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Rolling match pipe


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(NB - I also posted this on Fireworking, so if you read it there, save yourself some time....)


I've decided that this year I am going to make all my own quickmatch, for a couple of reasons. First is the question of legality for an unlicensed hobbyist. Second, I've used Vulcan blue and Kingshine red, and both are far too aggressive for my taste. I've built shell chains on which some of the shells didn't fire, I believe because the QM blew the leaders apart. This is especially true of the perc based Kingshine, but the Vulcan is near the same. I've read in other threads about the function of the pipe in terms of pressure containment and release, and figured I needed to come up with a pipe that would be strong enough yet fail properly.


I've tried making pipe in what I've read to be the traditional manner - convolute wrapped around a mandrel, secured with wheat paste - with very limited success. I was able to produce pipe, but it was very slow going, and I'd bung up about one quarter of the pipes, either from too much paste or from too much force trying to get it off the mandrel. Also, getting the pipes started well enough to get a consistently tight wrap was a skill that eluded me.


My needs for match pipe are pretty specific - I need 200 pieces 30" long, and ~350 pieces 16" long. I want it strong enough use for both chain headers and shell leaders, and reasonably resistant to taking fire from burning debris. I spent some of this winter's hiatus in experimenting with different ways of proceeding, and getting quickmatch with the characteristics I desired - reliable, fast but not too fast, and reasonably fire resistant.


I found that 2 strands of blackmatch in a 5/16" spiral wrapped pipe made from 50# kraft fit the bill pretty well. I treated the sections of pipe with sodium silicate solution to minimize burining.


Here are the materials - a flat, covered work surface, strips of 50# virgin kraft 2.5" wide, a mandrel of 5/16" aluminum rod that has been polished and waxed, and Scotch 77 spray adhesive. Note that waxing the mandrel is not optional.



The strips of kraft are laid out in an overlapping manner, leaving about 3/8" of each sheet exposed. I work in batches of 25 strips because I can easily roll that many tubes within the open working time of the adhesive.



The face of the last strip is masked with another piece of kraft, and about 3/4" of the the right-hand edge is also covered.



Two thin coats of adhesive are applied. Apply the first coat, wait five minutes, then apply the second coat. After applying the second coat immediately remove the masks.


The adhesive should be applied evenly, and there should be no 'globs' of adhesive. If you're getting an uneven coat, you most likely need to clean the nozzle of the spray can.



Once the adhesive has set so that it is no longer wet, but only tacky to the touch, you begin rolling pipe. Peel one strip off and lay it at about a 30 degree angle to the mandrel. Start rolling towards the glued edge keeping the paper tight to the mandrel.



One hand rolls the pipe and applies pressure to keep the mandrel tight against the work surface (aluminum rod can flex), the other 'stretches' the paper tight as it is rolled onto the mandrel.



Here's a detail of starting the pipe. The masked off section along one edge is to keep adhesive off the mandrel as you start the pipe.



Once the pipe is rolled, it is immediately pushed off the mandrel from the starting end. With a waxed mandrel the pipes come off with a reasonable effort. Unwaxed, they won't come off at all. I reapply wax after every 50-75 pipes - when they start becoming difficult to push off, I reapply.

I give all the pipes a wipe with a solution of sodium silicate then let them dry. Once dry I use a rolling pin to flatten the tubes. They are surprisingly stiff and strong, and it takes some effort to flatten them properly.



Using this method I made 300 pieces of match pipe 33" long in two four hour session, with breaks included. It is fairly tedious work but it goes pretty quickly once you get the hang of the process.



Edited by Nessalco
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Nicely done tutorial, Kevin.


Did you have any problems separating the strips after the Scotch 77 glue had set? That stuff likes to over spray like crazy every time I try to use it.

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Interesting method. I will be rolling my own match pipes and use two strands is the black match from Kingshine quickmatch. I've heard it's violent with all five stands, and it's too big to use as a passfire on my small cylinders anyhow.
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Almost 1000 feet of quickmatch!!! Man that's a quite a project you got going son. Excellent tutorial Kevin, beats folding gum tape. Thanks for sharing.
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I find that the same technique of rolling at a 30* angle works with masking paper ( 6in rolls sold at hardwares) . the last turn is then glued with Elmers glue . THis is much faster rolling technique and the pipe holds its shape well after being flattened. Excellent field expedient method .Just my two cents. I do like the above method as well.

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I have used the masking paper rolls with a little Elmer's glue along the edge of the paper being rolled on the dowel. The trick is keeping the glue off the dowel, so the piping will slide off the dowel easily. If you use the proper tension on the paper while rolling it onto the dowel you can adjust how tight the tubing is so it will slide off easily. I use one hand to apply the paper onto the dowel and the other hand turns the dowel by holding onto to the other end. I can do this without rolling it on a table top, I just hold the dowel in front of me pointing up and rest the other hand on my leg and roll the paper onto the dowel, the hand applying the paper can adjust the tension on the paper to make it as tight or as loose on the dowel as desired.

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Good to see how others do it. My basic process is get a paper cash register roll (full roll with paper on it about 50-75mm wide). Cut about 1 to 1.5m long strip, wrap one end around a 6mm wood dowel, use sticky tape to fix one end, then using cordless drill on low speed, I wrap it around the dowel using finger tension (spiral wound style) then wrap the other end with sticky tape, then using a strip of packing tape to wrap the full length, then slide the tube off and then the next one. I find it holds the shape, quite rigid and provides a basic moisture barrier. Sometimes (possibly lack of attention or an ale or 3) some look little shabby, but all work well.
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