12 August 2001
18th Century Cannon
To go with my Captain Joe, RN figure, I wanted to build a small diorama of a section of ship complete with cannon and crew. I have several books on the "Age of Nelson" one of which had drawings of a standard cannon. I copied the plans and tried up and down scaling the scan to try to get the right size for my dio. I figured ole Cap'n Joe is a swashbuckling and daring frigate captain, and since he would be up on the quarterdeck, a smaller weight cannon would be more appropriate, as the heavy guns would be below. I settled on a 120% enlargement of the plans I had, hopefully to get a reasonable facsimile of a 9-12 pound cannon.
Next decision was how to make it. I ruled out sculpting, because I didn't want to invest in a lump of clay to be disappointed in my skills. Next I thought it may be easier to turn one out of wood. I had no experience with a lathe, but luckily a friend of mine did. The first attempt out of pine was a disaster. Pine was much too soft. I thought of oak, but another friend of mine had and old table leg made of apple. I was very hard. My buddy, Jay, while attempting to teach me, turned it off the plans and it worked out pretty good.
Next was the carriage. I use hobby wood (poplar, I think) and cut out the carriage pieces (also in the drawings I had) with a scroll saw. I tried to use the measurements from the plans, but freelanced a bit. I used 1/8 inch brass rod to hold it together. The assembly is pretty much held together like the real thing. I added wooden wheels that I got at a craft store. These were originally "tires", but I sanded of the treads and flatted out the one side that had been cut to resemble the bulged tire.
I have seen pictures of the HMS Victory that sits in Plymouth Harbor in England and the gun carriages were yellow to match the color scheme of the ship. In the Royal Navy of the time, captains were free to paint their ship to there liking, usually limited to the supplies they could get. I chose red for the carriage, because that was the paint I had.
All's that's left is the furnishings. I need to add the ring bolts, tackle and various other brass features. The gun came out on the small side really. I am still researching to see if this is accurate to what I wanted (small weight deck gun). Next will be the deck piece for the diorama.
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