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"Cannon" Shoots Pumpkins Nearly A Mile
A year or so ago, we featured a pumpkin catapult built by Hugh Mommsen of Rice Lake, Wis., (Vol. 21, No. 6)  We were impressed by Mommsen's giant machine but it turns out we hadn't seen anything yet.
  Recently, a group of rural inventors from Morton, Ill., - the "Pumpkin Capitol of the World" - built an air-powered cannon that shoots pumpkins nearly a mile at speeds of up to 500 mph.
  "We built it four years ago to compete in the World Championship ŠPunkin' Chunkin' contest in Lewes, Delaware," says Chuck Heerde, one of five inventors who built the air cannon. "We broke the world record in Š96 with a toss of 2,710 ft. and, again last year, with a toss of 4,491 ft."
  The air cannon was built out of the frame and running gear of an old cement mixer. The gearbox, chain and turret off the cement mixer are used to rotate the barrel up to 360 degrees. The barrel was made out of a 1,500-gal. air tank. It was extended 80 ft. with steel girders.
  I-beam outriggers fitted with hydraulic cylinders steady the cannon for firing, while hydraulic lift cylinders off an old dump truck raise and lower the barrel.
  The cannon fires on compressed air (no explosives are allowed in world class competition) from the 1,500-gal. air tank. Exact pressures needed to launch regulation-size 8 to 10-lb. pumpkins is a secret, notes Heerde, adding that the builders consulted with a ballistics expert on some details of construction.
  It has been reported that the men plan to eventually break the sound barrier with the cannon, but Heerde says they've been told that may not be possible.
  "Our next goal is to shoot a pumpkin one mile," he says. "That's probably more realistic."
  If you'd like to know more about the World Championship "Punkin' Chunkin'" contest, visit the contest's Website at: www.punkinchunkin.com.
  For more information on the World Champion pumpkin air cannon, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Parker Fabrication, 501 East Courtland St., Morton, Ill. 61550 (ph 309 266-8413).

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1999 - Volume #23, Issue #2