Wednesday, 22 February 2017

My Flintlock Won't Fire. Problem Solving.

Smoothbore flintlock with a leather hammer cap/boot/stall in place for extra safety. At the back of the pan you can see the vent in the breech of the barrel.

My Flintlock Won’t Fire!
My hammer/steel is not sparking.
Checks: Has your gun flint got a sharp edge?
Is the flint held securely in the jaws of the cock with either leather or sheet lead?
 Is your gun flint striking the hammer/steel about two thirds of the way up the steel? If it is striking too high or too low on the face of the steel, then try turning the flint over.
Other possible causes of not sparking are: A weak mainspring or a weak feather spring. The steel may be too soft or too hard. The rear lock retaining screw may be too long and; putting pressure on the cock.
Solutions: Replace the spring. Replace the steel/hammer. You could try a file on the edge of your hammer/steel to see if it is hard or soft. If it files easily then it is too soft and needs to be replaced or re hardened. To re harden, heat to cherry red and quench in room temperature water.
If the steel/hammer is too hard, then it needs annealing (made softer). To do this, heat to cherry red and cool slowly. When it is cool you can try it and; see if it will spark. The steel may now be too soft to spark. If it will not spark, repeat the process by heating to cherry red & then quench in room temperature water. Slacken off the rear lock plate retaining screw and see if the hammer moves more freely. If it does, remove the screw, screw on a correct sized nut, file a little from the length of the screw. Take off the nut & try the screw in the lock plate. Repeat if the screw is still too long.
My flintlock is sparking, but it is shattering gun flints.
Checks: Your mainspring may be too strong, or the feather spring may be too strong. Make sure your steel/hammer tail moves freely on the feather spring and is (a) not tight on its pivot screw, and (b) has no lumps or rough spots on the tail where it moves over the feather spring.

Solutions: Replace springs. Free up the hammer/steel on the pivot screw if it is too tight. Use a whet stone to smooth rough or lumpy areas on the tail where it moves over the feather spring.
The priming is igniting but not firing the main charge.
Checks: None ignition; The vent in the barrel has been drilled into the breech plug, or the breech plug is covering the vent.
Solution: Check with a thin wire to find the direction in which the vent has been drilled & to see if it goes right through into the barrel. On my fusil I found that the vent was partially blocked by the breech plug. To remedy this I drilled through the vent with a slightly larger drill bit at an angle away from the breech plug. Then I used a countersink bit in the entrance of the vent. I suggest that you do not use a drill bit any larger than 1/8th”.
Slow ignition: 1) Check above solution 2) the vent hole may be too small 3) the vent hole may be filling with gunpowder 4) the vent hole may have been drilled too high. The vent should be level with the top of the pan.
Solution: 1) check the solutions above 2) try using a countersink bit to widen the vent entrance 3) you may need to drill out the vent with a slightly larger drill bit 4) you can use a vent quill when loading to keep the vent clear 5) you can clear the vent with your pricker before priming 6) don’t use too much priming, you only need a small amount in the pan.7) if the vent has been drilled too high, you can either tap the vent and screw a plug in and then drill a new vent hole, or you could try just widening the entrance with a countersink bit. The other alternative is to take it to a gunsmith and have him install a vent liner.
Vent Liner.

Tips for good ignition:
1.      After firing and before reloading, brush out the burnt residue from the pan if you plan to be leaving your gun loaded for a while.
2.    Use your pricker to clear the vent before priming, or, place a vent quill in the vent before loading.
3.    Make sure your gun flint has a sharp edge. If the edge is dull, either knap it or change the flint for a new one.
4.   Each time you discharge your gun, give the hammer/steel face a quick wipe to keep it clean.
5.    In damp weather use a cow’s knee leather lock cover.
6.   If it is raining, grease the edges of the pan to keep the wet out & grease between hammer/steel & barrel. Use a greased leather lock cover.
7.    Don’t overfill the pan when priming, only a small amount of gunpowder is required.
A- Lock plate
B- Feather of Hammer spring
C- Hammer spring screw
D-Mainspring retainer stud
E- Hammer spring
F- Tail of Hammer
G- Hammer pivot screw
H- Hammer
I-Face of Hammer
J- Pan
K- Flash guard
L- Cock
M- Lower Cock jaw
N- Upper Cock jaw
O- Cock jaw screw
P- Sear spring screw tip
Q- Tail of lock plate
R- Sear pivot screw tip
S- Tumbler screw.

A-Upper limb of mainspring
B- Lower limb of mainspring
C- Mainspring retainer hook
D- Tumbler hook of mainspring
E- Cup of tumbler
F- Tail of Hammer
G- Tumbler axle/pivot
H- Hammer
I- Face of Hammer
J- Pan
K- Flash guard
L- Cock
M- Lower Cock jaw
N- Upper Cock jaw
O- Cock screw
P- Bridle
Q- Sear pivot screw

Please Note: If the gun is loaded, make sure it is pointed in a safe direction before attempting to knap the gun flint. It is highly unlikely to cause a spark and fire the gun, but better safe than sorry.

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