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Andrej Pfeiffer-Perkuhn

Location: Münzenberg/Germany
Joined: 13 Sep 2006

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Tue 07 Nov, 2017 5:12 am    Post subject: Project of casting a 15th-Century breech loading Handgonne         Reply with quote


Dr. Bastian Asmus of the Labor für Archäometallurgie has started a new project:

So, a handgonne it will be.
Thanks is due to Andrej Pfeiffer-Perkuhn of the @Geschichtsfenster, as he provided invaluable assistance in the early forming stages of this new project of mine, and will hopefully continues to do so in the future...
This is about very early firearms and how they were made. Although I am not much for guns'n shooting and such like, I have always been intrigued by the casting process of guns and cannon.
Why? Because, as a fully trained bronze founder I know that there are a lot of challenges involved, even a lot of room for failure. As a professional maker of things failures are among the least favourite topics to share. However, also being a scientitst helps to overcome this predicament: Witout failure there can be no progress. Or on other words we must not cease to try and falsify our hypotheses-
I did make a 200kg mid to late 15th century cannon last year, and although I have been bronze casting for the last 25 years, there is something about the reconstruction and practical application of ancient technology that evades our modern day workshop experience. It certainly did, where the cannon was concerned. For me the project provided crucial insights, even if the cannon was in the end not fit for shooting, as it allowed me to test several hypotheses with reagrds to the moulding and casting technology, which are of course not recorded for such early pieces.
That is why I decided to embark on a new project, which touches on many subjects I am keenly interested in, i.e. the whole making of the gun, and in many I am not interested in at all, .i.e. anything that is concerned with reasons for the supposed need of the use of firearms.
Don't get me wrong I am of course very curious about the performance of the guns, that is the effects on the material during usage, as there is so little known about early bronze fire arms, and I am willing to put in the effot to contribute towards filling in these gaps. I am all for the challenge to make such a thing, not least of all to solve the problem of casting a piece with a long and narrow core.
Also, at the end of the process, I am sure, there will be a batch of these handgonnes available, though if they meet modern safety regulation and will be safe to use or only scientific test and show pieces I cannot say at this stage.
But, to the more pressoing matters, I want to know:
+ How well do these firearms do perform?
+ How well the bronze can withstand the strain of black powder usage?
+ How safe is is to use such a firearm?
+ How long they can be used?
+ How they were made exactly - we know they were cast, but it does stop there?
+ How was the barrel manufactured ecactly?
+ Cast with core, drilled, reamed, bored?
+ Which tools were necessary?
+ Which casting method was the most likely to succeed?
+ and numerous more nitty gritty details, that can only be asked by those who are versed in application of the artes mechanicae...
This is not simply about reconstructing a handgonne for fun, though I am definitely not averse to the idea that ypur chosen field of study can be fun. I really do want to know HOW they were made back in the day and will certainly put in all the faculties that are available to me, to arrive at a hypothesis that I will put to the test...
The whole thing is going to be documented in a series of short filmsm which I will make available alongside the efforts that are being undertaken.
Last but not least:Tim Berners Lese envisaged the internet as a place to foster fruitful disccourse and constrctive criticism. If there is anyone who likes to contribute toward this I am happy to hear about it.
Finally, for those who managed to plough through all this, here is a small teaser:
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Hamish C

Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 27 Jul 2016
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 46

PostPosted: Tue 07 Nov, 2017 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can't help with any of the technical issues, but this sounds like a very cool project. Looking forward to see how it progresses.
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Mark Griffin

Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 802

PostPosted: Wed 08 Nov, 2017 1:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have you contacted Dr Alfred Geibig at Veste Coburg? He has invaluable knowledge in this area plus is in several research groups. What is the proposed reconstruction based on?
Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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