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Bowling Ball mortar: Seeking technical feedback

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#1 Pyroflume


    Smelt the smoke

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Posted 12 August 2019 - 05:54 AM

About six years ago, I purchased a homemade bowling ball mortar from a man who had experience constructing bowling ball mortars. The mortar is made from a gas tank and has a welded-on breach piece with a chamber that holds up to about 4 oz of black powder.

I love the mortar but have toyed with the idea of building an improved mortar someday, and Im looking for feedback about whether my ideas may be feasible.

The one thing I really dont like about my current mortar is A) how dirty it gets when fired, B) how it is susceptible to corrosion if not cleaned immediately (and even if it is cleaned well, since I live in a humid environment), and C) how heavy it is (it weighs 300 lbs, making it very stable when fired but also very challenging to transport).

My primary question is whether any alloy of titanium would be suitable for a cannon? I am aware that titanium and steel have very different properties in terms of strength, brittleness, weight, deformation, fatigue, elongation, ability to handle stress, etc. I am also aware that titanium, for a number of reasons, usually makes a poor choice in applications with pressure spikes (e.g., as a rifle barrel). However, there are many different alloys of titanium and I am wondering if any of them might be suitable for use as a bowling ball mortar? The appeal of titanium is its lighter weight and tremendous corrosion resistance. (And yes, I know that titanium is very expensive and difficult to tool and manufacture...so my question at this point is hypothetical). If titanium is a poor choice for a mortar, what about stainless steel or some other metal allow that is more corrosion resistant than normal steel?

Another question is about powder. Currently I use FG black powder in my cannon (up to 4 oz max). Would any less corrosive blackpowder substitutes be suitable to use with a bowling ball mortar (for example, blackhorn 209)? Im aware that blackpowder and blackpowder substitutes have very different properties (in terms of burn rate, pressure spikes, etc). I think I already know the answer to this question but would appreciate hearing from anyone who is more informed and knowledgeable.

Another question is about ceramic coatings for a steel bowling ball mortar. If I painted a bowling ball mortar in something like high-temp cerakote (designed to withstand temps up to 1800F), would that potentially protect the steel from corrosion? Would the coating stay on, considering the heat and pressure of firing the mortar?

My final question is whether there are any reputable manufacturers or builders of bowling ball mortars other than Coaches Club Cannons (see http://www.coachescl...g-Ball-Mortar)?

Also, Id be very grateful for not getting flamed for asking stupid questions or being seemingly lazy for not wanting to clean my mortar. I ask these questions in earnest in order to become better informed and to promote safety.

Thanks in advance for any feedback and advice!

- Dave

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