MasterGunsmith

Cannon Carriage

12 posts in this topic

Oy Mates,

I have a 1/2 scale Napoleon Barrel on order from Hern Iron Works, and I wish to make a Naval Carriage for it.

I was wondering if any of Ye have Built one before? It seemes pretty straight forward, but I would love to get some pointers from someone that has built one already.

I have been considering using railroad ties for the wood, as they are solid and have a well ued antique look.

Any advice would be awesome.

Cheers Mates!

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i was able to get my hands on some oak you should use a hard wood, not sure what rr-ties are made from. it's alot of work so you need to put something on paper first. there are alot of pics of reenactors on here with their guns check some of those out.

Edited by L. Silver

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There are carriage patterns available on line. A Google search should turn some up. Best advice I can give is that you keep in mind that the "steps" in the back of the carriage are not just for looks, but serve a definite purpose. They are located according to where the long through-bolts need to have a place to seat, and also they act as a fulcrum point for the handspikes used to adjust elevation. THERE SHOULD BE NO "STEPS" ON THE FRONT OF THE CARRIAGE, contrary to some I have seen !! The trunnions should be located well forward on the carriage.

The through-bolts hold the parts of the carriage together and extend completely through the carriage from top to bottom for strength. They also hold the axels in place. Usually, the front of the trunnion caps are held by a through bolt with a head that allows the trunnion cap to hinge on it. It extends completely through the carriage, and holds the front axel. The rear of the trunnion cap is held in place by a through bolt with a head that fits through a slot in the trunnion cap, and a removeable wedge holds the cap down. This through bolt often also helps to attach the front axel, but sometimes is behind it, depending on axel location and width. The rear axel is usually held by two through-bolts that seat on two adjacent "steps" on top of the carriage. Additional "steps" are located at appropriate spots for adjusting elevation by levering up the breech with handspikes. The wedge shaped "quoin" is then positioned under the breech to support the gun at the desired elevation.

Depending on the size wood available, and the height of the carriage desired, you may require additional pieces in the "stack" that makes up the sides. If so, add a through-bolt at the rear end of each piece, which will also be one of your "steps". The front of each piece of wood will be held by the forward through-bolts.

There are cross bolts at appropriate locations to hold the sides of the carriage together. The front of the carriage has a piece of wood called the "transom", which is held by one or two cross bolts, depending on its size. At the rear of the carriage, there will be one or two cross bolts which also support the piece of wood that the "quoin" sets on. These must be located at a height that does not interfere with the breech of the barrel. These cross bolts often have rings to attach the handling tackle and breeching ropes.

Always use square nuts and washers on the through-bolts. Hexagonal nuts did not exist in the old days. ALL bolts should extend completely through the carriage. There are NONE that are screwed into the wood. The thickness of the carriage sides is dictated by the length of the trunnions. The relationship of the sides of the carriage to each other should match the taper of the barrel.

>>>>> Cascabel

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It seems that I saw a period diagram that included carriage measurements and math related to the size of the gun. . . I'm not sure if I saw it online or if I have that in a book somewhere.

In any case I'll give a look around, but you should contact Mister Duncan McGuyver - I've seen him go from a lowly Deck Swab to a Master Gunner and would likely to be great source of help.

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I've built 4 naval carriages and a couple of field carriages. Railroad ties would be too thick and heavy for a barrel of the size you are talking about. Plus, ties are frequently soaked in creosote which would be messy and a possible fire hazard. I'd recommend going to a lumberyard that specializes in hardwood and get some oak planks cut to a thickness the same as the length of your trunnions.

I'd also get a copy of Muller's Treatise of Artillery from Museum Restoration Service. It has plans and scales for carriages and all the appropriate dimensions for different sizes. It also has the advantage of being a primary source (Rev War but still of a period where these guns were state of the art).

You will alo need a blacksmith to make your iron work, and a source of square nuts, and square head bolts, and lag screws.

Above all, once you get it built, BEFORE YOU FIRE, find yourself a trained gunner to show you how it's done properly and safely. As I tell all my students, when you are in control it is a cannon, Lose that control or focus and you have a very large pipe bomb. This is not the sort of thing that should be self taught or learned from a book. That way leads to injuries, amputations, or death.

Feel free to PM me with further questions, or post here and I will answer the same.

For St. Barbara!!

Hawkyns

Master Gunner.

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would it be accurate to paint the carriage or stain it for a period Military gun. I thought it might be cool to paint in period writing on the side of it my old Unit from the Army 'C 6th BN 37th FA' 'Warlords', sort of as a tribute to my Battle Buddy's. just a thought.

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There are very few period carriages left in existance, and of the ones that are, we don't really know what the original finishes were. Royal Navy painted them grey at the middle to end of the 18th C, but GAOP sources are few and contradictory. I've seen names painted both on the carriage, and on the side of the barrel, so no problem with that.

Like so much else, it depends on your persona and time. If you're doing a privateer from the end of the GAOP, I'd say paint it grey with black lettering. If you're working towards one of Morgan's crew or something similar from the late 17th C, I say paint it however you prefer, within the guidelines of colours and styles in vogue at the time.

Hawkyns

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I highly recommend Damian Siekonic's book on Building 18th Century Naval Artillery. It is available thru Privateer Media,LLC, I can't remember the price but I do think it was very good. I sure wish I had that book on my first build, it would have saved me alot of time on design and money.

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In addition I would like to add.., I have seen many carriages as I am sure we all have. Some good ., some not. Many of the not I have seen were built out of proportion. Usually to high for the gun. Like a garrison carriage. I think people want to build the biggest gun they can and sometimes lose correct proportions. If your actually going afer a naval carriages ., consider they were low. They needed a low center of gravity and needed to be in lower decks with limited ceiling height. . I am currently building 2 carriages for 55" barrels ., however the gun height at the top of the the barrel across the trunnion is at 23" .. These will be sitting on an elevated concrete platform to get the gun high enough for visitors to get a good look and photos. Try to look at some of the guns at Fort Ty and youll see correct carriage cannon combos ., and youll see some that are not. The not are basically .parks and rec used what was available to keep the guns off the ground in order to preserve the gun so it is not laying in the dirt.

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I just have to second the caution on using railroad ties - the creosote is a significant fire hazard and would make anytime you're handling your gun very messy indeed - not to mention it just sitting there smelling all the time. Also, most of the ties you can buy are used and have huge voids and rotted places in them, either where the spikes were or sometimes further in. While they may be fine for your yard, there is no way they would stand the stress of firing - and your barrel would be flying free - toward the rear and probably the house! - as soon as the powder went off. On the whole a terrible idea.

Second caution - I wouldn't use any 'treated' wood either - the arsenic and copper in the treating is 1) very toxic if you get a splinter, better get it out right away, better wash hands after handling, etc., and 2) the treating makes the wood significantly weaker - like 25-30% weaker. And if it's not 'kiln dried' after treatment - and most all of it's not - you have wet chemical to deal with when you're working it into shape, and then it goes through a shrinking and 'checking' (those cracks running with the grain you see) process as it dries out. Another bad material.

Now if you can find an old-style 'ground mill' saw mill, working with green oak wood, they can cut you what you need at likely a decent price too - but it'll be green, and heavy! And you'll have the shrinking/checking drying process too, but much much less than with treated wood - and natural wood gets stronger as it dries.

If there isn't one of those around, some old-style lumberyards (not like "sLowes" or "HomeCheapo") can often order custom-cut wood from a mill for you. Not cheap, but for the kind of stresses an operational gun will put on a carriage, the kind of wood you need to make sure everything stays in its place and it's fun shooting it for years to come!

All the best, and hope all goes well-

yours, aye-

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