Kaeser Compressors Go Punkin Chunkin

During the first weekend of November, teams from all across the country
converged on Lewes, Del., with a single purpose in mind — to find out who could
shoot a pumpkin (or as the pros say, “punkin”) the farthest. The World
Championship Punkin Chunkin contest drew gangs of gourd slingers to compete in a
variety of categories for children, students, self-propelled entries, catapults
and centrifugal machines. But the real crowd-pleasers were the “big boys” — huge
cannons powered by air compressors and built by engineering experts to wallop
pumpkins into the stratosphere.

For the last seven years, Kaeser Compressors (one of the largest and most
successful suppliers of air systems, with more than 3,000 employees worldwide)
has sponsored Bruce Bradford and S&G Erectors’ cannon, Second Amendment.
Beginning with a fifth place finish in 1999, the Second Amendment became the
champion and world record holder in 2002, 2003 and again in 2005. The gun uses
air from a portable Kaeser Mobilair compressor, as well as a reciprocating
booster compressor to increase the pressure. Long-time Second Amendment team
member Ray Tolson, senior national service engineer for Kaeser Compressors, also
has his own entry, the Second Amendment Too. He placed a respectable seventh in
his first showing last year and was back again in 2006 with a lot more
experience and determination under his belt.

The Rules for the Adult Air Class (18 and older):

1. The top machine with the longest distance wins this class. Pumpkins must
weigh between 8 and 10 lbs.

2. The pumpkin must leave the machine intact.

3. No part of the machine shall cross the firing line.

4. No “wadding” (including bean chaff, straw, foam, metal or any other object
or foreign matter).

5. No explosives are allowed. Compressed air only.

6. Pumpkin must be loaded before pressurizing tanks, and the official must
see you load it.

7. Pressure air lines must have a check valve near the machine end of line.

8. Any machine that shoots out of the field of play will be allowed three
hours to have spotters locate the pumpkin. The field of play is defined as not
being in the woods. If it is spotted up to the wood line it is considered in the

The sun dawned bright in a clear blue sky on Nov. 5 as the 2006 championships
entered its final day. The Second Amendment was working hard to defend its
title, with the Second Amendment Too close on its heels. The best shot was for
3,869 ft — although that was unofficial at press time — and with that the day
would once again belong to Bruce Bradford and the Second Amendment. Ray Tolson
and the Second Amendment Too took fifth place with a soaring 3,482-ft shot. The
whole championship concept is actually nobler than you’d think. The majority of
the event’s proceeds go to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, while some
funds are set aside to provide scholarships for underprivileged youth.

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