Shot tower

Shot tower

A shot tower is a tower designed for the production of shot balls by freefall of molten lead, which is then caught in a water basin. The shot is used for projectiles in firearms.

hot making


In a shot tower, lead is heated until molten, then dropped through a copper sieve high up in the tower. The liquid lead solidifies as it falls and by surface tension forms tiny spherical balls. The partially cooled balls are caught at the floor of the tower in a water-filled basin. [ No. 422: Shot Tower ] ] The now fully cooled balls are checked for roundness and sorted by size; those that are "out of round" are remelted. A slightly inclined table is used for checking roundness. [ [ Re: How the small lead shot ( 7 - 8 sizes ) used for shotgun shells are made? ] ] To make larger shot sizes, a copper sieve with larger holes is used. However, the maximum size is limited by the height of the tower, because larger shot sizes must fall farther to cool. A polishing with a slight amount of graphite is necessary for lubrication and to prevent oxidation.


The process was invented by William Watts of Bristol, UK, and patented in the late 18th century. Watts extended his house in Redcliffe, Bristol to build the first shot tower in 1782. [ Images of England: Sheldon Bush and Patent Shot Company Limited, Cheese Lane, Bristol] ] Shot towers replaced the earlier techniques of casting shot in molds, which was expensive, or of dripping molten lead into water barrels, which produced insufficiently spherical balls. Large shot which could not be made by the shot tower were made by tumbling pieces of cut lead sheet in a barrel until round. [ [ The Age 150th ] ] Shot towers were replaced by the "wind tower" method by the end of the 19th century, which used a blast of cold air to dramatically shorten the drop necessary. [ [ History of the American Shot Tower ] ] Today the Bliemeister method is used to make smaller shot sizes, and larger sizes are made by the cold swaging process of feeding calibrated lengths of wire into hemispherical dies and stamping them into spheres. [ [ The romance of lead shot - Shotgunner | Guns Magazine | Find Articles at ] ]


The tallest shot tower ever builtFact|date=February 2007 still stands in the Melbourne, Australia suburb of Clifton Hill. This brick structure was built in 1882 and is 80 metres or 263 feet high to the top of the small chimney.

A contrasting shot tower is the Jackson Ferry Shot Tower, located in Wythe County, Virginia, whose construction began around 1800 in a rural area. It was built of stone with walls almost a meter (2.5 feet) thick, as it was not practical to use brick in that region for such a large structure. The 23 meter (75 foot) tower was built at the edge of a cliff and utilized a subterranean shaft of the same length to double the overall height the lead would drop.

There was a prominent Shot Tower on the South Bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It was constructed in 1826, and was in use until 1949, but was demolished to make way for the Queen Elizabeth Hall (opened in 1967), after being retained as a feature in the 1951 Festival of Britain. Another square shot tower was also located not far away downstream along the Thames.

Other surviving examples of shot towers include:

* Cheese Lane Shot Tower, Bristol, UK - now part of an office development called 'Vertigo' - this was the reinforced concrete tower built to replace the very first shot tower built in Redcliffe by William Watts;
* Chester Shot Tower, Boughton, UK - circular brick tower, built in 1799; the oldest surviving shot tower in the UK [ [ Images of England: Chester Leadworks and Shot Tower] ]
* Clifton Hill Shot Tower, Melbourne, Australia
* Coops Shot Tower, Melbourne, Australia
* Crane Park Shot Tower, Twickenham, UK
* Drochtersen Shot Tower, Drochtersen, Germany
* Helena Shot Tower, Spring Green, Wisconsin, USA [ [ Tower Hill State Park Shot Tower] ] - built in 1831, now part of a state park.
* Dubuque Shot Tower, Dubuque, Iowa, USA
* Jackson Ferry Shot Tower in Wythe County, Virginia, USA - built in the 1790s, now part of a state park and open to the public during the tourist season.
* Peters Shot Tower, Kings Mills, Ohio, USA
* Pispala Shot Tower, Tampere, Finland
* Rossie Shot Tower, Rossie, New York, USA
* Phoenix Shot Tower at Baltimore, Maryland, USA
* Remington Shot Tower, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA - one of the few towers still in useFact|date=February 2007
* Sparks Shot Tower, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - built in 1808
* Taroona Shot Tower. Hobart, Australia
* Thomas H Selby Shot Tower, San Francisco, California, USA
* Winchester Shot Tower, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
* CBC Shot Tower, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand

ee also

* Drop tower, a similar concept, but used for scientific experiments


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Shot tower — Shot Shot, n.; pl. {Shot}or {Shots}. [OE. shot, schot, AS. gesceot a missile; akin to D. schot a shot, shoot, G. schuss, geschoss a missile, Icel. skot a throwing, a javelin, and E. shoot, v.t. [root]159. See {Shoot}, and cf. {Shot} a share.] 1.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Shot tower — Tower Tow er, n. [OE. tour,tor,tur, F. tour, L. turris; akin to Gr. ?; cf. W. twr a tower, Ir. tor a castle, Gael. torr a tower, castle. Cf. {Tor}, {Turret}.] 1. (Arch.) (a) A mass of building standing alone and insulated, usually higher than its …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Shot Tower — bezeichnet mehrere gleichnamige, im NRHP gelistete, Objekte: Shot Tower (Maryland), ID Nr. 69000373 Shot Tower (Virginia), ID Nr. 69000286 Shot Tower (Wisconsin), ID Nr. 73000080 Siehe auch: Schrotturm …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Shot-Tower — Der Schrotkugelturm in Berlin Rummelsburg Bei einem Schrotturm (englisch Shot Tower) handelt es sich um einen Turm, in dem Schrotkugeln für Schrotpatronen hergestellt werden. Flüssiges Blei wird an der Spitze des Turmes durch ein Sieb gegossen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • shot tower — /ˈʃɒt taʊə/ (say shot towuh) noun a tower in which shot is made by pouring molten lead through a sieve and then letting it drop into a tank of water …   Australian-English dictionary

  • shot tower — noun tower of a kind once used to make shot; molten lead was poured through a sieve and dropped into water • Hypernyms: ↑tower …   Useful english dictionary

  • shot tower — noun historical a tower in which shot was made from molten lead poured through sieves at the top and falling into water at the bottom …   English new terms dictionary

  • shot tower — a tower from the top of which finely divided streams of molten lead are dropped down a central well, breaking up into spherical drops during their fall to be quenched and hardened in a tank of water at the bottom. [1810 20] * * * …   Universalium

  • shot tower — noun A tall building in which droplets of molten lead fall into a pool of water in order to form lead shot …   Wiktionary

  • Shot Tower Historical State Park — is a state park located near the town of Austinville, Virginia. Its centerpiece is a shot tower, located along the New River, which was for many years used for the creation of ammunition. The tower is on the National Register of Historic Places,… …   Wikipedia

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