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Thread: New Burnside Shooter Question

  1. #1
    w10085 is offline
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    New Burnside Shooter Question

    I finally got my 5th Model Burnside out to the range. I have lurked here for years gaining knowledge so thanks everybody! I was shooting .562 round ball over 35 grains of FFFG with filler in plastic cases (as suggested many times here). I would put a dollop of Bore Butter on each bullet before I loaded the cartridge in the rifle. My six shot group (after about three fouling shots to find a point of impact) at 50 yards was 4" wide by 14" tall. A lot of the 4" spread is probably me even thought I was using a rest. The first shots were the lowest and the pattern progressively grew taller as I fired. I'll admit that I was testing and loaded each round at the bench using the same case over and over. My consistency in loading compression of the ball in the case may have been the problem. What else would cause this stringing up? Part of it could be me with an inconsistent sight picture. Not enough lube and the bore fouling (it didn't look bad when I was done) as I shot? Next time I will pay more attention to consistency but I was eager to get this old girl back shooting. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Burnside cases

    Who's selling plastic (nylon?) cases these days ? I've had to modify brass ones to properly fit my model 5 Burnside. I use a .562 roundball of 'carbine' lead (something like 20:1), 37.5 gr. 3F powder (loaded with a 'drop tube') with a half inch styrofoam wad (cut from a grocery meat tray with an antique brass hole punch) pressed over the powder then a dab of lithium grease. From the bench, all shots were in the black at 50 yds. Note, since brass does not 'give' at the case mouth like plastic, I reamed the interior of the case mouth to .562 with an adjustable reamer (Harbor Freight).

  3. #3
    w10085 is offline
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    Lodgewood has them right now for 75 cents each. I shot one about 12 times in a row and it looks dirty but still looks like new. Tell me about the lithium grease. I thought organic lubes were best with black powder.

  4. #4
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    Burnside (and carbine) loading

    Thanks for the tip on nylon Burnside cases - I've just ordered 50 to try. On lithium grease ... Sure, you want to use 'organic' lube in a lubrisizer and also if you 'dip' the rounds after loading ... I use Alox or Lyman Gold 'thinned' in a pan with 40 - 50% olive oil so it is soft, but still won't melt on a hot day. BUT, a big 'secret' to cartridge loading for C/W black powder arms is white lithium grease available in most auto parts stores. I get it in a tube so it is easy to apply. IF there is not enough space in a cartridge for extra lube, guys in my unit (as well as myself) will take a small square of aluminum foil and form it over a 1/2" dowel to make a 'grease cup'. The dowel is used to insert the cup over the powder and then a dab of lithium grease is put into the cup. How much ? I've never measured, but it is a dollop. Now we all put lithium grease into the base of our minies - but only enough to fill HALF of the cavity. If you put too much in, it is too much of a good thing ... just don't do it. With 1/2 the base cavity having lithium grease, there is absolutely no fouling problem - so no need to brush the bore between relays. Lithium grease will not melt on a hot day like Crisco will - you just don't want that. Yet lithium grease is soft enough that most of it 'vaporizes' upon ignition of the main powder charge, and 'coats' the bore - and this is what keeps the fouling soft enough that the next shot 'cleans' as it goes. When done, we spray CRC Power Lube in the bore, then patch. You can also use WD40 if you can't get CRC. We shoot CRC on the lock and places where there is carbon residue, and it makes the gun clean-up easy. You can also spray a gun down and clean it later ... even the next day (no longer), and the fouling will stay soft and there won't be corrosion. No one in our unit uses 'hot soapy water' any more, since that is an invitation for corrosion quicker than you might think. Soapy water is OK as a first step in cleaning cartridge cases, however. Now where was I ... oh yes, in many cartridges there will be enough room to press a styrofoam wad over the powder, then put a dollop of lithium grease on top before the round goes in. The wad (or greaser cup) is to keep the lithium grease off the powder, and once made, the rounds are placed in a box NOSE DOWN, just to be sure. We like to use fresh ammo, but it will keep ok for a couple months or more ... but prefer not to use 'old' ammo thats been sitting around for months. The use of lithium in a cartridge has a similar effect to using it in the base of a minie. The reason for using a drop tube (You-tube videos available for how to set that up) is that powder put in this way takes 10% less room in the case, and you don't have to press the powder. BTW, I've figured out that the brass Burnside cartridges offered today are either made from another source or from a different NC program than the cartridges sold some years ago! A Burnside cartridge needs to be long enough to push the spring-loaded piece in the back of the action against solid metal, AND the geometry around the case mouth needs to be correct. Just look at a picture of an original Burnside round and you will see a generous 'swell' behind the case mouth to fill the action profile AND the gap between the barrel and the action when a round is loaded. Pictures of old Burnside brass also show this geometry. More than one supplier STILL use this picture, but the cases sold these days are a little shorter AND the 'swell' near the case mouth is no longer wide enough. What is being sold does not correspond to the pictured production previously offered. THAT is why I've had to solder on a brass washer to the base of my brass cartridges - then test fit and file as needed to get an OAL of 1.870 +/- .005. I also must lathe cut .030 copper rings from 1/2 plumbing tube and solder them on the rear side of the 'swell' near the case mouth so to fit the geometry of the action better. This is a lot of trouble, ergo I've ordered some nylon cases. This also explains why some people have had a long life and very many firing from their brass (since it is likely that brass is the 'old' style), and why many others report rapid swelling and cracking (as I experienced). I figured out a solution (with a lot of trouble) so I wouldn't wreck more of my brass cases that cost me $4 each (at the National). Also, I had to hand ream the inside of the case mouth to .562, because That is the side needed for a conical round to swage properly to the bore without excessive 'blow-by'. The nylon cases can fit over a nominal .560 round because they have 'give'. Brass cases (as made) only take .556 or so rounds, which have too large a pattern on the board when fired.
    Last edited by johnsymborski; 05-30-2020 at 11:05 AM.

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    w10085 is offline
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    Thanks for the indepth description. I'll give it a try!

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    How are you reaming the cases? I too wish I could get a larger bullet into the case.

  7. #7
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    Burnside case reaming

    I bought a set of 'adjustable' reamers from Harbor Freight some years ago, and they have come in handy for a number of jobs needing odd sizes. By turning a nut on the end of one of the reamers, all the flutes expand via a slight internal taper to enlarge the diameter with ing a given size range for that reamer. I need .562 to enlarge the Accurate bullet mold O.D. on the last ring. (I had already milled off the mold some to reduce the length - removing the sprue cutter first). The intermediate ring I had to hand grind with a narrow wheel using the variable speed (foot pedal operated) flex-shaft grinder (also from Harbor Freight) - it is MUCH better than a Dremel. Doing that middle ring (and also a little ahead of that on the base of the bullet nose) was very tricky, and done in stages - casting test rounds and measuring as I went. OK, the hand reamer (by using a die holder instead of a tap handle) cut .562 in a solid hunk like the aluminum bullet mold, but on the brass case mouth there is a little 'spring', so the result is in the .560 - .561 range. I initially held the case in my left hand and turned partial revs with the tap (in the die holder) with my right - and the angle on the end of the tap had some 'end cutting' action. I cut dry, but found that after a while if was a little hard on the hand holding the case - and started to cause a blister. So I made a case holder from a length of 1/2 copper plumbing tube with one end slit in three places and a small diameter pipe clamp to squeeze the tube down on the small bit of cylindrical flange just at the back side of the 'swell' near the case mouth. I suppose one picture would new worth a thousand words, but would have to borrow my wife's camera, get her to send me the images and then figure out how to get them to be included in a post. (I'm not that savvy with computers.) This was done BEFORE lathe cutting .303 copper rings from the plumbing tube to solder at the back of the 'swell'. The last step was to solder .030 #8 brass washers to the bottom of the case so it will be long enough to changer properly. Other posts on other threads show how there should be no gap between the spring-loaded slider (holding the nipple) and the bolster. There will be a gap forward of the slider, though. .562 round balls slip into the case easy now, as well as .562 conicals, which I'm still working on the get the grain weight of the round just right. 435 was too heavy, 415 was better, and I think by milling off another ring (leaving only one grease groove), I can get about 400 grain weight. OK, so NOW I've ordered nylon cases from Lodgewood, and expect that that will render unnecessary all the modifications to brass cases --- I hope. I throw away enough plastic Smith cases, so why not plastic Burnside cases - less trouble cleaning, and half the time I don't clean my Smith cases until after two or three firings, then a wipe-out with a rag will do. When the firing hole in the base gets too large or cracks - out goes that case.

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    w10085 is offline
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    I have learned a lot from this post but I still wonder why my shots strung vertically up. Thanks everybody.

  9. #9
    John Holland is online now Moderator
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    Most respectfully, a "Vertical String" ia almost always sight picture problems. With the crude original sights on a Burnside, I would suspect that is where your "Stringing" issues are originating.

  10. #10
    w10085 is offline
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    Thank you John. I'm sure you have seen more shots fired than the vast majority of people. The amount of the stringing seems high and I was paying attention to sight picture. I'll have to load up some more rounds and go out again and pay more attention. I was using the bottom of the target frame as a elevation point to compensate for the sights. I had shot my Maynard Carbine about a month ago and had no vertical stringing but had horizontal problems. I figured that was me and the way I was holding on the rest. Thanks everybody for the information.

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