Punkin’ chunking is a rather eclectic sport, and certainly not as well known as soccer or football. In fact, even though you can find “chunkers” throwing things all year round, you’ll only find them tossing pumpkins (aka punkins) each year a little before Thanksgiving.
The picture above is the first punkin chunker we ever built. It was for a competition sponsored by a local radio station. At my son-in-law’s insistence, we entered the competition and built a floating arm trebuchet in a couple of weekends. As you might guess, we had no idea about how to build a punkin chunker other than to research it on the Internet and use our ingenuity.
We had a blast when we took it (on a borrowed trailer – thanks Gilbert Reynolds!) to the competition. Each machine had 3 throws. We broke our machine on the last throw but managed to hit about 200 feet. That was good enough for 2nd place and a trophy!
That day we visited with Bob Carbo who won first place. His throw was over 1600 feet and his machine (Onager) was AWESOME. He told us about the World Punkin Chunkin championship up in Delaware that he competed in. So Jeremy and I headed up to Delaware and were hooked. After we came back we decided we needed to ditch our version 1 machine and build a bigger, more awesomely powerful machine – and enter the Delaware competition the next year.
The following summer we started building.
I had this great idea for the machine and spent more time & money building it than I should have. We were confident we could throw at least 1,000 feet. So we built a new trailer and hauled it up to Delaware. As with any project, the time slipped by and we barely got it finished. In fact, we had no time to test it - but we were confident! So off to Delaware the family went.
It's been said you have to be able to laugh at yourself. Well, when we attempted our first throw ... let's just say the results were less than spectacular.
Everyone was impressed when we pulled in and setup on the firing line. It DID look like a killer machine. But I think we actually got negative distance (like -5 feet) on the first throw. I had WAY overbuilt it. I'm convinced the design was good, but the hub for the throwing arm was just too heavy, had too much friction, and our stretched surgical tubing (even though we used two, 2-ton tree pullers to stretch it) wasn't powerful enough.
Sad? Yes. Embarrasing? Yup. Funny? Beyond a doubt.
Anyway, it was a great trip. We made wonderful friends, saw Onager win with a throw that was over 2,000 feet, and learned some great lessons.