Chucky 2...The Team New Jersey Punkin Chunkin Weapon Of Moderate Destruction.......
For the last eight years now,..a brilliant team of mechanically inclined NJ geniuses assemble together and brainstorm on just how to smash pumpkins.
Or as they call it; Punkin Chunkin. And chunkin it certainly is,..to say the very least.
Using a mechanized marvel aptly named Chuckie 2, they have finely tuned the physical challenges of just what it takes to get a carefully selected "punkin" to go ballistic.
And when I say ballistic I mean at the speed of a bullet. When they activate chuckie 2 you dont SEE the punkin fly,...you HEAR the punkin fly,..like a stray shot over your head in combat,a whistling howl lasts a mere mega second and its all over..WHOOSH!!! Gonesville, NJ USA.
The punkin is no more. At least as far as you can see it anyway......it literally flies beyond the point you would see it with the naked eye.
And just who are these operators of this weapon of moderate destruction?? Enter Adam Gussen, his brother and co designer Marc Gussen and thier collegue Adrian Hamill....men not necessarily out of thier gourds,..but certainly men that have been thinking outside the box,..and doing so on a national competetive level for 8 years.
This past Halloween weekend they traveled to Delaware for Punkin-Chunkin competition representing NJ and WON!!!!
Congratulations to team Punkin Chunkin NJ. Chucky2 must have decimated the competition,....
I also saw them on a nationally televised documentary on the Punkin Chunkin competition that has dozens of oddly concieved contraptions vying for the grand prize.
Its a weirdly sculpted punkinhead thing about 5 feet tall,..thats the trophy. They were getting some good air time in the TV spot,..but didnt do as well as they had hoped.
I think the documentary was dated and the recent win shows how far the talent os the team have brought Chucky2.
The test run I saw recently in West Portal NJ was 100% absolutely ASTOUNDING!!
I asked a few questions of the boys,..who worked as a well oiled team,drinking beers and listening to some good music during the set up phase.
Actually expected to assist and help out with winding up the monster contraption,..your intrepid Weird New Jersey correspondent Rich Robinson managed to squeeze in a few technical inquiries in between his torsion technician duties,..heres how it went;
RR; So..where are we actually tossing these punkins???
Adam Gussen; "We are on the property of Jeff and Yvonne Modica",..location West Portal NJ. Says AG; "The first thing they asked us was; do you have insurance",..breaking into a wide grin he elaborates on the liability issues and assures me they have it all squared away.
Asking again, RR: WHERE are we tossing them TO.....about how far???,..(as I looked into the far distance)...AG; "Chuckie 2 can throw a punkin in the ballpark of 3070 feet."
RR; So how long have you guys been doing this??
" Seven years,..this is going into our eighth season" says Gussen.
RR; How much do the "punkins" weigh?? What is the ideal "punkin" weight??
Explains Adam with a very serious tone in his voice; "8 to 10 pounds,..as close to 8 pounds as possible" ,
...he looks over at a green smallish looking gourd like object,.."and those sizes are strictly set by the Punkin Chunkin Association",...further explaining the reasoning behind the use of the green gourd colored type of pumpkin aka "punkin".....
"The classic orange Jack `O Lantern style pumpkin is totally unsuitable and would VAPORIZE upon launch"..
I was leery of his statement but when it was all systems go I knew he wasnt pulling my leg.
It was such a forceful launch,....I could easily see what he was getting at about this "vaporizing" comment.
Poor little Jack `O lantern would just turn to mush in the launch basket. The gourds they pick are "punkins" each carefully hand selected for optimum distance and durability.
RR; What is the technical term for this device??
AG: "This is a torsion catapult"...beaming with that smile he has quipping.."Its amazing what you can do with a library card!!"..
RR; What is the driving force behind each toss?
AG: "The bundle of rope that is twisted becomes a torsion spring,..like a tourniquet"..again reminding me it was almost time for me to to pitch in and wind Chuckie 2`s spring for a launch....
Winding it requires all hands on deck presssing down on a 15 foot lever to ratchet the rope spindle down as tight as possible and the weight of a good 10 heavy men must muscle this behmoth into submission for maximum thrust.
RR; What is the launch arm constructed of??
AG:.."It`s laminated hickory and hollow tapered aluminum tubing...."
I was reasured this aluminun tubing was not the subject of the WMD search of the Iraq war,..but the term was coined by his brother Marc Gussen;
"Weapon Of Moderate Destruction",.which I can attest to it being exactly that.
If you were hit by this thing or its projectile you would be in a world `o hurt,..let there be no doubt about it.
RR; Any scary moments during operations that come to mind?
Marc Gussen explains.."Well,..there was one sledgehammer related mishap"...
His brother Adam adds,.."3 or 4 years ago the trigger mechanism siezed,with 15 seconds to go the rope was cut by hand and we won the competition"
The rope used is Plasma rope and strung for performance as it is extremely strong.
Updated steel plating 5/8 of an inch thick replaced the battered bent 3/8 inch plates damaged in previous competitions.
600 feet of 1 inch rope is twisted in the newly extended boxed out housing that contains the main source of torsion power,..the twisted rope.
All of this is pulled down into final firing position say the Gussens, using a Briggs and Stratton motor,a Datsun pick up truck transmission and gears/pulleys from a system formerly used to pull ocean going barges together.
Now thats NJ ingenuity for you,..putting this thing together was no easy task taking the Gussens and company at least 8 months of the year.
It cost many thousands of dollars to build as well.
Seeing as none of the NJ boys have a degree in physics or engineering it is really quite remarkable how powerful a machine they have desinged and built,..and WON with.
So after the spring is wound up,...with the motor started...the "punkin' in the sling in a grave-like pit,..the launch bar is finally pulled down tight waiting for the trigger to be pulled,..after the spectators are warned back and 3 blasts of the air horn the trigger is pulled and WHHOOSHH!!!!!!!!
Unable to be seen with the human eye,..one punkin is well beyond 3000 feet away in a fraction of a second.
It all happens in less than the blink of an eye,...and its really really cool.
"The sling length is critical to punkin release time" says Adrian Hamill,.."Consequently if you are shooting too high you`re releasing too early. Releasing at 30-32 degrees is considered optimum"
Chucky 2 moments before test launch......
The Extended Box,...holding the 600 feet of 1 inch rope tightened for punkin chunkin POWER!!
Adam Gussen (left) and Brother Marc Gussen (right) ...prepare sling for launch accuracy....
Adrian Hamill makes final check for launch safety,...at least I hoped he was,...
Team Punkin Chunkin; The Gussen brothers with team captain Dan Collins (right)....,....ready to Launch in NJ the Garden State....
Barge Pulley with Nissan Pick-Up Truck Transmission....
Team captain Dan Collins of Team Punkin Chunkin fires up the Briggs and Stratton to pull the launch arm into firing position...
This is what they were using as ammo.......7 lb-1/8 ounce...optimum
The launching "grave pit"......
This is pretty much the elusive money shot,..hard to catch but you can see the punkin,....for the last time....ever.
Coming soon to a pumpkin patch near you!!:....
Its under wraps,..and wont be done till 2009,.(the prototype NOT available for sneak pix. I was told,..even though I saw it) well,..the Next Chuckie is slated to chunk one bad punkin OVER A NJ MILE!!!! ,..and these guys are dead serious,..you will hear about it when it hits the record books,..but hopefully yours truly will be at the test firing to see it first.
I want to thank Dan Collins Marc & Adam Gussen, Adrian, and the team they had assembled that awesome autumn day for letting this WNJ correspondent have such a blast,..literally.
I never thought a pumpkin could reach such a velocity.....Thanks guys.
And it should be noted,the hardcore Weird NJ fans they are,..they deserve the well wishes from thier fellow WNJ readers in thier endeavors...GOOD LUCK DUDES!!!
Rich Robinson aka Wizard343