“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a labor of love, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it,” he said.
The cannon weighs nearly a ton, and has a 7-foot-long barrel that can shoot a projectile up to three miles, Kirsch said. He said his research found the barrel was forged in 1898 at the Watervliet Arsenal in New York, and the carriage the gun sits on was made in 1899 at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois.
He has not been able to determine whether the cannon, which was rusted out and had a misfired cartridge blocking the barrel when he bought it, was used in the Spanish-American War.
The retired father of seven began the restoration project after meeting Joe Christ, who became fascinated with the cannon and spent hours making carriage parts on an antique lathe. The two researched cannon blueprints on the Internet together before Christ’s death last year.
“Every time that I work on it, I think of him,” Kirsch said.
He said he planned to have the cannon tested at Camp Atterbury after final repairs to the barrel and carriage are complete.