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Canoga Joe

Powder Coating for Cap n' Ball

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To reduce lead exposure and try something new, I finally decided to powder coat my round lead balls (kind of like the Hi-Tek poly-coating). This fun and easy DIY project has long been popular with cartridge ammunition (for more info, see FortuneCookie45LC or ElvisAmmo). But I've never seen anyone do this with cap 'n ball ammo, and was curious if the coating would be soft enough to load into the cylinder and shave a ring. I experimented with a small test batch of .380 round lead ball. I loaded the on the gun (Uberti .36 cal 1851 Navy with 5" barrel) using a Slix-hand lever support as I normally do.

 

Well, it seemed to load with the normal amount of resistance, shave a ring, and shoot just fine! I shot 25 rounds and my fingers were not smudged with lead residue. Seemed like my usual groupings at 10 yards (for SASS purposes, but will leave it to others to test the ballistics/long distance accuracy). Cleaning also seemed relatively normal; no more or less fouling (no blue residue either).

 

Pics below. I flattened one ball with a hammer to test if the coating adhered well to the ball (i.e., no flaking). If you're curious how to do it, in short, I swirled the balls with a tablespoon of Eastwood Ford Light Blue powder coat in small plastic painter's bucket with lid, laid the balls out on a 1/4" hardware cloth tray I made (shaking out excess powder) and placed it in a toaster oven at 400 for 20 minutes (which I bought for $7 at Good Will; don't use the oven ever again for food!). Several balls stuck together, which wasn't hard to pry apart, but I'll space them out next time and experiment with different types of trays (e.g., silicone, crinkled non-stick tin-foil). 

 

IMG_3489.jpg

IMG_3492.jpg

IMG_3493.jpg

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Interesting!

Thanks for the report

--Dawg

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Cool..thanks for that

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Does powder coating aid with barrel lubing?

Wonder if that would help with BP as well?

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No will not help with bbl lubing any lube used is to keep the fouling soft, fouling comes from the powder not from the ball. Lube would come from lube not powder coating.

kR

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Since I'm just getting into C&B this looks interesting but brought up a couple of questions.  Would that mean that you wouldn't need lube over the balls when using them with a BP sub?  Is the thinking similar between using coated bullets with BP subs and coated balls with BP subs?  

 

They do look different, nice job.

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2 hours ago, Tequila Shooter said:

Since I'm just getting into C&B this looks interesting but brought up a couple of questions.  Would that mean that you wouldn't need lube over the balls when using them with a BP sub?  Is the thinking similar between using coated bullets with BP subs and coated balls with BP subs?  

 

They do look different, nice job.

 

Now you can have blue balls, TS.

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I have been tumble lubing bullets for years with Lee Liquid Alox and it keeps you from touching the lead too. Your fingers may get a tad sticky when handling a lot, but to me seems much easier than powder coating. The whole bullet is covered. Did round balls too and they perform just fine, no difference.

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Welcome to the dark side Tequila Shooter! As Kid Rich mentioned, the lube helps to keep the fouling soft. I load using Swiss (real black powder) + lubed felt wad + ball. Many folks use a brand of black powder substitute called APP that basically generates its own "lube" when fired (stays moist?), avoiding the need for additional lube.

 

Some of the advantages of powder coated cartridge ammo (BP or smokeless) don't really benefit cap n' ball, like keeping your reloading press clean or avoiding leaded barrels. However, it would be interesting to see if the coating reduces friction on the ball, which maybe a chronograph could test, or affects longer range accuracy (for better or worse).

 

Actually, I would have preferred green so I can claim to have a "pea shooter"! But general consensus is that this particular brand and particular color works well, so I figured this was a good place to start.

 

Keep you powder dry! And don't squat with your spurs on!

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Hi Tequila  :lol:  There is no need for Lube with APP.  When we speak of Subs, I don't like nor shoot 777 nor Rustodex.  I shoot a gob of APP.  As long as you are shaving a nice "ring" when seating the ball, there is no need for lube over the projectile.

 

From the standpoint of a Cap Gun shooter, powder coating falls under the heading of "Why Bother."  When shooting BP, your going to get fouling from the powder burning BEHIND the projectile.  Ergo, lube wads are recommended to help keep the fouling soft.  As I see the process, it just adds an extra and unnecessary step to the Cap and Ball process.  Interesting??  Absolutely.  Useful??  Nah.

 

Very interesting experiment though.  Appreciate the effort that went into it.

 

Hi Dawg :) 

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3 minutes ago, Colorado Coffinmaker said:

 

Hi Tequila  :lol:  There is no need for Lube with APP.  When we speak of Subs, I don't like nor shoot 777 nor Rustodex.  I shoot a gob of APP.  As long as you are shaving a nice "ring" when seating the ball, there is no need for lube over the projectile.

 

From the standpoint of a Cap Gun shooter, powder coating falls under the heading of "Why Bother."  When shooting BP, your going to get fouling from the powder burning BEHIND the projectile.  Ergo, lube wads are recommended to help keep the fouling soft.  As I see the process, it just adds an extra and unnecessary step to the Cap and Ball process.  Interesting??  Absolutely.  Useful??  Nah.

 

Very interesting experiment though.  Appreciate the effort that went into it.

 

Hi Dawg :) 

 

Just so everyone knows Rustodex = Pyrodex.

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The only advantage to the coating is keeping lead off of your fingers.  I use real black powder and lube over the ball.  Works better for me with the cap guns going strong for a 12 stage match without cleaning.

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When I cast round balls I cast a bunch. To keep them nice for several years I have been using car wax like I would use Alox. Keeps them from turning my fingers black too.

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How much width and weight does the powder coat add to the ball? 

 

I'm guessing the width doesn't matter in a revolver since the width will always be the same once the ring is shaved off.  But it might if you were shooting long rifles. 

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6 hours ago, Tyrel Cody said:

 

Just so everyone knows Rustodex = Pyrodex.

 

Still waiting to get the pistols back from Mike.  I've been getting the needed extras a little at a time (powder flask, nipple wrench, etc.).  As we get closer to getting back to shooting I'm getting antsy for them.

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5 hours ago, Ramblin Gambler said:

How much width and weight does the powder coat add to the ball? 

 

I'm guessing the width doesn't matter in a revolver since the width will always be the same once the ring is shaved off.  But it might if you were shooting long rifles. 

Interesting question. I suspect any differences are negligible. Would probably have to ask the powder coat manufacturer to know for sure; it's not mentioned on their site. I just tried to figure it out myself, but the cast lead balls are not completely uniform and difficult to measure with any great precision (the sprue aside). So I don't trust my results, but for what it's worth, the average diameter and weight of 3 random selected balls was .383" and 5.41 gr without coating versus .384" and 5.39 gr with coating.

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17 hours ago, Ramblin Gambler said:

How much width and weight does the powder coat add to the ball? 

 

I'm guessing the width doesn't matter in a revolver since the width will always be the same once the ring is shaved off.  But it might if you were shooting long rifles. 

If you are shooting a muzzle loading long rifle you would be using a lubed patch when when the ball is seated in the barrel. The patch is the lube part of the formula in that instance. The lead or coating would never touch the barrel in a patched ball situation. The only difference would be that the ball would be a little harder to seat. That would be corrected by using a thinner patch, It would have zero effect unless it actually improved terminal velocity by having less drag due to the coating actually being smoother than a cast lead ball.

kR

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