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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,


I'm brand new to this forum. My name is Tom, I hail from Beaverton, OR, and I have a love of cannons. Up until a month ago, I had a small golf ball cannon, "naval" style, made of some thick pipe and 4x4 beams. I had that little guy since 2001, but now I think it's time to go full-size.


First, to quell any suspicion that I am a complete novice, I HAVE HAD re-enacting experience in Civil War artillery batteries. About 2 year's worth, so 8 re-enactments. What I am here for is to obtain advice and tips from the community on creating a cannon on a budget. I have $1,200 for the entire project, and obviously I'd love to not spend all that cash on a cannon. Furthermore, I am a history nut, and I have a great respect for the power and inherent danger that black powder represents; cannons are no joke, nor fun 'range toy', and I understand that. With that in mind, let's proceed to the project:



First, does anyone out there have any original blueprints? My machinist is asking me for blueprints, and I'd really prefer to go off of professional plans. Be they original historical designs or your own style, please send them my way! This is my very first full-scale gun, so the lighter the better. I only need barrel designs; I have enough experience with wood to make my own naval carriage.

I really do like naval guns, so something like this style would be cool, if anyone has blueprints of something similar. I will of course have a beefier carriage:

http://www.kansascannonworks.com/how17.gif



Second, what is the best type of steel? My machinist has many different types, all in the right size and all in my budget. He has 4140, 4150, 1018, etc.


... I realized here that the rest of my questions are quite dependent on the specific blueprints that are offered by the community.



Naval guns are my favorite but I'd honestly love to see just about any cannon blueprint.
 

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First of all, I believe that a photo of one of my favorites is in order. The 20 Pdr. Parrott Army and Navy gun is 89 inches long, so half scale would be 44.5". From what you wrote in your post, that sounds about right. You must remember that the bigger you go, the heavier and less maneuverable the piece gets! For a professional drawing that your machinist will truly appreciate, go to this link: http://gunneyg.info/html/AOPCatalog.htm I have lots of their drawings and they are a terrific asset.


What she looks like. Approx 1/2 of these were built for the Federal Navy from 1861 to 1865. 330 Vs. 300 for the Union Army. This gun served on the Federal ship Constellation. Today she is berthed at Baltimore's downtown marina and is a beautifully restored historic ship that Mike and I visited in 2008.





The best steel on your list is 4150; it is what we use for our premium guns and is rated in excess of 150,000 psi. However, 1018 is going to be much less costly and is perfectly adequate.

Until you chose a design you like, that is all we can suggest. Welcome to the forum; it sounds like you want something a lot better that a thick pipe cannon, something a lot safer too.

Good luck!

Tracy
 

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"Full size" seems perfectly easy to define but it is too broad. Please, look at your intended uses & narrow the field some... let's try era to start. If you want to do re-enacting with it, the affiliating agency will have a lot of specifications.
I chose to do a "full scale" of a small gun, where full scale of a larger gun would be beyond my ability to move & store.


A solid steel gun should be quite safe. There is a wealth of info in the stickies at the top of this forum. http://www.go2gbo.com/forums/blackp...ruction-new-cannon-builders-design-standards/
 

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A good place to start looking at artillery pieces is http://robinsonsbattery.org/4001.html. The downside of this site and of the AOP plans is that they are mostly 19th century/Civil War designs. If you want to go small, earlier is better and insurance or pirate guns are smaller than most military guns. But good plans are harder to find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
In reverse order:


-GGaskill: That's a good link, thank you. I have been a cannon nut for my entire life, so I understand the basics of cannon history(falconettes, demi cannons, etc). Yes, the plans seem to be ridiculously difficult to find. Found a TON of carriage blueprints, but very few barrels.



-Smokin Joe: THANK YOU! That is about exactly what I'm looking for! Do you have any other plans? The more choices the better. I also will not be paying for any plans, but I have seen the Dixie guns and I like them.



-Flagman: I'm sorry, I know that is a broad catergory. The truth is, I don't really care exactly what cannon I choose, I just want a full size gun. I love cannons enough that any gun, be it a 30lb Parrot Rifle or a 2lb Swivel Gun, would be a ton of fun to have and care for. I stated full size simply so people wouldn't send me 'golf ball' plans; other than 'full-size' I have no concerns regarding style of artillery. I guess I would prefer a naval gun, simply because I plan to build a naval carriage, but as I've already stated, this isn't a historical project, so it doesn't matter a whole lot. Parrot Rifles mounted on traditional broadside naval carriages would have been a terrifying addition to the US Navy!

Yes, I think that a full-scale small gun, like a 6lb'er, would be best. I do have room for a full cannon, but I don't have the truck to haul it. No, no re-enacting. This won't even necessarily be a historically-accurate piece. Whatever plan I choose will inevitably get some modifications based on my own ideas about cannon. For example, the field carriage I have designed for later use has a custom heavy-set wheel design, double tail from the 1500's, recoil plates from the Civil War, a combination of early and late cannon tools, using square head bolts instead of historically-accurate bolts, etc.



-Seacoast: I thank you for the link, but I will not pay for any plan. I refuse to pay for plans that are 1) not copyrighted, because they can't be, and 2) historical documents, which are and should be freely available to any who want them. I found a wonderful howitzer at buck stix, but after a full page of Buck talking about how to save money making cannons, he had the brass balls to try and CHARGE people for the plans when I contacted him! I couldn't believe someone would be that full of bull-...poo. Trying to charge someone for a historical document, that are freely available at any historical library, is a disgusting practice to me. Similar to a fellow that tried to sell me military manuals at $15 a piece. For digital copies. A 10-minute search on Google found a library of manuals, for free, that were even better than this guy's poorly copied PDF's. Disgusting. So while I thank you for the link, I will not pay for any plans. My incentive here was to get plans without submitting to scalpers like Buck. No one should profit off historical documents, or history in general; those belong to Humanity at large. Now, profiting off MAKING the gun, that I am perfectly fine with. That's a real service that I should pay for. But trying to profit off historical knowledge? No sir. Will not support it. Every single historical document that someone has tried to charge me for, I have found for free after some research.

Yes, gun size is an issue. Much though I'd love to have a full-size Parrot rifle, I simply don't have the means to MOVE the gun. I could store it easily, and care for it too, but getting it from my home to the range would be almost impossible. Does anyone have any recommendations? I was thinking a small 6lb cannon, on a naval carriage, should make the weight manageable.






Any ideas on how to get it safely up and down a steep driveway?



Ok, I figured steel would be ok. I'll go with 1018; any ideas on wall thickness vs bore? I have a basic plan drawn up; 1018 steel, 4" bore, 2" walls, 2" powder pocket, 3" breech walls(both around pocket and behind cascable). I can add a photo of it if you guys are interested.




Thank you all for the information. If nothing else comes up, I'll go with the 6lb cannon plan shown by Smokin Joe. Sorry for the mini-rant, but I truly detest people like Buck, who try and profit off history.
 

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It's good accepted design practice to have the breech walls one bore thick if not chambered . 4 inch bore would have 4 inch walls for total diameter of 12 inches. If a chamber is used then treat the chamber as the bore diameter. If 4150 is used then a formal design with safety limits can be worked up to take advantage of the increased strength of 4150 . Most of us avoid the extra work and just use the old bore = wall ratio.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Moose:


Yes, I have heard that, and was curious if it applied to steel as well. I mean, I want to make this as safe as possible, but I also don't want to add on 200lbs of barrel when I don't need to.


What is the "chambered" you are referring to? Is that a powder pocket? And is that for the breech area only, or the entire gun? For example, I'd have to have 4" walls all the way to the muzzle to have a 4" bore? I was hoping to go between 3"-4" for the bore size.


I'll probably go with 1018 steel. I assume that is the cheapest acceptable steel for use in cannon? Safety first!


Oh, I should have mentioned this earlier; I make it a point of personal pride to not own or possess ANY faux or display weapons. My swords and spears are real, my rifles and handguns are real, my cannon I'd like to be real as well. That means lead shot, full powder loads, and a bunch of dead plywood soldiers. So if anyone's based their comment on the idea that I'll be building a 'signal' cannon, I will not be. I don't know why, but fake guns bother me. It's like a fake chair; why does it even exist?


I assume lead is cheaper than iron, correct? I'll be having a custom mold made, anyone have any ideas on how to get that done cheaply? If no one has a domestic lead, I'll contact my Chinese friends. I can't believe the cost difference in the two nations. I can get the entire cannon created, machined, bored, welded, and shipped for under $1,000 from China. The same gun is quoted at over $4,000 for American fab shops. Wow! The steel difference alone was insanity; $200 for what I needed from a Chinese steel mill, and a whopping $1,900 from an American mill!



Does anyone have any idea where to find inexpensive cannon tools, such as worms and sponges? Or how to make them? I have lots of old dowels sitting around, but not really a notion on how to connect the sponge. When I tried with my golf ball cannon, the sponge ended up staying in the barrel! I had to hook it out with a bent hangar.
 

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Flapapanckes,


I built my own cannon and built the carriage, cannon was built with a South Bend replicas 3 pounder Verbruggen barrel.
My total cost including buying a pair of wheels, was over $5,000!


As you can see, your price of $1,200 is unrealistic, to machine a barrel out of a solid billet and put trunnions on it will probably require over 12 hours of machine time.
Unless your Machinist is working for free, that will be over $1,200 right there.


oceanwarrior
 

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The wall thickness is only over the chamber, quite acceptable to reduce the barrel. The use of a smaller chamber ("chamber pocket") is quite acceptable... as was done in the day.
You don't want to shoot lead balls. Zinc maybe. Or cement filled tin cans. Or iron like originals. Lead is too heavy, increases chamber pressures & stress on barrel & carriage.
If you decide to contract this outside the US, I suggest you be very specific about specifications. I have no idea of import restrictions.
A rammer can be turned from wood... suggest the transition from the shaft to the head be tapered. The drill instructs that one not grasp the rammer with a closed fist in case of an accidental discharge, the rammer could open the hand rather than tear it off.
I don't know about large diameter "mops" (sponges). In smaller sizes, I have gone to paint rollers sized to the bore ID. Also fitted to the dowel & Gorrilla glued into place.
Worms are available in some sizes but most are custom made by my friendly neighborhood blacksmith & fitted to the dowel as well.
You'll need a brass vent pick & a small vent brush... & a bucket.
 

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flagman1776 said:
The wall thickness is only over the chamber, quite acceptable to reduce the barrel. The use of a smaller chamber ("chamber pocket") is quite acceptable... as was done in the day.
You don't want to shoot lead balls. Zinc maybe. Or cement filled tin cans. Or iron like originals. Lead is too heavy, increases chamber pressures & stress on barrel & carriage.
If you decide to contract this outside the US, I suggest you be very specific about specifications. I have no idea of import restrictions.
A rammer can be turned from wood... suggest the transition from the shaft to the head be tapered. The drill instructs that one not grasp the rammer with a closed fist in case of an accidental discharge, the rammer could open the hand rather than tear it off.
I don't know about large diameter "mops" (sponges). In smaller sizes, I have gone to paint rollers sized to the bore ID. Also fitted to the dowel & Gorrilla glued into place.
Worms are available in some sizes but most are custom made by my friendly neighborhood blacksmith & fitted to the dowel as well.
You'll need a brass vent pick & a small vent brush... & a bucket.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
In reverse order:


Tombegood: I presume you're emphasizing that point. Noted.



Doc: While that is an amazing piece, what would a 1/6 scale cannon even shoot?




Flagman: Ok, so a lighter barrel is fine, that is good. Interesting that lead is too heavy.... Does anyone happen to know tin can standard sizes? So I can size the bore properly.

Yes, I will be speaking directly with the engineer in charge of that specific shop for the specifications. This is why I wanted some actual blueprints(with measurements), so they wouldn't be going off my rough diagrams. I'm not importing it as a firing model; the touchhole will be drilled domestically. Until that is added, a cannon is just a very, very heavy paperweight. But I will speak with the ATF and confirm this is ok. I know that many companies bring in muskets and the like as non-firing models, and then drill their own touch-holes to make them functional domestically.


If no one else has blueprints for me, I guess I'm going with the 6lber! Also, I noticed it noted the barrel weight as 880lbs. Is bronze WAY heavier than steel? Because that number just doesn't seem right for a small 6lber gun.


I am familiar with cannon loading precautions, but I do appreciate your concern. I'll also need a vent cover. The basic stuff is easy, I was just curious if there was a specific shop that did this kind of work.




Ocean: Yea, that experience pretty much sums up my complaint with local cannon-makers. But as I said, the half dozen shops I contacted in China quoted me at around, or under, $1,000, including shipping to the US. So it's possible, but only because I already have business contacts outside the US. I was hoping to have it made locally, but at 4-5 times the cost, it's simply not worth it to build American.





Anyone have any ideas on a basic strong carriage? I'm ok at woodworking, but I'm trying to keep them all as simple as possible. Here is my wheel design:


http://imgur.com/gallery/plNjYBW/new


Dotted lines are inside the larger, thick wood blocks that are shaped into the outer wheel pieces. But I'm having some trouble thinking up a cost-effective way to make a double-tail cannon, such as you'd see on earlier 1500's cannon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Doc:


I'll see about that. I'm also exploring the possibility of expanding this into a business. If I can get cannons made for under $1,000, even selling them for double would be WAY below what domestic cannon-makers offer.


As to the wheels, I can poke around and see who's got a woodworking shop. Are you speaking of historically-accurate wheels, or my own design?



Also, in case anyone is interested, I am a professional contractor, and I'd be more than happy to supply anything you need via my foreign contacts. Just email me.




Does anyone have the designs of the M1841 6lber piece?
 

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Does anyone have the designs of the M1841 6lber piece?

Yes, but I paid for them. Maybe you can find them in a library for free.
 

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I would suggest you convert your dimensions to metric & be sure to figure your tollerances correctly. Most foreign machines are metric calibrated & can not correctly make American sized products. At least the hardware sure doesn't work.
I'd suggest specifying the grade of steel you need. I'd go with bored from solid stock or you'll need to be very careful that they understand the correct process for breeching the tube. If you go with other materials, the barrel would need a correctly breeched steel liner. Are you prepared to take out multi-million dollar insurance for tubes you make fireable... after they leave your control?
Correct steel (can you even get the correct steel in China?) drilled from solid avoids a lot of problems with breech failure.
I suggest you read the linked articles on the cannon failure at Fort McHenry. http://www.go2gbo.com/forums/blackp...-write-up-on-the-fort-mchenry-cannon-failure/ It is only by God's grace that no one was killed & even small cannon accidents are resulted in deaths & serious injuries.
 
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