Brass round stock... any potential?

Discussion in 'Cannon' started by kevthebassman, Aug 7, 2008.

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum by donating:

  1. Aug 7, 2008 #1

    kevthebassman

    kevthebassman

    kevthebassman

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've happened upon a piece of 3" brass bar stock, about 16" long. Is there any potential for turning this into a safe scale cannon? Or is the brass too soft to be useful?
     
  2. Aug 7, 2008 #2

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    62 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Messages:
    2,594
    Likes Received:
    6
    As the Proof Master at London told me, "You can make it it out of marzipan so long as it passes my test" :thumbsup:

    A proof load is the key to safe shooting and has been for donkey's years. Measure the bore slightly in front of the powder charge before and after the massive overload listed for proofing. If it doesn't change then you are safe to shoot the service charge. They load it with lead shot to get the weight, preferable to stacking balls.

    America doesn't have a requirement for proof testing which seems a tad dangerous from this side of the pond. Nothing to stop you doing you own though.

    Probably no larger than four bore, assuming you can keep that 3" diameter around the first reinforcement. You are sure it's brass? CZ141 is normal. Would be a shame to do all the work then fail proof :grin:
     
  3. Aug 8, 2008 #3

    kevthebassman

    kevthebassman

    kevthebassman

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm certain it's brass, but there is an old paper label on it with some numbers that I will check tomorrow when I go to the shop.

    I've got a lathe in the shop and the bits to form it, plus there is some smaller round stock that would be suitable for trunnions if I could figure out a way to attach them to the tube.
     
  4. Aug 8, 2008 #4

    bingo1952

    bingo1952

    bingo1952

    54 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    0
    You could scale down the bore to 1.25" and make a small mortar or perhaps a howitzer.
     
  5. Aug 8, 2008 #5

    mazo kid

    mazo kid

    mazo kid

    70 Cal.

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2003
    Messages:
    4,789
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have a couple of large valve stems, maybe 1-1/4" in diameter or so. I was always gonna try to make either a mortar(s) or cannon(s) from them. Any thoughts as to their suitability with small bore and light charges? Thanks. Emery
     
  6. Aug 8, 2008 #6

    Titus

    Titus

    Titus

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Messages:
    767
    Likes Received:
    0
    I cringe when I hear that somebody wants to (or has) made a cannon of brass. :nono: Its not suitable for cannon tubes as its actually a very brittle metal. :youcrazy: Its has extremely poor molecular cohesion.

    Old cannon were never made of brass. They used bronze which was tougher (but more expensive) than iron. When iron guns started to appear as a rule, rather than the exception, they had to cast then many times thicker and hence they where only used on ships and as coastal guns (due to their extreme weight) until the advent of steel cannon which had both advantages of less material (equals less weight) and high tensile strength. These newly developed guns was suitable to move easily across over undulating terrain to fight in land based combat.

    Bronze was typically 90% copper and 10% tin (without impurities) and had excellent ductility and had the added advantage of being lighter than iron. These guns also gave warning signs of impending failure by buldging (a characteristic of proper cohesion) and later showing cracks. Iron which has similiar properties as brass does not do that. It would shatter into thousands of jagged edges pieces.

    No one should encourage cannon barrels made of brass, they make beautiful ornaments, but when it comes to working, firing models, stick to steel. If you want the colour of brass, stick to the time proven metal called Bronze. Anyone who argues with this should rather do further research into metallurgy. Err on the side of safety. :hatsoff:
     
  7. Aug 9, 2008 #7

    kevthebassman

    kevthebassman

    kevthebassman

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0
    That settles it then, off to the scrap yard to cash in on my find and put my pennies in a jar so I can get a real tube. :thumbsup:
     
  8. Aug 9, 2008 #8

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    62 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Messages:
    2,594
    Likes Received:
    6
    :confused: :confused: :confused:

    You may want to err on the side of safety but you shouldn't simply condemn brass out of hand. I have even heard some condemn leaded steel for gun barrels, can't understand it :confused:

    Brass is a wonderful metal and will bulge at proof if you overstress it. Ductility depends on the copper content. Put enough copper in and you can cold stamp it.

    The normal, everyday brass is CZ121 58% Cu, 39% Zn, 3% Pb. The lead helps prevent brass's unpleasant tendency to snatch when you turn it. OTOH when it does snatch it bends, used to happen to me a lot whan I started metal turning back in the 60's. It bends, it doesn't break, so it isn't brittle. Just looked it up, it stretches 20% before it lets go. Apparently you only need 63% copper before you can stamp it cold.

    Original "bronze" guns were 80-90% copper, some tin, zinc and lead with numerous other elements in minor to trace quantities.

    Brass will harden if you stress it or wait a hundred years. That's why the proof test is important to make sure the wall thickness is enough. Hardening is not necessarily a bad thing.
     
  9. Aug 9, 2008 #9

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    62 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Messages:
    2,594
    Likes Received:
    6
    Are you sure about that. Early bronze guns tend to be overly long, makes them look skinny.

    Dud Dudley writing in his book Mettallum Martis on iron making back in 1665 lists the different irons he makes but infuriatingly tells little about how he did it.

    He is quite clear that you would use his best quality, most fined, Grey Iron for ordnance. It being the "more malleable and tough".

    They had the technology :thumbsup:
     
  10. Aug 9, 2008 #10

    mazo kid

    mazo kid

    mazo kid

    70 Cal.

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2003
    Messages:
    4,789
    Likes Received:
    0
    Now you have me wondering how to tell if my large valve stems are bronze or brass?? :hmm:
     
  11. Aug 10, 2008 #11

    Titus

    Titus

    Titus

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Messages:
    767
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, having measured numerous guns on the Cape which was stationed there on the COastal defences, both Iron and Bronze, of the same Calibers, Iron guns always came out substantially heavier and thicker than bronze. Bronze guns always stayed the favourite (this is documented when the british arillery's master of arms took stock of over 1000 cannon of which less than 300 was iron) because of its alluring look when polished brightly and due to weight advantages. Which was also evident was the number of exploded Iron guns we have found during renovations of these old antique guns

    [​IMG]


    Bronze only started to die down during the 1870's when the new breechloading cannon was starting to to take over, the main reason being the extreme frictions in RBL cannon which bronze could not withstand.
     
  12. Aug 13, 2008 #12

    juancho

    juancho

    juancho

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Messages:
    318
    Likes Received:
    3
    Hi guys,
    I would like to know if aluminum bronze is a sutable material for cannons.I know is very tough to machine, and I've been using it for decades for heavy duty bushings and wear plates.You need good carbide tools to machine it and the chips are usualy blueish purple.Is very expensive though.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge :thumbsup:
     
  13. Aug 13, 2008 #13

    Titus

    Titus

    Titus

    45 Cal.

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Messages:
    767
    Likes Received:
    0
    juancho, I have no idea, I do not know the metal/alloy you are talking about. :confused:
     
  14. Aug 15, 2008 #14

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    62 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Messages:
    2,594
    Likes Received:
    6
    It's usually used for casting mechanically impossible statues. My favorite was a whole bunch of mermaids and dolphins where one mermaid touched the ground with one skinny wrist and held the whole thing up :shocked2:

    It is probably excellent for cannon but what wall thickness at the breech? Once you stray from the tried and tested materials there is a big question mark hanging over it. Pioneers get arrows in their backs :hatsoff:
     
  15. Aug 15, 2008 #15

    kevthebassman

    kevthebassman

    kevthebassman

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0
    Squire Robin, do you happen to know of any pictures of that statue? Sounds interesting.
     
  16. Aug 15, 2008 #16

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    robinghewitt

    62 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Messages:
    2,594
    Likes Received:
    6
    It wasn't hard to find a pic because it's hard by Tower Bridge (the one that opens) at London. OTOH it seems my memory from 30 years ago is fried, only one dolphin, only one girl, other way up but it is still amazing. How the heck does it stay in one piece especially when it's blowing a gale? Only the tip of the dolphin tail holds everything up and only a couple of finger tips hold her up. Must be some amazing metal, I suspect aluminium bronze :shocked2:

    Best not post a pic on a family site because she's butt naked, it's called Girl with dolphin by David Wynne
     
  17. Aug 15, 2008 #17

    HarborMaster

    HarborMaster

    HarborMaster

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2005
    Messages:
    148
    Likes Received:
    0
    kevthebassman I have several cannon from firecracker sized mini cannons to 1"bore in Brass. Squire Robyns post is the truth.

    We fire these all the time and as always we check out bores and breaches for abnormalities in the bore and bulges. None to date. There is in fact a manufactor making quality barrels from brass round-bar and he has only success I believe it is 360 round bar.. But I am no machinist ., only a collector so do a bit of homework on your particular round bar.., It may be a good one. Pedrosoli has a nice brass barreled Queen Anne that I shoot regularly in .50 caliber. Perhaps there is a barrel maker here that has more experience the David Pedrosoli Co....., I doubt it. Throughout history many a pistol ., blunderbuss ., cannon and mortar have been built from Brass's and Bronzes. Casting can cause porosity issues ., there are many a good castings ., then there are BAD CASTINGS . British Spanish Portaguese Dutch Barrels were done in bronze before todays quality control and they worked out so well they are among many a museums prized possessions.. And here youve got a Round-Bar a solid clunker !!!...., Casting issues arent there for you. Do a little more homework before giving up on that piece of metal.

    A 3"X 16" with a 1"bore would be a fine addition to anyones collection. I have some built with 360 and 660 ., perhaps your round bar is some of this Good Stuff :thumbsup:

    Perhaps if you take this thing to the bone yard they can test it with their little gun they use on scrap ., you could find out for free that youve got a $350.00 dollar keeper rather than being talked out of this possible golden gun by people who are guessing . This is very likely.
     
  18. Sep 16, 2008 #18

    GunneyG

    GunneyG

    GunneyG

    32 Cal.

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2005
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nominal constitution of US bronze guns of the 19th Century is 90% copper, 10% tin, traces as left from the refining processes of the day.
     
  19. Sep 16, 2008 #19

    Guest

    I fear any tube made with a brass or bronze alloy that contains more than 5% zinc or aluminium. Gun Metal bronze is an alloy of 88 parts copper, 8 parts tin and 4 parts zinc, rated at 65,000 pounds per square inch.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Sep 19, 2008 #20

    bingo1952

    bingo1952

    bingo1952

    54 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Messages:
    1,647
    Likes Received:
    0
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2018

Share This Page

arrow_white