With the end of summer drawing near there are a few traditions that we all partake in. For some it is simply a change of season, for others it is a return to school.
For those of you who do not know what a Trebuchet is, it is simply a more advanced version of a catapult. A catapult is a large wooden mechanism that quite literally "catapults" a large object over a fairly large distance. Generally the large object is a projectile or missile of some type. I.e.: a rock, cantaloupe, or a Mini Cooper.
The basic catapult generally is comprised of a simple wooden frame with a long throwing arm. The arm uses the kinetic energy stored through tension (like a crossbow) or through torsion (using twisted ropes). In a trebuchet the arm is powered by gravity, using a heavy counterweight on the other end.
Okay, history/science lesson is now over.
The idea to build a catapult was born after breakfast. We were simply not content to settle for a slingshot. We just had to build a siege engine. It helped us greatly that our friends cottage was situated on one hundred acres of tree farm land. Thus there were several tree trunks lying around after the spring cutting.
No power tools, nails or nuts and bolts were used in the construction of the Trebuchet. At our disposal we only had one Swiss Army knife, a pocket chainsaw (then later a hand saw) along with a broken survival knife. Instead of getting a quantity of bulk rope,
After about six hours of gathering, sawing, building, lashing, and more lashing, we had a ten-foot tall siege engine to call our very own. Sadly we had to scrap the idea of using a sling because of a power line over the site. For the counterweight we used a handy tree stump wrapped in heavy gauge chain. The counterweight was then lashed to the arm using an even larger amount of twine! We then lashed a fruit basket to the other end and tied the arm to the ground with more twine and a stake. With all that done she was ready to fire.
The results of the first test firing were no less than spectacular with the trebuchet working fantastically... then collapsed in a heap of wood and twine. There was sheer silence across the battlefield, almost shock at the fact that we actually created (briefly) a working trebuchet. The football was found about thirty yards away, and ironically, every single piece of twine held. Only the smaller members of the trebuchet snapped under the strain. All told, it was worth the experience.
Next summer we'll probably build a Twine Ballista...
Rolo thoroughly enjoys building Ancient Weapons of Mass Destruction and hopes to start an ancient arms race.