Coventry Corporation Transport Society

The Cannon

By Chris Marshall

It all began when we decided to try and make a cannon.  I was still an apprentice with around three years into my time.  I cannot remember what gave us the, "build a cannon", idea, but once born the idea turned into planning it.

We looked at how a cannon worked, it all looked very simple.  We needed a barrel, supplied by using a piece of copper pipe with an interior diameter of a quarter of an inch.  We needed a replacement for the gun powder, we decided that match heads, gently tapped to get the match head to flake off.  We soon learned that tapping the head too hard caused it to ignite.  A fuse would also be required, this was to be a side flake off the match head, this needed a few attempts to get it right.

A piece of wood was shaped for the cannon base.  One end of the tube was placed between the jaws of a vice.  The vice was closed, pressing the end of the tube shut.  It was then removed from the vice and a hole, one sixteenth of an inch, was drilled just above the crushed end, this was the fuse hole.

The barrel was next secured by aluminium straps to the wood base.  All looked good and was ready to go.  Matches were tapped until a nice supply of powder was obtained, which also included a piece for the fuse.  The powder was poured into the barrel and the fuse part fitted into the fuse hole.

What was missing was a missile.  This was solved by cutting the head of a quarter inch alum rivet leaving a half inch body, this was pushed down into the nine inch long barrel.  All was now ready to go.

I was elected to light the fuse.  A match was struck and the flame lowered down to the fuse.  The cannon was down on the floor.  The fuse ignighted, it fizzed, there was a woooose sound, not a bang.  Flames shot out of the barrel end and from the other side of the work shop our foreman jumped up from his desk, turned round to face us.  I say us, but I was the only one still standing in a thick cloud of smoke.

It appeared that the alum rivet had shot across the shop and hit water pipes above the foremans head, who was Ray Hodder, then it had dropped onto the papers he was working on.  I received a good telling off, but I already realised what a foolish thing I had been involved in.

I decided that it was time to experiment with much safer projects, like making boomerangs and learning how to throw them.  More on this project soon.