Moderators: The Double D, Viclav, Johnny Yuma, GrantR Canada, Carignan Salieres

Pritchett ball plugs

nigdnn
Lance Corporal
nigdnn
Lance Corporal
Joined: February 10th, 2018, 4:29 pm

February 10th, 2018, 4:59 pm #1

Hello from a cold wet and windy England
So whats with the NOE plug mould producing plugs that stand proud of the bullet base, have any of you found a cure for this or am i worrying over nothing?
I refer you all to page 27 in the book "Rifle ammunition, notes on the manufactures connected therewith, as conducted in the royal arsenal woolwich"
Page 27 states "as to  the plugs whether they are placed in properly, neither sinking too far nor standing proud if any of these defects exist the bullet is at once rejected "
I have now been working with Pritchetts for almost a year and getting varying degrees of success, could this proud standing plugs be part of the problem?
All comments on this would be greatly appreciated 
Thanks all
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Johnny Yuma
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Johnny Yuma
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Joined: November 16th, 2009, 1:07 am

February 10th, 2018, 5:15 pm #2

Welcome Nigdnn from an even colder and wetter and windierer State of Maine. Somehow, and this not your fault at all, the British Flintlock and Percussion Forum is rapidly becoming the Pritchett this and Pritchett that Forum. Ive been eyeing it uneasily, and have decided to move the Pritchett discussions down a couple of forums to the Loading Forum where they belong, and where you are apt to get more people who know about this to respond. 
Best, Johnny (Wearing moderator hat.)
"The Ideal situation, is that a man acquire a British flintlock musket or pistol every day. Any more and he will be perceived as greedy. Any less and his dedication will be suspect."
Johnny Yuma
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Brett
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Brett
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Joined: December 20th, 2016, 2:57 am

February 11th, 2018, 5:51 am #3

I found that for me, the composition of the plug is more important than if it stands proud. Super hard plugs function best.

The proud plugs from the NOE mold also cause the cartridge paper at the base of the bullet to not be flush. Instead it kind of bulges in the center, with a ring of loose paper. Sometimes it seems like the plug would pinch the paper as it was driven forward, carrying paper with the bullet to the detriment of accuracy.

I now make my plugs by forming pea sized balls of two part modeling resin (I use Magic Sculpt) and press the ball into the bullet cavity, which has been lined with a light oil to prevent it from adhering to the lead. After a few you figure out how big to make the balls so they lay flush. Then I weigh the bullets and sort by the grain. It’s not hard to make the plugs consistently within a grain of their weight this way.

This is not ideal but has served me very well. No keyholes, and rings the 300 yard steel consistently.
"It is idle to say that either British or Americans are cowards; they are of one stock and of one blood, stubborn and courageous to the death."
--Colonel E.C. Wilford, Chief Instructor, School of Musketry, Hythe, November 1859
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nigdnn
Lance Corporal
nigdnn
Lance Corporal
Joined: February 10th, 2018, 4:29 pm

February 11th, 2018, 7:57 am #4

Thanks for the reply Brett,I have in the past used Bondo for plugs but this is a messy and smelly job! I have moved over to Super Sculpey low bake clay, this is far better to use.
I spent a few hours yesterday turning a new base plug for my mould in order to alleviate this problem of unflush plugs,
The mould I use is a Brooks .568, my first foray into this Pritchett world was with an NOE but I just cold not get this to work at all !! no matter what I did I could not cast a good ball with it.
Was hoping to get some range time to test the new plug next weekend but I have been told we are being visited by children and grandchildren so will have to wait untill the 11 March now.
I will report my findings after that,
How big is your 300 yard steel ?
Thanks for help Brett
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nigdnn
Lance Corporal
nigdnn
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Joined: February 10th, 2018, 4:29 pm

February 11th, 2018, 8:19 am #5

Hi again Brett and all others,inclded are photos of my plug problem, and also of the base of a cartridge,Brett i get what you mean about not flat on the end but i dont seem to have an issue with it being loose at rear
IMG_1517.JPG
IMG_2240.JPG
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nigdnn
Lance Corporal
nigdnn
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Joined: February 10th, 2018, 4:29 pm

February 11th, 2018, 8:41 am #6

ooops,sorry missed this one, and yes i know its a crap bullet but was hastily cast to test the new base plug for the mould
IMG_2245.jpg
plug now flush with base of bullet
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BobB
Colour Sergeant
BobB
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Joined: October 30th, 2017, 3:41 pm

February 11th, 2018, 10:45 am #7

I use NOE bullet and plug moulds with no problems although I do plan to use the "Gibbons Procedure" to make my next set of plugs, just to try it out. I'll need to for my .568s anyway as there isn't a plug mould for that one and the NOE .566 plugs have a tendency to come out in flight.

Having tried a couple of the oven-bake clays (Sculpey and Kato) I've abandoned those for Milliput and Magic Sculp (Magic Sculpt in the US - same thing, same company, different name for some trademarking reason). If you think about it, the thin top rim of the plug has to bear a great deal of pressure as it moves forward, trying to push the rim of lead at the base of the bullet outwards. It's pretty thin at the very edge and unless it's as hard as a hard thing, I believe it has a tendency itself to deform, rather than the lead surrounding it.

I thought the Sculpey plugs were hard until I squashed one in a pair of pliers and saw how relatively easily they deformed. I tried the same with a Milliput one and, try as hard as I might, I couldn't squash it. In the end, after much grunting and theatrics on my part, a bit finally chipped off the edge and it shot out of the pliers like a bullet! 

So it's Milliput/Magic Sculp(t) for me. Swab the mould with oil (I use baby oil) so they don't stick and remove them after an hour or so when they've started to go hard and will pop out without deforming, but not so hard that they stick if you've missed a bit with the oil.

Bob.  
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FGD135
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FGD135
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Joined: May 19th, 2014, 3:29 pm

February 11th, 2018, 2:31 pm #8

I actually put in a request over on the NOE bullet forum last year for a flush-seated plug mold, but the owner won't make any new molds unless more than just a couple of folks sign up saying they would want to buy one.
There was actually quite a bit of discussion on his forum about plugs when it was first proposed to make Pritchett style bullet molds--but the faction that wanted proud plugs spoke louder, I guess--apparently, imho, under the misconception that flush plugs would cause lead rings to shear off the bottom of the bullets when fired.
That being said, I do use his bullet and plug molds, even though the plugs are not correct--and I use the original Sculpey plasticine bake clay for them--the plugs seem pretty hard to me, I cannot smash em at all with my 2 lb hammer, and accuracy is good. I have not, however, been able to shoot any Pritchetts at longer ranges, which per Brett's article, would really show how the plugs could/couldn't perform.

On a related subject, maybe it is time for a purely Pritchett-related discussion forum, separate from even the reloading forum.
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nigdnn
Lance Corporal
nigdnn
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Joined: February 10th, 2018, 4:29 pm

February 11th, 2018, 5:28 pm #9

Thanks for the reply 135, i have now ordered from amazon a pack of miliput and will test on the next range session 
maybe we should have a dedicated discussion for the pritchett and all of its woes
what weight are your NOE bullets?mine are 580 grain !!!! and with anywhere near the service charge kick like the proverbial mule😡🇬🇧
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nigdnn
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nigdnn
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Joined: February 10th, 2018, 4:29 pm

February 11th, 2018, 5:45 pm #10

135, In response to you last reply i just ran some quick tests with the pliers on the plugs i have made
FYMO   soft and deforms under pressure,
SPUPER SCULPEY     shaters into pieces 
BONDO    tough as old boots not deforming or breaking " this was my original plug material"and looking back over shot targets it did give better results 
My the long winter nights here in England just fly by when i have this sort of excitement to keep me occupied
😂
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FGD135
Colour Sergeant
FGD135
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Joined: May 19th, 2014, 3:29 pm

February 11th, 2018, 6:14 pm #11

My .566" diameter NOE Pritchetts end up at @ 575 grains, molded with the long plug for a deep cavity. The shallow-cavity bullets are very heavy iirc about 590 grains, and I don't really shoot those often. The .550 NOE Pritchetts come out for me at about 535 grains.
I shoot mostly service charges, 60-68 grains, plenty of recoil, and good accuracy with the .566 bullet. Not enough data yet to say how well the .550 compares, but it does load easily every time.
Those big NOE double cavity molds take forever to preheat to a good casting temp, even when I preheat them on a portable electric stove top. Once there, however, I can churn out lots of good bullets.
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CQMS
Sergeant Major
CQMS
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Joined: September 9th, 2017, 8:49 pm

February 11th, 2018, 11:15 pm #12

You can also find milliput in many model shops. Knead equal parts together and away you go. Dries hard as a rock and while wet can be smoothed with water. Great stuff but don't think you will need the extra fine type.

CQMS
Being first isn't everything. Remember, its the second mouse that gets the cheese!
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heelerau
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heelerau
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Joined: July 12th, 2011, 7:25 pm

February 23rd, 2018, 10:50 pm #13

Brett, when you make your plugs I assume you leave a small space at the nose of the plug to allow it to move forward?  I am considering trying out your method if I can get the clay locally. 

Cheers 

Gordon
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BobB
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BobB
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Joined: October 30th, 2017, 3:41 pm

February 23rd, 2018, 10:56 pm #14

Yes, he does. The exact same question occurred to me. He described his method which is basically to swab the cavity with oil to stop sticking and then roll a pea-sized ball of clay which he presses into the cavity and smooths flat. He says they come out the same size as the moulded plugs, and the same depth (with air space), the only differences being that the bottom of the plug is slightly rounded as opposed to being flat, and the top is flush.

I'm going to try it for my .568s for which I don't have a plug mould.

Bob.
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BobB
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BobB
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Joined: October 30th, 2017, 3:41 pm

February 23rd, 2018, 11:01 pm #15

He describes the method in full (with pictures!) here:
pritchett-cartridges-in-a-lancaster-bor ... ml#p189073
(Post No 35 on Page 2)
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Adrian
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Adrian
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Joined: March 26th, 2003, 11:12 am

February 24th, 2018, 10:20 am #16

One aspect that would be very desirable to reproduce, I assume it is important, is to press the plugs properly. When made they were done in batches of 50 & came under the pressure of a 40 ton hydraulic press. This would have made the fine powdered clay used extremely hard, after this they were baked & afterwards soaked in bees wax.
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BobB
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BobB
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Joined: October 30th, 2017, 3:41 pm

February 24th, 2018, 1:22 pm #17

I agree, Adrian.

Both Brett and I have experimented with various types of clay and we've both ended up using either Milliput or Magic Sculp (same thing, really). Both of these dry as hard as a hard thing compared to, for example, Sculpy oven-bake clay which can be squished with a pair of pliers. We're probably not at quite the same level of hardness obtained with sintered clay, but I think we're pretty close.

Bob.
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Brett
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Brett
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Joined: December 20th, 2016, 2:57 am

February 24th, 2018, 8:59 pm #18

I have popped some hardened plugs out to weigh and they are usually within a grain or two of each other, with an average weight of about 14 grains. They work. I’m sure there’s a better way but I haven’t found it yet.

I think inconsistencies in the cast bullets (bubbles, wrinkles, hidden cavities) are greater cause for deviations than the small variations in weight and precise shape of the plugs. That said, I’m still looking for a way to easily make plugs that are exactly alike in weight and shape.
"It is idle to say that either British or Americans are cowards; they are of one stock and of one blood, stubborn and courageous to the death."
--Colonel E.C. Wilford, Chief Instructor, School of Musketry, Hythe, November 1859
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nigdnn
Lance Corporal
nigdnn
Lance Corporal
Joined: February 10th, 2018, 4:29 pm

February 28th, 2018, 1:26 pm #19

Hi,from a snowy east of England now!!!❄ So i know there has been mention of pritchett plugs coming out well i think i have proof of my own 
was studying old targets today for inspiration and i saw this neat little hole that had confused me at the time of shooting, to be honest i blamed my friend who was on the next target shooting a 357 rifle ! well you can see why i did, but now  i think the truth is out, its a PLUG  Unknown.jpeg
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BobB
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BobB
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Joined: October 30th, 2017, 3:41 pm

February 28th, 2018, 2:08 pm #20

Could be....

I've never had them go totally through the paper, more leave an imprint in it because they're so light (that's at 25m; never seen evidence further away than that). This is from when I was using Sculpey/Kato oven-bake plugs, which were deep red in colour and you can just see red staining in the impact mark:
Plug Impact.jpg

At what range were you shooting?

Bob.
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