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New Machine Forthcoming

That's right! Team Urban Siege has gone ahead with building a new competition-level trebuchet. We are nearly done with it as of this writing, and hope to be getting our first shots off with it within a week. Just in time too, as the 2011 World Championships of Punkin' Chunkin' are fast approaching (November 4, 5, and 6). As with Medieval Postal Service, we will not be releasing many details or pictures until after the chunk, but rest assured, it is another cool-looking machine.

Our major motivation for the new build was the pain that setting up Medieval Postal Service is. The machine takes 3 people working full-out roughly 8-9 hours to set up once it arrives on the field. This is after 3-4 hours of pulling it out of the basement where it is stored and packing it into a trailer along with all the other stuff we need for it. And even once the machine is finally set up, it takes a minimum of 30 minutes to get a shot off, and this involves a lot of ladder climbing, lifting of a chainfall, crossbar, and other stuff, and it is overall a pain to fire. Also, the wooden beams of the machine have taken several hard hits in one spot and the machine overall is a bit beat up from some track issues that we mostly, but never fully, solved.

The new machine is intended to address all of these issues. Number one was reducing set-up time. While we could have simply put Medieval Postal Service onto a trailer, it would only cut a couple of hours off set-up time, and the machine is a bit beat up, as mentioned earlier. This new machine will be mostly steel and built permanently onto a trailer. Furthermore, it will be configured such that the total setup time should be a mere 2-3 hours, a much more manageable time. Tear-down time, instead of the 3-4 hours of MPS, will be closer to 1-2 hours, and we don't have to put 3000 pound of trebuchet back in a basement at the end of the season!

This machine should also take less time to fire, although there may not be a huge improvement on the time to fire. We have planned for a hydraulic winch to do our lifting, and we won't be repositioning it every time we fire, like we had to do with Medieval Postal Service's chainfall.

This machine isn't much larger than Medieval Postal Service (after all, we have to fit it under bridges!), but it ought to also fire a bit further. How much will be determined once we get firing!

Wish us luck at Delaware this year, and stay tuned to Discovery Channel/Science Channel Thanksgiving Night at 8PM for the 2-hour show on the event this year in Delaware. If all goes well, we may be covered on it!

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Use "common sense" when operating trebuchets and catapults. Even little ones can be dangerous. Do not place anything you are not willing to lose in the plane of the arm rotation (this includes yourself, body parts, car windshields, cameras, etc). These catapults and trebuchets are capable of throwing just as far backwards as forwards, and the use of a backstop of some sort is recommended, though the use of one does not make the region behind it safe.

Also, just because the throw got away safely downrange does not mean the end of the danger. The arm is likely still swinging wildly along with the counterweight, and there is a sling whipping around. One thing many people fail to take into account is this sling; some people put a metal ring on the slip end of the sling and this ring can HURT when whipping around!

Have fun hurling, but please KEEP IT SAFE!!!