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Making three new guns for Oceanic 2

14 April 2014 by Sam

detail of guns on the deck of a ship model

Oceanic 2, showing an original gun (left) and a new one (right)

Here’s the latest update from ship and historic models conservator  David Parsons, in a blog series about conserving the model of Oceanic 2:

“The last of the major pieces of work that I have done for the conservation of the builder’s model of Oceanic 2 was the making of three replacement guns, similar to Bofors guns, or 12 pounder Quick Firing guns.

Originally the model had eight guns but three of these were missing. Each gun consists of a barrel mounted on a cradle and fitted to a mounting. A shield fits over the barrel and is attached to the mounting. At the rear of the cradle there are details of control wheels with handles, a pitch indicator and a breach for loading. There are also two footplates for the operator.

The model’s original guns were made from brass and the barrels were silvered and then lacquered. The shield was also made of brass, the inside painted grey and the outside chemically blackened and then lacquered. The barrels were blackened by a deposit which could not be removed and the cradles and details were affected by varying amounts.

three newly made brass model guns, before they were painted

Three guns and cowls

Making the barrels was fairly straightforward but it involved cutting different angles on the lathe and making quite accurate measurements. The cradles were more complex with lots of small pieces being cut, filed and soldered together. This involved more soldering than I’d ever done before and because we only had one type of solder (so only one melting point) there was always the risk that everything would just fall apart, because heat is very easily transmitted by brass and a previously soldered piece could easily be accidentally unsoldered. There were a few parts which proved more difficult and occasionally frustrating, but eventually everything came together quite well.

brass model gun, before it was painted

Gun, showing the barrel, cradle and mounting

Because we don’t have the facilities for silvering I polished the barrels so that they were pale and bright then lacquered them to preserve this. Then they were painted black with matt enamel paint so they are not glaringly obvious. The cradles, mountings and footplates were not painted or lacquered but were allowed to darken by oxidation. The shields were painted grey inside and outside they were blackened chemically and then lacquered.

My replacements are the two behind the mainmast and the starboard one on the aft deck. It can easily be seen which ones are mine because they are not intended to look exactly like the originals, but they should not be so different as to stand out or attract attention from the others.”

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