Monday, June 25, 2012

Small Cannon and a bit more about me.

This post has kind of an odd title, but I really could not think of a better one. I did not want to leave it at "Small Cannon", or "12LB Napoleon" as I did not want to disappoint someone looking for information about Civil War artillery. I wanted to arouse some curiosity though.
I operate a very small (and I do mean very small) welding fabrication and repair shop and I do not throw anything away if I think it can be used on a different project. Consequently I end up with a bunch of what most folks would call scraps and junk, stuff they would have thrown away long ago. That is a waste I say. That stuff comes in handy at times, especially on a weekend or after hours. People do not always break down between 8am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. Another thing is I hate to pull down a 20 foot length of steel just for 6 inches worth, so I head for the left over pile. I usually save myself some effort that way.
Anyway, I have another use for that so called junk. When I get slow in the shop, I turn loose and create, well, art work. Steel sculpture, or it might be aluminum, brass, stainless steel or whatever. It allows me to keep myself occupied between jobs. I had some of that slow time over the last week and decided to do some dabbling.

I fabricate just about anything and this year I have built several custom mailbox posts, but they take more material than my leftover pile can provide. I always have enough of something to build a mailbox topper though!
That is a model of a 12lb Napoleon, Model 1857. My first hurdle to clear on this project was to find a full side view of one of these so I could scale how far the muzzle and breach protruded beyond the wheel. Most photos I found were off at an angle so it was difficult to judge. The photo I found also allowed me to judge how far above the center line of the wheel the barrel rode and how far back the trail extended. I am a little off on the trail length but it is OK, I think.

I got a little carried away with the carriage, and tried to shape it like the real deal. I liked the look of it but as you can see it gets lost in the overall scheme of things. You will also note that the wheel only has 8 spokes. 14 should be there but with that many it just looked "busy". Besides the carriage was completely covered by the spokes so I went with the 8 you see. I tried staggering the wheels to get more spokes in the picture but it just did not look right.
A couple of things I did do that I was glad of were on the barrel. The muzzle is flared. And there is a knob on the breech.

The barrel was made of 2 pieces of differing diameters, drilled and tapped on the mating ends, then TIG welded. How I tapered the barrel is a trade secret. Actually, the way I did it is not safe even for me, and I would rather not explain it to someone that has limited experience with machinery or tools. Suffice it to say I put a taper on the barrel! The flare on the muzzle was easy. I heated it up to orange and gently tapped the end until it looked right. The knob was a little more difficult. I drilled and tapped the breech for a 10-24 screw and ran the screw in to within 1/8th inch from the breech. I then TIG welded the screw in and filled the slot with weld. Then I did the dangerous thing again and got it close, then hand filed it the rest of the way.
There were a few things I would like to have added, like the elevation screw, trail loop, and rope cleats, but the size did not allow me to add them. They would have been lost in the overall picture.

The finished product is not painted to match the actual Napoleon. The paint was what I had on hand, although I really wish I had painted it correctly. It would have made a better post for you all to look at but I did want to share it with my loyal reader because I thought it was different. It is not like those black silhouettes you so often see, this one has depth and color, and incorrect paint or no, I think it came out pretty darn good! I do plan on making another one the next slack period I get. I learned a few things on this one that will make it easier to build and paint (correctly) next time!

And it has multiple uses!

There you have it. Just a wee dab more about me, mixing my livelihood with my love of the American Civil War. I could have been fishing! I do love fishing and hunting too!

The Picket

Photos by the author.

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