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Thread: 12 ga cannon blanks

  1. #1
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    Question 12 ga cannon blanks

    As I've been invited to be Committee Boat for Wednesday Evening Races, and having secured the loan of a nice brass 12 gauge cannon, I now need to learn about blank shells.
    Anyone know of a preferred brand? Is black powder better? I'm pretty sure we want smoke, lots of smoke, for better visual effect.

    Louder is probably better, too.

    Can they ship UPS?

    What else should I know?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Winchester makes them. I use 10 gauge but 12 is out there. Go to a local gun shop. You may need to special order. Our local shop has 10 gauge all the time but the Cape has a few dozen yacht clubs so the market is there.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    By the way, a 12 is not all that common. Send a pic. Must be big.

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    It's my dad's cannon and he made it. I will inherit it but he's only 92 so I just get to borrow it for now.
    This may be the thread that gets me to finally tackle the photo posting thingie.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Cool. Bring it with you to the gun store so they know what you have.

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    https://www.cheaperthandirt.com/prod...20892004245.do

    or, if you plan to own the cannon you could start loading your own.


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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    I'm sure there are 12 gauge blanks out there. If nothing else, they are used to train gun dogs to get used to the noise.

    Todd raises a good point about loading your own.

    As a thought, I would contact RST Shells (rstshells.com). They specialize in paper shells, as well as low recoil loads. Their business model is to cater to older shotguns.

    If you contact them and tell them what you are trying to do, they may be able to make a "smokey" shell that is low recoil and highly visible. Perfect for what you need. If nothing else, they can put you on the right path.

    Oh, and yes, shells can be shipped UPS. There will be an ORM-D hazardous materials charge, and they will not be shipped by air.

    Other "in stock" possible sources include MidwayUSA (https://www.midwayusa.com/product/25...mokeless-blank) and Brownell's (http://www.brownells.com/ammunition/...prod54997.aspx). And while they say "smokeless", there will be smoke. Just not as much as black powder or pyrodex.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    What do the wildfowlers think about opening up a cartridge and replacing the shot with flour?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    The reasons for home reloading can include:

    Enjoy the art, skill, and total commitment to all phases of shooting;

    Want to use brass and if you're going to save the brass it makes no sense not to reload; and

    Save money.

    For a person whose only firearm is a signal cannon that fires blanks, the first point is a bit silly and the last only begins to apply if one does a lot of shooting with other firearms as well. Given the limited number of times you fire a signal cannon - sunset, races, parties - getting into brass seems a bit prissy to me.

    For me, again 10 Gauge blackpowder blank signal cannon, it is not even remotely economical to do my own reloading. And I have enough other time-consuming passions, like this community of WoodenBoadHeads, that I do not need another.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    You do not need to put anything in on top of a black powder blank. Not only do you run a grand chance of harming the barrel, but it adds nothing. A black powder blank puts out a wonderful tongue of fire and plenty of smoke.

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Peerie Maa - do you mean using regular cooking flour in a shot shell ?

    with my experience, regular baking flour is EXPLOSIVE when atomized.
    for a demo, place a piece of burning paper on the ground and throw a handful
    of flour on it - it will burst into flames ! (that is how us poor kids with no toys had fun)
    that is why we have so many grain silo explosions here in the U.S.
    I am thinking that replacing the shot with flour "could" present a real fire hazard not to mention
    possible personal injury to any bystanders.
    not a good recommendation unless you have actually performed this yourself.

    Phiil: I would seek out someone in your neighborhood that reloads their own shot shells
    and have them load you some with pure black power - then you will get the boom
    and lots of white smoke just like Daniel Boone !!!
    also like the military cannons used in the Civil War reenactments. (like Todd and Ian suggests).

    what did your father use ???



    .
    Last edited by John-1948; 07-17-2017 at 06:54 AM.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Yep, it is, lots more bang and smoke out of the muzzle end, is that a problem?

    I would be more frightened of the wadding if blanks use them.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Signal cannon barrels are not designed to throw anything. Adding loose crud can be done, as Slocum did with tacks, can sometimes work but is hazardous. Putting an explosive in on top of the shell is a great way to burst the barrel.

    In this country there are regulations on sale and use of powder, both black and smokeless. Also one needs a special license for any cannon, black powder or whatever, over some size. If memory serves about 1". A friend who made a 1/5th size replica of one of the USS Constitution's guns bored the barrel a little under scale so that he'd not need the license.

    A 10 or 12 gauge blank won't throw a dangerous wad, though the muzzle blast is very dangerous to anyone even 20 or 30 feet out. It won't throw a burning wad like my friend's cannon that once put a burning wad across Bass River and got some dry grass going on the other side.

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    A 10 or 12 gauge blank won't throw a dangerous wad,
    Are you certain about that? I have read comments to the contrary.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    I use Winchester 10 Gauge and that certainly does not throw its wad at all. They are manufacture to pretty much atomize on leaving the muzzle. One can design a wad to hold together, mostly, and if made of flammable material then it's a fire hazard.

    Also, as I mentioned, the muzzle blast is quite dangerous. I don't know how far from the muzzle you need to be to escape any burning or concussive injury but it's a good way out. I'd not even fire at someone fifty feet away, much less closer. But that's not from the wad at all.

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    The discharge of a blank cartridge can be fatal at close range. Google it...

    Black powder is corrosive, I wouldn't use it. You will have to disassemble the thing and clean it soon after use. Failure to do this will make a ruin of the gun in short order. There are black powder substitutes that are less corrosive, but I would use modern store bought blanks.
    Shotgun blanks can be had almost anywhere, for about a dollar a pop. They are routinely used for training hunting dogs.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Purpose made signal cannons are very durable and easily cared for. Mine's iron but many are brass.

    A quick swab after the shot does it.

    For those looking to get a signal cannon, size matters. A ten gauge in the small starter cannon size, typically fired by hitting the firing pin with a mallet, does not half the tone of ten gauge in a bigger gun, as typically fired by a lanyard moving the firing pin.

    Nice sound:


    Better sound:


    For a bit more money you can get brass barrel and for a lot more money all brass. You can then really step up to the Herreshoff models that have tuned barrels for maximum tone. But really, the iron unit is quite nice. I don't think the little ones are worth the money.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    Signal cannon barrels are not designed to throw anything. Adding loose crud can be done, as Slocum did with tacks, can sometimes work but is hazardous. Putting an explosive in on top of the shell is a great way to burst the barrel.
    Does any of the flame get past this type of plastic wad?


    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Winchester makes 12 ga blank rounds. Any gun store, or sporting goods chain, like Dicks Sporting Goods, can help you out.

    A blank round will throw a wad. Shot through a 30-inch barrel, the wad flies maybe 15 yards. It slows down quick and you can see it with the naked eye if you look for it.

    Now, a pump or autoloading shotgun requires a 2-3/4, 3- or 3-1/2" inch shell in order to function. I believe they add extra wadding to fill the space where the pellets would be, and so maintain the length. There may be special short shells that are crimped right down on the powder for signal use, and thus have no wad, but I am not sure. ( Hailing Phillip...ya out there?)

    Kevin
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Any actual shooters out there?

    The primary purpose of the wad in the photos above is to keep the shot together as it exits the barrel. A blank has a much smaller wad, whose job is to keep the powder tight.

    That is not to say the wad is not dangerous. Heck, depending on range, the unburnt powder can be dangerous. Of course, rule two is that you never point a muzzle at anything you don't intend to destroy, and that rule does not have an asterisk that says "unless you are firing blanks."

    And yes, I speak as someone who has actually been hit by a blank cartridge. Fortunately, I was beyond "snake killing range", and it was 5.56 mm, not 12 gauge. And it was the stuff that snuck past the BFA. But it still hurt, and training is not always safe.

    For those that are wondering about "snake killing range", keep in mind that the mission of a Marine Rifle Squad during peacetime appears to be "To pull up Bench Marks and to harass wildlife." But I digress.

    "Black powder" cartridges actually use pyrodex, or something similar. At least usually that's the case. It's much safer to store. Most black powder muzzleloaders use that as well. That's what it's for.

    http://www.chuckhawks.com/difference_black_powders.htm

    You can also reload both plastic and paper cartridges. You don't need brass for that.
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    ^Context Don, context. I was suggesting making a blank by taking the shot out of a 12 bore cartridge if blanks cannot be found at that gauge.
    Then the dialogue wandered into replacing the shot with a white powder to make more "smoke".
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    "Black powder" cartridges actually use pyrodex, or something similar. At least usually that's the case.
    This isn't really true . Many of us (I suspect the majority of us) who shoot traditional, old-style muzzle loaders and black powder cartridge rifles use the real thing because it works better.

    45/70 Sharps using Swiss 1.5Fg real black powder - big fire and smoke.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    This isn't really true . Many of us (I suspect the majority of us) who shoot traditional, old-style muzzle loaders and black powder cartridge rifles use the real thing because it works better.

    45/70 Sharps using Swiss 1.5Fg real black powder - big fire and smoke.
    Understood. This is discussed in the linked article.
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    ^Context Don, context. I was suggesting making a blank by taking the shot out of a 12 bore cartridge if blanks cannot be found at that gauge.
    Then the dialogue wandered into replacing the shot with a white powder to make more "smoke".
    Oh yes, I understand the context. I was more replying to those who said "no danger from wads" and spurious talk about saving brass.

    What may (maybe, might, I wouldn't necessarily want to be the guy with the hammer or lanyard) work is to replace the powder with flour, and wad with a paper disc to hold it reasonably tight. Then, the primer would flush the powder. Not sure if you'd get much of a bang, but you'd get "smoke".

    All of this seems like a lot of work when Winchester or other is readily available (links above).

    Keep in mind that smokeless powder isn't really smokeless. It's just not as smokey as the black powder in Todd's photos. But even there (as pointed out in the link), the "smoke" is really the unburned stuff, and ash, and other things.

    With a blank shell in a short cannon, you'lll get a bit of that even using nitrocellulos powders. So no worries.

    But really, this has gone far off course. The requested items are readily available. Links have been provided. Other discussions are academic. But, as I have stated, Rule Two always applies. So keep it pointed in a safe direction no matter what you use.
    Heute ist so ein schöne Tag...

  25. #25
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    For five years we fired the opening and closing salutes for the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend in addition my wife Anne was the director of the show. This gun was given to me by a friend who delivered it as a box of parts. Many were missing, like the ejector and firing pin so, I made new parts for this ten gauge blank B&H cannon. It is breech loading and was painted with aluminum paint when I first got it. It sits on Red Witch's old fore hatch cover. Boom!
    Jay

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Before you get the first shell, please get ear protection.
    I have one of the little brass ones in 10 ga
    Never seen any wadding come out of it
    Good luck

  27. #27
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    What?
    JBird

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    What do the wildfowlers think about opening up a cartridge and replacing the shot with flour?
    I wouldn't advise it. Flour, when in the form of a fine dust in the air, is quite flammable. Explosions in grain silos and the like are not uncommon. I'd expect you could end up with a heck of a flame out front of the muzzle.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    You should use black powder blanks because black powder makes a lot of smoke. Remember, the boats will be starting on the smoke, not on the sound. (If there's any distance between the gun and the line, the smoke will be seen first and the sound will be heard later.

    10 ga. are common, but 12 ga. is also fairly readily available. Call around the gun shops. If they don't have them, they can order them. Also, it's easy enough to find a reloader to load up a bunch of 12 ga. shells for you.

    I would strongly advise, especially if you are starting staggered starts or series of races, that you have a loaded "back up" shotgun handy. If you have a misfire in your cannon, the shotgun can be grabbed and fired quickly (or fired immediately by your "stand by" gunner.) If you miss the clock, the race is still going to be timed by the gun and not the clock, but the racers will be seriously pissed at you if you are so far off that they have to come about and start jockeying for the line all over again.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    What Ian said....Actual shotshell wads carry for ten yards or better, but they're designed to be tough enough to cushion an ounce or so of shot against the acceleration of ignition. Blank wads are made to disintegrate. DON'T try loading blanks with birdshot wads.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    I wouldn't advise it. Flour, when in the form of a fine dust in the air, is quite flammable. Explosions in grain silos and the like are not uncommon. I'd expect you could end up with a heck of a flame out front of the muzzle.
    Is that not what you want for a signal gun starting a race. Sound and visibility. We are not discussing shooting ducks for the pot here.

    However the point is moot as the consensus is that you can easily find 12 gauge blanks.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  32. #32
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    More than moot. If anyone wants to pack flour in atop any blank round, put me as your life insurance benefitee first.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    I just have to say that if you are removing shot to create blanks, I don't want to be anywhere near you. Miss just one and you have created a hazardous situation. I am somewhat surprised that an anti-firearms person would suggest such a thing. Be safe and just purchase the proper blank cartridges.
    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    ^Context Don, context. I was suggesting making a blank by taking the shot out of a 12 bore cartridge if blanks cannot be found at that gauge.
    Then the dialogue wandered into replacing the shot with a white powder to make more "smoke".
    The best helping hand you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    https://www.cheaperthandirt.com/prod...20892004245.do

    edit to add; "Black" powder burns at less than the speed of sound and makes a very distinctive sound, reminiscent of the fourth of July. Sort of a long, rolling Boom, that seems to carry further than a smokeless round. I can hear it echoing among these hills far longer than a modern round which has more of a "Crack" than a "Boom". Likely these store bought versions are Pyrodex or some other less corrosive mixture than real old fashion black powder. The real stuff will rust a cap and ball revolver overnight if you don't scrub it clean. Charcoal, sulpher, and saltpeter, could the the by product be sulphuric acid? It certainly acts like it! Although it creates lower pressures than smokeless, and is "safer" in old guns and brass cannons, the real stuff compared to pyrodex is nasty to play with and is dangerous. (I have done a lot of that, and it has some bad habits, scary even and it is very easy to ignite. Pyrodex even sounds different)

    Just buy the store bought shells and stay alive.
    Last edited by Canoeyawl; 07-18-2017 at 09:31 AM.

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    Default Re: 12 ga cannon blanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Iceboy View Post
    I am somewhat surprised that an anti-firearms person would suggest such a thing. Be safe and just purchase the proper blank cartridges.
    I have nothing against firearms for shooting for the pot, its those firearms marketed and sold specifically for killing US citizens that I have issues with.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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