6 Inch Howitzer Refurbishment

Good morning,

We have crossed the start line.  Personnel at Source Atlantic and I were very curious on the make up of this gun and whether or not we would be able to get anything to move, after 40 years at Fort Howe.  To start things off, we cut a weld on the right wheel between the rim and brake drum, this freed up that wheel.  We had a little move trouble with the left wheel from the rust, but with a little work and some lubricant, we were able to free up that tire.  We were able to move the lift eyes on the left and right axle.  We are currently working on the breech mechanism and the elevation gears. (photo)  We have removed the cover from the elevation worm gear housing.  We still can’t move the elevation, practically due to the build of rust between the elevating arc and the rust from the gear box to Pinion Gear.  The Breech Screw is another matter,  we are assuming that the breech won’t move because of the rust between the the breech screw and the breech ring.  We were able to remove the Breech Mechanism Lever, (handle that opens the breech) which was attached to breech crank shaft. (photo)

I have been working closely with Thomas Alchorn, he was able to find a handbook with diagrams of the compete gun system.  Another young man was Scott McGraw, he assisted both of us in getting the lift eye and wheels to turn.  The three of us have spent a total of 5 1/2 hours.

Please send me feed back if this is the format you would like me to send weekly, or would you prefer a daily report.  Would you like me to include expenditures, oils, batteries for cameras, gloves, safety glasses, etc.  We are not the far into it, but I can see that in the very near future I will be needing assistance for cleaning parts, this I would pass to the soldiers of 3 Fd Regt, the RSM on line and we have spoke about it.  I can’t see them helping us, there is not enough room when we are working on a single piece of equipment.

In closing, the personnel at Source Atlantic, have made me feel at home and are very helpful and are interested in this project, I look forward to meeting with them everyday.  I am trying to keep my work hours from 1000 to 1400 hrs daily, this appears to be working so far, time will tell.

Please let me know soonest if you are having any problems with the photos or have any questions.  I look forward to any questions you may have, thank you for letting me be a part of this project.
08 Sep – 11 Sep 14

The week went well, we managed to remove some small parts from the gun that I hope will help when we come to freeing up the elevation mechanism, which we will be working on next week.

8 Sep On Monday, I work alone trying to free up some minor parts in the Breech that may become damaged, as we prepare the breech for disassembly.  I removed the the firing pin, spring housing and Vent Axial Nut Safety Shutter Retaining Pin from the Breech Block .  I made a cleaning rod to remove the junk that was lodge in the barrel.  The debris consisted of rocks, pop cans, sardine cans and broken glass from wine bottles.  Now we can see the hole in the breech where the firing mechanism was installed.  The Vickers Carriage Registration number was removed from the under side of the recoil slide, the number had been worn off, but all indication from the Breech numbers, this  gun was in service with 3 Fd Regt.  A total of 5 hours.

9 Sep Tuesday, WO Norm Mason, came over to check on my progress and assisted me in removing the connecting rod that is attached to elevation gear and the sight.  This piece was hanging down beside the instrument sight and it kept the sight at a relative angle when the gun was elevated and depressed.  This piece will require welding when we reassemble the sight and elevation arc.  We removed the cotter pin from the bottom of the Breech Retain Pin.  A total of 5 hours.

10 Sep Wednesday, Ben Holden, Joe Koncovey, and I removed the right Elevation Lock using a torch and an hydraulic jack.  It was hoped that this would free up the Elevation Mechanism.  The rest of the day was spent lubricating the Elevation Mechanism and sight mount. A total of 4.5 hours.

11 Sep Thursday, Mark Anderson and I spent some time in trying to free up the Quick Loading Rear Lever, which operates the Cradle Locking Mechanism.  We cut the cotter pin (using an air hack saw blade) that ran through the safety block and prevent the level from moving.  The handle is free, but still will not move due to the rust on the undercarriage.  After reading more information from the Gun Handbook , that if Elevation Gears would not mesh, to apply pressure to the barrel.  Ben Holding, assist me in trying this out, we attached a cable to the over head crane that Ben would operate while I tried to free up the Elevation Gear.  The barrel is still frozen due to the rust and paint lodged between bronze fitting and the steel arcs and elevation gears.  Ben, made a tool for me to use that would fit between the arc and the gears, I managed to clean up one side, but in doing so I notice that the bronze plate was broken once the rust was removed.  There still is some rust a paint on the other side of the arc, I hope to have this clean and clear on Monday.  A total of 5 hours.

Things are proceeding, all be it at a slow pace.  I will be working on the Elevation Gear.  Reading the documentation on the gun, it appears as everything is based on the elevation.  The Breech, and the gun’s Hydraulic System won’t come free unless the gun is at the loading angle.  If we can’t free it next week, the plan is to remove the barrel the following week.  Once we have some significant parts of the gun, I will ask the RSM to see if he has any volunteers that would be interested to come in on a Saturday and help with the cleaning.

I look forward to going into Source Atlantic, the personnel are great to work with and are very helpful.  I will be in Monday to Wednesday and I will send you my report on Thursday.

23 Sep -25 Sep 14

This week was another exciting week at Source Atlantic.  Personnel that assist this week were, Joe Koncovy, Thomas Alchorn and Scott McGraw.

Monday, 23 Sep 14.  Last week we had problems moving the elevation mechanism due to rust and snug fitting parts.  This week we started with the elevation mech, we removed the elevation hand wheel buy removing the tension nut and pulled the mechanism free.  One the hand wheel was out, we elevated and depressed the barrel using the over head crane, this moved more easily as we continued to lubricate the trunnion bearings.  We re-installed the elevation handle, the system worked more efficient after we removed some of the tension off the elevation tension nut.  Total time 5 hours.

Tuesday, 24 Sep 14.  Continued to work on the elevation arcs and gears using various tools to free up the rust and smooth out the rough surfaces for ease of operation.  We tackled the traversing plates that are located on the left and right side of the carriage near the front.  These plates are small and provide a very limited amount of traverse left or right, we were able to get most of the rust out, but were not able to move the gun in its range of traverse.  We will try to repair this next week by removing the barrel, by removing the barrel it will reduce the weight and friction on the traversing plates.  Total hours 5 hours.

Wednesday, 25 Sep 14.  We had a change of plans, we were going to work on the traversing mechanism, but instead decided to move the trunnion covers on the right and left of the carriage, this would expose the trunnions and free the barrel and recoil system.  We had removed the trunnion cap pin on the right side of the carriage, using wedges, and the crane, we were able to move the cap forward of the trunnion, once we succeeded on the right we applied the same technique to the left side.  With both caps now opened, we proceeded to lift the gun barrel and recoil system.  There is very limited space for movement forward or up, the trunnion design allows the barrel to move forward, but the quick elevation mechanism would not allow the gun to move up or forward far enough to clear the chassis.  We made a couple of attempts, but were unable to free the barrel and recoil mechanism.  To remedy this we may need to remove the barrel from the gun or remove the bolts securing the quick elevation lock.  Total hours 5 1/2 hours.

This has proved to be another exciting week and we hope to have the barrel and recoil mechanism removed by the end of next week.  At times it can be very frustrating, some parts are remove relatively easy, while others bite and grab and it doesn’t matter how much lubrication you use or how much you beat, heat it up it still doesn’t want to co-operate.  This is what make the challenge interesting.

You are more the welcome to visit anytime,if you have any questions, please call or send me a email.
29 Sep – 02 Oct 14

Thomas Alchorn and I worked on the hydraulic recoil mechanism, gun sight and tires.

Monday 29 Sep 14.  We started removing the large buffer nut located at the top of the recoil mechanism by applying heat and using a large pipe wrench, but we were unable to remove this nut.  Even with the gun handbook we were unable to confidently determine if this would come free not knowing if there was pressure applied by spring or hydraulic fluid that may keep this from rotating further.  It was decided to visit the Artillery School to see if they had a cut away on this system.  We did remove a nut from the oil cylinder, but when we loosened the nut, the oil within the tube started to spray out.  This cylinder was still under air and oil pressure, we controlled the flow until it came to a drizzle.  We gathered a sample and sent it to the lab for analysis and collected the remaining  4 -5 liters in a bucket.  Total hours 6 1/2 hours.

Tuesday 30 Sept 14.  I worked on the sight mount and removed the steel ring from the brass elevation quadrant and removed the brass cross level screw from the bottom of the sight.  Once the cross level screw was removed it ran free along the brass screw.  Total hours 5 1/2 hours.

Wednesday 1 Oct 14.  Continued work on the sight.  Thomas and I then removed the wheels, hubs and bearings from both sides, they all came off without difficulty.  Once removed we cleaned up the bearings, which are in excellent shape and can be used again when we start the reassembly.  Total hours 5 hours.

Thursday 2 Oct 14.  Thomas and I went to the Artillery School in Gagetown to view the cutaways they have for the different recoil mechanisms.  We were surprised to find a cutaway from a 6 inch howitzer, we now have pictures we can use to assist us in the removal of the barrel.  Once the buffers and oil cylinder are removed, we will be able to lift the barrel from the recoil slide.  We hope to have the barrel off next week.

We are progressing steadily.  Once the barrel is removed we will have better access to the recoil slide. With the barrel removed it will make it easier to access the traversing pin located directly under the slide, we should be able to traverse the gun once this weight is reduced.  We are not far from starting the clean up of some of the major parts, these can be done with the assistance from the soldiers at 3 Fd Regt.  I spoke to the RSM about a month ago he informed me that some may be willing to assist on Saturdays, I will check with him again on Thursday night and hopefully we start the clean up next Saturday.

I will keep you inform of our progress, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
06 Oct – 08 Oct 14

It has been a frustrating week, work was done, but not complete on the gun sight or barrel removal.

Monday, 6 Oct 14.  Ben Holden assist me on the gun sight.  The gear mechanism that operates the manipulation of the elevation dial is rusted from the inside.  I removed the the four bolts holding the out side casing to the sight as shown in photo IMG 1086.  I removed the gear mechanism from the sight that operates the outer ring of the elevation sight as seen in photo IMG 1091.  Ben and I tried to remove the outer steel sleeve from the Hinge Pin Range Bracket, this would allow us to remove the cover on the sight, but we had to cut the outer steel clamp to complete the process.  As seen in photo IMG 1085.  With all the rust on the inside of the sight between the bronze and the steel, I was unable to remove the cover.  The Arm Rocking Bar, located on the top of the elevation sight, was removed.  As seen in photo IMG 1082.  The steel shaft that makes up the Spindle Range worm and operates the sight dial, is rusted and won’t move, the cover will need to be removed to get access to clean it and have it function.  Total time 6 hours.

Tuesday, 7 Oct 14.  Continued to work on the sight using heat and lubricating liquid, but progress is slow.  Total hours 6 1/2 hours.

Wednesday, 8 Oct 14.  Thomas Alchorn and I spent the day trying to open the Cradle Cap, made of bronze and located at the front of the gun, this houses the recoil mechanism.  We removed the three nuts and recuperator nut as seen in photo IMG 1098.  In the same photo, there is a larger nut that connects to the hydraulic buffer.  We spent a considerable amount of time trying to free this nut from the buffer.  We applied heat and managed to get the nut red hot and using a pneumatic drill we were still unable to remove it.  We also tried an wrench force multiplier and heat, this again was unsuccessful.  The cutaway recoil mechanism at the Artillery School did not have the Cradle Cap.  We will try again on Tuesday, but this time from the breech end.  Total Time 6 1/2 hours.

I plan on tackling two parts next week, the brakes and the barrel.

14 Oct – 16 Oct 14

Good morning, Gentlemen

This week we were going to remove the castellated nuts on the buffers located under the breech.  Thomas Alchorn tried an hydraulic wrench aimed at the corner of one of these castellated nuts, even with the force that this applied they still did not free up the nut.  The gun has been sitting out of battery for at least 40 years, to be in battery the barrel must sit at the top of the recoil mechanism against the stops.  The thought was to remove the nuts under the breech, this would free the barrel and we would be able to remove the barrel from the rear of the gun.

Tuesday, 14 Oct 14.  Started working on the brakes and brake levers.  The brakes are operated from the left side of the gun, for the right brake there is a operating lever located on the left side closest to the carriage.  This lever is attached to a bar that runs under the gun chassis to another bar on the right side of the gun, which operates the right brake.  The brake levers are connected to the brake handles by adjustable rods, and these rods are connected to pins, each pin has a cotter pin and every cotter pin and slip pin are rusted.  Each pin had to be cut and heat was applied to remove them from the rods.  These pieces had to be removed due to there condition, but they are a common piece that are used with brakes today, so replacement won’t be an issue and it will not change the idea to restore as opposed to rebuild.  As seen in photos IMG 1105 and 1106.  Total time 7 hours.

Wednesday, 15 Oct 14.  Continued work on brake levers.  Manage to free up the left brake lever that runs under the gun and operates the right brake.  It not free that it operates easily, but enough to move the bar under force without any indication of the bar twisting.  This will be continuously manipulated until it works freely.  The bar in reference is best seen in photo IMG 1106, it’s the left vertical bar that attaches to another bar that goes directly underneath the chassis.  Total time 5 1/2 hours.

Thursday,  16 Oct 14.  Continued to work on brake system.  Many of the castellated nuts were rusted and deteriorated beyond repair, these were either heated and fell off or just fell off.  These again are a standard nut that can be replaced without any change to the restoration.  Later in the day we looked at moving the gun barrel forward back into battery.  The easiest way to accomplish this was to run an hydraulic ram at the breech end.  Thomas Alchorn cut a piece of steel plate and I ran a one inch threaded bar through the cradle holes and fastened both ends with nuts.  We them placed spacers between the steel block and the recoil channels, wedging the block in place.  Once this was complete we place a 7.5 ton hydraulic press between the plate and the lower part of the breech.  For safety we tied the threaded steel bar with rope to the gun and ram.  We push the breech to the maximum pressure of the press, when this didn’t give us the required results, we added heat to both sides  of the recoil slide.  After about 15 –20 minutes without any signs of movement we decided to go bigger.  Now we went to a 15 ton hydraulic press, same lay out and unfortunately same results, except this time the steel threaded bar broke, the rope attached to it prevented it from going any where.  Pictures IMG 1116, 1118, 1120, 1121 show the set up.  Total time 5 hrs 45 minutes.

We are slowly removing parts from the gun that can be repaired and brought back into service.  Once we have all the parts we can we will start cleaning, repairing and where necessary, replace broken parts.  I feel we are still well ahead of our timeline even though we have not accomplished everything we have set out to do this week.  It is frustrating sometimes because we have things that move relatively easily like the breech and elevation gear, then we run up to a barrel and recoil that won’t move.  This just makes going to Source Atlantic that much more interesting.

27 Oct – 29 Oct 14
Good morning, Gentlemen,

This was a very successful week.  The progress is moving along very well, we have the gun 90 – 95% functioning.  We are still having an issue with the traversing mechanism, but we managed to move it a little over 2 degrees, but it still isn’t operating freely.  The quick elevation handle and lock are still not functioning, these two projects we will work on next week.

Monday, 27 Oct 14.  Removed the oil reservoir and diversion pipe from the right side of the barrel, all pieces are in great shape, except for the 4 bolts holding the reservoir in position.  Each bolt was of a different size, it will require the holes in the barrel to be bored out, re-taped and new bolts either found or made. As seen in IMG 0929 and 1125.  The bolt holding the recoil cover was still causing us problems, we used a circular saw to cut around the treads on the buffer, once this was complete we were able to remove the recoil cover.  Thomas Alchorn, Ryan Horgan, Brad Titus and I attempted to move the barrel back into battery Monday afternoon.  Thomas prepared the breech end of the barrel with a steel plate and a stronger rod that was placed through the holes on the recoil slide, and then place a 15 ton hydraulic jack against the breech ring and steel plate.  Thomas, Ryan, Brad and I ten applied heat to the recoil slide while Thomas applied more pressure to the hydraulic ram.  Continued with this process for 15 minutes, but the barrel still refused to move.  We let the recoil slide cool and as it cooled we beat it with hammers to free the rust that had accumulated over the years between the barrel and the recoil slide.  The barrel finally moved a bit at a time, but manage by the end of the day, to have it back in battery.  The total weight applied by the hydraulic ram was 75 tons.  A new problem was identified when the gun barrel came to full battery, the buffer now protruded out passed the recoil slide and replacing the recoil cover now became a issue.  As seen in IMG 1145.  It was decided to leave it for the night and tackle it on Tuesday.   Total Time 8.5 hours.

Tuesday, 28 Oct 14.  Started work on the buffer system, and drain all the oil out of the buffers.  The buffer runs the full length of the recoil and measures about 74 inches.  In order to replace the recoil cover, the buffer was removed to inspect the buffer shaft a end reservoir.  On inspection, the buffer cylinder, the end reservoir was covered in rust and pitted, making it difficult to remove.  As seen in photos IMG 1151, 1152 and 1153.  The traversing mechanism was tackled next.  The gun’s traversing mechanism is located at the center of the gun between the two bottom plates directly beneath the center of the barrel. Photo IMG 0875.  To repair the traversing pivot pin the barrel was elevated enough to place a small hydraulic ram between the rear recoil slide and the inside box trail, this would allow sufficient force to be applied to move the barrel to the right.  Heat was applied directly to the pivot pin and with 2 tons of pressure the barrel moved almost 2 degrees.  There is a locking screw that was placed in the pivot pin that would not allow the gun to be moved further, this will be removed next week.  Total time 5.5 hours.

Wednesday, 29 Oct 14.  Removed the traversing handle that was seized in place next to the elevation gear, heat was applied and the locking ring removed.  Oil was applied to the to the shaft of the traversing handle and was pulled out by hand.  The worm gear of the traversing handle still does not run freely, time will be spent next week to try and solve this problem.  Brakes are still not completely removed, most of the castellated nuts have rust off and the pins that are still in place are sized to the brake frame, heat and beating on them with a hammer still has not produced the desired effect.  Work will continue on both items next week.  Total time 5 hrs.

We have accomplished a great deal this week, now that the barrel has moved and the center of gravity is where it should be, the elevation mechanism works very well.  The project has come along way from Fort Howe to where we are now. I appreciate the men and women that have assisted me in this project and I look forward to working with them every day I go in.  I wish you all a Happy Halloween and nice weekend.

03 Nov – 05 Nov 14

Good afternoon, Gentlemen,

Had an exceptional week at Source Atlantic.  The traversing mechanism is working slowly with the assist of a come-a-long, the pivot pin is very corroded making it difficult to travers in either direction, but it is moving.  Removed the barrel, this came out easily once the elevation lock was removed from the right side.  Removed and repaired the traversing handle, will replace it next week to assist is traversing the gun.

Monday, 3 Nov 14.  Thomas Alcorn and I worked on the traversing mechanism. (IMG 1208).   We heated the the traversing pivot pin with a torch and I applied pressure with a come-a-long  and a small hydraulic jack.  (IMG 1209).   The traversing pivot pin works, but is sticking causing the gun to jump instead of a continuous slow movement.  Unfortunately we do not have drawings of the cradle, we assume that the pivot pin may be in two parts, one attached to the super structure and the cradle pin attack to the cradle which fits over the pin in the super structure.  The design of the cradle will not permit us to raise the cradle from the super structure, there is a form of “C” clamp bolted to the under carriage that is covering small flat protrusions on the left and side of the cradle.  These protrusions are part of the traversing mechanism that permits the cradle to move left and right on the super structure.  The traversing handle will be replaced, oil and grease will be applied to the traversing pivot pin, and operated until it works freely.  To prepare the barrel for removal, the quick elevation plate had to be removed, we cut the rusted bolts from the super structure.  (IMG 1210 and IMG 1213).  Total time 8.75 hrs.

Tuesday, 4 Nov 14.  We continued to work on removing the barrel.  The overhead crane was attached to the barrel and lifted it clear of the cradle without any difficulty. (IMG 1215, IMG 1214).  Now that the barrel is removed we can concentrate some of our time on lubricating the trunnions and repairing the quick elevation handle.  The trunnions were the first things we tackled that afternoon,  Thomas Alchorn, Ryan Horgan and Brad Titus tried to remove the end caps on the trunnions, heat was applied and a large chain pipe wrench, the cover would not budge.  We will try again on Monday.  The traversing handle was removed from the cradle and dismantled.   The  handle consists of a sleeve that holds the worm gear that attaches the handle to the cradle (IMG 1221).

Wednesday, 5 Nov 14.  Spent the day repairing the damage to the hand wheel.  There was a small crack on the brass housing of the worm gear that was braised and repaired and no longer noticeable.  After dismantling  corrosion was found, this caused by weather and cordite residue.  (IMG 1222, 1224).  The part were cleaned and are serviceable.  We had visit from other employees of Source Atlantic, it was bring your son to work day.  Joe Koncovy and others were giving tours of the plant and of course the gun was a large attraction.  Joe introduce me to the different groups and they received a short history lesson on the BL 6 In 26 cwt howitzer.  One thing I almost forgot to mention, when we removed the barrel and placed it by the front of the carriage and opened the garage doors we noticed the Cypher of King George V, it is very faint, but it’s still there.  There are stories that go with the cypher, but I will leave that for another history update, if anyone is interested.

10 Nov – 13 Nov 14

Good morning, Gentlemen,

This has been an excellent week as far as progress has gone.  We may not have made a milestone, but we have started to place things in there proper places.  The main thrust has been on the super structure, traversing gear, brakes and tires and the elevation worm gear and cog.  There were many helping hands this week, Ben Holden, Scott McGraw, Mark Anderson, Wayne Wong, Brad Titus and Natasha Maillet, without their assistance we wouldn’t be as far ahead as we are.

Monday, 10 Nov 14.  Gunner Wayne Wong, a volunteer from the Regiment came in today to assist me with cleaning up the traversing hand wheel and worm gear.  The worm gear was pitted, covered in old cordite and oil, Gunner Wong, cleaned the worm gear, worm gear housing and polished the brass using a brass brush.  We noticed a small crack in the brass on part of the worm gear housing, the crack was probably caused by water running inside the housing and long the worm gear and freezing, splitting the brass casing.  This part was sent to a lathe and honed down until it worked without any obstruction. Work is still continuing with the hand brakes, most parts have been removed, but the constant heating and pounding on the bolts to free them from the rust and corrosion takes time and slows down the progress.  Nothing on the gun gives up without a fight.  Total time 6.5 hrs.

Wednesday,  12 Nov 14.  Warrant Office Norm Mason came for a visit today.  I concentrated my efforts on the wheels and brake system.  Having this in working condition would allow us to move the chassis around the building with out the use of the overhead crane, we would be able to tow it to the wash bay to thoroughly clean the undercarriage and have it ready for painting.  The first priority was to remove the tire from the steel rim, for this we moved the tire over to Coast Tire and spoke to one of their senior representatives.  He look at the condition of tire and split rim and condemned them both on the spot.  Due to their condition and the split rim he would not be able to remove the tire from the rim.  After leaving Coast Tire WO Mason and I decided to visit the maintenance park at the armoury and see if they are able to assist.  WO Mason and I spoke to a Cpl Dwyer and asked if he would be able to take the tire off the rim, but as soon as I mentioned it was a split rim, he informed me that he didn’t have the facilities or the equipment.  I spoke to him about replacement tires for the gun, he offered his assistance and we search his web pages for a suitable tire and rim, but the only tire that came close was a 11 x 20 for a Medium Logistics Vehicle Wheeled (MLVW).  The size of the tire and the rim the MLVW used will not fit on our guns hub and breaking system.  I had spoken to Coast Tire about a suitable size tire and rim and asked if they would be able to provide us with a replacement.  They have them on sight and the tire is a 11 x 24.5 the rim would need investigating.  At Source Atlantic they have a gentlemen by the name of Scott McGraw who worked on heavy equipment, namely tires and brakes and knows what we need to solve this problem.  Once the brakes are fixed and tires are on the gun we can clean, finish the gun chassis and paint, we can then go on with the barrel and recoil system.  We now have the gun in digestible parts, that we can gnaw away on until we we complete it piece by piece.  All though the day was frustrating it ended on a high note.  Total hrs, 6.5.

Thursday, 13 Nov 14.  This was a very successful day in what we managed to accomplish over the 5.5 hours.  Mark Anderson assisted me today on the traversing problem, we connected the traversing handle to the gun and moved the gun left and right, but we needed to use extreme force.  To loosen up the traversing pivot pin we used a small hydraulic jack that we placed between the cradle and lower super structure.  After applying pressure we were able to lift the cradle enough to place a saw underneath the front traversing brackets to cut out the rust.  We removed enough rust that the cradle moved easier, but still difficult.  The only way to get the lubricants into all the working parts is to run it back and forth.  To do this manually requires a lot of force, we decided to use an hydraulic wrench to assist us.  Mark Anderson in IMG 1232 is using this method while holding the steel cover from moving.  The cradle was moving easier, but we needed to get oil into the pivot pin, I drilled some hole near the pin and the brass sleeve applied a lubricant and left it for the weekend.  The elevation gear we tackled next, the gear must be cleaned and properly lubricated if we want it to function properly.  Ben Holden and Brad Titus welded a steel bar across the nut on the worm gear, once welded it was just a matter of removing it with a little force.  Now that the nut is removed we need to remove the cog, this is proving to be a bit more difficult, it is very rusty and is held on to the gear by four set pins, using some wedges, Ben was able to move the cog a couple of centimetres.  Oil was applied and will be looked at again next week.  Natasha Maillet assist me with the Sight, Rocking-Bar Carriage with Sight Clinometer (IMG 1010).  Not for lack of trying, we were still unable to remove the mounting bracket from the side of the sight, we will try this again next week after it’s been well lubricated.

When you look at the whole pictures it doesn’t look like we accomplished all that much this week, but when you look at what’s left to do on the cradle, that’s exciting.

18 Nov – 20 Nov 14

Good morning Gentlemen,

The progress is slowing down, time will be spent on cleaning and where required, repairing or replacing parts, there is nothing to be taken off the chassis and other than the wheels all things are working.  I had some help from 3rd Fd Regiment this week, WO Norm Mason and Gnr Wayne Wong came into assist me.  The main objective this week was to clean the chassis and prepare it for the new tires and rims.  Last week we ran into problems with the tires and rims, the tires are rotten and the rims are a split rim and rusted in many places.  The plan was to use wheels off the MLVW, but they’re too small and won’t fit, fixing the old tires is too dangerous.  The only solution was to get new tires and rims, but they had to have the proper tire cut and the rims had to appear as they came with the gun.  Scott and I found a suitable replacement.  I spoke to Mr John Correia after the discussion that he had with Col Irving.  Mr John Correia, informed me, that he and Coast Tire would donate the tires and rims to the gun project and that Coast Tire would send the old rims to Moncton to be sand blasted and powder coated and returned to the project for display.  The tires will be returned to the project for historical value.  I would like to thank Mr John Correia and Coast Tire for their donation and support for this important project to the Regiment and the city of Saint John.

Tuesday, 18 Nov 14.  The first thing I noticed when I enter the building on Tuesday was the elevating worm gear sitting on the box trail taken apart and cleaned.  I owe my thanks to Ben Holden and Brad Titus for an excellent job, that saved me a days work.  Wayne Wong came in and assisted me with cleaning the brass around sight mount and elevating handle.  Scott McGraw and I loaded the old tires and rims in the back of one of SA trucks and moved them to Coast Tire.  Joe Comeau, will have the tires removed from the rims and send them back to us when there ready.  Kory Horgan and Scott McGraw, cleaned and painted the brake drums, they are now ready for reinstalling.   Total time 5.5 hrs.

Wednesday, 19 Nov 14.  Wayne, Norm and I worked on the wheel structs located on each side of the box trail.  These struts prevent the wheels from rotating upward or bowing out.  After the struts were cleaned we noticed some rust damage to the center steel stock that permits the tires to be adjusted for toe in or out, this is done by lengthening either the front or back portion of the strut.  To remove the center stock it must be heated, the front portion of both struts came off relatively easy, the back portion was a different problem, but by the middle of the afternoon we had them apart.  We then removed the castellated nuts from the brake and tire spindle,  these two nuts manage to take up the rest of the afternoon.  Total time 7.5 hrs.

Thursday, 20 Nov 14.  Wayne and I carried on with the cleaning of the chassis.  We gave a history lesson on the gun to a group of students from the college. The students were on a tour of Source Atlantic as a possible place of employment somewhere down the road.  Later in the day LCol Steve Strachan, Capt Don Meehan and Capt Tom Watters came for a visit and a status report on the gun.  Joe Koncovy provided them with a tour of the facilities.  Although we didn’t achieve much, we have turned a corner, we are no longer taking parts off the chassis, we can now start the process of refurbishing.
Good evening , Gentlemen

Not much to report this week, we are starting the cleaning, repairing and replacing of parts.  Although most parts are off the gun we still need to clean and repair parts, not all parts are serviceable and time is spent having them made on a lathe by Doug Bitteridge.  Doug has done an exceptional job keeping up with the parts for the gun while maintaining his other work load.  I had many helping hand this week that are still very eager to work on this project, this week I had Joe Koncovy, Thomas Alchorn, Norm Mason, Scott McGraw and Ryan Horgan.

Monday, 24 Nov 14.  Sent the day cleaning the brass sight mount, worked on the traverse pivot pin, the gun is traversing easier, but still not good enough.  The day was busy, but progress is slow.  Total Time 6.5 hrs.

Tuesday, 25 Nov 14.  Thomas and I worked on the drag link connection on the left and right side of the box trail.  Both housings had a 6 inch bolt that secured the housing to the trail, these bolt were subject to the environment where water and snow collected, these bolts were narrow in the middle from rust and corrosion making it very difficult to remove.  When we applied heat and tried to force the pin out in broke in two at its’ weakest point.  These two bolts had taken up most of the day, the other problem we came across was the bolts that hold the axle to the super structure.  On further examination we notice the nuts on the end of the bolts were rusted and the threads worn or damaged by the weather.  Joe gave me a hand to remove one of the bolts for examination, again we had to heat both ends of the bolt and carefully beat the bolt out through the steel.  I heated the bolt and Joe carefully smashed the bolt out.  After examining the bolt it was decided to replace all 12 bolts on axle, 6 on each side for safety purposes.  Total time 8.5 hrs.

Wednesday, 26 Nov 14.  I had assistance today fro Scott, Ryan and Norm, we worked together on the manual brakes.  These brakes function from the right side of the gun using two hand brakes, one of them operates left wheel brake and one for the right wheel brake.  The brakes operate by the using a bar that passes under the carriage and then it’s linked to operating levers on each wheel.  A brass bushing is placed at either end of the steel rod that allows the rod to move freely, the bushing was seized to the rod and would not move without exerting heavy force to the brake rods on both side of the gun.  To help remedy this problem, Scott and Ryan removed one of the arms from the left side of the gun and and carefully hammered the bar free.  Once free the bar was cleaned, Norm and I sandblasted the other parts while Scott and Ryan repaired the bolt holes using a tap set.  The manual brake should be on and working by next week.  Tomorrow the tires will be delivered to Source Atlantic.  Total time 7 hrs.

I may need to change the format of the progress report to just a weekly report rather than a daily.  The days are starting to flow into one another and we are bouncing back a forth as parts become available.  I’ve become more involved in the project and doing a lot of work on my own, by the time I think about taking the picture I’ve already finished.  I’ll try to do better in the future.
1 to 4 Dec 14
This will be a short report, we are still working on the brake system and axle structure.  The team I had this week consisted of Scott McGraw, Ryan Horgan, Brad Titus, Thomas Alchorn and Ben Holden.

On Monday the tires were waiting for me at Source Atlantic thanks to Rick Cleveland (IMG 1296).  I would like to take this opportunity to thank John Corriea and Joe Comeau for the tires and rims, the tires look great and fit the time period perfectly.  Scott and Ryan finished the brake drums and had them turned down to fit the tire rim and were repainted (IMGs 1297, 1294).

Monday to Thursday.  Scott and Ryan finished the hand brake bar, the bar was seized on the brass bushing, it was cleaned up, undercoated and re-installed (IMG 1300), and now works very easily.  The rest of the week was spent on removing the bolts from the undercarriage, this was not a simple matter, due to the condition of the 12 bolts they all had to be cut.  Each bolt was taken out and replaced as they came off the carriage, this prevented the under carriage from slipping or breaking the other bolts.  Some of the bolts had to be lathed to size and cut after the were checked (IMG 1309).  I was working on the undercarriage mostly on my own this week, that’s probably why it had taken us so long to finish the axel and under carriage.  The drag links are into our lathe operator, Doug Bitteridge, for rebuild and fitting and I should have the parts next week.  The rest of the time will be spent on brake parts, I hope to have the brake drums and wheels on the gun by the end of the week.

Howard Gould is the parts manager at Source Atlantic, he contacted his paint supplier for the Olive Drab paint and we will have a sample on Monday.

Once the wheels are on, we should be at the half way mark, we will then be able to move the carriage around the shop without the use of the cane.  We still have some cleaning to do on the the inside and box end of the trials, there is still gravel and other debris left over from Fort Howe.  We are still concentrating on the chassis, once this is cleaned up and brakes are operational, I hope to have it in the paint shop (Source Atlantic is confident they can do the job),  I’m very impressed with their dedication and professionalism that they demonstrate each time they assist me with any problem I have with the gun.

08 – 18 Dec 14
We’ve had a very successful couple of weeks, the progress report for week 16 was delayed because of the Mr. Irving’s meeting with the Chamber of Commerce.  We had plans to have the gun back on its wheels for this meeting, but it was touch and go for the last week, saying anything may have jeopardized our success.

Week 16 – Thomas Alchorn and I worked on the brake system preparing the parts for installation.  Some of the parts were so badly damaged from the weather they were replaced, this is not always something that can be solved at the local store.  There is a plate that secures the upper brake adjuster to to the inner tire and brake plate.  These plates were completely corroded and the only way to replace them was to have them made, this wasn’t completed until 15 Dec.  Thomas and I also ran around the different part stores looking for springs for the brakes, we only found two, we had the other four made, these weren’t available until 16 Dec.  While waiting for the parts Ben Holden and Brad Titus replaced the elevation gear and cover back on the gun (IMG 1347).  On Wednesday Norm Mason and I worked on the drag links by replacing the center screw that was rusted out (IMG 1243).  The paint arrived on Monday, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that it was applied.  The paint is a three step process, first there is a grey epoxy and then two coats of the olive drab gloss epoxy, it was applied to the drag link mounts on both sides of the trails (IMG 1322 and 1344).

Week 17 – Parts still haven’t come in for the brakes and without the parts we can’t place the wheels on.  We continued to clean and replace the brake parts we had, but we could not replace the brake drum until we had the four small brake springs that connected to the brake pads and the back of the wheel plate.  The parts finally were ready on the afternoon of 16 Dec, Ben Holden and Robert Murphy gave me a hand to replace the brake drums and wheels.  We were able to finish the chassis all that was left was to replace the barrel, which went on without a hitch.  The gun was moved on Wednesday morning and was in place by the time Mr. Irving had arrived (IMG 1352).

We had an exciting week, I would like to take this opportunity to Thank Joe Koncovy and Source Atlantic for the invitation to the Source Atlantic,s Christmas Diner on 12 Dec, Carol and I had a wonderful time.  I would also like to thank the Commanding Officer, LCol Steve Strachan, Regimental Sergeant Major CWO Mike Louvelle and all members of 3 Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery (The Loyal Company) for the invitation to their sports day and Soldiers Christmas Diner.

I wish all of you and your families the very best the season brings and a Very Happy and prosperous New Year.
05 – 07 Jan 15
Good morning, Gentlemen,

I would like to wish you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Week 18, the project started off slowly as all things do when it’s been left for a couple of weeks.  Not knowing where we left off was one of those problems.  To get back on track the first thing was to remove the barrel and place it aside for now, the plan is to concentrate our efforts on refurbishing the gun chassis, paint it and move it aside until the barrel is complete.  Once the barrel was removed, the box trails were lifted and inspected for rust and damage.  The steel on the box trail appeared to be in relatively good shape except for the four out of five hatch covers that have been damage and are no longer serviceable.  These plates appear to be access holes, the purpose is not clear, but we used them to clean out the debris of sand, stone and other matter.  As we were cleaning out some of the debris, a leather strap was found, vintage unknown, but it is old and dried out probably 1940ish.  The other artefact was a 303 calibre brass casing, dating back to 1918, very exciting finds, unfortunately, that’s all there was.  IMG 1356 shows four hatch covers is different states of rust, one cover was missing.  The steel behind the covers has rusted and are pitted badly, reusing these plates is not a option, new plates will be made and welded in place.  IMG 1360 shows the rust on the bottom of the plates and IMG 1362 is the top.  There are two remaining plate, one on top and one on the bottom, both are in excellent shape(IMG 1361).  Further work was carry out on the brake system and is almost complete, and will be done by end of next week.  Once compete, the painting will start and hopefully the chassis will be finished by end Jan.

That’s all I have for this week, progress is being made daily, and I believe we are right on track.

12 – 15 Jan 15

We made good progress this week, Scott McGraw and Thomas Alchorn assisted me with the brakes and removing the towing apparatus.

Monday and Tuesday, Jan 12 &13. Time was spent on repairing the gun brakes and handles. The brake handles were completed destroyed by rust, without any pictures or repair manuals to go by, Scott and Thomas came up with the idea that we could use the clip that are found on the hooks use in the over head crane (IMG 1364). These clip have springs attached, these springs provided the required strength to lift the locking bar up sufficiently to clear the brake locking mechanism and on release would sit back on ratchet to secure the brakes in place (IMG 1365). The next step was to attach these brake handles to the brake system, clevis pins were used with 1/2 and 3/8 inch threaded rods. The left brake handle operates the left brake and is simply attached to the top brake adjuster and the bottom of the brake drum (IMG 1368). The right brake is attached to a level with a series of clevis pins which are attached to a bar that runs under the gun, (IMG 1370) at the end of the bar there is another lever that comes up and over the axle and connects to the right brake level that operates the brake, (IMG 1371) once everything was attached the brakes are working as there were intended. Time 15 Hours.

Wednesday, 14 Jan. Sanded the bottom of the box trail in preparation for the placement of two steel plates. To ensure that the weld would adhere to the steel the rust had to be removed and painted with a special paint. The plates will be attached next week (IMG 1373). The gun chassis was washed with a solution that removes oil and grease, this is in preparation for painting, the first coat is a grey primer coat and will be applied with a paint brush. Hope to have all three coats complete by the end of next week. Removed the towing pinto housing from the old towing loop, the bolts were rust out and were cut using a torch, the pinto housing has now been cleaned and is ready for re-assembly. Time 7.5 hours.

Thursday, 15 Jan. The tires we received from West Coast Tire came with a high gloss paint, this paint had to be hand sanded in preparation for painting. Time 7 hours.

The chassis will be re-washed to ensure we have all the oil and grease off the trails and super structure, for most part the gun will be hand painted, once this is complete, the inside of the box trails will be sprayed. Painting by hand will be quicker than spray painting, the trails have been raised and are secured to posts and steel supports, this will make it easier to move under the gun.

Can’t wait to see what the chassis will look like at the end of next week.
19 – 22 Jan 15

This week went very well, completed 75% of what we set out to do. I had some assistance from Ben Holden, Thomas Alchorn, Robert Murphy and Doug Coates.

Monday, Tuesday 19 – 20 Jan. Prepared the gun for paint using a oil and grease cleaner and a lot of elbow grease, it had taken the whole morning to clean the chassis. Holes were filled and the bottom was competed, the repairs to the chassis are now finished. In the afternoon, grey base paint was applied to half the gun (IMG 1376), this was applied with a brush, when painting by brush it gave us a better view of any flaws we may have missed and the paint went on relatively easy. Tuesday, Tom, Ben and I straightened the right trail spade that was bent, cause unknown, but it did take the three of us to pound in straight (IMG 1382 – 1385). The rest of the gun was finished along with the tires (IMG 1380). (IMG 1378 & 1388)Time 16 hours,

Wednesday 21 Jan. We painted the gun with a semi gloss, I know the gun had a flat paint, but the gloss gives it a parade ready appearance and is easier to maintain and keep clean due to its smooth surface. I had assistance from Ben and Robert to paint and we completed the chassis in a day. (IMG 1392, IMG 1394 and IMG 1392) Time 8 hours.

Thursday 22 Jan. In preparation for its final coat, Doug Coates braised the broken piece of brass that had broken off the upper left mount on the traversing plate. This was cracked from water damage and broke off one we started working on the gun. All brass and operational parts were covered in preparation of spraying the last coat of paint. For the final coat we will be using will be a gloss. We were given the semi gloss to use as a reference between the two paints, some felt the gloss was too shinny and thought it should be toned down or at least see if there was a difference. I don’t really see a difference and I maybe sticking my neck out on this one, if you have any strong objections to the paint shine please let me know (IMG 1392, 1394 and 1399). Time 5 hours.

When I was a gunner we had we had to prepare the guns for parade, we used varsol and oil, the varsol to clean the gun and the oil to make it shine. The practised stopped when someone had caught fire because his hand were covered in varsol and was seriously burned. Today we try wax or have given up in trying to shine flat paint, the pride in the gunners is in there guns.

The comments I have received have all been positive, the discolouration in the steel has been covered and it looks like a new gun, once the last coat of paint goes on it will be put away and the fun will start on the barrel. I will continue to send pictures to the Regt, but when we start the final preparations you will be taken out of the loop. I hope you all have a nice weekend.
26 – 29 Jan 15

This was week to have things completed on the chassis. Monday was spent giving the hubs and rims the last coat of gloss paint, gave the first coat of grey to the wheel nuts. One of the problems we had was finding a spring for the brakes handles. This spring connects through the axel to the brake handles providing tension once the brakes have been applied this spring reduces on the brakes coming on when traveling.

On Thursday the tires were placed back on the chassis and and moved top the paint shop. These are the photos of the gun freshly painted, Robert Murphy was caught on photo placing the final touches to the wheels (IMG 1400) Total time 9.5 hours.

Phase one now complete, Phase 2 starts on Monday and it’s back to work on the recoil system and elevation mechanism. We still have a lot of work to do with the cradle locking struts, sub-calibre chamber, repairing the elevation mount, just to name a few, as always I will keep you posted of our trials and tribulations.

17 – 19 Feb 15

This week was the turning point in the last phase of the gun restoration.  This week we stopped removing pieces from the barrel, the last piece that was causing us concern was the Quick Elevation Handle, which now operates freely.  Wei had assistance this week from Ben Holden and Chris Forbes.

Tuesday, 17 Feb.  Ben and I removed the elevation lock from the recoil slide, this mechanism held the gun at the loading angle.  We removed it with extreme heat and the use of an hydraulic pump.  The piston inside the cylinder was operated by the Elevation Handle, on the handle is a flat bar the fits into the piston through an opening in the cylinder that’s attached to the recoil slide.  This piston was covered with black corrosion probably caused by the old cordite smoke.  The parts have been cleaned and appear to be in working condition (IMG 1464). Time 6.5 hrs

Wednesday, 18 Feb.  Arrived at SA at 0900 to assist in the clean up in preparation for a visit from Bonfire.  Allan Gates and his team arrived shortly after 0900 and started setting up the cameras, lights and sound equipment, while this was going on, Alan asked us some questions about the gun’s history and how Source Atlantic was chosen for this endeavour.  At 1000 hrs we started the interviews, I gave the history of the gun, why this gun was chosen and how it arrived at Source Atlantic (SA) and why.  Joe Koncovy was the next one on the hot seat, Joe gave an excellent briefing describing the function of SA, it’s history and some of the different equipment that has been repaired in his shop.  Ben Holden, a long time employee of SA, spoke on the equipment he worked on over the years and how proud he was to be working on such and historic piece of equipment.  Natasha Maillet, is the only women in the shop that works as an Industrial Mechanic, from time to time she has assist the team on the gun and has provided us with some interesting ideas on tackling a problem.  She spoke about her participation and what she found interesting about the project.  After the interviews were complete some of the Bonfire team stayed behind to take photos of personnel working on different projects around the shop.  Once everything was completed, we continued cleaning the recoil and barrel.   Time 6 hrs.

Thursday, 19 Feb.  Decided to start work on the cut off buffer and replace it back in the recoil cylinder.  The cut off valve has been laying on the floor for months.  This is the valve that gave us the most problems from the start.  The end of this valve had a large nut that held the buffer in place, but also the brass cover over the recoil mechanism.  It had taken us days to removed this nut and another couple of days taking the long cut off valve out.  To make a long story short and to reduce the frustration of replacing the valve that would take days, I decided to cut the shaft.  The cut off valve end is damaged when we cut off the nut and will be welded back on, making it almost impossible to take the cover off the recoil system.  The other factor, when we pushed the gun barrel back into battery, the cut off valve protruded passed the front cover, preventing us in its replacement. The decision wasn’t taken lightly, but I felt that it had to be done to keep the project moving.  We freed up the elevation handle (IMG 1471) and now everything is operational.  Sgt Jones came in today with the cleaning staves, the brush he provided isn’t adequate for cleaning the bore, he informed me he would have the proper brush for me Monday.  The last photo (IMG 1470) is the start of the cleaning process and refurbishment, we still have a long way to go, but I have confidence in the team at SA to keep us on track and provide us with the assistance we have come to rely on.  Time 7 hrs.

Now that we have crested the hill and we are now on a steady course to recovery, I feel it’s time to take Regimental Personnel off the Distribution List.  Capt Watters, I will send you the up dates on the completion of the gun, but not before it’s official unveiling.

23 – 25 Feb 15

This will be a short progress report, personnel that assisted me this week, Joe Koncovy, Ben Holden and Skip Bitteridge.

Most of Monday was spent cleaning the bottom of the recoil slide, with an hydraulic air hose and sander.  Tuesday, we spent our time trying to get the rocking bar bracket to move.  The rocking bar is a straight piece of pipe that runs from the top of the elevation arc to the top of the sight mount.  This keeps the sight in relative plan as the gun  is elevated and depressed.  It had taken us two days to remove the pin which we finally accomplished on Wednesday.  Wednesday morning, Joe grab the arc and placed it on Skip’s work bench to have what remained of a pipe screw removed.  The pipe is the elevation rocking bar or at least was left of it inside the bracket.  The elevation rocking bar is threaded at one end and fits into a rectangular steel box with a pin running through it.  This box slides back a forth on the pin, there are two holes on either side of the bracket holding the rocking bar, these holes are used to adjust the rocking bar and the elevation arc, as elevation or depressing of the gun is applied, the sight will move keeping it in a vertical plan.  The guns today used a series of rocker handles that are adjust with the aid of a sprite bubble to keep the sight level.

Once the rocking bar and elevation arc are complete we will start painting the recoil undercarriage.

02 – 04 Mar 15

Not all that much to tell you this week.  Monday was spent cleaning the bottom of the cradle and painting the first coat of grey base paint (IMG 1485 – 1487).  Tuesday and Wednesday were spent panting the last two coats on the cradle (IMG 1489 – 1491).  Other items were panted (IMG 1488 and 1492) in preparation for re-installing.  Wednesday I visited 3 Fd Regt and spoke to Capt Watters and Capt Meehan on an upcoming exercise and asked if it were possible for some of the personnel from Source Atlantic to come out and watch the Regt in action.  It looks hopeful, the Regt is working out the details.  Also on Wednesday while I was visiting, I noticed some soldiers painting a wall and while they were waiting for the paint to dry I asked them if they were interested in the progress of the gun.  MWO Perry Gillingham brought the soldiers over to SA for a tour update on the gun, while there they had a chance to speak to other members of SA and asked what they do, when they’re not helping me.  All in all it was a good week.

Next week the barrel and cradle will be rotated back on it’s cradle for cleaning and preparations will start to have the external oil reservoir cleaned and repaired.

16 – 18 Mar 15

I thought I’d surprise you today and wait for your arrival at SA.  I guess I’m getting the surprise.

The week went very well, we managed to accomplish all the we set out to do, without any setbacks.  Thomas Alchorn and Ben Holden assisted me this week.

On Monday, we finished the last coat of paint on the barrel.

Tuesday, we replaced the spring on the quick elevation lock and attached the quick release handle to the lock mechanism, both worked well.  Greased and replaced the original needle bearings and bearing race, replaced the right trunnion cover.

Wednesday, cleaned, greased and replaced the quick elevation pin on the left side of the cradle.  Greased the elevation and replaced the elevation arc along with the needle bearings, bearing race and left trunnion cover.  Thomas silver soldered a brass plate back on the elevation cog that broke off last fall.  Once this was complete the barrel was replaced on the gun.  I was going to leave it there, but I guess I should tell you that everything that we’ve replaced is working.  The quick elevation handle works, but the barrel needs to be perfectly balanced.  I had replaced the oil reservoir and the brass cover over the recoil buffers at the front of the cradle.  Once I pulled up on the handle the pin in the elevation arc would not come out, we had to use a bar and a hammer, once the pin was free, the barrel dropped like a rock.  Due to the weight, the locking pin didn’t have time to lock in to the side of the saddle.  We will attempt this next week after we replace the breech mechanism.

We have a cradle locking strut being made, this strut in located on top of the trails under the cradle and secures it when travelling.

We still have a bit of work to do, but we are in our final stages.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

23 – 25 Mar 15

Progress will be slow as we prepare the gun for it’s final destination.

Monday, Mr. Mike Cameron form CTV news came in to to see the progress we were making on the gun and to see if there was a story.  When he first arrived he was expecting to see the gun painted, but not working.  We spoke for about a half hour and I told him some of the history of the gun and how it tied in to Saint John.  We demonstrated it’s capabilities and explained that this is the only working BL 6 inch 26 cwt howitzer that’s still working in Canada.  Mr. Cameron found his story and placed it on CTV’s Alive At Five, since then I have been taking a bit of ribbing from the guys at Source Atlantic and the Gunner Net, all in good fun.

After he left we got back to work and for the next two days we clean and polished the brass as seen in these photos.  I placed a couple of old pictures just for interest.  We have about a months worth of restoration to complete.  I have enjoyed working at Source Atlantic, the personnel there were always helpful and a lot of fun to work with.  They have taken a lot of pride in this gun and it shows every time visitors come into the building.

We have come a long way from a neglected war relic to a Howitzer with a distinguished past in all it’s shinning glory.

30 Mar to 01 Apr 15

I had a very busy week this week.  I have a contact that owns a wood lot that can provide us with the ash we need for the gun.  He is an ex-military weapons technician and is interested in historic pieces, his name is Mr. Donny Bieber.  I’ve known him for a couple of years and bought wood him in the past, good products at a good price.  He’s unable to get to the wood right now because of the snow in the woods.  He will cut to the size we want and have them kiln dried.  I Had a good surprise on Monday, Mr. Rick Cleveland came to visit, he had read my emails and came up with a couple of names that will be able to assist us in getting the gun accessories made.  Mr. Darrel Short of Ocean Steal was with him on Wednesday, evidently he makes leather straps for motorcycles and will be able to adapt his skill to our requirements.  Mr. Rick Cleveland has on an individual that can turn the wood for us, and Mr. Cleveland also has a contact by the name of Mr. Middleton.  Mr. Middleton performs at historic events in period dress.  Mr. Cleveland informed me that Mr. Middleton has other persons in his group that have WW 2 period dress and may be available for special occasions when the guns involved.  I will look into the further and report back.  I am still tracking the plaque that was attached to the trail of the gun.  The plaque was made of brass and was placed in a frame that was welded to the box trail.  As I get closer to finishing the gun, I will have time to visit the museum and city hall records for any information on the plate.

As we are getting close to the gun presentation, how do we want the plaque worded?

I’ve had a lot of help this week from Mr.Mitchell Hirtle, Mr. Ben Holden, Mr. Mark Anderson and Mr. Doug Bitteridge finishing off some of the small projects that I started a while ago.

Monday,  Mitch, gave me a hand in cleaning the breech ring by removing the packing grease, sand and dirt, while I took the breech apart.  The breech block(IMG 1511), a mushroom-shaped head called an Obturator (IMG 1512), the obturator prevents gasses from escaping to the rear, once the powered has been ignited in the powder chamber.  The bronze carrier hinge pin that connect the breech to barrel (IMG 1514).      This had taken most of the day.

Tuesday, Ben brought in his chimney poles to clean the gun barrel and we picked up a couple of brushes.  The poles are a little flimsy, at first I didn’t think this would work, the grease, sand and broken bottles seemed to much for them to handle.  The process was slow, grease and sand were pack very tight in the lans and groves of the rifling, by the end of the day we made little progress.  Doug was working on the gun sight, we had to cut a pin that connected the three parts of the sight together, Doug made a new part and Mark and I put it together.  The bottom half of the sight is finished, and will be placed back on the gun in the near future.

Wednesday,  I carried on with the cleaning the bore with a cleaning solvent that broke up most of the packing grease and sand.  Once all the grease was removed the barrel appeared to be badly pitted from the rain water that mix with the sand and grease that had been standing in the barrel for 40 years. (IMG 1518 and 1519).  These pictures aren’t as bad as they seem, but we won’t be able to get this out, it is not rust, but pitting.

On my final note I would like to thank Mr. Irving and Joe Koncovy for the surprise I had on Monday, it was unexpected and truly appreciated by Carol and I.

I wish you all a very Happy Easter with friends and loved ones.

06 – 08 Apr 15

The gun is progressing at a slower rate than I anticipated, the breech and breech mechanism has slowed us down a bit due to the corrosion and the amount of old grease that was on the breech block and obturator.  The sight mount was damaged by ice and has swelled the outer casing jamming the inner elevation gear.

I had assistance from Thomas Alchorn and Ben Holden this week.

Monday, 6 Apr.  I place an order in for the Ash to Don Bieber for handspikes and projectile rammer measuring 3” x 3” x 8’ for 3, and a firing chamber cleaning swap, measuring 3”x 3” x 4’ for 1.  I also ordered leather straps measuring 1” x 42” for 2, these straps to secure the handspikes to the trails and 1” x 12” for 10 for accessories from Mr. Darrel Short.  I will keep you posted when they will become available.

We started cleaning the breech ring and breech block today, things sometimes come apart easier than they go together, this was the case with the breech block.  After cleaning and assembly we used the crane to move it into place only to find that the breech wouldn’t close.  I had missed a step that was difficult to see until we removed the breech and dismantled the breech block.  Needless to say I didn’t get the breech in the gun until Tuesday.

Tuesday, 7 Apr.  First thing this morning was replacing the breech block, with the assistance of Thomas and Ben we were able to fit it back in the breech ring and now it operates smoothly after 40 years of neglect.  I started the sight mount project, once it was together we found that it would not operate properly due to the swelling and jamming of the side panels.  This project wasn’t completed today.

Wednesday, 8 Apr.  Continued working on the sight mount, haven’t fixed the problem yet, will try again next week.  I went to the archives at the Public Library to investigate the wording on the plaque that was removed before it arrived at Source Atlantic.  I search the microfiche for newspaper articles that were written around the 18 May 74, unfortunately I came up empty handed form the two newspaper that were in circulation at the time.  More investigation required.

Projects that are ongoing;

Ash for gun equipment and turning of the wood once we have it;
Straps;
Cradle locking strut, by Maritime Machinist;
Ammunition loading tray in house;
Sight mount, and sight; and
6 inch display round, in house or though the Royal Canadian Artillery School.

I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend.

13 to 14 Apr 15

We are getting closer to the project completion, and because of this I have very few photos or a long list of items that were completed.  This week I spent my time repairing the sight mount (IMG 1049).  I reported last week that I was having problems with sight mount.  The sight consists, two outside casings designed to hold and protect the gear mechanism inside.  After 40 years at Fort Howe rain water had penetrated the two outside casings and during the winter the water had frozen inside, this constant freezing had pushed the outer casting away from the internal gear mechanism causing it to jam.  Once the sight mount was stripped and cleaned, the damage be came more noticeable.  We straightened the outer casing as best we could not to cause any more damage, we installed the gear mechanism and rebuilt the sight after giving it a good oiling.  This did not solve all the problems, more investigation had to be done.  The investigation was time consuming and thorough, to isolate the problem each part of the mechanism was filed, test fitted and put back together.  The sight now functions almost as good as it did when it was new, a far cry from a few months ago.

We still have some tweaking to do on the Quick Release Handle for the elevation, some touch up paint and the gun is complete.  We still have ongoing projects that will bring the gun up to WW 1 vintage and I will keep you posted as we complete these items.

I wish you all a good weekend,