Civil War Cannons and Artillery

Seacoast Artillery Company


Civil War Union Artillery

Civil War Cannons - Parrott 100 Pdr

Parrott 100 Pdr
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Civil War Confederate Artillery

Civil War Cannons - 7 Inch Brooke

7 Inch Brooke
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Civil War Cannons

Seacoast Artillery Manufacturing

Making your cannon:

Lets take a peek at how we make some of the more important parts of the 100 Pdr. Parrott Rifle and the 1859 Iron, Center-Pintle, Seacoast, Barbette Carriage. The tube or barrel of this cannon starts life as a 216 pound “round” of high power rifle barrel steel. The big “round” is turned on an engine lathe to produce a rough outline of the final contours and to lighten it, which makes it easier to handle. The rear reinforce takes shape and the area of the trunnions is a big, solid “ring” of steel. Also the gentle tapers that lead to the muzzle are visible. Two extra inches are left on the muzzle at this time to facilitate rifling operations. The aft end or cascabel is a straight cylinder at this point. Before the bore is drilled, the tube weighs about 75 pounds. This means that there are more than 140 pounds of ordinance steel chips in the recycle barrel! Deep-hole drilling known as “gundrilling” comes next. Three expensive, custom gundrills are used and the last one creates only the hemisphere at the bottom of the bore. Next a roughing reamer and a finishing reamer are used to create the final bore size of 1.067” which is 1/6th of the original’s 6.4” diameter. The authentic, gain-twist rifling comes next. By using a special “sine-bar” to guide the rifling cutter, we are able to re-create authentic “gain-twist” rifling on our shop-built rifling machine. This form of rifling starts the projectile with a straight, or “no-twist” short section and then gradually increases the rate of twist until it reaches the scale maximum of one turn in 36” at the muzzle. We are the only company in the country, and most likely, the world, that does “blind hole rifling”. It is much, much, much more difficult to accomplish this technically challenging task of rifling when only one end of the barrel is open. As in the original, there are nine grooves and nine lands of equal width. We do not use pre-rifled liners glued in place. We make these artillery tubes very much like the machinists, who worked for Robert Parker Parrott, did at the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York, during the war years, 1861-1865.

It was while I was on my back, trying to angle the camera to get a comprehensive shot of the entire “bathtub plate”, that I realized how extensively rivets were used in the chassis’ construction. Fort Pulaski, Georgia was the scene of my spider dodging experience. The National Park Service does an excellent job of maintaining this historical treasure. The bottom of a front-pintle 100 Pdr. Carriage we were studying is literally covered with rows and rows of truncated cone-head rivets. Duplicating all this detail was certainly a challenge and made Mike and I very appreciative of all those bridge rivet crews and skyscraper rivet crews of years gone by. Our riveting was done the traditional way using hundreds of low-carbon (malleable) steel rivets, a 24 oz. ball peen hammer, a heat-treated D-2 steel punch with a rivet head forming recess, an anvil to hold the lathe-turned rivet head and match-drilled parts (2 or 3) to be joined. Five different lengths and three different head styles were required to join the parts of the chassis and upper carriage into strong and extremely rigid assemblies. So, we found that knowledge, skill and lots of practice were necessary to do effective, error-free riveting. Oh, one other thing is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to accomplish the riveting task………………earplugs………………very good earplugs. We both always wore them and our ears are still ringing. In fact, my college roommate’s mother riveted WWII Navy seaplane floats from the INSIDE. Can anyone imagine what THAT noise was like??

 


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