A 50,000 watt medium-wave (AM) North American radio station that was, long ago (during frequency reallocations which took place from the 1920s to the 1940s), given a "clear channel" by the FCC and CRTC, meaning that it was the sole station on the continent (or on their side of The Mississippi) broadcasting on that frequency. That made what was nominally a local station into a national broadcaster, once the sun started going down, allowing the signal to reach over a greater distance.

Outside of the US and Canada, some enterprising businessmen were able to take advantage of locations in Mexico, broadcasting along the US border at even higher wattage; Wolfman Jack's legend was forged, in part, on such stations, whose signals reached far into the United States and Canada. It is said that Fidel Castro, when he's in one of his more playful moods, turns up the power (no, not personally) on Cuba's AM signals, and you can hear Cuban stations fairly far north of Havana on some nights. There are also a couple of offshore religious broadcasters that like to blast through these frequencies.

Some examples: frequencies owned, at one time or another by NBC, like 660 kHz, formerly their New York flagship WNBC, sold, about 20 years ago to Infinity Broadcasting, which run it as all-sports WFAN. And 750 kHz, for WSB in Atlanta. ABC stations, some of which may have belonged to NBC, before the government-mandated breakup of the network - 890 kHz for Chicago's WLS, 770 kHz for New York's WABC; of course The Mouse owns it all now, and operates 1000 kHz, which was once WCFL (owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor) but is now the flagship for ESPN Radio. CBS still has 880 kHz, for their all-news WCBS, but KMOX (1120 kHz), the station upon which Harry Caray broadcast St. Louis Cardinals games for many years, may have been sold.

There are also frequencies that were probably unaffiliated with those three networks, like WLW (700 kHz, Cincinnati) and WOR (New York, 710 kHz).

After the deregulation of the 80s, some daytime-only broadcasters have been able to use some of those frequencies, so one's ability to hear flamethrowers has been curtailed a bit, depending on where you live.

Weapon that sends a jet of flame towards the enemy. Not often used because it is short-ranged and goes through fuel at an alarming rate, but is occasionally used because of its psychological value, or its usefulness in close quarters or on armoured positions such as bunkers.
There are two main types: gas flamethrowers, and liquid flamethrowers. Gas flamethrowers are the most commonly used, as they are more convenient, because they use reasonably light cylinders of compressed flammable gas, which is sprayed and lit, creating a jet of flame . Liquid flamethrowers use some kind of flammable liquid (often petrol, but occasionally more advanced chemicals are used, such as Napalm, and although they have the advantage that an enemy hit by them will not only be burnt, but soaked in flaming petrol (or other flammable chemical) , and will therefore burn for longer, they are two heavy for use as a conventional weapon, as they usually require, large, vulnerable tanks of fuel.

As the previous post so eloquently puts it, flame throwers can be nasty little buggers, and might not be very useful as weapons.

However, in the field of pyrotechnics, we don't like weapons anyway, so that's okay.

Instead of talking about nasty weapons of destruction, (and instead of doing semi-lame things like making a "flame thrower" out of a lighter) I have found flame throwers to be great fun for use on stage. Therefore:

How to make your very own flame thrower

this is something I "invented" myself, and as such, it is probably possible to improve the design quite a lot. But it is cheap, and works perfectly.

The basic idea

The first thing I did in pyrotechnics was to start learning how to breathe fire. This was great, but having the liquid in your mouth while being maimed with a angle grinder or while juggling with torches can be rather nasty. Instead, I wanted to make something that did the fire breathing for me, as a small effect.

Grab one of those plant-watering bottles that disperse the water a lot, you know, into a mist of tiny, tiny droplets. Fill it with kerosene* , and blow the mist at the candle. Whee! Huge flame from small droplets.

*) NEVER USE ANYTHING OTHER THAN kerosene. Read the rest of this writeup to find out why.

The extended idea

Of course, the solution from the basic idea works perfectly, but you cannot sustain the flame for very long (unless you pump very fast, and that just looks silly) so I wanted to come up with something that made a sustained, large flame based on the same principle. I wanted something that can safely be used on stage and that looked cool.

My next raid of the local hardware store came up with some interesting ideas - I found the sort of water misters as mentioned above, but in a pump-version. The one I found dispersed the water perfectly, and was able to hold the stream going for several seconds. Great - but not great enough. It turned out that the heat made the nozzle melt, and eventually the whole thing stopped working. Damn.

The Final Idea - The Flamethrower! Whee!

Go to your local gas station, and buy a gallon of kerosene (see the "fuel" note below)

Go to your local garden centre, and ask for a weed-killer disperser. What you get then is a 3-4 gallon tank with a handle on top. That handle moves up and down to increase the pressure inside the tank (see where I'm getting at yet :). Ask if you can test it with some water. If they say no, go somewhere else.

When you try the disperser, make sure that it makes a fine mist of the water. Big drops aren't dangerous (they won't ignite), but it is not very nice to spray your audience in fossil fuels. When you are sure you have the right kind of disperser, have a look at the nozzle. Is it plastic? Keep looking. Is it metal? Then you have found your flame thrower.

Fill your flame thrower with kerosene. Go outside and put a candle somewhere with nothing flammable in a 100 foot range. Now - check the wind direction!!!. Make sure you have the wind in your back. Now light your candle, and spray your mist at the candle. Fun, isn't it? Aim it around a little, and then stop. Check your nozzle. Is it still okay? no burn or melting marks? Splendid.

Now for the tricky part - even though you now have a working flame thrower, you might want to make some kind of ignition system in front of the nozzle, so you don't need your candle. There are several ways to do this, but myself, I used an electronic fuse. Yes, they can only be used once, but it doesn't matter, really, you are unlikely to have to start and stop your flame thrower during the show anyway. And if you are, you might be better off using the candle solution anyway.

What I did when I used the electric fuse, was that I taped a 9V battery and a switch to the handle of the disperser. From there, I pulled electrical wires to about 6 inches in front of the nozzle (it won't ignite right in front of the nozzle.. You need the mist, not the flow). It looks VERY impressive during a show, to show up with a self-lighting flame thrower.

/me misses circus inferno
(the juggling / pyro / extreme performance art group I was a member of)

Words of warning


Never. Ever. Use. Petrol. - Finely dispersed petrol (gasoline, gas, benzine, whatever you call the shit) will explode. You don't want that. Also, if you DID use it, it would continue burning after it has landed - I guarantee it will set stuff on fire. You don't want that.

Only use first-grade kerosene (or paraffin, if you are a Brit) - Don't use the stuff made for closed-circuit stoves etc. Only use kerosene made for lamps. It won't burn after it has landed (as a matter of fact, you can dip torches in kerosene to extinguish the torches. It's not recommenced, but you can.)

Wind Direction

When breathing fire, the first thing you are told to watch out for the wind. This is very important. When fire breathing, you handle about a mouthful of kerosene at the time.

When using the flame thrower described here, you put out a mouthful a second. Make sure the wind doesn't blow the burning kerosene anywhere. (With anywhere, I mean anywhere important. Have a look at the "order of importance".

someone tipped me about adding an extra disclaimer to this particular node, so here goes: If you kill or hurt yourself trying this, you are
1) very very stupid and
2) on your own.
Just be careful, I don't want anybody to get hurt! If you don't know what you are doing, don't do it.

Back to the node on pyrotechnics
Please read the disclaimer. Also, make sure you have read the Pyrotechnics safety tips. SAFETY FIRST

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