Cannon Recoil Control 1866

by John

The 80 pr muzzle loading cannon was supplied to the colonial government of Victoria on a wooden traversing platform with a 5º slope.

I assumed that the slope was the means of absorbing the recoil.

The later iron platforms (from about 1875) had a 4º slope and hydraulic recoil control.

But, I was recently informed that there was a wooden “compressor”, which acted as a primitive brake, to reduce the distance of the barrel and carriage recoil. And that there was a compressor at the Flagstaff Hill Museum, Warrnambool, Victoria.

In fact I had previously seen the compressor, but neither I, nor I suspect the museum staff, really understood then how the compressor functioned.

Using Victorian Collections photographs published on the web, my own photographs, information from “The Artillerest” Peter Webster, some old drawings of wooden carriages and platforms, and a Google book “British Smooth Bore Artillery” by David McConnell, and a fair bit of deduction, I think that I have finally worked it out.

Firstly, the Victorian Collections photographs…

The compressor sits between the slides, with the rectangular iron tabs resting on top of the slides.
The elliptical central hole is filled with an iron elliptical post with a long handle attached to the top. When the handle is pulled backwards the cheeks are pushed outwards by 1/8″ 3.2mm, acting as a brake. The tapered iron bits had me stumped.
My drawing of the compressor with the brake applied. From above. When the handle is pushed forward, the gap between the cheeks closes and the brake is released. The pins push on the tapered outer iron cams to ensure closure of the cheeks. Ahhhh!
From below the compressor, with brake applied. The handle has a square drive in the square hole. A rope is tied in the distal handle hole.

Now to make one at 1:10 scale.

P.s. reader Jeff sent me some photos of a recoil control system used in 19th century USA, where a large metal screw clamp was utilised in these rifled muzzle loaders