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Discussion Starter #1
In days of yore,infantry did not load their muskets on the battlefield with loose powder and patched ball but rather with pre-rolled paper cartridges. This method persisted even through our Civil War as the minie balls of the time were undersized in relation to the bore.
Today,we will make a couple cartridges for our 75 caliber Brown Bess. Of course,the trick to making this work was that the musket ball was always a couple sizes smaller than the bore of the weapon it was intended for in order that the user could fire many shots before having to clean the bore. Accuracy was not nearly as important in this kind of weapon as Napoleonic tactics were still the way wars were fought. Lines of men would fire their muskets in unison and create a wall of lead.
Okay,first off we will need some tools and materials:



Here we have a template cut from heavy cardboard stock measuring 4 1/2 by 6 by 2 1/2 inches with a line drawn diagonally to complete the trapezoid. We also have a 3/4 inch hardwood dowel with a large hole drilled in one end to the depth of about 1/2 inch. We will be using telephone book paper as I have forund it combusts quite nicely under the temperature and pressure created in the gun. The balls are .690 dia. which are pretty loose. You can also use .715 but they will get tight after a few shots. The .690 are more historically correct.
I am going to break this up into several posts because there are cats about and one might step on the keyboard at any moment and erase all my work.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Okay,so far so good! Now in the next pic,we cut out pieces of paper using the template and roll them around the hollow end of the dowel thusly:












You notice that the "tail of the trapezoid is sticking out in the wind.
Now simultaneously twist and push the tail into the hollow spot like you were making a penny wrapper.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Okeydokey,now drop the ball into the cylinder you have made and follow it with a crunched up piece of paper wadding. Why the wadding? Because the fit of the .690 ball is loose enough that excess powder will creep down around it changing the effective diameter when we go to load it. If we had used a .735 ball this would not have been necessary but we would only be able to fire a couple shots before things started to clog up.









Now we powder it with about 90 grains of FFg. 10 grains of this will wind up being used to prime the pan when we go to fire the musket,so the actual propellant charge will be about 80 gr.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Now all that's left to do is to fold the tail of the cartridge in thirds and tuck the tail into the diagonal seam made when we rolled the body of the cartridge in the first place.







 

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Discussion Starter #5
So there's my cartridge. Not very pretty ,I admit and CERTAINLY not the only way to make one. There are many better,stronger ,and more attractive ways to make these including the ones found in the book pictured in the first post. Soldiers often would use prayer book paper to make cartridges when they came upon a church. It was very thin like rice paper and was very effective. Of course,the thicker the paper,the stronger the cartridge,but there is a trade-off. If the cartridge is too sturdy,it become stiff and difficult to use.
Now in practice,what you did was bite the end off the tail of the cartridge exposing the powder,then pouring some into the flash pan and closing the frizzen over it. Then you poured the rest of the powder down the barrel followed by the paper-wrapped ball which made a nice tight fit,if you did it right.
The you rammed the ball home with the ramrod,replace the ramrod under the barrel,cocked the lock and fired! You will be surprised how many shots per minute you can get off with this method.
The only pictures I have at the moment are me shooting a 69 ca, Charleville musket replica last summer. The cartridge in this case has a .662 ball in a .690 bore.



priming the pan.





pouring the powder.




ramming the ball home.




Tirez! I mean FIRE! BOOM!

I hope you have enjoyed this little pictorial. When Gizamo comes over,we will shoot these cartridges I made today out of the Brown Bess and hopefully post new pictures.
Ta Ta for now. Lord S.
 
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Ok,,,,First and foremost.. ~~~ thanks Slash for putting this online :) ....

Hope to get over there this weekend... ;)

For Everyone...
What we have here is unique. Slash is actually a bit more than unique. He is a bit alchemist, historian, and lived and breathed the Black Powder arts. This forum is fortunate to have this kind of input. Frankly, I belong to a few forums devoted to the BP subject. You will not get this kind of information from those forums....savvy!.

Had the priviledge of shooting guns from the 1600's all the way to the Co-sighted Holographic with this man.

Few folks around here and elsewhere know that I've owned my share of interesting guns. But many of those were influenced from the small gleanings that I learned from Slash...

So we, as a group, are fortunate. We have a smallish BP contingent on this forum. But have a powerhouse of information available. And we cross the various time-lines. Flintlocks, Caplocks, and the more interesting "suppository" feeders are talked about.

No other forum, covers so many arena's.... ;)


giz
 

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Excellent pictoral/tutorial!

I'm going to try to rig up a small dowel and template like that for my .36 Navy. I used to have one of the DGW kits for paper cartridges, but can't find it. JMO, but paper cartridges are the way to go for C&B revolvers, too. :)

xtm
 

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That is very cool!!Thanks for the lesson!
 
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Slash is the one that taught me about the different papers. Hard to believe that you'll get better results from a phonebook then newspaper...but it works...

Also, the cheap kids Elmers paste glue in the tube from Wally World is the best sealer on the edge that I've found...if you're rolling for the latter Sharps rifles....but that's another subject, isn't it? ;)


giz
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Gizamo brings up a good point. To make cartridges for different calibers you need to make different diameter rolling dowels and downsize the trapezoidal pattern accordingly. I have several different templates made up and several dowels prepared for 69 cal. muskets,58 cal civil war muskets and 62 cal 20ga. fowlers. I mark the outsides of the cartridges with the inside ball diameter in pencil so I don't get them mixed up.
With the minie ball cartridges,you can even fill the hollow base of the bullet with wonder lube before you assemble it. As long as you use some sort of wadding to separate the bullet from the powder charge,they last a long time.
 

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Terrific stuff! Many thanks!

...and a question: wouldn't tissue paper work even better? That would be a better way to recycle all the stuff that gets generated around Christmas presents, for instance. Or would Kleenex or similar tissue work? Or are such tissues just too thin?

Apologies, that's actually three questions :roll:

And thanks again for a fantastic thread. If this keeps up I'm gonna find m'self in the black powder game before long!

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Tissue paper? I don't know. Maybe. The others are too weak. The trick is to make the cartridge body durable enough to stand up to being handled and yet combustible enough to be completely consumed when the musket is fired.
You wouldn't want any smouldering remnants in the barrel when you pour in the next powder charge.
 

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Well a trip to Lowes, along with a .58mini, and now I have a dowel to do some rolling for my Zouave. I figure about 70gr of FFg should take care of it. The kids have been shooting it more than I have just for fun, but I do need to work up a serious load for her. Slash thank you for the great info, and I look forward to seeing more!!!!!
 

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Re: Making Nitrated Papers

I met a fellow shooting paper cartridges in an Sharps repro at the rifle range - says he makes his own nitrated papers by soaking them in saltpeter (Potassium Nitrate). :?

He claims that you can buy it at many pharmacies, but bought his last batch from a local meat market that sells supplies for sausage-making, jerky-making, and corned beef-making.

He mixes up a supersaturated solution in warm water and soaks his paper material in a pan full of it - pours off the solution and lets it dry for cartridge assembling later.

It seems like too much trouble if phone book pages work fine. :)

xtm
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The nitrated papers are correct for breech loading Sharps cartridges. As I understand it you need to use rag bond paper and soak them in the aforementioned nitrate solution and hang them up to dry. I just buy them from Shiloh Sharps in Montana via mail order.
I have tried the phone book paper in my Sharps and it seems to work pretty well,too but always leaves a little bit of residue. The nitrated papers are nice and stiff and they combust fully in the Sharps chamber. I don't use them for muzzleloaders though, as they are not cut large enough for my little template. It would be an interesting experiment to make your own nitrated papers on an 8X11 sheet and cut them out to see how they perform.
 

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Yes, I forgot to mention that "bond" paper is what he uses - on legal size 8 1/2"x14" sheets.

You must use sturdy paper or it will disintegrate when removed wet from the tray to dry.

Even though I'm a certified gun crank, I'm fairly lazy and cheap. It's not likely that I'm going to fool with nitrating my own papers if phonebooks work OK. :)

xtm
 
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lordslash,

very nice article on the paper cartridges.


looks like you are shooting a charlieville or later springfield musket?
i had a japanense charlieville 1763, wish i had kept it.

cheers,
sewerman
 
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