How to chunk a pumpkin | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | October 27, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: October 25, 2017 at 10:10 am
When they found out that punkin’ chunkin’ was on the list of competitions scheduled as part of Colleton Prep’s Oktoberfest fund raiser, Dr. Lance Sims and Charlie Spears jumped.
“It was Lance’s idea,” Spears said.
“I’ve seen trebuchets on the internet. I thought it would be a neat little project to do,” Sims offered. “Charlie was the brain child, he took it upon himself and build it.”
Trebuchets became a staple of warfare in the Middle Ages — they came into being in 1304.
Back then, the catapult would fire off large rocks, logs festooned with spikes or burning ***** of vegetation at an opposing army. Spears, the golf course manager at Cherokee Plantation and Sims, a podiatrist, were armed with pumpkins.
What started out as a competition for the Oktoberfest turned into a demonstration. Sims and Spears were the only ones building a catapult, ensuring them of bragging rights until the next Oktoberfest when they hope others who saw their rig in action will take on the challenge.
Spears said he got the basics of how to build a counterpoise trebuchet from the internet. “It took a lot work from there to figure out the height, the length, the length of the ropes.” Then came the trial and error, Spears said, to figure out the release point, when the pumpkin would free itself from the sling and head skyward.
Spears said his co-worker at Cherokee Plantation J. P. Downey also helped in the construction phase.
The first catapult broke as they were loading it onto a trailer, and it took about four hours to rebuild it. Sims said.
Then there was more time dedicated to altering it, raising the height, adding weight.
The catapult they took to the Oktoberfest stood 13 feet tall and weighed 260 pounds on the short end of the catapult’s center board.
They were still tinkering with their catapult the morning of event.
Earlier firings of the catapult damaged the sling. Sims came up with the idea of constructing a trough on the bottom of the catapult to keep the sling from snagging. Power tools at the ready, Sims and Spears trimmed a piece of thin plywood to build the trough and installed it.
A test firing, hurling a small piece of log deep into Spears’ backyard, showed the trough worked.
But, they were a little disappointed in the distance. More fine-tuning on the pin that set the release point they needed.
That done, the two men pulled down on the top of the center board, hoisting the weighted end up in the air and loading a pumpkin into the sleeve.
Turned loose, the catapult flung the pumpkin high into the air — it landed about 150 feet away, exploding into bright orange shrapnel.
Deemed ready, cans of orange spray paint were deployed to paint the trough and the rest of the catapult.
The paint would dry, they explained, during the trip to the Oktoberfest.