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Sedalia Dave

Seating caps with your thumb

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This has come up a few times over the last couple of years and I finally found all the details to back up why it is a really bad idea to put caps on with your fingers. Figure this is important enough to have its own thread.

 

A picture is worth a thousand words. I remember seeing pictures of his thumb before it healed. One of those was worth a million words but I can no longer find them.

 

index.php?PHPSESSID=4mrbumqv9lopkqjest5v

 

Here is the story that goes along with the above photo.
 

Quote

 

The Great Capping Controversy
 (how to avoid the whole thing and still enjoy Frontiersman)

Howdy gang!

Back in the May issue of "The Chronicle", Old Scout, SASS Life #34718, wrote about capping our Cap & Ball pistols and the inherant dangers, or lack thereof, involved. Old Scout did a great job of testing and documenting his efforts to find out just how dangerous the chore might or might not be, along with testing for the results of an out of battery discharge. I enjoyed the fact that he covered the various seating methods employed and noted the possible level of danger to the shooter and bystanders. Then along comes the June issue and a letter from Silver Sam, SASS Life #34718 expressing his frustration over the rule that prevents "hammer seating" of percussion caps. And I certainly understand Silver Sams feeling on that matter! Once one gets used to a method of doing something, and it never seems to be a problem, it's difficult to accept that someone else can see a possible danger in that method...human nature at work there!

Well, Old Cuts is going to enter the controversy and tell y'all the answer to the cap seating dilema. The answer is DON'T. It's that simple! You see the whole "seating" thing really isn't needed, and I'll tell you why in a bit here. But first...

Happens that I am one of those pards who Old Scout mentioned as having a cap detonate under "finger pressure". Yes it can happen! The results ain't fun or pretty! For those who want the gory details, it happened in either June or July (I would have to check with the local Sheriffs office to be sure. It was recorded as a "firearms related injury" at the time and the doctor called in the Deputies to record the details) of 1986 in Marion County, Iowa. I was in a farm lane on my in-laws property doing a bit of target practice when a cap that I was "seating" on my 58 Remington detonated under the pressure of my thumb. Now a percussion cap doesn't have much power, not much more than the explosive force of a cap designed for toy cap guns, but the escaping gases coming back through the nipple hole from the ignition of the powder DO HAVE CONSIDERABLE FORCE!. Without the hammer down over that little hole enough hot gas can escape to do a lot of damage to any digit in its path. When it happened I ended up with a thumb that looked kind of like a peeled banana, only black! The nail bed was laid back down over the knuckle of my thumb, a strip was peeled down the inside radius, and the meaty ball was sort of bulged out. This left the bone exposed on the end of my thumb! (OUCH!) After washing and wire brushing away all the charred stuff the Sawbones was able to pull every thing back together and sew it up by running stitches through the thumbnail and the meaty part. But there was a piece missing that he couldn't do anything about. It really didn't hurt though, in fact I've never felt anything in that thumb again! Apparently the nerve bundle on the inside of the thumb was instantly cauterized. Made fer a bit of a hassle to relearn how cock a revolver!

So, Cuts decided to make sure he never had to "seat" a cap again! And it isn't that difficult! My first effort in that direction was to purchase nipples (did you know the old timers called them "tubes"?) that fit my caps properly. In those days the availability of various caps and nipples wasn't all that great. But a little perserverance found a combination that fit properly. The caps would go all the way down on good fitting nipples with only a little pressure from the capping tool. And there was just enough friction to keep them in place during cycling and firing the gun. That's the way it' supposed to work, no pushing them down on with a dowel or yer finger, and no pinching them to make them fit tight enough to stay on. Just press them on with the capping tool and keep going! Simple! Right? Well...no, not exactly. Seems that nipples tend to batter and get out of shape, Which makes it harder to press a cap onto them after a while. And sometimes you just can't find the right combination of caps & nipples to achieve that perfect fit. So what do you do? Use yer finger or a dowel? The answer is neither of those! You make the nipple fit the caps!

If you have access to a lathe this is a pretty simple job. But most folks don't have a machine shop laying around the house. I know, I don't anyway! But there's still a pretty easy way to make those nipples fit yer caps, it's not hard, and it doesn't require expensive tools. All you need is a fine toothed file, some emory cloth, and an electric hand drill! Simply chuck the offending nipple in the drill, closing the jaws on the "shoulder" of the nipple to avoid damaging the threads. Then hold your fine toothed file against the "tube" and pull the trigger on the drill. Use very light pressure to hold the file against the nipple while it spins, stopping frequently to check fit with a cap. (Stop the drill when do this!!!!) When you have removed enough metal so that the cap just slides down onto the nipple with minimal pressure, then polish things up a bit with the emory cloth, not too much because you want to maintain a friction fit...and you're done! You now have a perfect fitting cap & nipple combination that doesn't require placing yoru fingers in danger or the use of a special pushing tool to seat the caps all the way down. All you have to do is place a cap over the nipple with your capping tool and press lightly, then pull the tool straight out. It will save you some time at the loading table, no more concerns about the dangers of hammer seating, and your fingers will thank you for your efforts on their behalf! And from Snakebite, SASS Life #4767, comes the tip to carry an old toothbrush in your kit, to brush away accumilated soot from the nipples at the unloading table. This helps more than you'd imagine!

Now, go shoot that fine old time cap gun, and have fun...safely!

Yer Pard,

Cuts Crooked, SASS #36914

 

 

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Thumb sealing. Just another bad idea.   :D

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Good reminder.

 

Seating caps with the hammer is also a bad Idea, begging for a negligent discharge.

 

A dowel or similar tool at the side loading cutout is the way to go.

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Good information for those of us just getting into C&B.  Thanks Dave.

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Thanks Dave.  I especially like the drill-method - but the whole damn gun spins, so you have to be careful! (LOL)

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I still don't understand why having the ball go out the front of the barrel like it is designed to do is worse than having it go out the side of the cylinder and skid down the side of your pistol.

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12 minutes ago, Springfield Slim SASS #24733 said:

I still don't understand why having the ball go out the front of the barrel like it is designed to do is worse than having it go out the side of the cylinder and skid down the side of your pistol.


Because it is going a heckuva lot faster and therefore potentially more dangerous when it goes down the barrel, compared to  a discharge from a chamber not aligned with the barrel.

 

Neither are desirable.  One is more dangerous than the other.

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I don't see it that way. I fire balls down the barrel all the time, and I am fine, as long as I practice proper muzzle control. Guns don't just fly out of your hands when fired, especially C&B guns. But a loose ball whizzing past the hand that is holding the gun, now that can hurt. Pieces may even fly off and hit someone else at the loading table. Sorry, I want all my bullets going down the barrel like they are supposed to.

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Page 9, RO 2:

 

“It is not permissible to seat the cap on a revolver’s nipple using the revolver’s own hammer.”

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Golf ball and dowel push stick & antler push sticks. Note the golf ball uses a pine a dowel which started to mushroom and split over time. Nylon or other plastic would work better. Golf ball fits neatly in palm of the hand. Been using the antler pusher for years. Fits neatly as shown.

 

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Can't you just seat them with a hammer and drift pin? ;) :D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's a joke

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I got a great solution to this problem........CARTRIDGES!!:P

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I'm curious as to why a cap might go off with your soft thumb, but not with a stick etc. that has much more pressure available. FYI--- I use a honey dripper.

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1 hour ago, Eyesa Horg said:

I'm curious as to why a cap might go off with your soft thumb, but not with a stick etc. that has much more pressure available. FYI--- I use a honey dripper.

 

A cap could also be set off using the stick. The difference is that with a push stick your digits are much more likely to be out of the danger zone or pushed out of the way by the force of the cap being blown off the cone.

 

BTW it is not how hard you push it is how fast. Priming compound is sensitive to impact. You could put a cap in a vise and slowly mash it flat and it wouldn't go off. Lay it on a table and smack it hard with a rolled up magazine though and it is likely to go bang.

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Thanks SD--Great info

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6 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

<good stuff> ...

 

BTW it is not how hard you push it is how fast.

 

Priming compound is sensitive to impact. [edit:Yes.]

 

You could put a cap in a vise and slowly mash it flat and it wouldn't go off. [edit: No.]

 

Lay it on a table and smack it hard with a rolled up magazine though and it is likely to go bang.

No.  Priming compound is pressure sensitive.  It's not "fast" sensitive.  

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On 4/20/2020 at 9:40 PM, J-BAR #18287 said:

Page 9, RO 2:

 

“It is not permissible to seat the cap on a revolver’s nipple using the revolver’s own hammer.”

 

Yep, The book does have a lot of Dumb Rules in it, Don't it.....

 

I agree with Springfield Slim!

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1 hour ago, Silver Sam, SASS #34718L said:

 

Yep, The book does have a lot of Dumb Rules in it, Don't it.....

 

 

But that sure isn't one of them ....   :D

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I use a piece of Antler I carry in my pocket. 

Works great .

And No Split thumb if something goes wrong .

Better safe then sorry lol

So saith the Rooster 

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One other thing to remember is to keep your off hand away from either end of the cylinder when seating caps. If a cap does ignite, there will be fire & brimstone coming out both ends.

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On 4/20/2020 at 7:40 PM, J-BAR #18287 said:

Page 9, RO 2:

“It is not permissible to seat the cap on a revolver’s nipple using the revolver’s own hammer.”

 

also:

Quote

- Percussion revolvers must only be capped at the loading table or while on the course of fire.  The cap over a nipple must never be seated using the percussion revolver’s own hammer.

SHB p.14

Quote

It is not permissible to seat percussion caps on a revolver’s nipple using the revolver’s hammer.  Percussion revolvers may only be capped at the loading area or on the firing line.

SHB p.29

 

No matter how the caps are "seated" at the LT, remember:

Quote

o Any discharge that hits the ground or non-expendable stage prop less than five feet from the shooter, any discharge at the loading or unloading areas, any discharge off the firing line, or any discharge that is deemed unsafe result in a Match Disqualification

SHB p.29

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I use the Polish Capper.  Puts the cap on the nipple and seats it in one step.  Sometimes I use the back of my trusty unsharpened No. 2 pencil.

Most likely, pinching the percussion cap won't set it off... I used to do that, way back when, before I found Treso and then Slix-Shot nipples and proper fitting caps...

But, obviously, they can and have detonated when being pinched.  Thus, the picture.

 

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Never mind, I answered my own question

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2 minutes ago, Tequila Shooter said:

Never mind, I answered my own question

 

If you start arguing with yourself and losing, let us know. There's not anything we can do about it, mind you, but it'll be fun nonetheless. :P

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7 minutes ago, Tyrel Cody said:

 

If you start arguing with yourself and losing, let us know. There's not anything we can do about it, mind you, but it'll be fun nonetheless. :P

 

I try not to listen to the voices in my head but sometimes....

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I understand.   Sedalia is bored out of his mind, wants to stir a pot. 

 

We have a 34 year old anecdote that does not give us ability to do root cause analysis. What cap brand, what condition, age, what cones were installed, cone to cylinder clearance?  Cuts Crooked, story author, doesn't mention if the cap was canted, if he forced the cap, were the cakes of chemical falling from the cap, was he "impaired", why he was shooting from a road, or other conditions. 

 

However, Cuts gives us the solution:  Use the right size caps.  Match caps to cones, vise versa, or both. You don't push hard to seat caps that fit properly.

 

If you are worried about caps detonating via light finger pressure, then given the same pressure, you must be worried about seating caps with a capper.  If a cap detonates, all those caps in the Ted Cash or Polish capper will detonate tooOMG!!! 100 CAPS!!  Can you say HAND GRENADE!!!   HAVE YOU EVER SEEN WHAT A HAND GRENADE CAN DO??!!!  A HAND GRENADE WOULD DETONATE THE REMAINING CHARGED CYLINDERS, THE RIFLE CARTRIDGES ON THE TABLE, AND THE POWDER FLASK IN YOUR POCKET!!!!  THE WHOLE SHOOTING BAY AND EVERYONE IN IT, .... DESTROYED !!!!!!    :o:o  (I love hyperventilation, second only to Sapphire or good whiskey.)

 

Capper users are just organ donors waiting to happen!!

 

Na.  If you feel the need for a push/seater stick, good on 'ya.  You're not slowing down the line all that much.   If you feel like terrifying new C&B shooters, it's on them to work out their own load routines, so go for it.  Please, just leave us that spend much time working out the complexities of hammer-cone-cap balance to continue to finger-seat caps, and not pass any new rules.

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23 hours ago, Palouse said:

I understand.   Sedalia is bored out of his mind, wants to stir a pot. 

 

We have a 34 year old anecdote that does not give us ability to do root cause analysis. What cap brand, what condition, age, what cones were installed, cone to cylinder clearance?  Cuts Crooked, story author, doesn't mention if the cap was canted, if he forced the cap, were the cakes of chemical falling from the cap, was he "impaired", why he was shooting from a road, or other conditions. 

 

However, Cuts gives us the solution:  Use the right size caps.  Match caps to cones, vise versa, or both. You don't push hard to seat caps that fit properly.

 

If you are worried about caps detonating via light finger pressure, then given the same pressure, you must be worried about seating caps with a capper.  If a cap detonates, all those caps in the Ted Cash or Polish capper will detonate tooOMG!!! 100 CAPS!!  Can you say HAND GRENADE!!!   HAVE YOU EVER SEEN WHAT A HAND GRENADE CAN DO??!!!  A HAND GRENADE WOULD DETONATE THE REMAINING CHARGED CYLINDERS, THE RIFLE CARTRIDGES ON THE TABLE, AND THE POWDER FLASK IN YOUR POCKET!!!!  THE WHOLE SHOOTING BAY AND EVERYONE IN IT, .... DESTROYED !!!!!!    :o:o  (I love hyperventilation, second only to Sapphire or good whiskey.)

 

Capper users are just organ donors waiting to happen!!

 

Na.  If you feel the need for a push/seater stick, good on 'ya.  You're not slowing down the line all that much.   If you feel like terrifying new C&B shooters, it's on them to work out their own load routines, so go for it.  Please, just leave us that spend much time working out the complexities of hammer-cone-cap balance to continue to finger-seat caps, and not pass any new rules.

 

So you want to pass rules against cappers?  Please, just leave us that spend much time working out the complexities of hammer-cone-cap balance to continue to capper-seat caps, and not pass any new rules.

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I have never seen the insides of a snail capper but the design of the polish capper would prevent the all the caps from detonating.

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