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How to Build a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon 

...by Buck Stix





It is very easy to make a powder bag for the Mountain Howitzer cannon.  Shooting only the black powder, without a projectile, is called a "blank" shot.  When you attach a projectile to the powder bag,  as an assembly, it's called a "shell".

First of all, it's not actually a powder "bag" anymore, it's more like a powder "packet".  Only during the Civil War did they actually use a "bag" with the powder inside, for making Mountain Howitzer shells.   ( made of flannel or cotton )   Aluminum foil is used because its static free and remnants after firing can be easily removed with the worm.  Some people put the powder in plastic "zip-lock" bags. 
Plastic is not recommended.   Plastic causes Static and plastic remnants can smolder in the barrel.  

You will need the following items:

Heavy Duty Reynolds wrap,

A properly sized aluminum "Mandrel".  

A properly sized aluminum "Sleeve".

A copper "Powder Measure" sized to measure 1/2 pound of powder. 


Start by cutting a piece of Heavy Duty aluminum foil about 4 wider than the aluminum Mandrel, and long enough to wrap around the Mandrel approx. 2-1/2 times.  Wrap the foil very tightly around the mandrel letting it overhang 4 inches on the rounded end of the Mandrel.



Next, twist the overhanging foil closed, first loose, then tighter and tighter around the Mandrel.  Twist it tightly into a long twisted "tail".


Then use a heavy duty scissors and cut off the tail leaving only about 1/2 inches of the twist.  With the aluminum still attached to the Mandrel, pound the tail hard against a flat surface, smashing it flat.



Next, gently push the Mandrel, with aluminum wrapped around it, into the aluminum Sleeve.  Place the Sleeve on a hard flat surface and push the Mandrel to the bottom.  When it is fully  seated, carefully tear off the excess foil that is extending above the Sleeve.



Next, remove the Mandrel with the foil attached, and carefully and gently slide the formed "aluminum cup" off the end of the Mandrel.  Handle it gently  being careful not to crush it.  Slide it off slowly so that air can enter via the 1/16" groove that is along the length of the mandrel.  Now push the formed "cup" back into the aluminum Sleeve ( without the Mandrel ) and set it on the table.


Using the copper "Powder Measure", measure out one volume of powder.  If you made it correctly, it should measure exactly 1/2 pound of black powder, standard for a Mountain Howitzer.



Pour the measured 1/2 pound of powder into the aluminum cup inside the Sleeve.



This next step is a little tricky.  Insert the Mandrel into the bottom of the Sleeve and slowly push "up" the aluminum cup with the powder inside.  When the powder level inside the cup is level with the top of the Sleeve,  gently twist the aluminum cup closed.  Twist it as tight as possible, once again forming a twisted tail.



Again, cut off the twisted tail leaving it 1/2 inch long.  It is very important to keep the twisted tails 1/2 inch long.  This is the correct length to provide a good seal and all the length that's needed.  Although this is a blank charge, longer twisted tails will sometimes shoot down range.  The longer the twisted tail, the heavier it is, and the heavier it is, the farther it will fly when fired in your Mountain Howitzer.  If it should happen to hit someone, it might injure them.  Therefore, keep the tails 1/2" long.



Place the powder packet back into the aluminum Sleeve, and set the Sleeve on a hard flat surface.  Insert the flat end of the Mandrel into the Sleeve and press down "hard" onto the powder packet and then "thump" it a few times.  ( Be sure to use the "flat" end of the mandrel and not the rounded end.)  

I've heard that some people "pound" on the Mandrel with a mallet, but I don't recommend it.  Just "thump" the powder packet with the Mandrel.  Remember, you are working with black powder and I just can't see pounding on it.



Finally, remove the powder packet from the Sleeve by pushing it out with the Mandrel.  You now have a nicely compressed powder packet that is slightly smaller than the powder chamber of the Mountain Howitzer barrel.



The powder packet is water resistant, anti-static, and can be easily pushed into the powder chamber of the cannon using the Rammer.  I usually make up several in advance, storing them inside empty soup cans, and putting them in the Mountain Howitzer Ammo chest.



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