Mista Ballista returned to Delaware for the 2010 Punkin Chunk. After our success with pretensioning bundles Last Year, we reused the same pretensioning system but did double-pulls for every strand, getting closer to 1000lbs tension per strand.
Eric, Jeff, Amy and Trevor all drove down Wednesday night/Thursday morning to get things set up for Mista Ballista, which was arriving later in the day. We arrived to a soggy field and rainy weather.
The first thing we did was stand in line for our badges with several other chunkers. The weather made the wait a bit muddy.
Naturally, Mr. B got stuck in a giant mud hole on the way into our site. Fortunately, the friendly folks from Team Gaul Buster used their turbo-diesel 10 wheel monster truck to pull us into place.
Ick. We were one of the few teams that had a giant mud hole in our pit, in addition to on the road behind our pit. On Friday, several of us spent the entire morning raking up old corn husks from out in the field, and filling in our mud holes. That helped a lot.
We worked late into the night getting Mr. B raised up out of the mud. Here you can see the makeshift tent we made out of a tarp, our arm stands, the wooden cribbing for our feet from last year, and our new jack stands. During deployment, we now raise Mr. B up as high as it goes using the landing gear. We then install the jack stands and retract the landing gear, and put cribbing under them, then keep going, raising the machine even further.
On Friday the sun came out, but the field was still a giant mud pit. We then put chip-board down on all the corn husks and started setting up Mr. B. We were in pit 109 of 110 pits, so we had the entire day to ourselves for finishing our setup. In this picture, Jeff runs the hydraulics to raise the dumpframe a little so we could drag the bundles to the front of the machine. You can also see all the corn husks we imported, and the mud pit where we didn't.
This year we added twice the pretension we had used in 2009. We used big wooden wedges beat in with Dave's giant dead-blow hammer to create a gap big enough for arm insertion. Karl waits to insert the second wedge which will hold open the top of the gap needed to insert the arm.
We begin the winding process. Using a trunion mounted cylinder on the front of the machine, we use giant roller chain to add twist.
Suddenly there is a pop, and the clevis welded to the end of our winding hydraulic cylinder breaks off.
Fortunately our team member Karl is a professional welder, and quickly welds the clevis back onto the cylinder rod to get us back in action quickly!
With the arms in and the bowline on, we continued to wind our bundles until the hydraulics were just short of maxed out. It turned out that was just under 3/4 of a revolution. Our redoubled tensioning system has worked giving us a very powerful machine!
Another of our improvements for the year was to use the new jack stands not only for deploying our cribbing for a raised machine, but they also support the center of Mr. B. Last year using the dump-frame caused the trailer frame to bow in an unpleasant way. Adding these stands made everything much more stable.
Everything was finished, and inspected for safety. This allowed Eric to install the pumpkin!
Eric is interviewed by the Science Channel before our first Friday shot!
We not only pied our shot, but broke our bowline! In this picture, you can see that the bottom corner of the pouch is no longer attached to the bowline itself. The intermediate line broke through at the end of the throw, likely causing much harm to the pumpkin as well!
Eric and Dave worked late into the evening on Friday fixing the broken bowstring to get ready for Saturday.
After installing the bowline, and testing things out, we spent the day watching the other machines, and taking nice pictures of Mista Ballista. Note the mud still stuck on the front of the machine.
Note the amazing gripping power of torsion, and Karl uses the arm as a chair a few feet from the bundle, and how the arm is easily held from drooping by the mighty power of of our pretensioned bundles.
Always decorate your pumpkin with your pit number so that the spotters can find it. Also note our use of a bullet shaped lumina pumpkin instead of the blue we used yesterday.
Mista Ballista prepares to fire a pumpkin!
Jamie Hyneman watched our pumpkin go flying off into the field... but I didn't get to talk to him. Too bad. :(
And here is our new personal best! 803.84 feet! As you can see from other years, we tend to be just shy of the "next big number", like 580, or 690. It was great to get something just past a big number like 803.
Sunday morning, the torsion team got together and petitioned the WCPCA president John Huber to see if the Citron (African Pumpkin) would be a legal projectile or not. Kim of Roman's Revenge had brought an entire crate of them to the chunk, so the whole torsion lineup then agreed to to use these new solid pumpkins for their last and final throw of the season.
Naturally, for the last shot of the day, we added more twist to Mr. B, completing maxing out our hydraulic winding system. The use over the last two days loosened things up, which allowed us to get another 1/8th of a twist in. We then got to spend the day watching the other machines and relaxing.
We prepared to fire our final shot. Unfortunately, this resulted in another pie, and for good reason. We had over 6800 lbs of force on our trigger, more than we'd ever seen before.
Since we were in pit 109, it was pretty late in the day, and the sun set while we were trying to pack up so we could go home.