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I am building the OcCre San Marcos.  Can anyone tell me what a gun spile is used for?  I know it is used for the deck cannons, but the pictures supplied in the instructions do not show where they go.  I think they are like wheel chocks for aircraft, but that's just a guess.  Can anyone enlighten me?

 

Thanks

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Hi Mark,

Can you send a picture?  When you mention wheel chocks it made me think of the quoins which are used to change the elevation of the cannon aiming point by pushing them in or out under the inboard end of the barrel (not the trucks)   See below.   Spile could just be a bad translation  --looking up spile I found the following: 

a small wooden peg or spigot for stopping a cask.
2
a large, heavy timber driven into the ground to support a superstructure.
 

.  Is this what they are showng?   Allan  image.png.02c6b0603cf07d7390abf82afd9d2efd.png

image.png.b544071d712a7f6de5c8773c96451f22.png

Edited by allanyed

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From the Sailor's Word Book.... a tapered plug like thing.

Would this be a plug in the muzzle or vent hole to keep the water out?spile.JPG.7aca6a4866df72004daddde8d3ba2cfc.JPG

Edited by AON

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There is nothing mentioned in the Manual of Instruction for 18th century Artillery (including naval pieces).

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 As one definition of a Spile is a type of stopper, I would expect the term to be used as a stopper, Tampions have been around a long time and are commonly called that, so what needs stopping on a gun or it's carriage, without a commonly used name? Wheels need stopping, few address that need and most ignore the fact that wheels need chocking as the first step in securing a gun for sea as a temporary holder when working on and around them. I would not be surprised if someday I heard that carriage wheels were spiled using Wheel Chocks, would expect them to be of the single side type requiring two or one with the carriage hard against the bulwark's or other ship structural member and a single chock per wheel holding it there.

 

 

Edited by jud

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A book on gun handling written in the 19th century described how wedges are jammed under the wheels of gun carriages to keep the gun from rolling when it was not in use.

 

I think the book was Ordnance Instructions for the Unites States Navy (1860) which can be downloaded here:

 

https://archive.org/details/ordnanceinstruc00ordngoog

 

In addition, during gun firing when the ship was rolling, after it was hauled in for reloading the same wedges were jammed under the wheels to hold the gun in place, and then removed when the gun was run back out.

 

Back then I think they had another name for them - not "wedges."

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Dr PR, you may be referencing 'chocks'?  Also, I am wondering if it may be a misprin=t and actually referring to 'gun spikes' used to help train the gun?

 

cheers

 

Pat

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1 hour ago, BANYAN said:

wondering if it may be a misprin=t and actually referring to 'gun spikes'

Well, 'K' and 'L' are next to each other on the leyboard, sorry, that should be keyboard.

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That's it allanyed, well done!!!  That's exactly what it looks like as you have to drill a hole in ti and glue a belaying pin in it.  That's exactly what it's for, lowering the cannon barrel.

 

Thanks so much, now I can place it correctly on my model.

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Pat,

 

Chocks! That's the word. I drew a mental blank when I tried to remember it. Thanks.

 

Phil

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Hi Mark,

That is what this site is all about, helping, getting help, teaching, learning and overall having fun!

Allan

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That wedge with the handle for adjusting the elevation of the canon is called the "quoin".

 

A "spile is technically a cone with the pointed end cut off leaving a stubby plug.

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I consulted 'A DICTIONARY OF NAUTICAL WORDS AND TERMS' and found these two entries.

Spile. A small tapered wooden pin.
Spile Hole. Small hole bored in cask or barrel to allow air to enter when emptying.

The hole for lighting the charge in cannons of that age was plugged with a stopper prior to use, and I believe the 'spile' was the name of that plug.  I am looking for the text that describes the steps taken by a gun crew to prepare for action (I am trusting memory so am a bit vulnerable) and will post it when it is found. Or grovel, whichever fits.

The quoin was another piece as described above by Alan. 

 

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"Quoin" refers to any wedge shaped object used for adjusting the spacing or angle between objects, splitting wood, or wedging things in place.

 

I read through the Ordnance Instructions for the Unites States Navy (1860) and found the following information about quoins:

 

Page 44. When preparing to fire the gun it was the duty of the 1st Loader to place a "chocking quoin" near the ship's side on the left side of the gun.

 

Page 45. The 1st Sponger places a chocking quoin near the ship's side on the right side of the gun.

 

Page 47. In moderate weather the chocking quoins are used to hold the gun in position after recoil and prevent it from running out while it is being reloaded. In this case the training tackle is not used.

 

Page 48. If the ship is rolling heavily, or the gun is on the lee side with much heel, when the gun is run in the 1st Loader and 1st Sponger chock the fore trucks, placing the quoins obliquely on the outboard side so they may be more easily removed. The breeching line prevents the carriage from rolling inboard.

 

Page 51. On the order of "Run Out" the 1st Loader and 1st Sponger remove the chocking quoins.

 

****

 

Note: The "chocking quoin" is not the same as the quoin used for setting the elevation of the gun.

 

Page 44. The 2nd (gun) Captain is responsible for handling "the quoin."

 

Page 47. The 2nd Captain is the one who positions the quoin under the breech when the elevation is being adjusted.

 

****

 

If you are interested in how the guns are rigged and handled you should read through the Ordnance Instructions for the Unites States Navy (1860). It is very interesting! How else are you to know that when preparing for drill or combat with the guns the "amputating table" should be prepared and the decks sanded. Looks like the producers/director of "Master and Commander" read the book.

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Alan,  Thank you for sharing the drawings.

What is the purpose of the traversing plate?  I do not recall ever seeing this before.   

Thanks again

Allan

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I imagine it to be a protective wear plate on the bottom or lower rear corner of the cheek.  I admit I did not notice these on the naval guns at Fort George in Niagara on the Lake here in Ontario, Canada.  If I get my computer back this afternoon I will dig up the pictures I took this summer and have another look.

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Cool, mtaylor or is it Bilge Rat?  I do have another question you may know the answer to.  So, my build is the San Marco by OcCre.  The plans show 2 rigging lines on 1 belaying pin... several times.  I could imagine this creating a bit of a mess when working the yards etc.  Is this authentic?

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Hi Mark,

I have seen this on timberheads on the forecastle on some contemporary models such as the one pictured below.  Regarding the San Marcos,  I have doubts that there would be belaying pins on ships in the 16th century.  Maybe the moderators can move your question to the rigging section and others more knowledgeable will respond with accurate information to help you.      Allan 

 

1678810405_Riggingatthebow.JPG.9fc01101d18cf6779b135d3be2654084.JPG

 

 

Edited by allanyed

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Here is a photo I took in October at Ft George in Niagara on the Lake.

It does not have the metal on the lower corner of the cheek

Possibly it is an era thing

2019-09-24 Ft George NOTL.jpg

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The only purpose I can imagine for the metal additions (and the clue is in their name) would be if the ship or battery had a device, like a rail, for traversing a gun that was not always in use. To explain: a gun fitted with the discreet traversing plates could be wheeled around on the otherwise standard trucked carriage and used in the normal way, OR it could be backed onto a rail, possibly circular, and trained in that way.

My reasoning is that I can't quite see how the gun could need the traversing plates if it was in use as a free-standing traditional trucked piece, and would not need the trucks if it was always in use in a position served by a traversing rail. Some armed boats (ships' boats) had crude traversing rigs and only shipped the cannon/carronade when needed so it would make sense to have a modest alteration to the carriage for the purpose.

Do you have a date for the very useful illustration in post #17? 

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That photo is of a land carriage and land piece of ordnance. The wheels have iron 'shoes' and the gun has elevation marks on the side of the base ring. 

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I would have said it was a naval carriage installed in a land base operated by the army so they put their barrel and metal wheels on it ... but  what the heck do I know... then again the quoin is missing it's handle.  I attributed this to Parks Canada.  Possibly they Frankensteined the whole thing.   Hmmmm????

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19 hours ago, Mark Allen said:

Cool, mtaylor or is it Bilge Rat?  I do have another question you may know the answer to.  So, my build is the San Marco by OcCre.  The plans show 2 rigging lines on 1 belaying pin... several times.  I could imagine this creating a bit of a mess when working the yards etc.  Is this authentic?

Call me Mark.   BilgeRat is job.  :P

 

As for your rigging question, Allan is right.  Ask this in the rigging section as it's more appropriqte.

 

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On 11/9/2019 at 10:02 AM, AON said:

found this

 

tampion.thumb.JPG.fb584181736f2ea1ce9aa33559de0963.JPG

I've never heard of the "rolling shot" trick before, but it does make some sense. However, it would seem that something like a twelve pound shot rolling down the barrel outboard would carry enough momentum to drive the tampion out of the muzzle, no? How did they prevent that, I wonder? I suppose they could run the muzzle hard against the gunport lid, but that doesn't seem very shipshape. It's hard to imagine a "broadside" of rolling shot hammering the gunport lids on every roll in a seaway. Then there's the problem of barrel wear. Chipping the rust off of shot was a routine task. It ensured a more accurate shot and prevented the problem of cast shot becoming oversized with expanded rust on the surface. A shot rolling continuously in the barrel would seem to wear the barrel, making its bore larger, which would presumably reduce its range and accuracy. No?

Edited by Bob Cleek

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