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Flying Anvils on Science Channel

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I don't know if any of you have seen the science channel recently, but Tony Belleci from Mythbusters is hosting an event on "flying anvils" where contestants launch 100 pound anvils using 1 pound of gunpowder. My first reaction is one of utter disgust! With how hard it has been to find an anvil in Alaska, and they are just launching perfectly good anvils for fun? Haha, I wonder if they will let me keep an anvil if I can catch it... might be worth the try to obtain the elusive piece of steel. The show said its a 200 year tradition and I was wondering if anybody knows more of the history of this event?

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It was reported that one of the men "shooting " the anvil had a premature ignition and was seriously injured I believe loosing one or more fingers and was life flighted to a hospital. Also it was reported that some members of the Mythbusters crew were also injured. BTW , yes it is an old tradition that goes back to I believe the Revolutionary War.Or possibly the Civil War.

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I don't think they used as much powder back in the olden days as they were just trying to get the bang and cloud of smoke vs today's folks wanting to get height.

Also it would seem to be much more common with the brands of anvils that came with depressions in their bases.

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I had read that the tradition of blowing the anvil was to celebrate the 4th of July, and yes it was with a lot less powder. Enough to get the one up in the air maybe 6'-8'?

My feelings are that it is not a horrid thing, as I like things that go BOOM! and they can do what they want with their anvils. I see anvils for sale fairly regular at decent prices , but I do realize that for those of you in Alaska shipping is a killer. If you can find one down here you may see if you can get a relay going to get it up to you. On Craigslist there is a section called rideshare. I check this section for possible riders when I go to Northern CA, and have given several rides, as well as hauled items up to that area. I hauled a collectible Herman Miller office chair one time, and a towable engine heater that a guy bought from the Nellis AFB DRMO on another trip. You may find someone heading up your way that could bring it up to you for a decent price, or maybe even free.

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Mr Ryan lost 2 fingers in that accident. He dose an anvil shoot at the Faba conference every year. Got some bad fuse.

Understand he was burned too, plus the rest of his hand is probably not in that good of shape either. We always use an electrical igniter.

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I love things that go boom as well, but even a charge for a liftoff of 6-8 ft is enough to change your life, or worse.....Powder fuses fizzle teeny little sparks, if the fuse is too short or the charge isn't 100% sealed with clay (that's what I think is used) the the little fire crabs will eventually squeeze their way in.....Maybe electric rocket fuses would be safer, but it won't ever be 100% safe.. But what fun would that be.... :D

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For things of that nature I would think an electric rocket engine would work well. They make remote detonator switches etc for hobby rockets, or you could make your own very simply.

I didn't get to watch the program as my power was out during when it was shown, but does anyone know if they swabbed out the base before each launch? When dealing with canon they used a swab dunked in water to wash out and quench any embers or fires that may have been burning before putting the next batch of powder in to prevent pre-ignition. This was considered the most important part of being on a canon crew even in re-enactments as if it went bad, the powder would ignite as it was rammed down launching the ram rod and taking the ram rod guys fingers or hand with it

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It is being shown again early morning on Sep 7th acording to there web site but I dont get the Science channel.
Hoping it will show up as clips like the punkin chucking in there web site.

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We used to wire ours up with a clothes pin, wrap each end with thin wire and then separate them with a peice of cardboard. We'd tie fishing line to the cardboard and then just pull it out when we were ready. Of course this WAS at boyscout camp so we didn't have a vehicle nearby.

As a 2nd thought, if I were launching something like an anvil I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want MY vehicle nearby then either. :rolleyes: Couple hundred feet of extension cord at least.

I like the thin wire filament idea though Grant. I think that could be used for a variety of things.
.

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We just use a long extension cord and a fine wire for an igniter. Then touch it to the truck battery.

I launched a lot of model rockets that way. We used some bell wire (I think iron wire, but may have been tinned copper) that was wrapped around a fine wire nail to form a single loop small enough to go all the way into the rocket engine nozzle. A piece of paper tape made sure the ends stayed apart.

Our cord was fancy and we had a door bell button in it.

My Dad got a case of loose rocket engines without igniters, so we had to figure it out.

I never launched an anvil, and really don't want to be anywhere around an anvil shoot. I do want to see this special though, but a vacation got in the way.

Phil

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Unforgiven, that was a method suggested in "TM 31-210 Improvised Munitions Handbook, a United States Army technical manual intended for the United States Special Forces describing manufacture of improvised weapons and explosives from readily available materials, from junk piles, common household chemicals and supplies purchased from regular stores. It was first published in 1969 by the Department of the Army."

I used it too in the mid 1970's but used a piece of plastic between the jaws. It would set off a flashbulb if my college housemate tried to sneak into my room while I was asleep.

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I heard the gentleman who was injured lost his thumb. For me as a professional smith that would represent the loss of my livelihood. Wile I find it to be entertaining to watch my rational mind says this is just stupid and reckless.

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I heard the gentleman who was injured lost his thumb. For me as a professional smith that would represent the loss of my livelihood. Wile I find it to be entertaining to watch my rational mind says this is just stupid and reckless.


Southeshore I'm with you on this one ... I just don't get it.

To each their own.

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Like so many things there are a number of ways to minimize risk firing anvils. However no matter how careful or knowledgeable you are things can go wrong. For instance it doesn't have to be a dry day to rub a little static charge into your jeans. I have my own ideas how to shoot an anvil safely but don't feel much like sharing on a public forum, any more than I'd be likely to tell someone how to fell a leaning tree.

Whatever a person does is mostly on their own head. Torry Belacci makes his living playing with dangerous things and doing it to the point of catastrophic failure. If you go to the well often enough . . .

Frosty the Lucky.

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I shot my anvil today...with a pellet gun.

I missed the squirrel I was aiming at. Spent a couple hours cleaning up the garage from that squirrel.

Phil

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People do inumeral things in the quest for recreation and risk is very often a factor. I can't see shooting anvils as any more risky than fireworks or scores of other things. The most serious risk is when some yay hoos get to ad libing with the pyrotechnics and try get the thing into the air by hook or by crook, anything can happen then....The stories are really scary

A well thought protocol for this entertainment would be a good thing to minimize the risk, hard to implement though.............. I'm sure the guy who lost his thumb was sure he had it down pat and done this lots of times. It's a hard way to learn another precaution or two but hindsight works like that...

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People get hurt, and it sucks, but I for one am happy that we still have the right occasionally, to take some risks of our own inclination. It's getting rarer and rarer to find something you're allowed to do that's dangerous, and an injury in the pursuit of stupidity, is still an exercise of freedom ;)

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