Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Cast is Made

If you've been following our blog over the past two weeks, you'll have seen how progress has been made on the making of a replica mould and cast of our Bounty cannon. The cannon came from Pitcairn Island in 1856 along with the entire Pitcairn population when they relocated to Norfolk Island. The cannon was, of course, on board the Bounty during the infamous mutiny and the sailing of the mutineers and their Tahitian wives to find isolated Pitcairn Island. Once on Pitcairn, Matthew Quintal stole away and set fire to the Bounty, sealing the fate of the mutineers and the Tahitians to that tiny island. If only that cannon could talk...

The cannon is now due for conservation work and thanks to a grant from the National Library's Community Heritage Grants program, we are able to begin. The first step has been to make a replica mould and cast and Phillip Smith from the Museum of Tropical Queensland has been on the island for the last few weeks undertaking that work. Phillip has been assisted by Lee Irvine from the Works Department. Our last blog entry showed the completion of the mould and the last few days have seen a cast being made.

Unfortunately the first attempt at making the cast failed as the MEKP - the catalyst for setting polyester resin, failed to fix. Phillip and Lee had tried to make the cast by setting both sides together which results in a cleaner join line, however with the failure of the MEKP, this meant that when the top came off we found a gooey mess of resin and only about a third of the cast intact.
The result of the MEKP not fixing
This was only a small set back however and Phillip and Lee set about making another cast yesterday, this time increasing the recipe for the MEKP and making the cast in two separate sections. This morning they came out of their moulds and were joined together. All that is now left is for the join to be worked on to seal some gaps and hide the join mark, and for the whole cast to be painted up.

Only a third set properly
Starting again

A public viewing of the making of the mould and cast will be held today at 1.00pm at the Works Depot. Phillip will give an overview of the work he and Lee have undertaken as well as giving us an insight into his work at the Museum of Tropical Queensland. It's been a fascinating fortnight watching Phillip at work.

The second successful cast

The strongman lifts a cannon with one hand!

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