For those who are interested, I understand that copies are available
Albert Saifer Publisher
It can also be obtained (in Canada through U. of T. and Ottawa.
My good lord with the sling problem: Try a simple sling of canvas
or, failing that, burlap! My Trebuchet worked OK. It measures
6' at the base and 8' (ish) on the arm with a ratio of 6:1. Try that.
To any and all mundane engineers and physics types... Can YOU work out
the mathematical / mechanical formulae?
For ballista type amusement, try to find _Harry and I Build a Catapult_
They used truck leaf springs and I beams.
My final word is this: Any information, no matter how trivial
about Seige weaponry would be greatly appreciated. This would
include the Car and Driver issue and page number with the Trebuchet info
Maybe we'll just e-chat.
Sebastien Roland fils de MArek
"Never challenge a guy who owns a catapult to a snowball fight" - Hagar
OR A TREBUCHET!! Seb.
amlsmith at morgan.ucs.mun.ca
Trebuchet Blues (getting better)
18 May 92
From: 00MJSTUM at leo.bsuvc.bsu.EDU
Organization: The Internet
Unto the good gentles of the Rialto I send Greetings!
I deeply thank each of you who responded so quickly to my request
for help with trebuchet sling construction.
As I posted previously, I attempted to use a "net" type sling as I had
seen in almost all sketches of trebuchets. However, changing the sling
to a "hand-held" design which involved a mere "patch" of leather or
canvas attached with rope gave me the results I was looking for.
Now, given that my prototype construction was very hastily done and
a lot of power was lost due to movement, I was able to cast a tennis-
ball a mere 24 yds with a 4ft/1ft throwing arm with approx. 40 lbs.
of counterweight (the weight a _very_ loose guestimate... the structure
could have held much more but I had no way of attaching any more weight).
To those of you who have built or seen such engines, what are the vital
statistics of your machines? (We can take this to E-mail and summarize
I'm curious if there's an optimum arm length/counter-length ratio as
well as a maximum counterweight for a given arm length (for some
reason I can envision _too_ fast of an arm movement). My objective is
to construct an engine that will place a ~2lb object 100+ yds. What
kind of scale are we talking about here? My first thought is to build
an engine capable of holding ~6 cement blocks as counterweight with
a 6' to 8' arm. However, my instinct tells me that this is still too
Gwydion ap Myrddin
00MJSTUM at LEO.BSUVC.BSU.EDU
Trebuchet Blues (getting better)
18 May 92
From: tip at lead.aichem.arizona.edu (Tom Perigrin)
Organization: A.I. Chem Lab, University of Arizona
Unto Gwydion ap Myrddin, doth Thomas Ignatius Perigrinus send his greetings,
My largest beast can send a grapefruit about 150 yards. The arm is
a goodly 8' long, and is pivoted about 1 part towards the counterweight, and
6 parts towards the sling. This distance was decided after 5 trials with
different arms. An the arm be to much one way, then the cast is too slow,
an it be to much the other way, the weight be not ponderous enough to swing it
The weight doth seem to be critical, for that I find two hundredweight is
near unto being too little, whilst three hunderdredweight doth serve well.
My counterweight is a mix of bronze and lead weights, suspended by chains
From julian at fgssu1.fgs.slb.com Fri May 29 00:52:28 1992
Date: Fri, 29 May 92 00:52:20 PDT
From: julian at fgssu1.fgs.slb.com (Julian Carlisle)
To: allaway, cat
Subject: Seige Engine
_A Scud It's Not, But the Trebuchet Hurls a Mean Piano_
Giant Medieval War Machine Is Wowing British Farmers And Scaring the Sheep
By Glynn Mapes, Staff Reporter of the Wall Street Journal (25 Sept 91)
ACTON ROUND, England--With surprising grace, the grand piano sails through
the sky a hundred feet above a pasture here, finally returning to earth in
a fortissimo explosion of wood chunks, ivory keys and piano wire.
Nor is the piano the strangest thing to startle the grazing sheep this
Sunday morning. A few minutes later, a car soars by - a 1975 blue
two-door Hillman, to be exact - following the same flight path and meeting
the same loud fate. Pigs fly here, too. In recent months, many dead
500-pound sows (two of them wearing parachutes) have passed overhead, as
has the occasional dead horse.
It's the work of Hew Kennedy's medieval siege engine, a four story tall,
30 ton behemoth that's the talk of bucolic Shropshire, 140 miles northwest
of London. In ancient times, such war machines were dreaded instruments
of destruction, flinging huge missiles, including plague-ridden horses,
over the walls of besieged castles. Only one full-sized one exists today,
designed and built by Mr. Kennedy, a wealthy landowner, inventor, military
historian and - need it be said? - full-blown eccentric.
A Pagoda, Too
At Acton, Round Hall, Mr. Kennedy's handsome Georgian manor house here,
one enters the bizarre world of a P. G. Wodehouse novel. A stuffed baboon
hangs from the dining room chandelier (``Shot it in Africa. Nowhere else
to put it,'' Mr. Kennedy explains). Lining the walls are dozens of
halberds and suits of armor. A full suit of Indian elephant armor,
rebuilt by Mr. Kennedy, shimmers resplendently on an elephant-sized frame.
In the garden outside stands a 50-foot-high Chinese pagoda.
Capping this scene, atop a hill on the other side of the 620-acre Kennedy
estate, is the siege engine, punctuating the skyline like an oil derrick.
Known by its 14th-century French name, trebuchet (pronounced
tray-boo-shay), it's not to be confused with a catapult, a much smaller
device that throws rocks with a spoon-like arm propelled by twisted ropes
or animal gut.
Mr. Kennedy, a burly, energetic 52-year-old, and Richard Barr, his
46-year-old neighbor and partner, have spent a year and #10,000 ($17,000)
assembling the trebuchet. They have worked from ancient texts, some in
Latin, and crude wood-block engravings of siege weaponry.
The big question is why?
Mr. Kennedy looks puzzled, as if the thought hadn't occurred to him
before. ``Well why not? It's bloody good fun!'' he finally exclaims.
When pressed, he adds that for several hundred years, military technicians
have been trying fruitlessly to reconstruct a working trebuchet. Cortez
built one for the siege of Mexico City. On its first shot, it flung a
huge boulder straight up - and then straight down, demolishing the
machine. In 1851, Napoleon III had a go at it, as an academic exercise.
His trebuchet was poorly balanced and barely managed to hurl the missiles
- backward. ``Ours works a hell of a lot better than the Frogs', which is
a satisfaction,'' Mr. Kennedy says with relish.
How it works seems simple enough. The heart of the siege engine is a
three-ton, 60-foot tapered beam made from laminated wood. It's pivoted
near the heavy end, to which is attached a weight box filled with 5= tons
of steel bar. Two huge A-frames made from lashed-together tree trunks
support a steel axle, around which the beam pivots. When the machine is
at rest, the beam is vertical, slender end at the top and weight box just
clearing the ground.
When launch time comes, a farm tractor cocks the trebuchet, slowly hauling
the slender end of the beam down and the weighted end up. Several dozen
nervous sheep, hearing the tractor and knowing what comes next, make a
break for the far side of the pasture. A crowd of 60 friends and
neighbors buzzes with anticipation as a 30-foot, steel-cable sling is
attached - one end to the slender end of the beam and the other to the
projectile, in this case a grand piano (purchased by the truckload from a
``If you see the missile coming toward you, simply step aside,'' Mr.
Kennedy shouts to the onlookers.
Then, with a great groaning, the beam is let go. As the counterweight
plummets, the piano in its sling whips through an enormous arc, up and
over the top of the trebuchet and down the pasture, a flight of 125 yards.
The record for pianos is 151 yards (an upright model, with less wind
resistance). A 112 pound iron weight made it 235 yards. Dead hogs go for
about 175 yards, and horses 100 yards; the field is cratered with the
graves of the beasts, buried by a backhoe where they landed.
Mr. Kennedy has been studying and writing about ancient engines of war
since his days at Sandhurst, Britain's military academy, some 30 years
ago. But what spurred him to build one was, as he puts it, ``my nutter
cousin'' in Northumberland, who put together a pint-sized trebuchet for a
county fair. The device hurled porcelain toilets soaked in gasoline and
set afire. A local paper described the event under the headline ``Those
Magnificent Men and Their Flaming Latrines.''
Building a full-sized siege engine is a more daunting task. Mr. Kennedy
believes that dead horses are the key. That's because engravings usually
depict the trebuchet hurling boulders, and there is no way to determine
what the rocks weigh, or the counterweight necessary to fling them. But a
few drawings show dead horses being loaded onto trebuchets, putrid animals
being an early form of biological warfare. Since horses weigh now what
they did in the 1300s, the engineering calculations followed easily.
One thing has frustrated Mr. Kennedy and his partner: They haven't found
any commercial value to the trebuchet. Says a neighbor helping to carry