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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I put up a flag pole last May. It is a great setting at the top of the hill up from the lake we live it. As I looked at it the thought came to me that I needed a cannon sitting next to it. My initial thought was to build a naval carriage (using treated wood, nothing overly fancy) and get an all-weather, non-firing cannon so I would not have to worry about it being out in the weather.
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As I explored options... I thought, what about a REAL cannon? And so my adventure began...

I did all the internet research I could. I found out where I could buy a cannon. I decided I really preferred a field carriage as I would not want to leave my cannon sitting in my back yard getting hit by my irrigation sprinklers (a nice yard in the Texas summer requires a lot of water and with 28K acres of it in my backyard, I water a LOT).

I learned there are different field carriages, and thinking I'd start on the small side of cannons, planned to purchase a Mountain Howitzer so I decided I'd build an 1849 First Model Prairie Carriage. I bought the book (plans), studied it and learned all the parts of a carriage parts of the field carriages. It did not take long to realize a field carriage is much more complicated than they look. I also realized that if I built something I was proud of it would be around a LONG time and would need to be built correctly so that it would be as safe to shoot, for me, or others down the road.

I had read ZULU's post on the Alamo Carriage he built - truly awesome. I also had seen the post on the Verbruggen Cannon mold he made for Hern Iron Works, and casting pics Hern posted and then the first Verbruggen they sent Zulu. To cut to the chase, I ended up with it. And that was the beginning...


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(My wife is a retired teacher, I still work !!)

More to come. TM
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks Zulu for ALL the knowledge you shared with not only the carriage build but also the tech support !!

When I got the cannon home I built a "cradle" for the it - the cannon would sit in the cradle for 4+ months as I built the carriage. I also cut out a cheek template that would be needed to make the trunnion plates and cap squares. The Verbruggen has 2.25" trunnions and I've not found a source for trunnion plates for that size trunnions. Shop made would be my only option and a cheek template would be crucial to building plates, cap squares, and cheek axle straps.

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Making the cradle and cheek template - EASY. Trunnion plates and cap squares - not so easy.
 

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For display by the flag pole you could get one of Zulu's porch cannons. Gel coat the carriage like they do boats and the wood would last for years. The barrel would never rust. Wouldn't have to worry about the sprinklers then, but look out for the weed whackers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The all-weather version was my original plan Double D. The desire to have a field carriage and a cannon that would shoot led me down a different path. As the title of this post references, I'd never built a field carriage and never shot a cannon, but I wanted to! I'm blessed (and cursed, maybe) with the ability to spend endless amounts of time on something until I get it the way it should be, or how I want it - a necessary trait for building a field carriage when you have never even looked at a real one close up :tango_face_surprise
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
The trunnion plates and cap squares were a challenge. Making one or the other is not too hard but making a pair that fit together and have the right inside diameter to hold the cannon trunnion tight took a lot of time and effort. I used 2" x 3/8" flat stock and 2 sections of 2 1/4" ID DOM tubing (cut not quite in half) trying to end up with the correct inside diameter of the trunnion cup. Once they were made the process to get them to match as close as possible took me quite a while - lots of die-grinding and sanding. In the end, they came out looking pretty for not ever having made them before.

I used a piece of 2 1/4" round stock when building them to stay on track with how the trunnion plates and cap squares fit together.

Rough start...

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Progress.
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Once I had these looking acceptable, cutting the cheeks to fit the plates was the next step.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Trunnion plates, cap squares, and cheek axle brackets took me quite a while. Jeremy at a local fab shop was VERY helpful! I was happy to get them done and move on to something else. I used mahogany for the cheeks, axle box, and trail. I know, not white oak, but I used was was available to me. I decided I was better off using a hole saw for the trunnion cup and then cutting out the shape to the hole rather than use a band saw to cut the cup. The hole saw worked well.



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My neighbor Harold was kind enough to loan me his spindle / disc sander, drill press and band saw (I'm kinda tool limited...) which were very necessary tools for a project like this. Final shaping of the cheeks with the spindle sander provided a much better end result than I would have had without it.

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The trunnion plates started at 2" wide but after sanding them the 2" cheeks were slightly wider. I went to a cabinet shop near me and had them plane them (see limited tools, above...) - THANKS Brad ! It would not be the last time I would need to find help and it was always interesting that once I said what I was working on - a cannon carriage, there was great interest and willingness to assist. :tango_face_smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You have skills, very respectable.:tango_face_grin:
Thanks Moose 53. I was the kid whose mother would not let me take SHOP in school. She was certain I'd cut myself up with something. Still mad at Mom about it. Whatever I've learned has been self-taught and trial and error and re-do - heavy on the re-do... I'm pretty picky. My family has learned I can take forever to do something and I'm very willing to work on something until I'm happy with it. I'm better at recognizing when I'm as close as I'll likely get and going further will leave me worse off - as Zulu referenced about fitting cheeks to trunnion plates. I've built a variety of things, but nothing as complex as a field carriage :tango_face_surprise
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
After getting the cheeks / trunnion plates fitting as well as I could I moved on to the axle box. When my axle (and wheels) had arrived I saw each end of the axle had a 5/8" bushing on each axle shaft. Never having seen a carriage axle I did not think much of it. I was to learn later, the axle shafts were 5/8" too long for the wheel hubs and to compensate for it, the bushings were added. Hmm...

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Not a huge deal, until I found that with the bushing, the wheel hub was further from the axle box than I wanted - it did not look right. In hindsight, I should have cut the axle box long enough to account for the bushings, and then notched out the bottom of the axle box to hide them in the lower part of the axle box. To get it to look right, I added a plate to each axle strap and then cut enough of the plate away to cover the bushing. In the end, it came out OK. It took longer than it might have if I was just putting on the normal axle straps but by this time, I was pretty used to every step taking a long time...

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It took me 4 hours to fit the 2 axle traps / plates to the axle box. I wanted a very tight fit especially with the added weight of them so they were purposely made slightly smaller than my axle box.

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I'm happy with the way they turned out. Drilling the holes for the nails would come later. The axle straps will always be one more way I'll always be able to tell my carriage from another :tango_face_smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hmmm... no way mine was going inside hub. I talked to the place that built the wheels, and axle ... he told me the bushing was added because axle shaft was too long (really ?) - basically a spacer. I was a bit disappointed but worked around it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
After the axle box and axle straps were done I moved on to shaping the lower section of the trail. I started with shaping the end for the lunette using a belt sander. Quite a bit of belt sanding which would prove to be useful practice.

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I traced the lunette not quite to the end of the trail and then decided I better start off at the very end in case I had to keep sanding to get the shape correct and I did not want to end up with the trail being too short. I'd later learn I would have been better off shaping the end for the luntette as the last step in shaping lower section of the trail, rather than the first :tango_face_surprise
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I got the fit pretty close to the lunette and would come back later and work on it more. Tapering the sides of the trail where it steps down and also cutting the top of the trail for the trail plate was a challenge. We (me and my good friend Neal) attempted to cut the sides with the band saw. It did not go well. I could not feed it thru and stay on my line. After much discussion I ended up cutting the sides with a circular saw (both top and bottom, hoping the cuts lined up), trying to cut just outside my lines. They kinda lined up. After the rough cut (it was ugly) I ended up clamping steel flat stock to the top and bottom on my lines and went back to the belt sander to sand to the edges of the steel plates.

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After lots of time with the belt sander it came out OK. There would be additional fine sanding of the sides, top, bottom for the lunette, and top for the trail plate, all of which would come after shaping the top section of the trail.

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