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I ran across this site https://www.minicannontech.com/ which I thought was pretty interesting. They offer functioning mini-cannons including both naval and field cannons. Kind of cool to think you could build a cross section or battle station and have the cannon actually be able to fire.

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Should not be much of a problem with ring bolts. As a kid, I made at least 6 out of various stock and used black powder in them without excessive recoil except for 2 instances, one was a little over a 30 cal and loaded it with ample powder packed well, used wading around a 30 cal bullet and rammed it, it was a boat tail or I couldn't have started it, I stapled it to a 2 X 4 and buried the 2 X 4 into a  hole in the dirt and packed the ground around it, the gun was up about a 1/4 inch, block stayed where I put it but was loose after the stapling failed and the barrel moved about half it's length rearward. The other was a 8" brass napoleon that I bought, shot ball bearings and BB's in it. Wondered what it would do if I filled the bore clear up with black powder, so I did, leaving room for wading. that time it flipped over on it's back, no harm done to the gun. Normal loading of any of my guns never produced any destructive recoil, Force, Mass and Distance tamed it well. This one only shot full rolls of caps and made ample noise and some smoke. Was 13 when I put i together. Pulled the combine in wheat harvest the same year, that is Dad on the machine, plenty of work for a kid on a ranch in the 50s.

 

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Had a small brass cannon, about 6 mm bore. It was meant to fire dry peas or something like this with a spring mechanism. Found this not interesting enough and removed the spring. Charged it with some powder recovered from 'china-crackers', a wad and some small lead balls, and then screwed it down onto a table on our balcony. Luckily, I had the good sense to not stand behind it - the shot was a real 'success': the cannon ripped loose and made a big dent into the door about a 1 m behind it and the lead balls went right through the 4 mm-Plexiglas cover of the balcony, leaving a hole of about 15 mm diameter over a distance of 1.5 m ... luckily there was a large backyard behind. Must have been about 13 or so at the time 😯

And just remembered that I also had a little field gun, a plastic barrel with an aluminium tube as a liner. It was meant to be loaded with a 'lady-cracker', these were crackers of about 3 mm diameter that were sold in strings of a 100 or so to be fired together. I gather these things are neither sold to kids anymore, nor are they politically correct ...

Edited by wefalck
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Nothing fun is politically correct anymore, but you are certainly a person after my own heart. If it goes boom and makes smoke how can that be a bad thing? MUCH better than anything spring loaded! I could not get any kind of power when I was a kid but I didn't let that stop me. I would scrape match heads by the hour just to get enough "Powder" for a few shots in my home made brass cannon. Used wooden dowels cut in short lengths for ammo. 

 

Here in the US the firecrackers you describe are called "Lady Fingers" and even though I would have to work at it a little, are still available. Never heard of a gun designed to use them as a charge though. How did you light the fuse while trying to aim the gun? Some of those fuses burned pretty quick. 

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Also did the match-scraping thing ;)

 

The fuse would just stick out of the back of the canon. The barrel was about 3 cm long. I even shot with it in my room - mom was not amused 😳

 

These crackers used to have all sorts of names back in the 1960s/70s that would be totally politically incorrect today.

 

I must add that my father was a biochemist and apparently did make his own fireworks before WWII. There were several textbooks on the subject in his library, which of course I discovered in due time ...

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Made one that used the whole firecracker for the propelling charge, Small threaded pipe, a couplier with a bored out grease zirk to run the fuse through. Hand held pistol like grip, worked fine except lighting that fuse and waiting for it, was impractical, after firing, most of the firecracker remained in the chamber and needed to be removed, accessed  by unscrewing the zirk, scrape out and reload. Don't know where it ended up. Those things were always made so the projectial had little resistance, didn't take much to get it out the bore, even those that fired 22 ammo, I started the bullet from the case before loading. Never damaged or hurt anyone doing this stuff. I knew what I was playing with, had heard all the stories about kids being injured or killed, Loaded firearms were available to me all my life, so was aware of the energy involved. Loaded rifles were next to the doors to grab and go with, considered tools and were no mystery or conditioned fear of them, just part of the household.

Edited by jud
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Lou,  drive south.. cross the boarder into Oregon.  You'll find them in large tents just before the 4th of July.  You may have to go south of Portland though as there prohibitions in some counties and cities.

 

The nastiest and most powerful fireworks I ever came across were in Mexico.  Some of that stuff just flat scared the hell out of me.  I would have sworn it was just re-packaged TNT.

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1 hour ago, mtaylor said:

drive south.. cross the boarder into Oregon

No need to go that far. All I need to do is drive a few miles to the Indian Reservation and I can buy pretty much anything made.

 

I don'r know if it is people who bought them or stores that are setting off excess inventory but I can look over the sound on the 4th of July and watch the fireworks buy the hour being set off. They make the show produced by the city look like a side show. Some day I should get a boat and anchor halfway between the two and spend the night watching it all. The city lights theirs off from a barge just outside the river mouth the tribe stuff seems like it is located on a couple of places along the beach. All in all I would suspect that 100s of thousands of dollars is lit off in a matter of four or five hours.

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In Germany, the only time people like you and me can buy fireworks are the three days running up to New Year's Eve. Anything banging has essentially disppeared from public life. I remember that around Carnival time there was a lot of banging in the streets in the afternoons, as almost every boy had a toy-gun as part of his cowboy- or whatever outfit (for the North Americans: Carnival is the dress-up time in Europe, not Halloween). Nothing of this anymore.

 

In our town we also had what was called a 'technical drugstore'. There you could buy anything short of poisons and explosives for which, of course, you needed a special license. Also every university town had a supplier for chemicals who would also sell to private persons. If I walked into a shop like this today and would ask for the things that I bought as a youngster, I would have certain not so gentle men in dark glasses on my back immediately. I remember me buying sachets of potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal ... and concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids plus cotton wool ...

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I had forgotten about that.

We also had a place where we could go, (In my case it was a section of our local hobby store) and buy chemicals. I personally was too stupid to make much more than bubbly, gooey, smelly stuff, but I am sure they had much more interesting combinations if one knew what they were doing. 

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When I was a child in the 1950’s my father bought a run down farm near Akron, Ohio.  For many years weekends, holidays, and vacations were spent restoring the land and buildings.  The first problem was clearing fence rows of medium sized trees that had been allowed to grow.  A bulldozer knocked down the trees but there were hundreds of uprooted stumps to contend with.  My father decided to blow them apart with dynamite.

 

In those days dynamite, fuse, and blasting caps were available at our local hardware store, apparently no problem to buy.

 

To use the stuff you actually poked two holes through the dynamite, threaded the fuse through the holes and stuck the blasting cap on one end.  You lit the other end.  The dynamite worked too well!  Huge pieces of tree stumps simply vanished.

 

Somewhere, I have some old movies of this that a friend took.  I have been meaning to get them digitized.

 

Imaging walking into a store today to buy a crate of dynamite.

 

Roger

 

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Possible, if you have the right license, but dynamite is not much used anymore these days. Did a course in blasting back in the early 1980s at my university's department of tunnel engineering, but never got round to take out the certificate. We also had a hands-on demonstration of how to blow up boulders in a field that would bother a farmer - plus a range of other interesting things ...

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  • 6 months later...

I recently bought by seven year old grandson a slingshot. I always made mine starting about his age, but I came across a really neat aluminum and surgical tubing one made by the Daisy BB gun company at Harbor Freight for only $4.99. Then we grabbed a bag of dried beans at the grocery store and spent the afternoon plinking with it. I of course gave him the usual lecture about how it should never be used to shoot at animals or old ladies. When his parents got home, as promised, he gave it to his mom to hold because it was only to be used with "adult supervision."  To my surprise, as I thought I was being quite appropriate with all the "slingshot safety" admonitions, his parents had a triple-distilled conniption fit. You'd have thought I gave him a hand grenade to play with. I was in the doghouse with them for a month at least. I suppose he learned one of life's valuable lessons that day: "If it might put your eye out, it's definitely fun!" :D 

 

With the fire danger in California, it's now a serious criminal offense to even possess firecrackers of any type. If you set a few off, it's certain some neighbor will be immediately phoning 911 and you'll have the sheriff or a cop car in your driveway in minutes. (Don't ask how I became informed of this. :D ) Another sad consequence of climate change.

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It is sad to watch the ever increasing need to bubble wrap our kids by the present generation of parents, (and anyone else with an opinion). They are missing out on so many experiences and even skills that when we were young, we took for granted. But then I suppose our grandparents said the same about our generation.

 

I also suspect your local firecracker regulation has as much to do with the same compulsion to regulate rather than anything to do with fire danger.

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2 hours ago, lmagna said:

I also suspect your local firecracker regulation has as much to do with the same compulsion to regulate rather than anything to do with fire danger.

Yes and no. Firecrackers used to be regulated at the local level, counties and towns. Of course, the rural areas were a lot more liberal than the big cities when it came to blowing stuff up. After a while restrictions spread from the cities to pretty much everywhere with the firecrackers, cherry bombs, and M-80s that once formed such a central part of our young summers going the way of the dodo bird first. Eventually, they outlawed anything that blew up, working down from the M-80s, cherry bombs, "quarter sticks."  Now, even "safe and sane" fireworks like sparklers and fountains are only allowed in a very few smaller towns, all of which, it seems, require them to be fired off in wide open spaces like the fairgrounds parking lot, with police and fire department supervision and they can only be sold with a local permit in those towns.

 

It was always bottle rockets that really were the big fire starters. As July approached and then through the summer, we'd have all sorts of small grass fires in Northern CA, and throughout the state. About half of them were "started by bottle rockets" or "kids playing with fireworks," or so they said. That really caused the snowballing of widespread regulation, but there was often a "wink and a nod" by the local cops if parents were doing it prudently with kids on the Fourth. That ended a few years ago when the huge firestorms stopped being a "once in a hundred years" sort of thing and since we started losing several thousand suburban homes at a crack when the firestorms came roaring through, not to mention lots of lives lost. Most of the firestorms have been started by a combination of high winds and sparking high tension electrical wires, or errant State and National Park campfires, not fireworks. Still, people are really afraid of fire these days, and with good reason, so, as much as I regret the restrictions, it's understandable.

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