Glenn McDavid (gmcdavid) wrote in colgaffneyis,
Glenn McDavid

Musket Cleaning

I was confronted with this problem at Charles City. I had read about this but never actually done it before. Eventually one the more experienced members came by and showed me how to do it his way. I watched carefully, and am here recording what I saw. I have amplified this with additional comments where appropriate.

My intent here is to describe
  1. What needs to be done.
  2. How to do it with the Clann supplies.
I am writing this as reference for other members who may find themselves in a similar position. We need to have this kind of basic camp knowledge widely available so that we are not completely dependent on the the availability of a few experts.

There is a wooden box with supplies for musket maintenance. In it you will find eight dowel sections that screw together to make two long rods that can be used to clean the inside of musket barrels. Take the thick set of these and put them together. You will also find a metal piece with a small eye that screws into one end of the rod, and a bag with small fabric scraps. The basic idea is that you want a long rod to which you can attach a small rag. With this you are going to clean, dry, and oil the inside of the barrel. I suppose you could improvise with a 4 ft., 1/2" diameter dowel, drilling a 3/16" or 1/4" hole through one end perpendicular to the dowel axis.

Put a small twig/touthpick/whatever in the touch hole to close it. Pour some hot soapy water (roughly 1/2 cup) down the musket barrel. Cover the end of the barrel and shake vigorously. Take your rod, put one of the fabric scraps through the eye, and thrust it down the barrel. The scrap will scrub the inside. Turn it around and move up and down several times to wipe the inside. Pull it out. The fabric scrap will be dirty black.

Note: The other rod sections can be assembled and have a couple brushes that can be attached at the end. This might be helpful if the musket is really dirty.

Turn the musket muzzle end down to let the water (really dirty water) drain out. Unblock the touch hole. Since the water was hot it should dry quickly, but just to be sure...Take your rod and put another fabric scrap through the eye. Thrust this down the barrel and rub it about to dry the inside. Extract it.

In the supply box you will find a container with a leather closure, filled with a thick gunky oil. In appearance and consistency it seems like neatsfoot oil or mink oil. Take another fabric scrap, cover it thickly with the oil, and stick it through the eye of the rod. Use this to oil the inside of the barrel with the same procedure as above.

Now take a larger rag. Oil it well. Rub all the exposed exterior surfaces of the musket--metal and wood--thoroughly.

There are various references about cleaning muskets on the web. Mostly they talk about about flintlocks, but what they say about the inside of the barrel also applies to us.
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