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Tag: 3D Printing

Armstrong Cannon Wheel Assemblies -2

rear wheel and support

There are 3 major components of each wheel assembly, plus the wheel, axle, and king pin.

The wheels, axles and king pins are straight forward metal turning, but the other 3, the wheel bracket, the king pin post, and the chassis bracket, are castings in the original.

For my 1:10 model I am planning to cast the king pin column, and the wheel bracket.  But I will fabricate the chassis brackets.

There is one chassis bracket for each of the 4 chassis wheels, and they are all different.  Front different from rear, left and right hand versions.  And each one has angles of 90º, 30º, 20º, 6º, 2º so the machining was quite a mental exercise.  No major stuff ups though.


Here is the main component of the left hand rear chassis bracket, being held in position.  It will be bolted on later, and have several flanges silver soldered to it.   Those M2 cap screws will be replaced by rivets eventually.

Meanwhile, having decided to cast the king pin casing, and the wheel bracket, I spent many pleasant hours (or was it days?), drawing them.  Then yesterday, I 3D printed an example of the king pin casings.


2.5 hours to print PLA examples of rear (left) and front king pin casings.  I need to see the original cannon to check some details before committing to cast these in bronze.  The PLA parts will disappear during during the casting process.  (A pity.  They are quite attractive No?)  You can see why I chose not to machine them out of bar stock.   3 pin holes in the left hand print ? the result of not storing the PLA spool in a dehumidified container.


So, it might not look like several days of computer and workshop time, but that is how long it has taken.

In Australia we have had some easing of Covid-19 restrictions, but not opening of museums or historic collections of cannons.  So I still cannot go to Warnambool (a 2.5 hour drive) to check details on their Armstrong 80 pounder rifled muzzle loader.  Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum does not answer their phone.  Hmmm.  Maybe I could climb the fence and sneak in……    but maybe not.

Bronze Casting. 1.

My model Armstrong cannon has some components which will be difficult to machine, and would involve silver soldering many tiny pieces.

For example, the steel brackets in which the wheels are supported, and the centre column.

rear trolley

There are 4 trolleys like this.  Each one has 2 or 3  wheels.  It is a Z shaped profile with 3 gussets visible and 2 more inside.


The centre column.  It could be fabricated.  

But being basically lazy and always looking for the easy way out, I have decided to investigate the possibility of casting these parts.  And some others.

So I have printed them in PLA filament, with a view to a “lost wax” type of casting process.  It will be “lost PLA” of course.  Maybe doing the casting myself.  But also checking the possibility of having it done professionally.

The PLA printed parts which will be melted and burned away in the casting process, have to be as well finished as possible.  So I have been experimenting with various settings in 3D printing.  One problem is that the molten plastic thread has to be supported.  Overhangs up to 45º or even 60º can self support.  And even horizontal overhangs can self support if the gap is not too big.

print unsupported threads

But this gap, about 20mm, proved to be too big…

print unsup oblique

The threads are partly bridging the gap…

print unsup end

Horrible.  It is the underside, but even out of sight, it is unusable.

So, I am printing up some supported versions, even as I type this.  And I am going to look at some casting equipment which I might be able to borrow.  Apparently the gas furnace is very noisy, and it needs a home with no close neighbours.   List…. a furnace capable of melting bronze, a crucible, investment casting powder,  protective gloves, helmet or face mask, leather apron, tongs, slag ladle, a casting box.   There are many YouTube videos on the subject of lost PLA casting.    Watch this space.  But if the quote for professional casting from my printed molds is not too fierce, I will probably take that path.

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