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    Roller Nut Material

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    Post by Basilisk120 on Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:47 pm

    I was wondering about what materials work for roller nuts. I'll take a stab at recording what I have learned. Please comment with more details or point out were I am wrong.

    Delrin: Relatively easy to get and work with, light weight, low friction, stable, looks like bone, works well for lighter (hand pull bows) crossbow.

    Horn: light weight, period correct, looks good, strong, but more difficult to get (can't order horn from McMaster Carr Roller Nut Material Icon_razz)

    Wood: Light, really easy to get, easy to work with, needs to be be treated to keep it from swelling from absorbed moisture, not strong enough for heavier crossbows, mostly replaced by Delrin.

    Aluminum: Common, easy to work with, light weight, may have galling issues with the trigger especially in higher draw weight bows.

    Brass: Shiny, period correct, heavy can cause misfire issues due to slow rotation, may be an decent choice for heavy draw weight bows.

    Steel: Similar issues to brass, heavy but strong, could a good choice for really heavy crossbows.

    So am I missing anything?
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    Post by Ivo on Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:52 am

    -Out of syntherics there is also Epoxy putty's and casting resins that can be reinforced with Fiberglass. Roller Nut Material Icon_tongue

    -Out of metal there is also Bronze...in fact there are also such things as Aluminum-Bronze Alloys Roller Nut Material Icon_tongue



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    Post by Todd the archer on Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:29 pm

    I would like to keep this going. I want to build a hunting weight crossbow (150-250 pound draw) and having read above that derlin is best suited to lighter bows and horn not readily available, does anyone know of a synthetic material that is strong enough. how about phenolic materials?

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    Post by Regerald on Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:20 am

    Maybe fiberglass-reinforced plastic or some other composite?
    Fiberglass has an abrasive edges, so roller nut will require some other material on its surface..
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    Post by Ivo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:42 am

    Phenolic is a sort of composite right? Sort of like the fiberglass composite only reinforced with paper/organic fiber? If so, then it would land in a similar category as resin impregnated wood, right? Sounds interesting. Roller Nut Material Icon_smile

    As for fiberglass nut, I really like that idea...given that on medieval war crossbows a horn nut was used and seems to have had sufficient strength for such applications, even thou it did need reinforcing of certain areas. This reinforcing, seems to have required drilling/tapping/gluing/pinning which is all avoided in our case with fiberglass/resin technology.

    I've recently went through preparing everything for casting a nut in metal (Al) and it is a little more work than I have anticipated, requiring some special tooling to be fabricated first. With fiberglass thou I could have already finished it three times from start to finish Roller Nut Material Icon_smile , when in casting I would have only been up to fabricating the wax model(that would still need to be invested, burnt out, cast, finished, ... Roller Nut Material Icon_smile ) V

    As a form for the composite nut I propose using a section of PVC pipe (plastic water pipe) of appropriate diameter. This is a similar method I used for making the wax nut model.

    ...drilling/tapping/gluing/pinning...
    I guess it is possible to incorporate all the reinforcements and simply pour/pack the fiberglass/resin mass and allow to harder. And the coolest part is>>> If we do everything properly and all is centered then the nut will not need additional adjustments and that form made from plastic pipe can be used to make the roller nut seat that can be adjusted and made into a block reinforcement as was described in this topic >>>Link

    The issue with abrasiveness of the nut that had to be adjusted would be further eliminated if the form was sprayed with an insulation medium and then a coat of durable paint applied prior to filling the form with the F/R Mass. Theoretically, the paint should bond to the composite nut...Sounds like fun. Roller Nut Material Icon_smile



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    Post by Basilisk120 on Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:06 am

    Hmm 150 lbs may not be too heavy for a Delrin Roller nut. Need to break out the material properties books to figure out the shearing load of Delrin.

    There is at least one example of steel reinforced horn nut. I wonder if that would work for Delrin.



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    Post by Ivo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:11 am

    If it worked with 400lb for horn, it should work for delrin. Roller Nut Material Icon_smile

    As for metal pin reinforcements, I believe practically ALL horn/bone nuts were reinforced with metal pins...I think delrin wont suffer from a little extra inner support in the areas of teeth and sear.



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    Post by Pavise on Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:46 am

    If we turn the clock back we will discover that early crossbow makers used whatever materials were most easily found locally or obtained by them or their suppliers. Undoubtedly, horn and antler from various animals, as well as bone or ivory were to be found just about everywhere. Soil erosion exposed very old skeletons and then elephant ivory became available when foreign trade ships brought it back. And there is no doubt that as other materials became known and discovered they would be tested for their suitability as applied to weapons. Weapons that were used for survival in every sense and so had to be reliable!

    The reinforcing pins we see in various natural “nuts” have been installed because the base material proved to be incapable of resisting the pull exerted on them by heavy weight prods. But there are also other service demands that are placed upon the nut too.

    But before we begin we must first of all decide just what it is we are trying to do or indeed replicate when building a crossbow; especially if a medieval type. The choice of material must first be easily obtained and workable with often just simple tools. It must also be durable and strong enough for the job and again if we are building a replica it must appear to be of the period. Although often overlooked, it must be physically light in total weight too. Any mass has to be overcome in order for it to move and a crossbow nut that is unnecessarily heavy will rob power from the prod. Another consideration is what gun folks call “lock time” and that is the brief time elapse between pressing the trigger to when the firing pin strikes the primer and discharge actually happens. A longer lock time time in a crossbow can result in missing our target because our sight alignment was lost during that period; albeit brief, but before the bolt has completely left the guiding barrel. A nut must also be almost friction free as it turns in its housing and certain natural materials have these qualities. Too much friction between these parts will again result in power being lost and thus speed and an undesirable trajectory in our arrow flight being the result.

    Delrin® is often the modern substitute chosen for modern medieval type crossbow nuts and it behoves us to examine the qualities of any “plastic” before committing it to the demands of a possibly heavy draw weight. To have a nut fail might be catastrophic and in my book safety always comes first. This “engineering plastic” is an “acetal” that is available in several forms or alloys if you will; some more suitable to our demands than others. Glass filled Delrin® is the strongest of these with a tensile strength of some 10,000 psi and is available in diameters up to 8 inches. Delrin® AF blend acetal has all the necessary qualities and is available in Rod sizes to 6” in diameter. Your local plastics suppliers should be able to source these for you or otherwise Google or use your favourite search engine for others.

    But above all we must ideally be able to make a nut in our own workshops and these can vary from the primitive to the sophisticated. It makes no sense in my mind to employ excessive resources to make a couple of crossbow nuts. But then I guess being nuts in the first place is half the battle. Roller Nut Material Icon_lol

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    Post by Ivo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:07 pm

    Thank you, Pavise, for such an entertaining and yet extremely informative post...

    A man who knows HOW to do something - Will always have a job.

    A man who knows WHY things happen - Will always be the Boss. Roller Nut Material Icon_biggrin

    A man who can explain difficult things in a way that even a kid would understand - Is a Magician Roller Nut Material Icon_lol



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    Post by Todd the archer on Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:55 pm

    Found this searching on-line:

    http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=36423&catid=679

    I believe it is sold in 48" lengths. Should yeild about 32 nuts and be cost effective.
    Let me know what you think.

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    Post by Pavise on Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:25 pm

    Thanks for the kind comments Ivo.

    Meanwhile, here you go guys. Phenolic rod is not much different than linen micarta, but of course there are several variants that might do the job we have in mind. It is possible to make your own by press-molding even Denim fabric together with epoxies but why, when there are ready-made materials available that took millions of dollars to develop?

    http://plastics.dupont.com/plastics/pdflit/americas/delrin/230323c.pdf

    And again like dear Robin always says, "Try it and see if it works mate." Roller Nut Material Icon_surprised

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    Post by Ivo on Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:41 pm

    The thought of epoxy impregnated denim sounds fun. Roller Nut Material Icon_smile

    And I do agree, the action will most certainly reflect the materials good qualities as well as bad, so having a little extra reassurance is always a good idea...be it reinforcements or simply the structural properties of the material itself.

    Now the question that kinda bugs me is the inner structure of horn, I've never seen what horn looks like when it breaks, is it fibrous like the fiberglass reinforced plastic?...just an interesting though came to me when attempting to compare the two in my mind as I'm awaiting my shipments of various castable plastics. Does any one have a good information resource to the physical/structural properties of horn?



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    Post by Pavise on Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:24 pm

    Hi Ivo,

    A late friend if mine once used to make walking sticks for a living and he used horn of various kinds for some traditional models. Horn varies a lot between the type of host animal and some "horn" is not really horn at all. Keratin is the protein basis of horn and this is the same as for hair and fingernails which are similar fibreous materials. It is these fibres that give it strength the same as do glass fibres incorporated in glass reinforced plastics. However stability under a variety of conditions is important in a crossbow nut. It may be plus 100 degrees in one area and perhaps minus 40 in another, not to mention high or low humidity.

    Meanwhile you might like to take a look at the following website for more information about this natural medium.

    http://speyside-horn.co.uk/

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    Post by Todd the archer on Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:25 pm

    Just want to say that horn and antler are not the same thing. Horns grow continously while antlers are shed every year. I think horns are hollow while antlers are solid. An exception is the pronghorn antelope which has horns that it sheds every year. I believe horn can be boiled and bent to shape like plastic don't think you can do that with antler. Antler is (I'm guessing) probally like bone.

    And then ivory is something else again.

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    Post by Ivo on Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:42 pm

    Ahhh Thank you fellows, Roller Nut Material Icon_biggrin Roller Nut Material Icon_biggrin Roller Nut Material Icon_biggrin

    I feel like I overdid it with my imagination. Roller Nut Material Icon_lol

    It's starting to clear up now, Antler and Ivory is most likely to be the materials we would use here.

    Just to once again clarify this for my self Roller Nut Material Icon_lol
    Horn - A fibrous structure comparable to fingernails and hair, hollow (usually has no bony core). Availability>>>Plenty, but who cares, it's no good for making roll nuts anyway. Roller Nut Material Icon_lol

    Antler - A solid and in some areas porous bone like structure that is covered with a thin velvety skin that supplies the growing bone with oxygen and nutrients...when skin is shed the antler dies and is also shed. Availability>>>plenty...good stuff. Roller Nut Material Icon_smile

    Ivory - A dense solid tooth like structure...Availability>>>illegal to sell on E-Bay since 2009, but yeh...good stuff. Roller Nut Material Icon_biggrin

    ...Wicked info I found out about horn...thou doesn't fit as a nut material, some farm animals animals can have up to four horns.

    Roller Nut Material Th_The_three-horned_one_againCreepy stuff Roller Nut Material Icon_tongue

    Also a cool site I dug up and hope to find more like it. Roller Nut Material Icon_biggrin >>Distinguishing between Bone, Ivory, Plastic



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    Post by Geezer on Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:49 am

    Geezer here: just back from the big SCA meet. I use Delrin nuts up to 175 lb. without fear of failure, based on substantial experience. No doubt the stuff does have its limits.
    Horn nuts in very powerful medieval bows sometimes have steel or iron pins to reinforce the lugs. These go well down into the body of the roller, if not quite out the other side. I have installed steel lugs (about 3/16 inch dia) in horn-nuts on request. They look sharp, make the lugs stronger, and only add marginally to the weight. Glued with silicone-glue or epoxy, they don't come out. Geezer.
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    Post by jake-owa on Fri May 20, 2011 9:40 pm

    What do people think about (I know it's not medieval) aluminum for nuts? I am thinking about a flapping catch out of cast aluminum for my next push bow. I have some standard 1.5" stock I have been playing with.
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    Post by Geezer on Fri May 20, 2011 9:54 pm

    Aluminum for nuts? Tried it, didn't like it.
    pros: It's fast and strong. Put in a harder metal sear, like brass or steel and it will last a long time.
    Cons: Aluminum is 'sticky' and surprisingly hard to machine. It work hardens, builds up heat fast. The surface of your aluminum nut will oxidize very quickly. The oxide on the nut tends to stick to the oxide that builds up inside the socket. Result: Your nut will be 'sticky' for the first few shots if you haven't played with it in a week or so. Second, all that grey/black oxide will distribute itself all over your string-serving and thence to the table and into bolt groove. It looks really-really nasty.
    So I made some aluminum nuts, won't do so again. If you want something super-strong machine the nut outa steel... some late period bows did that. If you want it quite strong and spiffy, get some moose-horn or Axis-stag horn and lathe-turn a nut. Aluminum is a non-starter... and of course I don't expect any of you to believe me till you try it... that's how life goes. Geezer
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    Post by Ivo on Fri May 20, 2011 10:15 pm

    The surface of your aluminum nut will oxidize very quickly. The oxide
    on the nut tends to stick to the oxide that builds up inside the socket.
    Result: Your nut will be 'sticky' for the first few shots if you
    haven't played with it in a week or so. Second, all that grey/black
    oxide will distribute itself all over your string-serving and thence to
    the table and into bolt groove. It looks really-really nasty.

    Yeh, that's why they anodize the aluminum...to prevent it from oxidizing...well I'm not sure if it's actual oxidizing - perhaps some aluminum salts forming as the material is exposed to the atmosphere. If it's not anodized and you just paint it...the nasty will still some out eventually, paint just buys you some time. You have to anodize or use a similar chemically sealing/isolating process to keep the yacky out of sight.
    After that there are a million finishes out there that can be sprayed and baked on the nut - one of which that would be really sweet is Teflon. cyclops

    Aluminum is 'sticky' and surprisingly hard to machine. It work hardens, builds up heat fast.

    I cast an aluminum nut a while back...hmmm never reported on that did I?...why? Never finished it.

    I mounted the nut in a jig connected to a power drill in an attempt to smooth the surface with a file - result: a nice dull and clogged metal file. I got a belt sander now, but the pure aluminum is really sticky stuff as Geezer said and basically just smears when you put some power to it - result: I decided to keep the belt. Nasty stuff, perhaps a higher grade alloy will work better, but no such stuff on hand right now.

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    Post by jake-owa on Sat May 21, 2011 1:51 am

    Thanks Geezer. Good to know. I have access and ability to tool either so I will opt for some hot rolled steel.
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    Post by Ivo on Sun May 27, 2012 3:24 pm

    Got a second, so a quickie post for you all to think about. Smile



    So, considering pool balls were made of the stuff and there is talk about using them to make a nut...also we talked about a resin/fiber nuts...put two and two together? ...how about it guys? Very Happy Got Milk? Laughing

    Perhaps reinforce it with some fiber? (...synew/natural/synthetic/glass)

    Ivo out.



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    Post by Hotspur on Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:56 pm

    Hi All,

    I am in the process of making a hunting bow and ended up here!

    Alchem sold me a few parts and the nut was ABS plastic. For the first nut I ever made its okay and the ABS is nice to work with but I will need to remake it as it was a bit of a learning exercise and is less than perfect. The ABS is holding up after a few test shots but I am having a hard time sourcing more so was considering Delrin. The prod is 175' and I gather from reading this thread that the current wisdom has 175 as the max weight for delrin? One might rather be 'well within' the maximum as one sits in the tree blind ideally. Any thoughts on that maximum for Delrin?



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    Post by chaz on Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:30 am

    Hotspur,

    AboMickey rescently made a roller-nut from a pool ball looked very nice, don't know if he actually has used it in a build yet. However, one from a in all white cue ball should look very much like bone. You might check out his post with photos.

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    Post by Gnome on Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:22 am

    Hotspur,

    Welcome. Is ABS what Alchem uses? I noted that it was a bit different consistency than the delrin I aquired on my own. I'm using 1.5" diameter delrin roller nuts in a couple of bows that are over 200 pounds with no problems. As long as you're thoughtful about your design and how you place your sear reinforcement, you should be fine, there's lots of good examples to find here on the forum.

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    Post by Hotspur on Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:00 pm

    Thanks for the input!

    Looks like Delrin is the way to go. I found it locally at an industrial plastics supplier. For what it is worth, the representative stated that Delrin is superior to ABS in "almost every way" when I asked about mechanical strength.



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