Originally Posted by dcriner
I have an 1851 Navy replica revolver, cal. .36. I have read some people's opinion that the wad should go between the ball and the powder - others say on top of the ball.
I was just reading the label for my Ox-Yoke Wonder Seals - they say to put two wads in each load, one below the ball and one above the ball. What is correct?
I just came across your posting and thought I'd add my two cents for what it may be worth. Understand now, I do not claim to be an "expert" with Black Powder. I'm not but I can offer the following regarding your question:
.1. First off, make sure the cylinder you're about to load is in fact actually EMPTY. Use a pre-marked wooden dowel or the like and push it into each cylinder. The dowel should go all the way to the back end of the cylinder, right up to "the mark," right up to the nipple end which is deep inside the cylinder. If it does not, do NOT go any further, as there's something in that cylinder and it should not be there.
.2. If the cylinder is completely empty, using a suitable measuring instrument with the proper Black Powder load in it, pour your Black Powder load into the given cylinder.
.3. Load one lubricated wad on top of the Black Powder.
.4. Load your ball (or connical bullet) and seat it down onto the already installed lubricated wad. If the ball is the largest size recommened for your revolver, you should not need to install a second wad as the ball is so snuggly seated it will not let any Black Powder past it.
One of the purposes of that first wad is to decrease the chance of your having an air gap between your powder load and the ball - something you do NOT want as it can hurt you - badly. Also, if that first wad is lubricated, the lubrication will help decrease the associated residue caused by Black Powder usage and there will be residue, which should be cleaned out the same evening after a session on the firing range.
As for that second wad, the one on top of the ball, it is supposed to help prevent multiple discharges from one firing and it may in fact be of some help in that regard but as others have suggested here, it isn't necessary and the use of this second wad does double the use/cost of such wadding. However if multiple discharging is of concern to you there is a product known as "Bore Butter" or the like, which you can put on top of the ball after installing it. It is my underestanding that Crisco (yes, the same stuff cooks and bakers use when making bread and cooking) is just as good and a lot less expensive. Put a dollip or a glob of it ontop of the ball and wipe the end of the cylinder chamber smooth; when you go shooting Black Powder, always bring a few extra rags or the like along with you; beats using your coat sleeve or trouser legs.
If there is any doubt in your mind about the safety or better, the threat of Black Powder to you, the hazard of Black Powder to you, your instincts are correct. Black Powder can hurt you; from singed eyebrows, to loss of an eye and/or digits. In the past I've worked with explosives far more powerful that Black Powder but Black Powder was the one I was told from the very beginning, that's the one to watch out for. If you're working with Black Powder and you get stupid - it will "get you."
Hope this helps some.