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BS: Rocket Science???

Charley Noble 12 Sep 06 - 08:43 PM
curmudgeon 12 Sep 06 - 09:12 PM
Joe Offer 12 Sep 06 - 09:23 PM
Charley Noble 12 Sep 06 - 10:00 PM
GUEST 12 Sep 06 - 10:12 PM
Charley Noble 12 Sep 06 - 10:17 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Sep 06 - 10:27 PM
bobad 12 Sep 06 - 10:33 PM
GUEST 12 Sep 06 - 10:36 PM
Charley Noble 12 Sep 06 - 10:42 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 12 Sep 06 - 10:45 PM
GUEST 12 Sep 06 - 10:57 PM
Bill D 12 Sep 06 - 10:58 PM
GUEST 12 Sep 06 - 11:03 PM
frogprince 12 Sep 06 - 11:06 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Sep 06 - 11:20 PM
Bill D 12 Sep 06 - 11:24 PM
GUEST 12 Sep 06 - 11:30 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Sep 06 - 11:31 PM
Old Guy 12 Sep 06 - 11:54 PM
Rapparee 12 Sep 06 - 11:58 PM
Seamus Kennedy 13 Sep 06 - 12:23 AM
Paul Burke 13 Sep 06 - 04:10 AM
Charley Noble 13 Sep 06 - 07:59 AM
The Fooles Troupe 13 Sep 06 - 08:04 AM
Rapparee 13 Sep 06 - 09:02 AM
beardedbruce 13 Sep 06 - 09:18 AM
Stilly River Sage 13 Sep 06 - 09:51 AM
GUEST 13 Sep 06 - 10:12 AM
Fergie 13 Sep 06 - 10:29 AM
Big Mick 13 Sep 06 - 10:34 AM
bobad 13 Sep 06 - 10:38 AM
bobad 13 Sep 06 - 10:41 AM
Stilly River Sage 13 Sep 06 - 10:49 AM
Fergie 13 Sep 06 - 10:49 AM
Big Mick 13 Sep 06 - 10:50 AM
Fergie 13 Sep 06 - 10:54 AM
Big Mick 13 Sep 06 - 10:55 AM
Rapparee 13 Sep 06 - 11:00 AM
Old Guy 13 Sep 06 - 12:08 PM
Charley Noble 13 Sep 06 - 02:27 PM
Bill D 13 Sep 06 - 02:44 PM
Skivee 13 Sep 06 - 02:49 PM
Skivee 13 Sep 06 - 02:57 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 13 Sep 06 - 02:57 PM
Seamus Kennedy 13 Sep 06 - 05:56 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 13 Sep 06 - 06:00 PM
Rapparee 13 Sep 06 - 06:09 PM
Big Mick 13 Sep 06 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,thurg 13 Sep 06 - 06:22 PM
The Fooles Troupe 13 Sep 06 - 06:26 PM
Rapparee 13 Sep 06 - 06:54 PM
Seamus Kennedy 13 Sep 06 - 10:53 PM
Old Guy 14 Sep 06 - 12:06 AM
Charley Noble 14 Sep 06 - 09:22 AM
Rapparee 14 Sep 06 - 09:37 AM
Bunnahabhain 14 Sep 06 - 12:22 PM
robomatic 14 Sep 06 - 12:29 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 14 Sep 06 - 02:21 PM
Kaleea 14 Sep 06 - 02:45 PM
Rapparee 14 Sep 06 - 03:27 PM
Charley Noble 14 Sep 06 - 06:04 PM
Jim Dixon 14 Sep 06 - 06:43 PM
The Fooles Troupe 14 Sep 06 - 07:23 PM
Rapparee 14 Sep 06 - 10:08 PM
Old Guy 15 Sep 06 - 01:28 AM
Charley Noble 15 Sep 06 - 08:44 AM
Rapparee 15 Sep 06 - 08:54 AM
Old Guy 15 Sep 06 - 02:48 PM
Charley Noble 15 Sep 06 - 03:11 PM
Rapparee 15 Sep 06 - 03:21 PM
Charley Noble 17 Sep 06 - 10:24 AM
The Fooles Troupe 18 Sep 06 - 02:02 AM
bobad 23 Sep 06 - 07:01 PM
Big Mick 23 Sep 06 - 07:10 PM
Old Guy 23 Sep 06 - 07:16 PM
HuwG 24 Sep 06 - 03:30 PM
Charley Noble 12 Jan 08 - 10:58 AM
JohnInKansas 12 Jan 08 - 01:34 PM
JohnInKansas 12 Jan 08 - 04:17 PM
Rapparee 12 Jan 08 - 04:44 PM
Jack Campin 12 Jan 08 - 08:42 PM
Rapparee 12 Jan 08 - 09:27 PM
Rapparee 12 Jan 08 - 09:37 PM
JohnInKansas 12 Jan 08 - 10:49 PM
Charley Noble 13 Jan 08 - 01:52 PM
Rapparee 13 Jan 08 - 04:39 PM
Art Thieme 13 Jan 08 - 11:34 PM
JohnInKansas 14 Jan 08 - 04:12 AM
Rapparee 14 Jan 08 - 09:12 AM
Charley Noble 14 Jan 08 - 09:37 AM
Art Thieme 14 Jan 08 - 12:57 PM
Charley Noble 14 Jan 08 - 02:12 PM
Rapparee 14 Jan 08 - 02:24 PM
Mr Red 14 Jan 08 - 03:49 PM
The Fooles Troupe 14 Jan 08 - 09:54 PM
Rowan 14 Jan 08 - 10:08 PM
Rowan 14 Jan 08 - 11:16 PM
Rowan 14 Jan 08 - 11:19 PM
GUEST,astro 15 Jan 08 - 12:05 AM
Grab 15 Jan 08 - 08:07 AM
Charley Noble 15 Jan 08 - 08:52 AM
Rapparee 15 Jan 08 - 09:03 AM
Art Thieme 15 Jan 08 - 10:37 AM
Art Thieme 15 Jan 08 - 10:41 AM
Rapparee 15 Jan 08 - 11:28 AM
Art Thieme 15 Jan 08 - 09:41 PM
JohnInKansas 16 Jan 08 - 02:24 AM
Rowan 16 Jan 08 - 10:33 PM
Rapparee 16 Jan 08 - 10:42 PM
The Fooles Troupe 16 Jan 08 - 10:51 PM
JohnInKansas 17 Jan 08 - 02:46 AM
Charley Noble 17 Jan 08 - 08:33 AM
Rapparee 17 Jan 08 - 09:24 AM
MaineDog 17 Jan 08 - 01:54 PM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Jan 08 - 11:31 PM
HuwG 18 Jan 08 - 12:07 AM
JohnInKansas 18 Jan 08 - 01:05 AM
Rapparee 18 Jan 08 - 09:17 AM
The Fooles Troupe 19 Jan 08 - 06:50 AM
Rowan 19 Jan 08 - 08:26 PM
Rowan 19 Jan 08 - 09:07 PM
Charley Noble 20 Jan 08 - 11:36 AM
Rowan 20 Jan 08 - 08:34 PM
Rowan 22 Jan 08 - 09:39 PM
Rapparee 22 Jan 08 - 09:58 PM

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Subject: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 08:43 PM

I'm sure that I'm not the only Mudcatter who experimented with rockets as a teenager. I am willing to share my experiences but would love to hear the stories of others in return.

Now the rocket technology that I and my high school classmates used was based on paper matches. What we'd do is wrap the head of the match tightly with foil, then insert a pin to provide an exhaust passage. We would than bend the sharp ends of a paperclip into a launching pad, so that the "rocket" would be angled about 60 degrees. The rocket range was, of course, study hall, and the objective was to fire one off and watch it arching gracefully across the room, without being caught. Oh, it was important to have some large book opened on one's desk for concealed launching; I preferred the geography book. One used another match for igniting the foil-wrapped match head.

We never really refined the technology beyond trimming the match to reduce weight and determining the minimum amount of foil required for lift-off. Non-lift-off was not desirable since it usually resulting in a conspicuous cloud of smoke rising from the launching pad, and a subsequent march down to the principal's office.

There was discussion of two-stage rockets but none were successful. The larger kitchen matches had more fuel but were too heavy. The typical result was a flight of no more than six feet and neighboring desk mates were seldom amused. The paper matches would go twenty feet or more, and provoked much amusement as they eventually returned to earth.

We never tried real rocket fuel (equal parts of carbon, sulfur and sodium nitrate). That came later when I was unofficial advisor to the science club at our technical school in Addis Abeba where I was teaching as a Peace Corp volunteer in the 1960's. Some students had approached me, wanting to know the basic components of rocket fuel, and not wanting to discourage their interest in science I provided the basic formula. I woefully underestimated their technical knowledge and ambition and was quite astonished to see later what they were working on. They had fashioned a 6-cylinder rocket launcher on a tripod base from which they could electrically fired foot-long cast aluminum missiles. The rocket fuel was a great success and the missiles went up in the air for a thousand feet or more before landing in the soccer field. The official science advisor, an Indian teacher, turned paler than I when this apparatus was demonstrated, and both of us nearly had heart failure when we learned that there would be a rocket firing demonstration when Emperor Haile Selassie paid the school a visit the following week. I have a great shaky picture of the rockets being fired off as proof of this successful demonstration. But I was fully prepared to hear from Peace Corps central that I would be shipped home on 24 hours notice. Apparently, HQ never heard of this special event and I was able to finish my tour in peace. However, the police at the station across from the school did observe the ceremony and were conspicuously absent at the next student protest demonstration.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: curmudgeon
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 09:12 PM

Great tale, Charley/. Do yo have any more to share with us?       --   Tom


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 09:23 PM

Jerry Praver (of Bev & Jerry), hasn't worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for over 25 years, but he still oozes Engineering, with a capital "E." He has a T-shirt that says:

    As a matter of fact,
    I AM a Rocket Scientist!

Next time you see him....be careful.
[grin]
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:00 PM

Oh, there are more tales out there. How about the rest of you 'fessing up?

You didn't study in study hall, did you?

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:12 PM

For us it was the desire to create things that went boom. Not BIG booms, just booms that could be contained in a tiny localized area no bigger than a phone booth. Small booms. So, that doesn't really help with this thread (which is very entertaining, BTW).


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:17 PM

Guest-

There was that idodide compound we used to mix up in chem lab, back when one worked with real chemicals rather than computer screens. They would make a healthy boom when stepped on.

There were others who made do with commercial stuff such as "atom pearls" which did the same thing, in a more predictable fashon.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:27 PM

My 14-year-old son has gone very low tech with his rockets lately. Though in the past he has had summer classes that used the retail rocket kits, the latest "launch" was a bottle of Coca-Cola and mentos. It gets quite a bounce, but there are no flames.

I was cleaning in his room one evening, retrieving dirty laundry, when I found a packet of little twists of paper. With a sinking feeling I walked to the kitchen phone and called him at his father's house, where he was spending the evening.

"What are these things I found in your room? Are they illegal?" (I didn't have the heart to ask if they were some sort of drug).

He thought for a moment, then laughed.

"Throw one on the floor, Mom. Right there in the kitchen."

Pow! little pops emerged from an invisible spot on the tile floor.

"Those are some poppers I got on a deep discount after July 4th," he told me. "They don't work very well." We still chuckle about it, but he knows to expect questions any time something with an unfamiliar look turns up.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: bobad
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:33 PM

While not in the realm of rocketry we played with what could be described as explosive projectiles.

We would take an approximately 6" x 5/8" bolt to the end of which a nut was screwed on by a thread or two. Into the depression of the nut we would place a mixture of the cut off tips of wooden matches and gunpowder which was obtained by removing the slugs from 22 caliber bullets. We then screwed another bolt on to the nut and gingerly tightened the two as much as we dared.

This bolt-nut-bolt device was then tossed into the air in a rotating motion while we took cover behind a sturdy brick wall. When the device hit the ground it went off like a pipe bomb and if we were able to find the pieces they were not in any condition to be reused.

Luckily we survived this episode of rocket science experimentation without any serious injury.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:36 PM

Same guest as 12 Sep 06 - 10:12 PM

We found that if we placed wires from batteries into water and 'captured' the hydrogen in one container and oxygen in another, we could make a fairly respectable explosion. (I suspect it was th O2 that went boom, but I could be wrong. As you may have gathered, I wasn't the brains of the outfit.) Anyway, we'd get the stuff coming off one of the wires into a big jar (like the kind used to buy lots of mayonnaise or mustard) and put a spark plug in there. Then connect wires and get a loooong way back (we were young kids, so that may have been twenty yards) and connect the wires to a battery and the jar would go 'poof'. I can't recall how many drycells we wore out before the novelty paled, but it was a considerable number. And it was fun.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:42 PM

Bobad-

Ingenious! And you survived! Even better.

Guest (10:36)-

Bravo! And you survived as well.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:45 PM

Fifty odd years ago when I was taking HS chemistry, we (the nerds on the block...altho' that word wasn't yet in use) made our own July 4 fireworks. We made them from scratch, using charcoal, sulfur, magnesiun and various other elements for color and speed. We also formed our own paper tubes. We made beaucoup fountains and pinwheels, and about 2 dozen skyrockets emitting various colors. We would have made more except for a neighbor kid accidentally igniting a cupfull of powder we had just finished. While we were lucky the garage didn't burn down, we could not use it for several days as it was so acrid as to be uncomfortable to be inside. We had very few duds, and it was really cool to see our rockets rocketing into the Pacific Ocean at Playa del Rey, CA. I guess nowadays we might run afoul of Homeland Security. :>)


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:57 PM

Speaking of fireworks. We always thought we could improve on the store-bought fire crackers. When we could afford it we would buy about 5 or so of the larger ones, do some 'surgery' on the tops and bottoms and tape them together. Eventually we put the things in metal pipes to get them to go in a direction that while not predictable was at least away from us. We started a fire in a field in a park near us when one of the 'rockets' flew further than it was supposed to. The fire department showed up and we watched the activities with avid interest until an adult pointed in our direction from a block or so away. We know the fire was extinguished, but we weren't there to see it. No one knew the lanes better than we did, and we put blocks between us and the fire, because being apprehended would have entailed a 'stern talking to' from the police--although I think in the minds of nine year olds it might have involved visions of at least two or three years in jail--and a lickin' when we got to our respective homes.

Charley, you have brought back some wonderful memories. Thank you.

PS, we did have a few mishaps, but eyebrows grow back and 'sunburns' fade with time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 10:58 PM

in high school chem class, I was fascinated by Calcium Carbide. Made a self-powered flame thrower....I put a stopper in a flask with a tube from it and a tapered pipette at the end, put Carbide and water in flask, and lit the gas, then used gas flame to heat the flask...wow!...it got hot!

Then, got some random chemicals from the shelf and added Calcium Carbide.......BURBLE!!!!...stuff began to rise faster than I ever imagined, and a grey, gritty foam ran over the top, across the desk, and over the side onto the floor....and Mr Gobel came down the asile!

"What's this, Bill?"

"Oh, ummmm...I guess the flask wasn't clean..."

"Well...better get this cleaned up..."

"Yessir!"

Of course he knew what I was doing....but I was getting an "A" at the time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 11:03 PM

I never did take any chemistry--in fact, almost no science at all--but every now an then our shop teacher would invite the science teacher down to demonstrate stuff. It is AMAZING what H2SO4 will do to a few spoons of sugar. But what a mess!


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: frogprince
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 11:06 PM

I never have gotten around to rockets; I may yet have to indulge the kid inside to a little experimenting with 'em. A buddy's son, now father to a couple of school kids, confessed just a couple of years ago as to what really happened to his older sister's missing gerbil (or hamster, whichever is smaller). He said when he retrieved the remains of the rocket he sent it up in, in was kind of a pate...


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 11:20 PM

Not rocket science at all, just a lucky shot, but when my children were little we used to drive down to Dinosaur State Park (Texas) on the Paluxy River. The tracks were interesting, but our desire was to play in the water.

One afternoon some wag in our group decided that the muddy/clay mix they were playing with on the limestone shelf beside the river (the shelf filled with dinosaur footprints that had standing water in them) was dinosaur poop. My oldest child (probably six or seven at the time) and her father started making highly viscous (gobs of runny clay that barely clung together) "dino poop" that of course had to be tossed into the air with a high arc so they made a satisfying dino-poop-splat on the limestone shelf. One of those made a marvelous arc, almost slow motion in its beauty, and then it landed squarely in one of the water-filled footprints and caused a gush of mud and water and huge gales of laughter from our family and (until then unnoticed) passers-by who had stopped to watch the game.

Like I say, not rocket science, but safer than matches and bent paperclips.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 11:24 PM

Then there was this old (empty)house....and the 4" pipe from the bathroom...and this left-over Cherry Bomb....somehow, 'someone', or two someones, got on the roof and dropped the Cherry Bomb down the pipe.

Yep...blew the holy bejeesus out of the commode....I mean into little pieces! No one ever offered a guess about what happened, and house was torn down soon after.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 11:30 PM

I got the worst lickin' of my life after a Halloween when a few of us decided to do time delay cherry bombs under people's metal garbage cans. We'd get the cans upside down, get long fuses (string soaked in some kind of lamp oil), start it burning and run real fast but not too far, because we needed to witness the faces of the very irate people who came out looking for the culprits who had awakened them from their slumbers. I guess that someone actually phoned my mother and it was real bad after that. I mean real real bad. We learned better for the following Halloween, because the 'pranks' got better in quality and pizzazz. However, that's another thing altogether.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 11:31 PM

If you were on the roof, you must have encountered some awesome off-gas from the event, through that same pipe!


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Old Guy
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 11:54 PM

Reminds me of when I was in my early teens. I fooled around with rockets.

The best one I ever made was from a the metal tube out of a ball point pen. It was fat at the top but it reduced down to normal size on the ball end which made a natural nozzle.

I made the fins out of an aluminum toothpaste tube and I plugged the top with a wooden nose cone wrapped in aluminum foil.

I packed it with potassium nitrate and sugar and maybe a trace of sulpher and or charcoal, I can't remember.

That sucker flew straight up about 50 feet, made a 90 degree turn and headed straight for the neighbors picture window. I ran out of fuel just before it hit.

I heaved a huge sigh if relief and never fired any more rockets.

In the process I learned how to make wonderful stink bombs using only sulphur and candle wax. I would set them off in the boys restroom at school and exit the area pronto.

So you see, I are a rocket sientist too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 11:58 PM

Tsk, tsk. Shame on all of you. TRUE rocket fuel is KNO3 and sugar, melted together at not greater than 375 degrees F. and poured into a heavy cardboard rocket body. Of course, you have to create a conical cavity at the open end so that the fuel burns evenly. (Please not that I have given no proportions for the ingredients!)

Or KMnO3 and ___________. Or various other oxidizers and oxidizees.

Or the very last day of high school, when the teacher left the chem lab supply room closet open and left the (open book) physics test. The last people there were the "brains" and they mixed a LITER beaker full of things like potassium perchlorate, aluminum powder, mercuric bichromate, powdered iron, and other such things. Then one of them volunteered to take it to the next-door park, pour the mixture into a convenient (and shallow) hole in the rocks, stick in about three feet of magnesium ribbon for a fuse, and light it.... Lovely, lovely mushroom-shaped-cloud effect.... Lovely police cars.... Even lovelier that certain parties were never caught.

My mother's Three Big Rules:

1. You will no longer make explosives, pyrotechnics or similar items in the basement. Do it in the yard.

2. You will no longer make tear gas or ANY war gases in the basement -- see Rule 1.

3. If you're going to experiment with electricity don't trip the breakers.

These were promulgated very very soon after Certain Events.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 12:23 AM

Bill D's story reminds me of another calcium carbide incident.
When I was 2nd year in Grammar school in Belfast, (Early '60's) our classroom as being repainted, so they stuck us in an old chemistry lab.
The teacher's desk was an ancient chemistry table with a covered sink and faucet.
Our history teacher used to amble in to start his class, still smoking his cigarette, and when class started, he wouldn't stub out the cigarette, he would lift the wooden lid of the sink and toss in the butt, figuring the lack of oxygen would extinguish it.

You can see the rest of the story starting to unfold already, can't you?

One of the bright lads in the class thought it would be a splendid practical joke to throw some carbide in the sink, and turn on the faucet for a moment, replace the lid tightly and wait for the history teacher to do his thing.

It worked perfectly. The timing was perfect.
In went the butt. BOOM!Up went the sink lid, hitting the ceiling.
The history teacher thought there was a gas leak in the room, and that we were all in mortal danger. So we got the rest of the day off while the authorities came in and checked the place over.
We were never discovered because the history teacher didn't want to admit what he'd been doing with the cigarette butts.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Paul Burke
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 04:10 AM

We did a similar thing with ether in the sink- the vapour is heavier than air. Nitrogen tri-iodide (dissolve iodine in concentrated ammonia) was another favourite. Just don't leave it in a locker near a radiator.

I wonder if Homeland Security will shut the Cat down and send Joe to Cuba?


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 07:59 AM

:~)

Homeland Security is probably monitoring this thread very carefully.

The stories are very gratifying, and it's somehow reassuring to know that I and my science nerds were not alone.

Apparently not a single female aspiring rocket scientist has posted to this thread. Perhaps they prefer to keep their early experiments secret. But inquiring minds do want to know more! Or maybe they just were less foolhardy.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 08:04 AM

"bolt to the end of which a nut was screwed on by a thread or two. Into the depression of the nut we would place a mixture of the cut off tips of wooden matches and gunpowder"

bobad, we didn't have easy access to guns and ammo in Oz, so we just used the match heads. Just as effective... :-)


Now, if you bought 'penny skyrockets', and got a piece of black ABS pipe heat sealed at one end, and then you tied it down to a board, using a piece of mosquito coil as an igniter, you could drop a lit rocket down the tube and viola! instant bazooka... larger rockets were far more expensive, and conceivably dangerous....


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 09:02 AM

Someone (not me!) flushed metallic sodium down the toilet. The less said about the result the better.

We also put various clear indicators in the urinals. Ever see a first-year come running out screaming "I'm peeing blue!"

Methylene Blue was a favorite to put in someone's luncheon drink. You really DID pee blue.

And a Boy Scout Camp, cherry bombs tossed into the latrines with self-closing lids was always good for a ring of...stuff... on the lid. Relaxing with a good read wasn't the best idea.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 09:18 AM

sorry- too busy working on launch of Optus D1 to give my stories now...


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 09:51 AM

Okay, Charley, ignore my thread drift above, but last time I looked, I am of the female persuasion.

My brother and I weren't too adventurous with gunpowder, though we used to sit in the driveway as kids and pound strips of caps with rocks, and see if we could hit the whole roll at once to make a bigger bang. But we weren't able to compound our own mixes like you lot. My brothers found some sulfur down by the railroad tracks one time and for some reason they thought they'd grind it up in the basement. When everyone got sick headaches and we finally figured out what was causing it that activity stopped.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:12 AM

One of my favorites was to fill a five-gallon can with natural gas (filling it with water first, and letting gas from a tap displace the water), poking a small hole in the top and igniting the gas there. Result was, as the gas burned and air seeped in to fill the void, a series of small pops, becoming more frequent until they merged into a very loud whistle followed by a satisfying explosion when the proper air-to-fuel ratio was reached.

To be tried outdoors, crouched behind some protective masonry.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Fergie
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:29 AM

Seamus I chuckled like mad when I read your story. I could see the whole episode in my mind, it reminded me of the time when I dabbled with experimental physics and caused an unexpected outcome.

My first job was in a hardware store in Dublin. It was 1965 I was 15. We sold weedkiller by the pound, it was if my memory is correct, potassium chloride????? Well whatever it was, I was informed that if it was mixed with sugar and then lit it would explode, I was also told that if it was packed into a copper pipe and the ends were sealed and a fuse placed in a small hole in the pipe that it would make a small bomb.
Now my father had given me the job to dig the back garden of a new house we had recently moved into. The rear gardens of these houses had been used as a road during the construction of the houses and consequently the ground was as hard as the hobs of hell. It was slow, tedious and backbreaking work.
You can see it unfolding can't you?
I dug a deep hole and into it I placed a 2" copper pipe about 12" long packed with 4lbs of this concoction. At first it wouldn't work, because the fuse would extinguish as soon as I shovelled loose clay into the hole. So I made a detonator by winding a piece of fuse wire into a spiral, then I soldered a long flex to the two ends. I inserted it deep within the pipe, sealed the ends, placed it at the bottom of the hole and packed the hole with clay. I took the two ends of the wire and stood behind a low wall. I then connected the flex to a battery.
For a couple of seconds nothing, but when the coil within the device got hot enough. BANG! the ground erupted, tons of clay and gravel shot high into the air, the blast was so loud that I was deafened, a massive swoosh of air, birds everywhere flying in panic, then clay and earth began to rain down from above, the entire neighbour hood was covered in clay and dust. People came running in panic, praying that nobody was injured or worse, dead. Even though I was deafened, dazed and covered from head to toe in fine clay particles I had the presence of mind to retrieve the length of wire and I concealed it and the battery behind the coal bunker.
Well when the smoke cleared you should have seen the crater, no exaggeration it was 5 foot deep and 8 feet in diameter. The police arrived to investigate, with my ears still ringing from the explosion I told them that I was digging the garden when the spade had struck something hard and then BANG.
The gas company was called, but no gas pipe was found. The electricity company was called, no cable was found. The army was called, the Officer in charge told the police that the crater was definitely caused by a bomb, so my family and the neighbours were evacuated and moved a safe distance away. After hours of fruitless searching with mine-detectors and metal-detectors they confessed that it was a mystery to them what had caused the explosion, they hypothesised that maybe it was the remains of an old IRA dump, unexploded ordinance from the World Wars or some mysterious and rare natural phenomenon.
Nobody ever suspected or ever found out what it was I that caused the bang, but it sure cured me of my interest in experimental physics. It must have also left an indelible mark on my psyche because forty years latter the sight of a garden spade still causes me to break out in a sweat and duck behind a wall, but nowadays I keep my ears well covered.
Fergus


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:34 AM

I love this thread!! I monkeyed with rockets all the time when I was a kid, buying this kit and that kit.

But I think I will share a story that has to do with explosives from when I was a young lad, and a little full of the sauce. I went into a magic shop, and found that they had cigarette loads, and cigar loads. My Da would always have a cigarette at the dinner table after dinner and ask us about school, what we had done that day, etc. Staying at the table was mandatory as a family and talking until released by the Da, an idea that has merit today IMO. My brother and I saw these loads at the magic shop and decided to pull a trick on the Da. When we went to buy them, we decided that if a cigarette load was good for a cigarette, a cigar load would be better for a cigarette. They packed about 2-3 times the power. When we got home, snuck the old man's cigarette pack and pulled out a couple. That is when we figured if one cigar load was cool, then more would be better. We packed 3 in several of Da's fags, put them back so they would be the first out of the pack, and replaced the pack.

At dinner, we were obviously on pins and needles. True to form, the old man pulls out his pack, Chas and I can scarcely contain ourselves. The whole family is there, Cookie the cat is on the window sill behind us, Mom serving up the pie. Da lights the cigarette, and KABOOM. My father is sitting there, filter still in his mouth, tobacco everywhere, my Ma dropped the pie, the cat pissed on the window sill and with tobacco all over himself. My brother and I were sitting there, wanting to laugh, but so scared we were near to tears. Da was furious, but then his face dissolved into laughter. We had a great laugh, then Da instructed Chas and I to get the dustpan, and clean the mess. We go over to the broom closet to get the broom and dustpan, and forgot the other fags still in the pack. While we are getting the broom and dustpan, Da lights number 2. Let us just say that the humor had all been expended with the first explosion. He chased us out in the yard..... the rest would be considered child abuse by todays standards.

Today it is a favorite family story, but when it happened, my arse didn't find it quite so funny.

Mick


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: bobad
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:38 AM

That's a fantastic story Fergus.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: bobad
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:41 AM

Good one Mick, had me laughing out loud.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:49 AM

Great story, Mick! I wish I'd thought of something like that when I was a kid, stuck sitting beside my mother and her ashtray at dinner. It would have been a bright spot as I remember the misery of eating with the smell of that smoke always in my nose.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Fergie
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:49 AM

Big Mick I laughted till the tears rolled,
Fergus


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:50 AM

Fergus ...... that is a priceless story. I am still laughing as we speak. And I am also filing it away for use later, should I decide to plant a garden in hard ground. Too funny!!

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Fergie
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:54 AM

Big Mick we must share the same sense of humour,
Fergus


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:55 AM

I am sure of it, Fergus.

Mick


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 11:00 AM

Well...we were experimenting with smoking...and had access to .22 cartridges...and one of the wimpy guys left his packet o' fags where they could be messed with.

No, not what you think.

We pulled the bullet out of a cartridge, carefully worked the tobacco out of one of the cigs, poured in the powder, and carefully replaced all the tobacco we could.

That evening he pulled out out a cigarette and offered some to us (we refused, of course). He lit it...and smoked it with what appeared to be pleasure.

Then he lit up again.

About halfway down the cigarette there wwas a FWOOSH! as the nitrocellulose ignited and flashed. Luckily, he wasn't hurt and assumed that something was wrong with the cigarette. He did have to change pants, though.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Old Guy
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 12:08 PM

I did not relate my bomb making experiences here for fear that I would be charactarized as a bomber.

Do you think someone at NSA is feverishly tracking down some IP numbers as we speak?

Be on the lookout for black hellicopters.

My rowdy friends and I used to go to the drive theater and deposit an ash can, three times the power of a cherry bomb, in the waste can in the rest room with a lit ciggarette impaled on the fuse. It gave us about 10 minutes of getaway time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 02:27 PM

Mick and Fergus-

LOL

Glad you're still around to share the tales.

You've reminded me of a Garrison Keillor ice-fishing story that we've adapted for Maine:


Parody by Garrison Keillor 1999
Adapted by Charlie Ipcar et al 2/8/03
Tune: The Greenland Whale Fisheries

The Ice Fishing Song-2

When I was young I'd tell tall tales,
And lying was my sport,
But I've told no lie since late last week,
When the gang and I went "nort", me boys,
The gang and I went "nort."

The gang was Fitzie, Mike and me,
We met the break of day;
We packed the booze and the cooler in the back,
In our kingcab tore away, me boys,
In our kingcab tore away.

We reached the lake after dark,
And drove out on the ice;
We opened up the shack and we fired up the stove,
And passed that bottle twice, me boys,
Passed that bottle twice.

The fishing hole was thick with ice,
And it was late at night;
So Fitzie reached into his tackle box,
To get his dynamite, me boys,
To get his dynamite.

He lit the fuse, threw it down the hole,
And then he stamped and cursed;
"Cripes, I've made a foolish mistake,
That was our old bratwurst, me boys,
That was our old bratwurst."
Then from the hole where the bratwurst sank,
A giant fish leaped out,
"A togue, a togue," we all did shout,
"With the bratwurst in his mouth," me boys,
The bratwurst in his mouth.

So we passed the bottle once again,
To celebrate the catch;
Then Fitzie reached down for a cigar,
And I saw him light the match, me boys,
I saw him light the match.

That cigar blew Fitzie over Isle au Haut,
And Mike to the Bay of Booth;
But since my life was spared that day,
I'm here to tell the truth, me boys,
Yes, I'm here to tell the truth.

Keep up the good work!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 02:44 PM

My father showed us how to build clothespin match guns and fold water bombs out of paper...(he said they used to drop them from 2nd story windows over the schools front entrance)


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Skivee
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 02:49 PM

In every discussion of this sort somebody just has to blunder in and be a wet blanket. In this case the party pooper crown has fallen to me.
Wow, you folks were VERY lucky.
The reason that the sport of model rocketry was invented was that kids were injuring and killing themselves while "experimenting " with making rockets. Like many of the stories above, the lids found out how to mix the chemicals, but didn't know the danger they were in.
The favorite method of self-destruction was to stuff those match heads you enjoyed playing with into spent CO2 cartridges. While those kids thought they were making rocket motors, they were actually making grenades. Literally Hundreds lost hands, eyes or their lives.
They also didn't learn anything about how to make a working rocket.
If you've ever seen professional fireworks teams working, you have noted that they are really careful. This is because these chemicals can KILL YOUR ASS.
Rocket motors work by creating basically a controlled sustained explosion. An important word here is "controlled".
Black powder blows up with an expansion rate of about 11,000 feet per second. You can't run that fast. Other chemicals blow up with higher or lower rates...but you still can't run that fast.
Model rockets are built from low weight materials, and powered by reliable mass produced motors. The densest part of the motor is the nozzle, made of clay. In the unlikely event of an engine exploding, the clay turns to dust, and the heavy cardboard tubing turns to chunky paper. No deadly shrapnel.
Once the student doesn't have to worry about building a bomb, they can pay attention to the more interesting problem…aerodynamics.
Okay, enough ranting.
Google "Model Rocketry" for info on how to enjoy this stuff without blowing yourself up.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Skivee
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 02:57 PM

I meant to say "SOME of you folks"...
The stuff that most of the boneheads like me were trying didn't put us in the dire peril of the more ignorantly adventurous.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 02:57 PM

Not rockets exactly, more a sort of multiple mortar.

At grammar school, I was one of a number of chemistry geeks, who were allowed to use the lab out of school time. Not a wise move on the part of the authorities.

I had made a quantity of nitrogen tri-iodide, which comes out as a dark grey paste, perfectly safe and stable while wet. I painted it on sheets of paper, then folded in half over and over to form thick wads, then left it to dry.

We had a maths teacher who would stride into the classroom with a huge stack of books, and slam them down on his desk. On the day in question there were two wads onder the corners of the desk lid.

"Good morning class!"....SLAM....KERRRACK! All of a sudden it's raining books, and thirty kids are diving for cover under desks and chairs. The desk lid has wrenched the hinges out, and is lying on the floor, split in two, while on the other side of the desk stands a very frightened teacher, covered in small bits of burnt paper, and trying to stop shaking.

Of course I had to own up, to prevent the whole class copping it, and when the head got tired of caning me (took a long time, he was a very fit man), he banned me from the lab, except for classes, and suspended me for a week. Some people have NO sense of humour!

For a long time our maths teacher would, on meeting me, stop and watch me till I was out of sight.

Know what though?....IT WAS WORTH IT!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 05:56 PM

Mick, Fergie - two beauties!
On another occasion, a friend of mine whose Dad worked for the railway found a box of blue detonators. They were about the size of shoe-polish tins, 3" in diameter and 3/4" deep.
what they were used for in the railway, I don't know.

But my pal told me they were like bombs.

We went to the field out behind our houses to find out.

So we set them on rocks on the ground, climbed up on an 8' wall, and started throwing rocks down on top of them...

Holy shit! They went off just like bombs; a huge bang, a flash, and the metal casing flew by us at bullet speed.

If we'd been hit, we'd have been killed stone-dead.

Cool!

So we did it again....3 more times, until the neighbours started coming out to see what the hell was going on.

We grabbed the remaining detonators and bolted out of there.


Seamus


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 06:00 PM

Dunno about the USA, Seamus, but in the days when all signals were manually operated in the UK, I believe they were placed on the track in heavy fog to warn drivers of red signals.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 06:09 PM

Yep, Skivee, my friends, brothers and I could have been hurt or killed.

Anyone else ever mess with poison gas? Like o-Chlorobenzylidene malononitrile or bromacetone or phosgene or chlorine or diphenylaminechlorarsine? Doing this was the reason for my mother second Big Rule.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 06:21 PM

It is good to see that there are others who really have no business still trodding the path for the stupid shit they did when they were kids. LOL. Boy, I could go on for hours......


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 06:22 PM

Couple years back, in a staff meeting, the science teacher was expressing his frustration with trying to get certain concepts across to the kids. "It's not exactly rocket science", he says. Then stops. Then says, "Okay, actually it IS rocket science ... but ... "


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 06:26 PM

I remember the time the Science Teacher gassed a whole class with chlorine - there was a crack in the flask.... Ambulances and all!!!! - not my class luckily...


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 06:54 PM

We used to remove the bullet from .22 cartridges, plug up the bullet with wax, and shoot it (now a blank) at the closed bedroom door. Naturally, my mother wasn't home when we did this, and we'd scrape the little blobs of wax off the door when we'd finished.

One day, Mom decided to repaint the door. At dinner that evening she said, "I tried to paint you boys' bedroom door today, but there's something wrong with the paint. It won't stick to some spots."

Silence and noncommital answers were given....


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 10:53 PM

Don(Wysiwig)T, that's precisely what they were.
And it was in my home town of Belfast in the really early '60's.
I remember my buddy telling me that's what they were for, and I didn't believe him; I thought they would derail the train.
Silly me!

Seamus


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Old Guy
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 12:06 AM

Well here is one of those blowing up tales that didn't end well.

My older brother and I were up to no good one day and we got in to farmer Biggars' tool shed. We found a red metal can like a shoe polish can only square and taller. Inside were what appeared to be a couple dozen spent brass cartridges from a rifle. Inside was a waxy substance deep down where you could not see exactly what it was.

My brother got the bright idea of melting the wax out of the casings so we took the can home. No one was home so we went to the kitchen with our find. At our kitchen counter, he held one in his hand and put a lit match to the bottom. It got hot so he dumped them all out of the can onto the counter, put the hot one across the top and dropped the match in the can.

I was kind of short back then so I went to get a kitchen chair so I could get a better look at what he was doing. Right when I was setting the chair down in front of the counter, WHAM. The biggest noise I had ever heard and blinding light filled the kitchen. The cartridges were blasting caps and when the heated one went off, all of them went off.

The next thing I remember was wandering around in the front yard, temporarily deaf and mostly blind from the flash. My brother got a hole in his belly from part of the can. His little finger was about a half inch long and the next two were a little longer. His entire right hand was a bloody mess with skin and meat hanging off.

His right eye was almost blinded. Thank god his left eye was OK. All I got was brass shrapnel in the back of my right hand because it was hanging over the back of the chair and I was protected by the padded back. I got a few shards in my forehead where it was sticking above the chair back

I was digging shards of brass out of my hand for 20 years. The scars are still there but the powder marks are almost gone.

The caps blasted a hole through the heavy stainless steel counter top and the bottom of the can went through two metal drawers below. My mother found his little finger in the mixer bowl sitting on top of the refrigerator two weeks later when she went to make a cake.

His right had is barely usable and his right eye is worthless to this day.

I was a bad experience but it didn't deter us from fooling around with cherry bombs and such later on in our child hood


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 09:22 AM

Old Guy-

Yes, this stuff is dangerous and when combined with inexperience can be deadly.

I don't think our match rockets had much potential. And the clothespin shooters were relatively harmless, although we never realized that the matches could be ignited; we just used them to mow down our armies of metal and plastic soldiers. If we had only known that they could have also functioned as flamethrowers, we certainly would have had more fun!

The 6-cylinder rocket cannon that my students put together at the Technical School in Ethiopia had great potential, and I still marvel that no one was injured in its development.

The most serious accident my brother experienced was on his first camping trip, and that was with a can of Campbell's tomato soup. He decided to heat it up on the campfire without making an opening in the can. My mother was quite alarmed when she saw the "blood stains" on his clothes when he returned. LOL

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 09:37 AM

We had carbide lamps for our hats when, as a Boy Scout, we went "spelunking." This was a mistake by the Scoutmasters, because it introduced us so-called "Senior Scouts" to carbide and its potentials....


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 12:22 PM

Never got round to home made rockets. 200 pound counterweight trebuchets, and various typical pyromanic things, but no real rockets.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: robomatic
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 12:29 PM

Hey Certain Guys:

I hear Al Qaeda's hiring . . .


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 02:21 PM

An old mate of mine used to do time trials (sort of rally driving without the special stages).

He would spike the top of a can of beans, and wire it to the exdhaust manifold.....Nice hot lunch at the midday break.

One of the other drivers thought "Great idea", and wired the can up, but without the hole in the top.

Halfway through the stage there was an almighty BANG, and his hood flew up releasing a high velocity pink cloud.

Everybody in a hundred yard radius got a share, and the engine bay looked like it had been decorated as a nursery for a baby girl.

As far as I can recall it took him about two years to live that one down.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Kaleea
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 02:45 PM

Growing up where Black Cat firecrackers were made had plenty of benefits for kids in our town. That was baby stuff to my brothers & I, as Daddy was a welder & had lots of fun stuff out in the garage to mess around with--complete with most all welding necessities, and even sheet metals. We never even bothered with the protective goggles & hoods (except for the time we watched an eclipse). He enjoyed showing us all how to weld & cut.
When my older brother & I had the top band in town, back in the late 60's, some of the bands were beginning to vie with each other by adding light shows. A couple were using a light board-a board onto which lights were afixed which could be switched off & on by plugging it in and unplugging it. The only band whose sound came close to being as popular as ours used had told everyone that they had a new "psychodellic" light show. It was an overhead projector on which they put a long clear glass baking dish with oil, & into which they dropped food coloring, then wiggled the dish around. I laughed hysterically when they put on this "light show" at a dance at my high school, & promptly told my brothers about it when I got home. When Daddy got home from work at about 2:30 in the am, he found the 3 of us in the garage working on an interesting project, & after hearing my story, decided to help us.
By the next Saturday night, when we played for a local radio station concert, the Final Battle of their annual Battle of the Bands, we were the last of 5 bands in the zoo park that night. Eyebrows went up as we pushed odd looking stuff onto the stage. We made some real nice light boards with various sizes & colors of lights operated by switches wired onto a control panel a few feet away, (anybody remember when there were wires?) which we used througout the performance. The kids were eating it up. Just before our finale, we uncovered what was in front of the the lightboards on the edge of stage on either side & in front of us. My younger brother creeped along the front of the stage at just the right moment before the last verse, & colored smoke began to billow out in front the the colorful flashing lights. By the chorus, foamy crud was bubbling out of containers & flowing off the stage onto the ground & the kids were going wild-they loved it. Then, right in front of me at center stage, a Flash Gordon-like rocket arose with sparks flying & soared up, exploding with flashes of colors in the air above us & the kids in the front of the audience, who were all, by then, standing & jumping up & down & screaming at the tops of their lungs. We had repeated the chorus & were at the end of it just as the fire dept arrived.
We heard, the next day, that the rocket (or at least some of it) which Daddy and I made out of sheet metal had landed on "Monkey Island" on the other side of the zoo. Oh, and we won the battle of the bands.



And, by the way, Stilly River Sage isn't the only personage of the female persuasion here.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 03:27 PM

The worst thing that happened to us, as far as I remember, was when my brother collected the powder from a LOT of unexploded and dud fireworks in an aluminum bowl. He had it sitting on the concrete front porch, between his outstretched legs, when he accidently dropped a "punk" into it.

He lost his eyebrows, his forelocks, and danged near his vision in the resulting FWOOSH. It was pretty spectacular, but no matter how hard we pleaded he would never repeat it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 06:04 PM

Kaleea-

Welcome to the Mudcat Rocket Suvivors Club! Wow! What a story.

Don-

I knew there was someone out there whose experience with canned tomato soup would surpass by several laps my brother's experience.

Rapaire and Old Guy -

So when and where do we hold our first reunion?

But maybe we are holding it now, as a virtual reunion.

MUCH SAFER FOR ALL.

"Mother's aim is bad and the Cossacks all know Dad –-
So it's Sister Sasha's turn to throw the bomb, bomb, bomb!"

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 06:43 PM

No explosives in this story, but I think it's in the same spirit.

One of my college friends made a blowgun out of a 6-foot piece of electrical conduit. (Ours was metal. Nowadays they also make it out of PVC plastic, which I imagine would work just as well if not better.) We made darts out of nails, fitted with a cone-shaped paper "tail" to fit snugly in the tube. You want it tight enough to get a good head of air pressure behind it, but not so tight that it causes a lot of friction as the dart slides through the tube. Very low-tech, but potentially lethal! With practice, we got so we could fire a dart into a two-by-four so tight you needed pliers to pull it out.

Say, I wonder if you could get one of those through airport security?


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 07:23 PM

"I hear Al Qaeda's hiring . . . "

Nah, we Mudcat Amateur Pyros & Rocket Survivors just want a quiet life these days - and NOW we are mature enough to know just how lucky we were...

"Yes, this stuff is dangerous and when combined with inexperience can be deadly."

... combined with the normal human idea 'MORE must be better!'...


"it's Sister Sasha's turn to throw the bomb, bomb, bomb!"

Motion seconded. Now who is in favour of this as our theme song?


Once while SCA camping - I was instructed in the delicate art of 'AJ Cooking' by a couple of Aust Army guys. Btw, did you know that adding a cupful of petrol to a standard army mort radically increases the range? Ooops - sorry Aust Military Secret - well our military budget is not as big as some... oh, seems as if this is not 'officially aproved'... :-)

Anyway, the subtle secret to control the beastie is to take the can to be heated, slam it side on into a tree branch size piece of firewood to make a significant dent, then rotate it 180 degrees, and repeat. Chuck in fire, when the steam causes first dent to pop, either RUN AWAY!, or remove from fire before second dent pops.... you DO have a VERY short time of safety AFTER the second dent pops though...

Hey I forgot- we used to used 'curtain rod' - our electrical conduit was made of unwelded rolled sheet, thus useless - place a 'bunger' in one end, ram it into the ground or sand, then see what you could get to come out the open end. trying to get a second smaller one to ignite OUT of the tube wasn't always reliable, thus requiring a steady supply of tube...

Then I found 'double bungers' - which used to work like a mini claymore...


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 14 Sep 06 - 10:08 PM

A few Christmases back my brother bought himself a blowgun. His youngest son, then about 6 or 7, blew darts into things all day. Got so good, in fact, that he shot a dart into his father's right buttock while dad was sitting on the porch swing talking to the other brother.

Mom had a heckuva good laugh as she treated the wound....


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Old Guy
Date: 15 Sep 06 - 01:28 AM

Where are Balck Cat firecrackers made anyway?

All I remember were made in Macau. I remember the Dixie boy brand with the black kid eating the watermellon. On the lable it said Loi siz pau chunk or something like that. What does that mean?

I have out grown that stuff. I bought a big bungle of regular size fire crackers in Myrtle Beach and fired off maybe 10 packages on the foruth of july but they ahve been sitting since then. I don't even remeber where they are.

How about some pyrotechnic songs:

Rubbin' sticks and stones together makes the sparks ingite
And the thought of lovin' you is getting so exciting
Sky rockets in flight
Afternoon delight

You dropped a bomb on me.
You lit the fuse I stand accused
You were the first for me

Goodness Gracious, great balls of fire!


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Sep 06 - 08:44 AM

Robin-

Would you mind clarifying how many extremities you have left? "AJ cooking"?

We may need a special set of Pyro & Rocket Surviors Club "rules" for members who practice downunder.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 15 Sep 06 - 08:54 AM

Well...I cooked C-rations over a bit of burning C-4 plastic explosive during my Army days....

And the Army's Explosives and Demolitions course was COOL COOL COOL! Blowing Things Up at the taxpayers' expense! Yes!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Old Guy
Date: 15 Sep 06 - 02:48 PM

I got one last story about fireworks.

In my youth, my family's buddies was a Polish family named Barranowski that lived up on the next ridge. They lived in an ancient farmhouse that seen duty as a field hospital during the Civil War. They had cows and chickens, etc.

They were very unsophisticated and bohemian but they were very patriotic. Every year the old man would buy the biggest damned wooden crate of fireworks you ever saw to celebrate the fourth of July. It seemed to me at least 6 feet long by 3 feet wide by 4 feet high.

Everybody was invited to their house to set them off. At near dark he would personally pry the lid off of that crate and start handing stuff out to everybody that came even if they were 4 years old. They were more concerned with having a good time than with safety.

In addition to the huge sky rockets, roman candles and fire crackers, there were goodies in there like the mule kick.

I particularly liked something we called a ni**er chaser. You would light one and throw it into the crowd. It wobbled around in circles, hugging the ground, shooting between peoples legs and whistling like a banshee. When it was spend it made a tremendous crack and everybody jumped.

We would hang around until they were all gone around midnight. That is one of my best childhood memories.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Sep 06 - 03:11 PM

Our family used to go down to the shore where there was an old stone foundation overlooking the cove. Father would set up the skyrockets so they would soar up and then land safely in the water. There were roman candles, cherry bombs, and something that looked like a minature cabin that burned and exploded. We children were only permitted to ignite the smaller fire crackers, much to our disgust!

Father never managed to hit any of the boats that would be cruising around the cove with the skyrockets but he came close.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 15 Sep 06 - 03:21 PM

We would get involved in bottle rocket wars. I shall say no more about this -- whatever you imagine is probably correct.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 10:24 AM

This thread has been a blast. Quite a harvest!

Thanks for all the contributions.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 02:02 AM

" Would you mind clarifying how many extremities you have left? "AJ cooking"?"

Well, I just let 'the experts' do it.... hint - look for big tree if you want to find me...


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: bobad
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 07:01 PM

Banned: The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments

Back in the late 60's this book, written for Children, was pulled from all public libraries and store shelves by the government. It was said that the experiments and information contained herein were too dangerous for the general public. A big fuss was made of a 1995 incident near Detroit in which child chemist, David Hahn, attempted to build a nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard shed. A book by Ken Silverstein called 'The Radioactive Boyscout' tells the whole story, but you can get a summary on Wikipedia. This book is thoroughly interesting and is full of ideas and inspiration, it is the bible for any young chemist-in-training. Used copies on Amazon are rare and are currently priced between $237 and $690 for very used copies. However, because it was published in 1960, before the US copyright laws were rewritten, and because its original copyright was never renewed (yes, I checked myself), it's legal for me to share with you online.

Download your free copy


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 07:10 PM

Bobad, you should indicate that these comments are not yours, but a cut and paste of the person offering the download.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Old Guy
Date: 23 Sep 06 - 07:16 PM

I used to have a huge chemistry set. It was called Chemcraft and it was made by Porter Chemicals in Hagerstown Maryland.

There were no explosives in it but plenty of other stuff you can't get in modern chemistry sets.

I learned about valences of elements which lead into physics from that set.

Of course I am only an amateur Nuclear Physicist.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: HuwG
Date: 24 Sep 06 - 03:30 PM

Not strictly rocket science, but my little brother made himself a .177 cannon as a metalwork project at school (it was supposed to be a mantelpiece ornament, but what the heck).

We tried setting it off with the powder from a penny banger. The results were disappointing. With a hair-thin touch-hole, the thing refused to fire; when the touch-hole was bored out to about half the calibre of the gun, there would be a "poof" which left us blinking dazzled for several seconds. Meanwhile, the .177 airgun pellet which we used as ammunition remained firmly in the barrel. After we grew bored with extracting the pellets from the barrel, we concluded that there was some critical minimum aperture width, based on grain size or whatever. We thought that boring out the cannon to .22 calibre might have some effect, but the parental and educational authorities had by now twigged the significance of the drill bit sizes my little brother was using.

Friends of ours discovered that secretly removing an inch or three from the stick of a large firework rocket could sometimes enliven firework displays; as could surreptitiously leaving unopened tins of baked beans among material being collected for large local bonfires.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 10:58 AM

This thread is being revived as a public service to folks such as Rowan who may have missed it the first time around.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 01:34 PM

As a couple of "accidental experiments" have been recounted, along with some references to carbide cannons and such, the tale of the great Kip explosion might be of interest.

As a pre-note, as a high-schooler working at the family shop, I heard of a plan by a somewhat older employee who had found himself an old compressed air tank and was wanting to fill it with acetylene to take home to do some welding. I don't know where I had heard it, but warned him that compressed acetylene was not exactly "safe." I don't believe he ever really believed me; but he relented and got a commercial bottle.

The acetylene gas generated by mixing "carbide" (Calcium Carbide) with water technically is ethylene (C2H2) and when compressed to around 500 psi is "unstable" and can detonate - even without being mixed with any air or other oxidizer.

The name "acetylene" comes from the commercial practice of dissolving the ethylene gas in acetone, and as a dissolved gas, a cylinder can contain about 40 x the cylinder free volume of the gas at a fairly nominal pressure - usually not more than about 150 psi.

Some years after the above incident, an ex father-inlaw related numerous stories about his work at the Trailways Bus Maintenance Shop at Kip, Kansas (about 10 miles SE of Salina).

Among the many stories that we all heard until we didn't really want to hear them again, was the tale of the "last day" at the shop.

The Bus shop, as would be expected, had an acetylene generator. Details were never too precise, but it appeared to have been of the carbide-feed type, using a large cast iron "bell" that floated over the generated gas as a "pressure regulator." The "bell" was usually described as "600 pounds of cast iron" so I'd expect it was possibly 300 pounds, but that's still a fairly large capacity generator.

One fine day, someone noticed that the acetylene pressure was "very high and rising." An alarm was given and everyone "ran like h.- e. - bloody - HE**." Father inlaw claims to have been 300 yards down the road (I'll believe 100) when he was thrown another 50 yards (normal allowance, make that 20 feet) and "pieces of the shop flew past" (probably believable). Apparently the shop never resumed operation.

I have seen one picture taken after the event. Everything did look remarkably "flat." The picture apparently was a "private snapshot" and disappeared from known family records; and I've found no historical record of the incident. Small towns in Kansas abandoned after something exploded was not apparently newsworthy in the mid 1930s when (as I infer without documentation) all this happened.

What remains of Kip, KS shows on the map as 5 named streets, the longest of which about 240 yards and is apparently a dead-end in an open field. This might be where the shop was located, as it likely would have been built "on the edge of town" even then. The "town" - or what remains - is apparently too small to show any population statistics or to be noted in the history books.

[Current Washington State Safety Regulations (they were easiest to find) prohibit operation of an acetylene generator above 15 psi. The report by f.i.l was that the Trailways generator normally ran at 60 psi, although based on most of his other stories, he wasn't "good at math."]

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 04:17 PM

When Lin came crawling out of bed a few minutes ago, I noted my surprise at not being able to find anything on the web about the big Kip Kansas explosion. She went directly to her computer and pulled up an impressively detailed report. While she was still giggling over her ability to find something after I'd said there were no reports, I pointed out to her that the article she found, at Google, was "posted at mudcat.org 47 minutes ago." [see above]

Dang, but altering(?) history is s.o.o.o easy now!

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 04:44 PM

My HS chemistry/physics teacher came into the Physics Lab one night (he was a Christian Brother and lived on-site) only to smell gas. In the dark he quickly opened all the doors and windows and turned OFF all the gas burner jets.

It shook him, because if he'd flicked on the lights the tiny spark would probably have blown out the walls of the room. The gas/air level was at critical.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 08:42 PM

Nobody seems to have followed up on the question about poison gas.

When I was about 14 I had a heavy cold and was really bunged up. Tried mixing battery acid and glycerine for no reason I can remember. I did expect it to produce acrolein but didn't quite expect what acrolein does. It's a lachrymatory agent effective enough to use as a riot control gas. It got my nose streaming. In fact it cured my cold in minutes.

I got into official US government manuals about rocketry. Soon worked out that ammonium perchlorate and aluminium powder (detonated electrically by a fusewire loop from the mains) was going to be the safest and best bang I could get. Never tried to make a rocket but got some awesome bangs.

About 15 years ago I got the idea of doing O. Winston Link style photos of fishing boats offshore at night; I had a specific interesting and very remote location in mind. No electronic flash could do that, not even the sort of studio flashes they use for architectural work and advertising shots of cars. I asked on some photo newsgroups - turns out you can still get the sort of flashbulbs Link used, but the most interesting suggestion was to use the technology the US military employs for simulating nuclear explosions in battlefield exercises. Fill a trough with aluminium powder with an explosive charge underneath it and enclose it in a huge plastic bag filled with oxygen. The result is a flashbulb up to the size of a house. If I'd got round to doing it, it would have set off a flood of UFO reports from Skye to Ireland. I had no idea how to predict exposure, and since I'd only get one chance I would have needed to set up about a dozen cameras with different aperture settings, film speeds and filters to bracket the shot.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 09:27 PM

The US Army uses the following to simulated nuclear explosions:

Take a 55 gallon drum of jellied gasoline (although liquid will do in a pinch). In the bottom place a 1/4 lb. block of TNT, connecting via PETN detonating cord to a pile of 50 lbs. of TNT about 10 feet away. Double cap a couple of blocks in the pile with the PETN and run your wires from the block in the drum to detonator FAR away. Check the circuit and blow 'er at will. Gives a LOVELY mushroom cloud effect and you can (usually) reuse the drum.

Back in the day we were going to blow one of these off from an island in the Mississippi near town, just to get the town folks going. We were, of course, going to use a timed detonator.

Or just order the damn thing from the US Army supply system.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 09:37 PM

Gas? You want to discuss gas?

There are two easily obtainable white powders which, when mixed and kept dry, do nothing but sit there. Add water -- even just a drop -- and a chemically "dirty" batch of chlorine gas is produced and quite a bit of it, too!

My Late Mother's Three Big Rules:

1. You will no longer make pyrotechnics, fireworks, or explosives of any kind in the basement or anywhere in the house.

2. You will no longer make lachrymators or other war (poison) gases anywhere in the house.

3. If you are going to experiment with electricity don't trip the breakers.

Each was promulgated immediately after A Certain Incident.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 12 Jan 08 - 10:49 PM

In the realm of very real rocket science, I was present when a junior level manager came bouncing into the engineering office at "Little B Airplane" company gleefully announcing that "we passed the proof test."

The test article was a hollow spherical tank precisely 6 FEET in diameter, with walls 0.010 inches thick, that they had pressurized to "105% of design limit load" with "dry nitrogen," bringing the average stress in the container wall "to or above" 115,000 psi. The test was mainly to "proof" the weld that ran completely around an "equator" of the tank, to join the two hemispheres from which it was made.

Sufficient details are contained above for anyone with a sophomore engineering education to calculate the "compression energy" that would have been released had any failure occured. Hint: "more than 1,000 lb of TNT?."

They had performed the test during the main day-shift in an occupied building where approximately 300 people were busy building airplanes.

Had there been a failure, that building would have been gone, and the building I was working in some 80 yards away quite likely would have been "damaged beyond safe use."

I think it was remarkable, in fact nearly miraculous, that the the "manager" escaped without bodily harm - from MY OFFICE.

I'm quite sure that my remarks were not officially recorded in the Apollo Liquid Hydrogen Storage Tank Development Archives (Lunar Orbiter subsection).

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 Jan 08 - 01:52 PM

Wow! What jolly good fun!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 13 Jan 08 - 04:39 PM

We used to make our own solid rocket fuel. I won't, for obvious reasons, give the ingredients here but will only say they were (and are) still rather easily available.

We melted them in an old electric skillet and poured the resulting mixture into the rocket bodies.

One flight was estimated (by inclinometer and slide rule) at 2,560 feet. Which wasn't bad for some kids using a city park as a launch site.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 Jan 08 - 11:34 PM

Once when we all went to town, one of the girls decided to surprise everyone by cleaning the whole house for us. She took at least three or four gallons of benzine and WASHED just about everything. She washed down the walls, and even immersed uncle Bud's pipes in the stuff and scrubbed 'em all out. Then she threw the left over benzine into the outhouse.

We got home about four PM. Uncle Bud had a new Sears catalogue and a new pipe and tobacco, so he settled down in the outhouse --- to light up and read the catalogue. He lit his pipe, tossed the match into the dark innards of the outhouse, and three hours later he came down in the middle of the chicken yard! We figure he must've gone a thousand feet up at least.

We ran up to him saying, "Uncle, Uncle, are you O.K.????"

He said, "Yep, it must've been something I et in town!!"

And that was that!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 04:12 AM

Now Art -

At first glance I was about to question your bit about "three hours later he came down."

On closer examination of the test conditions, however, it's quite obvious that the store of benzine in the innards of the the outhouse would have ejected a substantial exhaust plume, and uncle probably just sat up there on top of the plume 'till he finished the ladies garment section of the catalog, and then he hopped down all on his own.

(His comment about "somethin' I et" might have been a reference to a "bit of a burn" on the nether regions, from sittin' on that hot gas.)

The only remaining question is how much further into the ground did it drive the outhouse.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 09:12 AM

Art, I happen to know that your story is God's own truth. MY uncle, who is no longer with us, happened to be flying past in his JN4J and saw you uncle, still reading, up in the air. My uncle asked him if he'd like a ride somewhere but your uncle just said "No, thanks, I've just lit my pipe and I've got a good book here."


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 09:37 AM

Art, that is certainly an amazing story.

It reminds me of one of my father's favorite stories from his years as a dairy farmer. We only had ten or so Jersey cows but they were quite productive. Part of the daily routine during the winter when the cows were sequestered in the milking "parlor" for months on end (we're talking about Maine here) was to shovel the cow manure down the trap doors, onto the manure pile fermenting below. Well, one day there was father down in the barn waiting for Dr. Pinfold to pay a visit to Cindy who appeared to be ailing. The good veterinarian was late so father decided to kill some time smoking his pipe, and after a while pried up one of the trap doors and shook out the ash onto the manure pile. There was one tremendous explosion as the methane gas ignited. The milking parlor was flattened, cows and father went flying. The newspaper headlines the next day proclaimed: THE FIRST HERD SHOT AROUND THE WORLD!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Art Thieme
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 12:57 PM

Udderly amazing tail---er, tale!

To ere' is human, to forgive, bovine!

Art


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 02:12 PM

What really surprised us, Art, was that when Cindy returned to earth she was not at all cowed by the experience, and after the press conference we got to milk the royalties for the film rights for years.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 02:24 PM

No bull, Charley?


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Mr Red
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 03:49 PM

Gowing lettuce ain't Rocket science.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 09:54 PM

It CAN BE - on The Space Station... :-P


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rowan
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 10:08 PM

Many thanks, Charley, for pointing me to this thread; it's a ripper! I had no time to read it online so I printed it out and took it away with me to read at leisure. Daughter #1 (16 last May) was worried about the paroxysms of tears and laughter brought on by Fergie and Big Mick's descriptions of their escapades; she'd never seen me so convulsed. She had, however, been looking over my shoulder as I typed up my posting about the magnesium ribbon that you saw on the drive ins thread so she understood perfectly once she'd read their postings.

When I asked her if she'd known any of her peers at school to do similar things she said they were all too uninterested in such things; what is the next generation coming to? However, she mentioned a bright spot that had happened at this year's Nariel, a fortnight ago. For those of you outside Oz, Nariel is the oldest continuously running folk festival in Oz and arguably the one that kicked all the others off; it started in '62-3 as a weekend workshop to teach fokies from Melbourne (5 hrs' drive away) all the dances and tunes that had lingered out of range of radio and TV in the hills near the upper Murray of NE Victoria; lovely creek with trout, no electricity, basic bogs, $20 camping fee, corroboree ground, great music.

The teenagers are supervised only from a respectful distance and daughter #1 mentioned a group of them had brought 250 sparklers, scraped all the combustible stuff off their wires (I had wondered why there was a tangle of unburnt sparkler wires just outside the door of her tent) and into a large tin. They floated this item in the middle of the creek , lit another sparkler and jammed it into the mix (upright, to act as a fuse) and watched. It lit up the whole campsite, brilliantly, like the flare it was. It was quite some time after the entry of the New Year and I was asleep and missed it. The ringleader was a lad of 15, who promises to have all the exploratory nouse we have celebrated above.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rowan
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 11:16 PM

I suspect this is the first of my postings that prompted Charley to resurrect this thread.

When about 15 I read in a newspaper article that the temperature in the tip of a burning cigarette was ~750 degrees F; I was sceptical about this but figured I could test the veracity with a bit of cunning. I knew that the ignition temperature of magnesium was less (~650 degrees F?) and I knew I could "borrow" a short length of Mg ribbon from the chemistry lab at school. My father smoked filter tipped cigarettes and I pinched one of his opened packets, carefully removed the tobacco, placed a short strip of magnesium ribbon in the middle and then carefully packed tobacco back in so that the finished product could not be distinguished from the other cigarettes in the pack, put it in with them and left the pack wher he'd find it. I figured I'd get to hear about any result.

A few days later he was driving us to the drive in in the gathering dusk and lit up a smoke. After a minute or so there was a brilliant light in the front of the car, a loud expletive and the flare was thrown out the window onto the road.
"What the hell was that?" he cried, as I watched the flare while we kept driving down the road.
"Dunno, Dad!" I replied. I don't think I ever told him I was responsible, but I was satisfied the newspaper article was probably correct about temperatures in cigarettes.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rowan
Date: 14 Jan 08 - 11:19 PM

And I suspect this also prompted Charley.

When I was 15 I was the school expert on explosives; I (and all my assistants) still have both our eyes and all our fingers so I must have been doing something right. I was also in the local archery club and you remind me of various exploits. I tipped some of my arrows with dead .22 cartidges when dealing with feral cats and rabbits and I experimented with Mg ribbon to make arrow-borne flares. My most successful arrowhead required a used carbon dioxide bomb of the sort used in soda fountains, some cartridge powder from a shotgun shell and a primer from the same shell. In the interests of not drawing the attention of ASIO and the CIA to Mudcat I'll give no further details but that it made a very satisfactory hole in a hardwood (redgum; 72lbs/cubic foot) stump at 100 yards.

But, again, I'm older now.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: GUEST,astro
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 12:05 AM

The memories of explosives...the contact explosives expert that I was...sold many a lot to other "adventuresome" individuals of the time in High School...Ahhh...I remember the adventures:

   . contact explosives under the toilet seats at HS
   . contact explosives on the chalk boards providing a musical note
      to high school chemistry
   . contact explosives under the swivel desk seats to add a nice
      wake up moment for students sitting down
   . in the key hole to the door of the physics class in hs...
      remember when they carted away the poor physics teacher due to
      shock...not my doing, but my product used by others...which
      spelled the end to my time as the engineer...

This then reminds me of the underground planetarium shows given...!


Astro


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Grab
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 08:07 AM

Not a pyro myself, but I was in the climbing club at school, and a couple of them were predictably short of the gene that tells the rest of us "uh, are you sure that's a good idea...?" An unsupervised trip to the school cottage in Yorkshire, in company with a large amount of (underage) alcohol, various preprepared sparkly-and-bangy things, and climbing and caving gear, was particularly memorable. So much so that I'm amazed nothing went too badly wrong. The wall above the fireplace finished off black with various stuff thrown/sprayed on the fire.

The only actual injury was to me though, and it was the lowest-tech thing you can imagine. One of the guys heated up a coin on the fire to orange heat, then put it on a bit of rolled-up newspaper and showed it to another guy. This bloke thought he was being threatened with it, so he kicked the newspaper, and the coin flew with absolute precision straight down the neck-hole of my shirt! With unusual presence of mind, I didn't bother trying to get it out but simply leaned right forward to get it away from my skin. In the 2-3 seconds while I was figuring out what to do next, the coin solved the problem by burning its way out Alien-wise through my T-shirt and sweatshirt, then dropping onto the carpet and burning through that to the stone floor. I had a neat round burn scar on my chest for a few years after that.

This was the same trip where two of the guys (the pyros, unsuprisingly) went abseiling from the Ribblehead Viaduct at night, and when asked where they'd tied the ropes off, they said "around the rails". Their main concern was getting a good anchor, and the possible flaw in their plan simply hadn't occurred to them - thank goodness British Rail didn't run night trains on that line.

For fire-related action, a particularly dim lad at school deserves a special mention. This was in the mid-80s when nylon tents were just starting to take off but weren't yet flameproofed. In defiance of rules he decided to use his Trangia inside his tent, and then he had a moment of curiosity and wondered what a lit Trangia burner looked like from below. For those who don't know, a Trangia is a meths stove which is designed to draw its air through a perforated panel in the base, so lift it up and suddenly you've got a whole lot more air reaching the burner. Witnesses said that it was very impressive to watch. The tent burned so fast that he was completely unscathed - the fire just flashed straight round him and burned the whole tent in a couple of seconds, leaving him sitting stunned in the open air as bits of tent ash dropped round him.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 08:52 AM

Rowan-

I'm pleased that you and your family appreciate this thread. I thought you might!

And, Graham, what a lovely image you sketch of the tent flash fire!

It's probably time for the mandatory Mudcat disclaimer:

NONE OF WHAT HAS BEEN POSTED ABOVE SHOULD BE TRIED AT HOME, OR AWAY FROM HOME, WITH OR WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION!!!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 09:03 AM

And the education never stops! Just a year or so ago I learned how to convert shotgun shells into hand grenades (and they'd work, too).

I find that I haven't even touched upon what I've done with incendiaries, and perhaps I shouldn't. But jellied gasoline smeared around the inside of an ashtray can surprise the hell out of the person who stubs out a cig.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 10:37 AM

Smeared around the toilet seat when a really hot chick sits down on it can make for some unique pyrotechnics too!!!!

Art


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 10:41 AM

Whoops, I just saw GUEST Astro's prior suggestion above for what is the content of my last post. Sorry!

Art


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 11:28 AM

If you throw cherry bombs down an outhouse with self-closing seat lids it can make for very interesting results for the next person to use the facilities.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 09:41 PM

In my uncle's case, we always referred to what happened to him as FATO!

Fart assisted takeoff!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 16 Jan 08 - 02:24 AM

A couple of old-time pilots I dealt with some years ago called the "assisted take off kit" for the F84 the "BOR kit."

BOR translated as "Bag of Rocks."

The explanation was that the F84 was so underpowered that it always needed all the runway you had (and sometimes a little more) in order to get off the ground. If you dumped a bag of rocks in front of it, it would think it was at the end of the runway so it might occasinally go ahead and get it up a little before you hit the trees.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rowan
Date: 16 Jan 08 - 10:33 PM

In 1956/7, before natural gas was piped to Melbourne from Bass Strait, reticulated "town gas" was the mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide produced from the reduction of coal. As delivered it was less dense than air and was used for various tricks.

One was to use a hose to blow bubbles from a soap solution; the bubble would rise in the air, often past an ignition source; very satisfying. Another use was to fill party balloons, on which unflattering/witty/adolescent remarks could be painted (this was before textas) before releasing them; they'd rise to the ceiling of any room or passage and stay there, well out of reach, until the hydrogen diffused through the skin of the balloon (more rapidly than the CO) and when the mixture reached the same density as the air the balloon would gradually descend and be removed by the cleaners.

Harmless fun, until one of our number acquired a meteorological balloon. At 3 metres diameter this promised fantastic results! The lab was in the upper floor of the school and, unnoticed during lunch hour, we got enough hose to put the balloon out of a window and fill it before tying off and releasing. The wind was a steady southwesterly and the eddies kept the balloon close to the ground but above the powerlines for the trams down St George's Rd. It was still close to the ground when it entered the area occupied by the Little Sisters of the Poor Convent, across the road and appeared to chase the horse in their paddock. Greatly amused, we watched the balloon disappear northeast over Rucker's Hill in time for us to return to classes; we thought that would be the end of it.

On the radio news that evening, I heard that housewife in Bulleen had reported seeing "a fireball, come in her kitchen window at 2.30 in the afternoon, sit over her stove, and then explode. The Met Bureau was interviewed and the wally waffled on about St Elmo's fire and other hypotheses. The next day, at school, we calculated that, from the observed weather, wind speed and direction, the distance from Northcote High to Bulleen, the time of the housewife's report and the likely diffusion rate of hydrogen from the balloon, her fireball was likely to have been our balloon.

So we rang the Met Bureau and put our alternative hypothesis forward. Were they interested?

Naaaah!

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 16 Jan 08 - 10:42 PM

You must obtain and read the book "Backyard Ballistics." But don't try the stuff at home! Use someone else's yard.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 Jan 08 - 10:51 PM

"Use someone else's yard"

Preferably, get some other sucker teenager to do it while you watch!


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 17 Jan 08 - 02:46 AM

On the same theme as Rowan's floating balloons, but without the flames and explosions, at a lab where I worked many years ago there was a plentiful supply of various "lab gases" including a tap on the wall where one could draw small amounts of helium, and a tank nearby from which liquid nitrogen was handy.

A small balloon - on the order of the rubber "finger cots" provided in the lab for handling "super clean stuff" - or another kind conveniently and easily available - could be filled with sufficient helium to achieve bouyancy and then tied off. If said "balloon" was then rolled around on the surface of a bit of liquid nitrogen in a petrie dish, it would collapse into something that resembled a "thing that might be discarded on a secluded road at night" (even if it was one of the "conventional lab" balloons).

If carried carefully, to minimize the heat transfer, this object could be easily transported for some distance to a place where there were "unsuspecting subjects who might need their day enlivened."

Deposited in a place where it would be first noticed in someone's peripheral vision (most sensitive to small movements), as the object absorbed heat and began to uncurl, the usual reaction was "puzzlement," and full awareness that something "really was there" usually came at about the time when the "object" inflated to it's full magnificance and rose gently to the ceiling. (The last stages of growth were usually quite rapid.)

It remained a fairly common, if sporadic, "social activity" until the arrival of a "rather stern" Management Directive ...

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Jan 08 - 08:33 AM

Clearly, my classmates and I were relative innocents compared to some of what has been posted in this thread.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 17 Jan 08 - 09:24 AM

And forget the "Dangerous Book For Boys." Get both the "Dangerous Book For Girls" and "The American Boys Handy Book". The latter two are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay superior to the first.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: MaineDog
Date: 17 Jan 08 - 01:54 PM

As a retired rocket scientist I am enjoying this thread majorly! I hope I get to finish it befor Homeland security takes it down.
Where can I get one of those tee shirts?
MD


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Jan 08 - 11:31 PM

"Where can I get one of those tee shirts?"

What? the ones with all the char marks and burn holes in? They're 'home made' mate! :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: HuwG
Date: 18 Jan 08 - 12:07 AM

Reading JohnInKansas's tale above reminds me of a story told by a late business partner of my father's, who was working as a chemist or analyst at Yorkshire Imperial Metals in Leeds, UK.

One day, the foundrymen at YIM contrived to make a mess of a casting operation, and found themselves with a gigantic ingot jammed into a mould. They could have course cut it out with oxy-acetylene torches but the foundry floor workers reckoned that it would be as quick to sit down and wait till it rusted through.

YIM hired an acknowledged "expert" in the field of explosives and demolitions - Blaster Bates. Bates proved that bravado and after-dinner repartee are not necessarily a recommendation. Examining the cast and calculating it was about "three tree roots' worth", Blaster packed several sticks of gelignite around the casting and fired. With the rest of YIM still working!

The results were several minor and one major injuries, the latter to John Jones from who I heard the tale, who was handling glassware at the time. The mould was distorted beyond repair, and there was a casting-shaped hole in one wall of the foundry. Lugubrious Yorkshire foundrymen retrieved the smashed casting on a fork-lift truck, saying expressionlessly to the foreman, "Can we 'ave a chit to put this in t'arisings bin?" (Losses during the casting process could be a disciplinary matter.)

John and my father were in business together for some years until John died in a car crash.


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 18 Jan 08 - 01:05 AM

At "little B aircraft" ca 1970, our "explosives expert" was a rather colorful character that everyone called just "Boom-Boom." I'm not sure that I ever knew what his "real" first name was.

His tale of his glider flight into Bastogne with 2,000 pounds of high-explosives for payload was very graphic, and still scares me just to think about it. (I believe he said that only a two, of the 8 or 9 behind him landed "safely," so his flight was after the Germans had "zeroed in" on the approach paths. "Safely" was sort of a euphemism for "there were pieces left" after the "landing.")

He had a remarkable collection of tales to tell, but he was a professional and I can't give first-hand accounts, so they're not really appropriate here.

A complaint about a "balcony office" that had only one exit led to his proposed solution:

"I'll just stick some shaped-charge det cord in a door-sized outline on the wall. If there's an emergency, you just hit the switch and there'll be a door there."

(The plan was never implemented, although he probably could have made it work.)

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 18 Jan 08 - 09:17 AM

It would have worked. I've cut steel plate with det cord. LOOOOONG after my youthful hijinks, of course. I shudder to think what we would have done if we could have gotten our hands on det cord.

The story about the ingot reminded me of a story my uncle-in-law tells. He was working at a ready-mix cement company in DC at the time, and of course the mixer units on the cement truck HAD to keep turning so the cement wouldn't harden.

Seems like one of the drivers decided to pay a little visit to his girlfriend, drink a few beers, on company time. He parked the truck outside he door and spent eight hours inside. Naturally, the cement in truck hardened.

He got back to the yard after the Supervisors, etc. had gone home and found a note on his timecard -- something to the effect of "See Me Tomorrow!" He thought that if he could get the hardened cement out of the truck it might go easier on him, so he went home or somewhere and returned with ten sticks of dynamite.

The steel drum on a cement truck WILL contain the explosion of so much dynamite, but the force of the blast didn't even loosen the concrete. It did, however, bring many representatives of the police and fire departmetns, the BATF, and others.

The driver involved didn't have to wait until the next morning to see his boss, or his boss's boss, or his boss's boss's boss, or to meet the press, or....


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 19 Jan 08 - 06:50 AM

Rapaire - your uncleis probably the source of The Myth Busters item on their TV show...


"The mould was distorted beyond repair, and there was a casting-shaped hole in one wall of the foundry. "

Hmmm, sounds like he clearly fulfilled his contract -'get that fooking thing out of there' - he just should have been given a more explicit 'task description'!   :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rowan
Date: 19 Jan 08 - 08:26 PM

Another use we made of Melbourne's town gas was to get a tin can with a tin 'press-fit' lid, drill a 1/4" hole in the lid and fill the tin with town gas, purging all the air. You could carry the charged tin outside (keeping your thumb over the hole in the lid), set it down with the lid uppermost and put a match to the hole.

A nice unoxygenated flame, about 1" high, would appear above the hole and gradually get smaller as the quantity of gas diminished, until the flame just disappeared into the hole. This occurred at the correct fuel-air ratio for the mix to ignite with an almighty bang, sending the lid high in the air.

The best part was that no part of the apparatus was damaged by all this so you could reuse it again and again. Of course, we had to try it (from a safe distance) with one of those four gallon (Imperial, 5 gallon US and 20 litre metric) cans with press-fit lids that various dehydrated vegies came in when in bulk.

Very satisfying.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rowan
Date: 19 Jan 08 - 09:07 PM

When I was at Mawson we used det cord to take the tops off 44s; these are the drums (containing 44 gallons Imperial or 55 gallons US or 200 litres metric) that contained fuel on the way down but had various uses at the station. You just wrapped a length of cord around the drum just under the top rim and the top would come off as clean as a whistle.

But Mawson reminds me of other yarns with explosive effects.

Antarctica is seriously cold and seriously dry (although RH might be 60%, Absolute Humidity is 3/5 of 5/8 of precious little) which means nothing rots. So what did we do about sewage?

When I was there in '69, we burned the less wet bits, requiring us to be careful about separating our various functions; woe betide anyone who pissed in the crapper! The crapper at Mawson (officially "Law Hut", named after the director of ANARE, Philip Law) had a pissoir just inside the entrance (effectively the cold porch) and a row of 44s set into concrete such that their tops were at comfortable seating height. Each 44 had a flue hole let into its side about half way up the back and three of them had a timber dunny seat set into a removable lid; the fourth had a lid much like the inlet of a woodburning furnace, with a slide to control the intake of air. So that you didn't get the blizzards affecting tender bits of anatomy down the flue, each drum had a 'tompion' flue blocker that was inserted from the inside of the drum when it was in use.

Everyone took turns at being on nightwatch and one of the duties was to "burn off the crapper". This meant that you scraped out the ash from the one that had been burned off the night before (with the air-intake lid), using a long handled shovel affair and dumping the ash (along with the contents of the pissoir) out on the sea ice in the harbour, downwind from the station. Mawson had been in use since 1954 and had used briquettes as a fuel for a lot of that time, so we still had a fair dump of excess briquettes; fuel oil was the main heating fuel in '69.

So, put the flue tompion back into the hole, chuck half a dozen briquettes into the bottom of the cleaned-out 44, followed by enough kindling from old packing crates to create a pile about 2/3 up the drum's interior and then check the other three drums to see which has had the most use, transfer its seat-lid off to the newly setup drum and then prepare the exposed drum for burning by removing its flue blocker, chucking in another half a dozen briquettes and a cupful of oil and a match to set it burning, after which the air-intake lid was put on top, the air intake adjusted and away it would go.

But you had to remember to take its flue blocker out before you lit it, didn't you.

A couple of years after I was there, someone forgot! But they remembered when it didn't seem to be burning properly and just produced a lot of smoke. So they took the lid off, didn't they! And, as anyone with experience of fuels that are burning in a space starved of oxygen can tell you, if you suddenly introduce a whole lot of oxygen the mixture will suddenly give an explosive conflagration. And it did.

I believe John Illingworth wrote a song, using Villikans and his Dinah as the tune, celebrating the event but I've never been able to track down the words.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Charley Noble
Date: 20 Jan 08 - 11:36 AM

Rowan-

Another fine song lost due to the negligence of ethnomusicologists.

Very sad!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rowan
Date: 20 Jan 08 - 08:34 PM

The other Mawson story came somewhat later, after Australia got serious about ensuring Antarctica was sustainably "clean".

They installed special gas-fired burners in Law Hut to replace the old 44-drum types described above. These were much more comfortable, as you didn't have to separate your functions; when you dropped the cover of the dunny seat, a burner would ignite and consume everything. I wasn't there to see these but I gather the nightwatch was easier too.

The gas used was Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG in Oz and mostly propane) that was kept in large steel bottles ~4' high. In most situations such bottles are silver grey in colour and kept outside a building but Antarctica is cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey (See the Mudcat thread on this) and at Mawson the bottles were painted black and were kept inside the hut; this allowed the liquid to evaporate successfully inside the bottle and send gas down the pipes to the various crappers.

ANARE has long believed that most of a plumber's tasks can be satisfactorily performed by a carpenter; our year (69) was the year they replaced the oil fired heating in the various buildings the station with a waste heat circulation system from the powerhouse and so we had a great plumber but that was unusual.

One day, someone reported to the chippie that one of the bottles in the manifold in Law Hut had a slight leak at the valve so he went off to check it. Not being a gasfitter, he got the spanner onto the bit below the valve on the relevant bottle and started to unscrew it. When there was only about half a thread holding the valve assembly into the top of the gas bottle, the pressure blew the whole assembly through the roof, releasing heavier-than-air gas into the building.

Bad enough, you might say, but he had been doing all this while talking with someone who was occupying a seat-of-ease and who'd just finished their business and put the lid down. They scarpered quick smart and got out just in time to witness the almighty blast from outside the hut.

I'm told they had a bit of a cold time of it for the rest of the year. And there's no evidence of a song about it. Pity!

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rowan
Date: 22 Jan 08 - 09:39 PM

Most of the stories in the thread have centred on bangs as such rather than on their use in rocketry but there are a couple of episodes from my 15yr old adolescence where rocketry was at the centre of the event.

In Oz, there is a fine institution known as the Hills Hoist; every backyard seems to have had one. It is a clothes line for drying laundry, set out as nested squares on a pipework frame that can be raised and lowered and freely rotates; they usually have a radius of about 3.5m.

Some mates and I thought the one belonging to one of them would make an excellent test bed for a trial rocket powered by the usual gunpowder mix; in a built up suburban area it would be captive and still function without endangering neighbours. Made from a length of 1" steel water pipe and fittings, effectively, it was an open-ended pipe bomb strapped to the outside wire of the hoist. Apart from the spray of soot left on the painted side of the house where we lit the fuse it was a raging success but we didn't dare repeat it.

This led to another pair of events. I'd been reading CS Forester's series on Hornblower and there was a lot of description of naval actions involving the use of cannons. Cannon balls and grapeshot I could understand and accept but I was sceptical about the repeated descriptions of the effects of chain shot; chain shot was specified as a pair of cannon balls connected by a length of chain and used to disable rigging. To my mind, two balls from the one barrel were unlikely to separate far enough and the technology of using two cannons to simultaneously each fire a ball, connected by chain, from two barrels was nonsense. So I thought I'd experiment with the bit of rocket we'd used on the Hills Hoist.

I got a couple of 1/2" ball bearings and taped them to each end of an 8" length of keychain. I cut a transverse slot in the butt end of the assembly to take a fuse but, for reasons I can't remember I couldn't get the fuse to ignite the contents on any of the small test runs. So I got a 3v torch bulb and soldered a pair of leads to the business bits, broke the glass away from around the filament and inserted it, intact, into the slot with the leads (taped to stop any dislodging) going to a pair of dry cells. Perfect. I loaded it up with powder, wad and chain shot and another wad to keep it all together and took it down to the North Fairfield quarry, a place with lots of explosive bangs so the neighbours wouldn't notice; I forgot until after the event that Saturday afternoons were quiet times at the quarry.

I set it up so that there would be no recoil and I was at no risk and aimed it through some long grass at a large piece of old galvanised roofing sheet about 20' away, shorted the circuit and produced an almighty bang! It wasn't until my (younger) brother asked "Can you hear anything?" that I realised I could still hear; he was in the same state.

From the muzzle of this cannon there was a channel through the grass stems that gradually widened (I can't recall whether its shape was conical or 'exponential') until it reached the sheet, which had a pair of holes, 8" apart and joined by a slot with the same width as the keychain.

Blow me down! The chain shot notions could have worked and weren't just naval fairy stories. But I notice that Patrick O Brian's series on Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin don't mention chain shot at all. Ball, carronades, grape, canister and even bar; they all get a mention but there's no reference to chain shot.

Anyway, back to being 15 again!

For free-flying rockets we reckoned that water pipe was too heavy and we wanted a better fuel than gunpowder. We figured that the steel pipe used for bicycle frames would be the best option; relatively thin and thus light, no seams, easily available at the tip ("dump" for our US friends) in suitable length from old frames. A bit of brazing to block the tip with a cone and attach fins with the same twist as arrow fletches and we were away. I won't specify what we mixed with the sugar to make a very acceptable oxidising agent but I'm sure you'll guess. Some research had convinced us that a star shape (in transverse section) was the best profile for a combustion chamber to get maxmum propulsion from solid fuels, so we made one out of bits of modelling wood and tamped the fuel down the tube around it. But we used an ordinary Tom Thumb (opened at one end) with its powder and fuse to start it off.

Northcote High had a huge area of open parkland playing fields adjacent to its grounds and some were out of sight from both the school buildings and the main road, so we repaired there after school and set it up in the gathering dusk for a vertical flight. It went off brilliantly.

I have no idea of the altitude it reached but when it came down it came down about 1/2 a mile west of the launch site, across Merri Creek and in East Brunswick.

Into the main high voltage electricity substation for the northern suburbs.

Where a length of steel pipe more than 2' long was a perfect conductor.

Brilliant flash! And then the lights went out! And we skedaddled home into the gloom!

The news (radio and print) mentioned the incident but couldn't ascribe any cause as, apparently, no evidence was found.

And we're much older now.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Rocket Science???
From: Rapparee
Date: 22 Jan 08 - 09:58 PM

We used aluminum tubing for rocket bodies and made the nose cone out of sheet aluminum. Fins were slid into notches as the tail and the melted propellant (technically known as "caramel candy") was carefully poured around a wooden vane centered in the rocket body. To finish we pressed another cone into the nearly-full end of the rocket. Firing was done by a 6-volt lantern battery.

The stories about burning the "waste" in Antarctica reminds me of the one my late friend Bob told me about Vietnam: the half barrels were pulled out the back of the latrines, doused in diesel fuel, and set alight. This was not a job for either the faint-hearted! One day someone opened the door below where the First Sergeant of calmly contemplating the news of the day, tossed on some diesel and threw a match -- without removing the half-barrel, of course. The flames of the burning latrine gave new meaning to the term "toasted buns."


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