Farmer Jim

Wrought Iron for Gun Barrels

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I have watched a DVD put out by American Pioneer Video about forging muzzleloader barrels and in it they start with a real nice piece of wrought iron bar that looks fairly new. I have been told to get old wagon "tires", of which I have one that is wrought, but would like to track down something thicker. Is there any place I might get thick wide bar stock that is wrought?

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Wrought iron wagon tire is normally too stringy to make a gun barrel. It is single refined as opposed to triple refined, the latter a higher quality. The tire iron would likely want to split lengthwise while being worked, www.wisconsinwoodchuck.net carries some salvaged quality wrought iron. Tune in and click on "Other Treasures."

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If all else fails, you can refine the wagon tire by folding could you not? I am under that impression from reading here, when I fold my bloom iron, the amount of folds signifies its refinement. Muck>Merchant>Single>Double>Triple refined...

 

I have bought wrought iron in the past from that big auction site. Usually sells by the pound though. Could probably forge weld several large pieces together. The stuff moves like butter mind you.

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I had found the Wisconsin Woodchuck site, but saw that what they had was smaller than I need. Could I just use what is available from them and weld a couple pieces together?

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barrels are usually welded up from a 4" wide x 1/2" thick flat..

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barrels are usually welded up from a 4" wide x 1/2" thick flat..

 

 

That was what the piece in the video appeared to be and that is the size I'd like to find. No idea where he got his, but it looked like it was a nice piece. The one tire I have that is wrought is that size, but it is weathered. The 1 1/2" stock at Wisc. Woodchuck is rod which would be 4.71" circumference, but I don't know how thick it would be if flattened out. Anyone know what thickness it would flatten to? It would work if I had a way to drill it. They show 1/4" X 3" bar as the biggest bar stock they have. Might be chasing a unicorn.

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I have never welded a gun barrel. But I have used a number of old iron tires for material to forge. Normally it is the worst stuff around. Falls apart, hot shorts, full of slag, just junky stuff. I would be nervous about using it for a gun. Might be safer to take the stuff and fold and forge weld it 3 or 4 times and try to refine the iron some.

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The easy way to convert the mass between rounds, squares and bars for basic sizes is to use a table showing the weight per running foot of various sized and shaped steel.  You can google these tables up or they have them on numerous suppliers sites to use in determining shipping weights.  for 1 1/2" diameter material the weight per foot would be about 6 pounds per running foot.  A bar 1/2" X 4" would be about 6.8 pounds per running foot.  

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I have welded a black powder barrel using 3.5 in wide wagon tire by 3/8 thick. I also used 4 by 1/2 which I thought was a little too heavy. The wrought in tire is poorer quality and there will be splits that you need to reweld. When you swage the barrel round , that will tend to thicken the sides. I made a barrel and swaged the billet round and it ended up  just too thick with a small opening.. I couldnt get a 1/4 in bore drill to not snap off.

If you can find better wrought, use that but a tire was used in the day. If nothing else, the tire will be good practice. After a few hundred welds, you will find that the welding is the easy part. Boring the hole is more work.

PM me if you need more info. I am no expert but I do know one.

Good luck.

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Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall that for the finest shotgun barrels, you started with 50 pounds of horse shoes in order to end up with a 5 pounds radially wrapped and welded barrel. A LOT of metal was lost in making triple refined out of scrap.

 

Not that you could not weld a flat bar into a tube with one longitudinal weld, it just seems inherently weaker to me. Even with a pretty good scarf on either edge.

 

It seems I have a hole in my knowledge: if you can tell me where to go* for education, I would be much obliged.

 

 

 

*I know many of you already want to tell me where to go, and would chip in for the handbasket. <_<

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Chichi,

Any chance you have been to Steve Bookouts for one of the barrel welding classes he used to do? 

Ken

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Would it be possible to get a good cite for using un-refined wagon tyre for gun barrels?  It seems like such a hazardous method; I want triply refined swedish iron myself...

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All,

 

  The other way to figure if the 1.5 inch round will give enough metal to equal 4 x .5 in bar. The round has an area of pi x radius squared or 1.767 square inches. The bar has 4 in times .5 in or 2 square inch area. So the 1.5 round isn't big enough. You would need 1.596. If you go with 1 5/8, you have 1.625 so you have a little for loss.

 

 

Brian Pierson

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Its one of my my(if not THE) most wanted self projects..To weld up my own gun barrel. There are two guys close that have bore cutters and rifling presses.

Check out the "House brothers Project"..just google it.The House brothers live here in Ky and are pretty famous rifle makers..They made a rifle from scratch for this project. Welded up the barrel and made everything down to the screws..This is my grail project..

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KYBOY,

If you are serious about building a rifle, PM me. I can help on the barrel welding and lock making. I have made a few locks and have the forging part down fairly well. Getting info on lockmaking is very difficult .

 

Reply to Ken G.

Yes! I have forged 4 locks and a barrel since we were together at Bookies. I have not completed the barrel (ie. bored and rifled) yet. I got off on a tangent a year or so ago but plan to resume.

Hope you are well!!

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Thought that might be you. There's not a lot of folks welding barrels and even fewer that haven't been to Bookie's.  I'm very impressed with the 4 locks!  That's an accomplishment in itself.  Glad to know you are posting here.

Cheers,

Ken

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Got a few pieces I set aside for welding up a barrel after seeing it done at the La Crosse Wis. 2000 ABANA confrence. One is a link

from a big anchor chain. The other is a chain plate from an old sailing ship. Commercially I would inquire with the Real Wrought Iron company out of England. They recycle and roll out lots of different shapes. 4 by half inch sounds tremendous. The intial product looks like a seamed iron pipe:)

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A friend of mine Lloyd Johnston has done several.  There is no scarf  on the ones he does just a butt weld.  He has done a lot of historical research and apparently the butt weld is most historically accurate for most guns and rifles. 

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The other option is to spirally wrap it like this pattern welded barrel piece I made a while ago,

 

aDSC_7974.jpg

 

It looks almost hexagonal in the photo but it is round and about 3/4" in diameter.

 

Mick.

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I do believe the butt weld was more common and it is done without a scarf.I believe the spiral type is more of a jump weld. I have done short barrels like this but found it more difficult than the butt weld style.Mick's pattern welded barrel is very beautiful.Did you use a solid core around which the pattern welded steel is welded. I heard some guys use this metod and have a machine shop bore out the core so the barrel could handle smokeless powder.

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chichi,

 

This was done in the old style of being wrapped around a sleeve and mandrel. So when its all welded up the bore is the size of the mandrel. 

 

Mick.

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The butt weld is correct. Thinning for a scarf edge tends to leave a shut inside the barrel. I welded up a partial barrel for an exhibit of how it was done for the log cabin museum at Dixie Gun Works. I think the stock was 3/8" thick. Fortunately, I had some good Swedish "charcoal iron" which behaved very well.

 

Sayings and Cornpone

"Have you swept your swarf today?"

     Frank Turley

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