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Offline wicket

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cartridge paper
« on: June 19, 2016, 12:09:32 PM »
  One simple test for blackpowder burn rate is to pile a bit of powder on a sheet of ordinary typing paper, light it, and see to what degree it chars the paper, the faster the flash, the less the charring.
This is the basic issue we shooters face in constructing paper cartridges, we need them to be consumed upon firing, which the flash test suggests will not happen. Obviously a light weight paper sealed into a cylinder and subjected to the explosion of blackpowder will burn to ash, or mostly burn to ash, or maybe burn to ash. Here's the problem:
  Paper in most cases doesn't contain enough chemically bonded oxygen to burn itself completely. The powder does, since it contains the closely incorporated oxidant potassium nitrate, but the paper doesn't, it piggybacks on the oxygen provided by the nitrate in the powder, often not especially well.
  A logical solution to the problem is to employ a cartridge paper of high purity with enough chemically bonded oxygen to self consume. Colt and various other manufacturers took this approach, others though tried using animal gut, and some simply eliminated the casing entirely and produced cartridges of pressed powder waterproofed with various combustible substances. I think it could make for an interesting and informative thread to hear what other shooters are currently doing with regard to making paper cartridges.
 

Offline Tom-ADC

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2016, 12:23:36 PM »
Haven't gotten into paper cartridges but I've often wondered if you could use flash paper? The stuff a magician would use? Might be to unstable or loading don't know.

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Offline wicket

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2016, 01:07:25 PM »
  I've run into people online who say it works, a few have said it's kinda thin and difficult to form cartridges with though. The French outfit, H & C Collections, sells a heavier weight flash paper for cartridges, but it's expensive. They ship their product wet because it's quite flammable and degrades chemically over time, some magicians flash paper is also shipped wet..

Offline Omnivore

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2016, 01:46:30 PM »
There are usually a number of assumptions loaded behind a question.  In this instance you're assuming that complete combustion of the cartridge case is critically important.  I say that it isn't important at all, but then it depends on one's interests of course.

Testing combustion in open air has little relevance to combustion under ten thousand psi or more unless some standard conversion could be established, e. g. "If x degree of combustion is observed in open air, then y degree of combustion can be expected in the chamber".  I don't believe any such conversion would be possible, given that different materials respond differently to heat and pressure.

In addition to paper and gut, period cartridges were also made using metal foil cases which would certainly not have burned up in the chambers.  Skins (gut cased cartridges) were quite common and they were not claimed to burn up in the chambers.

I've experimented with gut cases, and I suspect they'd be "better" than paper.  They're more difficult and expensive to make so I haven't used enough of them to give a report.  There is a "Hotchkiss" patent for a gut wrapping method at uspto.gov if you want to look at it, but I never figured out how to make it work easily, nor am I convinced that it ever went anywhere back in the day.

If anyone has access to verifiable, period consumable revolver cartridge paper and treatment specifications, I've yet to see it, and I have a book dedicated exclusively to the subject of period consumable envelope cartridges.

After firing thousands of un-treated paper cartridges made from hair curling (or perm) papers, I've decided that complete combustion of the paper is a non-issue unless you consider the extra 60 to 90 seconds during the cleaning period at the end of the day to be a significant issue.

That being said, I would like to know just how it was done back in the day, but I question whether such information is obtainable.  Also of course there was a variety of methods and materials used back then.

Also, the use of chemicals in the paper which may result in corrosive reagents, or which may become unstable in long term storage with the powder, is something to think about in all of this.

If you're going to add a step (treatment of the paper) in production, and add a corresponding inventory item (the chemicals for the treatment), you'd need to justify it by showing the benefit(s) to the overall process of loading and shooting.  The simpler or cheaper the process, the more we'll do it, and so of course the reverse is true; the more complicated or expensive the process, the less it will be done.

And so we're looking at two or more possible motivations.  One is the desire to achieve a particular result, for its own sake (complete and total combustion of the cartridge case in the chamber) or another may be to replicate an exact period cartridge (though how certain are we that period "consumables" actually left no remnants behind whatsoever?).  Those are laudable goals or motivations, and I am interested in them.  A third motivation is the practical economics aspect, and in that case the goal would be rather different.  There you want ease and economy of manufacture, and in that case I question the notion of treating one's paper or spending a lot more on pre-treated paper.

Yes; I would actually like to have my paper cases disappear entirely upon firing, mainly because I think it would be "cool".  Practically speaking though, it's not at all necessary and I am so far content with cleaning a few paper bits out from the backs of the chambers at the end of the day.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 04:03:59 PM by Omnivore »
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Offline Omnivore

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2016, 02:36:54 PM »
Here you can get a pack of six cartridges for $20, plus shipping and hazmat fee.
http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product_info.php?products_id=16453

(gawrsh; I could make real money selling mine at that price - who wants 100 rounds for $334.00 + S&H? (Just kidding; right now I have enough to do)

Those at Dixie are made from rice paper treated with potassium nitrate and glued with sodium silicate (a common cement back in the day, still readily obtainable).  Period commercial cartridge factories also use a lot of Gun Arabic, as has been found in their daily ledgers.

So cigarette paper and KN03.  I've tried that but it didn't seem to work much different from un-treated cigarette paper.  Maybe I did it wrong.  I read somewhere afterward that the paper should be boiled in the KN03/water solution.  I never got 'round to trying that.  I just painted on a room-temperature, saturated solution and let it dry.

Here's another book.  I don't have this one;
http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product_info.php?products_id=1759
Maybe there's something there we don't know.  I'll have to get an order together and include that one.

I've seen "self consumable paper" or "nitrated paper" for sale either at Track or at Dixie, but today I can't find it.  Maybe they quit selling it.  The original Sharps rifle used a breech-loaded paper cartridge made with some kind of treated paper.  Surely someone's still selling that paper, or something like it, but that still doesn't answer the question; how was it actually done, exactly, back in the day?
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Offline G Dog

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2016, 02:41:56 PM »
Yea, what Omni said.

I use American Spirit rolling papers; they’re made of flax and burn up good.  I have wondered about painting the bottom of the papers with a bit of stump remover (KNO3) prior to putting in the powder for that fur shur / for sure ignition.  Never tried it and don’t really need to cause the carts I make immediately go off every time.
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Offline wicket

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2016, 05:02:24 PM »
  Omnivore, the verification you want on Nitrocellulose combustibles is J. Henry Ferguson pat. no. 24548  June 28, 1859. Dean Thomas missed it in part three of his series. Logan Herschel mentions it and provides illustrations in: Cartridges : a pictorial digest of small arms ammunition. Oh, and in passing, sodium silicate the  "common cement back in the day, still readily obtainable" is a high temperature refractory, not really a good fit for a cartridge where you want to promote combustion, o.k. for tin foil though.

Offline Hawg

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2016, 09:47:57 PM »
Tea bags work.
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Offline Omnivore

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2016, 01:04:37 AM »
Quote
...sodium silicate the  "common cement back in the day, still readily obtainable" is a high temperature refractory, not really a good fit for a cartridge where you want to promote combustion...

Good to know.  I've used it to stick bullets to Pyrodex pellets, but that's a different situation.  I've used it in core sand for iron casting, so yeah; high temperature for sure.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.   James 1:25 (KJV)

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.   James 2:12. (KJV)

Offline wicket

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2016, 05:31:59 AM »
  Omnivore, I used sodium silicate in rammed perlite bricks  to line a downdraft charcoal kiln, and they began to fuse around 1200F, but in a cartridge the stuff just sits there. For an adhesive, I like Duco cement thinned with a bit of acetone. I tried finding suitable nail polish, but they don't appear to manufacture the nice flammable stuff anymore. Partially  evaporated nitro varnish sorta works, but it's not as good as Duco.
  Hawg, I tried tea bags after you mentioned them over at Blackpowder Times. They surprised me, because they won a basic open air burn test  against curling papers and cigarette papers. They contain some sort of synthetic fiber which allows the seams to be heat fused during manufacture, so maybe that helps them burn so clean. I had trouble rolling them into cartridges though, I just don't have the touch. Be nice if there was something they could be dipped into that would give them a bit more body without messing up their flammability. Swathdiver swears by ordinary wax paper for cartridges, wonder whether a touch of canning wax would stiffen tea bag paper a bit.

Offline Hawg

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2016, 07:53:35 AM »
I don't have a knack for rolling tapered cartridges anyway. I even made a tapered dowel to roll them on but it's still a PITA and for me not worth the effort. I make cartridges for my Sharp's and they're a lot easier so I don't mind doing them so much. I make those out of fairly light wrapping paper. I don't know what weight it is but it's an off white color. I don't even remember where I got it or why. I made up a few 15 grain cartridges and tried them in my G&G and they worked pretty well but they did sometimes leave some residue in the chambers. They burn clean in the Sharp's but that's 80 grains against 15 and the whole back of the cartridge is cut off on the Sharp's.
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Offline wicket

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2016, 09:53:24 AM »
  I have trouble keeping them tight to the mandrel when I go to glue them, my hands have taken a beating over the years and now they're getting back at me. I'm working on attaching a piece of guitar string to the mandrel to sort of pinch one edge of the paper, but it's giving me trouble getting it to function the way I want.

Offline Hawg

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2016, 10:02:44 AM »
  I have trouble keeping them tight to the mandrel when I go to glue them, my hands have taken a beating over the years and now they're getting back at me. I'm working on attaching a piece of guitar string to the mandrel to sort of pinch one edge of the paper, but it's giving me trouble getting it to function the way I want.

I use a glue stick and put glue on the outside edge before I roll it.
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Offline Kaeto

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2016, 10:08:17 AM »
How hard would it be to treat newsprint to be used as cartridge paper?
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Offline Mad Dog Stafford

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Re: cartridge paper
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2016, 10:19:46 AM »
How hard would it be to treat newsprint to be used as cartridge paper?
I wonder this too..........
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