The creation of the displays in the Bait ar Rudaydah involved much exact and detailed replication of past processes some of which were so toxic that alternatives had to be found. 19th Century craftsmen had no idea how dangerous the fumes were from molten lead and handling mercury and arsenic. Therefore we used modern welding where they used endless hammering in a forge. We did use forges; we had two – one a traditional Pakistani one and the other an exact replica of a British military field forge of the 1860s. Our brilliant blacksmith made good use of both!
When we were restoring the many hundreds of small arms in the castles the final process was to blue or bronze their metal work depending on which was authentic. We did not turn to a bottle of instant blueing supplied from the US. Instead we dug out the original recipe from the 1860-1870s or possibly the 1880s, procured the chemicals and reconstituted the original mixtures. We heated them to the correct temperature not by colour but consistently with a thermometer. Our bronzing and blueing set up was unique for the 21st Century, probably anywhere in the world.
At Al Hazm castle we were assembling over three years some of the most interesting cannon in the country and one in particular with a corded exterior seemed to be unique. There was nothing like it any of the main collection catalogues anywhere. Indeed, when you cannot find its like in the Tower or in India you are beginning to flounder. So we removed a very small sample, where it could not be seen, and had it analysed at the University of London. The results revealed the copper in the cannon that hailed from Cyprus or eastern Oman. It would seem that we were looking at the only known example of an Omani made cannon, sadly though the breech was blown apart. Perhaps itself proof that there were itinerant founders, possibly from the other side of the Arabian Gulf. Perhaps also it proved that the corded design lacked breech strength. Anyway, our blacksmith accepted the challenge. We made a wooden pattern of the missing piece, sent it to Iron Brothers in Cornwall UK and they cast a replacement piece. Then our blacksmith superbly completed welding bronze to bronze breech, an almost impossible task! You can see it for yourself in Al Hazm.