Anthony's Trebuchet

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One summer weekend in 1998 I built myself a trebuchet. Certainly it wasn't the biggest, fanciest, or most historically accurate, but I wanted to see what could be built fairly easily and economically with a few 2x4's and maybe some duct tape.

The design was loosely based on an article in the July 1995 Scientific American. There were never any written plans for my trebuchet; I just put things together in roughly what looked like being the right places. At work I get paid to plan things to insane levels of detail; this project was meant to be Fun. Anyway, those planning to build their own should probably try and get ahold of a reprint or a library copy of that article.

Building the trebuchet. That's me on the left in the Red Green t-shirt. I'm the only real civilian in the picture, and I'm in charge of the project. My brother, holding the end of the throwing arm, is a helicopter pilot with the Canadian Forces, and the gentleman with the bottle is a former Military Engineer who claims not to have been aware of what those in his profession used prior to the invention of plastic explosives.

Loading weight into the weight basket. The basket is a 30cm x 30cm stainless steel basket provided by a friend; it's filled with an anchor, some lead SCUBA weights, three chains, and some scrap metal.

Test loads in the earlier stages of the project were water balloons. They're satisfying enough on impact, and they don't destroy things when you're still discovering the trajectory and things don't go where they were supposed to. Later we fired rocks, bricks, popcans filled with water and duct-taped shut, and other ammunition of opportunity. Later plans (stay tuned) include retired electronic equipment and possibly fireworks.

The treb ready to fire. This picture was from a bit later when I decided the original weight wasn't enough, and hung a couple of concrete blocks below the basket.

The arm at maximum forward swing; the water balloon will have impacted somewhere 'way off to the left by this time. I had to duct-tape a piece of carpet padding around the back legs to keep the weight basket from destroying them. Theory had said that it would swing between, but in practise it would twist just slightly and its corners would impact the legs.

A water balloon landed here.


Some trebuchet links.
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