I would venture to say they are railroad experts, not
explosive/pyrotechnic experts. I am not an expert by any means but I
was in "ordinance" for 6 years in the military. I have a grazing
understanding of propellants, low explosives and high explosives.
"Dynamite" is a casually used term for anything that goes boom for
At least you are open to the idea that there are many different mixtures
that were used, and can read an article and take it FWIW.
I handled underwater explosive shape charges, but we only placed them. The
powder monkey set it all up. My true knowledge and understanding obviously
does not run that deep.
Uhh, no, it's not *me* that said it, it's the authors of the article I cited.
Apparently you missed that.
Apparently you missed the fact that railroad torpedoes were patented in 1841,
and dynamite in 1867.
Apparently you believe that being a train buff automatically makes a person an
explosives expert too.
Agreed; after all, keep in mind this is from Kalmbach Publications,
publishers of /Model Railroader/, which, while it's the
largest-circulation model RR mag, is far from authoritative on many
things. The folks there are railfans, but not necessarily all that
knowledgable about railroad operations, and definitely not the world's
greatest railroad historians either.
You were wrong, and I'm man enough to admit it.
Wikipedia say they used black powder. Having cut more than a few open
I'm not sure I agree with that either unless it was a special blend
with a lot of sulfur.
Jimmie, I bet there were a lot of manufacturers and recipes in the century
plus that they were used.
I question that book if the "fusee" article is any indication of the
accuracy. They are what we call "highway flares" today.
My brother in law was a brakeman and always had a few in his trunk. He
also had torpedoes. In fact they used to sell them in a few states
before 1966 when all of the "good" firecrackers were banned (real
M-80s, cherry bombs etc)
I still say torpedoes were made with potassium chlorate and sulfur
I would say that they were made from all sorts of things. Many
manufacturers and many formulas. Including dynamite. But I do know that
just as we used to smash a whole roll of paper caps with a hammer and get a
big boom, a train wheel will make a big pop when it runs over anything that
has explosive potential.
As an afterstatement, they said that fusees were impossible to put out.
They are not. You just have to smack them a couple of times to loosen up
the flaming part and get it to fall out of the end, and then it breaks the
burning part off. Those things will still burn if you put them in water.
So, the article is not TOTALLY true.
The problem with the dynamite idea is the brissance of nitroglycerine
is so high that it might shatter a railroad wheel. It had to be a low
explosive. I am also less than certain that crushing dynamite would
actually set it off. Most high explosives require a detonator. (AKA
dynamite cap) I fear they just use dynamite as a generic explosive
"Caps" like you used in your Roy Rogers cap gun were potassium
chlorate and sulfur. That is also the explosive element in match
heads. (if you ever experimented with those you understand).
That is what the Unibomber used.
flaming part and get it to fall out of the end, and then it breaks the
As a teenager I would mix sulfur and Potassium chlorate 50 /50 mix. Put in
small glass bottles and cork them. Take to shooting range and hit with 22
cal bullets. Made nice explosion. NOTE this is very dangerous to mix due to
pressure is used to detonate. Some people have been injured or killed by
trying to mix with a mortar & postal. I carefully mixed it on a sheet of
paper by tilting it back and forth until mixed. WW
I think torpedoes and fusees both have similar chemical makeup, sulfur
and potassium chlorate, The torpedoes may have more oxidizer and the
fusees have a little strontium for color. I remember the local
druggist's kid mixing up sulfur with something and getting a little on
a hammer and smacking it against a piece of steel to set it off. You
could see the smoke and hear it pop but it wasnt much louder than the
steel and hammer hitting together.
I've had some military vets tell me about setting C-4 plastic explosive
on fire and it would just burn unless you were to stomp on it, in which
case it would explode. I don't know if it's true or not.
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