Vol. 35, December 2011 2 responses

Bogged down with your weekends? – visit www.timelinefair.org.au/about-fair/

Welcome to another read of Club doings. Not that we program a great deal during the warmer weather following our traditional September Rondy. Early November saw us at Berwick again for the annual Time Line event that has superseded the former MMFAT event at this site. It seems that the November timing does little to encourage re-enactment activity dressed in capotes or military woollens. As per last year we once again sat about in shirt sleeves suffering extreme sultry heat and high humidity.

The Bob Ellis photo above captures visiting friends Andrew Kemel and Keith Hendry chatting with Chook and Jim and all trying to keep cool in spite of the oppressive weather. It’s obvious our wagon driver is also feeling the heat and we do apologise for that nylon tent and the car in the background – the modern end of the Time Line.

That said – this two day event does bring lots of re-enactors together for some great fun as well as the chance to see what the adherents of the many other eras are up to. Like many groups, we have members who cross-over to other eras, such as combatants of both sides in the Napoleonic wars, Viking groups, Medievalists and of course members of the North and of the South of the American Civil War era. So it’s a wonderful chance to catch up with all these nice folk.

Also in November, Jim Walker represented the Trappers at a meeting with Firearms Licensing Branch held at Dandenong instigated by Jenny Baker with Senior Constable Steve Foster. The agenda mainly dealt with imitation firearms for re-enactors – so not applicable to our activities. Jim suggests our camp knife and tomahawk usage is not affected by Department regulations as they are not designed primarily as throwing weapons but as camp tools. Jim informs that the full schedule of controlled weapons as approved by Licensing Branch will be published shortly.

We have listed our 2012 main happenings on our Events page, so right now might be a good time to book holidays for any extended weekends or even a full week next September. Members will also find enclosed with this newsletter a copy of the Minutes of our AGM together with the full financial report as presented at the AGM.

Two nice powder horns made & scrimshawed by Ian Convey. The flat horn at top features the Australian Brolga in flight, lower horn depicts an early whaling scene.

Powder Horns – another DIY project by Ian Convey

Most all muzzleloader shooters prefer a powder horn over a flask of later era. Some modern horns are commercially made by cheap labour overseas and are not too authentic either. So how about making your own, the old timey way (or close enough) so that the style of horn suits your persona and or firearm and preferably both.

First of all, obtain a suitable cow horn. Some folk seem to think “big is best” but when you think seriously about it – Do you really need to tote that much black powder about on your person for a casual day’s shoot? If not, why not choose a smaller horn that won’t be as heavy to lug around, meaning you will be less fatigued when you take that all important shot to secure next week’s table meat.

Once you have selected a horn, clean it up by removing all scaly and flaky bits of horn. I use a Farrier’s rasp for this, also to rasp out any dents, bulges and cracks. Holding the horn securely whilst you work on it can pose some difficulties. I use leather pads and wooden wedges to steady the work in my vice. I also use a tapered wooden mandrel that I place in the vice and jam the butt of the horn onto it.

Start by measuring the length of the inside cavity of the horn using a piece of firm wire; transfer that measurement to the outside of the horn and cut off the tip after allowing for some solid horn for forming a spout. Next drill a ¼ inch hole in the centre of the tip right through to the cavity. Then open this hole out to almost the finished size you require, usually 5/16 or 3/8 inch, and then taper it with a tapered reamer – if you don’t have one of these you can use a rat-tailed file turning it anti-clockwise to taper the spout.

Now that the horn is hollowed all the way through, gently heat the wide end with dry heat (I use an electric heat gun). You can use a fire (very carefully) or place it in an oven (the smell might get a bit obnoxious). A last resort is to boil it in water, though this method can take about 12 hours to dry hard. Heat until the end of the horn is soft enough to squeeze it with your gloved fingers. Now push in a bottle neck or suitable jam jar to make the end round. Let it cool and harden – about 20 minutes.

Remove the bottle and measure the internal diameter of the horn, then make a tapered wooden plug about 3/8 inch thick to fit. You can turn it on a lathe or cut it out by hand and sand it true. Gently try the plug for fit but don’t jam it in – you may have to push it out with a bent piece of steel from the spout end. The plug should go past the end so when in place excess horn is filed or sanded off.

Heat the end of the horn again and insert your wooden plug – make sure it is square and tap it in so that it is a snug fit. That’s how the originals were done – no glue! Make a line around the circumference of the butt end of the horn to correspond with the centre of your plug. Divide the line into the number of fastening pegs you wish to use – I use eight! Drill undersize holes to take wooden pegs (matches etc.). Point these pegs and coat with glue (hide glue for authenticity) or PVA not bloody epoxy and tap pegs into undersized holes to secure the end plug.

To finish the outside in the original way just scrape the horn with a sharp knife – I use a Stanley knife and support the blade with my thumb. When you have scraped it to a relatively smooth finish you can complete the task with sand paper and steel wool. Now file in any grooves and add brass staples for straps. Make a plug for the spout from a piece of ½” dowel and turn a taper in a lathe or a vice mounted drill (use a file and don’t forget safety first – always have a handle on the file.) The tapered plug could also be filed by hand or even whittled with a favourite knife.

To enhance to appearance and life of the horn I rub in a 50/50 mixture of linseed oil and kerosene then wipe dry. DIY scrimshaw is another topic we might discuss here if there is sufficient interest. Meanwhile, when storing horn products it’s wise to have some moth balls in the cupboard which seems to stop insects eating holes in the horn. Till next time – watch yer top knot. Ian

Ron Davis & Bob Ellis at the WDMLC “Wet to the Arse” shoot 2011. Photo by Ian Convey.

Pleasure in pathless woods

Ian Convey, getting all poetic-like forwards these lines – “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture in the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not man the less, but Nature more…..” George Gordon, Lord Byron, 1788 – 1824. (Lines also featured at the start of the movie “Into the Wild”)

Flint and Steel

Murray Convey forwarded this series of photos taken with a high speed digital SLR camera by Les Lockland of Warrnambool. Murray is firing his 54 cal half-stock with an L&R lock and we see the flint scraping white hot metal chunks from the frizzen, the powder flashing in the pan through the vent and igniting the main charge.

Absolutely lovely photographs! Take a real deep breath as you view them – With just the slightest bit of imagination you can actually smell that lovely sulphurous black powder smoke….. Well, it worked for me! Then I had to fetch my McCoy out of the gunsafe for a little fondle.

Murray’s flinter sparking up. Photos by Les Lockland
Fire in the hole!
Sniff here ^ Arr, glorious!

From way up North

No, no, not Alaska! Just a pleasant drive past Sydney! Old Woods Runner, Keith Burgess of the New England region of New South Wales advises he has a new book and primitive skills DVD available. Details of both items can be found on Keith’s blog http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com
See also Old Woods Runner’s group active discussion forum at http://eighteenthcenturylivinghistory.freeforums.org/


A sense of justice compels me to apologise for mistakes in our previous newsletter. Featured in our hard copy news and web gallery were a number of photos taken by Benjamin Barraclough which I had inadvertently credited to John Sultana, when it is Ben and Michelle who are the photographers in the family. Credits of the web gallery shots have now been amended. Thanks to Ben for the nice camera work.

All smiles – Katharine & Michelle Barraclough. Photo by Ben Barraclough.

Kick Start at Pioneer Forge

Glen and Anthea Mitchell are having another New Year’s get together at their home / forge in Carboor. Glen calls it a “Kick Start” which makes me wonder if he spends too much time on an Ag bike or if he misses the football during the summer. He’ll probably “kick my butt” for being a smart-aleck here.

Seriously though, Glen and Anth would love to have members and friends spend the weekend of 7th & 8th January milling around their outdoor barbecue area, sharing some good tucker and a few glasses of Shrub or other favourite beverage. Bring a plate and any special thirst requirements.

It is a wonderful time to relax with friends under the many North American shade trees in the Mitchell’s garden. No need to dress primitive – unless that’s all you possess, but bring your Trade Blankets or any new toys (Christmas presents?) or your musical instruments and be ready for some fun. There is plenty of room for camping over on Saturday night and Glen promises to cook the toast on Sunday morning.

’Course if you had ordered your new hawk early enough this would be a good chance to collect it in person as I hear tell Glen has been busy hammer and tong at the forge.

To help with catering please phone Glen or Anthea on 5729 5564 or email glen@pioneerforge.com.au if you’re coming or if you have any special requirements..

This Dave Doran cartoon first appeared in Muzzleloader magazine. We are indebted to Bill Scurlock of Muzzleloader for permission to reprint Dave’s cartoons. Me thinks that looks like a dinkum Pioneer Forge hawk about to be used on Fast Freddy’s top knot.

Season’s Greetings to All

Club president Ian Convey and the Trappers committee wish members and all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday season with a wonderful New Year with plenty of shootin’ and re-enactment camping and Rendezvous.

2 Responses feed

  1. Ted Marmion (Perth W.A.) says:

    Just read your latest newsletter, I really liked the good fast action ignition shots – and nice wood! Once again a high level newsletter and a great read.

  2. Roger Fisher says:

    Hi, I’m a fellow buckskinner from Grand Island Nebraska, U.S.A. I came across your web page from the Coon n Crockett website. Really nice site! It is really interesting to see that you folks, as far away as you are, share the same interests and love of history as we do. From looking at your club photos you all seem to be quite historically accurate in your dress and accoutrements. Our club has varying degrees of participation regarding dressing of olde. Most members make some effort – some members are quite accurate in their depictions; I think I fall somewhere in the middle. Well, just wanted to say hi! Perhaps we can start a brotherhood between our clubs and someday if you are ever in our neck of the woods we would love to hear from you. Our club name is the Nebraska Muzzleloading Rifle Association and we are affiliated with the United Nebraska Muzzleloaders Association. Thanks and God bless!