Next on my bucket list: Trebuchets!

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a pic of a replica of the Warwolf she made herself. That was cool, and even though she didn’t know it, because we haven’t known one another that long, it got me thinking about something I have wanted to do for years. I want to build a Chunker-quality trebuchet. I would love to get it built while my grandson is still young enough to appreciate flinging gourds across a field.

Earlier this week, another friend of mine walked into my office and said “We should build a trebuchet.” We bantered about it a bit and talked about how awesome it would be if we could build one sturdy enough to use an old refrigerator (or perhaps a junked VW Beetle) for a counterweight. But the conversation got me thinking about how I could build a small one and use it to get some hands-on experience about how trebuchets work, and build from there.

So, this is my spring project: I want to build a trebuchet with the following features:

1. 40- to 48-inch arm.

2. Hinged counterweight that I can use to test out different counterweight masses.

3. Sling sized to fling tennis balls and baseballs. I like the idea of trying them both with exactly the same counterweight, and really exploring the effect of projectile mass on range and accuracy.

4. Sturdy, with a projectile trough and a-frame supports and a base that wheels can be added to later.

I think this is doable for a reasonable price, and once all the pieces are cut and drilled properly, it should take a day or less to assemble.

Right now, I am working on figuring out a safe, reliable trigger mechanism and trying to calculate how much elevation I need for the axle to allow the counterweight to swing freely.

I am thinking of this as a small trebuchet, but, when the arm is perpendicular to the base, it will be six to eight feet tall. It will be just small enough to transport on the back of a pickup. Basically, it is a prototype I am dreaming up.

I don’t really go in for the diesel-powered or hydraulic or torsion-powered siege engines. The thing that I love about the trebuchet, in particular, is that it is powered by gravity.

Bonus video – This is some engineering students at Texas Tech playing with a floating-arm trebuchet. Be sure and watch until they move out into the field.