"I can't believe how much fun we had! About 50 friends showed up to watch and tell us how not normal we are."
Q. What is the angle on the sling pin? When we launch the pumpkins they go really high, but not too far. Which way do I "bend" the pin? Do I bend it down, as you show it or up?
The pumpkin is being released too early, causing it to go up instead of out. So adjust your sling pin by bending or angling the pin 'up'. This will make the sling stay on the pin longer, releasing the pumpkin later in the arc, more of a 'line drive' than a 'pop fly'.
Your angle may be more like 10 or 20 degrees. (the Plans eBook shows a negative setting) But, start with the sling pin straight and adjust as necessary.
Bend the pin so that it slips off at the correct time to get your max range. Trial and error is required here as each machine will have subtle differences in weight, dimensions, sling length, etc. We call it tuning up the trebuchet.
KEEP PEOPLE OUT OF THE LINE OF FIRE - BOTH IN FRONT AND BEHIND THE TREBUCHET. TREBUCHETS CAN MISFIRE AND PROJECTILE CAN GO STRAIGHT UP OR BACKWARDS.
Q. How do you cock the machine once the the "bucket" is loaded with dirt? Did it have to be winched? It will be mostly just me, not a crew.
We use a block and tackle. Once we haul the arm down, we tie off the end of the line to a boat cleat mounted on the base. Then we have a line tied around the arm and held by the firing pin - now we have two different lines holding the arm. This redundant safety makes me feel better about working with the sling, pouch and projectile under that counterweight bucket. (see page 12 of Real Trebuchet Plans eBook)
Safety First, especially with youngsters around! Remember the trebuchet is a medeivel siege engine and a dangerous machine
After we get the sling set, and get everyone clear, then we untie the line from the cleat and unfasten the block and tackle line from the arm, check to make sure no one is in line of fire, and fire the treb.
KEEP ARMS, HEAD AND HANDS CLEAR OF THE PATH OF THE COUNTERWEIGHT BOX AT ALL TIMES. KEEP ARMS, HEAD AND HANDS CLEAR OF THE PATH OF THE THROWING ARM AT ALL TIMES.
Q. How do you arm your trebuchet? I've seen a variety of different ways of doing this, such as using a hand winch or unloading the counterweight box, cocking the trebuchet, and then reloading the box. Just curious what method your team uses.
We load up the counterweight box, and use block and tackle to 'cock' the treb. The trigger also acts as a safety line for us, plus the line from the block and tackle is secured by a cleat. So there are 2 lines holding the treb beam down. You can see from the photos, everyone is clear of the treb when firing. (see page 12 of Real Trebuchet Plans eBook)