An Aussie Beer Can Mortar
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Once apon a time well before I was connected to the net........
Married, one ruggie, and a military man.
As a mechanical fitter I have been employed many times to manufacture tools and jigs for other tradesmen working in different departments in my unit. I have an interest in firearms (and weapons)of all types. I have used my skills to manufacture model, nad larger cannon as well as helping mates with legal modifications to there firearms. Yes I have also committed the most grevious of sins by de-activating or de-milling other wise serviceable weapons just because they were unfasionable at the time. I will never vote for that government again!!
Well any way one day...
I happened upon a large peice of brass round stock 125mm x 400mm. Too nice to be left lying around, too short for a cannon, just right for a mortar. So a quick look at my reference material and a suitable mortar shape was drawn up, scaled to give the least waste from the raw material... and just the right size to be bored to 62mm. A nice clearence diameter for a Victoria Bitter Beer Can. The exact dimentions of my mortar are unimportant, needless to say that I overengineered to some degree.
The projectile was selected because of:
and, d, abundance!
The brass stock was offered to my trusty lathe and trued up externaly then drilled and bored to size. External dimentions were basic as all a Blackpowder mortar is, is a short, thick tube. The trunnion is located at the base, just the same as the modern stokes mortar, with a wooden carrage.
Mortars and Howitsers have a common theme, use a small powder charge to lob the projectile to the desired range. Many early mortar have huge bore sizes enabling large diameter projectiles to be fired short distances, all that was needed then. In keeping with the mortar theme a powder chamber 30mm in Dia. x 30mm deep was machined into the base of the short barrel.
Initial testing of the mortar with empty and gravel filled beer cans proved dissapointing.
The thinking cap went on and the very next weekend ten concrete filled beer cans were ready for some serious R&D
The Big day (no not Trinity NM 1945) but close!
A blow by blow account by Brat (not his real name)and Andy..
"Will it work this time" Snickered Brat.
"Fu** off Brat, I've just finished greasing the can, it would justabout fit your a** keep it up!" I retorted, we are really good mates!
"Eat me" or words to that effect snapped Brat.
"Is that all the powder you are going to use?" asked Brat
"Is the wick long enough?"
"Should'nt you push the can in more? finished Brat, the expert.
"Who's fu**ing this duck, stand back wicks lit" I replied.
BOOOM..gasp for breath, good shockwave!
The can launched out of that thing like a scalded cat (and we havew seen some oof those), rose to 200 meters, reached apogee (dictonary job) and tumbled into a lake at the 175 meter mark on the range (1/2 way between the turkeys and the rams. The thud of impact was preceded by the 10 meter shower of water glinting in the morning sun.
Just afterwards I was basking in wonder of what I had done, watching the thick cloud of smoke lasily drifd down range when I heared a funny noize...
"Is that you Brat?" I asked
"Speak up prick!" I replied as I turned to see Brat. His eyes were rolled back, in one bony hand was a beer can, in the other the powder flask and the reason he was incoherent 6" of wick clenched in between his drooling lips.
"OK your turn"
On a more analitical note:
Range at 45 - 55 Deg 180 to 250 meters
Altitude 200 to 250 meters, by eye
F grade Blackpowder only, augmented with homemade stuff to fill the chamber
Only the finest VB cans were used
Lots of Vasiline as lube
commercial cannon fuse
The bore fouled up quickly, probably because of my blackpowder
Cement (mortar mix) strenghtened the can and increased pressure nicely.
We stood well back!!! and still felt the shock wave.
Standard disclamers, I'm telling a story, not giving instructions!!!
A BEER CAN IN FLIGHT IS A WONDERFUL SIGHT!