The 1858 Remington Forum

Other Black Powder Firearms => La Longue Carabine => Flintlock Rifles => Topic started by: Classanr on March 03, 2015, 11:31:48 PM

Title: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Classanr on March 03, 2015, 11:31:48 PM
I didn't find any "flint-only" discussions in this corner of the Forum.  I assembled the details that I found to assist my learning process, and share them here.

Initially, I was one of those who mis-understood what happens when flint and steel are "struck" together.  The sparks come from the steel, not the flint.  Ironically, to make a flintlock work, you have to purposely cause damage to a hardened steel part in order to create the shower of sparks required to ignite the powder.

When you "strike" a spark, your flint is dragged down the face of the steel, scraping tiny pieces off the steel by cutting the sharp edge of the stone into the metal.  This is exactly what happens when you grind steel with a wheel, and sparks fly off.  The tiny pieces of steel become incandescent from the friction, then *burn* in the oxygen.  The harder the steel, the smaller (and thus hotter) the burning steel pieces will be. The sharper the flint, the more sparks you will get.  "Strike" down the steel with the sharp edge of the flint at a shallow angle, like shaving your beard.

Your flintlock differs from using the back of a knife to shave sparks off a ferrocerium rod.  In that case, the knife could be glass - or anything hard enough to scrape the FERRO-cerium to throw iron and some rare-earth particles into the air so they will oxidize rapidly (aka "spark").  In fact, your flint from the lock will work to send sparks from the ferrocerium ("firestarter") rod.  But this information is tangential, put here to identify the probable source of confusion about from where the sparks originate in various striker/steel combinations.  Always, the sparks are burning pieces of steel struck/shaved off by a very tough/sharp edge of something tougher than the source of the sparks.

When your flint becomes dull the sparks will diminish.  To increase sparks, chip or diamond-file the scraping edge back to a new, sharp edge.  Keeping the edge of the flint at a very shallow angle to the steel will increase the useful life of the edge, and will chip off smaller (thus hotter) sparks from the steel.

You can use many other minerals as your "flint".  This revelation came to me from Len, who prefers agate.  Also useful are carnelian, jade, bloodstone, chalcedony, quartz, and chert.  They all work well.  Any hard stone that fractures to a sharp edge will do the job.  In fact, flint is a hard sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Electric Miner on March 04, 2015, 06:14:28 AM
Another thing people often don't think about is that, since you are actually grinding off bits of your frizzen to produce that spark, shoot your flintlock enough, and you will eventually have to replace the frizzen.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: PaleHawkDown on March 04, 2015, 08:26:36 AM
You can also use alternative "flints" based on historical record, and I've gotten to try/see a few in action.
In the U.S. Chert was very popular, especially in areas weher flint was unheard of. In France a certain type of amber was sometimes used. Pyrite (fools gold) actually works quite well, even though it is a booger to knap.




Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: ssb73q on March 04, 2015, 11:44:28 AM
Hi, use of flints isn't rocket science. There is enough information on the internet about flintlocks and flints to have reader choke. Of course there are a number of different minerals that can be used for flints, but there are tradeoffs. Too hard a mineral and there is excessive frizzen wear. There are flints and then there are flints. The flints proven over the centuries have been English flints. Flint nodules form in limestone. One can buy all sorts of crap flints, but some of the best currently available are Tom Fuller English flints that can be purchased from Track of the Wolf. IMO English flints provide the best ignition with long life and minimal frizzen wear.

If you want to have a discussion about flintlocks, the opinion of whether to use lead or leather for holding flints in the cock may be useful? 

Is there anything else need saying?  :9)

Regards,
Richard
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: PaleHawkDown on March 04, 2015, 01:36:32 PM
Chuckhawks has a great article about the lead versus leather argument. For some reason I've never actually seen anyone use lead around here.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: mazo kid on March 04, 2015, 01:41:23 PM
I don't use sheet lead in the jaws of my flintlocks as I feel it puts undue stress on the jaws and screw in order to really clamp the flint securely. Leather has always worked for me so that is what I use.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Electric Miner on March 04, 2015, 01:55:54 PM
I use lead and see much better sparking than with leather.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Classanr on March 04, 2015, 03:06:46 PM
I use lead and see much better sparking than with leather.

Would that be the result of a steadier flint (indicating that the leather might be "too flexible")?
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: mazo kid on March 04, 2015, 03:27:18 PM
That could very well be. I haven't used the lead much as it is just easier for me to use leather. I guess I'll have to pound some lead thin so I can try it again. I don't know how much difference I'll see as the leather holds the flint quite firmly. If you check other forums, you'll see there is an ongoing debate as to which method is better.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Len on March 04, 2015, 03:55:09 PM
I'm using lead. A .454 RB knocked out flat gives just the right size. Bend it to a U-form and cut out for the screw. Lead is the only metal that doesn't get harder from deformation treatment. It also kind of floats under pressure, so you have to re-tighten the cock screw from time to time.
I haven't tried leather. Must do that next session!
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: DD4lifeusmc on March 04, 2015, 04:53:33 PM
referencing classanr's first post yep you are correct how it happens. Same with using flint and steel to make a fire.
And by the way I stock a full range of flints.  Both domestic and some british.
Some are saw cut, some just chopped off bigger pieces.
Also have flash hole picks  and the simple traditional cows knees.
and yes I think lower priced than the big boys.

Personally never had real good luck with flintlock, probably just didn't spend enough time at!
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Electric Miner on March 04, 2015, 05:09:27 PM
Quote
Would that be the result of a steadier flint (indicating that the leather might be "too flexible")?


That would be my guess. Oh, and less rebound and, apparently, lead adds some weight to the cock, and makes it fall faster.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: mazo kid on March 04, 2015, 06:36:13 PM
Some debate about that too, some say the added weight slows down the initial movement. Personally, I don't think it makes any difference one way or the other. The mainspring will give the cock a quick movement.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Len on March 22, 2015, 03:21:09 PM
Quote
Would that be the result of a steadier flint (indicating that the leather might be "too flexible")?


That would be my guess. Oh, and less rebound and, apparently, lead adds some weight to the cock, and makes it fall faster.

Or rather slows it down, as there is more mass to get into action.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Len on March 22, 2015, 03:28:26 PM
I'm using lead. A .454 RB knocked out flat gives just the right size. Bend it to a U-form and cut out for the screw. Lead is the only metal that doesn't get harder from deformation treatment. It also kind of floats under pressure, so you have to re-tighten the cock screw from time to time.
I haven't tried leather. Must do that next session!

Quoting my humble self, got to make amends.
Just tried leather. Much better than lead. Seems lead "creeps" (getting softer under pressure). Had the flint/agate drop right out of the cock after two shoots. Disappeared in the snow. Very annoying.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: snake-eyes on October 22, 2015, 05:57:26 PM
Where is everybody getting their flint from? Not all flint is equal. IMO

snake-eyes  )&&
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: AZshooter on July 31, 2016, 11:58:56 AM
You can also use alternative "flints" based on historical record, and I've gotten to try/see a few in action.
In the U.S. Chert was very popular, especially in areas weher flint was unheard of. In France a certain type of amber was sometimes used. Pyrite (fools gold) actually works quite well, even though it is a booger to knap.

Actually French Amber flints refer to the honey color of the flint itself & not to the composition.  Try as you might, striking actual amber (ancient tree sap) will never produce sparks.

Track of the Wolf has French Flints in addition to the (much superior) Tom Fuller Flints.   I have a particular Fusil de Chasse I thought would look more distinctive with the amber colored French flint.  It looks nice, but the French flints are more brittle and tend to chip badly during use & need more frequent replacement than the Fuller English Flints.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: mazo kid on August 04, 2016, 08:53:29 AM
My experience has been just the opposite (although I can't remember if I have any Fuller flints). The French flints have stood up well. I also bought some flints a few years ago from a guy in Missouri; he knaps them from local chert and they also work well. Oh, and this has been poo-pooed on other forums, but I store my French flints in a small peanut jar full of water.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Classanr on August 04, 2016, 10:05:52 AM
Presumably you wipe them dry before use?

Flint and chert and jasper are cryptocrystaline forms of quartz.
Sounds like a security clearance level.  Cryptocrystalline.
In the family of Chalcedony.
Sounds like a medieval fortified town.
At any rate, the composition is mostly silicon and oxygen as SiO2 less than 30 microns in size, aka "microcrystalline".
The difference between stone types/names here is the color and the amount of light that can pass through. Agate tends to be banded in color. Jasper is the name assigned to opaque agate, and is opaque because of additional "impurities" in the stone's composition.

Because the use of a stone is to create sparks, and the sparks are tiny slivers of steel scraped off the frizzen, the shaving edge of the stone must be harder than steel. The edge should be sufficiently durable to continue shaving well repeatedly, shot after shot. The stone material needs to wear down in a predictable manner, which is why picking a stone with few impurities is important (the impurities being weak spots in the stone) and why placing the cutting edge in relation to the natural grain of the stone is critical to get good shaving action.

If you have grown crystals you know that the stones grow with a vertical grain, except where there are impurities.  Impurities are to stones like knots are to wood grain.

I don't see any hurt in storing crystal in water, but then I don't see any value either, other than they look glossy.  Is it possible that the water prevents free oxygen from attacking the impurities and making them weaker still?
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Dave Shooter on August 04, 2016, 11:17:08 AM
I pooh poohed the commercial sawn flints (like TC sells) until I tried some in one of my flintlock pistols.  Worked great in that lock!  As many sparks as anything else tried and long life without big chunks splitting off.

Only problem is finding right size for that small lock.  YMMV.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Cross Plains Drifter on August 05, 2016, 06:07:44 AM
after much trial I now use white German agate (that I have to carefully chisel down to size)....I get it from either Sportsmans guide, October Country, or Southern Outfitters (can't honestly remember which w/o looking).

sparks like crazy and lasts forever....a bit rough on frizzens, but I keep 2 spares in my possibles bag, along with frizzen springs and lock springs etc.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: DD4lifeusmc on August 05, 2016, 06:51:38 AM
I do stock and sell  various sizes of flints.  Most are sawed.
And my price is a whole lot better than most any commercial place.

Some are European some domestic, Arkansas
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Classanr on August 05, 2016, 07:08:03 AM
sparks like crazy and lasts forever....a bit rough on frizzens, but I keep 2 spares in my possibles bag, along with frizzen springs and lock springs etc.

Good point. The flint is gouging the frizzen to make the sparks; more sparks = less frizzen.  Source of your backup parts?
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Cross Plains Drifter on August 07, 2016, 08:54:40 PM
i'm sorry, named it wrong.....it's Old South Firearms (& BP goodies)...not Southern Outfitters.
they're not far away so shipping is usually 2 days.
October Country is also a good source, but being in Idaho, shipping time to Bama is absurd.

DDUSMC.......if you have small white agates, I need to purchase several.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: PaleHawkDown on August 13, 2016, 10:45:48 AM
i'm sorry, named it wrong.....it's Old South Firearms (& BP goodies)...not Southern Outfitters.
they're not far away so shipping is usually 2 days.
October Country is also a good source, but being in Idaho, shipping time to Bama is absurd.

DDUSMC.......if you have small white agates, I need to purchase several.

Hey, that's us! You aren't the fella that bought six frizzens at a go about three weeks ago are you? The only flints we sell are English flints, but we have been playing around with other ones to see about expanding that line. Pennsylvania, Idaho, SoCal, Ohio and even Alabama have gone nuts over flinters in the past year or so - more so than ever before.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: DD4lifeusmc on August 13, 2016, 08:33:54 PM
i'm sorry, named it wrong.....it's Old South Firearms (& BP goodies)...not Southern Outfitters.
they're not far away so shipping is usually 2 days.
October Country is also a good source, but being in Idaho, shipping time to Bama is absurd.

DDUSMC.......if you have small white agates, I need to purchase several.
nothing white
mostly a coffee colored brown / tan  some darker have to dig the box out.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: DD4lifeusmc on August 15, 2016, 07:33:34 AM
Was just reading October country's home page. what I read is, each item is priced separately,
but then there is a flat rate charge of $14 added to the order ( which may go down a bit based on size of order)  and then the freight is added.   doesn't sound the cheapest or most reasonable to me.
2        3/4"  agate flints (unavailable currently)  $12.49   kinda pricey
1            any size English flint     $1.95      that's better

track of wolf
English flints     $2    any size under 1"
American sawed  5/8 x 3/4   $2.49

Dixie   gunworks

5/8   American sawed    $3   for 6    Dixie claims these are very inferior
5/8 Arkansas  sawed    $8.25  for 3   

Mine   English or Arkansas     $1.65 each      the English are rough shipped out
                                                             The Arkansas are Sawed
I have 1/2  5/8   3/4 1"


Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Cross Plains Drifter on August 15, 2016, 07:55:11 PM
yep, I avoid OC as much as possible due to their pricing and "maybe reduced" (not always) shipping.

let my payday hit the bank and around Thurs. or Fri i'll PM you for info on a pack of the 1/2 " Arkansas flints....probably 10 of them.

thanks !
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: DD4lifeusmc on August 15, 2016, 08:40:09 PM
yep, I avoid OC as much as possible due to their pricing and "maybe reduced" (not always) shipping.

let my payday hit the bank and around Thurs. or Fri i'll PM you for info on a pack of the 1/2 " Arkansas flints....probably 10 of them.

thanks !
I'll have to count them see how many I got.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: AZshooter on June 03, 2017, 04:01:21 AM
I'm using lead. A .454 RB knocked out flat gives just the right size. Bend it to a U-form and cut out for the screw. Lead is the only metal that doesn't get harder from deformation treatment. It also kind of floats under pressure, so you have to re-tighten the cock screw from time to time.
I haven't tried leather. Must do that next session!
There seems to be ongoing controversy about lead or not (and not just in this forum).  Chambers contends that lead flint wrap is bad for his locks & will void the warranty.  From an engineering viewpoint, that's BS, since you're not using lead pipe or roof flashing.  Thin lead wrap (mine, anyway) weigh about 2 grams & there's not a single lock so fragile that that insignificant amount of extra weight will do damage.  BUT they're his locks, his warranty & his rules.  For everyone else, including the British to modern day locks, lead is a viable option. 

I have used lead wrap for many years in my Lyman / Investarms flintlocks & also on a Kettler .62 cal Fusil.  It holds the flint more securely & I don't get chatter marks on the frizzen face that I've seen when using leather as I did in years past.

I learned the basics of flintlock handling years ago from an old guy who brought an armload of flint rifles out to shoot.  I thought he was a gunmaker testing his product before delivery to a customer, since he never had the same rifle to shoot at every subsequent range session.  Ends up they were all originals from a family legacy collection passed down thru generations.  He said that he hated to change flints.  Seems in his great grandfathers' day when many of these rifles were built, a local gunsmith would change out flints.  The procedure involved boiling the leather wrap, wrapping it around the flint, then clamping it into the cock jaws.  He said he had a musket & shotgun that used lead wrap, but those had larger locks.

I've heard also of folks using hot glue guns to glue leather into place, especially to secure irregularly-shaped flints.  I've made it a point to only use flat flints without a hump.  they position better and clamp more securely.
Title: Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
Post by: Len on June 03, 2017, 02:32:28 PM
I quit lead. Gone to leather. Lead gives in too fast.