Recoil Control

by John

I had a phone conversation with Peter Webster, “The Artillerist”, yesterday, after I emailed him about the recoil control compressor which I had photographed at Flagstaff Hill, Warrnambool.

the very rare compressor. The loose metal bits on top are not part of the compressor.

I could not see how it could fit into the carriage or slide of the LowMoor cannon, or how it functioned.

Peter, who has a passion for Australian garrison artillery, 1788-1950, and has encyclopaedic knowledge on the subject, had seen this object at Warrnambool almost 20 years ago, realised what it was, and subsequently wrote a report for the museum. The compressor is classified as being extremely rare, most having been removed from the guns, probably to remove the gun metal components for scrap.

Peter explained to me that the flat, rectangular compressor sat between the platform slides with the metal corner tabs resting on top of the slides and the centre join of the compressor located along the centre line between the slides. The front and rear surfaces fitted between the cross members of the carriage.

The central hole was almost vertical. The hole is elliptical, not round. Sitting in the hole was a neat fitting elliptical post, which had a handle which protruded out to the right hand side between the carriage and the slide. When the handle was pulled, the post rotated and increased the separation of the 2 halves of the compressor, pushing them against the sides of the slides, as a brake.

Peter was sure that all carriage/platforms of this type would have been fitted with these compressors, until the wooden structures were replaced with the iron types a decade or so later.

So clearly I will have to make a scale model of the compressor for my current model.

This is a modified version of the carriage and traversing platform. It is the best drawing I could locate which shows the compressor insitu. Note also the central pivot and its large cross beam, which is bolted to the slides with the vertical bolts I had wondered about at Elsternwick. Peter told me that the Elsternwick guns would originally have been fitted with pivots, but removed due to being damaged during firing.