19thC. Patching Paper

Patching Paper for Small Bore Match Rifles
An examination by analysis of a sample c1870

by W.S .Curtis

Following an approach made in 1981 by Messrs. Wiggins Teape, the paper manufacturers, samples of match rifle patching paper were made available to them for study. They had received an enquiry through a trade source from someone who wished to see if it was possible to duplicate original quality and material. However, as was rapidly ascertained the market for such material is unlikely to exceed a few hundred sheets a year and consequently there was no commercial interest whatever.

Having the specimens in hand it was nevertheless decided to proceed with the analysis and subsequently the following report was made.

Sample A. This was a double thickness .002 patch wound clockwise onto a 530 grain Rigby type bullet taken from an original match rifle accessory loading case containing 48 glass phials and compartments for 56 bullets in japanned tin cylinders. It was pointed out that the specimen could be contaminated with lead oxides following over a century in intimate contact with the bullet.
Comment – 100% Flax Hemp. The sample was very well fibrillated. Fibrillation in paper making jargon is more simply explained as the length or shortness of the fibres at the pulp preparation stage of paper making. If the pulp is treated in a certain way so that it becomes “well fibrillated”, this enables more water to be absorbed by each fibre resulting in greater bonding and a more cohesive sheet of paper. This in turn would also result in a paper of greater strength and thus lasting properties. Chemical testing revealed a trace of rosin.

Sample B. This was a piece of modern bank paper .002 thick and currently used for paper patching purposes.
Comment – 100% Softwood Pine. Bleached Sulphate. The sample showed virtually no fibre fibrillation. Chemical testing revealed that it was rosin sized.

Otherwise both samples were chemically the same, i.e. there was no starch, polyvinyl alcohol, wet strength resin or filler.

The tests were carried out by the Research Centre of Messrs. Wiggins Teape (UK) PLC to whom acknowledgement and thanks are due.


First printed in the MLAGB's Black Powder magazine, Volume 33, 1986
Reproduced with permission

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