure how you clean it, but that wad of aluminum foil at the breech would worry me. It is going to end up with a lot of corrosive powder residue stuck in places you can't easily get out of the gun (without pulling the foil out and then cleaning the bore). Eventually it will cause rust at the breech which could let gases escape (unpleasant) or a rupture.

Looks like a fun 'can I do this' project. Nice job.

Thought of that, I change out the plug every time I shoot the gun. Foil is cheap!
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