I bought a cannon...


June 17, 2013, 02:25 AM
I bought a cannon I have never seen before over the weekend. I have been searching for a couple days and havent found any info on it. It measures about 20 inches overall with a 12 inch barrel. It is solid cast iron and has the letters RMI cast into it. Does anyone have any information on this at all? How old, does it fire, worth, ect.

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June 17, 2013, 03:01 AM
I tried googling it.Only said it was a ww2 artilery cannon. But cannonsuperstore.com check with them,if nothing else

June 17, 2013, 06:02 AM
I would bet 'decorative lawn ornament.' The place where the trunnions meet the carriage look very weak. It takes a lot more metal than you would think, and cast iron is a poor material for cannon. Wrought iron used to be used.

June 17, 2013, 06:34 AM
Decorative. They certainly were not using anything like that during WWII:eek:

It's a lawn ornament...cast iron. Look at the prominent casting mark right along the side.

June 17, 2013, 07:25 AM
When are you going to sight it in?

June 17, 2013, 08:07 AM
If you search for RMI cannon or RMI signal cannon you'll get some results.

They are decorative items and wouldn't recommend firing it without a good non-destructive testing inspection.

Look through the sites that sell antique cannons, signal cannons, and personal cannons for some enjoyable reading.

June 17, 2013, 09:07 AM
That's an awesome decorative piece, but being made of cast iron, it is absolutely unsafe to fire, even with blank charges. I hope the touch hole has not been drilled?

Jim Watson
June 17, 2013, 10:36 AM
Now you need a gun crew of Garden Gnomes.

June 17, 2013, 12:13 PM
WW2? The design is only off by a couple of centuries.

I'd be leery of using it as a noisemaker and wouldn't consider any sort of projectile.

June 17, 2013, 12:42 PM
What you have there is called a pipe bomb.


June 17, 2013, 02:41 PM
Now you need a gun crew of Garden Gnomes. Mine keep disappearing around here. :D



June 17, 2013, 06:25 PM
HSO- Did you have specific forums in mind?

June 17, 2013, 11:29 PM
Not forums, but the dealers in them. A google of RMI will get you there.

Jim K
June 17, 2013, 11:52 PM
The appearance is off WWII by more than a couple of centuries; IMHO, that style would date to c. 1500.

But I don't think it is anything so fancy as a signal cannon. I don't see a touch hole or any way of setting it off, which might be the maker's way of telling you something. It is a pure decorator, not meant for firing, even at garden gnomes.


June 18, 2013, 12:45 AM

A cast iron door stop or child's toy is all it is or ever was in the 1900's..
Now they make reproductions for decorative purposes only.

The plaster/cement garden gnomes would have a better chance of withstanding a powder charge going off inside one!


June 18, 2013, 07:25 AM
As many others have said, it's an ornament not meant to be fired.

As to what it's worth, it appears that an identical one sold on Ebay for about $10 with only 2 bidders a couple of weeks ago.


Looks like nobody wants them for $55:


June 18, 2013, 06:24 PM
This does have a fuse hole with another hole on the opposite side. Although there are castingmarks on the outside, it appears it may have an insert becuase there areno casting marks in the bore, which looks separate from the casted shell.

Also, the bore is completely unobstructed. It appears that it could safely fire small amounts of black powder ignited with a fuse. Toilet paper could be used to pack it down.

By the way as I was walking with this around the flea market I had offers up to $150 for it. I liked it too much or I would have turned a great profit.

June 18, 2013, 07:16 PM
There wouldn't be casting marks in the bore; this was most likely sand cast around a mandrel. I hesitate to even use the term "bore;" it's more like "a deep hole in some cast iron of unknown integrity." Please don't put any powder in it.

Jim K
June 18, 2013, 10:14 PM
Somehow I have the feeling that Glock19fan is determined to fire that cannon. I hope his survivors let us know what happens.


June 18, 2013, 10:27 PM
With luck, maybe it will only wing him.
If he runs fast enough after he lights the fuse.

On the other hand?
He'll be back next week with photos of a 1 MOA 10-shot group he shot at 50 yards with it! :D


Tolkachi Robotnik
June 18, 2013, 10:50 PM
There was a bigger one just off campus for years, looked similar. One day someone thought they would make it go boom. They used some fireworks for fuse and a 'primer' of sorts, and just a little black powder, maybe half of one of those little jugs? It did go boom. Some fellows a few blocks away had pieces of the cannon come through their apartment wall while they were playing ping pong.

It actually went boom very loud...

The cannon was not replaced. It may have been bronze, looked cool. I believe national may have pulled their charter.

June 21, 2013, 09:50 PM
should have held out for the mountain howitzer.....some people like to take them hunting.

June 21, 2013, 10:21 PM
If that isn't against the law in Wisconsin already?

It should be!!


June 21, 2013, 10:28 PM

4v50 Gary
June 21, 2013, 11:22 PM
Cast iron decorative piece. Do not try to shoot it.

June 22, 2013, 04:05 PM
What did they make cannons out of before steel was available?

June 22, 2013, 04:09 PM
Then iron.
Then steel band reinforced iron.
Then steel.

The earliest Chinese cannon were supposedly made out of wood or bamboo..


June 22, 2013, 07:08 PM
I set the GoPro up about 10 feet behind it and got video of a teaspoon of powder and packed toilet paper. It wasnt that loud but the cannon is fine. I was behind a large dirt mound just in case. I figured if I could detonate 1000+ kg IEDs in Afghanistan then this wouldnt be an issueas long as the correct precautions were taken.

I had a few people better than me inspect it before and after. But its officially retired. So give up your dreams of discovering a familiar forum memver being killed.

June 22, 2013, 07:13 PM
And for whats its worth, all these stories about cannons exploding are probably true, but I assure you it was becuase of operator error. For example, im sure in most of them an exessive amount of powder was used and the barrel likely heavily obstructed. Simple paper mortar tubes last for multiple shots and utilize a powder charge as well as a relatively heavy projectile. I understand that cast iron qualoty can vary vastly but this metal appeared to be in good condition. And again, precautions were taken to enaure injury was avoided in the event things turned for the worse.

Ron James
June 22, 2013, 07:52 PM
operator error? nope not really true, Even the best made Krupp German Navy guns blew up, killing a number of German sailors, caused some bad press and an official inquiry in the late 1800's. Had to do with the casting process.

June 22, 2013, 07:52 PM
Are you going to share the video?

June 22, 2013, 08:57 PM
all these stories about cannons exploding are probably true, but I assure you it was because of of operator error. Not probably, it is true.
Cannons have blown up through no fault of the crew throughout history.

It is Totally true cannons sometimes blow up through no fault of the gun crew.

The civil war Parrott rifle was notorious for bursting during engagements.
To the extent many senior artillerymen refused to serve on them.

They were cast iron, with a steel reinforcing sleeve shrunk over the breech section.

Still, continued firing resulted in a lot of them blowing up for no apparent reason, eventually.

Cast bronze and cast iron cannons were always subject to metal fatigue and corrosion getting into casting flaws causing them to just let go eventually if fired enough.


Jim Watson
June 22, 2013, 10:24 PM
Cast iron cannon were long considered cheap and nasty.
Real artillery was made of gunmetal; bronze.

June 22, 2013, 10:27 PM
You bought a cannon shaped decoration/door stop.

Nice, but let's not mislead the OP here.

June 22, 2013, 10:58 PM
I might make a new youtube channel to download becuase my current one has PI. Im not really sure how else to show the video.

June 23, 2013, 10:29 AM
I set the GoPro up about 10 feet behind it and got video of a teaspoon of powder and packed toilet paper.
So how did it group? Are you able to knock over a ram w/ toilet paper?

Jim K
June 23, 2013, 11:39 PM
The famous "Swamp Angel", an 8" Parrott, blew out its breech on the 36th shot, using 16 lbs. of powder. The explosion blew the front part over the parapet.


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