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Author Topic: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more  (Read 10949 times)

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Offline Classanr

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Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« 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.
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Offline Electric Miner

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #1 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.
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Offline PaleHawkDown

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #2 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.





Offline ssb73q

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #3 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)

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Richard
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Offline PaleHawkDown

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #4 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.

Offline mazo kid

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #5 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.

Offline Electric Miner

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2015, 01:55:54 PM »
I use lead and see much better sparking than with leather.
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Offline Classanr

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #7 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")?
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Offline mazo kid

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #8 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.

Offline Len

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #9 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!

Offline DD4lifeusmc

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #10 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!
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Offline Electric Miner

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #11 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.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 05:21:13 PM by Electric Miner »
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Offline mazo kid

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #12 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.

Offline Len

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #13 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.

Offline Len

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Re: Just discussion on "flints", nothing more
« Reply #14 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.