Build your own black powder cannon?

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Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby toad » Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:03 am

The price of material might be prohibitive, but I was thinking of a 12 ounce can I.D. diameter cannon made with seamless steel tubing. Perhaps a tube inside a tube like a Dahlgren gun? Probably have to hone for a fit.

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby HTRN » Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:07 am

The term your looking for is "DOM" or Drawn over Mandrel

One of the things I keep an eye out for in scrap yards is decent lengths of heavy wall(1 inch plus) DOM tube. a buddy of mine scored a nice chunk of one with a 1" bore awhile ago.

Personally, I think if you want something beyond the cutesy toy stage, Dixie gun works 2/3rd scale tube is probably the best bang for your buck, but you then have to finish the casting, and then build a carriage.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby blackeagle603 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:01 pm

In high school a buddy turned a popcan mortar from a 5" piece of steel round stock. His dad was a gunsmith, had a lathe, figured it was a good exercise in learning to use a boring set up. Big fun lighting that off, expensive fun, but lots of fun.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby McClarkus » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:31 pm

Ah, Yup. The small one is home made. It has a 4 ft barrel with a bore of 1.75". Then there are three more successively larger tubes inside each other. I was told they froze one and heated the other then smashed them together inside each other. Then there was a lot of threading and welding that took place. Its a smoothbore so it's kinda like throwing knuckeballs but it is a lot of fun to shoot. We use 500 grs of blk powder per shot and we cast our own balls so it not too bad. Life's a blast!
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Aesop » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:21 pm

Anyone wanting a working cannon always strikes me as a fine thing.
Once I sign the papers on Camp Snoopy, (multiple acres well outside any city limits) I'm doing a full-size Napoleon 12 pdr., from scratch if need be.
The fact that the property in question sits inside and amongst several hundred mature oak trees bodes well for the woodshop to be able to turn out a proper carriage and caisson.

And then I'll be ordering iron shotputs in bulk.

A fractional-scale one with a bore diameter in common soupcan size might be a good warm-up.

If that gets boring after awhile, I know a couple of local guys with experience fabricating both .308 and .45-70 Gatling Guns I want to have a chat with.

The Tank Project will have to wait until my plan for Powerball Millionairehood comes to fruition. But I figure a single field piece should be within the realm of doability.
And it will give me a excuse for a stable and a few horses, which are currently just about free for the asking, and mainly a question of space, feed, and vet bills hereabouts.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby toad » Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:34 pm

I've been racking my brain about a medium length story which involves a history prof getting involved in re-enacting at Civil War events.
He acquires a light field piece, horses, and get's a crew trained up to operate it.
Spoiler! :
The local police get into a situation that has goblins barricaded and the gun crew rolls up and proceeds to blow holes until the door collapses. The goblins decide they don't want any more solid shot and surrender.

IIRC the story was in the old "Saturday Evening Post magazine."
My Google Fu is disgustingly weak these days.

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby SoupOrMan » Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:35 pm

Huh. I was just thinking of building a reusable Faustpatronen tube for launching 2-liter bottles via a small FFg charge. That's just fancy there.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby toad » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:47 pm

Let's see discarding sabot projectiles, canister, shrapnel projectiles, HEAT, HESH, paint, incendiary, flash bangs, smoke, illumination, and etc. :twisted:

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Termite » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:27 pm

Does it have to be muzzleloading, as long as it uses blackpowder? I'm thinking a single shot cannon using paper powder bags with swing-open breech, using large magnum rifle primers for ignition, is doable for someone(me) with access to a serious machine shop.........
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby McClarkus » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:15 am

Aesop wrote:Anyone wanting a working cannon always strikes me as a fine thing.
Once I sign the papers on Camp Snoopy, (multiple acres well outside any city limits) I'm doing a full-size Napoleon 12 pdr., from scratch if need be.
The fact that the property in question sits inside and amongst several hundred mature oak trees bodes well for the woodshop to be able to turn out a proper carriage and caisson.

And then I'll be ordering iron shotputs in bulk.

A fractional-scale one with a bore diameter in common soupcan size might be a good warm-up.

If that gets boring after awhile, I know a couple of local guys with experience fabricating both .308 and .45-70 Gatling Guns I want to have a chat with.

The Tank Project will have to wait until my plan for Powerball Millionairehood comes to fruition. But I figure a single field piece should be within the realm of doability.
And it will give me a excuse for a stable and a few horses, which are currently just about free for the asking, and mainly a question of space, feed, and vet bills hereabouts.


Holy crap, a 12 pounder!. Guys next to us shoot a 5 and a 6 pounder every year and those things really go BOOM. They use a 1/2 lb of single F per shot with the bigger one so that's kinda like a money shot huh? They own a brake joint so they have lotsa lead.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby blackeagle603 » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:16 am

Guys shoot cast zinc out of those too?
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby toad » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:17 am

Well back in the 1860 till the later part of the 19th Century you had breech loading black powder rifled cannons. The Armstrong and the Whitworth from what I can recall. The Armstrong used the interrupted thread and an abdurating plug on the end of the breach plug for sealing. IIRC the Germans made used brass casings for their breech loaders but I am not sure on the dates.
I don't know how the BATF rules on this :?:
IIRC during the US Civil War to save time they would puncture horses ear drums rather than train them to get used to the noise of firearms, especially the cannons. I just had this image off a horse with ear muffs.

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby McClarkus » Thu Sep 24, 2015 2:43 am

blackeagle603 wrote:Guys shoot cast zinc out of those too?

I can't speak on their mix as I have not asked what it may be. I have dug out expended rounds from the berm and they always seem to relatively heavy.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby HTRN » Thu Sep 24, 2015 4:17 am

Aesop wrote: I'm doing a full-size Napoleon 12 pdr., from scratch if need be.

Expect to pay $$$$, even for reproductions. Originals are in the realm "buy a nice house" territory.

Aesop wrote:And then I'll be ordering iron shotputs in bulk.

Nobody shoots Iron shot. It's either cement filled cans(cheap, but not competition legal) or cast zinc($$, but recastable, and required for competition). The solid cast zinc projectiles closely match the weight of original hollow cast iron shot, and are easy on the bore.

Termite wrote:Does it have to be muzzleloading, as long as it uses blackpowder?

I believe, but don't quote me, that the only requirement is "no fixed ammunition". So something like "Long Cecil" would be perfectly legal. HOWEVER, It's treading in something of a grey area, and it only takes on BATFE determination letter to change that..

McClarkus wrote:Holy crap, a 12 pounder!.

12 lb Napoleons are fun, but if you want something to really set off car alarms, shoot a 24 pd howitzer. :ugeek: :mrgreen:
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Aesop » Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:10 pm

HTRN wrote:
Aesop wrote: I'm doing a full-size Napoleon 12 pdr., from scratch if need be.

Expect to pay $$$$, even for reproductions. Originals are in the realm "buy a nice house" territory.

I do, and I expect to have something made which takes advantage in the improvements in metallurgy in the interim. I don't want it to be original, I want it to look original. It should be sufficient overkill to provide (literal) bombproof safety.

Aesop wrote:And then I'll be ordering iron shotputs in bulk.

Nobody shoots Iron shot. It's either cement filled cans(cheap, but not competition legal) or cast zinc($$, but recastable, and required for competition). The solid cast zinc projectiles closely match the weight of original hollow cast iron shot, and are easy on the bore.

I know that. I just want to be able to do it should I choose, and 55 of them makes a nice shot pyramid next to the piece and flagpole. :D
The fact that it will also be able to shoot cans or sacks full of bolts, nails, fish sinkers, and Brown Bess .75 lead balls is also just a happy coincidence, I swear.
But God have mercy on nighttime prowlers in tougher times: "Smile for picture. Wait for flash."

And yeah, money shot. I'm figuring a pound of powder per, on the day. I'm not planning on amassing enough powder and shot for assaulting Chapultepec. Yet.
IMHO, if you're re-enacting with miniature loads, you may as well hang a flag out of the muzzle that says "Bang!", right?
I have hopes of persuading one of the local .mil bases to let me take it out just once somewhere where the impact area is an honest mile, for historical ballistic research. Letting colonels and sergeants major from artillery and ordnance branches touch such a thing off has a way of greasing the skids on such a project.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby HTRN » Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:06 pm

I believe that the light target loads are a pound of powder. Full load with a twelve pound promo is two and a half pounds. Full load with a 24 pdr is 4 lbs of black. :shock:

Solid iron shot is too heavy , originals were hollow and filled with a bursting charge that s why they now use solid zinc, it approximately the same weight as what was originally shot out of them.

There is no need to bother making it entirely out of Dom, black powder doesn't need it. A steel liner in a cast iron tube is more than adequate. Others a foundry that sells a variety of cannon castings, can't remember their name starts with an h..

Steen Cannons has a huge variety of finished tubes(they sell 32pdrs! :shock: ) and carriages. You'll note that the "cheap" tubes are still 6 grand and up.

Hern sells all their tubes lined, I don't know if they'r finished or not, but judging by the price, I'd say no. A 1857 12pd Napeleon in Cast Iron is a bit over 3 grand.

Jeff Tanner makes molds to order.

Dixie Gun works sells a 2/3rd scale lined "Field Cannon" for under 1200 bucks. Note that it will require finishing, and does not include a carriage. It has a 2&1/4" bore, and weighs 250 lbs.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Odahi » Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:33 pm

Sounds like fun, says the guy feeling "the bravery of being out of range." I've seen some pretty cool stuff, but a homemade cannon is something I don't want to see until it's been fired safely, by distant others, a few hundred times. It would have its uses, though. Scaring trespassers would be a hoot. :lol:
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby HTRN » Fri Sep 25, 2015 12:50 am

Hence why I wouldn't bother with anything that isn't lined.

One of the more interesting things I noticed about BP cannons is the way the ammo is "packaged". Apparently it's fairly common to bundle powder and projectile in aluminum foil packet, ram the whole thing down the tube, then poke a hole through the foil down the flashole using a skewer. Add a friction igniter or "cannon lock" and you can load them very fast.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby toad » Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:27 am

IIRC a leather thumb guard or glove was used to seal the vent hole when the gun was being swabbed.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby HTRN » Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:37 am

Yup, to seal it to keep the oxygen out, starving anything burning
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Frankingun » Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:56 am

Somewhere around the flotsam of my life, I have a copy of Guns and Ammo from a few years ago that had an article about a muzzleloading cannon. They took a plain cannon barrel and welded up a carrier for it that looked like something the modern day military would use. IIRC they used old tennis balls filled with reclaimed birdshot, they sealed the hole with a hot glue gun. Right before stuffing it down the bore, they coated it in vegetable oil. I guess a good time was had by all.

I also need to learn how to weld.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Steamforger » Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:04 pm

I'm a Parrott man, myself. My grandmother had a 30# shell as a door stop for quite a while.

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby MarkD » Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:13 pm

In my Civil War reenacting days I helped out on a cannon crew once. It was illuminating. They had a piece of paper on a frame maybe 25 yards downrange, the shock wave and gasses just shredded it (think confetti). No projectile, a blank. The warning was that you do NOT want to be in front of the muzzle. Even more impressive than our demo of tearing an aluminum soda can in half with a blank cartridge.

It was interesting, but looked like a whole lot more WORK than infantry, muscling the cannon around.

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Aesop » Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:22 pm

That's still true today, but the payoff is making the earth-shattering "Kaboom!"
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby slowpoke » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:28 am

The idea of HESH or HEAT from black powder cannon is quit intriguing.
I wondef what knd of velocity one could get with fin stabilised discarding sabot on a larger gun?
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Jericho941 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:33 am

IIRC, getting sabots that'll hit the broad side of a barn from the inside is something that takes a lot of time spent on a computer and rigorous field testing, which is why they never caught on during WW2 and have really only become a "thing" in the current generation of tanks.

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby HTRN » Sat Sep 26, 2015 5:07 am

slowpoke wrote:The idea of HESH or HEAT from black powder cannon is quit intriguing.

It also means alot of dealing with BATFE(Explosive rounds require a tax stamp, for each round, and require explosives licenses and storage requirements).
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby toad » Sat Sep 26, 2015 6:18 am

the Germans experimented with a papermache sabot for black powder guns IIRC just prior to the 1860's.

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby toad » Sat Sep 26, 2015 6:23 am

I assumed that making explosive rounds would be for conditions so extreme that the BATF would be the least of worries. Or else one was so far out in the boonies and on such a large piece of land you could set of a .25 Kiloton blast and no one would notice?

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby HTRN » Sat Sep 26, 2015 6:40 am

If it's that bad, then you're not going to have the resources to make explosives.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Kommander » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:48 am

HTRN wrote:If it's that bad, then you're not going to have the resources to make explosives.


Well that or it will be easier to capture/smuggle some then to manufacture some.

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Steamforger » Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:50 am

toad wrote:the Germans experimented with a papermache sabot for black powder guns IIRC just prior to the 1860's.


The Union Army used them heavily. Schenkl

My Grandfather found quite a few of these in Louisiana. Some Confederate examples used wood.

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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby Netpackrat » Sat Sep 26, 2015 11:08 am

toad wrote:I assumed that making explosive rounds would be for conditions so extreme that the BATF would be the least of worries. Or else one was so far out in the boonies and on such a large piece of land you could set of a .25 Kiloton blast and no one would notice?


If you are using them under those sort of conditions, you will kind of need them to WORK... Which means testing your design ahead of time, and therefore all of the BATFU worries.
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Re: Build your own black powder cannon?

Postby toad » Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:34 am

Let's see I'll need a lot of aspirin for the phenol, off to Sam's, some muriatic acid from pool supply Walmart, a bunch of natural cotton balls, some acetone from the paint section, some alcohol, some glass, plastic, plastic tubing, auto supply, some alcohol, copper sheet, or aluminum, Home Depot across the road, some alcohol, "hick", battery acid, need to reduce it for greater strength, hick, uhm, some extra long cotton shoe laces, Damn do it yourself Nitric is nasty, do a hick, simple open flame check on the Picric acid, check the burn rate on the shoe laces, needs to check that alcohol foist, hick, "FOMP." Oppss, need mordes alcoholy.
Ouchy, now, to make the blasting caps.....unm...problem....need some lumber, build a berm, build the loooong wooden lever with the pivoting wooden tamping arm on it, check the alcohol again, duck behind the berm, look through the peephole and gently lower the tamping rod into the case and onto the Picric........WANG.....Damn apartment management is always bitching about something, "hick." :o


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