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 Black Powder freshness and substitution?

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stoney1

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PostSubject: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 7th 2017, 2:01 pm

Howdy folks, Stoney here:
I got a question! I have a powder horn that I made back in the 70's. It holds about a half a pound of BP, (the real stuff), Anywho... It's about full, I think it's still good? It hasn't been unplugged since about 1975, I'll need to flash a pinch just to make sure it still burns? I'm mentoring my Doctor who's gettin' into smoke poles. I'm building him a .50 cal. Hawken Perc., and I planned on using the BP I have to get 'er sighted in. That'll save him from havin' to go buy a pound of something? It's NOT like he can't afford to, but I like helpin' folks.
  Now my question (I know...about damn time?). What's the best readily available BP sub to get. I see that Wally World has something called (I think) Pyrodex??? I know it sits right on the shelf? I guess they ain't worried about terrorists gettin' their hands on it. Every place that I ever bought BP had it under lock-n-key. Also, if he gets some sub, what's the ratio comparison of sub to real BP?  I used 120 grains of BP in my .50 cal. Hawken Flinter for White tail, so how much of the sub would be about equal to 120 grains of REAL BP!? I think I saw (somewhere on here) that it's about 75%? Thank ya' kindly folks.
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 7th 2017, 2:30 pm

If the real black is still free flowing and not clumped, it's still good.  I've read accounts of guys digging up civil war artillery shells and blowing themselves up trying to disarm them.  In my own experience I have full and partial cans dating back to 1972 and 1973 that are still as fresh as the day they were filled (chronograph verified), as well as some older oddballs. Dunno the date on those, but an internet search finally revealed that one company had gone out of business in 1962. Still fresh and new.

Subs are another story. I have Pyrodex dating back to the first year or two of production, and they're still good as new. Triple Seven appears equally good, though it hasn't been around as long. Up here in this climate Shockey's various offering have proven to last less than a year once the jug is opened. Pyrodex pellets have also proven vulnerable to humidity- mostly the priming compound on the back end I think in my own messing with them.  The rule of thumb for Shockey and Pyrodex pellets is "open them up and use them within 3 months or toss them."
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 7th 2017, 3:59 pm

Brown Bear
Thanks buddy, but you missed my question. headslap  I wanted to know what the ratio comparison was of real BP to substitute powder, like 120 grains of real BP equals what in sub? Is the substitute powder measured the same as real black powder? Thanks for replyin' though. God bless. It's good info. to know on the longevity of real Black Powder.   :tup2
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 7th 2017, 4:15 pm

Volume measurement is the same between real black powder and most of the substitutes. Not the same with weight, though.

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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 7th 2017, 5:06 pm

Triple Seven is enough hotter that it's recommended not to use your usual volume measure due to increased pressure. They recommend cutting your load at least 10%.

So talking in round numbers, if you usually use 100 grains of Pyrodex RS or black 2f, only use 90 grains of Triple Seven 2f.
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 10th 2017, 9:29 am

patocazador wrote:
Volume measurement is the same between real black powder and most of the substitutes. Not the same with weight, though.

patocazador
Thank you, that's great to know. Now I can tell my Doctor so he won't kill himself with this new rifle once my real BP is gone and he has to buy sub. On a dissimilar but, related note. We had a du Pont Black Powder factory here about 6 miles from my place in a little town called Wapwallopen, Pa. Back in 1888 it blew up, killing 6 of the employees. Until it crumbled about 50 years ago, you could still see some remains of the building, if you hiked back to it. Now the creek has a HUGE hole in it and a water fall The people around here call it the "Powder Hole" and it's a real Crowd gathering place, it's illegal to trespass or swim there but folks don't care, they go there anyway. The place is crawling with Copperhead Snakes and there's a train trestle that idiots dive off of into the swimmin' hole. At least 2 people die there every Summer from hitting rocks while diving or drowning under the water fall.  My Great, great, great uncle started it. A man named Silvers.  https://www.scribd.com/document/118972499/The-Powder-Hole-s-Story-2002a I just thought the history might be interesting? God bless. Thanks again for your reply.
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 13th 2017, 6:56 pm

BrownBear wrote:
If the real black is still free flowing and not clumped, it's still good.

That's correct, I have even broke up the clumps and it still shot fine..... scratch

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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 13th 2017, 7:01 pm

stoney1 wrote:
patocazador wrote:
Volume measurement is the same between real black powder and most of the substitutes. Not the same with weight, though.

patocazador
Thank you, that's great to know. Now I can tell my Doctor so he won't kill himself with this new rifle once my real BP is gone and he has to buy sub. On a dissimilar but, related note. We had a du Pont Black Powder factory here about 6 miles from my place in a little town called Wapwallopen, Pa. Back in 1888 it blew up, killing 6 of the employees.

FOUR MEN BLOWN TO PIECES.
AND A METHODIST CHURCH COMPLETELY WRECKED.

    WILKESBARRE, Penn., Feb. 10. - At 10 o'clock this morning a severe shock was felt in this city. Shortly afterward it was learned that a violent explosion had occurred at Dupont's powder works, at Wapwallopen, 20 miles from here, and that four men were blown to pieces. Their names, as given, are Peter Kishbaugh, George Stout, John Rossman, and Olean Teets. The explosion took place in the packing house, where several tons of powder had been stored. The explosion was the most violent that ever occurred in the Wyoming Valley. At Nanticoke and Wanamie chimneys toppled from the roofs of buildings, and school children ran in terror from the schoolhouses. Men and women flocked toward the mines, where they thought the explosion happened, and were members of their families were at work. At Shickshinny the glass in almost every window was broken, and many persons were thrown to the ground. At Wapwallopen nearly every building was damaged or wrecked. Besides the killed, over 40 persons were injured. The cause of the accident is not known, as all those who were in the building are dead.
    The new Methodist church at Wapwallopen, which was dedicated last week and stood 300 feet from the scene of the explosion, was completely wrecked, entailing a loss of $5,000. There were about two tons of powder in the building when the explosion occurred. Kishbaugh, who was killed, recently lost his wife, and leaves six children. Rossman leaves a widow and five children. The other two men were single. There is no trace of the packing house left, not even the foundation remaining. Rocks weighing 100 pounds and more were blown to the top of the mountains a quarter of a mile away. Dupont's loss and the loss on some thirty buildings that were more or less shattered cannot be estimated to-night, but will reach several thousand dollars.
The New York Times, New York, NY 11 Feb 1888

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stoney1

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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 7:07 am

conner
Is this a part of the same article that I spoke of? Did you find this some where else? It certainly WAS a horrible happening! I've been to the plant site a few times in 60 years, not much left to see!
Thanks????
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 7:21 am

I did a search and found this article, use to hunt the Wyoming Valley years ago. Had a cousin that had a nice log cabin we used in that location, had heard about the DuPont plant explosion but never went there.

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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 8:54 am

conner
Thanks buddy, that clears it up. I wasn't sure what I was looking at?  Question  The really strange part is, that Wilkes Barre is almost 35 miles away from Wapwallopen. DAMN that was one Hell of an explosion!!! I only live about 3 or 4 miles from there, in Berwick. I can't even imagine how it must have felt here in Berwick when she went up? Fortunately that was in 1888, a little before my time! Smile
Thank you.
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 10:41 am

stoney1 wrote:
I only live about 3 or 4 miles from there, in Berwick. I can't even imagine how it must have felt here in Berwick when she went up?
Stoney

When the Green River Powder firm went up in the late 1980, GRRW's factory was about the same distance as you are from the "Big Bang" affair. The gunsmith's said they knew what the sound was as soon as they heard the report and things flying off shelves. scratch

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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 11:20 am

Yeah. We're about 12 miles over a range of low (3,500') mountains from a rocket launch facility here in Alaska. Over a year ago they had one go haywire a couple hundred yards after launch and pushed the detonate button.  Great big flash of light that lit up the inside of our darkened house, shock wave that rattled the pictures on our walls, followed by a boom you wouldn't believe. No injuries among the staff two miles away for the launch, but I bet there were a whole lot of ringing ears!
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 3:01 pm

Probably there was a command for "please take a moment and change your drawers, that will be all, thank you". Shocked   affraid   Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 3:13 pm

conner wrote:
stoney1 wrote:
I only live about 3 or 4 miles from there, in Berwick. I can't even imagine how it must have felt here in Berwick when she went up?
Stoney

When the Green River Powder firm went up in the late 1980, GRRW's factory was about the same distance as you are from the "Big Bang" affair. The gunsmith's said they knew what the sound was as soon as they heard the report and things flying off shelves. scratch
conner
I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere near that one either!!!! Thanks for the history info.
About 7 years age we had a very small earth tremor. I felt it....but barely.  I remember thinkin' Red Fox,"hold on Lizabeth, I'm comin." We just don't get things like that around here so it was a little unnerving ! God bless.
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 3:17 pm

BrownBear wrote:
Yeah. We're about 12 miles over a range of low (3,500') mountains from a rocket launch facility here in Alaska. Over a year ago they had one go haywire a couple hundred yards after launch and pushed the detonate button.  Great big flash of light that lit up the inside of our darkened house, shock wave that rattled the pictures on our walls, followed by a boom you wouldn't believe. No injuries among the staff two miles away for the launch, but I bet there were a whole lot of ringing ears!
Brown Bear
One of my students who graduated a few years back was stationed up there. He told me it was a scary place, but I had NO idea! pale Any time the government gets it's hands on anything it goes to pot! Ahhhh yes, more of your tax dollars up in smoke! cheers God bless.
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 4:34 pm

Better them launching big rockets than the guys I hang with! Very Happy

The thought of those guys with anything bigger than a firecracker would give Red Green materials for a year of shows.
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   August 14th 2017, 5:14 pm

BrownBear wrote:
The thought of those guys with anything bigger than a firecracker would give Red Green materials for a year of shows.

Man, I haven't heard "Red Green's" name for the 10 years I have lived in Utah.

In Colorado on Tue. evenings we would watch him at 11:00PM.

On Thur. evenings you would put on channel 2 and turn the sound off, then put 92.05 AM on the radio (for the sound for channel 2. These guys that did the monologue on the radio would have you rolling on the floor. Boy they had some great lines for the actors on the TV, pretty rough at times, they even did the ads and said what they really thought of the products. They operated out of a van as they needed to move around town because of the FCC looking for this outlaw group. They were on for 4-5 years before getting caught.  Razz   Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   September 20th 2017, 7:02 am

ive read about shooters who have pulled apart the 45/70 cartridges from custers time period and used that powder and it was a better powder than we have today. if it doesnt get wet black powder stays good.
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PostSubject: Re: Black Powder freshness and substitution?   September 21st 2017, 5:50 am

strong eagle wrote:
ive read about shooters who have pulled apart the 45/70 cartridges from custers time period and used that powder and it was a better powder than we have today. if it doesnt get wet black powder stays good.
Some of these articles that were written years ago are not correct, many hear say. The old powder was not consistent in the size of the grains causing different results when it exploded. Back in the 1950 about the only black powder available was blasting (cannon) powder due to the war effort just passed.

To make a finer grind (being careful) my father and his friends would use agate mortar and pestle sets to grind the larger grains into finer powders and trying to control any heating effect. Because of the ability to control the grinding, and also to virtually eliminate contamination from the mortar and pestle set itself, agate was the preferred material like used in laboratories. The density of agate is far more desirable than the more porous porcelain which could grow bacteria in the pores and present a health problem, this was learned from talking to local doctors that were shooters too.

With what is known now this was a questionable practice and is not advised by todays standards. The family tried taking apart old black powder cartridges to use that powder and found that it was easier to make the finer powder using the method above over using cartridge powders that had their own issues.

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