View Full Version : Carbide Cannon???

August 16, 2010, 09:19 PM
My buddy just bought an old Carbide Cannon at a gun show. Where can you get Carbide for these things?

August 16, 2010, 09:24 PM
Assuming you don't want to buy 20-30 pounds of it, here's a place (http://www.ray-vin.com/bangstuff/bangstuff.htm) that sells smaller quantities.

the rifleer
August 16, 2010, 10:41 PM
That sounds likes its basically a spud gun. When you mix carbide with water it produces acetylene gas, which is what combusts. Research spud guns and you can probably figure out how to make it work with propane.

edit- thats pretty small to make work with propane. you could do it, but you would be disappointed...

August 17, 2010, 08:00 PM
You can usually buy carbide at most any welding supply shop, and at many farm and home supply stores.

August 17, 2010, 08:35 PM
I am lucky enough to own two carbide cannons. They are Big Bang carbide cannons. I have the #10 and the #15, the #15 is noticeably larger than the #10. I get all my possibles from the Conistoga Cannon Co.:) They are loud!!!:eek: I will post pics tomorrow if possible.;) I also have a tennis ball cannon powered by propane, I'll try to get it's pics also. It'll shoot a tennis ball over into the next neighborhood, it's freakin fun man!!:D: hehehe, I also have a softball mortar that will send a softball about 250 ft in air,,:eek: it's powered by something else.;) Here's the pics of Hooligan1 Btry!

August 18, 2010, 11:30 AM
That sounds likes its basically a spud gun.

Spud guns are "new" technology, Carbide cannons date back a couple centuries!
Carbide is what was used in minors lamps years ago. Spelunkers were still using them recently, because there are no batteries to go dead or bulbs to burn out. LED lights may have changed that now.

You might try a hardware store, or camping supply for carbide.

August 19, 2010, 11:48 PM
OT, but only slightly....

When I was 12 or 13 ('57 or '58,) I had a girlfriend whose dad had a homemade carbide cannon. I watched real careful when he had it out, and went home and made one of my own. Even though I was in a real no-gun household (only women and me, as my dad died in WWII,) I somehow sneaked this one past the censors.

Take an old-time (heavy-gauge) quart paint can and clean it up as necessary so the top fits snug. Bore a hole (I used a big nail) in the top towards one edge, and a finishing-nail-sized hole in the center of the bottom. Get a chunk of 2X4 long enough to contain the can, and gouge a can-sized groove in it from the middle, slanting deeper to the front edge.

Mount the can (SEAM SIDE DOWN) on the 2X4 base, put some wood screws in the sides of the base and wire the can down by using baling wire (which I got from the newspaper bales on my paper route,) and tighten the wire by using a screwdriver as a turnbuckle until everything is tight. Attach a length of screen-door chain from one of the screws to the lid using a machine screw and a lock-washer nut combination. About 3 feet should be enough - that way (a.) you don't have to chase the lid, and (b) it won't come whipping back and smack you when the cannon goes off. Guess how I learned that.

I lived in coal mining country, and in those days the miners still used carbide headlamps on their helmets. The local pawnshop sold cans of Calcium Carbide in gravel-sized lumps for cheap, and here we go. Put about 20 rocks of carbide in the cannon, put your thumb over the hole in the bottom, and spit on the carbide. Tamp the lid down tight, and set the cannon on its base, still holding your thumb over the hole with your hand on the top of the cannon.

Strike a kitchen match, remove your thumb and hold the match under the center hole. BLAM! I've had Big Bang cannons, and believe me this thing will make 'em sound like cap guns. Imagine a 12-gauge going off at arm's length, pointed directly to the side.

And no, we didn't use hearing protection, and yes, my left ear still goes blank every now and again over 50 years later. And for God's sake, don't tell your mother where you got the information.

August 21, 2010, 07:14 PM
I used to buy it at the local hardware store. That wasn't too long ago, back in the mid 80s.

Used it in my tennis ball cannons. Back when soda and beer cans weren't aluminum and had the rings around the top and bottom. With a can opener, cut the top and bottom out of one and the top out of another. Heat up the ring on the top can with a propane torch to expand it and fit it over the bottom can. When it cooled, they were locked together. Punch a nail hole down near the bottom. Set it upright on a 2x4 and drive 4 or 5 framing nails around it to hold it in place.

To fire, put in a small amount of water (couple of teaspoons) and drop in one "rock" of carbide. Shove a tennis ball in and wait about 10 or 15 seconds. Don't remember exactly, but timing was important. Too soon or too late and you got poor, or no, performance. But if you timed it right, it would blow the tennis ball nearly out of sight. Coupla hundred feet maybe.

That hardware store is gone now, but: http://www.enasco.com/product/KM00561M

October 11, 2010, 01:20 AM
Not really a carbide cannon . . . . but . . . . visited a civil war fort and cemetery while on vacation recently and got inspired to build a LRC (living room cannon) also, visited Missouri where the most powerful legal fireworks are sold (I'm told). Built two versions, a 50 caliber and a .625 caliber, both of which fire pinewood slug "shells" about 1.25" long. Test fired the 50 cal today at a cardboard box at 10' and about a foot from the living room wall. Well my LRCs have now turned into PCs (patio cannons) as the slug went thru the box and half way thru moms sheetrock wall. All this from a chinese 1.5 grain firecracker! Anyway, building the 1/12 scale guns was interesting. Outside, the range is about 35 yards. If the south ever rises again, I want to be ready!

October 11, 2010, 02:17 AM
I recall these.they could be orered from the Johnson Smith novelty catalogue,along with whoopee cushions and garlic gum.
The were cast iron,and looked like a cannon.There was a water reservoir under what would be the chamber.A breech plug would come outwith 1/4 turn.This plug had a very small dipper/spoon on it,I think it was smaller than 1/4 in.It also had a spark igniter.The carbide came in toothpaste type tubes and was called Bangsite Carbide.It was granular,like black powder.When the spoon was full,and inserted into the breech and rotated,the calcium carbide fell in the water,producing acetylene.The striker was pushed,BOOM!
Recollections of a kid!
We lived on post at Camp Wolters,Texas then.I can understand why the MP s took exception to us shooting them as the patrol car went by.Darn kids!

Mike Irwin
October 11, 2010, 07:59 AM
Bangsite Carbide is still available.

October 11, 2010, 05:41 PM
You also used to be able to order the Big Bang carbide cannons from mail order ads in publications like Popular Mechanics in the 50s and 60s. My dad ordered one of them for my brother and I in the early 60s. We had a great time with it. I sold it at my mother's estate auction about 5 years ago. I didn't think there would be any interest in it and it actually brought a pretty good price if I remember correctly. I should have kept it but at the time, too much to get done in closing her estate, etc. clouded my better judgement. I graduated from that cannon to shooting full sized 10 pound Parrott Rifles and seige mortors (live fire). Did that for about 15 years and then hung up my gauntlets and lanyard. :D I still enjoy seeing and examining various Civil War ordnance though . . . nothing like something that is capable of making a "big bang"!

October 15, 2010, 06:14 AM
Go to this auction on eBay: 220682332035 (it's on right now). It's for a tube of Bangsite and two spark plugs.