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69 Producing Cannons



Four days later, a firing room was built in the backyard at North Slope Mine.

Two deep holes were dug in the yard, each one was round, with a narrow top and a wide bottom. The front diameter was about 20 centimeters, while the rear end was enlarged to 26 centimeters. Roland intended to use these holes to cast the mold. The hole had already been baked by Anna, and the surface of the soil was sintered into a whole like an outer shell. The chamber faced downwards so that a better wall quality could be achieved during casting. If the chamber were placed higher, more dross and bubbles would be produced. All the cave sizes were calculated by shells as he vaguely remembered that the so-called six-pound and eight-pound cannon were named according to the weight of their shells. So a few 12-pound iron balls were poured out, and the ball diameter plus barrel wall thickness were used to calculate the mold diameter.

Roland decided to customize the standard himself since he had no measurement tools. He intercepted a section with his own ring finger and set it as a centimeter. He then used this method to produce other sizes of iron bars and engraved the section lines.

A 12-pound iron ball diameter roughly measured about 12 centimeters. He set the thinnest wall with a thickness of four centimeters. The back of the chamber had its wall thickness expanded to seven centimeters, in order to prevent bombing. Thus the mold diameter could be obtained in this way. As for its length, although he knew that the cannon was measured by its caliber, he could only remember the caliber of battleships and cannon tanks. As for antique-like guns, he really had no idea.

He also took into account that a shorter tube, would not only be lighter but would also be cost-effective and reduce the amount of material needed. So Roland casually came up with the figure of one and a half meter, knowing that if the test results were not satisfactory, this figure could still be adjusted in the future.

When the cannon was first invented, it was made of iron on the wooden core and sealed with iron powder. Then it was reinforced with iron hoop, before the core would be burnt away in the borehole, just like the barrel storage. Roland knew that this type of cannon had a high risk of bombing due to gas leaking, so he decided to use the overall casting and the boring machine drilling process. As for the steam boring machine, whether it was drilling a 6-pound cannon or a 12-pound cannon made no difference in the level of difficulty.

He also believed that the caliber equated to justice, so he chose the 12-pound cannon which had a larger muzzle and a thicker barrel. If it got any bigger, it would not be easy to use as a field artillery. As for the weight of the shell, whether it was calculated as a shot or an iron ball was not important, as long as it could shoot out. After all, he was just drawing on the experiences of history, and not imitating everything.


"Let's start," said Roland taking a deep breath, facing Anna. The latter nodded, grabbed a piece of steel ingot, and hung it over the top of the hole. Green flames ignited. The ingot quickly turned red, and then melted, forming a small molten waterfall, which flowed into the hole. The steel surface was red and orange, the core became incandescent, and its brightness was difficult to look at directly. In order to protect the witch's eyesight, Roland also deliberately set up extra support for her in the hole. She only needed to determine the location in advance and place her arm on the support pad, then she would not need to stare at the liquid steel to observe whether it flowed into the hole.

These steel ingots were slowly accumulated over time. Anna alone would not be able to kick start the great steel making era, but producing a small batch was easy for her—once the temperature issue was solved, frying the steel would be able to produce more high-quality steel.

This was also why Roland dared to customize the size of the barrel. Compared to pig iron or bronze barrels, steel cast barrel was obviously stronger. Even if the size was not right, the cannon would still not bomb easily.

The liquid steel gradually increased, while the steel ingots were swiftly used up. Roland felt some heartache as he saw this. How long would it take before he could build a pile of chimneys and blast furnace on his domain so that he could refine an endless amount of steel? For a long time, steel production was one of the criteria to measure the power and strength of a country. He finally understood the reason for that now.

Anna's cheeks became glowing red after filling the two molds. Roland saw this and took out his handkerchief to dab the sweat from her nose. At the beginning, Anna showed a little resistance towards Roland's touch, but now she would stand still and allow Roland to do so with her eyes closed.

Her falling bangs looked red on the edges as they reflected the liquid steel, while the softness of her neck seemed to invite a nimble. As he was much taller, he could see the exposed half of her delicate clavicle. When they were close to each other, he could get a whiff of the fragrance from her body.

"Well, okay..." Roland put away the handkerchief and suppressed his passion. "Let's call it a day. You did well, and I'll inform the kitchen to reward you with an extra slice of black pepper steak."

[Not now,] he thought, [this will look like I'm taking advantage of her. Wait till she's really free...]

Anna opened her eyes. Although the sweat had been wiped away, her face seemed redder than before. She nodded towards Roland and gently said, "Yes."

*******************

Over the next few days, Roland traveled between the castle and the North Slope Mine.

In addition to the barrel, he also needed to produce a sufficient amount of boring knives.

This tool for drilling was produced in the same way as barrels. The diameter and shells were exactly the same. Once removed from the mold, Anna would heat it again, and rely on hammer processing to mold it. It was very different from the shape of a screwdriver and it looked more like a blunt iron bar. The only difference was that the head had a gap knocked out for the discharge of metal debris. Finally, quenching was used to improve the hardness of the boring knife.

Unlike modern high-precision boring machines, Roland only needed a rod that could drill holes. Taking into account the high wear and tear rate, he and Anna made five of these simple boring knives in a week. Prior to this, the steam boring machine had already proven its ability—the production of pig iron barrels increased rapidly from 2 per month to 10 per day.

When everything was ready, the cannon was mined by the miners from the pit, cleared of surface scum, and transported to the blacksmith shop.

The two cannons almost exhausted the rolled steel accumulated by Roland. Steel was definitely a priceless commodity. During transportation, the prince ordered Carter and two knights to guard them the whole journey. Chief Knight felt arranging the extra security was not necessary. Who would steal such a heavy thing?

The blacksmiths carried out leveling and polishing of the appearance of the cannons at the request of the prince. After polishing, it was transported to the castle backyard. At this point, the two rounds of solid steel stick appeared dark gray and emitted a thick metallic luster.

Roland could not wait to put on the boring tool and put the cannons in place together with Carter. The top of the knife needed to be in the center of the steel bar.

Roland pulled off the steam engine door at this historic moment. The boring knife began to move slowly and it did not take long to rise to a stable speed.

"Come on!" the prince shouted.

The chief knight activated the sliding base to control the amount of contact between the cannon and the boring tool. When the head touched the barrel, the harsh noise suddenly overshadowed the roar of the steam engine. Lard was used as a lubricant and squeezed into the hole, before black foam and the metal curls gushed out. The witches there started to withdraw from the wooden shed, but only Lightning insisted on remaining. She felt that these swarthy machines were more beautiful than any scenery.