The Pennsylvania State Navy took delivery
of its first full-scale English 3 pounder in June of 1999. Three more cannon were
then ordered, averaging one every six months. The tubes were manufactured by Cannon
LTD, with a slight design modification over the normal artillery pieces made at the
foundry. Because of the Navy's
prity for live-fire demonstrations, the use of the typical 3/8" steel liner that
is standard in most modern artillery reproductions was changed. The Navy's full
scale English 3 pounders were reengineered to utilize a 1/2" steel liner, making
these cannon far stronger than any other in their class.
Damian Siekonic and Don Becker
researched John Muller's "Treatise of Artillery", printed in 1780. The
only detailed technical drawings for a naval or garrison carriage depicted in that
publication were for an English 24 pounder. Although the book's text provides
calculations and rudimentary measurements for most of the guns of the time, the two found
a more accurate
way of devising suitable plans for the size carriage they needed.
Taking a piece of plywood, one of the 3
pounders was laid on top and traced using a square and a pencil. The outline
was then cut out with a jigsaw and painted black. The result was a silhouette
cut-out of the cannon barrel.
Becker and Siekonic employed the
use of an overhead projector, a laptop and a VGA projector. Muller's plans for the
24 pounder were scanned at high resolution and then projected onto a white painted 4'x8'
sheet of plywood. Adobe Photoshop was then used to adjust the plans to accommodate the length and width of the 3 pounder barrel. The
plans for the carriage were now life-size and proportional in every detail.
The convenience of using an overhead
projector was obvious. By moving the projector nearer or farther away from the
plywood, the plans for the carriage were enlarged or reduced as needed. The cut-out
of the cannon barrel was held up to the projection, and when the silhouette of the cannon
barrel fit the plans exactly to scale, the cut-out was removed and the plans were
traced onto the plywood. The result was an accurate set of building plans custom-fit to our barrels.
Instead of using solid oak, which was an
option, it was decided that the carriages would be built using laminated
mahogany. Mahogany, although not as hard as oak, has the same waterproof
qualities without all of the weight, and when laminated using four pieces of
1"x8" and set counter-grained, it provides more strength than oak with an
increased durability over any one piece of wood.
The two carriages shown here took just over
two months to build, which included custom blacksmithing. Two more carriages are
being built for cannons three and four and should be ready for service sometime in 2006.