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The purpose of this paper is to explain the basic functions of a trebuchet, explain subsystems of the trebuchet, and give examples of a few possible modifications to the subsystems.

There are five basic parts to a trebuchet: the frame, the counterweight, the beam, the sling, and the guide chute. The frame supports all the other parts, and sits on a raised platform from which to drop the counterweight. The counterweight (pulled by gravity) rotates the beam. The beam pulls the sling. The guide chute guides the sling through the frame, and supports the enclosed projectile until acceleration is sufficient to hold it in the sling; the sling accelerates and holds the projectile until release.


A basic trebuchet at Trebuchet Store

One subsystem of the trebuchet that could be modified is the frame. The frame supports the entire trebuchet and allows for the counterweight to swing.

A possible modification that could be made to the frame is making the frame bigger. The bigger the frame is, the heavier the weight it could hold. This could be useful in cases where you are wanting to take down larger, thicker walls in less time (fewer throws). This would take away company time spent outside the office, therefore giving the company more time for other projects. It may also save the company money by buying fewer larger, heavier objects as opposed to many smaller, lighter objects that have to be used together for the same job of one larger object.

Making the frame bigger would require making all other parts of the trebuchet stronger, therefore requiring more materials. It would not require any additional testing or training, for it would still work the same as it did before.

A second subsystem of the trebuchet that could be modified is the beam. The beam accelerates the projectile by attaching the sling to one end of the beam, while the other end is in a loop and slipped over a release pin extending from the end of the beam. As the beam rotates, it pulls the sling down the guide chute.


The beam at Trebuchet Store

A possible way that you could modify the beam would be to make it adjustable; that is, to make the arm (the piece of wood that the sling is attached to in a loop) adjustable. This would allow for better aim when trying to hit a specific target. This may also be able to make moving the trebuchet a little easier (if the arm can be adjusted to its shortest length while traveling) because it would cause for less error (for example, if the arm were extended outright, it would be more possible for it to hit other things while moving it and possibly breaking it off).

This type of modification to the beam would require a little bit of extra training, but only to learn how to adjust the beam, which would not take long to learn. It would also require the use of more materials, such as wood and other materials that enable the beam to be moved. However, the cost would be made up for by the accuracy of the beam and less time spent away from the company. This type of modification would only need testing in the sense of seeing whether or not the adjustability of the arm works; it would not necessarily need to be tested to use the arm, unless the modifications somehow changed the way the arm worked.

A third subsystem of the trebuchet that could be modified is a part of the sling, called the release angle. The sling releases the projectile by continuing to accelerate through the arc until it eventually swings ahead of the release pin. This is known as the release angle, and here the loop slips off the pin and the sling opens, releasing the projectile.


The Sling at Trebuchet Store

A possible way that you could modify the sling would be to modify the speed of the release. If the release angle could somehow be modified to release the weight at a faster, sharper angle, then the weight could potentially be thrown further. The faster the weight is thrown, the more weight could be thrown, which would come as a surprise to those being attacked.


The release angle in action at Trebuchet Store

There would be no extra training needed in using a trebuchet that had a faster release; however, there would be a need for engineers who could fix a trebuchet to have that faster release. No extra materials would be needed (unless otherwise specified by those designing it), and no extra money would necessarily need to be put into it. The time it would take to design such a modification would take away from company time, and any inaccuracy as a result of the faster release would take time and money with using the trebuchet and buying more weights (for the more inaccurate, the more weights that were lost); so, this type of modification would need to be tested before using.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of modification to the subsystems.




The Bigger Frame

  • Heavier weight

  • Fewer throws

  • Company time saved

  • No extra training or testing

  • More materials

  • Money spent

The Adjustable Beam

  • Better aim

  • Traveling easier

  • Company time saved

  • More materials

  • Money spent

  • Training and testing

The Faster Release

  • Further throws

  • More throws

  • No training

  • No extra materials

  • No money spent

  • Inaccuracy

  • Company time spent

DMU Timestamp: June 22, 2012 12:37

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