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Old 3rd June 2010, 02:39 PM   #1
fernando
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Default Keeping on the cannon path

I am deeply enjoying this new acquisition .
Having being orientated for its purchase by an expert fellow member ( ), no wonder this is the real good stuff ... excelent stuff, if you don't mind.
The bore is 21 mm. Have not yet checked if it is tapering to the breech; will have to find some kind of stick to verify that.
The total length, as it is now, is 43 cms. The weight is 2,935 Kg.
The seller dated if from circa 1400 but our expert fellow member ( )corrected it to circa 1450.
Typical early rought iron; you can even discern the welded junction of the reinforcement rings.
Amazingly the touch hole is not in perfect alignment with the tail square section; however the difference is not such as to let us think that the touch hole is deliberatly deviated to the (right) side, which i read it happens some times.
A pity that its iron tiller/tail is broken, or deliberately cut off (?).
Who knows one day i come across a similar specimen in its complete status; then the tail secret would be revealed.
Say Michael ( ), is there any chance that the tail has always been like it is now, to be lodged into a shaft, or some other device?
... And, don't hit me too hard for all the nonsense .
Fernando

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Old 4th June 2010, 05:34 AM   #2
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Congratulations, Fernando, on another fine acquisition! What is supposed to be the locale of origin for this one? I am impressed by the proportions of the piece, noting the taper to the barrel, the expanded breech and the muzzle reinforce, and the way it balances on your display pedestal. There is something about its dimensions and shape that seem much more refined than the simple tubular form of the full-sized bombard cannons of there era, rather, it seems to foretell what direction cannon design was to take in the following centuries, down to the end of the muzzle-loading era.

I have a feeling that the "tail" was originally longer and came to a point, to be embedded in the end of a wooden shaft. In such case it was not crucial that the touch hole be oriented exactly at midpoint on any one face of the square-sectioned tail since this extension would have been buried in the wood anyway and thus not be noticeable.

To check to see if the bore is more or less a true cylinder: do you have access to balsa wood? If so you can shape a cylindrical piece the diameter of the bore at the muzzle. When you carefully tap it in, all the way to the breech, the end will be compressed into a taper or cone if the bore narrows towards the breech and the difference can easily be measured once the stick is removed.
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Old 4th June 2010, 08:42 AM   #3
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Fernando, who is this mysterious fellow member of which you speak? ( )

Absolutely a beautiful piece, my friend. Green with envy again. Its amazing how these pieces have held up over the many centuries, considering the rough way they were used. I am assuming that this one had a heavy wooden framework that was stationary? Or was it possibly mounted on one of those frameworks that allowed for upward/downward movement. Too bad my finances are as they are. Otherwise, I too would seek out Michael's advice on landing an amazing piece such as this.
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Old 4th June 2010, 04:31 PM   #4
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Dear Philip,
Thanks a lot for your input.
The origin is said to be Northern Europe; obviously i would like to have a more precise definition, but i am afraid i wil have to live with such one.
Alright, assuming that the tail was longer; could either just be a bit longer for the purpose you suggest, but also be a long tiller, to be held under the armpit, in the typical tiller gun manner. Well, in the field of giving wings to imagination, it could even have had its finial in the form of a ring, to be used by horsemen, tied to the chest, like the famous scopitus (sclopitus), as we see illustrated in several early firearms publications. Its barrel is a bit long and heavy for that, i suppose, anyway .
I am expecting that Michael has a look at these pictures, to confirm his assumption that this is a so called tiller gun. He has seen zillions of these things, his eye is most experienced in this area.
I will keep in mind the balsa wood resource ; thank you for the hint. Meanwhile i have checked this bore with some devices i had at hand and it appears to be cylindrical. What happens is that some rust is located at the first third but, igoring that, the section at the breech looks as wide as the muzzle opening.
Best
Fernando


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Old 4th June 2010, 04:46 PM   #5
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Hi Mark, thank you for your kind words.
I don't think this is a stationary weapon, but a portable one, more likely to be hand held; but let's hope that the mysterious fellow member ( ) gives us some enlightening on the subject.
Anyway, i should have added its length in inches, to give a better idea of its dimensions to the inch people, that being 17".
My finances are not (never) better than mediocre, either. It is a question of option. I love these early things. To balance the budget, i am letting go a few pieces i like less.
Best
Fernando
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Old 4th June 2010, 06:16 PM   #6
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Nando, the "monkey's tail" extension sometimes was just a metal extension with a loop, designed 2b inserted in the cascabel or rear prong: A separate piece, although sometimes it was fixed by soldering in place.

Your Falcon / Verso doesn't truly need a longer rear projection, its OK as it is.

There were all sort of contrivances made to be attached momentarily to the rear. Short wooden poles mated to the stump,for aiming and then removed after firing. This also protected from the blast coming out the vent/ oido/ fogon. Those early iron Falcones had the nasty habit to blow up like a fragmentation grenades when you least expected. The farther away the shooter, the safer he was.

These small cannons were sometimes carried on ship's wales, on tripod-like mounts, and even on thick vertical wood mount-stands. When smaller, there were even mounts designed to be inserted in a cavalryman's saddle!

Looking at the shape of the cannon, it wouldn't surprise me if the barrel was made in two sections, then soldered together ant the seam covered by that middle "reinforcing ring". The rear of the gun seems to have been similarly made. Heck, it boggles the mind, but what if it is threaded..?

Congrats on your new "child"! The table and support also make for a nice presentation...

: )

SuperManuel



Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Mark, thank you for your kind words.
I don't think this is a stationary weapon, but a portable one, more likely to be hand held; but let's hope that the mysterious fellow member ( ) gives us some enlightening on the subject.
Anyway, i should have added its length in inches, to give a better idea of its dimensions to the inch people, that being 17".
My finances are not (never) better than mediocre, either. It is a question of option. I love these early things. To balance the budget, i am letting go a few pieces i like less.
Best
Fernando
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Old 4th June 2010, 08:45 PM   #7
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Hi folks,

O.k., with so many good guessers out there I admit not being exactly innocent in the case of Fernando's latest acquisition; I tipped him the wink where to get it.

As to the possible original shape and length of the tiller/stick I feel that everything has been said here, and very competently as well. That is true, too, for the way it was probably held. With 17" it is definitely shorter than my Spanish tiller gun (see attachments) but although its outer diameter is much wider, the weight of our two pieces is almost the same. I think Philip has presented a good choice of how that barrel could have been used and stocked originally. Thank you also for the idea of using balsa wood for measuring the bore, Philip! May I add that if fired by one single shooter, and if the iron tiller was considerably longer and held under the armpit for firing, there was only one hand left to hold it; the other was used to put a piece of smoldering match, tinder or an igniting iron to the touch hole (please see the two sources of illustration attached: the smaller one of ca. 1450, the larger one dated 1468).

I, too, feel that this fine piece shoud be preserved in the condition as is; remember that nobody can tell for sure the way it looked like in its working life.

Best,
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Old 5th June 2010, 12:33 AM   #8
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Hi Mike, how are you doing?

One thought that came to my mind is that Nando's cannon migh be part of one of those old mittralleuse devices which used multiple barrels, the kind you have portrayed already sometime ago, in this very same forum...

I routinely shoot a 20" Brass Verso, with a ~ 4 cm bore: it's heavy, and far from adequate as a hand weapon...

OTOH, perhaps the explosive power of XV C. BP gave much less of a kick, compared with that from XVIII C..?

Best-est regards y'all



M
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Old 5th June 2010, 01:39 AM   #9
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Hi SuperManuel ,

As to my experience, those medieval multibarrel constructions nomally did not employ barrels with rear extensions as they mostly were fixed to a common wooden construction by iron bands. In my collection though there is a short round iron barrel with a short iron tail, ca. 1450 to 1500, the latter bent downwards and, together with an iron ring over the fore end, being fixed to a solid flat oaken base by the means of three crude square nuts. The rear end of the 'stock' is equipped with an iron ring so it most probably was used as kind of a niche gun (German Nischengeschütz) chained to a niche in the wall inside a castle and kept ready and primed for some special moment. As long as it was aimed in the direction of the gate and the powder in the touch hole was sealed e.g. with wax, it could be kept there for years and fired in a jiffy by using a red hot igniting iron or smoldering match.

A 4 cm bore barrel - wow! that sure leaves a hard impression!

You are certainly right; the black gun powder of 500 to 600 years ago neither had the optimal mixture of today's black powder - let alone the modern nitro powder - nor did it come near the latter's kicks. Remember that the medieval black powder was of very fine meal structure until the grained powder was invented in the 16th century.

Best-est wishes, too
Mike
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Old 5th June 2010, 02:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
A pity that its iron tiller/tail is broken, or deliberately cut off (?).
Who knows one day i come across a similar specimen in its complete status; then the tail secret would be revealed.
Say Michael ( ), is there any chance that the tail has always been like it is now, to be lodged into a shaft, or some other device?
... And, don't hit me too hard for all the nonsense .
Fernando

.


No nonsense at all, Nando, but questions worth a discussion which I have already partly tried to enliven.
Looking at one of the beautifully details that you gave us clearly shows traces of hammering at the end of the stick, so that most probably denotes that the sharp iron edges were smoothened with the hammer after shortening the tiller. If you look at my post of today with the attached pieces of my small Nischengeschütz it is evident that its tiller was sawn off too and, as you put it, lodged into the stock, or rather wooden square base.
Honestly, as all conceivable variations of original finials are possible, I am afraid we will never find the perfect ending for your barrel. There is need, either. It is just fine the way it is.

Besides, you have certainly noticed the small and still tentative earliest molding around the touch hole, which actually makes it one of the very rare most 'primeval' beginnings of an igniting pan found on medieval barrels! At the same time this perfectly confirms my dating of your barrel to 'ca. 1450'.

Moreover, it can be distinctly seen where the reinforcing muzzle ring was drawn over the muzzle when in yellow or red hot condition - a superb and rarely enough noted discerning detail!

Best, and congrats again,
Miguel

Last edited by Matchlock : 5th June 2010 at 02:38 AM.
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Old 5th June 2010, 02:31 AM   #11
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The Verso does pack quite a punch, using 2 oz ff BP. TG its without a projectile, so the wallop is not as bad as it would otherwise be.

Reportedly, they used to fill them with BP up to half their length, in battle conditions..!

Please excuse mi ignorance, but if medieval BP was very fine, wouldn't that increase the Body Surface Area, and produce a faster combustion, ie. more energy per weight, and more kick-back for the unlucky knight carrying the weapon?

I know that the development of grains/clumps helped to 1. decrease the dangers of premature combustion (no charcoal dust suspension in the air: Remember The Maine!), 2. decreased the higroscopy of the meal thus increasing its useful life, and lastly, 3. made for a more predictable mix, in which the components did not separate, as they were won't to do. That's the reason that powder kegs needed to be rolled around often, to mix their contents and prevent their settling appart.

Zorry if I got carried away.

"Things that go Booom! in the night" make for a veddy intedestink subject!

: )

simply huManuel
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Old 5th June 2010, 02:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celtan

"Things that go Booom! in the night" make for a veddy intedestink subject!

: )

simply huManuel


No doubt, huManuel ; I think that's why we are 'gaga about guns' (quotation from Merrill Lindsay).

I am neither a chemist nor a technician so I am not sure about the kick back of meal powder when contrasted to grained powder. I fired black powder replicas using both forms of BP but not to a decisive difference. I also fired some of my original 17th century muskets but only using grained powder.

Best,
Mike
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Old 5th June 2010, 08:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
To check to see if the bore is more or less a true cylinder: do you have access to balsa wood? If so you can shape a cylindrical piece the diameter of the bore at the muzzle. When you carefully tap it in, all the way to the breech, the end will be compressed into a taper or cone if the bore narrows towards the breech and the difference can easily be measured once the stick is removed.



Hi Philip,

Thank you for asking so many demanding questions in one single post that I have to work my way thru them step by step, so please forgive my being slow!!!

As to this quotation: according to my experience, it would be quite unusual to expect a tapering bore with a narrowed powder breech after ca. 1430. As I stated, though, your idea of testing the bore using balsa wood is just brilliant! Furthermore we should keep in mind that many medieval bores involuntarily deviate quite a bit from exactitude up to ca. 1500. Actually, quite a lot of early barrels seem to have been re-bored on the occation of their re-use during the Thirty Years War (by the latest).

Best, and please do keep driving me to my limits,
Michael
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Old 5th June 2010, 04:14 PM   #14
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Here is another possibility how your barrel could originally have looked like, of course with an iron rear extension instead of a wooden.

From Cod.icon. 222, Bartholomäus Freysleben, Inventarium von Büchsen und Zeug, 1495-1500.

Best,
Michael
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Old 6th June 2010, 09:08 PM   #15
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Thank you all gentlemen, for making this develop into such great thread, which leaves me and my cannon full of joy .
I have been weaving some considerations, after your various propposals.
The tail, Manuel, as you mention; indeed the berços had most times these devices detachable, to minimize problems of limited space aboard early ships.
These tails were then called over here 'rabos de ferro' (iron tails), but berços (breech loading falconets) appeared at a stage later than that of this cannon.
Thinking of Philip's sugestion, i confess i envisage hand cannon tails being more often of the socket form, having their wooden poles 'plugged' in; the other way round wouldn't be an harmonious and secure connection, to my view ... but i am a rookie in this area.
On the other hand, if the missing part was not so lengthy, and coming to a point in projection of its tapering angle, it would be improbable that it has been broken by accident.
If instead, and following Michael's later hints, it has been cut off, from being either a short tail or a long tiller, the reason would be its conversion, from a hand held piece into another type of gun; a stationary version, who knows which... a tripod stand cannon, a niche cannon, what else?
Definitely many long leaving weapons (and not only), ended up being sumitted to one or more modifications through their lives.
We are together, guys .
Fernando
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Old 7th June 2010, 10:23 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celtan
The Verso does pack quite a punch, using 2 oz ff BP. TG its without a projectile, so the wallop is not as bad as it would otherwise be.

Reportedly, they used to fill them with BP up to half their length, in battle conditions..!

Please excuse mi ignorance, but if medieval BP was very fine, wouldn't that increase the Body Surface Area, and produce a faster combustion, ie. more energy per weight, and more kick-back for the unlucky knight carrying the weapon?

I know that the development of grains/clumps helped to 1. decrease the dangers of premature combustion (no charcoal dust suspension in the air: Remember The Maine!), 2. decreased the higroscopy of the meal thus increasing its useful life, and lastly, 3. made for a more predictable mix, in which the components did not separate, as they were won't to do. That's the reason that powder kegs needed to be rolled around often, to mix their contents and prevent their settling appart.


I think a lot of it would relate to your point #3. One big problem was having the niter separate; without it, you just have a smoky, smoldering mess, as it is the oxidizer for the bp. However, even when the separation was accounted for, a finely ground powder can still leave a lot to be desired.

I've made bp and tested it alongside modern commercial types, using a standard ratio mix (75:15:10), along with some other ratios. I also used a binder (rice rinse water), which kept things from separating. However, instead of corning, I did a fine grind, which would have been similar to bp here in Korea back in the 14th C. I used a flintlock eprouvette and compared my powder to commercial powders (FFG-FFFFG) and the results were quite lopsided; my powder would register 1~2 on the scale, while the commercial was 3~5. I think that not only was separation a big problem, but also the ratio of niter/charcoal/sulfur. Still, I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of either type
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Old 7th June 2010, 10:47 PM   #17
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It has got its rest ... in mahogany.
I thought it would better be (sort of) locked between the back hole and the middle reinforcing ring, to avoid the cats to knock it down .

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Old 8th June 2010, 12:52 PM   #18
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Thank you, Bluelake. Probably the quality and purity of the ingredientss (sources) in the 16th C would not have been the highest. So, we are left with BP that was effectively less powerful than what was available in the 18th C.
Best

Manuel

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluelake
I think a lot of it would relate to your point #3. One big problem was having the niter separate; without it, you just have a smoky, smoldering mess, as it is the oxidizer for the bp. However, even when the separation was accounted for, a finely ground powder can still leave a lot to be desired.

I've made bp and tested it alongside modern commercial types, using a standard ratio mix (75:15:10), along with some other ratios. I also used a binder (rice rinse water), which kept things from separating. However, instead of corning, I did a fine grind, which would have been similar to bp here in Korea back in the 14th C. I used a flintlock eprouvette and compared my powder to commercial powders (FFG-FFFFG) and the results were quite lopsided; my powder would register 1~2 on the scale, while the commercial was 3~5. I think that not only was separation a big problem, but also the ratio of niter/charcoal/sulfur. Still, I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of either type

Last edited by fernando : 8th June 2010 at 02:21 PM. Reason: Inconvenient path
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Old 25th August 2015, 07:20 PM   #19
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Hi Nando,

Are there any areas on the barrel that can point towards a later alteration like an iron fixing band (leaving a lighter surface area?)
It is interesting to think about how and where that tiller broke off/was sawn off. And what would have happened next.

Beautyfull example of an early hand cannon.
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Old 26th August 2015, 11:52 AM   #20
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Hi Marcus,
This pattern is consistent with another one sold in some auction a few years ago. Only the length in such one is shorter.
The text in the offer mentioned a 'quadrangular cascabel' and not a 'cut off tiller'.
So at facing both examples, we don't have as a fact that, this is short tiller was meant to be like that from the beginning.
... or was there a generalized habit to cut them off for some modified purpose .


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