This is the first of a pair I intend to build, the second of which will be sold to pay for the whole project. These are full size, live fire replicas of the original .577 calibre British 1860's Gatling prototype I examined many years ago. We finished all the foundry patterns in the Fall of 2008 and poured the bronze castings for these two guns during the winter. A total of fifteen separate bronze castings are involved in building the complete gun. Although Dr. Richard Gatling was a Yank, the British were quicker to adopt the Gatling than the US or any other country. The first Gatlings were made before brass cartridge ammunition was developed and they used the same paper cartridge ammo as the Enfield .577 calibre rifled muskets. These paper cartridges were loaded into individual steel chambers which each then had a musket cap fitted to the back. These chambers fed by gravity into the gun's breech as it was cranked. In theory this was a sound idea; the guns would use the same ammo as any supporting infantry, without the headache of separate supply logistics. Also the chambers were easily reloaded by the gun crew itself in the field between actions, with no special equipment needed. In actual practice however, this system had a flaw. There was significant gas leakage at the front of the chambers, in the same fashion as the leakage seen at the front of a revolver cylinder, and this caused fouling to slowly build up, eventually affecting the smooth working of the piece. In August, my Gatling was passed and accepted by the Washington Civil War Association and is OK to use at reenactments. I also received the written blessing of the BATF for the gun to be sold without any restrictions or special permits. It is not classed as a machine gun by current definition and is legal to own by anyone Stateside who can own an ordinary rifle or pistol. In the most recent trials, it achieved a rate of fire of four to six rounds per second consistently. There is no other crowd draw at a reenactment to equal a Gat! There is a short youTube video of me firing the gun at Port Townsend, Washington, a few years ago.
If interested in owning this unique piece of history, e-mail us.
Over the years, quite a few people have tried to replicate this condensate pump of superior (but complicated!) design from the old US Navy steam cutters of the Great White Fleet era, for use in modern steam launches. At least one set of workable but somewhat simplified patterns is still floating around for the smaller Model G pump. The pump we attempted, at the request of a customer, is the larger pump used on the 50 hp model M engines in the 40 foot cutters. It is basically identical in design and detail to the smaller one, only with longer stroke and consequently longer pump body and base. To my knowledge, no one has reproduced this style pump in precisely the shape and design as the original blueprints. In every case I have seen, noticable shortcuts and design changes were introduced to make the job simpler to accomplish. We wanted ours to be as close the original Navy blueprints as possible. The following photo of our 1907 print shows the internal complexity of the pump body, with its three internal interlocking cored chambers.
A month and a half of full-time head-scratching and patternmaking produced a full set of sixteen separate patterns and seven core boxes. All patternwork was traditional, in mahogany and sugar pine, although the cores were made mostly in heat bonded resin-coated sand. Here are the patterns and principle cores laid out to be photographed:
Below, engineer and steam engine expert Keith Sternberg (on left) and I discuss the three interlocking pump body cores here assembled to be inserted in the mould:
We were apprehensive about the initial bronze heat due to the complexity of the pump body mould and cores, and thus the expense of a mistake; but we were gratified to have the very first one we poured turn out fine!
It was downhill from then on, with the other parts accumulated in subsequent heats and the machine work proceeding smoothly. In another five weeks of full time work, we had a finished pump:
Only very minor changes distinguish it from the original, and most of these were at the request of the customer. The flanges are threaded for normal 1 in. NPT pipe instead of the old brazed copper pipe. The valves have high-temp silicon O-rings inset into their faces to quieten their action rather than the metal-to-metal contact of the navy pumps. And stainless steel studs and nuts were used in most places, as well as a stainless steel piston rod. Also, the crosshead pin was increased in size from 7/16 in. to 1/2 in. for increased durability. A challenging but fun and rewarding project; and we at Marshall Machine and Engineering are very proud to have succesfully completed this commission. Anyone with an interest in these pumps and their construction is welcome to contact us here at Marshall Machine Works or Capt. Keith Sternberg with questions.