Sir Thomas Hardy’s compressor carriage

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    Aldo Antonicelli

    Between 1835 and 1850 a number of vessel of the Royal Navy were fitted with ‘Sir Thomas Hardy’s compressor carriage’ which was used for carronades and light guns, mainly 32pdr [shotweight] of 6ft [length] and 25cwt [bodyweight].
    Details about this type of carriage are very scarce. Admiral Colomb, quoted by A M Broadley [and R G Bartelot] in The Three Dorset Captains at Trafalgar [1906, reprinted Wimborne Minster 2005], described it as a common naval truck without wheels which slid on iron rails fixed to a wooden slide.
    The compressor was an arrangement attached to the carriage which, dropping through a slot in the slide, could be set to grip carriage and slide together apparently by means of an eccentric.
    The invention of this carriage is attributed to Captain Hardy of Trafalgar fame, but… Commander [James Harman] Ward of the USN writing in 1862 [A Manual of Naval Tactics: with a brief analysis of the principal modern naval battles, New York 1859] implied that the compressor carriage was only named after Sir Thomas Hardy by its [actual] inventor, a General of the British Army, but [this] does not appear to me very reliable.
    Having failed to locate any drawing or sketch of this kind of carriage I would be most grateful to any member who can provide me with one or show me where I can locate it.

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