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Login Name Post: Cannon Locks        (Topic#6187)
Musketman 
Passed On
Posts: 10652
11-29-03 12:32 PM - Post#6187    


Here are some lovely locks from our past, simple yet effective.

A cannon lock allows you to fire a black powder cannon by lanyard. It makes cannon firing safer, as the cannon is fired "on demand". The lanyard is connected to the hammer, and when pulled it strikes a "percussion cap" (Our lock accommodates a "winged musket cap") which was placed on the nipple. The "fire ball" from the musket cap travels down the fuse hole (vent) to ignite the powder in the barrel. They can be installed in different orientations. Cannon locks are not new (They were used during the Civil War) and appeared on many small cannons. (see below).


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Anonymous 
12-16-03 10:57 AM - Post#6188    

    In response to Musketman

Prior to the use of percussion locks, I believe they also used flintlocks on cannons.

I belonged to a NSSA Civil War group and we had an Aimes Repro Cannon we shot. We used black powder in aluminum foil containers for the main charge. When it came time to file, the guy responsible ran a metal prick through the touch hole to break the aluminum foil container. Then we took a straw filled with black powder, shoved it down the tough hole and ignited the end with the linstock.

 
Musketman 
Passed On
Posts: 10652
12-16-03 11:08 AM - Post#6189    

    In response to Snake Eye

Sounds fun, however the aluminum foil and straws hardly seem period correct.

I do remember reading something about flint ignited cannons...

 
Anonymous 
12-16-03 11:31 AM - Post#6190    

    In response to Musketman

quote:
Originally posted by musketman:
Sounds fun, however the aluminum foil and straws hardly seem period correct.

I do remember reading something about flint ignited cannons...

I think a hollow feather quill filled with black powder is probably more period correct.

Anyway, the NSSA was VERY strict about safety. We had to wait several minutes before swabbing down the bore and loading the next shot. Also, the ammo box had to be kept some distance from the gun. NSSA people were always checking little details like this, making sure we held the rammers and cleaning rods with CUPPED hands instead of hooking our thumbs over the rod as people normally would. If you did the latter and the gun discharged, it would carry your arm away. If you held the rammer in the cupped position, you might only loose a few fingers. Also, in loading the gun, there was always one guy with a leather stopper on his finger who was supposed to be watching the rammer, and was to keep his thumb on the touchhole to make sure no draft occurred while the rammer was shoved home - it might ignite some spare sparks and set off some remaining unburnt powder in the bore. If the guy with the rammer heard a "WOOSH" when he shoved the rammer home, he could hit the guy with the thumb stopper on the head with his ramrod.

Dangerous stuff - even under controlled conditions. Gives you some idea of how hazardous this must have been in combat.

 
Musketman 
Passed On
Posts: 10652
12-16-03 12:18 PM - Post#6191    

    In response to Snake Eye

So just how many people were/are assigned to a cannon battery?

My Civil War book shows a crew of eight assigned to one 3.67 Parrott rifle.

How many does it take to fire the piece under NSSA guidelines?

 
Anonymous 
12-16-03 12:38 PM - Post#6192    

    In response to Musketman

quote:
Originally posted by musketman:
So just how many people were/are assigned to a cannon battery?

My Civil War book shows a crew of eight assigned to one 3.67 Parrott rifle.

How many does it take to fire the piece under NSSA guidelines?

(1)There was a guy who sat on the ammo box, and made sure it was closed during firing, and brought the projectile and charge to the loader. He also timed the minutes between firing and reloading (I think it was 4 or 5 minutes) (2)The Loader received the charge and projectile and held the charge and the projectile in front of the mouth of the piece. (3)The rammer held the ramrod and cleaning swab and rammed the charge and cleaned the bore. (4)Another guy was responsible for keeping his thumb over the touchhole while the charge was being loaded. I think he also pplaced the straw into the touchhole. (5)Another guy held a linstock with a burning slow fuse to set it off. (6)The cannon captain aimed the piece and ordered it to fire.

This is how I remember it. In real battle I guess they could combine jobs, or if they more men, they could use them to fire faster (crew safety not being an issue). Also, in real combat, I guess they needed somebody to handle the horses.

On a British Man of War, they needed a large crew to run the cannon out after it had been fired. Eight guys in combat is probably a good estimate.

[ December 16, 2003, 10:45 AM: Message edited by: musketman ]

 
Musketman 
Passed On
Posts: 10652
12-16-03 12:44 PM - Post#6193    

    In response to Snake Eye

quote:
Originally posted by Snake-Eye:
(3)The rammer held the ramrod and cleaning swab and rammed the charge and cleaned the bore.

This would be the most scariest position on the team, he would have his back to the battle... [Eek!]

 
Anonymous 
12-16-03 12:54 PM - Post#6194    

    In response to Musketman

quote:
Originally posted by musketman:
quote:
Originally posted by Snake-Eye:
(3)The rammer held the ramrod and cleaning swab and rammed the charge and cleaned the bore.

This would be the most scariest position on the team, he would have his back to the battle... [Eek!]
It might also cause some embarrasing wounds!

 
Musketman 
Passed On
Posts: 10652
12-16-03 01:01 PM - Post#6195    

    In response to Snake Eye

The rammer could man his post and still be labled a coward by getting shot in the back...

Just in day #3 of Gettysburg alone, the South shot over for over 2 hours of straight cannon fire leading up to Pickett's Charge...

What a workout that must have been...

 
Birdwatcher 
45 Cal.
Posts: 641
12-25-03 12:23 PM - Post#6196    

    In response to Musketman

On a related note...

Naval Flintlock Cannon Locks can be seen to good effect in the current film "Master and Commander". A revelation to me, I was entirely unware that such existed.

http://www.kwsantiques.de/english/eframe.html

On the link click on "cannons" and then of the top picture of a Napoleonic era cannon (could not get this to link directly). There is a good closeup photo of an "1820 Millar Pattern Cannon Lock" (flintlock).

It surprised me that a flintlock especially would be superior to a match in a naval environment.

Over on www.shootertalk.com a knowledgeable poster sated that such locks dated from at least the latter half of the Eighteenth Century, and had distinct advantages over ignition by a lighted match when it came to volley fire and for considerations of safety when men were operating under cramped conditions in proximity to large amounts of powder.

Birdwatcher

 
Musketman 
Passed On
Posts: 10652
12-25-03 12:29 PM - Post#6197    

    In response to Birdwatcher

cool link, thanks...

 
Birdwatcher 
45 Cal.
Posts: 641
12-25-03 12:30 PM - Post#6198    

    In response to Musketman

Ahhhgh!!! Just noticed, what I posted ain't specific to the Civil War per se, hope its of enough peripheral content to not get docked though.

 
Musketman 
Passed On
Posts: 10652
12-25-03 12:35 PM - Post#6199    

    In response to Birdwatcher

I think it'll be OK, the navil cannons and mortars were used on the ships in, and around the American coast during the Civil War era, thereabouts...

The cannons are from mid 17th century to late 19th. century, so they could have been used then.

However, the topic is cannon locks, and you provided a fine flint lock cannon ignition system to look at...

Again, cool post.

 
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