Armstrong 80pr RML – another one!

by John

You might have seen the above photo in earlier this year. 2 Armstrong 80pr muzzle loading, rifled cannons are sitting on their ORIGINAL wooden slides, in Hopetoun Gardens, Elsternwick, Victoria. These were originally installed as garrison guns at Fort Gellibrand, Williamstown, Victoria and were never upgraded with the more modern, accurate iron and geared slides such as at Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland, and which were the inspiration for my 2020-21 modelling efforts.

I have decided that I will make another 1:10 scale model of the Armstrong 80pr RML, this time sitting on a wooden slide.

You might wonder why I am so obsessed with this particular cannon? Well, I wonder too. Perhaps it is the ready availability of an original in good condition, which I can visit, photograph and measure.

Anyway, I have made a start on this next model.

Cutting off 275mm of 76mm diameter bar. I bought this as mild steel, but it has remained so shiny in my damp workshop that I wonder if it is stainless.

The next step was to centre the 10kg rod in a 4 jaw chuck, install a 3 jaw steady, and drill the 16mm bore. Sorry, no photos, forgot. I had made a long series 16 mm drill bit by turning a shoulder on the shank of a good 16mm bit, and boring an accurate hole in the end of some 5/8″ (15.875mm) drill rod, and silver soldering them together. Then honing the bore to an accurate 16mm diameter, along its 275mm length. It worked well. So well, that I can insert a 16mm “projectile” in the bore, and watch it slowly drop through.

Then, continuing to hold the blank rod with its 16mm bore in the 4 jaw, and using the tailstock to hold the other end I manually turned the exterior of the barrel.

Why not CNC? Well, my CNC lathe is a bit light for turning a 10kg blank, and manual turning is still quite a pleasurable way to spend a couple of hours. The taper of the “chase” was done using the top slide set at 2.5º.

Turning the rounded chamfers. I could have CNC’d them, as I did for the original models, but in this instance I used a method which I had read about. That was to use a rounding over bit which is intended as a milling bit. But in this case it was held in the lathe tool post, and used as a form tool. It was very quick, and produced an excellent finish IMO.
Next step was to make the cascabel. This started as a 20mm x 1.5mm high tensile bolt. The wide part was a steel disk which I threaded, and glued to the bolt with Loctite 220. I turned the bolt head down to 20mm. Then CNC’d the shape above. Still to come is the rope bolt hole, and flattening the sides. Tapping the barrel to accept the cascabel occupied a couple of hours.
The new barrel has a better finish than my previous effort IMO. I used hydraulic oil mixed with kerosene as lubricant. 10kg stock originally, now weighs 4.2kg. Next step is the rifling.