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Cleaning A Black Powder Pistol

Cleaning A Black Powder Pistol

To clean my Euro Arms Roger & Spencer, I fill the sink with very hot water and add a good glug of washing up liquid. At this point I close the kitchen door, turn on the extractor fan to full, and don a pair of marigolds (this allows me to tolerate the hot water longer, and the fan helps get rid of the sulphur smell produced when cleaning BP guns).

My Method:

  • Take off the wood grips.
  • Cock the pistol to 1/2 cock to allow the cylinder to rotate.
  • Half-turn the screw holding the ram/cylinder spindle to allow it to come out.
  • Remove the cylinder.
  • Remove the nipples and put them in a glass of hot, soapy water.
  • Put everything (except the wood grips) in the sink.
I use two bottle brushes, the first is a long one which has been trimmed down to fit in the barrel; the second is a small one I use on the cylinder (again trimmed down). I also use a cheap kid's toothbrush to clean the pistol.
  • With the pistol body under water, I use the long brush from the muzzle and scrub the bore. This pumps water up the barrel (the sink isn't big enough to scrub the barrel under water); then I scrub the forcing cone.
  • Swap to the small tooth brush and scrub every part of the hammer and cylinder areas.
  • Using the small tooth brush, clean the nipple end of the cylinder, paying particular attention to the nipple recesses.
  • Use the small bottle brush to scrub the cylinder bores.
  • Using the toothbrush to clean the cylinder spindle/ram.
  • Drain the sink.

I was given a small, hand-held steam cleaner, and I use this to blast all parts with steam (the marigolds give some protection).
  • Holding the grip of the pistol, I blast steam down the barrel from the cylinder, and then over the outside of the barrel.
  • Holding the bottom of the grip, blast steam into the cylinder stop hole (just above the trigger), after fully cocking the pistol, then blast steam around the area of the hammer and then the hanger spring/bearing (visible inside into the gun from inside the grip).
  • Put pistol on a dry clean cloth.
  • Resting the cylinder in the plughole with the nipple holes up, blast steam down all holes, then turn over and repeat.
  • Using a cloth that's been folded over a few times, pick up the cylinder and put it on the cloth with the pistol (yes, the cylinder does get that hot!).
  • Blast steam over the cylinder spindle/ram, paying attention to the little latch (there is a spring in there which is now full of water), then put it on the dry cloth with the rest of the bits.
  • Agitate the nipples to clean them, then put them on a cloth to dry.
  • I use the vapour-release type of Napier (the oil releases a vapour that attaches to any metal and prevents rusting).
  • Using a rod and mop coated in oil, mop the barrel from the muzzle end, then put a few drops of oil on the cylinder stop (this drips into the trigger spring), on the hammer and the hammer spring/bearing.
  • Using a well oiled bit of cloth, wipe every part of the gun.
  • Hopefully, the cylinder has cooled enough to handle, so use the mop to oil the bores then the nipple end.
  • Using the oiled cloth, give the nipples a once-over.
  • Put nipples back in the cylinder (just nip them up, no need to swing on the nipple wrench with a scaffold tube for leverage!).
  • Put a drop of oil on the cylinder spindle and all pivots, then put the cylinder back in the pistol and give the retention screw 1/2 a turn to lock the spindle/ram in place.
  • Using the oiled rag give the cylinder a good wipe over.
  • Replace wood grips.
This takes under 10 minutes (it has taken me far longer to type).

Hope this helps someone.
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