Restoration of a Ships Cannon from 'HMS Weazel' 
(Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council)

History:

HMS Weazel (or Weazle) was a 16-gun ship-sloop of the Royal Navy, in active service during the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War. Launched in 1745, she remained in British service until 1779 and captured a total of 11 enemy vessels. She was also present, but not actively engaged, at the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre in 1747. Weazel was captured by the French in 1779, and was later sold into private hands. At the time of her launch she was the most heavily armed sloop in the Navy.

The cannon was originally an archaeological find. The cannon had suffered high levels of corrosion and much of the detail had been lost, such as details in the casting. Unusually for an archaeological find such as this, one of the owners in the 1970s decided to restore the cannon as close to as was original. This include the addition of much of the cast surface detail, such as royal crown and manufacturers marks that were subsequently lost. This included epoxy resin and plaster fills and some epoxy cast sections. The final finish was black paint and a replica carriage had also been built with hand decorated varnished finish. Due to the object being left outside however, much of this finish had been lost over the years and expansion of the iron inner core has caused cracks and splits in much of the fine surface.

Work Required:

  • The plan was to site the cannon, along with a new fabricated carriage at Rotherham's new Library, Heritage and Arts Space in Riverside House, ready for the opening in April 2012.

  • The timber replica carriage was in too poor a condition to be saved. Virtually all surface finish had been lost and much of the timber work was rotten. Technicians at Rotherham Council would later produce a replica, using the original as a template to site the cannon.

  • It was decided to carry out a full surface finish restoration of the cannon. Expansion of the original cannon core had caused splitting and losses. Much of the detail on the cannon was replicated decades ago, but luckily, was still intact. The surface paint had thinned, become dull and was lost altogether in some areas. Epoxy and plaster fills would be replicated and any remaining surface paint removed and replaced. 

Work Carried Out:

  • The cannon was photographed and written notes taken to record the objects original construction and condition.

  • The cannon was placed on a timber pallet so that different parts of the object could be worked and accessed using a 2-Tonne hydraulic jack.

  • Original paint finish was stripped using appropriate paint stripping products. Treated surfaces were then de-greased using white spirit solvent.

  • Any exposed parts of ironwork were also treated with corrosion inhibitor at this stage.

  • Any loose epoxy sections were re-adhered in place using conservation adhesive.

  • Missing areas of fills were replaced using an epoxy filler product to match the original restoration. Smaller areas were treated with a fine plaster filler in a similar manner.

  • Fine detail was sanded down using fine abrasive papers and the surface was de-greased in preparation for paint.   

  • 5 Coats of black paint were applied using a dense foam roller to provide a fine finish. '1-pack poly' was used, as again this would replicate the original closely and required no priming stages. Paint was left for several days to harden before moving.

  • The cannon was transported to Riverside House, Rotherham and was installed on the new carriage by Rotherham staff technicians.  

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