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Medieval Postal Service Set up and Ready to Roll

Well we finished setting up Medieval Postal Service today with fairly little incident. Really the only issue was that it took a while for us to get inspected, as the inspector likely forgot our request with all the other stuff he was undoubtably having to deal with. No big deal, we got inspected and got our first shot off around 4:15 PM (though we were ready to start firing ops around 2:30). A decent shot, but the one 25 minutes after it was even better, certainly a 1000+ foot shot. We are expecting stiff competition this year, as several teams from last year have made massive improvements to their machines, First in Fright and Hokie Hurler being among them. Shenanigans II should also be right in the mix, assuming they can get off reliable shots. They are there and set up, but we have yet to see John or Tom. Pumpkin Hammer is on site, unfortunately firing as a standard HCW this year due to some major problems that cropped up during their testing this fall. Yankee Siege looks pretty strong, and Merlin showed up late in the afternoon. This year Chris Gerow also brought the 3-time World Champion (albeit a few years removed) King Arthur, which historically shot right around the distances we are probably looking at. Like I said, it should be and interesting competition.

Medieval Postal Service is Ready for the Chunk!

Well, Medieval Postal Service is done with testing for 2009. We had a fairly successful testing period, despite the constant rain which washed out several days that could have been used to test even further. Nevertheless, the machine is firing at full capacity, and so far is not trying to destroy itself on each shot like last year. This in itself is good news. This weekend we will be packing up the machine for transportation to Delaware. The plan is to leave early Wednesday morning so that we get down to the field around 3 or 4 PM, and get our pit assignment and a few other little details sorted out before we begin to set up on Thursday. This year we ought to be able to shoot some test shots on Thursday, which will be good since we will be able to make sure we are in shape to compete starting Friday.

Medieval Postal Service Prepping for the Chunk

We have gotten Medieval Postal Service set up and firing again in preparation for the 2009 World Championships of Punkin' Chunkin'. This past summer was spent doing a lot of rebuilding, modifying, and redesigning. After all this work, we took the machine down to our range on September 19, and began set-up. The weekend of the 26th was mostly a washout, and we got very little accomplished, but this past weekend we finished up and actually took some shots with a little counterweight and our 4-pound medicine ball, just to make sure that the modifications all work properly. They appear to be performing as well, and the three low-power shots we took were all very impressive. One shot actually nailed a tree dead center and came shooting back out of the treeline, which was an amusing moment.

WCPC 2008

The 23rd World Championships of Punkin' Chunkin', held from October 31 - November 2, 2008, was to be our first real hurling competition. We entered our new 8-foot Floating Axle King Arthur-style trebuchet, the Medieval Postal Service. Unfortunately, construction had taken so long to complete in the fall that we had yet to test fire with more than 200 pounds of counterweight and a 4-pound projectile. Entered in the Adult Trebuchet division (we were all too old to qualify for the Youth division - 17 and Under), we needed to be able to launch 8-10 pounders, and thus had some work to do. Despite the lack of true testing, we were still confident that we could take 4th place in the division, or at least be very competitive for it. Yankee Siege, Pumpkin Hammer, and the Magic of Merlin all figured to exceed 1500 feet and be the top three machines, but no one else was expected to break 1000 feet. We wanted to, but knew it probably would not happen this year.

Jeckyl Hyde Launch

Today was our first launch of the year. We loaded up the newly-repaired Jeckyl and Hyde into a couple of cars and drove off to the same field nearby that we have been using for about a year and a half now.

Jeckyl and Hyde Launches

More than two months after the fact, we have now finally posted updates on Jeckyl and Hyde's antics this summer. The bottom line is that of the four times we have taken it out to shoot (counting the first test shot in February), we have broken something every time, and something different every time. There are actually 2 launch logs now available along with video of both and pictures from the second, since we did launches on June 22 and July 13. Some work is left to be done, but we think we may have figured out all of the problems and can now work on getting some real data. Unfortunately, with Matt now out of town until Thanksgiving, we may be unable to do any launching until spring.

Jeckyl Hyde Launch

Today we took out Jeckyl and Hyde once again for some launching as a King Arthur-style trebuchet. The arm had been completely rebuilt after last month's failure, though nothing had been done to smooth out the ribbed secondary release pin. However, it looked early on as if this was not a problem. Once again, we launched baseballs with 50 pounds of counterweight, since we are not willing to up the counterweight until we get a day of good launches were we do not break anything. Only then will we feel comfortable upping the counterweight.

Jeckyl Hyde Launch

Today Jeckyl and Hyde was taken out for some launching in King Arthur configuration. Chris and Jason were not around, but some of Matt's family members helped out, since Jeckyl and Hyde requires two people to operate. Testing, once again, was with a 50 pound counterweight and a standard baseball as the projectile. It was a beautiful day for launching weather-wise, but Jeckyl and Hyde was a bit cranky anyway. The first shot was not much of a shot. In fact, the secondary trigger failed to trigger completely until just after the counterweight smashed into the arm. Damage, however, was minimal as only the pin we used to hold the tip of the arm in the secondary trigger bent, and was fairly easily bent back into a usable position. No other damage was found.

Melon Felon Launch

Melon Felon was taken out today for a good workout. This was actually the first time that we ever fired with the full designed counterweight of 300 pounds, since the last time we had something heavy to launch was last Spring, when we had 6 Olympic weights, which take up more room than the standards. But we got 6 more standards back in March, bringing our total up to 12 plates, each weighing 25 pounds, for a total counterweight of 300 pounds. We also got a 4 pound medicine ball to launch with, as the Melon Felon was initially designed to launch watermelons weighing between 3 and 5 pounds.

Jeckyl Hyde Launch

Jeckyl and Hyde has now fired for real. We got a total of 6 shots off, before time, light, and some design flaws came into play. It seems that Jeckyl and Hyde's base was not made wide enough to fire stably as a King Arthur-style trebuchet. And so, the machine rocked on every single shot. Not too big a deal at first, but it became one.

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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!!!