Author Topic: powder horn stopper  (Read 3735 times)

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Offline randyt

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powder horn stopper
« on: January 17, 2021, 04:34:12 PM »
Getting some gear together and have a horn that needs a stopper plug. Pretty sure any old wood will do as a stopper but is there anything that was traditionally used for a stopper?

Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2021, 05:15:56 PM »
I have seen everything from a whittled wooden peg to what look like turned masterpieces.  I have found that a piano tuning peg works really well and will usually be too large so it is easy to sand it down and get a good fit.

The stoppers of higher quality horns usually were the same wood as the other end.  My reproduction horn was made by Jack Brooks and is a copy of a 18th Century horn.  It is curly maple.  I did see one original that was made from the tip of a deer antler and very well shaped in the same style as the ones in my photo.  I think the easiest thing to do is find a dowel you can fit to the horns opening and then glue a handle like those in the photo to the dowel.

The top stopper is an old violin tuning peg and the lower one is from my reproduction horn.  I have one other horn that has the same style stopper as well.  It is 19th Century we think and came from an Indian Reservation. 



 
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 02:33:23 PM by wsdstan »
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Offline randyt

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2021, 05:26:06 PM »
thanks for teh info, are the stoppers usually lashed on with a lanyard?

Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2021, 05:28:58 PM »
Most originals I have seen are not lashed to the horn but it isn't a bad idea. 
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Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2021, 07:57:56 PM »
It ain't a good idea, either.....main reason being, that if it's tied to the horn, you may forget to re-stopper the horn before firing the piece.  If that happens, especially with a flintlock & all the fireworks present when the lock fires....well, you can imagine the result if a stray spark sneaks into the open horn.  If you yank the untethered plug from the horn with your teeth and you forget to replace it....it will become readily apparent when you hoist the piece into the firing position and the plug gets in the way.  Don't believe it can happen?....I've seen it! :shocked:

The only bad part of this method is, that if you wear a beard you have to be careful not to get a stray whisker caught between the plug and the hole in the horn tip when you reinstall the plug.  I can tell you from personal experience that you will be more attentive to the possibility next time!  :lol:
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2021, 08:15:00 PM »
You are right about the pitfalls but I am thinking more about hunting with one where you load and just carry the arm around.  I see pictures of a few old originals that have a tether, usually tied to the strap of the horn so that it is just a short distance from the spout.

I agree that a spark in an open horn is a poor idea.    :doh:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2021, 09:17:50 PM »

 Wolfy makes a good point about forgetting to put the stopper back into the horn,  the way I look at it the chances are better of that happening to a pilgrim rather than a greybeard,  most experienced muzzle loaders replace the stopper automatically after filling the powder measure.
 In my time I've shot countless woods walks,  line shoots,  and lost count of how many weekend treks and day trips doing eastern long hunter reenacting,  and can't remember any of the group forget to plug his/her horn before actually dropping a charge down the bore.
 What I have seen more than a few times is someone loosing their horn plug altogether because it wasn't tied to the horn or strap,  the usual cause is because of the plug shrinking in dry weather or the horns spout expending during hot weather,  I've always opted to tying a piece of thong or sinew from the plug to the horns strap to insure not loosing it.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2021, 12:05:36 AM »
The incident that I witnessed was in Cherokee, Iowa at their annual Fall rendezvous.  The dude that forgot to stopper his horn was a past president of their club and had a lot more gray in his beard than I did......at the time. ;D

I just received my latest copy of MUZZLELOADER MAGAZINE which included a spread on the horn-work of a member of their guild.....BEAUTIFUL workmanship by a true artist.  Not one of them had a tethered plug....nor will you find any (or very few) examples of the originals that had them. Check out Madison Grant's books on the Kentucky Rifle Hunting Pouch and its accouterments.

Losing a horn plug ain't that big of a deal.....they grow on trees in my neck o' the woods. :coffee:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2021, 07:06:12 AM »
The incident that I witnessed was in Cherokee, Iowa at their annual Fall rendezvous.  The dude that forgot to stopper his horn was a past president of their club and had a lot more gray in his beard than I did......at the time. ;D

I just received my latest copy of MUZZLELOADER MAGAZINE which included a spread on the horn-work of a member of their guild.....BEAUTIFUL workmanship by a true artist.  Not one of them had a tethered plug....nor will you find any (or very few) examples of the originals that had them. Check out Madison Grant's books on the Kentucky Rifle Hunting Pouch and its accouterments.

Losing a horn plug ain't that big of a deal.....they grow on trees in my neck o' the woods. :coffee:

  Seems we have a difference of opinion which in and of itself is a healthy thing, unless or until it becomes arguable,  then it becomes less about the the thing and more about ones ego,  now I've read Madison Grants books on horns and on hunting bags when I was making powder horns and hunting bags and I honestly don't remember seeing or not seeing tethered plugs,  mostly because my choice to tether mine is based more on practicality than historical correctness.
 Now my old friend,  horn spout stoppers may very well grow on trees in your neck of the woods,  but mine are usually hand carved and matched to the horn,  loosing one is a real loss of time and creativity,  as is the possible loss of the powder content of the horn if one is not immediately aware that it's been lost,  oh I'm sure that there is a historically correct answer to whether plugs were ever tethered back in the day,  and it may matter greatly to Stitch Counters everywhere,  but I happen to be the last person in the world who cares what history thinks of tethering a horn plug, and certainly not enough to argue the point seriously with an old friend.
 In my reply post I credited you for your point well taken and then rendered my opinion along with my reasons for bearing that opinion, that should have if not agreed with then at least respected as I did with yours,  so my friend (and I am speaking to a friend), if you feel the need to argue the point further you'll have to find someone else who feels it's important enough to argue about,   I'm not your guy.    :shrug:
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2021, 09:02:26 AM »
Randy, if you do decide to tether your stopper here is how the old timers did it.









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Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2021, 11:05:41 AM »
I'm NOT arguing with you, Moe.....sheesh!  I'd like to think that the forum is still a place where we can discuss different reasons for doing things the way we do.  I thought maybe this was one of them. The way we plug our horns is still unregulated by the government as far as I know, so it's one of the few things left in the world that is left up to the individual.  Do it any way you choose.  I was only stating a reason why you see so many untethered plugs on the majority of horns, old & new.

Losing a peg is a rare incident because most of them are tapered and fit snugly in their tapered holes.  Parallel plugs in parallel holes can & will cause problems.....too tight or too loose, depending on humidity, etc.   Some originals used ebony violin pegs like the one Stan showed in his photos.  Dixie Gun Works carries some inexpensive violin pegs made from some kind of light-colored wood, but if you want to go fancy, ebony violin pegs are readily available from Amazon......

https://www.amazon.com/Ebony-Violin-Tuning-Pegs-Set/dp/B00BLY75J8

4 in a package, so if you want to carry one of the extras in the bottom of your pouch, you'll always have a spare.  You could even tether a spare and let it dangle while you use the untethered one in the manner I've previously described....the best of both worlds. :cheers:
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2021, 02:36:02 PM »
Thanks for mentioning Violin pegs Craig, I get confused at times ( :P)  and called it a piano peg.  I actually bought an old broken fiddle to get those............ maybe.............. . I think.
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2021, 03:02:27 PM »
Randy, if you do decide to tether your stopper here is how the old timers did it.










 Thanks for the pictures Stan,  this thread got me thinking about all the antique period powder horns I've come across over the years,  probably 98% of them had the spout plugs missing,  and the ones that did have a plug were not original to the horn or the period. 
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Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2021, 03:45:28 PM »
One thing I forgot to mention....making the tapered hole in the horn tip.  There are reamers available to luthiers for making the matching tapered holes for violin pegs, but a good substitute (that you most likely already own) is the tang on a large mill-bastard file.  Just turn it slowly and gently to scrape & taper the sides of the hole that you initially drilled in the horn.  Just remember go slow to avoid splitting the horn.....I've done two that way and it works just as advertised. :thumbsup:
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2021, 04:18:27 PM »
Randy that missing stopper has been my experience as well.  I have some small horns that were 19th century era from the provenance and only one had a plug.  All the rest are good spider homes.
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2021, 04:19:51 PM »
Craig that is good to know.  I would not have thought of using tang in that way. 
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Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2021, 05:20:31 PM »
Getting some gear together and have a horn that needs a stopper plug. Pretty sure any old wood will do as a stopper but is there anything that was traditionally used for a stopper?

So, Randy....what did you end up doing?   Did you opt for a tapered, traditionally non-tethered and SAFE plug that you quickly yank & replace with your teeth...or decide to live life on the edge with a tethered plug that it takes two hands to 'r&r' , and yet another operation to 'fiddle' with in the loading process? :stir:  :lol:      Just curious. :shrug:
« Last Edit: February 14, 2021, 06:05:07 PM by wolfy »
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Offline randyt

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2021, 04:34:17 AM »
I carved out a plug from a chunk of maple
Havent tethered it. Its about as controversial as using 4f or horn powder for pan priming.

Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2021, 07:39:23 AM »
 :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2021, 12:27:59 PM »
I carved out a plug from a chunk of maple
Havent tethered it. Its about as controversial as using 4f or horn powder for pan priming.

 Randy, don't let him con you, he knows all about drama,  he works hard at creating it,  I often wonder if he actually knows whether we're on to him or not.   :shrug:

 If you aren't careful he'll have you licking some form of Imitation cheese bi-product.    :puke:
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Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2021, 07:39:10 PM »
Here's another facet of this discussion.....prov e me wrong!  :popcorn:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2021, 09:19:18 AM »
Here's another facet of this discussion.....prov e me wrong!  :popcorn:

 LOL, never said you were wrong,  only suggested that you were argumentative, had strange tastes in some foods, liked to create drama, and were sometimes a bit odd,  what's to prove ?  :shrug: :cheers:
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Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2021, 10:32:25 AM »
That pretty much describes the attributes of everybody that I know on this forum. ;D   Another thing, since randy actually carved his own untethered, maple powderhorn plug, and like I said in an earlier post, it proves that they actually DO grow on trees!  :choptree: :chopwood: :cheers:
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Offline crashdive123

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2021, 12:55:39 PM »
Here's another facet of this discussion.....prov e me wrong!  :popcorn:

 LOL, never said you were wrong,  only suggested that you were argumentative, had strange tastes in some foods, liked to create drama, and were sometimes a bit odd,  what's to prove ?  :shrug: :cheers:

Hey now wait a second...........I resemble that.

Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2021, 01:16:18 PM »
There be several of us who resemble that remark.  Some are proud of it.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2021, 01:48:11 PM »
Hey, Moe..... :taunt: :rofl: :cheers:
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Offline crashdive123

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #26 on: March 05, 2021, 02:19:32 PM »
So I should probably start a new thread on diced Spam with Velveeta Cheese?  Nectar or the gods.

Offline wsdstan

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #27 on: March 05, 2021, 02:54:05 PM »
D D D D am that sounds good.  :drool:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #28 on: March 05, 2021, 03:17:15 PM »
So I should probably start a new thread on diced Spam with Velveeta Cheese?  Nectar or the gods.

You are the master of your keypad, join in and have at it, who knows, it may be a winner. :banana:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #29 on: March 05, 2021, 03:22:19 PM »
That pretty much describes the attributes of everybody that I know on this forum. ;D   Another thing, since randy actually carved his own untethered, maple powderhorn plug, and like I said in an earlier post, it proves that they actually DO grow on trees!  :choptree: :chopwood: :cheers:

 Tethered or not, all wooden powder horn plugs start off growing on trees.   :shrug:
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Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #30 on: March 05, 2021, 04:00:16 PM »
I guess I kinda' knew that already, but thanks for the reaffirmation & support. :popcorn:
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Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #31 on: March 05, 2021, 09:55:47 PM »
It ain't a good idea, either.....main reason being, that if it's tied to the horn, you may forget to re-stopper the horn before firing the piece.  If that happens, especially with a flintlock & all the fireworks present when the lock fires....well, you can imagine the result if a stray spark sneaks into the open horn.  If you yank the untethered plug from the horn with your teeth and you forget to replace it....it will become readily apparent when you hoist the piece into the firing position and the plug gets in the way.  Don't believe it can happen?....I've seen it! :shocked:

The only bad part of this method is, that if you wear a beard you have to be careful not to get a stray whisker caught between the plug and the hole in the horn tip when you reinstall the plug.  I can tell you from personal experience that you will be more attentive to the possibility next time!  :lol:

Hehe, you paint a vivid picture with that description!

Offline wolfy

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Re: powder horn stopper
« Reply #32 on: March 05, 2021, 10:13:40 PM »
It ain't a good idea, either.....main reason being, that if it's tied to the horn, you may forget to re-stopper the horn before firing the piece.  If that happens, especially with a flintlock & all the fireworks present when the lock fires....well, you can imagine the result if a stray spark sneaks into the open horn.  If you yank the untethered plug from the horn with your teeth and you forget to replace it....it will become readily apparent when you hoist the piece into the firing position and the plug gets in the way.  Don't believe it can happen?....I've seen it! :shocked:

The only bad part of this method is, that if you wear a beard you have to be careful not to get a stray whisker caught between the plug and the hole in the horn tip when you reinstall the plug.  I can tell you from personal experience that you will be more attentive to the possibility next time!  :lol:

Hehe, you paint a vivid picture with that description!

That major in English must be paying off for me then. :shrug: :rolleyes:
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Augustus McCrae.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX