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Dad Builds 700 Pound Cannon for Son's Birthday 410

Posted by samzenpus
from the targets-only-no-shooting-birds dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Charleston Daily Mail reports that machinist Mike Daugherty built his son a working cannon for his birthday — not a model — a real working cannon. 'It looks like something right out of the battle at Gettysburg,' says Daugherty. The 700 pound cast iron and steel howitzer, designed to use comparatively small explosive charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories with a steep angle of descent, has a 4-inch gun barrel that is 36 inches long mounted on a wooden gun carriage with two 36- inch diameter wheels and took Daugherty about two weeks to build at a cost of about $6,000. 'I've always been interested in the Civil War and cannons, so I thought it would be a good gift,' says Daugherty's 11-year old son Logan. Daugherty said he is not worried about the federal government coming to get his son's cannon because he spoke to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and found it is legal to own such a cannon because it does not use a firing pin and is muzzle loaded so the government does not consider the weapon a threat. Two days after the family celebrated Logan's 11th birthday, father and son offered a field demonstration of the new cannon on top of a grassy hill overlooking Fairmont, West Virginia and on the third try, the blank inside the barrel went boom and a cannon was born. For a followup they popped a golf ball into the gun barrel, lit the fuse, and watched the golf ball split the sky and land about 600 yards away. 'Any rebels charging up this hill would be in trouble with a cannon like this at the top,' Logan says."

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Dad Builds 700 Pound Cannon for Son's Birthday

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  • by savanik (1090193) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:23PM (#29263135)

    ...it is legal to own such a cannon because it does not use a firing pin and is muzzle loaded so the government does not consider the weapon a threat.

    He then continued to say, "Also, I use it to hunt deer."

    • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:32PM (#29263267)
      If you can hunt deer with a 4" cannon, more power to you. Most deer in West Virginia are killed by SUVs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      i know you ment this as a joke here(i thoguht it funny), but seriously it does annoy me that people try to legitimize owning a long arm for hunting .

      the second amendment has 0 relevance to hunting, and 100% to having the ability to arm one self as an independent force separator from the federal government.

      A arm is a weapon not food gathering device(though it may be used that way). and is something every American has the right and in some capacities the duties to exercise.

    • by Unending (1164935)

      No for that you need a Mountain Howitzer.
      http://www.buckstix.com/howitzer.htm [buckstix.com]
      (this is somewhat old so just disregard if you have seen it before)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Teancum (67324)

      ...it is legal to own such a cannon because it does not use a firing pin and is muzzle loaded so the government does not consider the weapon a threat.

      He then continued to say, "Also, I use it to hunt deer."

      An interesting thought.... would this "gun" qualify for the muzzle-loading hunt? Due to the higher degree of difficulty in shooting with archaic guns and more limited range, several U.S. states offer special licenses for those hunters who hunt with a muzzle loading gun that often has extended dates and additional locations where you can hunt with those kind of guns.

      Seems a tad bit overkill, but wouldn't it be a sight to see on the opening day of the hunt?

  • by TheRealPacmanJones (1600187) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:25PM (#29263149)
    First? Is it really a good idea to give an 11 year old a cannon. Even though you will tell him not to use it unsupervised eventually theres going to come a time where his friends say something like "cmon we will just shoot it once"...... and then before you know it they are invading a nearby neighborhood...
    • Re:Safety first? (Score:5, Informative)

      by characterZer0 (138196) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:28PM (#29263191)

      You get about one shot every 2 minutes if you have four guys that know what they are doing, and you burn more than $10 worth of powder for ever shot. And the things are heavy. They will not get far.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sponge Bath (413667)

        ... guys that know what they are doing

        That made me think of Blackadder III, Duel and Duality:

        Blackadder frantically reads instructions during duel with cannons:
        "Congratulations on choosing the Armstrong Whitworth four pounder cannonnette. Please read the instructions carefully and it should give years of trouble free maiming."

      • by mustafap (452510)

        >They will not get far.

        If they point that thing at me they can go as far as they bloody please. I'm not going to argue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by D Ninja (825055)

        They will not get far.

        If there is one thing I have learned - never, ever, underestimate the ingenuity of a group of kids who really want to get something accomplished. If they want to move a cannon, they'll move a cannon.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Belial6 (794905)
          The follow up of that is that if they want a cannon, they will get a cannon. Whether dad gives it to them as a birthday present and teaches them how to use it safely, or they build one out of old plumbing they scavenge for that abandoned house and blow their hands off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Cannons don't kill people. (Unless they run them over). Gunpowder and cannonballs kill people. Just don't let the son get ahold of the gunpowder and he'll be safe. The article doesn't say that he built any cannonballs at all, and you can't just buy them at your local Walmart.
      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        Actually, a lot of folks design cannons around available ammo... pool balls, golf balls, bowling balls, etc. And black powder is relatively easy to make....

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Cannons don't kill people. (Unless they run them over). Gunpowder and cannonballs kill people. Just don't let the son get ahold of the gunpowder and he'll be safe. The article doesn't say that he built any cannonballs at all, and you can't just buy them at your local Walmart.

        Just because you dont have cannonball doesnt mean you wont put anything vaguely round into the cannon to see if it will shoot. I know I would have done that if I had a cannon growing up.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          With that sort of attitude, it's no wonder your dad never built you one.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mustafap (452510)

          >I know I would have done that if I had a cannon growing up.

          yea, my brothers head would have definitely gone in there.

      • you should have written

        "Cannons don't kill people. Criminal confederate rebels with cannons do."

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RealGrouchy (943109)

      This is safety first. If my 11-year-old child were to come across a potential attacker while walking the streets alone late at night, I wouldn't want the attacker to be the only one with a 700 lb cannon.

      - RG>

  • by Zen Hash (1619759) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:26PM (#29263163)

    Though Daugherty said he is still stunned that he had to get clearance from the NSA for the archaic artillery piece

    Why would he need clearance from the NSA?

    • by petrus4 (213815) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:40PM (#29263407) Homepage Journal

      Why would he need clearance from the NSA?

      Because the American government has known, probably since Reagan, that its' constituents have genuine grounds for overthrowing it, and that it is therefore reasonably possible that they could someday try...and that they must therefore be prevented from trying at all costs. ;)

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:53PM (#29264529) Journal

        and that they must therefore be prevented from trying at all costs. ;)

        Hence the development of reality TV:

        Future Thomas Jefferson: Yeah, I'm really sick of paying 50% of my income in taxes. Let's overthrow the Government! Are you with me?
        Future George Washington: Yeah, the revolution! To arms! Call out the unorganized militia! We're with you to the bitter end!
        Typical American Citizen #1: Yeah! I hate taxes! Down with the Governmen.... hey isn't American Idol on tonight? Can we do the revolution tomorrow?
        Typical American Citizen #2: We can't do it tomorrow, the Amazing Race is on. How about next Wednesday?
        Future George Washington: *puts gun to his own head and squeezes the trigger*

    • NSA??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sooner Boomer (96864) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rmoob.renoos>> on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:00PM (#29263697) Journal

      Though Daugherty said he is still stunned that he had to get clearance from the NSA for the archaic artillery piece

      Why would he need clearance from the NSA?

      I'm calling "bullshit" on the NSA bit. The NSA is a bunch of spys and technology geeks. They would have little interest in a Civil War-era black powder cannon. From the NSA web site "The NSA/CSS core missions are to protect U.S. national security systems and to produce foreign signals intelligence information."[http://www.nsa.gov/about/mission/index.shtml]

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        That's what they want you to believe. In reality the NSA ensures the integrity and authenticity of Civil War reenactments.
    • I'm betting it had a lot to do on something in a nearby location, and what that something is designed to lookat/listento

  • Cost? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:27PM (#29263179)
    The article didn't say it cost $6000, but that it would be worth that. It would be hard to spend $6000 in materials for a Civil war era cannon that you build yourself.
    • by lwsimon (724555)

      Well, I see one person who has never priced bronze in quantity.

      • Re:Cost? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:32PM (#29264229)
        By the time of the Civil war, cannon were mostly cast iron. (at least by the end) The article says that it was made of iron and steel. It's possible to build a backyard forge and melt old auto parts into a cannon, I know several blacksmiths who are capable of it. (although the guys I know mostly do decorative stuff)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ndege (12658)

        Well, I see one person who has never priced bronze in quantity.

        You are entirely correct that bronze is expensive. Keep in mind, however, that the cannon is made from cast iron and steel.

        I thought about responding with, "Well, I see one person who has never priced helium in quantity."

        Seemed about as relevant.

  • Not a threat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172)

    So we can only have stuff as long as the government doesn't find it threatening?

    Oh, I see this guy's on the Union side. Maybe they're worried about him pointing it at Baltimore's civilians and making demands, as the Union army did.

  • Cannon Are Fun (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Toad-san (64810) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:29PM (#29263219)

    My kid brother, the machinist, made a scale replica of the 24 pounder long guns on the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides). He didn't cast iron; he machined it from a solid piece of modern steel (so it was WAY stronger than the originals).

    Then he made a scale carriage, machined (because it was so hard) from seasoned timbers from an old dock being disassembled.

    It was 1/4 scale, as I recall. When fired using modern muzzle loader powder (and totally guessing at the charge), it shot a beercan filled with cement about a quarter mile :-)

    He sold it eventually to a collector, but what a cannon that was!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ksevio (865461)

      Yeah, Steel is the way to go.

      My uncle made a cannon for fun (he works in a metal shop) that we took to the local shooting range. They had some wooden spools setup for targets, but the lead balls we fired at them made a neat hole through them and embedded in the gravel hill behind. I can only imagine how far it would have gone had we aimed it higher.

  • traitor (Score:5, Funny)

    by methano (519830) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:30PM (#29263237)
    This kid lives in Charleston. Why is he talking about shooting at rebels? What has the South come to? Where is the adult supervision?
    • by XanC (644172)

      It's Charleston, West Virginia. But he still shouldn't be shooting at rebels.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by MaerD (954222)
        Yeah, bloody Tory. Acting all hoity toity with their tea and putting Union Jacks on everything. Just can't accept that we showed King George what's what over 200 years ago.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Mattern (191822)

        Why not? It's *West Virginia*. WV got carved out of Virginia for the express purpose of having the natives shoot at rebels.

      • Re:traitor (Score:5, Informative)

        by plopez (54068) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:18PM (#29263963) Journal

        The West Virginians saw the Secession for what the sham it was; protecting the property (slave holding) rights of the rich tidewater plantation owners while forcing the poor (the working class and dirt farmers) to fight for them. The south had the draft before the North. After Bull Run, the militias were effectively drafted for the duration. Unless you were a rich plantation owner in which case you were considered too important for the economy and released from service.

        The West Virginians being dirt farmers themselves, and a bit ornery, seceded from Virginia and joined the Union as their own state in 1863.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Garrett Fox (970174)
          ...Because, of course, secession was evil and illegal when the South did it, but good and legal when the West Virginians did it.
          • Re:traitor (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Alaska Jack (679307) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:10PM (#29264801) Journal

            But, er, didn't the West Virginians *refuse* to secede? To put it another way, your comment would be accurate if the WVs had seceded *and formed their own country*. But they didn't. They essentially just stayed with the union.

                - AJ

          • Slavery is profoundly wrong and no action taken to promote or sustain it can be considered moral.

            Succeeding or not succeeding is not essential moral issue. How else did the US or Texas come about if not for succession?

            But the Civil War was only about states' rights insofar as that meant their right to join a new country when a president was elected from a newly formed abolitionist party who threatened to infringe on the state "right" of slavery.

      • by hador_nyc (903322)

        of course not, who would be shooting at dead people?
        again, the war's over. let it go man!

    • You do know that the state of West Virginia exists because the people of West Virginia sided with the Union against the Confederacy, don't you?
      At the start of the Civil War, what is now West Virginia was just part of a larger Virginia. West Virginia was granted statehood when the people who lived there chose to remain part of the Union after Virginia seceded.
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:32PM (#29263287)

    just so there's no risk he turns into a girlie man.

    Every boy needs to learn that you have to have a big cannon and wield it with authority should any dispute come up.

    (Warning: Failure to recognize sarcasm is the eighth deadly sin, specially in a world of manly men.)

  • Rebels? (Score:5, Funny)

    by MiniMike (234881) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:34PM (#29263325)

    'Any rebels charging up this hill would be in trouble with a cannon like this at the top,' Logan says

    Anyone else have an image of Stormtroopers firing one of these, relieved that they finally have a better weapon than those blasters?

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:51PM (#29263567)
    Daugherty said his son is very mature and would be able to handle the responsibility of owning a piece of artillery.

    "He's a good kid. One thing about my son he has a great respect for guns and weapons, so he will not be firing this anytime soon without an adult present."


    I'm sure that's all true. Unlike Mr. Daugherty, I actually do remember being 11 years old. I also remember not doing a very good job of thinking of the consequences of my actions. So we'll all wait for the day when 1 or 2 years from now when this "good kid" and his friends fire this cannon at other people or nearby property and cause damage that they are held accountable for.
    • by Unending (1164935) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:09PM (#29263855)

      I had a compound bow at the age of 7 and was using it without supervision within 6 months.
      At no point between the age of 7 and now have I ever used a projectile weapon irresponsibly.
      I think it is completely possible for this 11 year old to be responsible enough to own and use a cannon.
      Do I think this is the norm? No not at all, I didn't trust most of my friends to use my bow without supervision until I was maybe 12, but to just write this kid off because of your own irresponsibility is not fair.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by quatin (1589389)
      If the first thing a 11 year old kid thinks about when he gets a cannon is load it and shoot it at the neighbors, there's something fundamentally wrong with the kid. I could understand the consequences of my actions by the time I was 11. I may have been irresponsible with little things, but certainly not killing people or blowing up a house.
  • Err, no (Score:5, Funny)

    by LizardKing (5245) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:53PM (#29263601)

    That title should read "Dad Builds 700 Pound Cannon for Himself, Under The Cover of His Son's Birthday".

  • Nice gift (Score:3, Funny)

    by bickle (101226) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:55PM (#29263629)
    What a charming and delightful way to relive one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history. :P
  • "Daddy" (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:01PM (#29263709)
    "I want a thermonuclear device."
    • Why not build him a working fusion reactor in that case? Some people have actually done that! Sure, it loses energy overall -- just like the multi-billion-dollar kind!
  • Cannon are fun (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:03PM (#29263743) Homepage Journal

    My wife's uncle builds and shoots them. Years ago, he competed with his cannon, in both round shot and rifled competitions, with self-cast balls and "bullets" (I forget the correct name for them). These days he just does it for fun.

    You do have to be careful with them, though. Last year (2008) on the fourth of July, he took his small (2.5") cannon down to the city park like every year, to fire it as part of the city's early morning festivities. That went well, and on the way back he decided to stop off at my house and wake us all up, since my kids usually go down to the park. Unfortunately, he forgot to lower the tailgate of his pickup truck before touching off the powder. It blew an 8-inch hole through his tailgate. The cannon didn't have a projectile loaded, just gunpowder and a wad, but the force mangled his tailgate.

  • Liar (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    'I've always been interested in the Civil War and cannons, so I thought it would be a good gift,'

    Translation"

    'I've always been interested in the Civil War and cannons, so I really got it for myself even though I won't know it until my son drops his interest in it.'

  • by cetialphav (246516) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:13PM (#29263895)

    There is a really great episode of This American Life here: http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=734 [thislife.org] that is relevant to this story. Act 1 has Sarah Vowell (a liberal anti-gun person) whose father is a gunsmith who built his own cannon. She tells about going out with him to fire it for the first time.

  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by NerveGas (168686) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:17PM (#29263947)

    You mean that somewhere, someone has NOT taught their son to be a pansy, and fear anything that has any remote chance of hurting someone? Oh, the horror! The next thing you know, he'll let the kid have his own POCKET KNIFE, for crying out loud. Won't someone please... THINK OF THE CHILDREN????

  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:21PM (#29263995) Journal
    This is only vaguely related to TFA, but hey, it's Idle.

    A while back I was working at a place that had both engineering and manufacturing, and I mostly hung out with the engineers but I worked on some of the manufacturing equipment so I met a lot of the manufacturing people. One guy looked like an 80's stoner, black jacket, long hair, bad teeth, you know the type. I'd never talked to him. One day, apropos of nothing, he walked up and handed me a thick sheaf of papers and said "I thought you'd enjoy this." It was plans for making a homebuilt mortar, similar in size to the cannon in TFA (but with a much less pretty and detailed carriage.) It was machined out of a piece of solid 6" thick steel stock. It's actually a pretty cool design, although my metal lathe can't manage something that big. But ever since, I've wondered if I have "CLOSET ANARCHIST" written on my forehead, that makes people who don't know me walk up and volunteer stuff like this, since this wasn't the only time that's happened.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      Someone please mod parent +1 for using the term "apropos of nothing" correctly, and another point for correct spelling of same. (light applause)

  • Cause, I want my son to ask me for a Wave Motion Gun! :)

  • One of my biology heroes, Ramon y Cajal [wikipedia.org], was also interested in cannons. When he was 11, he also had his own cannon (although he did build it himself.) He used it to destroy the gates of his hometown, got thrown in jail. Almost immediately upon his release he built a bigger one which blew up, injuring himself in the process. This seems to have curbed his interest in cannons. He still led a pretty wild life after that as well. He settled down a bit after contracting malaria, tuberculosis, and having s

  • Now, if he were in Tennessee or Montana, he could claim exemption under the states' Firearms Freedom Acts from federal gun laws! Well, except that it's a little too big...
  • by GeckoAddict (1154537) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:59PM (#29264625)
    Anytime you need to get permission from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for a Birthday present, you know it's going to be the best birthday ever.
  • Life Lesson (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IonOtter (629215) on Monday August 31, 2009 @08:43PM (#29268571) Homepage

    My father was part of the Revolutionary War Re-enactment Militia back in the 70's, and we used to raise merry Hell with our cannon. I can remember firing Quaker Oatmeal canisters full of sand (puff rounds) several hundred yards out to sea off Cooper's Beach in the Hamptons.

    One time, they did a parade in Sag Harbor, but the village wouldn't let them fire the cannon. It was only a 2-pounder, but they still wouldn't let them fire it. They were afraid it would break the windows in some of the historic buildings, which admittedly, are several hundred years old. Well, they held off until the very end of the parade, then fired it anyway. No damage, scared the HELL out of the judges and the crowd loved it.

    However, now the gun had to be cleaned.

    Dad and Walter took it to the end of the pier and got ready to clean it, when dad noted that the bore was the exact same diameter as a "D" cell battery. Walter noted the same thing, and in a few minutes, they'd charged the cannon and rammed a D-cell down the bore.

    Now...a cannon with just a wadding load makes a huge "BOOM" with a big cloud of smoke. Very showy, very flashy. The gun rocks back a little, and that's it.

    However, a cannon with an actual round in it makes a sound not unlike a Howitzer from those old WWII movies. A kind of "PAH-WOOOM", followed by the sound of ripping canvas heading down range. The smoke cloud is much narrower, and oh yeah? The cannon jumped it's blocks and went flying down the pier like a scalded cat. Probably scared the bejabbers out of a few baymen that day.

    Dad was already hopping in the truck, Walter was chasing after the cannon before it rolled off the pier, and they both threw it in the back and took off before the cops could come.

    They cleaned it at home this time.

We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.

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