Just sort of blundered into this thread this morning.
Nostalgia is a fun thing.
In the first post by John Boy.
Under, "From a black powder article."
"Produced in England, Curtis & Harvey's (C&H), Diamond Grade was the best in the world, likely because of a superior charcoal rootstock and extending blending time. Folklore has it that C&H charcoal came from a certain type of willow that grey only in one locale."
Actually C&H used buckthorn alder charcoal which they charred "in-house". At the time there were plantings of this buckthorn alder in some areas of England.
I have a copy of a reprint of:
"A Handbook Of The Manufacture and Proof Of Gunpowder, As Carried On At The Royal Gunpowder Factory, Waltham Abbey.
By Captain F. M Smith, Royal Artillery, Assistant Superintendent.
This was the 1870 version. There is one version from around 1850 but the 1870 is the one to get if it can be found. A goldmine of info!
In another posting in this thread by w44wcf:
"Apparently this highly developed black powder left no residue to attaract moisture. Therefore no immediate cleaning required."
This story starts back about 20 years ago. At that time we had only Moosic GOEX to relate to.
I was dealing with a shooter by the name of Ben Johnson who lived at Bath, PA. Ben wrote for Baird's Black Powder Report magazine. Ben was a first class gentleman and shooter. No product pimping, none of that nonsense. He passed away a few years ago.
One day he wrote me that he had bought a 5 pound "keg" of Laflin & Rand's "Orange Express" powder in 1F grain size. He loaded some .38-55 cartridghes with it and shot them in his single-shot bp cartridge rifle. He was amazed at this powder. Fire a shot, open the breech, pulled the spent cartridge, blow down the barrel through the breech and then load and fire another round. He commented that when he would eject the spent case he would see a very thin film of white powder in the bore which would disappear with a few breaths blown into the breech. The dust would quickly turn to a liquid film in the bore.
Once the Swiss sporting powder hit the U.S. market I was able to look at this. Since around 1984 I had talked about old time sporting powder to shooters I knew from the Gunmaker's Fair. Did a lot of reading on them from 19th century sources. A few shooters handed me the nonsense that I was spouting theory. The idea being that Moosic GOEX was state of the art in powder making technology.
What Ben had been looking at in the L&R powder was a really good rifle burn rate powder. While a number of American powder manufacturers claimed their powders were "moist-burning" I could find no evidence that they were up to European sporting powder standards in regard to a true moist burning.
In my ml rifles I looked at bore fouling with different powders once the Swiss powder became available. I had found that a good bit of what a shooter perceives as bore fouling is something of an illusion.
I had set up a way of recovering fouling from the bore of my ml test rifle and weighing the powder residue left in the bore. In theory, with bp, you will expect to have about 55% of the original charge weight as solid particulate matter after powder combustion. Some of which is retained in the bore and some is ejected from the bore by the spent propelling gases when the bullet leaves the muzzle.
I compared GOEX, Elephant, Swiss, etc., and found that on any given day there was little difference between them in how much of the original charge weight was left in the bore after firing the gun. The biggest difference was found to be governed by the ambient air temperature and the barrel temperature. But as far as comparing one powder to another on the same day, little difference.
What was different between the powders was the physical form of the fouling.
I had found that on any given day the Swiss powder left a bit more residue in the bore. But when you would load another round into a fouled bore it felt as if there was nothing in the bore. This was the result of the "moist-burning" of the powder. It gave wet fouling and the illusion that the bore was nearly clean. No resistance to running home another patched ball. Dry or hard fused fouling gives resistance to reloading. The wet film fouling did not. In the patched ball rifles some of my best most uniform chronograph data came from repeated shooting with the fouled bore. If I swabbed between shots the ES would go up. In the Lyman Trade Rifle with the moist-burning Swiss powder I was looking at ES data of 5 or 6! As soon as I would swab the bore the ES data would jump up to 15 to 20.
At first I was puzzled by the Swiss powder giving me slightly more residue in the bore. Then it dawned on me that the powder produced water as a product of combustion which simply cut down on the amount of residue being ejected from the bore with the spent propelling gases.
That caused me to think about some of the old writings such as those w44wcf is quoting in his postings and the how and why of the old shooters observations.
One bp made in England was unknown in the U.S. I have a booklet on Chilworth gunpowder. Made in the latter-half of the 19th century in England using German "technology". This Chilworth gunpowder was as good or better than C&H small-arms powders. At first Chilworth had an technical edge on C&H in how one polishes the powder grains in the glazing/polishing step of the powder making process. Chilworth had come up with the idea of blowing moist air into the barrel in which the powder was being "polished" This kept the surfaces of the powder grains damp during the early stage in the polishing process. The powder grains developed a better polish as a result. This better polish reduced perceived bore fouling and improved accuracy. C&H ended up literally copying Chilworth's powder polishing process.