Why I installed a Jim Chambers “White Lightning” flash hole liner.
Back in ought three (2003) I built an Isaac Haines flintlock in .40cal from parts sourced ex Track of the Wolf. At the time I was riding a wave of muzzleloading success based on some regional shooting using my caplock rifle. My local friend Andrew had just built a magnificient .50cal long rifle and that along with the support of my US based mentor in Alabama, Keith, I was inspired to jump on the rifle building bandwagon.
Shooting at Kopara in an outfit I made:
A feral billy goat taken June 2003 at a full 100 yards:
Flash hole position/location and size on flintlock rifles are some of the most critical factors in achieving super fast ignition. I always tell people who are accustomed to “CLICK, WOOSH, BANG” that if you can hear a flintlock working…..it’s too slow and needs tuning. My Isaac has always been fast. From day one I stripped the lock and polished all the bearing surfaces until they were like mirrors. In addition the frizzen toe was reshaped such that is rolled at a constant arc over the frizzen spring and did not load up the spring as new locks do. Most importantly though Keith tutored me in the perfect location of the flash hole; centered over the pan slightly above the ‘sun set’ line of the top of the lock plate. Up until now I have always used 1/4×28 Ampco vents but only just last week installed a 5/6×32 White Lightning.
The 1/4×28 liners functioned well enough for me but the primary reason for installing them was they are removable and by unscrewing the liner a flush kit can be utilised for ease of cleaning. Flush kits for cleaning MLers are invaluable in my opinion. Where I ran into trouble was the tolerances between the thread and the liner were such that even with anti seize grease enough slack was present to allow fouling to force into the threads and bind up the liner. On more than one occasion I ruined liners trying to get them out to the point that the threads in the barrel wall were becoming compromised.
Keith has long been a proponent of the White Lightning liners and warned me against buying the generic version from Track as these are copies of the Chambers unit. Barbie Chambers was good enough to ship to New Zealand and in short order I had the vent, ‘I’ size drill and 5/16×32 tap. On receipt I chucked up the vent in my mini lathe and polished the inside of the cone until it was mirror finish. The fewer rough edges, the less the fouling has to adhere to, the easier the rifle is to clean. What is staggering is the internal capacity of the White Lightning is easily three times that of the 1/4×28 vent which means a whole lot more of the main charge is up against the flash hole in turn relating to more reliable, faster ignition.
Spot the difference between a 1/4×28 (L) and 5/16×32 (R).
Installation was very straight forward. Simply a matter of carefully drilling out the old thread and tapping the 5/16×32. The instructions with the liner recommend short cutting the thread in order that the liner is a very tight fit and this combined with the wonderful tolerances of the thread on the liner the fit was snug to say the least. The job is now complete and this weekend I hope to shoot Isaac with the new vent.
So what about flushing for cleaning I hear you ask? I made a flush device that butts up hard against the liner using a piece of rubber as a seal and is held in place by lock screws. Cut the 5/16×32 thread on my lathe too; VERY happy with that.
Keep your powder dry. Jeff.