The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Breaking News


October 16, 2013

Battle cry: On-gourd!

Prof, collegians put final touches on medieval pumpkin launcher

SUNBURY — LEWISBURG — A Bucknell University mechanical engineering professor, 10 of his students and a friend from Mifflinburg are making the coolest, biggest pumpkin-launcher you’ll ever see. And it’s all aimed squarely at a friendly competition with Lewisburg Cub Scout Pack 3509 in the first Susquehanna Valley Pumpkin Challenge.

The launcher, made from wood donated by Mifflinburg Lumber Co., is a modern trebuchet, a sophisticated variation of a medieval catapult used for hurling heavy stones in battle.

Professor Nate Siegel led the construction team, which worked 18 hours over two days to build the trebuchet.

“This is the second time I’ve tried to do this,” Siegel said minutes before test-firing at Bucknell’s Art Barn Tuesday afternoon.

“If it works like it should,” Siegel said, “it will launch a pumpkin a good 150 yards.”

A trebuchet works by using the energy of a falling, and hinged, counterweight to launch a projectile — in this case, a pumpkin — and by using mechanical advantage to achieve a high speed, Siegel said.

For maximum launch speed, he said, the counterweight must be much heavier than the payload.

“We could use up to 400 pounds of weight on this trebuchet,” he said, “but for purposes of this event, 200 pounds will probably suffice.”

The Pumpkin Challenge is made up of two events, The Great Pumpkin Launch and the Buffalo Valley Pumpkin Pitch.

The Great Pumpkin Launch will be held Oct. 26 at Whitenight’s Farm Market in Riverside as part of Pumpkin Palooza, where the catapults will fire for distance.

The Buffalo Valley Pumpkin Pitch will be held Nov. 2 at Ard’s Farm Market near Lewisburg, where competitors will fire at targets.

Teams will accumulate points at each event and the squad that has the most points after the Pumpkin Pitch will grab the Susquehanna Valley Pumpkin Cup.

The tribuchet test run didn’t go as planned.

“We have some problems with the trigger mechanism,” Siegel said.

But he felt sure he and his team could figure out how to fix the problem.

Meanwhile, a few minutes after 4, Siegel took off to watch and help out the Cub Scouts, who were also testing their tribuchet a half mile away.

n Email comments to

Text Only
  • Tawny Dog owners not surprised to learn pooches get jealous

    DANVILLE — Dogs are often considered man’s best friend, but a recent study shows that pooches can get a little green over how much time you spend with other canines.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lottery Big lottery payouts pay off for seniors

    HARRISBURG — State lottery officials say less means more for seniors.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Donations to Budd family near $60,000

    SHAMOKIN DAM — The Valley continues to give as fundraisers keep forming and donations steadily pour in for the Budd family, of Ohio, while Sharon Budd continues her fight back from drastic injuries suffered when a rock thrown from an Interstate 80 overpass in Union County slammed through the windshield of the family’s vehicle three weeks ago.

    July 30, 2014

  • B-17 fly-over to honor 'Dutch' VanKirk

    NORTHUMBERLAND — A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress will soar in honor of the late Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk during his graveside services Tuesday morning.

    July 30, 2014

  • dogs31.jpg Is Spike spiteful?

    Dog is often considered man’s best friend, but a recent study shows he may be a little green over how much time you spend with other pooches.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORBETT_TomC.jpg Corbett: VanKirk helped to save the world

    Gov. Tom Corbett today issued the following statement on the death of Northumberland County native Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay:

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Afraid of grandson? "Now I am," Amanda Trometter says

    Erick Trometter slept with hunting and butcher knives beside his bed while living with the grandmother he allegedly attacked on the morning he was shot after allegedly pulling a knife on a city police officer.

    July 30, 2014

  • vk1.jpg Ted VanKirk: Seen from above

    The Daily Item is republishing online its spring 2012 interview with Northumberland native Ted “Dutch” VanKirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. The story appeared in Inside Pennsylvania magazine. VanKirk died Monday in Georgia at age 93.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • vankirk_ted1.jpg “The Japanese were beaten before we even dropped the bomb”

    Compared to the 58 other missions they ran together, the one they were assigned to carry out on Aug. 6, 1945 was easy.
    There would be no return fire, flying conditions were ideal, and if all went according to plan, they would be back to the base in Tinian by nightfall.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ritz-Craft Ritz-Craft to hire 60 for Mifflinburg plant

    MIFFLINBURG — Sixty jobs are coming to Mifflinburg as a Ritz-Craft production facility that went dark seven years ago amid the housing downturn will come back on line during the next few months, company officials announced Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.