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The Wanganui Krupp Gun is a rare surviving example of its type.  It is the only one known to exist in New Zealand.  The Krupp Gun Restoration Team is aiming to restore Gun No 4 to its original condition and to replicate the gun’s limber that has been lost over time.

Under the guidance of a professional conservator, the gun is to be restored with the help of volunteers from the Wanganui community.  Replica parts for the gun and the limber will be commissioned and sourced as much as possible in the Wanganui District.

The restoration work is being carefully recorded and will be available to anyone interested in the restoration of the gun in New Zealand and will become a reference work for the restoration of military technology in the future.

Follow the restoration journey below.

January 2007

Gun No. 4 makes its first move in more than thirty years as it is removed from display beside the Museum and carefully loaded onto the back of Martin Emerson’s truck.

Martin and Geoff Lawson transport the gun to Ed Boyd’s workshop to await final approval to start work.

March 2007

A photographic record is made by Giles Russell of how the gun looked before work starts.

Final approval’s come through allowing Geoff and Martin to begin the first stage of the project, the careful dismantling of the gun.

Gun No. 4's rusting bolts are carefully loosened for the first time in more than sixty years.

As each part is removed it too is photographed to allow CAD (Computer Aided Design) plans to be drawn up later.  Parts previously riveted together are also examined to see if any of the original paint colours have been left behind.

April 2007

A break-through is made when some of the gun’s original colour is discovered beneath five other layers of paint.

All of the gun surfaces were finished with two types of paint, red lead primer and drab olive top coat.  These are the most recent paint layers and are thought to be the result of a strip and re-paint job done after the gun was recovered in the 1950s from being buried in Cooks Gardens.

Conservator Detlef Klein made a closer inspection of small patches of thick paint deposits in the hope that they would reveal older, historic paint layers.  Two areas beneath the axle and trail frame were missed in the last strip and re-paint of the gun.  More than 1mm thick, these accumulated ‘drippings’ of paint revealed seven separate paint layers.

The innermost layers of dark blue grey and light grey match the information about the Krupp factory colours at the time the gun was made (the dark blue grey) and the Boer (Orange Free State) artillery colours (the light grey).

Above this was a layer of khaki/brown paint that may date from the time after Gun No. 4's capture.  Another layer of the light grey and dark blue grey may have been the result of over-painting while the gun was on display next to the South African War memorial between 1906 and 1942.  It is likely that the gun would have been painted during that time to preserve it.  The uppermost layers of read lead and drab olive are the post World War Two restoration paint colours.

Paint samples are sent to Resenes in Wellington for analysis, while the areas of the axle and trail frame that they were taken from are protected during the next stage, sandblasting.

May 2007

Martin Emerson sandblasts and primes each piece of the gun.  During the process, stamped serial numbers and other marks are discovered as the old layers of paint are cleaned away.

The number 10727 was stamped under the right-hand trunnion clasp and the numbers 8 6 29 appeared on each trailside.  Also revealed on the end of the barrel is the makers mark ‘Freidrich Krupp’, together with Gun No. 4's identity number and the place and date of manufacture, Essen 1892.

Each mark and its location are recorded to form a catalogue that may later help identify parts for future research.  Each part of the gun removed during rust repairs, such as the screw heads, rivets and sections of rusting steel are kept in labelled containers until the final documentation and evaluation of the gun are compete.

Ian Chamberlin receives the parts of the gun needing rust repairs, along with previously riveted parts needing to be fitted back together.  Pattern makers Ingate Pattern Productions complete models of the tow ring and seat stanchions that are to be re-cast by Technicast, Wanganui.  These new pieces will replace parts too worn to be re-used on the gun.

June 2007

The concrete wheels are removed from the axle and demolished.  This frees the original steel rims and bronze hubs.

After Geoff has removed the old paint, the hubs are ready to be taken to the wheelwright so that he can start recreating the wooden felloes and spokes of the wheels by hand.

The wood of the wheels will take six months to dry and settle before they are ready for finishing and fitting.

July to October 2007

The bronze wheel hubs are measured and drawn up to create patterns that will allow two more hubs to be replicated for the limber wheels.  The hubs are then delivered to the wheelwright ready to be refitted to the new wheels when they are complete.

Geoff Lawson gets a very early start at 4.30am when he photographs the models of the tow ring and axle-seat backrest stanchions being re-cast by the foundry engineers at Technicast, Wanganui.  Check out these fire-filled photos along side this report.

Contact is made with museums in Belgium, Canada and Germany, as Conservator Detlef Klein and Whanganui Regional Museum staff track down more information on how the Krupp gun was constructed, enabling the best possible replication of parts.

Using drawings sent from overseas researchers, Geoff Lawson crafts a model of our Krupp gun’s missing breechblock from rimu timber.  This model will be used to create the new steel breechblock.

A local engineer makes an artillery shell for display alongside the gun.  Weighing in at 10 kilos, the bright steel shell with copper driving bands is an accurate replica of those used by the Boer soldiers.  The copper bands were added to the steel shell casing to give the shell ‘grip’ on the rifling grooves inside the Krupp gun’s steel barrel.  These spiral grooves in the bore spin and centre the shell, ensuring that it flies nose-first at the target.

November 2007 to January 2008

Geoff Lawson continues to work on the model of our Krupp gun’s missing breech block (firing mechanism).  The model is to be used to create the new steel breech block.  Geoff is hand-carving the model using photographs of a larger calibre Krupp gun in England and technical drawings from an old military journal

Carving the basic block was reasonably easy because the breech opening on the barrel of the gun allowed ‘test fitting’ of the outer dimensions of the breech block.  Details of the mechanism itself pose some problems, since neither the photographs nor the drawings give enough detailed information to show how all the components work.

Some of these problems were solved through the trial and error process, and having the timber model available to try to work out how things fit together has been helpful.  Photographs showing the development of the breech block model will also be used to try to gain further information (through comparison of the same angle photographs) from breech blocks held in the collections of The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and the Australian War Memorial museum in Canberra.

February 2008 to June 2008

Geoff Lawson has made outstanding progress on the repair of the damaged and corroded sections of the gun.

Areas too damaged to repair have been cut out and replaced.  Items such as a small lidded container attached to the side of the trail box have been skilfully recreated by Geoff.

The gun will now go back to Martin Emmerson for more sandblasting.  All parts will be primed and riveted back together.  Once the painting is completed the gun will be ready for the fitting of its new wheels.

Thanks to Resene Paints further progress has been made on discovering the original colour of the gun.  Initial analysis revealed seven different paint layers and it was thought that a buff coloured paint discovered on the gun may have been that used by the Boer fighters.

Further analysis by Resene now shows that the buff colour was painted coarsely over the Krupp factory grey.  Research has confirmed that some of the Krupp guns were used in the field in their Krupp factory colours, and not painted the Orange Free State colours.  The buff paint was discovered to be British Army standard at the time.  Our gun is likely to be repainted in the Krupp factory grey.

July 2008 to October 2008

Repair of the trail box nears completion. Geoff Lawson is currently replacing the seats that are positioned on either side of the front of the trail box.  As the original fittings were missing from our Krupp gun, Geoff made new components by hand from photographs and drawings of surviving examples.

Geoff has spent hundreds of hours sanding smooth the damaged and corroded areas of the trail box that had to be cut out and replaced.  The next step is the final coat of paint, using the original Krupp factory colours (dark blue grey).  Once the painting is completed the new wooden wheels will be fitted.

Thanks to Greg and Ali Lang of The Wheelwright Shop, Gladstone the steel rims and brass hubs retrieved from the concrete wheels on the gun are now united as part of new wooden wheels.   The Krupp team travelled to the Wairarapa to witness the final step in the wheel making process, the setting of the original steel rims or ‘tires’ on to the wooden wheels.  Each steel tire was heated in an open fire, then carefully placed over the wheel and tapped into place.  The tires were cooled quickly with water causing the metal to contract and fit tightly onto the wheel.  Check out video of the skilled wheelwrights at work on the gun wheels at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEbxAJ1Gy9k.

Research continues into details needed recreate parts missing from our gun, in particular the breech block and the brake bar and block.  Krupp team members are also puzzled about the contents of the lidded equipment box in the centre of the trail box.  The rear compartment may have held bags of powder but what did the front compartment, with specially fitted dividers, contain?  Can you help? Contact the kruppteam@wanganuilibrary.com.

November 2008 to December 2008

Thanks to Collection Manager Fred Koch and the team at the Militärhistoriches Museum, Dresden, Germany a breakthrough has been made on the breechblock design.

The Krupp Restoration Team is aiming to accurately reproduce the breechblock missing from Gun No.4 but we lacked some vital design details. The Militärhistoriches Museum was able to provide photographs of a breechblock from a similar model Krupp gun.  The photographs helped Geoff Lawson fill in some of the gaps on the hand-crafted wooden model breech block he had created, making it ready to be replicated in steel.

With the help of engineer Merv at Tate Engineering, Wanganui the new breechblock slowly took shape.  As each new feature was added to the block, Geoff and Merv were careful to check with original drawings taken from Das Deutsche Feld-Artillerie-Material vom Jahre 1873, von R.Wille, Major im Kriegsministerium, Zweite Auflage, Berlin 1879, Verlag A. Bath and with the photographs provided by the Militärhistoriches Museum.  The finished block is now waiting for special acid-etching treatment that will ‘brown’ the steel and help to preserve it from rusting.