6 Cylinder Cannon...Yea that's right...like the motor!!! haha


August 24, 2004, 12:00 PM
Me and my cousin were sittin' around thinkin' this mornin' and we came up with a very farfetched, but completely capable, idea of creatin' a six-shot cannon made from a 240 cubic inch Ford inline six cylinder engine.
This idea is only partially down on paper at the moment, but the block is 50% complete. We wanna know some outside opinions on what you guys think. Doable or just plain crazy. If you just think about it, an engine is made to contain explosions (ta-da!! similar in respect to a barrell). The only parts we'll be using the block, crank and modified pistons.
Let's hear what you guys have to think....all opinions welcome and appreciated.


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August 24, 2004, 12:23 PM
Neat idea!

I've heard of a Harmonica pistol before, but this is the first Harmonica cannon I've ever learned of.

Whatchya gonna use for bores? What ammo? Volley or single-fire?

And oh By The Way, welcome to The High Road, Foster! This qualifies as an auspicious almost-first post! I hope you like your internet discussion polite and civil, it's what we specialize in 'round here.

Can we expect some pictures in the future? Gotta have pics to go with a Calliope Cannon! :D

August 24, 2004, 12:28 PM
Great minds think alike. It's gonna be volley-type setup. It will fire by the firin' order in a 240 engine. Six continuous shots, before you have to reload. Kinda like a muzzle-loadin' revolver. There will be pictures soon. We need someone with balistic experience to help determine the correct load and projectile weight so we don't blow ourselves up by over-chargin'. We wanna be safe about it, yet have a "blast". haha


August 24, 2004, 12:29 PM
Remember, those walls are kind of thin compaired to a canon. There's water jackets around them.
You could try the old drag racers trick and pour wet concrete mix in the water jackets to fill them up.

August 24, 2004, 12:32 PM

Guess I better say this before it goes too far. Just for the record, some details will be undisclosed, that being, if these suckers are capable of mass production, then we, bein' me and my cousin, then we have all rights reserved to the patent. Thank you.


August 24, 2004, 12:33 PM
We were thinkin' more on the lines of lead or steel. Concrete is a good idea, but the jackets could possibly collapse as the concrete may be damaged from the recoil of this baby.

August 24, 2004, 12:35 PM
Sealing up a firing chamber would require some really good machine work. Then the barrels would have to be attached so as not to lose any pressure.

Maybe machine a large long flat plate to take the place of the heads. Cut holes in plate. Attach barrels, which are a smaller diameter than chambers. Think I would prototype a spud gun first with PVC before working metal pieces into design.

Seems like it would be easier just to fabricate from scratch. Alot less headache I'm sure.


August 24, 2004, 12:35 PM
I shudder at the thought of a chain fire. :what:

August 24, 2004, 12:37 PM
I love that idea Vick. We were thinkin' of a way to replace the heads. Also some sort of exhaust, that way you don't have the giant smoke cloud in front of you. Somethin' like a set of headers the direct it away from the line of fire. But that's almost outta the question.

August 24, 2004, 02:09 PM
Sealing up a firing chamber would require some really good machine work. Then the barrels would have to be attached so as not to lose any pressure.

Can'thavenuthingood, I wouldn't have to attach the barrels. A cylinder is already partially sealed. They're two ends to a cylinder, one bein' sealed by the rings on the pistons and the other bein' closed by valves in a normal engine. The pistons are gonna be modified to stay in the down position, but for the crank to still turn freely without the piston doin' the regular punchin' motion. the other end, once free of the head, is just like a smooth-bore barrel. Therefore. Once the crank is modified into a rotating firing mechanism, then it will be complete.

Come one, come all...opinions needed...as well as ballistics data. We don't wanna blow ourselves up here...

Ukraine Train
August 24, 2004, 02:28 PM
Hmm, not sure how you're going to execute this but fuel doesn't actually "explode" inside an engine, it burns rapidly (10-25m/s when atomized). If you accelerate this burn rate then you get detonation which results in engines dumping their guts through the block/oil pan, and even then you're not approaching the pressures of say smokeless powder. Cylinder walls are thin....

August 24, 2004, 02:53 PM
The thinness of the cylinder walls is a big problem we're facin'. I'm gonna get on the phone with a friend of mine that works at a machine shop to see what it would run us, the get a custom block milled. You have to admit that this is probably somethin' that no one's attempted before. We're still at the on-paper stage, so any ideas or opinions are welcomed. Once again, we still need ballistic expertise to help with the charge sizes.


August 24, 2004, 02:54 PM
You're gonna need some sort of barrel attached to get some length and utilize the pressure created, otherwise you'll have little more than flatulence, all noise and no boost. Which is why a narrow barrel, to use the pressure created more efficiently. From a large bore (cylinder) to a smaller bore (barrel or tube) like on a brake system.

Think the difference between a snubnose .357 and a .357 lever action rifle. There is alot more power applied to the projectile with added length to the barrel for distance.

What size is the bore/bullet to be fired?
What's it weigh?
What are you using for powder/ignition?

Make a prototype with PVC pipe. An automotive engine was never designed for gunpowder to be used in the combustion chamber. I think ballastics are going to be a trial and error proposition for you, and then not many errors. Remember stress's on metal are cumulative, they just stack up and some day the metal say's "I'm tired" and gives up the ghost as in cracks and or total failure. It could be catastrophic.

Make sure you have film rolling for each test. There is a thin line between Einstein and Darwin.

Start with potatoes,

August 24, 2004, 02:58 PM
Do take notice that I'm not tryin' to earn myself a "Darwin Award" here. Barrels are a must. We just need somethin' that will be fuctional, but not weight 400+lbs. As for bore size, charge weight and ignition system, this is why there is a need for someone with ballistic expertise. Like I said earlier, we're gonna try to do this as safe as possible and try to come back unharmed. This is NOT by any means a plea for attention, just somethin' a couple of good 'ole boys with a spare engine decided to do. Keep the opinions flowin' guys.


August 24, 2004, 03:01 PM
Ohh, and we will most definately start small with PVC designs. If and when the day approaches for the "big bang", it will be thoroughly planned out with the utmost attention to detail and "SAFETY". And for any younger kids who read this, "PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE".

August 24, 2004, 03:22 PM
Wet Blanket alert!

I don't wanna rain on your parade but it's a pretty good bet that what you are putting together would be classified by the ATF and our buddy Agent Schmukatelli as a "Destructive Device".

I don't know if you can get permission to build what you envision or not (sad that we even have to ask) but you should at the very least make a call to the boys in F-Troop lest you find yourself with a new federally subsidized 6' by 10' home and a not so new snaggly toothed bride named Bubba!

Just a thought mind you - no pressure...

August 24, 2004, 03:24 PM
All the legal actions will be takin' care of. I don't plan on servin' time anytime soon or ever. This is also very well thought out mind you.

August 24, 2004, 03:39 PM
Here's some ballistics site's you ought to be able to gleen some info from.


This is basic ballistics.

This is software, I have no experience with this.

Big bullets for beginners http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/bullets2.htm

I'd be hesitant to use anyone's ballistic expertise that is not on site. I would at the very least learn the basics.


August 24, 2004, 04:19 PM
as long as it's a black powder cannon, he will be ok. they're perfectly legal.

August 24, 2004, 04:28 PM
i think it also has to be muzzle loading...

anyway, if you're doing something like this, i'd get the biggest straight six diesel you can find. they *are* built for exploding mixture, though you'll still want to reinforce it.

if you stick with the 240... just make sure the head finds a good home on top of a 300!

August 24, 2004, 04:38 PM
I am positive that you have already thought about making sure to heat your block completely if you are going to reinforce the water jackets with molten lead. I like your ideas, practical or not, because at least you are trying to invent something interesting and not just sleepwalking thru life like so many others. Good luck to you Sir, and be careful!

Jim K
August 24, 2004, 04:56 PM
You could use a pan 6 and that way you could shoot at the enemy even if the attack was from two directions. Of course, you might just shoot your own soldiers, so maybe that is not a good idea.

BTW, Foster, if we don't hear from you and you cousin, do we assume that you loaded up each cylinder with a pound of Bullseye and touched 'em off?


Shanghai McCoy
August 24, 2004, 05:08 PM
This actually is an idea that Leonardo DaVinci had for a volley cannon.similar weapons were also used during the War between the States.As long as you use black powder you should be ok.DON'T let some yabbo talk you into using smokless powder tho....

August 24, 2004, 05:34 PM
Jim, yer scarin' me, here.:uhoh: Want a six-shot cannon, not a six-shot grenade! ;)

Foster, the pvc/abs thing might be worth looking at in closer detail. Have you thought about a gas gun? There's LOTS of info/supplies around on the net to support spud-gunning, and it's eminently legal. I've read about some folks achieving great things with spud-gun technology and tin cans fulla concrete. You can order rifled barrels for pretty cheap, up to 4" diameter. Just a direction you can go, that's cheap 'n easy to implement.

If you've got access to a big-enough lathe, you could turn-down the outside of, say, 18"-24"-long pieces of hot-rolled 1/2"-wall steel tubing of appropriate diameter to slip-fit into the bores. A stepped, fitted plug with a machined-in chamber that you could pre-load with a powder charge, slip-fit into the end of a given bore, and set on top of the block in some sort of carrier rig to position it to drop into the bore for firing at the bottom as you turn the crank. Dunno what you'd use for ammo. Canned concrete comes to mind again. This'd be a lot like a six-shot repeating mortar-kinda set-up. The carrier could be a cage-ish arrangement made outta welded-up strip stock, say.

If you want it more like a cannonesque sort of a thing, you'd need longer bores, which'd get expensive fast at big-bore size. You could make transitional "breeches" on the ends to fit, say, 2" tubing to some sorta cylinder-size pluggish thing. Same removable chamber/breech idea, but with a smaller bore size. 2" bores work good with greased tennis balls filled with sand or lead shot.

Hmmm. Not getting any holy inspirations about ignition systems. I'll have to think about it.

August 25, 2004, 06:13 AM
Ohh man, you guys are bein' a big help. For the time bein', it is to go as a muzzle-loadin', black-powder-esque cannon, but we're tryin' to find a way to slice the bottom of the block to make it somewhat like a modern-type cannon. That way, instead of muzzle-loadin', we can flip up the block, open the bottom, so the crank swings away, load the charge, close it up and fire away.

As for ignition systems, we have a very good grasp on what we're doin', but the details of this won't be realeased on the forums. Sorry.

Ohh and Jim, you don't have to worry about that pound of Bullseye, all barrels arent firin' at 1 time. It will actually follow the firin' order of the block. If they fired all at once, then the block would just implode, but we can fire at will, that way we don't stress the engine block too much. The water jackets are goin' to be filled. I believe we're gonna use lead or cheap angle iron. As for the PVC/ABS, I have a friend that is gonna help me with that. It helps havin' friends with access to CNC mills. haha

We're thinkin' of mountin' this thing in the back of an old truck, so we have to use the inline model. If it was an opposed, or v-type engine, then we'd just end up blowin' the sides of the truck apart and we don't want that.

Also any donations of used blocks is welcome!

August 25, 2004, 11:13 AM
I don't have a spare block around, but I hope you have someone video the first attempt---at a distance of maybe a mile and a half. I look forward to seeing it on the tv show "Hey! You Guys Gotta See This!"

Be sure to drinks lots of brewski's prior to detonation.


August 25, 2004, 11:20 AM
My money is on you guys becoming darwin award candidates....
Hey Cous...hold my beer and watch this!

August 25, 2004, 11:21 AM
Maybe a low power mortar. but I would'nt want to be close for use as a cannon :what:

That being said.........I want one :D

August 25, 2004, 11:25 AM
First off, you don't actually think we're stupid enough to shoot a full power charge the first time out do you? I mean come on, it'll be months before it's figured out, and by then, we'll know enough about the ballistics and block strength to know what it can handle. Also, take into account, that all six barrels will never be fired at the same time, probably not even loaded. The first fire attempt will be in a remote location, fired from afar, with the aid of the local fire and rescue. We're not drunken rednecks as some of these posts suggest. Have faith...there is more to come.

August 25, 2004, 11:39 AM
I am going to put this with in the same category as the ammo vending machine. Good ideas they just might be kind of hard to market.

August 25, 2004, 06:17 PM
There is stuff made for filling water jackets as well, don't know what it is but did not see it mentioned as I skimmed the thread.

One thing you can do to make the cylinder walls thicker is to sleeve them. On some engines when one cylinder gets badly scarred up from something it is sometimes possable to clean it up and insert a metal sleeve to replace the original cylinder wall. This varies on stuff, but many diesel engines actually had replaceable sleeves in the early days from what I have read.

For what you are planning you could have some super thick sleeves made.

One thing to remember on the stuff coming out the oil pan when an engine blows up, it normally has a rod connected to it. I would consider using a straight bar of metal to run through the bearing caps, maybe make a quick release for when you want to reload. Your rod does not need to rotate, depending on how you do it, and your connecting rods can be beefy metal. The pistons get replaced with heavy metal that will handle the use of this thing since forged, hyperpuetic, or whatever pistons are going to die a death if used for anything except ammo.

One thing to remember on the piston rings is that even the total seal gapless stuff leaks some. And rings are fragile, they are commonly hurt in detonation and this can allow the piston to move around a bit and sometimes grab on the side of the bore and then a rod goes and then the engine goes.

Overall I would say the basic block could be made to hold 6 barrels. I would skip trying to use a lot of engine parts for this thing unless you take into account the way the bearing caps are attached and bearing clearances and what not.

This is simply my opinion and I have never messed with black powder cannons and I have certainly never tried using an engine in this fashion.

So theory means little until you bring reality into theory's little world.

Good luck and video would be cool.

August 25, 2004, 08:49 PM
Biere, the only parts of the engine we'll be usin' is the block, pistons and connectin' rods and the crank. No oil pan, heads or intake. We're lookin' at a way of fixin' the pistons so they're all in the down position and fabricatin' a type of door to swing away from the bottom of the block to load that way. We have a mount design that incorporates a gunners quadrant so we can "semi-accurately" aim this beast. We're also lookin' into fabricatin' our own metal cased loads. They will more then likely be filled with buckshot-esque load and we're still determinin' a good starter charge. Somethin' small that doesn't have much of a chance of failure. The further we go, the closer we'll be to a decidin' weight/bullet type/charge weight. Be sure to keep in touch with us "good 'ole boys".

August 25, 2004, 09:19 PM
I would seriously reconsider what you are attempting to do. If you do indeed separape the cylinders from the rest of the block and then swing them out away from the crank etc for loading purposes will this become a breach loader?
Also on a safty note, We just had three collage bound students blowing up a deer carcass and such when they managed to set off one of their productions prematurely killing two out right and I don't know if the third has surcomed to his wounds as of yet. or if he will survive. I am sure that they "knew" what they were doing or thought that they did.
At any rate if you have to load 6 in a row you will incress your chances of a mishap considerablely. Something to think about as you will be putting your self in harms way each time you load more than one cylinder.

Be very very carefull. think of static electricity etc.

August 25, 2004, 09:36 PM
A diesel engine might be better suited to this kind of thing. (I assume the engine in the first post is not)

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