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Old school tin-can cannon

Built a combustion cannon? Then post it here! This section is for completed, finished cannons that you have built. Please include pictures and information.
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Old school tin-can cannon

Unread postAuthor: starman » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:29 am

OK guys, here's a little historical perspective for ya.

Back in 1971, when I was in the 8th grade, a guy whose name I don't even remember, brought a tin-can cannon to school. It used lighter fluid for fuel and a tennis ball for ammo. We went out behind the school after school and he shot it for me. I was so taken with the thing, he actually gave it to me.

So this evening, I decided to take a few minutes and build a replica of my 8th grade cannon.

Specs:

- Chamber and barrel made from 4 vegetable tin cans
- Tops and bottoms are cut out of 3 cans, the 4th has only a small hole in the bottom and several old fashion can opener holes in the top. Use a vegetable that is small like corn so that you can shake it all out of the openings...see pics.
- Cans are taped together with duct or gaff tape (original used electrical tape in 1971)
- Fuel is cigarette lighter fluid
- Ignition is a lit match to a match hole on the back of the cannon
- Ammo is a tennis ball; it can also be shot without any ammo and used as a noise maker

Here's the pics

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Shooting this thing involved a small squirt of lighter fluid in the match hole and then "airing" the chamber by shaking the cannon and slurping fresh air into the barrel and thus the chamber...5-10 seconds or so. Load your tennis ball and prop the cannon up in such a way that you have access to the match hole in the rear. Aim the cannon in a safe direction and light the match hole... :)

These are actually considered the precursor to today's PVC combustion cannons. There was a story describing these on Spudtech's site at one time, not sure if it's still there or not.

Try it yourself...you can make one in about 30 minutes with nothing but kitchen utensils.
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Last edited by starman on Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:33 am

back to basics, love it :D shouldn't the ammo be a beer bottle though :)
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Unread postAuthor: BigGrib » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:10 am

oh yes the story is still there very nice that makes me want to build one
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Unread postAuthor: MrCrowley » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:23 am

Haha nicely done :)

One day there will be a Spudgun museum, showcasing all the advancements over the years :wink:
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Unread postAuthor: potatoflinger » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:17 am

Wow, with all those holes punched in the lid of one of the cans it makes it look like a tire rim :lol:

Nice job, I may have to make one of those since I'm sick and not allowed to go anywhere.
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Unread postAuthor: jrrdw » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:33 am

Your friend must have known my older brothers lol! Sweet, get a video of that firing if you can. I'm sure members who can't do this will like to check it out. To cool.

Somebody should get this in the contest, it needs a name.
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Unread postAuthor: psycix » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:50 am

Thats really oldschool for sure.
Next time, do it with beer cans, like the old story tells us.
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Unread postAuthor: JDP12 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:57 am

haha wow that's pretty cool
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Unread postAuthor: THUNDERLORD » Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:39 pm

psycix wrote:Thats really oldschool for sure.
Next time, do it with beer cans, like the old story tells us.


What?, You think we didn't launch whatever before like we do now?

Thanks for the post starman, That looks like an exellent example OS launcher. You are a bit older than me but it's just a number.(I hope others will understand that).

There used to be some, where people used several layers of cans cut up and rolled and taped together also.(which is still a good method to sleave barrels or chambers). Thanks for the post!!!

EDIT: I find this post interesting also because the author tells you "this IS how we did it in 1971... in eighth grade"

And people reply that "you should do it this way, because that's how WE HEARD it was done"

That's interesting that if history can't be maintained for 37 years, imagine what other history lessons are wrong!!! For example civilization started in Egypt? when at the same time artifacts are preserved best there!!!

Any ancient metals would have probably been recycled as well due to the amount of labor involved to produce them back then.
Just Something to think about 8)
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Unread postAuthor: starman » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:44 pm

psycix wrote:Thats really oldschool for sure.
Next time, do it with beer cans, like the old story tells us.


Well actually back in those days, beer and soda cans were actually still made from steel and built very much like these veggie cans, so cutting the tops and bottoms on those would have been easy. It would be impossible to make a cannon like this out of today's drawn aluminum cans.

@THUNDERLORD Good points there. That's one reason I wanted to get this cannon out there, as sort-of a reference point and some semblance of documentation for future spudders.
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Last edited by starman on Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postAuthor: elitesniper » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:46 pm

haha, its pretty clean too! :lol: do you have any idea how far this cannon launches?
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Unread postAuthor: starman » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:53 pm

elitesniper wrote:haha, its pretty clean too! :lol: do you have any idea how far this cannon launches?


I'm going to shoot it some this weekend and get some numbers on it. The one back in the day had a range of 100'-150', nothing measured just scaled from memory.

I'll be sure to post the numbers when I get them.
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Unread postAuthor: Blitz » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:02 pm

A salute to old-skool. Very well done, my friend!
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Unread postAuthor: starman » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:43 pm

THUNDERLORD wrote:That's interesting that if history can't be maintained for 37 years, imagine what other history lessons are wrong!!! For example civilization started in Egypt? when at the same time artifacts are preserved best there!!!

Any ancient metals would have probably been recycled as well due to the amount of labor involved to produce them back then.
Just Something to think about 8)


All that ancient talk gave me pause....I'm not that far gone.... :wink:

@Blitz: Thanks brother!
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Unread postAuthor: THUNDERLORD » Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:42 am

Yeah, I guess that was too much of a rant.
I ran into a friend I know who's 20 and he gave me a ride home so I asked them what they were doing and it seemed like they think I'm too old for their crowd. kind of depressing but it's cool.
Anyway, Thanks for the old school cannon.
My brother's friends used to make something similar out of tennis ball cans. 8)
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