Ah, youth. Blowing shit up should be part of a well balanced
adolescence. There's nothing like blowing the shit out of plastic army
guys for fun. Actually no, don't try this at home kids.
I have a friend who was really into chemistry when he was in high
school. Well, maybe not chemistry so much as in blowing shit up. He,
as I, was inspired by a Jules Verne novel, Mysterious Island, I
think. Basically, it was some guys marooned on a island and did all
these ingenious things to stay alive. Make nitroglycerin, and other
such things. Very cool.
Anyway, he would get his parents to pick him up stuff at chemical
wholesalers, nitric acid, sulphur other things. He had a lab in the basement
of his parent's ranch house. This particular ranch house was a large
one to match the large ranch on which it was located. So there was
lots of room for trying things out, and nobody to call the cops or
anything. So we had a lot of fun. Melting cans and other things in a
fireplace with a sort of very low end thermite. Gunpowder in CO2
cartridges or cardboard tubes, fuse, epoxy. Epoxy is your friend,
but wait for it to set properly. A bad fuse is not. We were religious
in the use of proper fuse. Never never homemade fuse.
Later, something better than gunpowder, made in a basement lab at
great risk. To this day, I'm not sure how great a risk, but we're
probably lucky we both still have our hands. Gunpowder would tear a
CO2 cartridge along it's weak points. This stuff shredded it. It was
A Large field, used gunpowder tin, CO2 cartridge, epoxy, fuse. Oh
yeah, some gunpowder and a little tiny bit of gasoline. More gasoline just
sets more grass on fire. A small amount of vaporized gasoline is far
more impressive. We lit a long fuse and ran away. Far away. We were
concerned about tin shrapnel. The fuse was very long. It was a long
wait, but worth it. An impressive fireball.
Why do they teach welding skills in shop? Somebody at my high school
used an arc welder to make a hole in a vice. One of those big bench
vices. Anyway, I learned to weld. Some how, somebody got the right
idea to make a cannon. It had a shrapnel shield around it so that when
the CO2 cartridge which we used as ammo jammed in the barrel, the
shrapnel might not be as bad. In retrospect, it probably just added
more shrapnel potential. Fortunatly we never found out how effective
the shrapnel shield was.
We tried to the range the cannon by shooting it over a lake so we
could see the splash. More of a pond than a lake really. It must have
gone over; there was no splash. We never found our projectiles, except
for the one we embedded in a fence post.
GI Joe. Filled with gunpowder. A fuse up his butt, and lots of
epoxy around the joints to make a good seal. Boom! It's really quite
spectacular. Poor GI Joe.
Rockets. Model rockets. Model rockets with boomers attached to
the ejection side. But DO NOT take the clay plug out and try to light
it by hand for fun! I burnt my eyebrows off doing this. But I also
singed my eyebrows starting a fire once. That reminds me of being in
cubs, and building a great big fire, and then a leader poured diesel
on it and lit it up. That reminds me of the time a friend and I lit a
fire with gas. FHOOM! A tower of flame, roaring heat! That was a fun one.
One time, a cousin and I found some old rifle shells that used
something other than gunpowder. I can't remember what it
was... cordite?? I don't recall. Anyway, it came in little sticks, and
we would take the sticks out of the shells and light them up. That was
cool. So we put some in a bic pen tube and we had us a pen
Now that I'm in University, I no longer have time to blow shit
up. Plus, I'd prefer to continue having fingers, oh, and I am no longer an adolescent boy, even though blowing shit up is still cool. Even the most
careful people can have accidents.
And oh yeah! I forgot the potato gun. My uncle made one once,
and him and his staff (he runs a machine shop) used to shoot this
thing from the back of the machine shop. Splat!
I'm not even going to say about the smoke bomb...
So although I had a pyrotechnic childhood, I'm glad to say that the
only mishap I ever had was my eyebrows. They grew back.
And from the froth of the chedderbox; born were these words:
: ever tried making Iodine nitrite?
: Hmm, don't recall. I remember something with iodine, which made crytals that made nifty poping noises when stepped upon...