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CHAPTER IV.

THE ACCESSORIES OF THE RIFLE.

BULLET MOULDS-CASTING BULLETS-SWEDGING MACHINE-PATCHES

CARTRIDGES - RAMRODS - PLAIN AND TELESCOPE SIG KTS – RIFLE POWDER-FLASK-RESTS.

BULLET MOULDS.

Bullet moulds are all constructed of steel or brass, in two portions, which open like a pair of pincers, and sometimes with a third, called a "plunger,” which leaves the hollow at the base. The Government bullets are made by compression, but the expense of the machine puts it out of the power of private individuals. Beyond the elementary principle of casting the bullet in this hinged mould, there are several variations—as, for instance, in the position of the “run hole,” through which the lead is poured. This may be, Ist, at the point of the bullet; 2nd, in the hollow at the base; 3rd, on the side; 4th, on the edge of the hollow. Again, the form of the cutter varies—being in the old spherical bullet mould placed in the handles, and requiring a second operation; while in many modern moulds it cuts off the neck as the mould is opened. The following remarks by “A Welshman," who is a high practical authority on this subject, are extracted from the Field.

“It is well known that bullets made by compression, like the service ones, are superior to any that can be produced by casting, on account of their being more uniform in size and weight, smoother on the surface, and free from internal airholes; but bullets thus made are not at present to be obtained by volunteers (unless the Government should permit them to purchase from their stores); and they must therefore content themselves with such as they can get, or cast for themselves. An uniform bore and size of bullet being universally adopted, it will become a question whether it would not pay some one, as a speculation, to procure self-acting

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machines, similar to those at work in Woolwich Arsenal, the invention of Mr. Anderson, chief engineer there, and with them supply the demand which will be general throughout the country, so soon as the volunteer corps have obtained their arms. However, this is not as yet done, and existing circumstances alone are those that have to be dealt with.

“So long as the spherical form of bullet was used, the moulds for casting them were very simple, the cheeks being made to open, and the run-hole being placed at their join. Solid bullets of any form were equally easy to run, the hole being usually placed at the centre of their base. The moulds used for running solid conical or conoidal bullets, the bases of which were not rounded, were sometimes made solid; but it is difficult to cast a good bullet in a solid mould, on account of there being no escape for the air. When, however, the Minié and other hollow-based bullets were introduced, the moulds became of necessity much more complicated, the addition of a “plunger" to form the hollow in the bullet becoming indispensable.

" In the moulds first introduced for making the Minié bullet, the metal plunger, which was detached, was usually fitted on to a wooden handle, and placed in the moulds at

end or base; and whilst the bullet was being run the handle rested on a board, or table to keep the plunger in its place. It was then withdrawn, and the bullet dropped out of the mould by opening the cheeks. The lead was run from the point, and the neck removed when the bullet was cool, by means of a burr-cutter.

“Several improvements were made on these moulds, one of which united the burr-cutter to the mould, in the form of a traversing steel plate, attached to its upper surface by a pin, and in which a hole was counter-sunk, directly above the apex of the bullet, and the lead run through it. When the mould was full, this plate was struck and made to traverse, and removed the neck from the bullet, before it left the mould. Another improvement was a mode of attaching the plunger to the lower surface of the mould, in such a manner that it formed part of the latter, and was always adjusted in its place by the same movement that opened and closed the cheeks of the mould. By these modifications the hollow-base bullet is as easily cut as the solid

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one.

“Numerous patterns of bullet-moulds are now in use, and the point from which the bullet is run varies—the usual places at which the run-hole is placed being, 1st, the point; 2nd, the side ; 3rd, the ridge between the hollow and exterior of base; and 4th, the hollow in the base.

“ However well a bullet is cast, it is always subject to certain defects—which are, an irregular surface at the spot whence the neck has been removed, and generally, or always, an air-bole, which is usually situated just below the place at which the bullet has been run. The great object to be attained is to place these defective parts in such a position as to exert the least possible influence on the motion of the bullet when passing through the air. The first defectirregularity of surface-injurious to the correct flight of the bullet, by the air acting on it, and thus altering its direction; and the latter_internal air-holes—by disturbing the balance of the bullet round its axis of rotation, and thus tending to cause a certain degree of irregularity in its motion ; but if this air-hole be situated on the bullet's axis it will not affect its balance on that axis, and the further it may be from it the more its disturbing influence must be felt.

“It is clear, therefore, that in order to reduce the influence of the two unavoidable defects pointed out to a minimum, the bullet should be run from the centre of the follow in the base, as the “burr” left is then in a position where the air cannot act on it, and the air-hole is, in all probability, on the axis of rotation. The only moulds that I am aware of that fulfil the conditions required are of a pattern invented and patented by Mr. Charles Lancaster, and are most ingenious in their construction. The plunger which forms the hollow in the base of the bullet is cupped out to the shape of a small basin, in which there is a hole slightly eccentric, or just off the centre. To this plunger a sniall handle is attached, a movement of which in either direction, after the lead has been poured into the mould, detaches the neck and leaves the bullet perfect. It is true that, in order to cut off the neck by a circular movement of the plunger, the run-hole cannot be precisely over the axis of the bullet, but it is so nearly so as to amount practically to the same thing

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Running from the point is, in my opinion, better than from the side or edge of the base, because the bullet is usually cast more uniform on surface, and so slight an unevenness at the point as is left where the neck is carefully removed is not sufficiently acted upon to influence its flight; but no bullet having an open air-hole at the point should be used. Running at the side is objectionable on account of the difficulty of removing the burr so accurately as to prevent its rendering the bullet hard to ram down, should the point at which it was run happen to come opposite to one of the lands in loading.

“ Some moulds are made in which bullets of various lengths may be cast by the adjustment of the plunger, which is fitted on a screw passing through a plate tapped to receive it, and secured to the lower part of one cheek of the mould. On the screw a nut works, by which it is clamped in any position. In these inoulds the run-hole is generally at the point, but might be placed at the side if desired. They would be useful to such persons as propose using the Pritchett bullet, as slightly increased length to that formerly adopted in the service, since by altering the adjustment various lengths might be cast and experimented with, and that which yielded the best results, with the particular patteru of rifle adopted, determined on.

“ Mr. Lancaster’s is the best description of mould that has yet appeared, the only objection to it being its expense; but as it would not be necessary for a volunteer corps to have more than one or two to supply its members from, the question of cost is not a material one.

“WELSHMAN.”

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Agreeing as I do with every syllable of the contents of this letter, I need make no further remarks upon the subject.

CASTING BULLETS.

Having the mould ready, the lead should be melted to the proper heat, which experience alone can indicate, in an iron ladle with a fine lip to it, and all impurities being skimmed off, it should be carefully poured into the mould, holding the lip close to the “run hole," so as to avoid any chance for a bubble or air-hole. In the simple form of mould the two cheeks must be separated, when the bullet readily comes out; but when there is a plunger it must be raised according to the particular form of which it is made. When the bullets are cool they still require to be trimmed, and if conical, and for accurate shooting, they should pass through a die or "swedge."

SWEDGING. Messrs. Greenfield and Son, of 10, Broad-street, Golden square, London, who are the chief bullet-mould makers, and who have constructed the bullet stamping machines for Government, have lately advertised a very simple bullet-correcting machine, applicable to the Pritchett ball. Its form is as here represented, and its intention is to ensure correctness in

Fig91

GREENFIELD'S SWEDGE.

the size of all kinds of cast bullets, whereby the inconvenience experienced with tight fitting balls is entirely removed, and greater correctness of shooting produced. The directions for use are—Place the cast bullet in the mouth of the die, press down the handle which will force the bullet through; occasionally pass a slightly oiled feather into the die.

PATCHES.

Patches are made of paper, or of lawn, cambric, or very thin calico, all greased with spermaceti ointment. The intention is to facilitate the application of a lubricating

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