Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Recommended Posts

  Thank you both.  As it happens, poultry barns are everywhere around here too, so I may be in luck!  I never knew they existed.  Cannonball agitators that is.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I forgot to post on this thread, my leaf stake redo, I wasn’t happy with how it turned out so I cut it off and re forged it, this time I upset it first and then used a handled hot cut to split it from the top, I like how this one turned out better

CD64791C-538C-4476-9E7E-3075897293CC.thumb.jpeg.de4f780d0184129f87c43bc60259ef92.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We use the term "Mill Balls"  for use in ball mills.  They come in a number of sizes depending on what is being crushed---pulverizing coal starts out with huge ones and throws them away when they get down to a couple of inches.  A company that makes them is just off I10 at the Vinton exit just west/north of El Paso, TX: Vinton Steel LLC  "Makers of grinding media for the mining industry".

Yes they are generally sold at inflated prices as Civil War cannonballs; even though the size of civil war cannons was standardized and almost NONE of the mill balls match a standard size!  (Was at the Flea Market in Las Cruces once and a fellow was selling mill balls at US$1 apiece; two lanes over someone was selling them as cannon balls for US$30 apiece...

When welding on them: PREHEAT and SLOW COOL,  Used balls may have a lot of stress built up in their outer "shell".

The Vinton Steel LLC website says they make 1/2" to 4" diameter balls and they have the MSDS that has all sorts of interesting information in it (The form is designed for chemicals so a lot of the listing is a bit odd like "Inhalation of rebar and grinding balls"  Skin contact---Nickel, manganese and chromium sensitivities warned, etc.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 2 commonest cannon using round ball projectiles during the American Civil War were the 6 and 12 pounder guns which had a caliber (diameter of ball) of 3.67" and 4.61" respectively.  So, if a round ball is not one of these diameters it is unlikely to be an actual cannon ball.  Also, civil war cannon balls were made of cast iron.  Mill balls are made of steel.  A spark test will tell them apart.

There are other calibers but these are by far the commonest.  Earlier, e.g. US Revolutionary War, guns had other calibers such as 2, 4, 9, 16, and 18 pound balls.  Naval, siege, and coastal defense guns were usually larger calibers because the guns did not have to be hauled around over the country as did field artillery.

Shells, which explode, are lighter because they are hollow for an explosive filling but have the same diameter.  They also have a hole in the side for the fuze.  The civil war era ones had a threaded fuze hole about an inch and half in diameter.  If one of these is encountered, particularly if the fuze is in place, it should be treated as live because the explosive (black powder) may well still be intact.  There are ways to disarm them but there have been fatal accidents.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rev war cannon balls often show long exposure to the elements too. (Note corrosion can change the size both up and down!)

Size is the fasted way to check a "find" at a fleamarket. The spark test works well for things in your shop.

Out here in mining country when you find balls used as finials on fenceposts or other places you generally assume they are mill balls.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  I will keep my eye out for those as well.  I was watching videos showing how mill balls are made.  There is just something about watching hot metal being squashed into dies.....  Some of them were cast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  Irondragon, I am near Seagrove, NC and they have a LOT of pottery shops.  I've visited some and their work is fantastic.  I did not see any mill balls though.  Another potential resource..... :)

  TW, you are making some nice tools and I didn't mean to steer your thread off into mill ball land!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...