Graybeard Outdoors banner

1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,986 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I know I've seen a similar one here before but I can't get the search function to work. I saw these things in one of my old catalogs (Dixie Gun Works?) but I can't find it now. I bought it on ebay for $48.

Any info on it would be appreciated. All I get is chamber pots when I google thundermug.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,760 Posts
What's pictured is a repro thunder mug, looks to be cast iron. Thundermugs were used for making noise on holidays. They were lined up maybe a foot or more apart and a powder train was laid along the vents, then lit to give a series of booms. I don't know anything about the one you have as far as its construction or quality etc. so if you are going to shoot it, recommend firing proof loads with long fuse and any people far away, before treating it like a safe, fireable item. Be very careful never to have face above it if you have already fired it once that day, these things are famous for blinding people and giving them permanent black powder acne.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,375 Posts
South Bend Replicas was producing thundermugs. I respectfully disagree with cannonmn about proof loads. The problem with proof loads is that they could weaken the barrel and if this is not detected the barrel could come apart later with a lighter load. My understanding of proof loads as applied in this country was to test the strength of a barrel's design and the manufacturing process. After proofing the barrel, if it survived the proofing, it was melted back down.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
16,690 Posts
I don't know about cannons, but I do know this, American firearms manuaufacurers that proof their weapons design, keep the proofed weapons as a historical reference showing what design passed the proof.

One manufacturer I did some work with back in the mid 80s who introduced a new gun had Serial No. 000 and every 100th gun up to 1000, and after that every 1000th gun proofed, labled and stored in his vault in sealed containers. Any design change he made he added a Letter prefix and started the numbering sequence at the next 100 and repeated the archive sequence.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,760 Posts
The problem with proof loads is that they could weaken the barrel and if this is not detected the barrel could come apart later with a lighter load.
The proof load varies with each situation. Perhaps there's some concept of how much a proof load is supposed to contain, that I am not familiar with, that you were thinking of. A proof load to me is just the first shot you fire after you get an unfamiliar piece, where people are not near it.

The only firm requirement I hold to in this process is a long fuse so I am not near the piece if it fails on the first shot.

I still recommend any gun of any type that's not new from a recognized maker, be fired with people at a distance. With old military bolt-action rifles, I do that by putting the buttstock in an unmounted car tire and pulling trigger with long cord, and often paper over the bolt to see if there's a gas leak.

I worked in military ordnance (Navy) and there all new artillery was proofed with five rounds, service charge, +10% pressure, +20% pressure, +10% pressure, and another service charge as a "relieving round" if I remember correctly, then star gauging, before the inspector would apply the stamps to the barrel. The Navy carries this out at its range in Dahgren VA. where I was assigned as as "Armaments Officer" about 100 years ago. Of course those were autofrettaged steel barrels and that situation would not be directly applicable to antique stuff, but I just throw it in here so people aren't left with the impression that pressure-proof testing is not done on weapons that go into service.

As far as I know, all the U.S. armed services get the big-bore barrels done by Watervliet Arsenal under joint-service agreements. Watervliet has the autofrettage equipment that drags an oversize carbide mandrel through the barrel forging to compress the surface of the bore and give it the strength required.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,760 Posts
I remember one story about current-day proof testing of blackpowder cannons, think it was in The Artilleryman about 20 yrs or so back, mid-80's-ish. There's an older gent in Germany, can't recall his name at moment (Heinz Dietz?), who is a mountain howitzer fanatic, I mean like US M1835 mountain howitzers. He has 2 or 3 repros and shoots them all. But first he had to comply with the German state proof testing requirements that apply to all black powder weapons. He had to take them to a military base and have the local proof-master do his thing with such and such proof loads, before the legally-required proof stamp could be struck onto his pieces. Then they have to be re-proofed every so many years. Or so I recall, i probably mis-remembered a lot of this but that's what's in my head all these years later.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
641 Posts
way to go Victor3 .., tell us a bit more about it. what kind of metal is it ? bore size ., weight?., have you fired it ? I am sure mine is the same but in bronze. Mine is a 1" bore and makes a fine signal . the base is more than a caliber thick in all directions ., and weighs in at 11 pounds . I think you got a good deal ! By the way I like that collectable "Anniversary" can of GOEX !!!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,986 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Tropico - You da man... That's the pic that started me looking to buy one. I saw a few of the same on ebay before but they went for fairly high $$$ so I passed. Mine is the ugly twin of yours. I never noticed that my can was different than others. Guess I'll have to use that one in all of my posts now!

The ebay description said "Needs a little more elbow grease to get her nice and shiny." That was accurate - except for the "a little more" part. This is not the greatest casting (but not awful either, I've seen worse) 1" bore is oblong about .06", but it's pretty well centered. Lots of casting boogers around the bands and quite a bit of porosity. Vent is not machined, so I'll have to do that. I may bore the bore to make it look nicer.

I've greased my elbows, and here is what I have thus far...



If it finishes without too many deep surface defects (My Mexican friends and I used to call them "Frijoles" ("Free holes" that the foundry didn't charge us for)) I'll polish it. Otherwise, shot-peening may be in order. Time will tell.

On the proof loads - I don't think this casting is anything I want to use for more than light blanks, which it will do fine with considering the heavy walls.

Anyway, I'm kind of excited about finding this somewhat useless doodad. My wife was just slightly less excited that another of my fine relics will be taking up more real estate in the curio cabinet.

Thanks to all for the input. Any info on who made it, when or where it was made would also be appreciated...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,986 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Hey Tropico - Thanks for pointing out the anniversary can. Years are 1912 - 1992. I looked through some others and found two more, including this cannon one. Being a packrat does sometimes have its advantages I guess. A friend and I split a case years back and I believe these are from that order.

 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
641 Posts
Victor3 It looks beautiful .,I have a couple of minor pits in mine but not many.,I used wet and dry 1200 .,then Mothers polish . It will look like gold quick.,you sure got a good deal on that one ! The only thing I can say about its origins...., is.., I believe a man in Florida casted these.

I am not sure how light a load you plan on., I can get a real loud signal with 200 grains and I keep it right there and I feel very safe.,You should too ..,Bronze makes for a nice doo-dad ;D. I wouldn't know about the .06 as its really for a signal. Here is an interesting image I got from Powder Keg some time back ., if you look to the bottom right at the man wearing the blue tunic ., you'll see the Thunder-Mug. I am going to have to disagree with the idea that they were for holidays only. I too have done a little research. 3 - 80'th anniversary cans ? You hurt my feelings.


There are alot of cannon videos by young people on you tube all the time..., and i I think we have a lot of viewers here.., and I feel the need to say this.., I love our hobby and I want to keep it.,for-ever.,its part of our heritage. I dont want it ruined due to more accicdents and anti gun people.
I am going to respectfully disagree with this proofing idea. Their are rules in place with a little research and common sense. The 1 caliber rule., and X-amount of BP per inch.., and then researching the metal of your build. I haven't "proofed " anything .., I cant see any reason for intentionally overloading my artillery in an effort to see the breaking point? Thats kind of a dangerous and expensive thing to do......, for me. I believe there is enough data out there on "how much BP per inch of bore ect.,to use..,that we can take an educated guess of choosing less than that. The government did these things and we should have learned by these test loads load to start light and overbuild.. I am not a drag racer., and I dont jump up there big cause I'll run till I break thing...,that is a very bad idea. If I run until I break.., Budwieser is not coming down here to rebuild my cannon and replace a body (friends)....,I am going to jail tho.

Safety guidlines have been established. Overbuild., and start with light loads..., If you want a bigger bang..., build a heavier toy. .
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,127 Posts
Lots of casting boogers around the bands and quite a bit of porosity.

A long standing practice of the iron founding industry is filling casting defects. If you have ever seen a shiny new machine tool with a flawless paint job and thought that the underlying casting was as perfect as the painted surface, you have a surprise coming. If you had seen that machine before the priming coat, you would have found lots of places where the local equivalent of Bondo graced the surface. So feel free to apply body filler to the defects and sand it smooth and prime and paint it shiny black. The viewer won't know the difference.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,986 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
GGaskill said:
Lots of casting boogers around the bands and quite a bit of porosity.

A long standing practice of the iron founding industry is filling casting defects. If you have ever seen a shiny new machine tool with a flawless paint job and thought that the underlying casting was as perfect as the painted surface, you have a surprise coming. If you had seen that machine before the priming coat, you would have found lots of places where the local equivalent of Bondo graced the surface. So feel free to apply body filler to the defects and sand it smooth and prime and paint it shiny black. The viewer won't know the difference.
Bondo and black paint on my fancy bronze thingy? Blasphemy! I'll live with the flaws, viewers be damned.

I've been able to reduce or remove most of the surface defects with files and 60 grit emery now. It will shine like Tropico's soon...



I hear you on the iron castings though. The ram on my mill is as smooth as a baby's bum...



The column, however had all of the filler chipped off of it before I painted it. This is raw casting under the paint. Very rough...



They didn't use any filler on the aluminum head castings though. Still looks almost new after decades and has never been refinished...

 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,986 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Tropico - I assume you must have received yours already partially finished? Mine was pretty much a rough casting that looked as if someone started to polish it on the top half and gave up. If I tried to polish mine to the luster yours has with 1200 paper, it would be more likely that a genie would come out of it and grant me three wishes before I finished rubbing on it.

On that picture, it indeed looks like a battle going on there, not the 4th of July. However, what kind of damage is the guy going to do with those mugs? I had read somewhere that thunder mugs were used to test powder mixtures in the field(?) Maybe that's why guy #2 is spacing out and sitting on his arse with a bunch of idle gonnes - Waiting for the Gunpowder Quality Control dept to buy off a new batch. And look at guy #4. Hand on his hip, impatiently looking at #2 and probably saying "Come on, dude! Stop playing with those toys. We need some powder!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,375 Posts
One story about the thundermug is that it was the breech section (powder chamber) of an early cannon, and was held in place with a wedge.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
641 Posts
I believe smaller mugs., 1" bore types were used as powder testing tools. I have also heard that a removable breach section was used in cannon of long ago..., and I have seen 2" bore and bigger thundermugs..., which is a bit much for a powder test wouldnt cha say? On those larger mugs I believe they were used for close range attacks for example stopping some of the enemy from coming over the trenches. a close range last ditch effort to defend the line ....., I believe some of this stuff is 1200 - 1400 war fare. time line with the gone..., but still a war machine of some type and still a Myte-Fine piece of decor to spruce up any persons enviroment., I'll bet the wifes might proud of it...., Indeed mine is !
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,986 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Turned out pretty good. Looks a lot nicer in real life...

 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,127 Posts
Looks like a lot of hand polishing went into that. Good job.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,537 Posts
That's beautiful!

I've been playing around with a mug design in CAD, that would be 3¾" diameter across the base, 3" diameter in the chamber area, 8" tall, and have a 1" diameter bore with hemi bottom.

The handle would be made separately and then welded on, as would the primer pan.

It would be steel, so it would have to be blued or (most likely) painted.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,986 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Thanks guys.

It did take about 20 hrs to do the finishing, but was time better spent than sitting in front of the tube methinks.

I had forgotten how much work it is to make a rough casting look presentable. Fortunately there are a lot of areas on it that were able to be done with the "shoe shine" method with emery and Scotch Brite belts. Most time consuming were the junctions at the handle and primer pan lug, which were done with various Dremel tools.

Can't wait to fire it. Certainly the simplest BP cannon I can think of to get into action - Kinda like making a cup of instant coffee!
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top