This blog was created for USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion Army personnel who served in Taiwan during the 1965-72 time frame. Specifically, those who lived and worked in and around Taipei are the target. If you worked at the Grass Mountain or Gold Mountain facilities or anywhere in downtown Taipei, we would like to hear from you. All are welcome to visit and contribute to this blog. Your comments and pictures are encouraged.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An Explosive Time On The Cheap

After writing about the 4th of July in Taipei, I thought about the summer of 1957. Not all cities or villages can afford celebrations with huge fireworks demonstrations.

That was the situation we found ourselves in as firecrackers, cherry bombs and M-80s were being exploded, with some planned fireworks for the evening.

Fortunately, we ran into a visitor our age who was entertaining himself with booming success.

All he had was an old metal Drano can with the metal lid that popped on and off.

Oh, and he had gone to a drugstore and bought calcium carbide which was plentiful and cheap.

This container is similar to the old Drano cans. Just punch a few holes in the bottom with small nails and your cannon is ready.

Here, you see a now hard-to-find bottle with the calcium carbide crystals.

We shook a couple of carbide chunks into the Drano can. Now, calcium carbide reacts to water, so the next steps came very quickly.

First, spit on the chips at the bottom of the can. Wait for fumes to form. Then pop on the metal top. Lay the can on a tree stump or rock and hold a match to the holes at the bottom. 

A giant BOOM blew the top off the can and sent it flying. It was great fun and we repeated the drill several times. Then the kid held the can like a bazooka near his ear and my friend lit it.

The guy's ear went deaf immediately. We stayed around until he could hear, but that was the end of our carbide days.

Today, you can still buy a carbide cannon and ammunition, but to see a less expensive method of explosion with a homemade PVC cannon, click HERE. Or, make your own like THIS.

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