Littleneckhalfshell

Cannon of the 'tall ships' ?

35 posts in this topic

there are quite a few tall ships out there, Rose, Kalmar Nykel, schooner Virginia, Pride of Baltimore, Pride of South Carolina, Maryland Dove, Continental Sloop Providence, etc. And aboard many of these ships are cannon. But is there a listing of the guns they carry and what exactly do they carry? Are they reproductions, originals? (doubt it) or Quakers? and if reproductions, who made them? Also as a side light, is there a current valid contact for the Continental Sloop Providence? All the ones I find are broken.

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I know for many tall ships today (for sure the Lady Washington, Hawaiian Chieftain, Pride of Baltimore and Pride of Baltimore II, and I know there are a number of others), South Bend Replicas makes the cannons. Theirs are some of the best reproductions on the market today. However, I can't speak to all the tall ships, and I'm sure there's some more good suppliers out there.

Coastie

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Lawrence Campbell, out of key largo, casts museum quality live fire cannons. I recently had the pleasure of seeing A beautiful bronze he just completed, I believe it was for the St. Louis historical museum, last I heard he was talking with the Bounty about " P.C.ing" their lineup. Should you have sincere needs, let me know and I will head you in the right direction.

Edited by Cannibal Chrispy

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Lawrence Campbell, out of key largo, casts museum quality live fire cannons. I recently had the pleasure of seeing A beautiful bronze he just completed, I believe it was for the St. Louis historical museum, last I heard he was talking with the Bounty about " P.C.ing" their lineup. Should you have sincere needs, let me know and I will head you in the right direction.

I am not currently in the market for anything, just would like to know who has what.

Do any of these ships carry 'Quakers' (fake cannon) with only maybe one or two that can fire, or are they all capable of broadsides?

Also curious as to if any have actual original pieces or are they all reproductions.

Likewise, I am curious as to the number and size of the various ships guns. In historical novels you read of nine pounders, twelve pounders, etc. But the ships guns I have seen on TV usually look a lot smaller than that. What is the size of the main armament on these ships? I'd like to know.

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The USS Constellation in Baltimore carries fake main guns starboard and larboard. It was a financial decision, unfortunately they could not afford replicas. One of the unfortunate side effects which the lighter guns contribute to is that she sits about 6 feet (estimate) higher than her original water line which detracts from her sleek appearance in operational trim.

USSConstellation5e.jpg

USSConstellation1e.jpg

Original armament included two 20 pound and two 30 pound Parrot rifles on swivel mounts fore and aft. These guns were not part of her original complement of guns but were added at the request of her original Captain as she had no way to deal with steam powered vessels who could stay in front or astern and not be in her arc of fire. Currently these mounts are not in place but they do have one Parrot rifle aboard which they fire at noon.

USSConstellation4e.jpg

Edited by Joe Pyrat

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To reach Providence, try sloopprovidenceonline.com............As for deck guns, many also carry armament from Hern Ironworks in Idaho. I vary from four three pound carronades and 2 four pound carronades, to just two and two, depending on total ship cargo weight (the reality of it all!)..all fire well, fairly authentic wartime castings...

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Great photos Joe! Thanks for sharing those.

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As far as the size of any long guns aboard ship, that would vary quite a bit as to when the ship was built and at what stage the progress of cannon making was at at the time. The Kalmar would certainly have had different guns then the Constitution.

I seriously doubt any ships have original guns mounted. Age alone would make these un-safe to fire, never mind the eventual honeycombing that happens to all cannon barrels over time. And original period barrels are mega bucks as far as thier value as antiques, where as reproductions are expensive but attainable. As far as how many Quackers any given ship has vs real guns, that would depend a lot on the $$ the owners feel like putting into the ship.

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As far as quakers, it's more than just cost that dictates their use. The HMS Victory has quakers due to the weight. Since she's in dry dock, the hull cannot support the weight as she was designed to. That, combined with the age, makes it unsafe to put real cannons onboard. I have seen a video of her firing a full broadside for the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar, but it was all pyrotechnics, not actual cannon fire. I know on the USS Constitution, there's at least one reproduction (the one they fire) and it's bore is sigificantly smaller inside than the others. As for the rest, I'm not sure if they're originals, reproductions, or quakers. My guess would be reproductions.

Coastie

*EDIT: P.S. In case I caused any confusion, the cannons currently on the HMS Victory (or at least as of about 5 years ago when I visited her) were fiberglass quakers. However, they looked authentic at first inspection and saved literally tons of stress on the decks, hull, and drydock structure.

Edited by Coastie04

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To reach Providence, try sloopprovidenceonline.com............As for deck guns, many also carry armament from Hern Ironworks in Idaho. I vary from four three pound carronades and 2 four pound carronades, to just two and two, depending on total ship cargo weight (the reality of it all!)..all fire well, fairly authentic wartime castings...

sloopprovidenceonline.com is a near defunct link, I get a page that says "under construction"

Carronades? No disrespect, having working guns is a great thing, And the Royaliste is 1755? but the Carronade was not invented until 1759. Was there ever any thought of going with any 'long' guns to simulate an earlier period aboard? or is the smaller gun crew for the carronade a major consideration? Also pardon me for a further question, I always thought carronades were larger smashers, usually starting at 12lb or so. Are the carronades on Royaliste downsized, or where there at some time 3 and 4 lb carronades? Thanks for the reply. I just love Blackpowder guns, from whatever period.

And the smell of blackpowder smoke. ;-)

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The guns onboard vessels were not always large. Small merchant vessels, if they were even armed, would not want to waste deck space with large guns that were expensive to purchase, maintain, and used more powder (which would take away from precious cargo space). Additionally, small boats warranted smaller guns. Take the following examples:

USRC Massachusetts: The first of the USRCS vessels. A square sterned, two masted schooner of approximately 60 feet in length launched in 1791. Her armament was either four or six swivel guns.

On the other end of the spectrum was USS Eagle: a 58 foot schooner built in 1798 and acquired by the USRCS. Her armament was 14 six pounders.

So, these are vessels of similar size, built within the same decade, and used by the same government service. Yet, one carried 4-6 swivels, and one carried 14 six pounders. Depending on the trade routes, whether there was a war going on, and how much protection a merchant could afford, there was a large difference in armament of vessels.

Coastie

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Glad you enjoyed the pictures Nell, here something else to whet your appetite...

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To see the USS Constitution fire that cannon, visit her any day at sunset for colors (she probably does it at 0800 as well, but I haven't been there at that time, so I can't confirm it). The cannon I've seen that they fire from has a smaller internal bore diameter (though the outside is the same size as the other cannons onboard). Nonetheless, impressive if you ever get the chance to see it.

Coastie

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At the Blackbeard Festival, the Kalmar fired its two larboard cannon, iron 4" bore long guns. Blanks of course, and I dont know the powder charge they used ( we were further up the shoreline, working our pitiful little popguns) but they certainly roared!

I believe those guns are full scale and are very impressive. I didn't even think of the weight, they had to be 3500 lb or more each. Having a line of them on the deck of a actual old vessel would stress the hell out of it!

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Viceroy, you be here now to add you wisdom?

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One of the reasons I started this thread was my interest in Cannon, and in particular on the different manufacturers of cannon.

I was also interest in the cannon of the tall ships, because I remember being on one that was off of Jersey City during the bicentenial.

All its guns were I believe cast at LaPan's foundry in Hudson Falls NY. This is of particular interest to me, as I own one of these barrels.

Way back in Twill in a thread "learning Cannon and Gunnery" Hawkyns wrote on Nov. 14, 2003 the following:

""I've always used foil cartridges without the sandwich bag liners. Paranoid about safety, that's me. One of the first major schools I went to back in the 80's, I met the one armed gunner from the infamous LaPanne's incident. Couple of years later, I met another one armed gunner. Kind of makes you think real hard about what we do, y'know?""

I always wondered if his mention of "the infamous LaPanne's incident" had anything to do with a cannon from La Pan's foundry in Hudson Falls NY, or if it referred to something else and the name was just similar. I think I even shot off an email to Hawkyns, but don't ever remember getting an answer, if he did answer, maybe it got lost in cyberspace or maybe my mail never got there at all. Anyway....

As one who is concerned with cannon safety, I would like to know if there are any historical problems with my barrel. It is supposed to be modeled after a British Swivel gun found in Lake George, if I remember correctly, it is 30.5 inches long and has a 2.25" bore. The trunnions are set off center. It is Iron, cast around a liner, not drilled and fit with a liner (I know this is not the preferable form, but I only use it for blanks, not live fire) I know a cast around a liner barrel can have the liner 'off center', thus resulting in a thinner area in the breech.

Not sure if they still sell sleeved cannon barrels (I think the La Pan's foundry site does still speak of 'ornamental cannon' and their main income is not from cannon, it is a side line) mine came without the vent drilled. Have not used it in years, got it in the Bicentenial years, it is casting No. 169 as listed on the left hand trunnion with a LP on the right hand trunnion. I would like to start shooting it again, but would like to hear from those with more knowledge. do I have a cannon capable of shooting off blanks, or do I have a very heavy paperweight?

Edited by Littleneckhalfshell

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The problem with an unknown core casting, gun cast with the liner in place , is many fold. The liner and the breech plug in the liner should be of a construction to fire the charge without the iron around it. In such a casting the molten material can cool off too quickly on contact with the steel liner ond become weak or porous .The vent when drilled may not be true but have spark hiding cavities. There have been attempts to solve these problems, but the best way to build a sleeved gun is to cast it solid,better trunnions too, and bore the tube then press the properly breeched liner into the tube. If you don't know the maker you don't know the construction of the gun. Then an X-ray such as used for aircraft castings is about the only positive way to be sure. Proof firing an unknown gun only tells you it's safe through the last shot. I too know two one armed gunners, one involving the use of aluminum foil, there are no small cannon accidents. Think, what would be the acceptable percentage of failures? One of the true examples of zero tolerance for accidents.

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Perhaps if you post some pictures there are those of us that can ID it. These are a pair of Cannons I was helping the Viceroy make a while back. These particular 2 are nonfiring replicas cast hollow in bronze (for cost and weight considerations). We are currently working on another pair that will be functional, also cast out of hollow bronze but with a steel gun barrel placed inside then the space will be filled with aluminum to try to keep cost and weight down. The guns are 5 and a half feet long and are 6 pounders.

DSC01447.jpg

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Perhaps if you post some pictures there are those of us that can ID it. These are a pair of Cannons I was helping the Viceroy make a while back. These particular 2 are nonfiring replicas cast hollow in bronze (for cost and weight considerations). We are currently working on another pair that will be functional, also cast out of hollow bronze but with a steel gun barrel placed inside then the space will be filled with aluminum to try to keep cost and weight down. The guns are 5 and a half feet long and are 6 pounders.

DSC01447.jpg

As I am doing the liners for these pieces, let me jump in. Lawrence and I started with the design objective to match the strength of a bronze piece with the liner alone. Taking the one caliber breech wall as a given in cannons, the yield strength of of the cannon bronze of the day, the yield strength of the modern steel liner (1026 cold drawn mech. tube) and using the hoop stress formula, we get a minimum thickness for the steel liner of .77 inches. Increasing the liner to one full inch as we are doing adds a safety factor of 125%. The aluminum and the bronze will also add something substancial in safety factor, and the liners will be proofed with a 200% blank charge before assembly in the bronze shells.

Crudbeard

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Perhaps if you post some pictures there are those of us that can ID it. These are a pair of Cannons I was helping the Viceroy make a while back. These particular 2 are nonfiring replicas cast hollow in bronze (for cost and weight considerations). We are currently working on another pair that will be functional, also cast out of hollow bronze but with a steel gun barrel placed inside then the space will be filled with aluminum to try to keep cost and weight down. The guns are 5 and a half feet long and are 6 pounders.

DSC01447.jpg[/quoteb]

As I am doing the liners for these pieces, let me jump in. Lawrence and I started with the design objective to match the strength of a bronze piece with the liner alone. Taking the one caliber breech wall as a given in cannons, the yield strength of of the cannon bronze of the day, the yield strength of the modern steel liner (1026 cold drawn mech. tube) and using the hoop stress formula, we get a minimum thickness for the steel liner of .77 inches. Increasing the liner to one full inch as we are doing adds a safety factor of 125%. The aluminum and the bronze will also add something substancial in safety factor, and the liners will be proofed with a 200% blank charge before assembly in the bronze shells.

beautiful tubes ! may I ask as to your preferred method of insallation of the breech plug? At FT George , Inverness Scotland the test to use repro or original guns for public demos was the increased charge and something like double the weight of the original projectile in sand. I had the distinct and exhilerating honour of firing their original 1850's 65 pounder, that was 9 pounds of powder . The gun and mount are so large that the entire crew stands on the mount and recoils with the gun during firing,kind of like putting a tractor seat on my krupp gun.

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Vintage, Crudbeard, those are two nice looking castings. Good detail and definition. I'd be interested to know what the firing versions will be going for?

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Fine looking cannon are you making the carriages for said guns?

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No I am not making the carriages, the Viceroy is and after seeing his carriage work it is beautiful. Barrel alone with the steel/aluminum/bronze is 8,000

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Ahh, wonderful to find some true knowledge on this subject

My group is firing sleeved barrels, several shows per weekend, and then doing the usual cleaning at the end of the weekend, pouring water down the barrels, brushing and using bore butter. As a fabricator and a son of a master machinest, my questions are these.

1 Since the barrels are pressure fit into the casting and the touchhole drilled afterward, there is no true seal between sleeve and casting. there will be a buildup of powder residue and rust over time. Having rebuilt historic machinery and architecture pieces for years, I've seen how this type of buildup can cause expansion pressure. How safe is this over time?

2 How many actual firings would be considered safe before retiring barrels?

3 There was also a mention of honecombing of barrels over time. Is this just relative to cast iron? what about the sleeves, how do they react over time to firing?

4 Shouldn't our master gunner be keeping a detailed log of firings?

5 We use aluminum foil for our charges, you mentioned an incident involving aluminum foil. What are the pros and cons of foil charges?

I'm relatively new to the group, and the people in charge have been lording their methods and knowledge as absolute. Me, having been a machinests son,a fabricator and a shooter since I was 12 have some serious doubts about the safety of the group.

What are your thoughts, and what else should I been considering?

The problem with an unknown core casting, gun cast with the liner in place , is many fold. The liner and the breech plug in the liner should be of a construction to fire the charge without the iron around it. In such a casting the molten material can cool off too quickly on contact with the steel liner ond become weak or porous .The vent when drilled may not be true but have spark hiding cavities. There have been attempts to solve these problems, but the best way to build a sleeved gun is to cast it solid,better trunnions too, and bore the tube then press the properly breeched liner into the tube. If you don't know the maker you don't know the construction of the gun. Then an X-ray such as used for aircraft castings is about the only positive way to be sure. Proof firing an unknown gun only tells you it's safe through the last shot. I too know two one armed gunners, one involving the use of aluminum foil, there are no small cannon accidents. Think, what would be the acceptable percentage of failures? One of the true examples of zero tolerance for accidents.

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The particular guns that are mentioned being hollow cast in bronze with the steel liners are the ones I will be refering to.

The liner is proofed prior to the gun being built so the porosity or weakness of the casting around the bore becomes irrelevant. The touch hole is a concern since it would be drilled thru bronze aluminum and steel which is a poor combination to say the least. As an alternative it is possible to tap the steel inside and have a threaded touch hole and have a piece threaded into the sleve that would be able to be replaced the same as a musket or pistol. As for longevity the guns that we build are made to last from one generation to the next and on down the line.

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