Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Rebuild A Cannon (or Britainizing the Barclay)

You might remember my Barclay cannon, which I wrote about on September 26th. 2010 in "The Guns of Late September". It was in bad shape; broken wheel, chip off the front of the barrel.

After a few weeks of consideration, I decided it was time to make the repairs. My approach was to use one of my favorite products, J-B Weld, that wonderful, and one might say legendary, metal filled epoxy. The shield would also be replaced with .010" brass. The results were more than satisfactory, they surprised me.

The wheel was the most challenging part of the repair. I used 3/32" aluminum tubing to shape a new rim, and also used it for the missing spokes. I positioned them initially with CA glue, and then slathered on the J-B Weld, waiting for it to set a little more and then shaping it just a little with a wooden strip. It was laid on an old Testors' Dullcote cap, covered in wax paper, that was punctured to allow the hub to fit through. Interesting note; when the wheels were removed, I discovered that the wheels had been installed the wrong way, and that the hubs were far more detailed. Once the J-B Weld had dried, I sanded and filed the wheels to achieve the proper shape. Not perfect, but better than no repair at all.

The barrel went faster as far as shaping was concerned. I used a 1/8" plastic tube with a piece of wax paper wrapped around inserted into the muzzle. J-B Weld was applied to the missing section, shaped, and once it had dried, it was rather simple to shape.

The shield was initially glued into place with contact cement and CA. However, I desired a more permanent fix, so I used two bolts to attach it.
There was another reason for using the bolts. I wanted to try my hand at a baked enamel finish, and contact adhesive will soften. The next step was to prime the model. I removed the wheels and sprayed the model with Rustoleum gray primer. Once that had set hard, the parts were painted Testors classic Olive Drab, with the tires done in flat black, the breech in silver (all Testors' classic).
To bake the model, the wheels were temporarily mounted on a toothpick axle and raised above the baking surface by some aluminum foil. The rest of the cannon was likewise lifted with a wad of foil, and the whole thing, paint still tacky, was placed in a 200 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Once it had finished (and what a wonderful smell), the model was allowed to cool and be reassembled.
This is the end result -

It looks more like a Britains' cannon now. The finish is very tough. Certainly an improvement over the beat up cannon I purchased.