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Fling-A-Keg 111

dave weekly writes: "Ever play Age of Empires and wonder at the trebuchets and catapults and what it would be like to launch them? Well, a bunch of medieval history and mechanical engineering geeks at Siege Engine decided to piece together several launching apparatuses and, for the benefit of the History Channel, flung kegs, pumpkins, and watermelons hundreds of feet all day long. The page also has pictures of a bunch of other sweet launchers, including air cannons."
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  • http://www.holymac.com/
  • http://members.iinet.net.au/~rmine/tsims.html some history and some refrence to simulators
  • Sounds a lot like that episode of Junkyard Wars [discovery.com] where they laid siege to the castles with turnips. It was interesting to see how they had to fiddle with the weight and fulcrum adjustments. Makes one wonder how it was all done before Calculus or calculators.
    • Makes one wonder how it was all done before Calculus or calculators.

      Trial and error - they had several hundred years to practice.
  • I saw something a little like this, with some blokes in england launching a car and then a blaming barrel of some petrolium product, exploding on contact... quite entertaining. I found it on filepile.org, but I think it has been dropped off the queue.

    i have a copy here [] (please dont kill my server :P
    • Doooood. You're suppost to post that kind of stuff on someone else's connection (: Heh heh.

    • That was so damn cool. I wish I had the land to do that kind of stuff on.

    • I put up a mirror here [student.dtu.dk] (fast connection, hit it as hard as you can...)

      And now I got killed off by the lameness filter, what's up with that, anyways?


    • i have a copy here (please dont kill my server :P

      Oops. I posted a link to my video of that as a reply to the first post, just to make sure that it was about the first thing you see if you read the comments. (Yeah, I'm a karma whore, and I'm looking for work, so I'm trying to keep myself Slashdotted.)

      Anyway, my mirror is here [glowingplate.com].

  • I've made many projectile weapons out of Construx, actually... including bows, crossbows, catapults, dart guns, pistols (semi-automatic), gatlings (fully automatic)...
  • These still pictures don't do it justice... be sure to look for it to be repeated on the History Channel (it was on last weekend), hopefully they will repeat it again soon..

  • Looking at all the smooth pine-wood (probably treated) which it was made with, and I imagine modern machine made nails, etc - it's not necessarily going to be historically accurate. I doubt the same strengths were available when you split the wood yourself or made nails on the blacksmith's anvil.

    On the other hand, there are some cool things (like compressed air launchers) that can be done these days with very little in the way of tools. A friend of mine made a deoderant powered spud gun out of bits of pipe. Of course he always stank, maybe he should have used the deoderant on himself instead?
    • by Heem ( 448667 )
      I found hairspray to explode the best. When i used to live right on the beach, I had an island about 1/4 mile offshore behind my house, with some really rich guys house ON the island.. well, one day we thought it would be fun to see if we could hit the island, not thinking we could ever get one out that far.. not only did we reach the island but we busted a window in the house. That guy must have been quite surprised to come home to a potato on his living room floor. heh.

    • Re:Modern Tech (Score:2, Informative)

      by Kronus ( 513720 )
      I'm guessing they didn't use any nails way back when. Far too labor intensive and expensive to make by hand. Instead they'd use peg and hole construction, which is actually stronger than using nails. And if you split the wood yourself, it will split along the grain, which means the resulting piece of wood will be stronger than if you cut it at a mill. If anything I would imagine that the modern versions are weaker than their historical counterparts.
    • Actually doing everything by hand may result in a stronger final product. For instance, I doubt medieval catapults where made of pine. They were probably made of a stronger hard wood, although it certainly varied because they were usually constructed of metal parts and whatever wood was closest to the seige site. Also cutting everything yourself means you can actually tailor the construction to make a stronger final product.

      As for nails, well they wouldn't have had modern nails, but them might have used them in some form. Raw iron nails aren't that expensive. In general however they didn't take apart catapults and move them in their entirity from seige to seige. Certainly not for the large ones at least. The seige engineers just stripped off the expensive metal bits and cut new wooden parts at the new seige location. It was logistically easier than transporting all that wood from place to place over crappy medieval roads.
  • This reminds me a lot of the piano-flinging device that was seen on Northern Exposure so many years ago, where they flung a piano something like 300+ yds with a tree hooked up to some pulleys. That was a damn funny episode.
  • I did this during my freshmen year in High School. I was intending to throw bowling balls, but my limited funds didn't allow it.

    All said and done I was able to toss a grapefruit about 60-70 feet with only 30 pounds of counterweight.

    Pretty cool... I've always wanted to build a big one.

  • Too cool - we aren't the only ones who are completely nuts! :-) Me and 6 other friends are getting our siege engine (a smaller one) ready for a competition here in the Midwest. However, instead of one of the giant siege engines, we are building an Onager that looks quite a bit like the Baby Onager listed there (ours is about half again as large as the one there). This is our first attempt at building at building one, so I convinced everyone that we needed to start small. Next year, well start to build the full sized Onager to start flinging the big stuff really far... :-) Luckly, the competition is an accuracy competition for the most part, so we actually stand a chance with a smaller onager.

    Siege weapons - fun to build, but even more fun to fire!

  • As a proud member of the American protect the keg society (COLLEGE) I find it horrible that someone would want to miss treat a keg like this. I demand that the keg be saved and brought to the party this saturday at the Marriott close to campus room 42.
  • up here in canada my neigboor build on of those contraptions that could launch a vw bug 2 football fields, i will convince him to build a web site then we can /. it.
  • I knew PBS had a special on this, I think it might of been Nova, but I can't remember. It was tres cool. Always wanted one of those to attack my enemies with. Anyhow, these people on PBS, they used the same (or nearly the same) methods and materials as the people in the middle ages had to use, JUST to see if it was possible and all. Like prove they REALLY existed. I wish I could remember what series it was part of. They also had to do it in X amount of time. Really neat. And I wanna see it again!! Hehe
    • See the info here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/trebuchet / [pbs.org]

      Yeah, they didn't mess around with pumpkins, they destroyed a wall with a 200 lb ball. ;)
    • Re:PBS... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by heliocentric ( 74613 )
      The best thing I got from that show was that the catapults on wheels worked the best. The reason was their counter wight was able to fall in a straighter line towards the center of the Eather, rather than the arc created on a fixed leg catapult. If you watch one on wheels fire, it will shimmy back and forth, but watch the weight in reference to another object (like a tree on the horizon) and you'll notice it very closely falls in a straight line... At the time I didn't think a free rolling catapult would work better, but now that I understand why it just seems so obvious. In any event, that PBS show was great!!!
      • No kidding! The addition of wheels truly polishes off the design. Mucho Elegante! Those Ancient Engineers [amazon.com] really knew their sh*t!

        I found it amusing how the 'experts' endlessly debated that little detail when it's IOTTMCO how severely it would crank up the performance.
  • Well, that's about all our state is good for. Banks and punkin' chunkin'. I'm so proud of "Slower Lower" Delaware.
  • would be a great place to try these out.
    I hear that the Bush administration might
    have some use for them.

    Figure these babies would have about as much
    chance hitting an incoming missile as anything

    aside: Some people have an amazing amount of free time. (kind a like /. readers!)
  • I rememeber seeing this done about 5 years ago, only pianos were launched. I think it was on the discovery channel.
    • That was the TV show Northern Exposure, where Chris wanted to fling a cow, but when he was told that it had already been done (In Monty Python and the Holy Grail) he decided to fling a piano instead.
    • There actually was a very recent show on Discovery or TLC. I forget what it was called (Amazing Stories?), but it had a series of stories. Along with things like video of a guy and girl rollor skating on a small platform 7 stories up, it also had a story on a very rich (and obviously bored) English aristocrat. He built a huge trebuchet and launched a small car and two pianos, one of which was flaming.

      Very funny. He said he was going to build an even bigger one out of steel.
  • by tshak ( 173364 )
    My sig says it all...
  • All the area latin classes back in high school used to get together and compete and see who could fling things the farthest. All the stuff built looked exactly like this... Not sure if it still goes on. this was about 10 years ago...
  • That was awesome when that one team on Junkyard Wars built a trebuchet. I can't fully recall, but didn't they use a pneumatic tire as sort of a rolling pivot point? And then they made all sorts of different angled ends for it to get the release angle just right (I think, or maybe it was the other team) Anyways, my point is, I would like to build one out of scrap and then use it to pummel the neighborhood.
  • from the people that brought Tetris on the Science Library [brown.edu], comes Technology-Assited TPing trees [brown.edu] and flying pikachus [brown.edu] thanks to the (small scale) trebuchet [brown.edu] we built last year. Yay, we got a couple of the frats jealous (and a few deans...interested) and I got pegged by a tennis ball flying out of it, but all in all, trebs kick some sweet ass =).
  • I was wondering what I could do with that keg of Milwaukee's Best I got last Christmas

  • Torsion ballista (Score:2, Interesting)

    Trebuchets? Onagers? Bah... These [] people have build a full-scale Roman ballista using a dual-torsion palintone design. It's effectively a giant mechanical cannon. Fun for the whole neighborhood!
  • My trebuchet (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MxTxL ( 307166 )
    In my high school physics class we were tasked with a project to construct an egg launcher. The idea was that the 5 or 6 groups were to build some apparatus for flinging an egg out 20 feet and hit a man-sized target.... well, actually, we were supposed to hit the teacher, who was really cool, that would stand 20 feet away in perfect confidence that no one had the aim to hit him.

    The other groups were doing things with surgical tubing making slingshots and whatnot. My group modeled our launcher after a trebuchet. Actually, the device I had in mind I saw on 'Northern Exposure' that was powered by a truck that would pull a line and swing a huge arm around and fling a piano about 300 feet or so.

    The device we ended up making was a rickety old POS made from several pulleys, a box of weights, a fulcrum made from some rebar and two really thick broomsticks. In the end we didn't hit the teacher, but we were the only group to get the egg PAST him. In fact, with some more weights we could have hurled that egg a DAMN far ways.

    That was a fun project.

    • You must have attended high school when I did, in the 70's, or earlier. No way would any school these days allow such a creative endeavour, especially one that derives from weapons technology. Can you imagine the lawsuits if some kid was hurt by one of these inventions?

      Ah, the good old days...
  • ... trebuchet's and siege engines? 3,000 lbs weight? Bah! Those are tiny toys! I would like to see a real one, like they used in the 13th century. In fact, I did see a small one recently although not in action... it had a 6 ton weight on it (by Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness). Edward Longshanks built some (not personally) with 20 ton weights in some of the seiges against the Scots. Now, I would like to see one of those in action! Something that size could hurl a small car some distance!
  • I believe it was that show anyways...too tired to look up the link.

    Some english guy built a monster one of these that was capable of flinging a volkswagen over a quarter mile. It was fantastic.

  • by alfadir ( 142096 ) on Friday September 07, 2001 @03:28AM (#2262372)

    During the spring I saw a documentary about a team building a Trebuchet with medieval tools.
    It was on the Swedish science program, Vetenskapens värld [www.svt.se].

    In the NOVA/WGBH Trebuchet Project (October-November 1998) [nbci.com],
    the Timber Framers Guild helped to build two Trebuchets,
    supervised by Mr Renaud Beffeyte [xenophongroup.com].
    A 300 pound stone ball was used to smash a a 7 foot-thick granite wall
    more than 160 yards away.
    No modern tools were used in the construction.

    There are several types of Trebuchets and other war-mashines.
    Schematic overviews and more information can be found at Medieval Mechanical Artillery [xenophongroup.com]

  • Junkyard Wars had featured a pumpkin-hurling [discovery.com] contest between two teams, on operating an air powered cannon and the other a trebuchet.
    A veteran of the show has a site [trebuchet.com] which is *Dedicated to the art of hurling *
  • Nova, I think, about 2 years ago....
  • Real trebuchet (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Guy Rixon ( 254563 )
    A programme on UK televison earlier this year documented the making of replicas of "real", full-size-and-dangerous trebuchets.

    These beasts are spec'd to hurl rocks ~600kg about 300m (i.e. further than long-bow range, so the crew don't get picked off by the defenders). The replicas did just that, and were suprisingly accurate. The target was a replica segment of castle wall - actual masonry of the style appropriate for maybe 12th century - and the machines knocked holes in it with a few shots.

    The historical idea was to build a machine matching the one that Edward nth of England used on a military expedition into Scotland (sorry, can't remember dates and details, but I think we're talking 1300s here). IIRC, he reduced one castle, then the word spread and the rest surrendered without a fight as soon as the trebuchet showed up on site.
  • Channel 4 ran a programme showing two very large
    trebuchet built in scotland in less than a week.
    The largest is over 6 stories high, has a counter weight somewhere inthe range of 6 to 12 tonnes and can throw a 300 pound sandstone ball
    200 feet to impact with and break through a 6ft thick stone wall.

    http://www.channel4.co.uk/plus/empires/series.ht ml

    Medieval Siege

    It was a terrifying instrument of warfare and destruction. In 1304, Edward I's colossal trebuchet, nicknamed Warwolf, was so powerful that it easily smashed the solid fortifications of Stirling Castle. But today, no plans exist of the monstrous catapult. Now a team of international experts - including British military historian Richard Holmes, Durham University professor of medieval history Michael Prestwich and Shropshire trebuchet builder Hew Kennedy - travel to the Scottish stronghold to find out how the war machine worked. Theory is put to the test out on the battlefield as two rival teams of catapult consultants pit their versions of Warwolf against each other.

  • Grey Company [iinet.net.au]

    I crew a trebuchet on a regular basis, and they really are fun pieces of machinery. Check out the "tabletop trebs" on the Grey Company pages and have a go at making your own mini "cheese chucker". ;)

    • For the past six years or so I've helped crew a freind's trebuchet. For me, one of the best parts about it has been watching it evolve over the years.

      First it was traction powered (people pull on ropes), then it was widened so we could get more people pulling, then it was modified to have a counterweight (4 5gallon jerry cans full of water, approx 175 pounds). Then it had to be remade narrow so we would stop bending the weight bar pivot. Then all the side supports were moved inside making it easier to handle as well as making the length of the pivot even shorter. Then a pully system was added to make cranking the arm down easier. Hopefully next year we will have an easier way to get the pully hook up to the arm.

      Flinging stuff with a Treb is even more fun when someone one the other side is flinging stuff back at you! No, we don't throw pumpkins. We ususally use four tennis balls taped together or volleyballs.

      Pictures of the engine can be seen here [home.net]. All of the links with 'War Pup' in the name are the treb. Sorry I can't seem to find any pictures of the more recent versions.
  • These [middelaldercentret.dk] ones are built from historical references. They have a larger one now, with ranges in excess of 200m.
  • Pick up a copy of The Book of the Crossbow, by Sir Ralph Payne Gallwey.

    He lived in pre-WWI England, and was a minor noble with money and spare time. In the book, he recounts building crossbows and small seige engines and testing them on his grounds.

    The most interesting passage to me was where he gets his hands on a 400+ year old French crossbow, restrings it, and discovers EXACTLY what it can do... even at long distance.

    Great read.

  • This was a competition on Junkyard Wars a season or 2 ago. One team did a trebuchet, the other a catapult. They then had to hit a dummy of a king in the window of a castle placed 50 yards or so away.

    The trebuchet team won easily.

    • IIRC, there were *two* trebuchets (pl?) on JW.

      The first was pitted against an air cannon to hurl pumpkins against a three-foot high wall some distance away. Treb wins.

      The other was in the goofy season where the teams wore the black suits with yellow or orange reflective tape. Were these one-off specials?

      Anyhoo, it was a treb v. a ballista in an attempt to knock a "king" out of a parapet window.

      Treb lost, but barely.

      Either way, trebs are quite the business!

      - Would still rather have a MkIII Supra...

  • Pumpkin Chunkin' (Score:3, Informative)

    by alexjohns ( 53323 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [cirumla]> on Friday September 07, 2001 @10:09AM (#2263139) Journal
    The annual Pumpkin Chunkin' festival is in Delaware the weekend of November 2-4th. punkinchunkin.com [punkinchunkin.com] My 3-year old son is gonna love it.
  • Anybody who likes this kind of stuff and is in West Texas might be interested in the Annual West Texas Punkin Chunkin Contest [coopercougars.com]. I think this is the fifth or sixth year.

    It was started by a HS physics teacher (aren't they all....) but lots of area teams, including colleges, compete.

    It's in Abilene, and is usually a week or two after Halloween when all the pumpkins are on closeout. The contest "home page" above probably has details or at least the contact information will help.


    PS - the guys I helped out occasionally as an undergrad have some pics of their machines here [acu.edu] and here [acu.edu] (If there are any others, ACU guys, I couldn't find them).

  • Junkyard Wars (on TLC) has had a couple of competitions similar to this, where two teams in a junkyard try to build a trebuchet, or catapult, or ballista, or their choice of flinging apparatus. It's really quite fun to watch, because sometimes the devices built work really well, and sometimes they fail in interesting ways. You also get to (for about 45 minutes of the show) watch the things being built out of scraps!
  • I saw an Englishman flinging a full sized car a couple of hundred yards the other day on TV... and for a follow up he flung flaming pianos several hundred yards. He was determined to build an all metal beauty next, scaled up to two or three times the size of his present pride and joy. Formidable!

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor