BEWARE OF OLD TIMER’S FIREWORKS!
of the foolish things we did while growing up are reasonable enough for
me to tell without being ashamed. But this escapade is one I have never
felt comfortable relating. It was not only foolish but it was dangerous.
A Model T Ford had a
magneto arrangement where permanent magnets mounted on a large disc on
the crankshaft passed by a string of stationary coils and produced a
voltage for the vehicle’s lights and ignition. The magneto was
switched in after the car had been started with the six volt battery and
powered the electrical system. The voltage was much higher than the six
volts and produced a
This technical information is not intended to produce a Model T
electrician but to inform the reader where the nice thin copper ribbon
came from that we used for so many things. The coils were wound with the
thin copper ribbon, about a quarter inch in diameter. There were many
feet of the ribbon in a coil and several coils in the magneto ring.
One of the things
About four or five miles north of our country domain and up
toward the head of our creek a public road ran east and west. On our
side of the road there was an electric power line. There were three
wires on cross arms mounted atop high creosoted poles. We had gone that
far hunting possums and had seen it a few times from the road.
Our idea was to take a long piece of copper ribbon, tie a rock on
the end of it and throw it over the wires. We knew enough about
electricity to know that there would be a nice flash when the wire
melted. We also knew enough to stand far enough away to avoid any
contact with the wire as it hit the high voltage lines.
One nice dark night we unwound two of the coils, cleaned and
sanded the wire and left on a north-bound possum hunt. There were five
of us in the group and with the help of our carbide hunting lamps we
eventually arrived at our destination. There were no houses near and no
visible traffic on the road. This was an ideal time to try our fireworks
The fireworks exceeded what we had expected and with a flashing
and snapping sound the whole area was lit up brighter than any roman
candle or flash bomb could have managed. The display was surely one that
could be seen for miles. In our displays we always tried to entertain
the whole north end of the county.
“Why don’t we use two wires?”
Again we were thrilled by a brilliant display of flashing and
snapping. But a little extra was added to this attempt. One of the wires
burned and the trailing end hung to one of the wires on the side. The
free end slashed back and forth a few times and then hit the tall pole
supporting the power lines. There was another big display of fireworks
when the wire brushed against a wire that came down the side of the
post. No doubt this was a grounding strap.
When the main show was over the upper portion of the post was
blazing. While we stood there amazed at what had happened the blaze grew
larger and it was evident that the post was doomed to be destroyed.
As we had anticipated, several people over a wide area saw the
fireworks and those with electrical service lost their power shortly
afterward. One little town had to shut down its night life because there
was no power. The newspaper in that town had quite a write-up about the
disaster and those who had seen the flashes wondered what had happened.
Our thrill-seeking party kept quiet. The only reason I am telling
it now is because I may be the last survivor. It was FUN but I do no
recommend it to other fun-hunters! Confine your fun to possum hunting
and bumble bee fighting.