Siege Engine.com: Bennington High School Chunk 2002

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Bennington High School Chunk 2002
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The Monday before Thanksgiving Roger and Eric traveled to Bennington VT. to the Highschool there. Unlike the previous year the weather left quite a bit to be desired. It drizzled a little. Snow was all about. And the field was unpleasantly muddy. That didn't stop us from having a great time though.

We were invited out by the physics teacher Jennifer Rosenthal. My Aunt also teaches at Bennington High School.



Over the course of the day, lots of kids got to come out and play with the different machines. We brought our favorites, Juggernaut the traction trebuchet, and Onager Jr, our mid-sized torsion machine. We threw bottles and jugs of all sizes all the day.

Eric is wearing the blue shirt with the red ear-warmer. Roger is wearing orange with a black hat. Here I'm giving 6 kids the low-down on trebuchet operation. They are a little enthusiastic, so I have to really lean on the arm so they don't jog anything loose.

Here Eric gives instruction on being a counterweight. These kids were tossing half gallon juice jugs about 100-150 feet all day long. As you can see here, the ground was getting pretty muddy. I think the mud fear-factor contributed to the need for lighter projectiles this year.

The key to the instructions for this machine is to infer how every instruction I give involves not getting injured. For example, "fall all the way to the ground or a metal ring will swing around and hit you on the head", or perhaps "don't let go of your rope, or the arm will swing around and hit you on the head." These instructions worked quite well this year as we made off with no injuries this year.


And a launch! You can see that Roger and I were standing on the foot of the back of the machine. One of Juggernaut's weaknesses is that to make room for all the human weight, there isn't much front support. A side effect is that over exuberance causes the machine to flip over. This year the mud kept most of the kids from giving it their all.


We also used Onager a few times. We started out by tightening up the rope bundle. Roger gets help pushing against me from one of the students. To get a good grip on the Modiolus we need to flip the Onager onto its front.



Once wound up, we got to tell the kids all about how the machine works. They seemed more interested in having a go at pulling at the arm without the winch to see just how much power the little thing packs. The fact that I have a hard time pulling it back once it is nicely wound up impressed them.


Next up was getting a volunteer to winch the little guy down. When getting volunteers for this task has usually been the most damaging to the machine. I've had the winch missfeed, the pouch fed into the winch, the pouch pinched in the frame, and all sorts of the disasters. A side effect is that I watch these guys a lot closer these days and make sure these things don't happen to the poor students who don't know what to look for.


And my least favorite part, setting things up for a throw. As the poor trigger hinge has seen better days I'm always a little worried it may let loose early. I really should fit a safty cable on the thing.


Fire in the hole! I was a little worried about all the mud and the climbing rope, but it turned out the bigger problem was mud-fear while tighting the rope bundle. Our shots of rubber balls and 20oz soda bottles flew out about 100 ft this day.

In this shot, you can see my truck and trailer hiding off at a safe distance.


This fellow seems to have some thoughts on what would make a good projectile. He never came forward so we never got to see the rubber chicken fly.


Thanks to Jennifer Rosenthal for taking all the pictures, and sharing them with me. I was far too busy to get any pictures myself.


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