This past Wednesday we had a meeting of park personnel about the blackpowder and historic weapons firing safety standards for the Florida State Park. We met at Hillsborough River State Park. After two years it seemed that the new Florida state park standards are narrowed down and polished up. I will talk about that more in my next blog.
But, first off, we checked out the new cannon at Fort Foster. It is absolutely beautiful. It is an all aluminum carriage. At first I was a bit skeptical, but now I am sold on it. Even standing right next to the cannon, it looks the same as a wood carriage. It is not farby looking. I think that this is the trend for the future, where parks can have a cannon displayed that will not deteriorate due to the weather. When you have a small park staff, they are not able to grease the cannon every day, and often distracted by problems in the campground and regular park.
Here is what Patrick Potts at the park had to say about it:
"Fort Foster Historic Site has acquired an all-aluminum cannon carriage specifically built for permanent outdoor display. The carriage will be subject to variable environmental factors, particularly rain, heat, and sunlight the year round. The life span of a wooden carriage under these factors is 3-5 years, and iron carriage has a life span of 25-50 years. The aluminum carriage has an estimated live span of 200 years, or more. Maintenance is much less with no RUST or wood rot as experienced in iron or wood."
"All-Metal Gun Carriages: This carriage has many advantages. It will not rust and is lightweight (1,000 lbs). It will not fill up with water, freeze and split open as the old cast iron carriages did. Also, the carriage had to look like it was made of wood so oak grain was put into the pattern. The complete carriage looks so real you have to ring the metal to realize that it is not made of wood."
The carriage is new. They lifted off the old tube from the previous carriage that had rotted out. And this gun will stay at the fort, and not be loaned out. The park staff said that do not even ask to borrow it, because it will not go anywhere. It is strictly for the fort and will not be loaned out and come back dirty and scuffed up.
I asked Patrick about the weight of the carriage, and he said that it is the same as the former wooden carriage. So there will be the same recoil.
It the paint gets scuffed up, they just repaint it. It will not be sand blasted. The old paint will be removed by paint stripper and the new coat applied.
The mountain howitzer was loaned out to an event not too long ago, and it came back filthy. This will probably not happen again. When someone takes the responsibility for borrowing something as significant and important as an artillery piece, it should be returned cleaned, inside an out. The howitzer had dirt, powder sludge, and even hand prints that should have been polished off the barrel. Folks, if you borrow someone’s weapon, you have the responsibility of taking care of it.