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Mass Time Velocity Squared Plus Beer Equals “Oops”

August 19th, 2008 by Andrew

What would you do if you found twelve pieces of twelve foot long steel I-Beam sitting next to a metal recycle bin? Me, I’m interested in the late feudal eras of Northern Europe so I did the only thing I could think of. I built a trebuchet.

For those of you who do not know what a trebuchet is, it is a fourteen foot tall counter-levered catapult capable if flinging large object tremendous distances with great accuracy.

In other words, it’s fun!

So there I was, I-Beams and a plan. But how to do this? Well our local vehicle maintenance shop just happens to have not only a welding machine, but an acetylene torch as well. It took me two weeks of leave and a lot of secrecy, but what I emerged with was a twelve foot tall 16,400 pound steel and lead contraption that I was proud of. I even attached a tow hitch and wheels to make it transportable.

My first day back to work I towed it along. During my lunch break I wanted to test fire it, but had no ammunition to fire. Again providence provided and I found a fridge full of nearly expired beer. So I grabbed a six pack, unhitched and set up the trebuchet and had it loaded and ready when one of my co-workers returned from lunch.

He saw me with a rope in hand, a full unbroken six pack upon the launch platform and a huge grin on my face. Unfortunately he was just a hair slow in telling me not to pull the rope.


The six-pack launched about two-hundred feet into the air and sailed completely over the parade grounds I was aiming at. About mid-flight the plastic rings gave out and I suddenly had a cluster shot instead of a single projectile. As it flew I realized my mistake as the beer also flew over the parking lot on the far side of the parade ground and began to pelt the side of the base headquarters. If you’ve never seen an entire six-pack explode in rapid succession I’d recommend using this particular method.

Just don’t hit the side of the headquarters building.

Especially right out side of the base commander’s window.

And doubly especially with the base commander’s own beer.

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24 Responses to “Mass Time Velocity Squared Plus Beer Equals “Oops””

  1. Jacob Says:


    Do you still have it, or was it confiscated after this incident? If you do have it, what else have you tossed with it?

    Captcha: garbed Cigar: because we can no longer let them go naked.


  2. Arcanum Says:

    Wow. Just…wow.

    Also, where are the pictures? If you’re gonna build something like that, you’ve gotta take pictures!


  3. L.B. Says:

    I agree, pictures would’ve been great.

    On the other note… did no one ever teach you not to abuse alcohol?


  4. Andrew Says:

    Well right now it is sitting in another section of base, that I’m not allowed in (near vehicle maint), and as far as I know It is still functional. To say that it was confiscated would be an understatement. As for pictures, I’ll see if I can sneak over and get some pictures…


  5. djapavlak Says:

    HA, it’s like a friggn’ A-10 trebuchet. I never even thought of that a cluster bomb method…*runs and grabs small model trebuchet made in shop class a few years ago*


  6. MarkHB Says:

    Oh dear Gh0d is there any story not worth reading that involves the word “trebuchet”?

    I can just imagine the staccatto blatting of the cluster-beer. And the “Oh. Ah…. uh…” feeling during the eensy-bit-more-than-planned flight.



  7. ArchaicDome Says:

    NO seige weapons on post. In general. :)


  8. Codename Xander Says:

    *Epic Laughing My Ass Off*

    DUDE! That was AWESOME!! I wish I was there because dude, the look on your face when the plastic rings gave way only to smash innto the side of the Base Command Building in rapid succession must’ve been PRICELESS. And the aftermath? “Oh f*ck!” doesn’t cover it. LOL! Awesome dude. Let me know when you get pictures!!


  9. echoesofwonder Says:

    Captcha: Scwhartzman-wiser, hmmm wonder if thats the predecessor of budwiser?


  10. barry Says:

    all that wasted beer


  11. Minty Says:

    Having a degree in Medieval Studies, I add my voice to the request for pictures, if only for “educational” purposes!


    anselm reply on August 20th, 2008 1:33 am:

    I’m with Minty on this.

    MST degree from UC Davis, ’06. I know work part-time for a company that makes and sells trebuchets.


    paula reply on August 20th, 2008 4:12 am:

    In that case, you might keep Andrew in mind for when he’s out of the Army and looking for a job! After all, MOST people can only give a prospective employer thier resume, but I can picture Andrew sitting there when the HR person asks for his ‘qualifications’ saying, “it’s out in the parking lot, hitched to my truck!”


    anselm reply on August 20th, 2008 5:02 am:

    That’d be cool, but this is a four-employee company, counting two part timers (meaning we work about 3 weeks/year). I’ll pass it one anyhow!


  12. Tony Says:

    i think we should start a petition to get that thing an exhibit at the field artillery museum in ft sill.


  13. McNutcase Says:

    I just read this out loud to my wife, or rather tried to. I was in tears of laughter by the end, and so was she.

    Captcha: screens recite.


  14. t nelson Says:

    f*ckin nice.


  15. morrogoth Says:


    your my hero. I would claim secret R&D. pics please

    irregular tally captcha = the count of beer in fridge after the launch.


  16. David M Says:

    Where are the pictures?


  17. Skye Says:

    That’s funny as all hell. And I can’t help but think…it’s a good thing this didn’t involve a Ballista and Lawn Darts.

    captcha: Persons Coakley…the magazine for people who REALLY like proper english and soda…


    David B reply on March 5th, 2014 9:48 am:

    I’ve got some of the old lawn darts in the basement. I wonder if my super will let me build a ballista during my lunch period? (No welding equipment at home)


  18. Gerry H Says:

    Can you launch a cow with it? My castle is currently under siege..


  19. Ian Says:

    Great stuff. I am reminded of a friend’s experiences in the Australian Army. He was an artilleryman chosen for officer training.

    Part of this process involved what can best be described as “practical leadership”. The instructors gave him a squad to lead, showed him a shed full of construction materials and tools, then said “OK. Build something. You have one week.”

    Naturally, he asked “Er. What should I build?”

    Answer: “We don’t care. Get going.”

    Consider, my friend is a role-playing gamer with an interest in medieval weaponry. So, it was probably inevitable that he chose to build a trebuchet. A BIG trebuchet, capable of lobbing a car engine block. Unfortunately, the time allotted was not enough to complete the project, but he was still rated well for it.

    One of his instructors mused, “You know. Most of the people we get just build houses or boats.”


  20. Snyarhedir Says:

    For those who need help with the mental image, a trebuchet (pronounced “tray-boo-shay”) is basically a catapult with a sling on the end instead of a “basket”. (You can see some in Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King.)


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