Sunday, 3 April 2016

An Update of small shot for Smoothbores.

My last findings during researching lead shot had me puzzled. In George Washington's list of goods he ordered "Drop Shot". This was prior to the invention of the shot tower. Further searching has turned up a couple of interesting facts. (1) Prince Rupert's shot maker, & (2) Prince Rupert's experiment with glass. Prince Rupert melted glass & dropped some into a bucket of water, the result was known as Rupert's Drop. This glass droplet reminds me of the shape of a swan, & it made me wonder if there was any connection between this glass "drop" & the wrongly assumed shape of swan shot?!
It also made me wonder if the term "Rupert's Drop" had anything to do with the term "Drop Shot" used by George Washington. Certainly the method used in making "Rupert's Shot" could be termed "Drop Shot". Here then below is the information I have collected to date, I hope you find it of some interest & perhaps of use.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine, inventor of Rupert's Shot & Rupert's Drop.

Rupert's Drop.

Drop Shot.
Markham noted the superiority of “haileshot or drop-shot” 
#4 drop shot that replaced Rupert shot after 1784.
“It was made by pouring moulten lead through a brass colander held over a bucket of water. The molten lead fell through the holes into the water forming slightly oval dimpled shot. Rupert shot is frequently found at Michilimackinac…Some of this shot still has tails, indicating that it was possibly run at the fort,”
Craft industries at Fort Michilimackinac, 1715-1781,Lynn L. Morand, Mackinac Historical Parks, Mackinac Island’ MI, 1994, pgs.40-43.
He also invented an improved method for manufacturing shot of varying sizes in 1663, that was later retained by the scientist Robert Hooke, one of Rupert's Royal Society friends during the period.[171]
The one great breakthrough in the history of shot making came in 1782, when a British plumber, William Watts of Bristol, received a patent for a method to produce shot…
Good old WW was a Bristol plumber and in 1782 he discovered a way of making perfect lead shot.
In 1782 an English plumber named William Watts saw possibility in that. He realized that if he dropped molten lead far enough through the air, it, too, would form into spheres. The surface tension of lead is a lot higher than that of water, so it forms very perfect spheres indeed.
“If you want a scientific display of the dangers of pent-up stress, Prince
Rupert's drops
are it. After the trauma of being dropped molten-hot into
a bucket of cold water, these glass balls, named for a 17th-century amateur scientist,”
The above comment relates to drops of molten glass, but of course the same man, Prince Rupert also designed the first Drop Shot by pouring molten lead through a sieve into a bucket of water. This could explain Washington’s use of the term Drop Shot before the shot tower was invented. 
Keith. 4/4/2016.
Lead shot was also found at the house sites in various sizes, and of three basic manufacturing types. Rupert’s shot, which was typically purchased, was made by pouring melted lead, fluxed with arsenic, through a colander into tubs of water. The size of the holes in the colander determined the size of the shot. Rupert’s shot has a small characteristic dimple on it. Like fish hooks, lead shot was not sold with number sizes as it is today, but with names corresponding to their intended game. In 18th-century Connecticut, merchants typically advertised such shot types as “bird,” “duck,” “geese” and “swan.” Some hunters made their own shot, which they cast into specially-made shot molds called gang molds. The molds were manufactured from brass or were homemade, carved out of local soapstone (steatite). Shot was also produced by a laborious process which involved pounding lead into long rectangular blanks and then cutting off small cubes of the desired shot size. The edges of this type of “tumbled shot” were then rounded by rolling them in sand or ash.25
“FIGURE 18 Lead shot and sprue a-f, Rupert shot with characteristic  ‘ dimples’, g-h, cast shot, showing mold seams and sprue nibs, m-p cast musketballs (note teeth marks on p), ), q-s, sprue from small cast shot, t, shot still attached to sprue”. (image of shot at url link. Keith.)
Lead Ball and Shot Production.
 A final activity related to firearms was the production of shot and musketballs. Judging from the accumulation of sprue in the workshop refuse, the majority of early shot was laboriously cast in gang molds (Figure I8g-1). Rupert shot was also present, though in lesser quantities (Figure 18a-f). The two types can usually be distinguiished by the seam and cut-off marks on the cast shot, and the dimple characteristic of the Rupert process (Hamilton 1980: 13 1-133). This latter form was made by dropping lead through a heated colander into a pan of water immediately below. The shot was then graded by sieving (Brown 1980:84). Whether the Rupert shot was made on the site has not been determined, but the size distributions of the two are roughly similar, and indicate that they were functionally interchangeable (Figure 19). Apparently at least three or four sizes of shot were used at the fort, but the smallest size, at 5 mm was the most popular, probably for fowling pieces. A reversal in the relative popularity of shot types occurs in all areas away from the workshop, particularly the paving of the gateway outside the guard house, indicating either that Rupert shot was not made at the workshop, or that it replaced cast shot in Pentagoet 111 (Figure 20). Within buildings, of course, all exposed Pentagoet I11 shot was melted in the destruction of the fort.
Maintenance and Fabrication at Fort Pentagoet 1635-1 654 Products of an Acadian Armorer’s Workshop

To make small shot of different sizes; Communicated by his Highness P.R.
Take Lead out of the Pig what quantity you please, melt it down, stir and clear it with an iron Ladle, gathering together the blackish parts that swim at top like scum, and when you see the colour of the clear Lead to be greenish, but no sooner, strew upon it Auripigmentum powdered according to the quantity of Lead, about as much as will lye upon a half Crown piece will serve for eighteen or twenty pound weight of some sorts of Lead; others will require more, or less. After the Auripigmentum is put in, stir the Lead well, and the Auripigmentum will flame: when the flame is over, take out some of the Lead in a Ladle having a lip or notch in the brim for convenient pouring out of the Lead, and being well warmed amongst the melted Lead, and with a stick make some single drops of Lead trickle out of the Ladle into water in a Glass, which if they fall to be round and without tails, there is Auripigmentum enough put in, and the temper of the heat is right, otherwise put in more. Then lay two bars of Iron (or some more proper Iron-tool made on purpose) upon a Pail of water, and place upon them a round Plate of Copper, of the size and figure of an ordinary large Pewter or Silver Trencher, the hollow whereof is to be about three inches over, the bottom lower then the brims about half an inch, pierced with thirty, forty, or more small holes; the smaller the holes are, the smaller the shot will be; and the brim is to be thicker then the bottom, to conserve the heat the better.
The bottom of the Trencher being some four inches distant from the water in the Pail, lay upon it some burning Coles, to keep the Lead melted upon it. Then with the hot Ladle take Lead off the Pot where it stands melted, and pour it softly upon the burning Coles over the bottom of the Trencher, and it will immediately run through the holes into the water in small round drops. Thus pour on new Lead still as fast as it runs through the Trencher till all be done; blowing now and then the Coles with hand-Bellows, when the Lead in the Trencher cools so as to stop from running.
While one pours on the Lead, another must, with another Ladle, thrusted four or five inches under water in the Pail, catch from time to time some of the shot, as it drops down, to see the size of it, and whether there be any faults in it. The greatest care is to keep the Lead upon the Trencher in the right degree of heat; if it be too cool, it will not run through the Trencher, though it stand melted upon it; and this is to be helped by blowing the Coals a little, or pouring on new Lead that is hotter: but the cooler the Lead, the larger the Shot; and the hotter, the smaller; when it it too hot, the drops will crack and fly; then you must stop pouring on new Lead, and let it cool; and so long as you observe the right temper of the heat, the Lead will constantly drop into very round Shot, without so much as one with a tail in many pounds.
When all is done, take your Shot out of the Pail of water, and put it in a Frying-pan over the fire to dry them, which must be done warily, still shaking them that they melt not; and when they are dry you may separate the small from the great, in Pearl Sives made of Copper or Lattin let into one another, into as many sizes at you please. But if you would have your Shot larger then the Trencher makes them, you may do it with a Stick, making them trickle out of the Ladle, as hath been said.
If the Trencher be but toucht a very little when the Lead stops from going through it, and be not too cool, it will drop again, but it better not to touch it at all. At the melting of the Lead take care that there be no kind of Oyl, Grease, or the like, upon the Pots, or Ladles, or Trencher.
The Chief cause of this Globular Figure of the Shot, seems to be the Auripigmentum; for, as soon as it is put in among the melted Lead, it loses its shining brightness, contracting instantly a grayish film or skin upon it, when you scum it to make it clean with the Ladle. So that when the Air comes at the falling drop of the melted Lead, that skin constricts them every where equally: but upon what account, and whether this be the true cause, is left to further disquisition.
The Project Gutenberg eBook, Micrographia, by Robert Hooke. 17th century.
Also: By R. HOOKE, Fellow of the Royal Society. First published in 1665.

This is an image of Peter Goebel's interpretation of Prince Rupert's shot maker.

This is an image of a hunter shooting ducks on the water, using what was called a "stalking horse". The stalking horse was used as a moving blind so the hunter could move closer to the game.

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