Some days it seems inevitable that I am going to build the Mk. II version of Firefly.    If I think about it long enough, all the escape hatches will seal themselves off and I’ll end up committed to it by default.  It is especially important not to give this “Mk. II” creature a name.  Names presage ideas;   and as I learned in, Where The Rivers Run North,  “An idea is a dangerous thing”.     If I am to avoid another Grand Obsession, I must shun names and ideas at all costs.   We’ll see how well that goes ……….

…………  Assuming just for a moment that I can overcome the aforementioned phobia, and do manage to  jump back into the Hell’s cauldron of making another catapult,   the thrust of such a project would be to produce a machine that is substantially more powerful than Firefly,  yet also has her gilt edged accuracy, all in a smaller more Orsovian package.

( “Orsovian”,  and dependent clauses ? …….Ooh!, Fancy!)

The Firefly project bumbled its way through the first two and half years of its existence.  In this latter part of the third year,  the whole endeavor stepped through a door and into new territory when the shooting precision and inherent accuracy of the design started to express itself.   (Not to put too fine a point upon it, but if I can see it on my 50 meter range, I can hit it. Repeatedly.    ……..  I know, “50 meters?  What’s that? We’re all so impressed down here on planet Earth”……..    Longer range testing will require re-situating the machine into a remote location so than we can actually have a “longer range”.)

….. However, I digress.

The point I am trying to make is,  given that Firefly has put 16 consecutive shots through a single ragged hole at 50 meters,   nothing I  could build could ever best the shooting precision of Firefly at 50 meters,  if for no other reason than when a bolt with three inch wide fins,  keeps repeatedly going through a 4″ diameter hole in the target, there really is no  meaningful way to measure the group size any more.   At that stage, for a large bolt shooting machine,  the precision is quite literally “off the charts”.  No brag.  Just fact.

So,  if another machine does rise up from the ashes of the Orsova destruction layer, it will only really be able to best Firefly in two areas:  (1)  improved metallurgy in the kamerion and field frames will allow higher draw weights which yield more projectile energy and an even  flatter trajectory, and (2)  by providing a deeper look into all matters related to historical authenticity.  On this latter point,   although I was scrupulous in replicating the exact diameter of the spring holes and all of the other dimensions of the Orsova artifacts for Firefly, there are still some open questions as to how exactly the Romans utilized the holes evident in the forks on the kamerion.    Reducing the overall length of the machine by over two feet also seems possible now that we have eschewed the longer draw lengths.

Would advances in these areas be worth the effort of a second Orsova reconstruction?  I don’t know yet.    The ruminations continue.

Of course, if I don’t, gone will be all those moments of sordid contemplation …..

The rollery thing bears more thought.

2 Responses to “Rise of the Phoenix.”


  1. Gareth says:

    Is Firefly considered transportable, and if so what procedures are required to achieve this? I’m thinking mostly of the limbs, are they easily removable and returnable into the bundles, or would it be easier to ‘un-tension’ the bundles and rotate the arms inwards? Really impressed by the level of design and workmanship involved in the construction so far, by the way.
    Gareth
    p.s also like the idea of a smaller, more manageable firefly(II).


  2. Nick Watts says:

    Firefly is highly transportable in as much as she can be broken down into modular components very quickly by driving out half a dozen lock wedges. It takes about five minutes.

    Un-tensioning the arms would be problematic because it would require a lengthy re-tuning procedure to bring the performance back to spec.
    The modular field frames can be transported with the tensioned limbs in place.

    Thanks for the kind words. I am slowly maneuvering myself in the direction of the MK II. — Nick.

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