Inspired by my recent acquisition of Backyard Ballistics by William Gurstelle (thank you very much, Mom & Dad!), I decided to construct a potato gun, aka potato cannon, aka spud gun. Naturally, being the OCD kind of person that I am, I did a quick Web check to see if anyone else was fooling around with Tuber Propulsion Technology and what kind of designs might exist outside of the chapter in Backyard Ballistics.
To my surprise, I found an entire Potato Gun Underground online as evidenced by Google's Potato Cannons and the Potato Cannons of the Internet Webring.
A few recommended sites:
Spudfiles: The #1 Spudgun Database
The Spudgun Technology Center
This was all a bit overwhelming, so I decided to stick to William Gurstelle's design.
Your basic potato gun turns out to be surprisingly inexpensive. I spent $40.11 (including tax) for materials and tools at Loew's:
23837 3" x 5' schedule 40 PVC pipe ($8.94)
23833 2" x 5' schedule 40 PVC pipe ($6.36)
23318 3" x 2" PVC coupling ($2.14)
23287 3" PVC F adapter ($2.44)
23307 3" DWV plug ($1.14)
150887 Handipac PVC primer & cement ($5.58)
27732 10" fixed frame hacksaw ($7.63)
90316 File, 6" ($3.97)
Note the lack of the all-so-critical ignition system. I was looking for a Coleman Lantern Spark Igniter Model No. 829B705T or 829A705T (sometimes I'm seduced by name brands), but Lowe's is probably not the best place to find what is essentially camping equipment, so I headed out to Wal-Mart where I found an Ozark Trail Lantern Lighter 503A for $2.73.
Construction looks to be fairly straightforward except that I've never messed around with PVC pipe and I gather there are some tricks to gluing this thing together. Fortunately, the Solvent Cements And Primers webpage answered enough of my questions that I started final assembly today--I have all the parts, the pipes, bushings, and couplers are clean, and I've cleared some working space on the back porch. After that, all I'm lacking is hair spray* for propellant and a wood dowel for a ramrod.
*Actually, my most recent research indicates that Static Guard, Right Guard, and Old Spice are the propellants of choice.