The team of the Village Blacksmith just finished a complete rebuild of a Revolutionary War flat mortar carriage. George Cramer, of the Village Blacksmith in Gloucester, VA announced yesterday That they have completed and turned over a completely rebuilt flat mortar carriage to the National Park service that will be on display at the Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, VA.
Pictured: Left; George Cramer ( Village Blacksmith), Right: Garrett Jones (Wood Revolution Workshop )
George and his team worked closely with select members of the NPS and woodworker Garrett Jones from Wood Revolution Workshop to ensure a proper mortar carriage was built to accept and existing mortar owned by the National Park Service. " The Village Blacksmith handled all the metal work on the mortar and Garrett did all the woodwork" ,says Cramer. There were countless hours of planning and there were many challenges during the build.
Garrett Jones provided the following statement on the difficulties of this project:
"There were several challenges given the size and scope of the project, the resources available, and the locations needed to fulfill and accomplish certain phases. One of these challenges and probably the most taxing, both physically and mentally, was logistics. I relied heavily on utilizing skills achieved from past experiences in logistics and project management and my creative ingenuity to provide solutions to these problems. Without such skills a greater expense may have resulted through the purchase of additional transportation equipment and/or services and the timeliness of project completion may have been jeopardized.
Pieces of equipment were designed and manufactured to aid in the assembly, transportation of materials and/or completed phases, as well as the finished mortar carriage. This added time to the project, but these were necessary steps to ensure that the assembly and transportation issues were properly and safely addressed. Acquisition of project specific materials proved to be more challenging than original predictions.
Keep in mind, acquiring such materials is unlike a trip to your local big box store where wood and other supplies could be pulled off the shelves. Wood for the project had to be of the proper species, size, and had to be carefully inspected for selection. Wood had to be analyzed with the understanding of not only short-term goals, but long-term goals as well. An understanding of weather conditions, natural elements, and other such variables needed to be considered in an effort to promote longevity of the piece.
Wood weight started in ranges between 200 – 250 pounds and started at lengths exceeding 15 feet, 15 inches in width, and 6 inches in thickness. These same pieces where managed through several steps leading to final weights between 60 – 80 pounds and 5-6 feet in length. Manipulation of these pieces for sizing was time consuming and required special equipment and proper moving and lifting techniques to avoid injury."
For more information regarding the woodworking and the logistics involved in this project check out www.facebook/woodrev.
As for the metal work, Cramer indicated that most pieces were remade from scratch and when possible, others were reused. " Much had to coordinated with the woodworker to ensure a logistical timeline and to minimize transport" Cramer said. A major challenge was to build the Carriage completely in absence of the actual mortar tube. "We were never able to view and put hands on a completely assembled carriage and mortar." says Cramer Everything had to be built from measurements and templates from the old deteriorated mortar carriage. There was no test fitting of the mortar prior to install day. "The mortar slid in and fit perfectly. That was the proof we needed for all the planning and prep work we did." said Cramer
"We built it to fire, we built it to be used and to last generations" said Cramer "We delivered a product that can go to war or just be admired by the thousands who visit each year. We are glad to do our part to help preserve our Nation's history."
Early in 2020 Cramer expects to deliver a French 6 LB Cannon Carriage as part of the agreement with the NPS. The team plans on fully documenting the crafting of these cannon carriages with an extensive case study to depict every aspect of the builds in the near future.
Below: L-R George Cramer (Village Blacksmith), Michael Trevino (NPS) , Garrett Jones (Wood Revolution Workshop)