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Tag: Google Books

Book Review. “….Royal Gun Factory….”

Actually, the full title of the book is “Treatise On the Construction and Manufacture of Ordnance in the British Service prepared in the Royal Gun Factory” by John Fletcher Owen. Originally published in 1878.

The book is available in electronic form, free of charge, at Google Books. It may be read electronically, or downloaded to your own computer. Owen, J. F. (2018). Treatise on the Construction and Manufacture of Ordnance in the British Service Prepared in the Royal Gun Factory. United States: Creative Media Partners, LLC.

But, I really prefer to read books with the feel of paper, turning real pages, leaving bookmarks, making annotations. So, I ordered a hard back copy of the book from Booktopia. It came yesterday. Cost was a bit less than $AUD50.

I received an email that my order was “being printed” and that it would be sent within 2 weeks. It did arrive about 2 weeks later, and I was surprised to see that it had been printed in Australia! The binding is neat, and the feel is substantial. 510 pages.

Having looked at the electronic version I knew that the book is full of detailed information about the design, manufacture, construction, testing, and use of British artillery of the 1870’s era. Readers of this blog will understand my interest in the subject. There are many, many diagrams, plans, tables. A real cornucopia of information for the cannon modeller, or gun nut.

Now, understand my disappointment when I opened the book at random, to read …. anything. And I blinked and squinted, and tried to make out the words…..


With my glasses on, in a good light, I can just make out the words, but it is a struggle, not pleasant at all. And, the margins are huge! 30mm on the right! In the photo you can see the original page edges. They could have made the printed page and font size substantially larger. The reproduction result is a bit fuzzy, not sharp, which compounds the problem.

Compare the electronic version with a page from the reproduced book.

Electronic Version:

Printed (reproduced) Version.

Look at the dimensions in the printed version. Not at all clear. The small size, and degradation due to the reproduction process makes this book less useful.

The 143 year old book is a real treasure trove, and the information and diagrams etc may be freely reproduced without fear of copyright infringement. The reproduced paper version from Booktopia is disappointing. With a little more care it could have been wonderful. As it is I would give it a 5/10. I have sent feedback to Booktopia.

Some random pages follow, just to show more examples of the contents.

So, love the original book, disappointed with the Booktopia reproduction version. End of whinge.

Carriage Assembly, and Gun Spiking.

If you have been following the build of the model Armstrong cannon, you might remember that most of the steel panels for the carriage were laser cut a few months ago. In the past few days I have been drilling dozens of 2mm holes, ready for final riveting.  Meanwhile the parts are held together with 2mm bolts and nuts.  I expect that the rivets will not be installed until I can see that everything fits and works as it should.


Only a few fasteners so far, but it is surprisingly rigid.



The angle iron is cut from the corners of rectangular section tube with 2mm wall thickness.  It does require some more finishing and rounding off, but the scale is accurate.  The big hole is to allow the hydraulic recoil tube to be inserted.  The recoil cylinder will be 18mm diameter.

SWMBO’s comment….  “It looks like it is made from Meccano”.  I guess that there are a lot of holes.

Meanwhile I have discovered an excellent reference source, published in 1879.  It is a free book, available online at Google Books.  “Treatise on the Construction and Manufacture of Ordnance in the British Service”.  517 pages.  Original price 9 shillings.  It is full of gems for the cannon modeller.  As an example, this is a drawing of the sights on the 64 pounder RML converted to 80 pounder.  You will see that the barrel shape is different from the one which I am modelling, which is a mark 3.  But it is probable that the sights remained the same as those pictured.  A great find, with enough detail for me to scale down and model.

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 12.18.03 am

Note that the sight on the right is not vertical, but sloped at approximately 2º.  That is to compensate for the slight deflection of the projectile to the right, caused by the rifling.

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 12.07.37 am

From the same book, a detailed description of the Vent / touch hole / ignition hole.  It was NOT just a simple hole drilled into the barrel, but a copper cylinder which was threaded into the barrel.  The touch hole was drilled through the copper.  The reason for this was that the touch hole gradually became bigger with use, and needed replacement after a certain number of firings.  It also allowed repair of the touch hole if the gun was “spiked” by the opposition, but that was a major exercise which required specialist knowledge and tools, and a return to the factory or one of the 5 workshops listed above.