Question regarding where to drill to disarm spherical shell
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Thread: Question regarding where to drill to disarm spherical shell

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  1. #1

    Dec 2013
    North Carolina
    XP Deus, Equinox 800
    1624 times
    Metal Detecting

    Question regarding where to drill to disarm spherical shell

    I recently found a 12 pound spherical shell with the fuse still intact. I'm looking into getting it disarmed and have gotten a couple different answers on where the person would drill. One said they would go through the fuse which is easier and it also doesn't leave a hole in the shell. The other person said they would drill the shell so they wouldn't mess up the fuse.

    I kind of like the idea of not "messing up" the fuse, but I'm not sure which way I should go.

    Any opinions on the subject would be appreciated.

    roy2bears and A2coins like this.

  2. #2

    Feb 2006
    Occupied CSA (Richmond VA)
    White's 6000, Nautilus DMC-1, Minelab
    9494 times
    Relic Hunting
    In my reply to your other post about this explosive cannonball, I said the US National Park Service uses me to "make inert" the civil war artillery shells they find on battlefield parks. I dislike the misleading term "deactivate" because unlike 20th-Century artillery shells, excavated civil war ones are not "active"... ALL the civil war fuzes went kaput over a century ago, and therefore those shells are now nothing but a container of blackpowder. Yes, in SOME cases that container can still be made to explode if you heat it up to 572-degrees Fahrenheit, or get your drillbit that hot during the drilling process. So, don't do either of those highly provocative things, and your civil war shell will remain a dud forever.

    For legal reasons, I cannot give you instructions for inerting your shell. If you got hurt, your widow (or your mom, or your girlfriend) would sue me. As some of you guys already know, women and lawyers make a very dangerous combination.

    So, all I can do is discuss what methods are known to be safer than other methods. I am NOT giving any instructions.

    It's safer to drill through the already-existing dirt-filled hole in a Confederate timefuze adapter-plug's center than to drill through a 12-Pounder spherical Common-Shell's 3/4-inch-thick iron body. For comparison of metal thickness (and type), the CS timefuze adapter-plug's "bottom end" has a small hole through its soft copper 1/4"-thick base. See the sawed-in-half one in the photo below.

    For this type of fuzeplug, logic suggests that it's safer to use a screwdriver to dig the concreted dirt (and semi-petrified paper fuze remnant) out of the plug's central hole, because drilling through the hard dirt kills a drillbit's sharpness really quickly. (Also, a dull drillbit gets hot MUCH faster than a fresh sharp one.)

    Logic also suggests that when drilling through metal, it's safer to always go very slow, stopping every 15 seconds to keep the drillbit cool, and to clean all the shavings out of the bit's spiraling flutes, and to use plenty of water.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by TheCannonballGuy; May 23, 2020 at 09:21 PM. Reason: Typing-error correction.
    "Let The Christ be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out."

  3. #3

    Dec 2013
    North Carolina
    XP Deus, Equinox 800
    1624 times
    Metal Detecting
    Thank you! That makes a lot of sense on why it's best to go through the fuze since most of the work is already done for you.
    TheCannonballGuy likes this.



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