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1840  British  Insurance  Cannon 

...by Buck Stix

This is a British 1 Pounder "Insurance Cannon" from the early 1800's.  It is called an "Insurance Cannon" ( or Insurance Gun ) because the British Insurance Companies of that time required that all Vessels wanting to insure  their cargos, must have a Cannon "at-the-ready" to ward off attacks and unwelcome boarding attempts by natives and pirates.  These Insurance Cannons were generally smaller in size than the Military Cannons used on board British Navel Vessels.  The 1 Pounder shown here was the smallest Cannon to meet the requirements of the Insurance Companies.  This unique Cannon Barrel was recovered sometime during the late 19th century from a shipwreck found off the coast of England in the English Channel.  It is one of only two known to exist.

 

English 1 pounder Insurance Cannon recovered from an English Shipwreck 

             26" Barrel weight = 90 lbs. ----- Bore = 2" ----- Solid Ball Projectile = 1.954" in dia. ----- weight = 1 pound (see chart page bottom)

 

The Barrel has "PROVED" cast into the 2nd reinforce signifying that it was test-fired with a "heavier than normal load" thereby "Proving" that it would be safe to shoot with a standard load. 

 

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Insurance  Cannons  were  used  in  several  different  mounting  configurations

Some Insurance Cannons were mounted on small wheeled carriages called Deck-Carriages.  Some were mounted on Slide-Carriages.  And some were mounted on Swivel-Stands.  

Insurance Cannon in Deck Carriage                Insurance Cannon in Slide Carriage                

         1 Pounder Insurance Gun in Deck Carriage                  1 Pounder Insurance Gun in Slide-Carriage                    1 Pounder Insurance Gun in Swivel Mount          

     

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Mounting  the  Insurance  Cannon  in  a  Deck  Carriage 

...by Buck Stix

The Deck Carriage was a smaller, light weight version of a Field Carriage.  It had wheels for quickly maneuvering it about the Ship's Deck to any location where it might be needed.  This was easily accomplished by only one or two men.  The Loop that was cast into the top of the cascabel at the rear of the barrel was used to tie-down the cannon with heavy ropes to control the violent recoil. 

insurance cannon deck carriage and mountain howitzer carriage

The  Mountain Howitzer Prairie Carriage - compared to the Insurance Gun Deck Carriage.

 

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To restore this barrel into a Deck Carriage, we called upon our friends at Peaceful Valley Arms.   Peaceful Valley offers a wide variety of small signal cannons for recreational use.

peaceful valley arms insurance gun deck carriagepeaceful valley arms deck carriage

For more Information about Peaceful Valley Arms <<< see their Facebook page. 

Upon seeing the carriages that were built by Peaceful Valley Arms, we contacted them for help.  Although most of their signal cannon carriages were constructed with 18" wheels, our carriage would require 24" wheels.  They were more than willing to scale-up a carriage to fit our needs, and their specialized workshop quickly turned out a Custom built Deck Carriage for our Insurance Cannon.

Peaceful Valley Arms Insurance Guin Deck Carriage

The skilled workshop was able to provide an "antique" finish to our Insurance Gun Deck Carriage.

 

Insurance Gun Deck Carriage front Insurance Gun Deck Carriage front side Insurance Gun Deck Carriage back Insurance Gun Deck Carriage top

The completed Gun Deck Carriage with vintage Insurance Cannon Barrel mounted.  It looks like it just came off a British 1840 Merchant Ship.

 

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 Mounting  the  Insurance  Cannon  in a  Slide  Carriage 

...by Buck Stix

 Slide Carriage Swivel Gun 

Slide Carriages were the least complex to build, but also the least effective to use. 

The Slide Carriage is similar to a Full Size Naval Deck Mount Carriage except that it is much smaller and has no wheels.  The Slide Carriage could be maneuvered over short distances about the Ship's Deck to any location by simply dragging it, ( sliding it ) into place.  Although not as nimble as a Deck Carriage with wheels, it was still easy to slide short distances by only one or two men.  Slide carriages were generally used on merchant ships that had several small cannons that only needed to be moved over short distances; whereas Deck Carriages with large wheels could be quickly moved over long distances.  

 

Deck Gun Carriage        Insurance Cannon in Slide Carriage

                        A Full Size Naval Deck Mount Carriage                                 A Slide Carriage                                        

         

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Mounting  the  Insurance  Cannon  in a  Swivel  Yoke 

...by Buck Stix

SWIVEL GUN - SWIVEL GUN YOKE PLANS

1840 British 1 Pounder on a Swivel  Gun Stand 

The Swivel Cannon, or Swivel Gun, was a small cannon mounted in a "yoke" set into the top of a sturdy stand or directly into the ship's rail.  The Swivel gun allows for fast maneuvering in all directions and elevations.  The swivel yoke is nothing more than a robust oar-lock that attaches to the cannon barrel trunnions.  Many of the Insurance Cannons were mounted in such a fashion, with ships having several mounting sockets at various locations fore and aft.  It wasn't long before we started fabricating a reproduction yoke for mounting our barrel in such a stand. 

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How  to  Build  a  Swivel  Cannon  Yoke  for  your  Swivel  Cannon

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NOTE:  To purchase detailed drawings showing the Blacksmithing of the Swivel Yoke - see  Howitzer Plans Page

SWIVEL YOKE HALVES   SWIVEL YOKE HALVES IDENTICAL      SWIVEL YOKE HALVES TOGETHER 

The Swivel Yoke was Blacksmith forged in 2 identical halves that could be positioned "mirror image".  The two halves of the yoke are brought together, and a yoke ring is slipped over their ends.

 

 SWIVEL YOKE HALVES WITH RING   SWIVEL YOKE HALVES WITH RING IN PLACE   SWIVEL YOKE SOCKET   SWIVEL YOKE SOCKET IN STAND   SWIVEL YOKE PLACED IN STAND

The Swivel Yoke is then placed into a socket that has been inserted into the end of a Wooden Stand.  To mount the barrel, slide the Yokes over the trunnions before slipping-on the ring.

 

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The Rough, Hand Forged, completed Swivel Yoke, matches the patina of the 1840 Cannon

SWIVEL CANNON YOKE SWIVEL CANNON YOKE ASSEMBLY SWIVEL CANNON YOKE FORGING

BRITISH SWIVEL GUN

The Swivel  Gun is ready for use

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The following reference chart gives the weight and diameter of cast iron balls from 1/4 pound to 50 pounds.

SWIVEL CANNON YOKE SHOT SIZES

 

Order Plans to build your own Swivel Cannon Yoke >> SWIVEL YOKE PLAN

 

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