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Old 07-01-2015, 09:31 AM   #11
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
I assume the main thing likely to break in a wheel lock is the chain that connects the spring to the cam on the wheel shaft, probably followed by wear on the trigger sear arm - that's the highest precision part of the mechanism, since it's balancing between not applying enough force to lock the wheel, and engaging so firmly you can't move by pulling the trigger. Essentially the wheel lock is more fragile because it has those two extra delicate parts - the main spring is pretty much the same as on the flintlock.

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3 more delicate parts. The iron pyrate on the "wheel" is much softer and m0ore fragile than either the flint or the frizzen on a flintlock. It needs replacement twice as often as the flint even when t6higns work right.
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Old 07-01-2015, 12:43 PM   #12
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Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

There's been a lot of discussion on wheellocks, I suppose no one can think of any factors to distinguish the different types of flintlocks besides the snaplock weakness to rain?

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
I'd say wheel-locks have both lower HT and HP.
Why lower HP?

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Wheel-locks have lots of egregious disadvantages compared to flintlocks. Costing more, needing more maintenance and breaking easier are altogether egregious. That's why even very conservative gun-makers such as the Germans abandoned them over a very short period of time (c. 20 years).

If the wealthy want more expensive guns they'll just get more decorations. In near-modern times this manifests in items such as Sadaam Hussein's gold-plated AK-47.
Only breaking more easily is a real problem. Costing more is an advantage when you're trying to distinguish yourself and more maintenance is a mild downside but also discourages their use with the sort of person who doesn't have servants. Also, unlike a gold-plated version of a regular firearm a wheellock requires different training which also helps to distinguish the wielder. While there's a lot of not-gauche things you can do with the exterior an intrinsically more expensive lock mechanism allows you to invest more in the weapon while maintaining good taste.

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
It's worth keeping in mind there's no particular reason for the order of invention of lock mechanisms - there isn't anything about most flint lock mechanisms (despite the single name, there are several kinds) that couldn't be built by anybody who could build a wheel lock if they'd thought of it - and a lot of the details are simply a consequence of the kind of springs that were available. If spiral ("watch") springs had existing, wheel lock mechanisms would be simpler and might well be as reliable as flintlocks. If coil springs had been a little easier to make, you'd might see locks where you generated friction by pulling pieces linearly past each other. If somebody discovers appropriate metals early, modern cigarette lighter "flint" mechanisms are essentially wheel locks but with something that strikes sparks so much easier you don't *need* a strong spring to get the required forces. There are several chemicals that will work in percussion caps, and nothing about the roll of paper tape mechanism in a modern cap pistol toy wouldn't have worked instead of individual percussion caps. A slightly earlier discovery of batteries, piezoelectric crystals, any number of hypergolic chemical mixtures, or compression heating fire pistons could've sent gunlock development off in entirely different directions. An alternate history doesn't particularly need to have the same kinds of gunlocks as European history.
This is a good point. What are the technological prerequisites and other effects of having spiral springs or piezoelectric crystals?
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Old 07-01-2015, 01:26 PM   #13
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

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Originally Posted by Sindri View Post
There's been a lot of discussion on wheellocks, I suppose no one can think of any factors to distinguish the different types of flintlocks besides the snaplock weakness to rain?



Why lower HP?



Only breaking more easily is a real problem. Costing more is an advantage when you're trying to distinguish yourself and more maintenance is a mild downside but also discourages their use with the sort of person who doesn't have servants. Also, unlike a gold-plated version of a regular firearm a wheellock requires different training which also helps to distinguish the wielder. While there's a lot of not-gauche things you can do with the exterior an intrinsically more expensive lock mechanism allows you to invest more in the weapon while maintaining good taste.


The snaphaunce variety of flintlocks appear to have their mechanisms on the outside rather than behind a lock plate. An obvious problem for not clean environments ad thus these were an inferior and transitory technology.

It's probably below the Gurps threshold of granularity but smaller pieces of a mechanism have fewer HP.

You never gain status when your pistol malfunctions. You just look stupid. The wealthy were most of the early adopters of flintlock technology. The earliest "true" flintlock (1613) still in existence and with unquestionable provenance is from the collection of Louis XIII, King of France and patron to _those_ Musketeers.
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Old 07-01-2015, 01:35 PM   #14
Sam Cade
 
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Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
nothing about the roll of paper tape mechanism in a modern cap pistol toy wouldn't have worked instead of individual percussion caps.
The toy roll of caps is actually a vestige of a real weapons technology.

It was even standard issue in the USA and CSA armies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Model_1855
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Old 07-01-2015, 02:10 PM   #15
malloyd
 
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Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

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Originally Posted by Sindri View Post
This is a good point. What are the technological prerequisites and other effects of having spiral springs or piezoelectric crystals?
Spiral springs are available for things like clocks or music boxes from sometime in the 16th century. I don't know why they aren't used for gun locks, so I really don't know what would have to change. Maybe just cost. When cheap wind up clocks start appearing in the 19th century there do seem to be experiments with mainspring driven ejectors or trigger springs, but by then percussion had taken over from priming pans. I suppose if they become cheap earlier, you get more wind up toys and cheaper non-pendulum clocks.

For piezoelectric crystals, the only real requirement is an ability to facet gems. Historically of course the effect is only discovered in an era of electrical measuring instruments, and immediately leads to developments in pressure and temperature sensors, timekeeping quartz resonators and the like, but if you postulate somehow discovering it in an earlier era it probably doesn't do anything but let you make sparks. The reason it's plausible you could discover it that way is tourmaline is piezoelectric, so if you were cutting it and mounting it into a bit of metal jewelry while squeezing it.... Tourmaline's characteristic weird ability to attract ashes when heated is known from the 3rd century BC, the pyroelectric effect responsible has the same physical basis in the crystal structure, so discovering it can sometimes toss off firey sparks might not even be too surprising.
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Old 07-01-2015, 03:43 PM   #16
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

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*SNIP*
Some interesting ideas here. Let's see...

Affordable watch springs and the like probably would have simply resulted in cheaper wheellocks, rather than whole new designs. Using internal springs to generate a spark inside of the weapon would have been interesting, however.

Mercury Fulminate, the material used for percussion caps, should have been possible for alchemists to produce. It requires nitric acid (aqua fortis, known by the 13th century), ethanol (aqua vitae, distilled at least by the 12th century), and mercury (known from ancient times). The first two reagents may require higher concentration/purity than alchemists could achieve, although even a mildly-cinematic campaign could waive that. For that matter, nitrocellulose - guncotton - can be made using cotton, nitric acid, and sulfuric acid (vitriol, also known by the 13th century), yielding something much more powerful (and cleaner burning) than traditional black powder.

TL3-4 batteries sufficient to cause a spark would probably be rather large, so they likely wouldn't see much use outside of fortifications (where the advantages of alternative firing mechanisms are less pronounced anyway). Hypergolic mechanisms, if even remotely reliable, would be in a similar boat, requiring too much weight.

Piezoelectric crystals would add some interesting flavor, although they'd ultimately function similarly to flintlocks - hammer comes down, strikes the crystal, produces a spark.

Fire pistons are, in my opinion, the most interesting, but I suspect they'd be beyond TL 4 capabilities. You would need some mechanism that reliably opens a small "window" in the bottom of the piston to eject the burning material to ignite the gunpowder, which is probably a bit too complex (a fire piston needs to be a contained system to build up sufficient heat to light anything, but then whatever it lights needs to light your powder).
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Old 07-01-2015, 04:36 PM   #17
Sindri
 
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Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
It's probably below the Gurps threshold of granularity but smaller pieces of a mechanism have fewer HP.
The mechanism yes, but I don't think that should necessarily impact the HP of the weapon as a whole even ignoring granularity issues.

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
You never gain status when your pistol malfunctions. You just look stupid. The wealthy were most of the early adopters of flintlock technology. The earliest "true" flintlock (1613) still in existence and with unquestionable provenance is from the collection of Louis XIII, King of France and patron to _those_ Musketeers.
Like I said, breaking is a problem. If wheellocks would ideally have a lower HT score then yes, they have a serious problem as status weapons without a change in how lock technologies developed.
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Old 07-01-2015, 06:30 PM   #18
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

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Originally Posted by Sindri View Post
The mechanism yes, but I don't think that should necessarily impact the HP of the weapon as a whole even ignoring granularity issues.



Like I said, breaking is a problem. If wheellocks would ideally have a lower HT score then yes, they have a serious problem as status weapons without a change in how lock technologies developed.
Mass and HP gained from mass of the barrel and stock shouldn't figure into attacks on the lock.

More important than ho0w that technology developed is that it did develop and flintlocks replacing wheel-locks was an example of a superior technology replacing an inferior one.
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Old 07-01-2015, 06:56 PM   #19
Sindri
 
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Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Mass and HP gained from mass of the barrel and stock shouldn't figure into attacks on the lock.
Yes obviously having a lighter mechanism will impact attacks against the lock. That's not how I'd read "lower HP" though.

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
More important than ho0w that technology developed is that it did develop and flintlocks replacing wheel-locks was an example of a superior technology replacing an inferior one.
That it did develop is completely unimportant. Again, not a historical setting. And the message that wheellocks have unrepresented fragility has been received. A change in how technology develops would thus obviously mean a difference in the wheellock mechanism.
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:31 PM   #20
Mr Frost
 
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Default Re: Wheellocks and Flintlocks

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Originally Posted by Sindri View Post
...
On the other hand matchlocks look stupid and so are going to exist only as a historical footnote.
If your setting has extensive dry and sandy/dusty areas then matchlocks will still be popular there as being mechanically much simpler they are both cheaper and more reliable in said conditions {the grit is more likely to jam the more complex mechanisms - a matchlock doesn't need to be more complex than a lever with a single weak spring and it can continue to function without that spring} .

The Ottomans for example kept using matchlocks in large numbers well into the napoleonic era .
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