South Texas Fun!!

A very good friend is spending the holidays in south Texas.  Below is an e-mail he sent me yesterday about his adventures, wish I was there.


Well, here I am in South Texas, between Austin and San Antonio, out in the
boondocks of what they call “The Hill Country”. My brother-in-law showed
up with a cellular modem and built-in WiFi hub so I can get on the net.

My nephew that I’m staying with likes to have “good old Texas fun”.   Today (Christmas) we had a bunch of people over and a few hours before
dinner he says, “Hey! Let’s have some South Texas fun! Let’s get the air
cannon!” “Air cannon?” I said. “Yeah, my neighbor built one outta PVC.
Shoots potatoes about a quarter mile. Lemme go get it and we’ll try it
out.” So a few minutes later he comes back with this contraption that
neighbor Tommy built. It had a square base that was made of 4-inch PVC
pipe and a barrel of 3-inch pipe about 6 feet long was connected to the
base via a release valve. The base had a compressed-air connection and a
cutoff valve; a hose from the compressor in the garage connected there.
The base acted as a pressure vessel; get it up to 70 PSI and yank the
release, the base empties into the barrel and shoots the potato about 400
yards. You really have to watch for the potato; it comes out pretty fast
and it goes down range so fast you can miss it.

It was pretty impressive. They fired a few spuds out of it and were
setting up a target downrange. I was standing next to it and heard the
compressor in the garage running. I bent down to look at the pressure
gauge in the base of the cannon and noticed that it was at 70 PSI and
climbing; they hadn’t turned off the cutoff valve back to the compressor.
I don’t know anything about air cannons but assumed they knew what they
were doing. I has just straightened up and was going to ask nephew Bill
what pressure the base should be at when the goddamn thing exploded; it
sounded like someone had fired a 12-gauge shotgun next to my head:

I didn’t get a scratch but it scared the crap outta me. Poor Johnny
wasn’t so lucky; he caught a piece right in his eyebrow and bled like a
stuck pig. An inch lower and he would have lost an eye. Here they’re
giving Johnny first aid:

Johnny’s blood all over the concrete:

Later I was looking at the wreckage and saw this on a chunk of the base.
Maybe Tommy should have read the part about “non-pressure”:

Bill and Tommy have used the cannon quite a bit in the past and Bill was
rather shocked when it let go. We surmised that since it’s been cold here
(in the 30F range) and the cannon was sitting outside all day in Tommy’s
yard that the PVC must have gotten brittle…and there she went.

Can’t wait to see what we do for fun tomorrow!


~ by Arthur Koch on December 27, 2009.

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