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Does my theory about a build up in the barrel make sense?

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Discussion Starter #1
I'm brand new to black powder and need some advice. Everything I know about black powder I have read on this and other forums and have watched on you tube.

Background:

My father is letting me use his T/C Renegade 54 cal to hunt. He bought the gun 25-30 years ago fired about 100-120 round ball and a couple T/C Maxi-balls through it, swabbed it out and put it the safe where it has been for 25 years. The first thing I did when getting the gun was to clean it. I took the nipple off and I noticed that there were black chunks that came out when swabbed the barrel in warm soapy water.

Details:

I am using Triple 7 FFG and tried both 80 grains and 90 grain loads with pre lubed patch round ball.

The problem:

I went to the range yesterday to try out the gun for the first time and to see if I could get a tight group for deer hunting. I fired about 11 ball and 1 TC Maxi-ball through it. On all but a couple shots the hammer was re-cocked and the percussion cap had blown off the nipple after firing. I was unable to get any consistency in my grouping. My shots were literally all over the place and I left the range very discouraged.

After returning home I cleaned the gun again and tried to put a new copper wire brush down the barrel. Once it made it all the to the bottom it got stuck and I had a really hard time getting it out. When it came out the front of the brush was bent over toward the back in a cone shape as if the barrel narrowed just before reaching the back.

I am trying to figure out what is causing this and based on my reading I suspect that there might be a ring of build up or corrosion near the back of the barrel. My theory is that this could explain the back pressure that is causing the cap to blow off the nipple and is strong enough to re cock the hammer. It might also explain the wide variability in shot placement. My questions for you are:

1) Does my theory make sense and have you seen this happen?
2) Does the back of the barrel come to a cone or should the diameter be consistent all the way to the back of the barrel?
2) Assuming there is build up in the barrel near the back how do I fix it? I already swabbed the barrel in soapy water and with barrel cleaner and it comes out clean, no more chunks.

Thanks for any help you can provide!
 

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Three things cause that--
Too big a hole in the nipple
Too much pressure (fouling does cause an increase)
Too light of a main spring.

That's assuming you haven't replaced the hammer with a lighter one.

Your brush stuck because every bristle is a 'barb'. Twist it and pull to get it out.
 

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Nice rifle...I've been shooting one for decades..

1) Jacks right...
2) the barrel does taper at the bottom -- I use tapered 12ga bore brushes on mine.
3) get a bucket with a couple of inches of BOILING very soapy water in it, remove the nipple, use as large of a patch made out of tee-shirt material as you can get down the barrel and pump the boiling/soapy water in and out of the lower 1/2 of the barrel till it comes out clean, might take changing the water several times. The barrel will dry on it's own but has to be oiled ASAP.

FYI: I found maxi-balls to be "over-kill" and only use tightly patched 230 gr round balls on small game like deer.
 

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Thanks for the inputs

Based on your suggestions, I have ordered two more nipples, hopefully that will help. WRT to the hammer weight and spring I believe it is the original hammer and spring. Another question for you gentlemen. Do I need to swab out the bore between shots using lubricated patch and ball and T7 powder? Also any ideas why my accuracy was so inconsistent? I am experienced shooting rifles and do alright with my groups but like I said yesterday I was all over the place. Do you think the new nipple will impact my accuracy and consistency? Do you all recommend 70 grains of T7 for patch and ball?
 

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Most likely your groups were all over the place because the excessive charge of T7 was blowing the **** out of your patches. Did you recover any of your shot patches? I'll bet they were totally shredded. Also, a worn nipple contributes to poor groups. My personal experience is the Pyrodex RS is a friendlier powder for round ball shooting than is T7.

All TC sidelocks have a chambered breech plug.

 

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Discussion Starter #7
What about adding a wad

I was reading and some have suggested adding a wad to improve accuracy. Do you think this would help with the T7?
 

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I only use GOEX black powder...

at the 50 yd range --- 60 gr of FF or FFF ---.535 round ball patched with 2-400 count lubricated bed linen

hunting--- 100-120 gr of FF--same ball and patch for first shot as above --- .530 round ball with .010 lubricated precut patches for follow up shots if needed, as they are easier to load.

accuracy problems: 1) inconsistent velocity caused by: bad powder/inconsistent charge volumes/leaky patches 2) voids in poorly cast ball/bullets/ not trimming the spru

you can tell if you are correctly patched by checking your fired patches for a star shaped burn pattern that goes from the middle of the patch to about 1/2 way towards the outer edge -- if the black marks go past that point your patches are leaking.
 

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Inconsistent pressures when ramming home the ball and powder can cause accuracy issues also. Use the same force each time. Correct follow through after the shot is very important with the muzzleloader also due to the very slow lock times
 
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Wuhjai--- First things first. You're overloaded!! That causes accuracy problems, so first thing is to clean it with boiling water as described above and then shoot it again with a load more suitable for round balls. THEN, if that doesn't work, it's time to work on another variable.
 
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A really good point, I over looked...

Inconsistent pressures when ramming home the ball and powder can cause accuracy issues also. Use the same force each time. Correct follow through after the shot is very important with the muzzleloader also due to the very slow lock times
I get consistency to my ball seating by tapping the ramrod with my ball starter several times after making sure It's at the depth marks on the rod. The ball starter is a home made brass hammer with a concave handle tip.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Checking the barrel for obstructions

Based on all your feedback I am trying to make sure the barrel is clear of obstruction or fouling. I did the following

1) I put a high power LED light down the barrel and can see all the way to the back of the barrel and it looks clean and shiny. I can see where the barrel narrows as shown in the image shared by OneEyedJack. There is what looks like a nub with a concave dent at the back of the barrel. There is a small gap all the way around the around this nub. It's almost as if there is something lodged in the narrow neck shown in the chambered breach image.

2) I worried that this nub at the back of the barrel could be a ball stuck in the bottom of the barrel so I blew 100 psi compressed air through the barrel from the nipple hole and the air seems to come out freely with out any obstruction.

3) Lastly I put the ram rod down the barrel there is only about an inch left stick out. For those of you who have a T/C Renegade does description and photo of the ramrod look correct to you? I know I'm being paranoid but I just want to make sure I don't have anything stuck in the back of the barrel.

 

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Why don't you pull the nipple and look if in further doubt, but if the air way is clear and the barrel is shiny that's a good indication of an unloaded gun and a clean barrel. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks again to all of your responses. Sorry for asking so many questions but your comments about consistent packing pressure raised another one. I have heard some say that you should pack the ball until the rod bounces back up when you lightly toss it down the barrel, this is how you know it is packed tightly enough. Others have said, don't pack it too tight or you can cause other problems. Do you all agree or disagree with advice to "bounce" the rod?

To answer previous comments, I did not collect the patches so I do not know what they looked like. On my next trip to the range I will make sure to do this.
 

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Wuhjai--- It's is NOT a matter of opinion or consensus. It is a matter of FACT!! If the ball is NOT seated on the charge, it becomes an OBSTACLE and a blown up gun can result.

May I suggest you buy and read a book on shooting muzzle loaders and NOT go by what you hear on the internet. It is YOUR BODY parts at risk.

Barrel obstruction-- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCe2B2pN3pQ
 
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So it sounds like you agree with the advice that the rod should bounce, correct? What I'm really asking is how to I know if I've over packed the charge? Some have said that you can over pack the charge and I'm not sure how to tell and what the consequence is for doing that. Trust me I know how important this is for health and safety and that is why I'm asking so many questions from this forum of experienced shooters. Thanks for your guidance I do appreciate it.
 

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I doubt if one bounce will hurt anything. Bounce the ramrod on it all day, and you will deform the ball, and possibly fracture the granules of powder in the charge and that could increase the burning rate slightly.

Without a borescope, I don't know of any other way to inspect for a crud ring. You might try some of the newer carbon removal products. I particularly like the Bore-Tech products, but there are other things out there. Also, you might try an ordinary (bronze) brush that just goes into the reduced diameter area and see if that brings out any more fouling.

Bottom line, there is too much pressure on the hammer back through the nipple and there can be multiple causes for that. Keep us posted on what you discover.
 

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Wuhjai--- I also agree I shouldn't walk off a roof top! ;)

"Overpack the charge" is an old BP term that does NOT apply to a muzzle-loading firearm unless you use a big hammer.
Pour in the powder and a small thump of the butt to settle it level. Place the patch and ball on the muzzle, start it and trim if you're trimming patches, then with one two or three smooth, strong motions ram the ball down on the charge. If the ram rod bounces when thumped into the bore, it means the ball IS seated. Bouncing is a TEST, not a process. A ball that is NOT solid on the powder will not bounce the rod the same.
 
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Patch thickness?

To run right consistently you must have your ducks in a row. T/C rifles do very well with patched roundballs. Yes, read your patches. Sounds like your patches may be too thin. Your success with your rifle depends on the mechanical fit of your patched round ball. You will have a hole blown through the middle if too thin. I would also suggest reducing the charge, new nipple, and look to the patch thickness. A correct fired patch will have a brown spot in the middle where it was up against the charge. There should be no holes etc. in the fired patch. Most T/C barrels were made for Maxi Balls and can be a bear to load with with roundballs. You will get a "feel" for the correctly seated ball with some more shooting. Do you have a ball starter? Do not pound on the ball. Also, I would strongly suggest getting a range rod. This is a metal ramrod used for cleaning and loading the rifle. Back in the day T/C sold a scraper for cleaning out the patient breech plug area. Getting stabbed with a broken wooden ramrod will made you a believer. Most likely you will find your T/C to be an excellent firearm. I have had T/C's in the past that had less than perfect bore that shot very well. Incidentally, faux powder is seen in some circles to be an invention of the devil.
 
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