Thanks to the help of a few handy students, the gun emplacements at Fort Casey State Park are getting new equipment that will add to the historical feel of the park.
Coupeville High School seniors in the woodworking class spent part of their school year making equipment that was used around the large, 10-inch guns on display. Visitors to the state park will notice the two guns, one in a firing position and one in a resting position.
The students are building powder canisters, a time-and-range table along with a rammer head and a sponge head that were used in the gun barrels.
Steven Kobylk, a volunteer at Fort Casey State Park and a field representative for the Coast Defense Study Group, said he noticed the students work in 2012 when Coupeville students teamed up with peers in Oak Harbor and South Whidbey to build a lantern housing at the Admiralty Head Lighthouse.
After seeing the work, Kobylk came up with some projects that would help the park.
“This would be a great learning opportunity,” Kobylk said.
Senior Nick Streubel is working on a project to construct powder casings for a six-inch shell. He is using casings that were normally used for a 155-mm howitzer. Kobylk said the only difference between the two items is their length.
To come up with an accurate canister, Streubel has to cut one in half and then weld part of it onto another canister before it’s painted.
“The project is really cool. I love that it’s for the community,” Streubel said. He hopes to have 15 built by the end of the school year. The canisters are part of Streubel’s senior project.
Once he graduates, he is planning to attend Central Washington University and major in law and justice and finance.
Fellow classmate Stephen Montano, who is also a senior, is building a time-and-range table that was used to help track ships in Admiralty Inlet. The wood table, which has a grid outlining time and range along with a T-square, will measure 6 feet by 9 feet.
He, along with classmate Devin Prescott, spend a class period measuring and sawing boards for the table.
Gunner Langvold is building a rammer head and a sponge head that gun crews used to push shells into a barrel and to clean it of any burning embers.
Tom Eller, who is woodshop teacher at the high school, noted the length of each piece of equipment — the rammer head is 179 inches long and the sponge head, which had to sweep the length of the barrel, was 460 inches.
Fellow student Brenden Ameluxen Coleman is making a 170-inch ram head for a .50 caliber gun.
Kobylk said he hopes the students’ work is complete by the end of the school year. That way they’ll be ready for display in time for the tours this summer.
He hopes the work will be authentic enough that it would be hard for people to tell the difference between between the display at the fort and a historic photograph.
The Fort Casey Volunteer Battalion conducts tours of the former military base on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Special tours are also available.