Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Broomfield, Colorado
Well, I guess that question wasn't too much of a challenge for the two of you who answered it. Burlap, of all materials has one quality making it ideal for this purpose. It's abrasive and anybody who has loaded trucks with 100 Lb. sacks of feed or grain of some kind at an agriculture supply center as I did as a youth, nows this. Safe crackers in the 20s and 30s removed their finger prints, making their fingers super-sensitive by briskly running their finger tips on burlap. Being wet, the burlap wad would slide deeply into the crevice between the shot and the tube and its abrasiveness would keep it jammed into that crevice after ramming. Thanks Fredstaple.
VA Rifleman, I can't think of a better shape than that of a grommet for the jamming action desired. It is very interesting to me that the answer has the shape of several segments of a gromet. Years ago I read, that in British naval service, during times of heavy seas, an alternative to the standard sewn together waste rope wad was used via means of an emplacer rod to set and then jam several slender wooden wedges between the shot and the top of the bore. This was seen as the most effective wad, because it kept the solid shot or shell from "starting" during multiple lurches of the gun during a tempest..............and this method did not impeed the motion of the shot down the bore upon firing. These three or four wood wedges were blown down the bore by blow-by gasses even before the heavy shot started its course.
There are more than a few war-time accounts of plunging fire being used at Drewery's Bluff and also during the 47 day Seige of Vicksburg.
Smokin my pipe on the mountings, sniffin the mornin cool,
I walks in my old brown gaiters along o my old brown mule,
With seventy gunners beind me, an never a beggar forgets
Its only the pick of the Army that handles the dear little pets - Tss! Tss!
From the poem Screw-Guns by Rudyard Kipling