Bearing replacing lead ball
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Old 07-27-2010, 02:27 PM   #1
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Default Bearing replacing lead ball

Hi all, glad to be here.

One day I hope to get a musket. The firearms I have owned are M14 auto, .45, and a 410 spanish double which I am sorry I sold for peanuts. It was engraved and really beautiful and I miss it for partridge. I've also owned a lee enfield 7.62, 3 shot dating to WW1 (really bad on the shoulder), and a slew of .22's over the past years.

Just mulling over some things in my mind. I was wondering if it was theoretically possible to substitute ball bearing for lead balls in a SB musket.?

I assume the issue would be primary heat expansion which would be dangerous has the barrel surface wouldn't allow for the size increase. Personally, I don't think it's that much of an issue.

I thought it may be possible if we were able to determine the max expansion. I assume .020 undersize without the cotton seal would lose some power, but not that much, the low mass cancelling out power loss. One could try ever increasing incremental sizes, but of course the last size would be the most dangerous, so .020 under would be the max tested.

Another experimental option is to make up for the sealing attribute of lead due to expansion by tinning the ball surface with solder. This resulting ball would I think be better symetrically for air resistance, but lacking the impact mass. The effective range would show a slight increase.

Another question is has anyone tried the dimpling aspects of shot to decrease air resistance and improve trajectory such has designed in golf balls. Sealing would be a problem I guess.

Thanks.

Andy

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Old 07-27-2010, 03:19 PM   #2
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Could you use a steel ball bearing? Yes. Would it be a good idea? absolutely not. The soft lead musket ball seals the bore . It will get flattened at the powder end by the pressure of the burning powder causing it to expand and seal. A steel ball bearing will not do that. If you use a cotton patch to seal, you could cause excessive pressure and get parts imbedded in your body/face. Not good.

Steel lacks the sectional density of lead and will have poor flight characteristics because it will slow MUCH more rapidly than a lead ball.

Dimpling will only work to give lift if there is initial back spin. It would be impossible to cause back spin in a SB musket.

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Old 07-27-2010, 03:23 PM   #3
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Not only that but the hard steel ball bearing would effectively destroy the rifling after awhile-even if it could be shot safely.

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Old 07-27-2010, 04:46 PM   #4
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Old 07-28-2010, 02:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stalkingbear View Post
Not only that but the hard steel ball bearing would effectively destroy the rifling after awhile-even if it could be shot safely.
With a patched ball it will never touch the rifling. Zinc may be a worthwhile substituts and there was a guy had good luck with glass marbles awhile back.
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Old 07-28-2010, 02:48 AM   #6
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What have you got against lead? It's what the weapon was designed to use, works well, why not use it?
ps. I think tinning the ball with solder would be an incredibly bad idea.

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Old 07-28-2010, 03:05 AM   #7
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Just curious why you would want to do it. Most people who shoot black powder are really into the traditional aspect of it all. They like to do it the way it was done back then. Most people that are into power and want to have a more destructive round are shooting modern firearms. At least that is my opinion anyway.

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Old 07-28-2010, 03:33 AM   #8
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First, if steel or iron worked better than lead, we would be using that. Difference in density will reduce retained energy sharply. You can throw a doughnut further than a cheerio- it's the mass.

Second- if is not possible to strike a spark from lead. It IS possible to strike a spark from a ball bearing. BTW, black powder + sparks= bad ju-ju.

Ask a waterfowl hunter how he likes steel shot. Since lead shot cannot be used when hunting waterfowl, you have to go to a larger shot size for the same effectiveness- and it still sucks.

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Old 07-28-2010, 08:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
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Most people that are into power and want to have a more destructive round are shooting modern firearms. At least that is my opinion anyway.
Then you've never seen what a .58 minie can do. A 30-06 ain't got jack on one of them as far as pure destruction goes.
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Old 07-28-2010, 02:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robocop10mm View Post
It will get flattened at the powder end by the pressure of the burning powder causing it to expand and seal.
Hi Robo:

Sorry for the late response.

I can see where an expanded end would be an advantage in a rifled barrel. A deformed end in a SB would create a problem I think in that we have a less than spherical projectile in flight, which probably explains the inaccuracy.

In the service the rounds for our 4.2 track mortars had the brass expansion sleeve that engaged the lans of the barrel.

Andy
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