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Safety

You wouldn't turn someone loose with your car if they didn't take driver's education would you?  Well then, please take a few moments to educate yourself and others about the safe way to use a spudgun!  It really isn't so bad, and it could honestly save your life.  If you are a minor, or even an adult without proper construction knowledge, get a qualified adult to help you with the build.

Potato gun and general gun safety

1.  Make sure you know if the gun is loaded or not.  Treat the gun as if it is loaded, at all times.  In other words do not point it at people, animals, or toward any thing you don't want destroyed.  Always point it in a safe direction when using or loading.  Pay attention to the line traced by the potato gunís muzzle, make sure it doesnít cross anyone or anything you did not wish to shoot.  Potato guns can be dangerous, or even deadly when improperly handled.  Never store or transport a loaded potato gun.  Donít load a potato gun unless you intend to shoot it immediately.

2.  Do not put your finger on the firing mechanism unless the gun is pointed at the intended target.  Simply put: on target means on trigger, off target means off trigger

3.  Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.  You must always launch spuds in a safe location.  This means NEVER point or fire at anything that (1) you cannot clearly and easily identify as a target, and (2) that would pose a danger to anyone were your ammo to stray, or ricochet.  This means always knowing where your ammo has the potential to go.  Never point the gun or pull the trigger at a close-range target without a backstop that will STOP your fire.

4.  A very important, but often overlooked rule, never hand a launcher to anyone that doesn't understand and abide by these rules.  Once they are holding the gun, it is their, not your, responsibility to handle it safely, but you will be putting your life and property as well as the life and property of everyone else on the line if you do so.

Guidelines for potato guns

Do not use spud guns in extremely cold or extremely hot weather, PVC is a good material, but it does have itís limits.  PVC may become brittle in extreme temperatures.  While it is extremely cold out I shoot my gun inside of my garage with a heater on out through the open garage door.

Never go beyond 100 PSI with a PVC spud gun.  Also remember to use only pressure rated pipe.  The pipe will say XXXPSI, such as 330PSI, this means it is pressure rated, as PSI is a pressure rating.  Never use non pressure rated PVC or cellular core PVC.  Using cellular core is deadly!  Also remember your spud gun is only as strong as itís weakest component.

Gluing Pipe

Always make sure the glue you use is compatible with the pipe.  If it is the wrong type you will not get a good solvent weld.  Also do not mix ABS and PVC.  They will not glue together properly.  

Plastic pipe joints are connected with glue that actually melts the pieces together. The joints for both PVC and ABS are glued the same way, but the types aren't interchangeable and only a special fitting can connect them together.

See the Solvent Welding page for more info.

Some common potato gun mistakes:

1.  Do not look down the barrel or into the combustion chamber when testing the spark.  This seems like common sense, but it has happened before, expelling flames and hot gasses at the onlookerís face.  Donít do this!  Also note that PVC glue and solvents build up flammable gasses and could cause the gun to fire before you actually spray fuel into your gun.  This is a common mistake after building a gun.  The fumes from the curing cement are highly combustible.  

Usually the cause for a misfire is too much fuel in the chamber.  With too much fuel there is not enough oxygen for the fuel to burn.  Taking the endcap off introduces fresh air (containing oxygen) into the chamber and makes the once non-flammable environment into a highly flammable one.  This is why a non firing launcher could catch you off guard, rendering your eyebrows to ashes!

2. Proper and careful construction is the key to spud gun safety.  Properly primer and glue your spud gun.  The procedure will be explained here.  If you have any questions get an adult to help you.

3.  Make sure the end cap is screwed on all the way.  I have actually had my end cap fly off when I first made a spud gun.  Again this seems like common sense, but just be sure your end cap is on all the way.

4.  Many sites give plans for mounting the launcherís in an end cap of the potato gun.  DO NOT do this!  Two reasons: (1) it drastically weakens the end cap and (2) you can accidentally fire the gun if you set it on the ground end cap first.  For more info on proper ignition placement see the ignition section of my site.

5.  Do not use high powered fuels such as acetylene, hydrogen or oxygen.  If you do you will die.  PVC is a great material under normal circumstances but is nowhere capable of withstanding the extreme power of these fuels, and will explode with much PVC shrapnel.  This is not just what could happen, it's what WILL happen.

6.  DO NOT, under any circumstances look down the barrel of a spud gun, either a loaded one or an unloaded one.  If you pay attention to any rules here, this is one of the most important!  If these launchers can blow a hole through plywood with a potato, just imagine what they would do to your eye/face/head at POINT BLANK RANGE.  Don't do it!

This page makes potato guns seem foreboding and dangerous, but remember they are safe and a lot of fun when used properly.  Potato guns are enjoyed by many, many people of all ages without any problems.  I just describe what could happen if misused as I would rather have you be safe than sorry.  Above all use common sense, if it seems like a bad idea, it probably is!

 

 

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