French 4lb Canon Restoration

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Project by Eric M. Saperstein posted 01-07-2012 09:26 AM 2390 views 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The first resident cannon the Monmouth Battlefield State Park Museum, this reproduction French four-pounder was donated through the Friends of Monmouth in dire need of attention.

Artisans Artisans replaced the rotted cannon trails and reinforced the axle. The wheels and hubs remained intact and were restored, and the metal hardware was stripped and refinished. This artillery piece does not represent a truly accurate reproduction, but it’s functionally accurate and will serve the museum staff as for artillery demonstrations. The restoration was completed correlating with the 225th anniversary of the battle of Monmouth, one of the largest artillery battles of the revolution.

Our research for this restoration uncovered the fact that there are very few shops willing to take on cannon restorations, and those that will seem to work exclusively on pieces previously manufactured in their shops. We were very pleased to provide our skills towards this project, and assist in the preservation of history and in educating the patrons of the battlefield museum.

For more details on this project visit:

This is a fun gun to live fire, it actually beat us in a competition a while back. We were firing at Monmouth Battlefield hilltop to hilltop at 3 stacked barrels. Our small howitzer wasn’t reaching out the 450 yards to get a chance, we had a 1 1/2 lb cannon on the line that got VERY close. Then we shattered our axle. This gun won the competition that day!

We love historic pieces, especially when they make a bang and a lot of smoke. Some day I’m going to build myself a carriage and own a full scale brass barrel 12lb Napoleon.

Ahhh the project ideas keep flowing – I have to stick to my crazy idea for pens though for now!


-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

12 comments so far

View canadianchips's profile


2613 posts in 3193 days

#1 posted 01-07-2012 03:21 PM

Restorations are interesting. Good work !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 2957 days

#2 posted 01-07-2012 06:36 PM

Oaky, that’s one of the coolest restorations I’ve seen. Would it still fire?

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3773 days

#3 posted 01-07-2012 06:51 PM

A truly unique project,looks good.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1099 posts in 4003 days

#4 posted 01-07-2012 08:28 PM


-- Max the "night janitor" at

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3311 days

#5 posted 01-07-2012 09:06 PM

looking good :-)


View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 3444 days

#6 posted 01-07-2012 10:54 PM

Yes – definitely ready to fire! These are fun to let loose, just stay out of the way they roll back quite a distance depending on the charge and the weight of the projectile. Definitely NOT a recoiless rifle!

We also restored a Hotchkiss gun – same as Son’s of Gun’s did one I think and Pawn Stars had one come up for about $30-40,000 … in one of their recent episodes. There’s only I think 51 of those made in the US. A few of them still exist.

We did the only known US Artillery piece that was turned against US Civilians during the West Virginia Coal Mine Riots. If I got the story right. The minors took the gun – TWICE – the 2nd time they kept it! I’d have kept it the first time – you only turn a cannon on me once! (1st shame on you, 2nd shame on me … NO second chances w/ that!) ... – That restoration was featured in this newsletter. No wood … I should blog it here I guess!

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View DamnYankee's profile


3312 posts in 2758 days

#7 posted 01-07-2012 11:13 PM

wood and cannons! wow! that would be fun.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 3661 days

#8 posted 01-08-2012 07:12 AM

Cool restore, wish I could have helped fire it!!!!

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15689 posts in 2815 days

#9 posted 01-08-2012 07:25 AM

Very cool, thanks for sharing the restore with us!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3488 days

#10 posted 01-09-2012 03:15 PM

What do wheels like these have for bearings?

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 3444 days

#11 posted 01-10-2012 10:28 AM

Generally – wood! There’s a few ways it’s done the most common is basically reinforcing the wood hub with metal bands and packing the inside with grease. There were no real “bearings” in the modern sense of ball bearings. A hard material, osage orange could increase the life, if found but they were normally something like ash or white oak. – there’s now modern renditions that have bearing inserts but those were not period. Some had metal inserts inside the hubs. They then went to cast versions in metal with wood spokes. Eventually to metal wheels.

This was a common period hub design. Keeping in mind that the dished effect become important for the massive weight of artillery and abusive use on rough ground.

You can get wheels pretty reasonable now:

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3000 days

#12 posted 10-10-2013 09:12 AM

Such a gr8 restore! WowZa!!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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