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I just found the most amazing video animation of the 100 ton Armstrong gun that was made in late 2019, probably by the same maker as the much shorter animation that Dom Carpenter posted at about the same time. This is a full-color 12+ minute production (!!) that was made in association with the Malta museum folks, and it answers some of the questions that were discussed a few years ago, such as the function of the octagon part of the axial vent.

It is absolutely amazing. Words cannot describe how amazing.

Problem for me is, that I don't know how to include a direct link to it here, so I am hoping that someone with smarter computer skills can help. I can only access it by searching directly on U-Tube (not through Google), "siamagazine 1884 Armstrong 100 ton gun working principle 3D animation". But as a preview, and incentive for someone to take on the task, I here post just a few screen shot photos from this video. Fredstaple, come to the rescue? Maybe you have seen it, but I am guessing that you would have already done so, if you had.

Anyway, check out these stills.
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Thanks DD, I finally got it!

Now all I need to do is ask Dom, Mike, and Tracy to fully retrofit my (their) 1/17 scale model with all of the details revealed by this video!
 

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We are looking forward to helping you out along those lines, Greg! The Spanish language has two words that can make it all possible: "Mucho Dinero"!! Looks like a fun rpoject, after all, we never have built a steam engine before!! Let us know when you win the LOTTO. We are READY!!!

Tracy
 

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That's a well-spent quarter of an hour: particularly fascinating after watching the 'Forgotten Weapons' film of this fort, and squirming in frustration that all the beautiful Mech Eng had been stripped out. The box-battery of wet cells for firing is a remarkable detail!

I imagine the hydraulic accumulator was kept full, and the manual pumps used as a standby in case the boiler hadn't got steam up in time, or the went out of action for some reason. I wonder how many shots the accumulator could manage without being topped-up?

As an aside, I have visited Armstrong's house ('Cragside') in the north of England - where he installed (unsurprisingly, perhaps) various bits of hydraulic equipment including a lift and a device to turn the roasting-spit in the kitchen, as well as one of the earliest domestic hydroelectric plants.
 

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We are looking forward to helping you out along those lines, Greg! The Spanish language has two words that can make it all possible: "Mucho Dinero"!! Looks like a fun rpoject, after all, we never have built a steam engine before!! Let us know when you win the LOTTO. We are READY!!!

Tracy
Thanks Tracy, well it would require an entire room to accommodate such a project, but if I won the lotto I could afford to buy a bigger house. You will be the first person I call when I do!

For now, I wonder if it would be possible to tap a threaded hole into the existing vent (plenty of vent for that), and then create some sort of simple screw-in part that would hold some sort of battery-powered ignitor? I have thought about this already, the only easy option I have come up with is to adapt a model rocket ignitor. Just an idea (you will probably advise against it). There are probably better options for a tiny reusable ignitor, but I don't know what those might be.

The video leaves only one major question (for me), as to how exactly the gun was sighted onto a target. The only reference I have states that it had "two sets of reflecting sights, one on each side". I wish they had included that detail also (but maybe that detail remains elusive).

A bigger puzzle to me at this point concerns how the guns on the Italian battleships were loaded. There were four guns on each, and from the photos I have seen (including some of a large model), I can't see anything on the ships comparable to what is shown in the video. Surely they could not have had a hydraulic accumulator with 80 tons of scrap iron (even one, much less four). Hopefully the same folks who made this video might try doing the same for the battleships - but it already surprises me that they were even able to find enough information to make this one.
 

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I have electric ignitors for my fire works. I don't think they are small enough to pass down a .200 vent. I don't think M&T would make a .200 vent on this gun anyway.

The way I use these , I attach them to standard visco fuse. I have to go to storage to day, I'll dig out a couple and take some measurements.

Wonder if you could make a small screw on device that would hold some sort standard primer or cap A small vent the size of the flash hole in a muzzle loader or cartridge case.

The cap holder could be oversize and screw or twist on to a small scale size vent. The cap built to pass current through the cap to ignite it. Perhaps a dummy vent cover for display purpose, remove for firing.

I suppose a dummy vent and firing mechanism could also be made to fire .22 blanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks DD, the vent is 1/8 inch on the Armstrong, so pretty typically narrow for a model. Your comments prompted me to look into it further, and I think I found the perfect option. These may be something new, or I just missed them the last time I looked about three years ago.

A company named Aerotech makes three different sizes of model rocket ignitors made with fully insulated wires that end in an undefined "pyrogen" tip ("first fire ignitors"). These are different from standard rocket ignitors that have exposed wires that would not work on any narrow vent in a metal barrel (they would of course short out, among other problems). I went ahead and ordered two packs of three in the smallest size - won't know for sure if they will really work until I get them (but will post some photos and further info, if they do). Compared to fuse, they cost a fortune - with shipping, I paid over $2.50 each for six! But from what I see so far, the smallest size should fit; just depends on how tight, and how fragile the tips are.

But if they do work, they will be perfect for simulating the firing method used on the real Armstrong guns (at least for special demonstrations, at $2.50 a pop!) There is something very appealing about being able to fire a BP cannon almost instantaneously with the push of a button, as opposed to lighting a fuse and waiting (and maybe in some circumstances, enhanced safety). And even if they don't work well on the Armstrong (due to its very long vent), surely they will work on just about any small cannons with shorter and/or wider vents? For now I will wait for the package to arrive!
 

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Take care to make sure your cannon meets ATF "antique" regulations. Electric ignition is heading into a gray area.
 

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Take care to make sure your cannon meets ATF "antique" regulations. Electric ignition is heading into a gray area.
Well, of course it isn't an antique, and using the ignitors I have in mind would only amount to using a different type of "fuse", unless I am missing something. These would not involve any modifications to the cannon whatsoever.
 

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Greg

what an awesome video and quite revealing at answering so many questions. Huge thanks for postin!!!
 

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I am using fire works igniters that ignites a standard cannon fuse.



The igniter has a sleeve that the fuse slips into over the ignitor head. I have left the igniter head out of the sleeve in the photo so you can see it. In use the head and fuse are nearly completely in side the sleeve..

This probably is ATF okay. But as we have said since the inception of this board, ATF would have to rule on that. This may be closer to Black and white than gray. The source of ignition is the burning cannon fuse.

The gray area comes when the igniter is inserted directly into the powder charge, absent fuse.



This particular type of firework igniter with sleeve pulled back can be fully inserted into the charge. This type of ignition, the ignitor passed into the powder is a gray area in my mind.

We know that electric ignition existed prior 1898. So electric ignition as a whole would not be illegal-ignition by electricity. But what was the make up of the igniter? Was it a simple glow wire? Was the wire coated in a chemical that ignited when an electric current passed through it? That is where the gray lies.

The video of the Malta gun explain how the ignition system works, but it is not very clear on the composition and operation of the igniter its self. (Headed back to to the video to watch that section again)

Alright researchers get to work.
 

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Well the cannons discussed here need to be antique, that's our commission. Has been since almost when we started.

But moving on to electric ignition, as soon as I clicked "post reply" that click was like turning on a light bulb. I recalled a pair of books I added to my library a couple of years ago. David Ibbetson wrote "Early British Artillery Fuses" and "British Artillery Ammunition Volume 1". I have both.

The Artillery Fuses book is a study of fuses that go in projectiles used by British Artillery as far back as the 1750's. This book has nothing that I can find on igniters.

Volume 1 however has a large chapter on ignition, start with 14th century and plunging a red hot poker directly into powder charge progressing through all type of ignition ending with electrical tube. It discusses two types of electrical ignition High Tension and Low tension.

High tension was the passing of an electric current through and inflammable semi conducting material used for priming place between two terminals. Power source was a magneto or induction coil

Low tension used incandescent of a thin wire between two terminals and use current supplied by lead acid batteries.

Looking back at the Malta gun video it appears that gun used low tension ignition.

I have some reading to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks DD for the detailed history and photos. Looks like the Malta gun used the low-tension system as you noted, and as far as I can tell, the model rocket ignitors I ordered use the same method, as do all of the typical rocket ignitors. For now I will wait for them to arrive before I can determine whether or not they might work, either way.
 

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I'd guess igniters lighting fuses should be fine, and most likely a proper cannon with an igniter would be ok if not used as any sort of weapon, but their definition of "antique" is not always what history says, so YMMV.
 

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Douglas has hit the nail on the head.

Here is a reply from Mario Farrugia, the most knowledgeable person I know on the 100 Ton Armstrong Guns. He has written a book on the gun and its fortress in Malta and his name appears at the end of the film.

"The gun was fired by means of an electrical tube powered by a row of Leclanche’ battery cells – hence it was low voltage."

Below is a picture of one.


250862
 
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