Sunday, July 5, 2009

Celebrating America's Independence the only way we know how...


...with explosives!

In years past, my family has marched in the Pride of Purcellville parade. I believe it started in 2000 when my family built this cannon you see below. Believe it or not, it is made from a front porch column. We hollowed it out then created a steel barrel inside. A friend of ours owns a machine shop and created the firing mechanism; which is designed to fire blank shotgun shells. All in all, it's pretty nifty but it took us a long time to get it right!

Our first design didn't involve shotgun shells...instead it was something much less lethal; balloons! We filled the balloons with a mixture of acetylene and oxygen, slid the balloon down the barrel and dropped a fuse down on top of the balloon through the top of the cannon. It worked great and made quite a boom! However, when we loaded up the balloons for the parade, we discovered that after a certain time, it wasn't working anymore. The balloons were too porous so the acetylene would leak out of the balloons before we had a chance to set them off.


Here is a closer picture of the firing mechanism. A shotgun shell is loaded into it, then it is closed and locked in. Then someone takes a mallet and whaps it on the back, setting off the shell.



Many of my friends have been suckered into playing a role in the parades. This year we got Alex! After all, you're not truly part of the Cooper family until you march in the parade or play a role in Halloween.


Here is one of the rope-tension drums we made. We have a snare and just a regular drum. We made both of them


My dad is the founder of all this :-)


The cannon crew...ready for action!


The whole crew!


This was the first year we all wore sunglasses!


The boom! AJ and I are usually the cannon crew. I first load the barrel with a scoop of flour. This does two things: makes a cloud that looks like smoke and also when the shotgun shell explodes, it ignites the flour and makes a small fire burst out the end of the cannon. I don't have a picture of this as it happens too quickly!


Later we had fun with sparklers! Alex tried to write his name


Then there were bottle rockets



And the finale! All in all, it was a very eventful 4th of July. I would say probably one of the best I've had in a long time.

2 comments:

Gordo said...

Awww I love the Cooper-clan! :) Hope all is well!!

Marley said...

haha, thanks! The Cooper family doesn't change much, does it? ;-)