The Next Project – Pumpkin Tossing Trebuchet

14 10 2008


So with the holidays coming around like Halloween and Thanksgiving I was interested in a project that would give tribute those great days, all the while sewing seeds of flaming pumpkin destruction. I’m not exactly sure why I decided on a trebuchet, but I’ve been interested in catapults and such since I was a little kid.  Now that I am bigger (but still very much a kid) I get to build my own medieval siege weapon.

I started thinking about this project around October 1, 2008.  I quickly realized that pumpkins are going to be gone very soon and that if I want my chance to chuck a pumpkin I’m going to need some help.  So I enlisted my friends who were all to happy to join the my mad laboratory team.

Trebuchets are very simple looking devices.  All they have is a counterweight that drops and whips a sling around tossing the contents inside.  During the medieval times they would toss all sorts of stuff at the castle walls like boulders, dead horses, etc.  We aren’t going to be tossing anything like that.  Just pumpkins, and maybe an ocassional flaming pumpkin.

Even though they are simple in concept.  The design is very complex.  For example, the counterwieght should be about 100 times heavier than the object you are tossing.  So our goal is to toss a 6 lbs pumpkin about the length of a football field.  That means our counterwieght has to be 600 lbs.   That’s pretty heavy stuff.  When you start swinging 600 lbs around you are going to be generating a LOT of forces.  That means that the axles that have to be VERY sturdy.  So on and so forth.

Other Resources

Trebuchet Design

Cement Blocks

Counterweight

Sizing the Axle (Part 1)

Sizing the Axle (Part 2)

A-Frames

Car Throwing Trebuchet

Cool Trebuchet Pictures

The bucket

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