In the above photo, the stand in the foreground seems like just the ticket for Firefly.  I believe these machines are by the legendary Mr. Wilkins.  They appear to reflect the design seen on Trajan’s column, shown in the photo below.

My apologies for not providing credit to the persons responsible for the above photos. They are something I acquired from somewhere, and have no idea where (will correct as soon as I find out).  Update: thanks to Martin and Randi for their attached comments that straighten out the authorship of these photos.  Glad somebody can keep this old metal-pounder in line.

It is interesting that the Trajan’s column depiction does not show the limbs of the ballista.  With an outswinger they should be clearly visible; while  an inswinger, at full cock and at this oblique angle, the limbs would be pretty well hidden by the field frames and stock.  Because of this, it seems like a simpler and more direct argument to say that this ancient depiction is of an inswinger rather than an outswinger.  To make the case for an outswinger from this artwork,  we would have to make explanations about the missing limbs based on some kind of artistic license.   To my simple machinist’s mind, that is just the kind of needless complexity for which Mr. Occam dishes out his razor sharp spankings.

Also, we note that the long groove shown on the side of the stock may indicate the presence of a static rail system for the catch assembly to ride on.  Perhaps Firefly is on the right track here after all.

A man I respect very much once told me that the great secret to getting things done was to keep your word. “Think about what you are going to say.   Say what you are going to do.  And do what you said”,  he told me.   While the latter is a well known axiom for honorable behavior, I am finding it useful to make a habit of saying what I am going to do before I do it.  It seems to have the straightforward effect of revitalizing my  motivation and keeping me on track.

Much of this blog is used exactly in that manner:  a psychological whipping post to get me off the couch.  What was it Macbeth said?,  “… I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, save vaulting ambition that or’leaps itself and falls on the other…..” .   Ploys to manufacture will power seem pathetic I know,  but this is just a blog and I figure self-honesty is best served raw.  If I announce here that I am going to get something done, I’m going to feel pretty rotten if I don’t follow through.  It’s all about the whips and chains at this stage.

Accordingly, we start season four of the Orsova ballista reconstruction project, by announcing my firm intent to build Firefly a proper stand.

There …….. That last sentence worked a treat…..I’m already feeling more directional merely by uttering it in public.  Chips and shavings to follow.