Where can we buy/rent a cannon?

Hubby’s favorite cousin is turning 30 next weekend. He’s a bit on the quirky side. He has a fascination with things that make really loud noises. Firecrackers, thunder bolts, old yellow school busses backfiring, etc. At midnight when he turns 30 we would like to fire off a cannon like people fire off guns on NYE.

I’m talking about a REAL cannon. Like the kind you see in Civil War movies or in the Super Mario Brothers. Not the kind that are just large and powerful guns.

We will be out at his cabin. It’s in the middle of the forest, so we don’t have to worry about disturbing others. And the cabin is right next to a lake, so the ball would have somewhere to go when it lands.

If we cannot get hold to a real cannon what else is extremely loud? We want the impact to be so powerful that it throws us off balance. Our second plan is to get an anvil and fire it into the air from the ground. We saw this at a carnival one time and it was awesome. But we haven’t had any luck finding anvils either, not even at Home Depot.

What could possibly go wrong?

A) You do NOT need a cannonball when firing a cannon. Please do not fire one into the lake.

B) Check your area for historical reenactors.

C) Be sure you have a very qualified operator, using cannon-grade black powder only. This is not a do-it-yourself thing. I certainly hope you cannot find someone who will just loan or rent you a gun.

I hold a Massachusetts cannon and mortar firing license. My group owns its own small cannon with about a 1.5 inch bore and we regularly fire original 24lb. cannon with about 6 inch bores at a seacoast fort in my hometown.

Massachusetts requires a licensed operator on any gun crew. Around here there are networks of reenacting groups from different historical eras. It’s not hard to locate a group or an individual who owns a cannon. They might charge you–it’s not an inexpensive hobby.

The barrel for our gun came from Dixie Gun Works. A small cast iron barrel with a seamless stainless steel liner runs about $800 including freight. That’s JUST a barrel–no carriage, wheels, tools, etc.

Another possibility is a fireworks display. Check the laws in your state about what you can do yourself. Another possibility would be to hire someone who does fireworks displays.

Google (or not, at your own risk) sparkler bombs. Done properly, these can be as big and as loud as you want, with a shockwave that will rattle teeth and windows equally well. If you do plan to go this route, I’d recommend building some small test ones first. It’s way too easy to think you want a hundred of them when twenty is already overkill.

I had to be the bad guy at this year’s 4th of July party by telling people these were absolutely not allowed. So a bunch of the other guys went out into the countryside that afternoon to do some damage on their own.

Here you go: Big Bang Cannons

The one at the link is about 2’ long, and makes a very loud noise, firing Bangsite (calcium carbide). No projectile, just a loud Bang.

Is the lake acidic?

If so, then a controlled drop of a big chunk of sodium, calcium, or potassium metal might be a good substitute.

OK, I’ll tell you how to make an exceptionally loud bang, and do it with reasonable safety.
(Reasonable - you can still get hurt, and it might be loud enough to damage your hearing. Be forewarned.)

Get ahold of some waterproof fuse. You would need this for your canon anyway.
Get some “bangsite” (calcium carbide) mentioned above.
Get a balloon.
Get a bottle that has a neck small enough to fit the balloon, and fill it 1/2 way with water.
Fill the balloon 1/2 way with air.
Put a teaspoon of the calcium carbide in the water, and quickly put the balloon on the bottle, and let it fill the rest of the way.
Tie the balloon off.
Tape a LONG piece of fuse to the balloon, light it and run like hell.

It will make a tremendous bang when it explodes - you are making a fuel-air explosion with Acetylene, and if you get the mixture correct, it will be a very bright and very sharp explosion.
If you have too little air, it will be red and sooty, but still pretty.

As their isn’t a hard enclosure, the explosion is pretty safe, but you will still be breaking some laws doing this.
So I strongly suggest you don’t do it.

What’s wrong with firing a cannon into a lake? :confused: It’s in the middle of winter, there won’t be anyone out there boating. Especially at night.

Yeah, we are considering hiring a qualified operator. We’re all going to be drunk.

No thanks. That’s kind of boring, unless it’s 4th of July.

Now that sounds good! That will be Plan C.

Hell if I know. How can I tell? Why does it matter?

Agreed! I don’t know about that one. It sounds quite dangerous! I think we should operate more “formal” objects.

Since you’ve stated you’re all going to be drunk, I should just walk away from this.

However, if you really do care, a loaded cannon is an extremely dangerous thing. Since there is NO reason to fire a ball in order to make a big bang, firing a blank charge is preferred and much safer.

As I said, I have a license. I trained with an experienced cannoneer, read all the state and national safety regulations, then passed a test administered at the state Fire Marshall’s office.

I know the correct way to prepare a black powder charge. I know how big a charge should be prepared for various sized guns. I know the safety precautions for the firing area during the procedure. I know the safe procedure for loading and firing. I know what to do if the charge DOES NOT go off. In addition we are required to know the regulations of handling, storage and transportation for gun powder.

In Massachusetts, we’re not allowed to fire a cannon after dark. Period.

No alcohol can be used by anyone close to the cannon. Period.

During daylight, there are clear zones that must be maintained in all directions from the gun, particularly to the front. The clear zone for “live fire,” with a projectile, is much farther than with just a blank charge. And you MUST be able to SEE clearly that entire distance at the moment the charge is fired. If you’re there at night in the middle of winter, who’s to say some other drunk guys on the other side of the lake didn’t decide to do some midnight canoeing?

We are also require to use an instant form of ignition–no long slow fuses, because it’s uncertain precisely when that will set off the charge. A child or a puppy or a drunk adult could accidentally end up wandering in from of the gun before the shot is fired.

From the way you’re talking, though, I think you should skip all of the above and maybe blow up a big paper bag and pop it.

I often go out for night skiing on frozen lakes. If there is a good amount of moonlight we won’t wear headlamps because we don’t feel the need to make our presence known to people who might shoot cannons.

Seriously, you wouldn’t fire a gun at random into the air, why would you think it’s acceptable to fire a cannon ball?

Terribly bad idea. I cannot find the site where I saw it, but basically it’s highly unpredictable and very dangerous. Stick to cannons and fireworks. Or anvils. (Just kidding about the anvils. Also a bad idea.)

There are quite a few places to buy cannons. Here are some:

Steen Cannons

Cannon SuperStore

For your particular party, I might suggest a SODA CAN/TENNIS BALL MORTARWill launch a soda can 300 + yards! PRICE: $180

Have fun.

This whole thing is an Extremely Bad Idea™.

It’s one step below “Here, hold my beer and watch this.”

Not a step below but s prequel.

Naw, what could go wrong?

Don’t be like this local guy on New Year’s Eve.

she heard an explosion and saw Timothy Crouse Hester, 41, of Lincolnton fly across the porch in a cloud of smoke and land against a door

Not mentioned, but it’s a good bet that alcohol was involved.

I know a decade ago, when I attended Clemson football games they had a small cannon that they would fire after the home team scored. The wheeled it around on a hand cart. It was not very large, but it was hecka loud.

It was used in a crowded environment, so I assume it was not too dangerous.

Maybe all college football games do this, I haven’t been to any others.

Acetylene in a balloon (with a little squirt of oxygen) makes a hell of a boom, I can personally attest to that.

My cousin and I used to make “balloon bombs” and set them off at his parents’ farm. His mom (my aunt) made us stop because we were shaking the windows so badly. From over a quarter mile away.

beowullf’s method is more labor intensive than ours was, we just used gases from an oxy-acetylene torch. I second the comment of a loooooooong fuse. You get flame within a couple feet of a balloon bomb and they go up.

Please, please, please, please don’t get a cannon. Drunk people and cannons are not a good combination, ever. Period. I mean it.