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Full scale cannon re-build

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Quite a journey and a true labor of love. Though you have proved it perfectly safe I fully understand your desire to bring the barrel up to the safest of standards. I look forward to the re-assembly and range report!

All the best to you and keep the updates coming......
 
On a real cannon, the cap square covers the trunnion and keeps the barrel in place. The cap squares are retained on their aft end by a special hooked bolt called a "chinbolt". The front end drops over another specialized bolt called a "keybolt". An iron "key" would then be driven through the slot in the keybolt to retain the cap squares. When I built the gun 50 + years ago, I couldn't make the same arrangements. I simply made four solid brass blocks, connected to bolts through the cheeks, that the cap squares would drop over and round brass cross pins would be driven through to secure. Here again I could redo almost all of this attachment method and make the gun more historically accurate. But, in the interest or retaining some of the original character of my early work, I decided to just reshape the brass blocks and retain the round cross pins but modify the pins to lock into the blocks better and to be retained by chains just like the historical arrangement for keeping the cap squares and keys from getting lost.

Here are the four blocks, pins, and retention chains modified and ready to be installed. The eyes on the ends of the chains were made with short studs to be welded into the cap squares on an iron mounted gun. I had to weld lag bolts to the ends of the studs so that they can be screwed into the side of the cheeks......



This is how the blocks and cross pins will look in place......



In preparation for mounting the stop chain I made up, I purchased the stop chain mount bolt from Ken Creswell at Cannon Parts Ltd. Unfortunately the bolt was about 1/2" too short if mounted where it should be on the trail. So I cut the bolt in half with the intention of welding in an additional 1/2" of 3/4" round stock. But when I cut the bolt, I realized (by the ease of cutting) that the bolt was probably made from 12L14 free machine steel. 12L14 doesn't weld very well at all due to the lead in the alloy. But now that the bolt was cut in half, I either had to make a new one or come up with an alternate plan....and the alternate plan was to drill and tap both cut ends of the bolt and add a piece of 1/2"-13 threaded rod to lengthen it. The side benefit is the now the length of the bolt is actually adjustable... :eek:



 
I am trying to finish up a lot of the welding and iron work before I completely tear down the carriage and begin all the wood refinishing. The last major parts to be welded are the hand spike "D" rings and the last modifications to the lunette on the trail end of the stock. The "D" rings were usually "clinched" through the cheek by spreading the tips of the split retention bands that held the "D" ring and allowed it to pivot. The retention band legs on the "D" rings I had were not long enough to go all the way through the 3 inch thick cheek, so I cut off the split legs and welded on threaded rod. These will be installed through holes in the cheeks and then captured with square nuts. Here is the unmodified "D" ring.......



Here are the modified "D" rings with one of the implement hooks that retain the aft end of the handspikes.



Here is one of the implement hooks mounted and with the handspike engaged for transport. The front end of the handspike goes through the mounted "D" rings....



The lunette I made 50 years ago was just hammered out of 3/8" steel plate and was uniform in thickness. A real lunette started off about 3/4 inch thick and then tapered over its length. I could have left the thickness of mine alone (after making the major ring modifications previously) but it bothered me some. Here is the edge of the lunette as (up side down) as I originally made it showing the uniform thickness.



To increase the thickness and make the correct taper, I decided to weld on strips of mild steel of varying thickness and then grind the surface smooth. Here are the steel plates stacked on prior to welding. The thickest one is 3/8" and the rest all step down a sixteenth of an inch at a time to the last one....



I was clamping the plates in place getting ready to start the tack welding when all of a sudden my argon regulator on the TIG welding rig let loose and was leaking a huge amount of argon gas through the top of the flow meter !!!! So I had to stop with the welding and, since the regulator is 50 years old and no parts are available, I ordered a new one. However, being the partial pack rat that I am, while I am waiting for the new one to arrive, I am making the part required to fix the old one. The fun just never seems to stop :eek:



Not a welding issue, but I also re-bent the 50 year old prolonge hooks to look more like originals and then got them remounted in the correct position. Here is the new prolonge re-stowed on the hooks......just one more detail......

 
Little by little, step by step, you are making this cannon look really nice. Very nice work.
And very nice pictures.
 
Rebuilt the regulator today....fixed the original issue but then another problem with it developed... :mad: I really don't understand....it's been working great for just over 50 years !!! (They just don't build these things like they used to !)

I'll finish fixing the old reg later. Luckily I ordered a new one and it came in today. So I set it up on the argon bottle and started in welding.....First passes.....



Then the edges





Too late to start in with the grinding tonight but will try to get to it in the next couple of days. Then I will probably have to go back and fill in a few low spots before the final finishing. But at least the iron now tapers like a lunette is supposed to....

 
Started in on grinding the welded areas smooth. Only took about an hour to clean the whole thing up and I don't think I will need any supplemental welding.

Rough grind.....



Smoothed up with a 100 grit sanding disk......



Edges cleaned up and now clearly showing the correct taper of the lunette from the pintle ring forward.....



And re-installed on the cannon stock for a fit check.......



Not perfect but good enough for the underside of a cannon lunette. "In a workman like manner" has a slightly different connotation when working on an 1800 pound cannon vs a longrifle.... ;)
 
I have to stand down for a while over the holidays.....traveling a bit for Christmas. However, when I get back I need to re-work the cap squares that hold the trunions in place. You can see from some of the photos that I have posted that, 50 years ago, I just machined a heavy walled brass tube that surrounds the trunion on each side. I took the tubes and the "ears" to an old time welder who TIG brazed all the parts together for me and did a magnificent job. This made an acceptable but incorrect cap square that has to come off the carriage with the barrel. But Now I would like to correct that by cutting the lower part of the tubes free and then TIG brazing that lower half into the brass bands that surround the cheeks. The brass bands are 3 inches wide and 3/8" thick, and being brass, suck away a lot of heat. I have watched dozens of youtube videos on TIG brazing both brass to brass and brass to steel, but no one is doing thick sections like this. I purchased silicon bronze rod (which is what I think the welder at Bast Brothers Welding used in 1970) and have tried several times to braze thick sections together, both with and without a lot of pre-heating, but have not had much luck yet. Anyone out there know how to do this ??
 
Well.....I got caught up for a while in the Southwest Airline meltdown....stranded for a while in the LaGuardia airport in Brooklyn. Got to spend several extra days with my grandson though, so it was OK. Then back to Nashville and on to St. Louis before returning to SoCal. And then I fell right into a TON of aerospace work that has fully occupied my time since and will for a while. However, I did have a little time to work some necessary preliminary things that needed to be done before I take apart the gun carriage for all the wood refinishing.

Some of the "irons" still need to be mounted (like the sponge & rammer stop, the sponge & rammer chain, and the ear plate) before starting on the wood work. The sponge & rammer stop and chain hold the two rammer / sponge assemblies in place under the trail for transport. The ear plate and key hold the worm in place for transport. In order to locate these for mounting, I needed to have the sponge & rammers made up correctly....and it took a surprising amount of research to find the necessary details to make these correctly (I received a huge amount of help from the great folks on the web site https://civilwartalk.com/forums/ ). Then it took me a fair amount of time to find and order (from Maine) 1 1/2" ash dowels long enough to make the rammers. Long story short, I finally found the dowels, the required maple blocks to turn the rammer heads, and a sufficiently accurate way to make the sponges (without killing and skinning my own sheep !) Now that the rammer & sponge are close to being done (never thought that this part would take this much effort..... :eek:) I can locate and mount the irons on the underside of the trail.

So here are some of the parts in work......Trimming the maple blocks for the rammer heads



Turning the blocks....this was a combination of doing some of the turning on a metal lathe and some on a wood lathe at much higher RPM...



The completed rammer heads......the groove in the small end is for a copper band used to nail the rammer head in place and to help keep the thin end from splitting....







Rammer head mounted on the 1 1/2" dowel.....



I had to turn down the opposite end of the rammer shaft a slight bit to fit a lambs wool paint roller. Made of real lambs wool but much easier to use and replace than skinning a lamb and nailing the hide to the shaft.



Had to borrow a friends lathe that had a head stock large enough to get the dowel through to do a nice job turning the taper to fit the socket on the worm. I could have "whittled" this to fit but lathe turning did a much better job of it.



Mounted worm.....



With the rammer & sponges done I will know exactly where to mount the required irons when I disassemble the trail from the axel and flip it over to attach these items. I will also be able to mount the key plates at the ends of the rammer & sponge chains so that they are in the proper location to hold the rammers and worm without being too loose or too tight.
 
This is certainly the largest ram rod I have ever made for a muzzleloader !!!!

By the way (because someone asked what the heck a "rammer chain" and an "ear plate" were), here are a couple of pictures. The long rammer chain is attached at the center plate to the middle of the underside of the trail. Each end is held around the rammer heads by the "toggle plates" mounted to the sides of the trail. One is shown connected to the chain on the left in the photo and the right side shows the end of the chain separate from the toggle plate. The ear plate shown in the middle is also screwed or nailed to the underside of the trail. The worm is held in place between the two "ears" on that plate by a key that has a tooth on it that passes through a notch in one of the holes in one of the ears. When the tag on the key swings down in response to gravity (God's "G"), it can't back out of the ear plate until turned to line the tooth up with the notch. (Second photo)





This picture is from a sub-scale model gun built by someone else but it sort of shows how this is all supposed to work (except that the rammer chain on this model is not secured to the trail in the middle....but you get the idea.....

 
Still operating in slow motion due to work, but I did get the rammer / sponges and the worm completed. Because the shafts are ash, they didn’t take conventional stain very well. So I used iron nitrate and a heat gun to get the base color then toned it a bit with some oil based stain. Once that was dry I finished the shafts with a Waterlox tung oil varnish made for boat decks.



 
Well....it's May now and I am still busier than a one legged man in an a$$ kicking contest. But to take a mental holiday, I spent a few afternoons back working on the cannon rebuild. I started by disassembling the cheeks from the trail. Each cheek is 3 inches thick and about 34 inches long. Made of solid oak, they are fairly heavy. Once off the trail, I wanted to complete the last drilling that was needed to install the "D" rings that hold the handspikes in place on each side. The cheeks were too big to set up on my drill press, so I drilled a 3/4" thick piece of aluminum with two 3/8" holes spaced correctly for the "D" ring to act as a drill guide. I positioned the guide in place and clamped it to the cheek. The guide made sure the hand drilled holes were properly spaced and perpendicular to the cheek surface.





However, then I realized that I was not yet done drilling holes. I had not mounted the retaining "eye pins" and chains that would retain my version of the cap square and key retainers. In my case, the chains would keep the brass cross pins from being lost if they managed to work free during transport. Here the eye pins and chains are mounted in the additional holes that had to be drilled.....





Also shown are the hand spike retained by the "D" ring forward and by the handspike washer hook aft.....





Between the cheeks and the forward end of the trail are three giant washers / spacers called "rondells". They hold the cheeks in the proper spacing for the width of the barrel at the trunions. Traditionally, they were made of cast iron. When I built the cannon as a high school student 50 plus years ago I just used 1" thick disks of aluminum and drilled them in the lathe with a 1/2" center hole to allow for the passage of the long bolts that held the cheeks in place. What I didn't know at the time was that the front two rondells are really just spacers, but the rearmost one had MUCH larger protrusions port & starboard (i.e. on either side). As the cannon is fired and recoils, the trunions transfer the recoil energy to the cheeks and the cheeks transfer it to the trail. The protrusion on the rearmost rondell were there to distribute that recoil energy over a much larger area and keep a heavy charge from damaging (splitting) the trail. Sort of like the difference between hitting a log on the end grain with an axe blade or a baseball bat.

Although I had never had a problem even with a full charge (i.e. a 3 1/2 pound ball and a full pound of powder) I thought I would remake the rear rondells more like they were supposed to be. I bored two of them in the lathe to an inside diameter of 1 3/4" and shrunk fit two 1 3/4" diameter center pieces to take the recoil shock. These are the original rondells.....



And here are the two rear ones modified with the much larger center pieces......



This view shows the side of the trail where the rondells are mounted between the cheek and the trail.



The next problem was how to bore the larger holes required for the modified rondells on center with the original 1/2" through holes. Without a center most drilling methods would have a problem maintaining a concentric bore. I thought of plugging the through hole with an oak dowel and then using a spade bit to drill the larger bore. But in rooting around in all of my various drilling tools, I stumbled on a 1 3/4" Forstner bit. It still needed a center.....or did it ? I ended up drilling a 1" thick piece of hardwood with the bit and then making a centering tool that would hold the drilled hardwood square concentric with the 1/2" through hole while I screwed it to the cheek. The the bit was held concentric by its outer rim rather than by its center point while boring out the larger diameter. The trick worked fine on both cheeks.....now I just have to drill the rear through holes on the trail to match.





 
As I mentioned early in this thread, Jim Olsen at South Bend Replicas (SBR) was re-boring and installing a steel liner in the barrel I bought from "Barney's Cannons" (the precursor of SBR) in 1969. Although done some months ago, Jim just got around to sending me some pictures of the barrel in work for the re-lining and I thought some here might appreciate seeing them.

Jim's initial inspection of the bore......



The barrel set up in the lathe and the boring started......






The breech of the liner being machined and polished. It was welded into the end of the liner before installation.....




Liner being epoxied into place......



The liner all the way in.......



Liner trimmed to final length.....



The original gun was "as cast" and Jim noticed that the muzzle was not very round as it was turning in the lathe for boring. He lathe turned the muzzle area and neatly blended the newly shaped muzzle into the rest of the gun's contour.....



Painted and ready to ship back to me.....



 
Man ,I have never been around live fire of 1-1/4# of powder going off but I have just added it to my bucket list!! BTW outstanding canon and thanks for sharing and inspiring!
 
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