Monday, June 2, 2008

How to Build a Toilet Paper Launcher

Many people, author included chose to spend their childhood Halloweens not looking for treats, but out playing tricks on people. We were all petty vandals at one time or other. We would soap car windows, throw eggs at house windows, and launch toilet paper over people's roofs and trees. I was always annoyed by the fact that I couldn't get the toilet paper to fly very far when I threw it. It also never unraveled correctly. As I've grown up I've felt nostalgic for those Halloween nights and the old tricks. With a degree in mechanics under my belt and free time on my hands, I've come up with a better way to toilet paper people's houses. This guide will show you how to build a toilet paper launcher.

Things You’ll Need:
4 Inch Wide Plastic Containers
Value Pack of Toilet Paper
3 Feet of PVC Pipe 4 Inches In Width
PVC y Junction
PVC Screw Port & Plug
PVC Plug
PVC Tape
PVC Cement
Barbecue Lighter
Can of Hairspray

Step 1:
Use your PVC tape to connect the three foot length of PVC pipe and the top of the y junction. Smear the junction with PVC cement. Wipe off the excess cement. It's important that the three foot length of pipe be four inches in diameter. This is the size of the average roll of toilet paper.

Step 2:
Connect the PVC Screw Port and Plug to the end of the y junction opposite the three foot length of PVC Pipe. Tape the two pieces together and Cement them in place. Set the launcher aside.

Step 3:
Strip the barbecue lighter of its plastic housing and disassemble it entirely. Look for the igniter mechanism. It should look like a length of sheathed wiring with a bare metal tip connected to a pressure switch. Keep this and dispose of the rest of the lighter.

Step 4:
Use the drill to bore a hole into the center of the remaining PVC plug slightly larger in diameter that the wire of the igniter.

Step 5:
Fit the igniter into the hole in the plug. Make sure the sparking tip extends all the way past the plug. Cement the igniter in place; be careful to not get any cement on the end of the igniter or it won’t spark. Let the plug dry and then tape around the front and back of the plug to make sure the hole in the plug is completely air-tight.

Step 6:
Cement the plug in the remaining hole of the y junction on the Toilet Paper Launcher. The pressure switch should be raised on the exterior of the launcher and easily triggered. With the launcher itself complete, let it dry for at least a full 24 period before firing.

Firing The Toilet Paper Launcher
Step 1:
Take an empty Tupperware container about four inches in diameter such as one would buy dairy products in, and cut off the top lip. You should have a plastic cylinder with a base at one end.

Step 2:
Use your scissors to cut four lines down the sides of the container all the way to its base. These lines should be equidistant from each other and allow the container to open like a flower. You've just made something called a sabot. It is a plug that goes behind loose shot in an old fashioned gun or cannon. When such cannons were fired the gas that expelled the shell often just went around the loose shot rather than pushing it out of the barrel because the shot was not air tight. Toilet paper is not air tight either, so you need to make a sabot to be placed behind it in the barrel of the launcher. These sabots will last for four or five uses before disintegrating. Luckily they’re cheap and easy to make.

Step 3:
Rip the first square of toilet paper from the roll so that it will unravel freely in mid-air.

Step 4:
Slide the toilet paper roll into the sabot.

Step 5:
Fit the sabot base-first into the barrel of the launcher and use a ramrod (a broom or mop handle will work fine) to push the toilet paper down to the bottom of the three foot length of PVC.

Step 6:
Unscrew the plug in the back of the gun. Shake your can of hairspray and spray it into the back of the launcher for a few seconds. You don't need much for this to work. Quickly screw the plug back in place and make sure all the seals are tight.

Step 7:
Take careful aim away from breakable objects and living creatures, and then press the igniter switch. The launcher should fire the toilet paper roll out with the sabot. The slits in the side of the sabot will make it fan out once it meets air resistance and slam it to a stop, dropping to the ground for repeat use. The speed at which the toilet paper is launched will unravel the roll and/or shred it in mid-flight. If you're doing this on your own property then enjoy, if you're shooting at other people's houses or possessions then you'd better start running!

Tips & Warnings
Often people who really love their launchers will modify the basic design to be more comfortable and paint designs on them for fun.
Be careful not to use too much hairspray, this chemical is highly flammable and can sometimes blow apart the gun if the chamber is too full.

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