Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-24-2009, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
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Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance

We have lots of post on how to care for our smoke poles based on today's modern offerings and conveniences.

The question is - historically, in the days past - how did the early settlers and hunters maintain their muzzleloaders? Is there any writings, historical prints, or other offerings to explain how firearms were cleaned, maintained, or basically kept operational?

Just thought this would be a good addition to the discussion.

Is your position a short term gain - or a long term loss? Separate the issues.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-24-2009, 04:08 PM
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Re: Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance

That's a very good question. Frankly, I do not have the answer but I offer this for consideration as based on what I have read in various texts / articles: like Fox Fire Vol 5. People, being what they are, hold certian things in high importance. Back in the day, a gun and a horse were not only valuable - but items that ones very life depended on. So, for the most part, these items were well taken care of as best as they owner could with the technology of the day. However, relative to smokepoles, I don't think that Jim Bridger had much time, or supporting implements, to boil water and plunger clean his Hawken very often. And neither did the average farmer. So, guns were cleaned as best as the owner could and that ment that they were often taken to a gunsmith for lock fixing and barrel "freshening" because outsided of a patch, pig brisle brush and a worn on the end of a ramrod they did not have much relative to maintanance products. Tow (flax strippings) was often used as a bore scrubbing medium and I can tell you that this stuff is not that good in terms of getting a bore, or any part of a gun, clean. Oh, it's better than using a dried up plug of tobacco or some useless part of ones Union-Suit but it sure ain't good. For rust prevention the order of the day was some kind of rendered animal fat with, I suppose, bear being the prefered. But I read a book years ago in which the author suggested that any rendered animal fat would be used to prevent rust and to lube a patch for a RB. So anyhow, my point is that the frontiers folk used whatever they had to clean and maintain firearms (worm, patch cloth and tow) and that there was a good business taking the guns to blacksmiths and gun makers for repairs, and barrel freshning needs that were caused, I would think, by poor cleaning practices based on the lack of good cleaning products. I know that does not do probably anything for the technology, but maybe helps with the dialogue you are hoping to get. I hope so too !

Good night Chesty, wherever you are......
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-24-2009, 04:31 PM
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Re: Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance

I was a Civil war reenactor years ago and I know during the Civil War they would get a fire going at night and boil a kettle of water. Then they'd throw in some soap and begin scrubbing. Quite often they would dunk revolvers right into the kettle and pull them out and wipe them down. They would do this every night after they had used their weapons. Some day I may get into Rev war reenacting and then hopefully I'll learn the finer points of 1770's gun care.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-24-2009, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance

You guys are going directly to what I was asking. In todays world, there are thousands of off the shelf products to make cleaning easy. Not so back in the day.

Is your position a short term gain - or a long term loss? Separate the issues.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-24-2009, 05:56 PM
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Re: Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance

from what iva read like during the battles of 1835 and the alamo they used there urine to quickly clean the riffles and cannons something to do with acid in the urine it sounds funny but if i remember corretly i might have read it muzzle blast ill look through my old ones to see if i can find it

hate hang fires
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2009, 12:31 AM
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Re: Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance

I have read where they used the same treatment, urine, during the Civil War when they couldn't build a fire to boil water.

Most "working man's" originals , not the rich mans hang over the fireplace rifles, show a lot of pitting.

Very interesting thread

For those who fought for it, Life has a flavor the protected will never know.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2009, 02:18 AM
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Re: Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance

According to Col Frank Mayer's autobiography Buff hunters stopped up the barrels and filled them with urine and let them sit for a few minutes before cleaning.
In colonial days, folks used tow and water to clean bores. Yeah,,,,, tow! (The coarse fibres left over from extracting linen from flax stems. It was sort of like a hank of dirty blonde hair. Hence the expression that a person with dirty blonde hair was a "tow head") Somewhat abrasive. wrapped around a worm and flushed in and out of the barrel. A worm was a double cork screw looking ram rod attachment, (not something from a tequila bottle).

Many of us today use soapy water to clean our barrels. The very same was available in Colonial Days. cleaning patches are relatively cheaper for us. But they had cloth and cleaning patches as well.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2009, 03:20 AM
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Re: Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance

Zim is correct but I will add one more tidbit. Colonial era soldiers and civilians would use a mix of wood ash and water to polish brass, bright barrels and clean the gun if necessary. The caustic lye in the ash worked amazingly well.

GBJ
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2009, 03:33 AM
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Re: Historical Accuracy - Muzzy Maintenance

There is nothing in black powder fouling that just plain water will not take care of, flush with water till patches come out clean,dry followed by a good oil. Back in the 18th century it would have been oil rendered from the fat of just about any critter whale,bear coon.just to name a few
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