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Thread: flintlock springs

  1. #1
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    May 2003
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    Strongsville, Ohio
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    Default flintlock springs

    I build miniature stuff, engines, both steam and gas, pistols, rifles and even a gatling gun. This winter I would like to build a 1/3 scale Flintlock rifle. What would be the best material to make the frizzen and mainsprings from? Are they machined to shape and then bent to form the spring and then hardened?
    Thanks,
    gbritnell

  2. #2
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    Nov 2001
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    Default

    They can be made in a couple of ways, the simplest is to make from the flat, file and/or grind to shape, then heat and fold to form the V shape, harden and temper. Most any carbon steel will work, 1095 is a good choice.

    Track of the Wolf has some economical books that are a good source of information for techniques, including springmaking. They also have some books with dimensioned drawings of several different flintlock guns for inspiration if you need any.

    http://www.trackofthewolf.com/Catego...017/1/BOOK-SVS

    Keep us posted, we are always interested in your projects.
    Jim H.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2012
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    I’m mostly a lever gun and revolver guy but I’ve built a couple flint locks years ago, a good working lock is harder to make than it looks with the angles needed. I don’t know if it’s best but I used car coil springs the couple times I did it. Rough forged to shape then annealed and machined mostly with file work then tempered deep blue or purple spring and straw for the frizzen top part.

    I have seen guys case harden mild steel for their springs and that works but you need a good carbon steel for the frizzen or it won’t spark enough. If you don’t have forging/blacksmithing equipment maybe you could buy parts from say Dixie Gunworks and cut them down for your project slowly on a grinder.
    Anybody that thinks they know it all doesn’t even know enough to understand they know nothing!
    Andy

  4. #4
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    Oct 2012
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    Rochester, Michigan
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    1095 is fine for springs. My preference is 1070, or more realistically the 1074/1075 that mcmaster.com sells. This somewhat lower carbon steel is a tad more forgiving when heat treating by torch with miserable temperature control.



    For this lock I used "Swedish Spring Steel", which was nice & ductile from Frank Mittermeier (now gone). I cold bent & filed my springs to shape.
    One might make the frizzen of either 1095 or 1075, use what you have. Water quench, draw back the frizzen neck a bit so it does not crack through the screw hole. The striking face might be tempered in Wife's Oven 350F. Me, I jus used mild steel for frizzen, tumbler & sear, hardened surface with Kasenite. I suppose that's about 1/1000" case depth, fine to show it works. Maybe not so great if your local Tomte or elf wants to do a lot of shooting.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2009
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    Farmington Hills, MI
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    We make a lot of flint strikers for fire starting kits at the Scout Camp smithy. A good source of plain alloy high carbon steel is old garage door coil springs. These are throw away items at your local door repair shop. And we receintly came across an even better source for flat stock spring material, get the spiral wound springs used on some car hood hinges. The stock is about 1/8 " thick X 3/8 to a 1/2 " wide.
    Joe B

  6. #6
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    Dec 2012
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    Default

    Looks Great!

  7. #7
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    Sep 2005
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    Staffs, UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbritnell View Post
    Are they machined to shape and then bent to form the spring and then hardened?
    For a proper job they should be filed up in flat state leaving material for the lugs etc after turning. Work clean.
    If theres any holes get a measurement and do them next. Any lugs you can get near to size same with thickness and fitment lengths.
    Harden and temper to suit the steel used.
    Clean up and look for the arms moving rather than collapsing, this is a fine art very few can do it. Remove and or relieve material in the right area as you do so.
    Happy with that fit it down checking its not off the plate etc and whilst cocking check its not binding or metal is interfering with movement. If you do one of the arms will bow or break and it will look crap putting it mildly, anyone can do that.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2012
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    Rugeley, UK
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    I knew an old gunsmith who only made springs for all the important British gunmakers, he took all day to make one spring and used a bundle of steel that he bought when he started out and retired when it was used up. He said to me that good car leaf springs are a good source of material.
    He would never heat treat before 10.00 am in the morning, I think this was because the shops were too cold first thing and so quenching water also too cold and the colour of the metal when tempering must be seen by daylight.
    He also said always finish the spring before bending into the 'V' shape.
    This was always regarded as one of the greatest skills by the old gunmakers and you must expect plenty of failures.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2009
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    Waukesha, WI
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    Default Springs

    In the old timers day there may have been no better way to harden and temper the springs, but that is certainly not the case these days.

    The quality of steel that is available now is vastly superior in quality and predictability than what he had.

    The temperature measurement we have takes this important area out of the voodoo science makes it mundane.

    Temperature controlled ovens are reasonably cheap, but salt bath hardening and tempering systems are used in back yard knifemakers shops with the largest challenge being the o purchase of small quantities of the salts used in the baths.

    All the initial polishing and reliving of stress risers is done soft and the spring is bent to its final shape before hardening.

    Any warpage can be addressed after hardening and tempering, possibly by annealing and opening or closing the angle of the spring to account for changes that take place during the heat treating process.

    Color judgment to estimate temperature is best done in shadows not daylight, and spring steel of known analyses should be respected enough to use instrument to extract the best possible results rather than 'lookin' at it to 'guestimate' the temperature.

    Kind of like baking, more science than art.
    Go forth and bake a spring.

    paul

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Staffs, UK
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    Totally wrong the last two, you cannot make a V spring with all the lengths cock on, shaped up etc before tuning. Some have to be within a thou! or will not work at all or look absolutely naff. Once harden and tempered they have to be 'pulled up', outside quality guns this is not done anything will do. After that is the final fit, pegs brought down, swivels towards edge of plate but also have to rotate and clear tumbler plus look right.
    Pair of H&H one of the few piccies was allowed to take 13 year ago without giving the game away
    http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL15/...5/49395274.jpg No finished lengths there prior to turning.

    Yes it can take all day for one spring even longer for a Purdey main spring.

    Last thing ever done is the polishing and as above the springs are pulled up after hardening and tempering so will require filing with knife files. Both arms fold in from the turn not arc and collapse.

    Also the older steels worked better, to my knowledge must have been pre 55 ilk purer spring steels. Newer works different and requires different hardening and tempering for supposedly the exact same equivalent. ie new stuff of same grade may require hardening in cold water then blazing off to straw, whereas older steels harden in bearing oil then blaze off with whale oil. Works every time, perhaps 1 in 100 breakages for one reason or another.

    Drawfiler your only about 15 mile from me think i know who you are on about, the self taught in Cheslyn Hay? We did anyone who was anyone in the trade worldwide even mr perfect P Nelson. Now theres only one person still doing it and three of us still alive - just.

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