Wholesome Explosions, Chapter 133: The Backyard Mortar

Wholesome Explosions, Chapter 133: The Backyard Mortar

Back before running with scissors was considered a suicide attempt. Before being forced to wear a helmet to ride a plastic tricycle in the living room. Way back before pointing your index finger and saying “bang” was a felony. Back then, we occasionally ended up being called “lefty,” and that’s the way we liked it.

(Thanks to Gerald VanWynGaarden for sending that one along)

6 thoughts on “Wholesome Explosions, Chapter 133: The Backyard Mortar

  1. We made ours from 3 soda cans (pre-aluminum), a tennis ball, and rubbing alcohol. I good shot would go the length of a football field. A bad shot…well, would smell a lot like burnt hair, and we’d have to get new soda cans. The 32 oz. isopropyl, btw, was 15 cents.

  2. Johnny, we used the old 3-piece soda cans too (with much argument over the optimum number / barrel length), electrical tape for assembly and lighter fluid for fuel. At night we’d poke a hole in the tennis ball to hold a lit sparkler and fire it off into the darkness. Of course we never had a moment’s concern about setting the neighborhood on fire.

  3. Oh, yeah….back in the day, my brother and I made those same “tennis ball cannons” too.

    As I recall, we had a “base can” in which we’d used a church key to punch four or five holes in the top of the can, and one small hole in the side (where we’d stuff the lit match into). Then we had a stack of another 4 cans with both ends cut out and the whole thing taped together with duct tape. These things would launch a tennis ball a couple hundred feet in the air, and easily 100 yards downrange.

    Of course, when you get teenaged boys, lighter fluid and tennis balls together, it didn’t take us long to figure out that we should use our cannons to launch flaming tennis balls at each other.

    Dad was in the Air Force, and in our braver moments, we’d try to lob these tennis balls onto the base police cars as they were on patrol and then run like hell.

  4. my brother (yeah, that’s the ticket) made one from a hydraulic ram. It had oil clearance for a pop can.

    *he* would fill the pop can with concrete and launch it. It drove the pipe about 6″ into an asphalt driveway at full charge..

    Never did figure out where the pop can came down, but it was all done in a city, so….

    Well, we never read about it, so I suppose no one was hit.

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