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Thread: Minimum patch thickness?

  1. #1

    Default Minimum patch thickness?

    Setting aside correct fit for now, what is the minimum thickness of patch that should be used with any roundball to withstand the forces involved? In other words, if the dimensions of my ball and groove only allow 0.010 patch for correct fit should I reduce the size of my ball to use a thicker patch?

  2. #2
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    Default patch thickness

    I have found that the thickness of the patch depends on the rifle and the ball size. I have a 54 cal virginia rifle that I load with a .18 patch and a .530 ball for the first shot, and all the subsequent patches are .10 until I clean the barrel. I have a 45 caliber that shoots best with a .20 patch and a .445 round ball, but a different 45 caliber rifle likes a .440 round ball with a .10 patch. My recomendation is to play with the patch size of .10, .15, .18, and .20. Run three to five shot strings with the different patches, wiping between shots and choose the patch your gun patterns best with.

  3. #3

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    Mmiller pretty well covered it, but I'll kick in my experiences. Your patch is going to compress as you seat the ball, so it's likely to need to be thicker than you think, especially since some of it has to be pushed down into the groves too. If your ball is .010 smaller than your bore (i.e., a ball that's .530 in a .540 bore) you're likely to end up using a .015 patch at a minimum, and more likely a .018 or .020. The difference will depend on which shoots the most accurately compared with how much effort you want to put into starting the ball. Generally guns shoot more accurately, the tighter the fit, but none of us wants to carry a hammer on a hunt for starting balls.

    You should also know that when a rifle is new the bore is likely to be a little rough with some sharp edges on the lands. Shooting it for 100 to 200 rounds will smooth that out, and you could end up going to a thicker patch after the "break in" period.

    As a rule of thumb I prefer a slightly smaller ball if it lets me use a little thicker patch. Thinner patches like .010 can shred or tear easily under hot loads, so I try to find a ball that lets me use something thicker.

    Here's what I have ended up using: For 32 cal, a .310 ball and .015 patch. For 36 cal, a .350 ball and .018 patch. For 45 cal, a .440 ball and .018 patch. For 50 cal, a .490 ball and .018 patch. For 54 cal, a .530 ball and .018 patch. For 58 cal, a .570 ball and .018 patch. For 75 cal, a .735 ball and .020 patch (it's a smoothbore rather than a rifle.)

    With all of those I can seat the ball without resorting to a hammer or slapping the short starter. Just a firm push. That's a plus for field use.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Right or wrong, my formula goes like this.

    More patch thickness versus ball size is OK, and better if your barrel has deep grooves.

    Tight patches are more accurate.

    Looser patches are easier to load, but less accurate.

    In my 50 Cal.s I use 490 balls, and 015 patch thickness, or a little thicker.

    If I were hunting, I'd pack some looser patches for quicker reloading.

    I like a looser patch for my Single Shot ML pistol, for easier loading.

    I've gone to Lubed patching rather than spit patches for matches.

    I pretty much depend on a short starter.

    You hear a lot of stuff, about what's best, but you should try different things for yourself. Sometimes what you hear doesn't cut it for you.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post

    You hear a lot of stuff, about what's best, but you should try different things for yourself. Sometimes what you hear doesn't cut it for you.

    Smitty of the North
    Amen to that! Each rifle is a little different than the next one on the same production line, and if you listen to it, it will tell you what it likes. Only way to find out is to feed the rifle an assortment of combos. It's a whole lot like working up and testing reloads in a cartridge gun, except you do it all at the range rather than at your reloading bench.

  6. #6

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    I read an article once that made me realize how good we got it. It was a diary from a mountain man from yesteryear. He told how he ran plumb out of balls for his muzzleloader and it were gonna be a while before he could get off the mountain to get supplies so he made do. He spent hours at the river sorting out stones that the river had rolled around for years. Then while sitting in the cabin at night he custom made a patch of correct thickness for each individual rock from what ever he could find including small game hides. He made a comment in that diary to the fact that ole Bess would launch a rock a whole lot faster and straighter than a sling shot. His very survival depended on him putting a rock into the vitals of his quarry so he could eat. Wonder how many ftlbs there is in a 50 caliber rock?

    Kinda puts things in perspective huh!

  7. #7

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    Actually it might be possible to find a good comparison. I'm acquainted with a guy who did a bunch of testing and load development work with 50 cal and 58 cal marbles, looking for a cheap alternative when lead prices went up a few years back.

    I don't remember much of the details other than the accuracy falling off badly past 25 yards. I'd expect energy to fall off so badly at 25 yard too, so that might not be an issue.

    Most significant for your example though, he discovered that even with marbles he had to sort them for diameter because they varied so much. I doubt he would have got very far in his testing, unlike the mountain man, without his micrometer and a whole lot of very similar "balls. Rocks would be tougher than tough, I'd think!

  8. #8
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    Default

    I'm sure that all kinds of things have been used for ML projectiles when people ran out of bullets.

    Has anyone here tried shooting 2 patched balls in the same load? I mean, On Purpose.

    I wonder how accurate that would be. Powder Charge?

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  9. #9

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    There's been a fair bit written about it recently. I haven't tried it myself, but reports say that it's surprisingly accurate. You just shove a second patched ball down on top of the first patched ball, rather than having two balls in the same patch. You have to be sure to seat them tight against each other, but folks are reporting the balls hit to point of aim and within 2 or 3 inches of each other out to at least 50 yards. Velocity drops with the doubling of weight on the same charge, but that doesn't seem to be an issue to 50 yards.

    It sounds like a handy way to get a little more oomph if you come across bear sign or the cover gets a little tight. I like the idea of seating the second ball when you feel you need it, then being able to pull it once the situation changes. I'm likely to try it in the next few months, and if I do, I'll post results.

  10. #10

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    Think I'll go to the pea gravel pile and find me some -50 cal rocks. I want to see what happens!

    I have done the two patched ball thing and it does about like what was described. At 50 yards they were always 2-4 inches apart and always one above the other, never side by side....not sure why!

  11. #11
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    Default

    Thanks BB:
    Alaska hunting methods and means, prohibit hunting with more than one bullet in a ML, but I can shoot'em. AND, your idea of putting in an extry patched ball for bear protection, seems like a good idea otherwise.

    I was thinking that the 2 balls should be tight together like you say. I thought I'd make sure the patch on the first ball wasn't excessive, so they would be as close together as possible.

    I'm definitely gonna try it.

    EKC:
    I've always toyed with using short sections of a wooden dowel, if I could find the right diameter to patch. With light loads it might be fun practice.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post

    I was thinking that the 2 balls should be tight together like you say. I thought I'd make sure the patch on the first ball wasn't excessive, so they would be as close together as possible.
    You might try doing like I do, "cutting at the muzzle." Rather than using pre-cut patches, I have strips that allow me to lube the patch, then seat the ball about 1/4" below the muzzle. A quick swipe of a sharp knife makes for identical, perfect patches every time.

    Sounds labor intensive, but in fact I load this way into a loading block holding half a dozen balls or so, depending on caliber. You just lay the block over the muzzle and seat the pre-patched ball down into the bore. Handy.

    Cut that way, there's no fold of patching over the top of the ball in the bore, so it lends itself to double balls, both for seating and for quick loading. This is a commercial version of a loading block. They're cheap, but even more fun to make your own. The one in the photo is loaded with a pre-cut patch, so you can see how "cutting at the muzzle" would eliminate all that excess patching.

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    Default Question

    So , are you saying that the ball basiclly sould not be riding against the rifling, but reling completely on the patch ?
    I have a .45 cal H&R rifle, and a .44 cal ruger pistol.

  14. #14

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    You've got one of each there, in terms of how the balls should ride.

    In a rifle you definitely want to have a patch to fill the gap between a slightly smaller ball and the rifling (probably .440 ball in your 45 rifle). If you didn't have the patch you'd get terrible leading and rotten accuracy.

    A pistol on the other hand does shoot a bore-sized ball. You rely on the lube ahead of the ball in the cylinder to help prevent leading as well as prevent chain fires. I don't recall which size ball the Ruger handgun takes, but I know they're really accurate.

  15. #15
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    You might try doing like I do, "cutting at the muzzle." Rather than using pre-cut patches, I have strips that allow me to lube the patch, then seat the ball about 1/4" below the muzzle. A quick swipe of a sharp knife makes for identical, perfect patches every time.

    Sounds labor intensive, but in fact I load this way into a loading block holding half a dozen balls or so, depending on caliber. You just lay the block over the muzzle and seat the pre-patched ball down into the bore. Handy.

    Cut that way, there's no fold of patching over the top of the ball in the bore, so it lends itself to double balls, both for seating and for quick loading. This is a commercial version of a loading block. They're cheap, but even more fun to make your own. The one in the photo is loaded with a pre-cut patch, so you can see how "cutting at the muzzle" would eliminate all that excess patching.
    OK, BB:
    I kin do that. I'll letcha know how 2 balls work, when I try it.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

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    Default thanks B B

    I have to admit I'm learnin,
    years ago i had a Kit built 44 revolver and it chain fired on me, I thought it was the fault of the cylinder so I gave it to my brother as a wall hanger.I won't have a gun can't trust or isn't accurate.
    though I had greased the ball I may have done a sloppy job, my own fault.
    though the ruger is new to me it is a bicentenial, and whom ever had it before did not know how to take it down for cleaning, conciquently there's a little rust here and there. I expect to change the nipples and re blue some of the bare spots.
    One moore question if i may ,How do you feel about conicle bullets in revolvers ?
    Again thank you for your input.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arleigh View Post
    One moore question if i may ,How do you feel about conicle bullets in revolvers ?
    They're a great way to extend the power of the Ruger. According to Lyman's black powder manual you can a 190 grain conical to 1157 fps using pyrodex P or 1035 fps with Goex 3f. That's compared to 1098 with a 144 grain ball over Pyrodex P or 1076 fps over Goex 3f.

    Compare that with a 200 grain bullet in a 44 cartridge gun, and you're falling in between 44 Special and 44 Mag power. And that ain't bad at all!

    You ought to pick up the Lyman manual. It will be a treasure to you- not just for loads, but also for care and maintenance as well as talk of hunting and such.

  18. #18
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    They're a great way to extend the power of the Ruger. According to Lyman's black powder manual you can a 190 grain conical to 1157 fps using pyrodex P or 1035 fps with Goex 3f. That's compared to 1098 with a 144 grain ball over Pyrodex P or 1076 fps over Goex 3f.

    Compare that with a 200 grain bullet in a 44 cartridge gun, and you're falling in between 44 Special and 44 Mag power. And that ain't bad at all!

    You ought to pick up the Lyman manual. It will be a treasure to you- not just for loads, but also for care and maintenance as well as talk of hunting and such.
    That IS Powerful BB:

    Does, it only apply to the "Ruger" Cap'n Ball revolver?

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    That IS Powerful BB:

    Does, it only apply to the "Ruger" Cap'n Ball revolver?

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
    Yeah. It's actually built to modern designs with modern materials. No other model comes close, with the possible exception of some Walker models, and that's only "close" and not equal.

    That's one of the best things about the Lyman manual. It pretty well spells out which is which, like cartridge reloading manuals distinguish between rolling blocks, Marlins and Rugers for the 45-70.

  20. #20
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    Default Today, I did it.

    I fired a single patched ball, with my normal 60 grains of BP, at 25 yards, and followed it up with TWO patched balls, one on top of the other, with only a patch thickness in between. I shot TWO, two ball loads.

    The recoil sure got my attention, but the impact (At 25 yards) was essentially the same. The first double ball load was on top of the Single Ball Load, and with the other, on a diffferent target, the balls were ALMOST but not quite touching.

    Assuming that two balls in the same load are more effective, this idea may have merit at short range. Of course, we're in the dark as to data for such loads.

    The RECOIL was tremendous by comparison with a single ball using the same powder charge. I'm just goin by memory, but I'd say, more than a 100 grain charge with a single ball.

    AND, for hunting, here in the Greatland, it's ILLEGAL to use TWO projectiles, in yer ML.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

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