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Homemade Cannon Shoots Cement-Filled Soup Cans
My dad, Tom Mathwig, has been making noise in rural Fall Creek, Wis., ever since he built his own cannon from scratch. As our neighbors can testify, they really work.
  He is an 85-year-old retired dairy farmer, although he still continues to work as a jack-of-all-trades. Since he was a boy, he has dreamed of owning a cannon. “It’s one of those things that carry over from childhood to when you’re a big boy,” he says.
  He modeled the cannon after French weapons of Napoleon’s era. His creation is about 3/5 the size of the French boomers. The 5-ft. long barrel was formed by building up layers of pipe, driving one inside the other for a tight fit. After the seventh layer, he carefully polished the barrel to a steel blue color.
  The 3-ft. dia. wheels each have 12 spokes, and every one is hand carved. The rims posed the biggest challenge, as he had to bend straight pieces of wood into smooth circular wheels. He did so by boiling the wood to make it tender enough to curve. Each inch of thickness took at least an hour of boiling to make the wood pliable enough. Once the wheels were arched into a circle, he placed a metal rim around each one to hold it securely in place.
  Upon completion, he had to test his masterpiece for safety. He took it to a field behind the house, loaded it with 14 oz. of gun powder, and packed in 2 soup cans filled with cement. Each can weighed 2 lbs.
  A 2-ft. long dynamite fuse was inserted into the breach. Dynamite fuse burns slowly, about 1 in. per min., so it gives dad time to run to the next field. There he waits patiently to see if his whole winter’s work will withstand the blast, or blow to bits.
  “When it goes off, about 6 ft. of fire shoots out the front and the cannon jumps back 5 ft.,” he recalls.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Emilee Mathwig, 1739 Warden St., Eau Claire, Wis. 54703 (ph 715 833-1436; emmy40c@netzero.net).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #5