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Teppo ramrod


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I discover that Brian has moved the of the teppo project from discussion to marketing, and that is all right. I'm sorry if it was abrupt Reassembling the gun was remarkably easy - given how hard it had been to take it apart. I cleaned the barrel and the barrel groove lightly and used a thin coat of Renaissance Wax on both, so that they came together much easier than they had come apart. I think this gun had not been disassembled since the Edo period!

I did a bit more work with the ramrod. It is clearly made of bamboo. It measure 77+ cm. This is a good deal shorter than the barrel (remember it had been 'lost" in the ramrod hole), but I think it is intact. Measured in shaku, the rod is almost exactly 25 1/2 shaku long. Both ends are neatly carved. They are not broken. Both ends also have lines marked 0 lightly carved - around them 1.5 shaku from the end. On the broad end, there is also a round black dot near the end. And of the opposite end in addition to the ringed mark, there is a hole near the end.

ramrod3.jpg

ramrod2.jpg

ramrod1.jpg

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Piers,

Thanks for the reaction. But tell us, please, what this thing is. Why is it so short? Does it - somehow - fit with this gun, or is it a bobbed-off rod that somehow got hooked up with bigger arms. Is bamboo right for these things? Two of my other teppo have ramrods - both of which are as long as the barrels they came with. Both of these have drilled holes at the "breech" end, but both of them are "wood"rather than bamboo. And are they viewed as a normal kit associated with a gun?

Peter

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Peter, if my earlier suppositions, based upon your excellent verbal description, do not hold water, then please allow my imagination to roam a little further.

 

Assuming then that this ramrod has not been broken off and reworked at any point, i.e. that it is a self-contained ramrod, then the only logical conclusion is that a ramrod from another gun was used at some point, either for cleaning or for ramming. (Remember that when blackpowder and ball is rammed into the barrel, the ramrod only needs to reach that far and not right to the internal breech end of the barrel, so a somewhat shorter ramrod was still possible to use. At the point where it got pushed back into the 'fukuro', however, it lost any further use.)

 

As to ramrod material, iron was relatively rare, and only became more widely used towards the Bakumatsu,  but by far the best wood was aka ichii-gashi, a kind of pink/red oak, also used for stock/butt and bo and yari shafts. Other woods were less all-round perfect, but easier to carve and would work in a pinch just about as well for a while.

 

Bamboo, which can be liable to splitting, was also used from early times. Indeed, I have a private theory that arrow fletchers were the first to be asked to produce ramrods. This is based upon the Portuguese word for 'chargers' (think of 'cargo' in English) and the native Japanese word for a reed 'Karukaya' ('ya' containing the sound of 矢 'arrow', which words are all reflected in the Japanese word for a ramrod, i.e. Karuka. I have/had two old examples of long thin bamboo arrow-shaft-like ramrods with eyelets in one end. Sadly I cut them down for use with shorter guns.) 

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The two nearer ones are all that remain of the original long bamboo ramrods.

The top one is also bamboo, probably modern, which I took from a gun and replaced with a more robust red oak example.

 

It is worth remembering that Karuka often broke, so ashigaru would carry spares for each gun. Of course it is nice to have an old example, but they were thought of as expendable.

 

 

623CA36B-F8C6-4001-819C-449B807CFFFC.jpeg

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