Bearing replacing lead ball

Discussion in 'Blackpowder & Musket' started by AndyF, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. AndyF

    AndyF New Member

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    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
     
  2. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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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.
     

  3. stalkingbear

    stalkingbear Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  4. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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  5. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    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.
     
  6. freefall

    freefall New Member

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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.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  7. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  8. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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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.
     
  9. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    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.
     
  10. AndyF

    AndyF New Member

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    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
     
  11. AndyF

    AndyF New Member

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    Hawg:

    Thanks for the post. Actually I was going to get into that. Glass would be safer has it would break up if it encountered any narrow portion of the barrel.

    Initial high heat may be a problem on detination. Glass is simply a hard liquid anyway.

    I still think a tinned bearing would be the best has the bearing is an absolute sphere. A tinned surface would be a problem to get the solder to flow even , gravity being the problem, so I think some type of drop system where the ball fell and cooled naturally through an airflow then caught on some wet wicking would be the ideal.

    If the ball were made to roll between 2 plates spaced the desired distance would create the perfect lead coated ball.

    Andy :)
     
  12. AndyF

    AndyF New Member

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    Why?

    Andy
     
  13. AndyF

    AndyF New Member

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    Correction, the lee enfield was a .303.

    (What, no eat crow smilie.!!!)

    Andy
     
  14. AndyF

    AndyF New Member

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    Thanx for the invite!

    AndyF :)
     
  15. AndyF

    AndyF New Member

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    I recall has a young Tom Sawyer we had a log raft. We'd float down the river and we had regular pipes set at an angle along the side. This was our battleship of sorts. We'd drop a wick lighted 1/2in canon cracker to the sealed bottom and a marble on top of that. If we got the angle too high we lost sight of the marble. We tested and found it penetrated plank an inch, so it was a formidable weapon, not that we were looking for weapons, just adventure. We'd like to see the "rounds" hit the mud and anything else along the shore. Every once in awhile we'd feel the need to go to battle stations and set off a salvo, watchin out for the ladies of course. :D

    If the cops found out, the crackers would have been outlawed. We just were kids who liked to experiment and see how things worked. I guess that's where invention starts.

    To your question, I really don't know. Seems plausable to me. All the talk about getting form ridges off the balls after molding seemed to cry out for need of a better method or alternative. Even if you used that trimmer gizmo, you still have a deformation.

    The bearing doesn't have the mass for sure, but trajectory should be improved. Effective range would be slightly improved too, but stopping power would be less. Getting the right science formula that creates a projectile rather than a bomb needs to be worked on.

    Frankly, I'm chompin to try it out one day.

    Andy :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  16. AndyF

    AndyF New Member

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    C3:

    Wow!, one of the best movies ever made. Liked the egg scene, Newman's best.

    Ok, shot I agree, but a single ball may hold promise if we do some mods. I'm talking smooth bore here, not rifled. You'd end up with no rifling after awhile sending #5 or #8 hard steel balls down a med hard barrel.

    Andy :)
     
  17. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    The problem with this concept is the perfectly spherical ball WILL touch the bore of the barrel. It will effectively rattle down the barrel, touching at random intervals. The last place it contacts will determine the angle of departure from the barrel. Because the angle will change each shot, the accuracy from shot to shot will be dismal at best. A perfect sphere will fly truer than a squashed sphere, but you would never be able to predict the departure angle.

    Many years ago men experimented with all sorts of materials. Lead was chosen for a reason. It works.
     
  18. freefall

    freefall New Member

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    So. You've obviously given this a lot of thought and are more knowledgeable about the subject than the rest of us here, so go for it Buckwheat. Send us a range report. Good luck.
     
  19. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    Not if it's patched. The patch is all that touches the bore and it's the patch that makes the ball spin. Even in a smoothbore the ball never touched the barrel.
     
  20. AndyF

    AndyF New Member

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    Good point. Thats a problem for sure.

    Andy