1997 - Volume #21, Issue #6, Page #21[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Giant Pumpkin Tosser Built Just For Fun
He and his son Andrew built a giant catapult, finishing it on Labor Day just in time for the annual opening of the Mommsens' Produce Patch.
"Our catapult is based on a design that dates back to second or third century China, where they were used to attack and invade castles," says Mommsen who researched the subject thoroughly.
He and his son used mostly scrap parts for their catapult which is positioned on a high spot in the middle of a 12-acre field. Parts used included a truck frame, a potato conveyor and a bin unloader.
The 33-ft. long arm pivots on a 2-in. dia. shaft and is weighted with over 1 ton of concrete on one end.
The arm is winched down into a horizontal position and a rope is attached to the end opposite the weights. A pumpkin is loaded into a sling and the rope is cut with an ax. When weights drop, the payload is hurled onward and upward eventually landing with a splat in a nearby sorghum field
"They really explode nice when they hit," Mommsen says. "Pumpkins will go about 100 yds. and maybe 150 ft. in the air. I can launch anything from 10 to 60 lbs. without affecting distance since I can adjust for weight by shortening the launch."
The catapult was fired every 12 minutes (that's how long it takes for the arm to stop swinging and retie and reload) on weekends up through Halloween.
"We've launched hundreds of pumpkins," says Mommsen, adding that the pumpkins used were rotten or damaged. Deer clean up the field at night.
Cost to build the catapult he calls "Mighty Awesome" was about $600.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mommsens Produce Patch, 2009 18th Ave., Rice Lake, Wis. 54868 (ph 715 234-6363).
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