Spring Time in the Rockies – Junk Yard Weaponry

Personal Reflection: One of Gerald’s obsessions was improvised weapons which might come in handy in the event regular firearms and ammunition became unavailable. Another reason for them is stealth.

Here is a fictional letter from Karl to George in which Gerald reveals what he was thinking and doing to build crude fire power. Writing out such contemplations was important to him, but being cautious about it is also why he didn’t write using his own name.

Gerald did attempt to build what he described, but the contraption that resulted wasn’t salvaged when his old place was cleaned up.


Dear G.,

Helga and I are back in Ft. Collins, Colorado, or just outside the city. What I want to talk about is making weapons from car parts and other things that are readily available.

We did some research at the library about how the English peasants made a terrific weapon from the yew tree and were able to become warriors even though denied arms or armor.

What if we were in a similar situation, or saw it approaching, you had your guns confiscated or outlawed? The English made the long bow and became masters of archery with it. They trained from youth to develop the strength necessary to pull this bow. The pull sometimes reached 200 pounds, and it was said that only an Englishman could pull one.

They used the materials they had at hand and made history with their simple, but powerful weapons. My question is, what do we have at hand that we could use in a similar manner? This is not to suggest we become archers. Too late for that to develop their strength and skill. But could we use items that are readily available to fashion a practical weapon, or shooter, that anyone could use?

What I am proposing is that we make a weapon powered by an automobile’s valve springs. Instead of a bow, we would have a train of springs contained in a tube or barrel, maybe a pipe. For power we would pull back the springs and release them to propel arrows, crossbow bolts, lead balls, stones, or golf balls.

Would not be as good as a gun, but be a lot better than nothing in your hand.

A number of friends have contributed ideas. They asked, “Why automobile valve springs?” I said they are available by the millions, either as junk parts or new purchase. Supply is no problem. They are compact and efficient, we use them every day in our cars and trucks. They store power and release it at high speed. I mean, think how fast valve springs move in an engine.

As for strength, did you ever hold one in your hand and try to compress it? Imagine a train or row of these springs contained in a tube and pulled back with some kind of device with mechanical advantage, then released to propel your projectile.

Well, as you know, it is a lot easier to propose such a device than to actually construct one. People that I shared the idea with had a lot of questions and a lot of helpful suggestions too. Their conclusion was that if you intended to fire projectiles–not all of these are for weapons–the springs have plenty of power. Think of truck springs, for example. Problems might be, how to mount the parts, how to compress the springs and hold the projectiles, and how to release the springs, a trigger or lock device.

Here were some ideas we came up with:

The tube or barrel could come from the hardware store. Maybe gas pipe or electrical conduit?

To compress the springs, a lever with, maybe, a 10 to 1 mechanical advantage.

A ratchet device like an auto jack..

A winch with strong cord pulling on a u-bolt.

Want to guess what was the hardest thing to come up with? We had (have) more problems and solutions to— the trigger or lock mechanism than anything else!

Someone even had the idea of a crude trigger lever that had a blade to cut a pull back cord!

But we all agreed that the basic concept sounded like it would work and be practical.

So, what do you think, G.? Are you interested in the idea at all? Please let me know, and I’ll tell you what we have arrived at.



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Author: Gerald Franz

Gerald Franz (1935-2014) was like a second father to me in the 27 years I knew him. Brilliant and eccentric, with a wide array of interests, he fit the definition of being gifted. He strove to shake people loose from their conventional thinking. As a Bible believing Christian, his favorite and most studied Bible subject was prophecy. Writing became a means of teaching in his later years. See more about Gerald here.