Episode 185: Revenge of the Myths

Air Date: May 6, 2012

In this episode Adam, Jamie, and the Build Team explored previously tested myths, using viewer suggestions for improvement or new tests.

A water heater turned on its side can act as a cannon if it explodes.


To test the destructive power of a heater, Adam and Jamie set one up at the bomb range and aimed it directly at the side of a van. When it exploded, the van was heavily damaged and knocked onto its side. They decided to build a cannon, using the force of the heater’s explosion to launch a projectile. Jamie built a heavy steel breech section to contain the heater and debris, while Adam put together a 40 ft (12 m) barrel to guide the ball.

For a comparison, they fired a Civil War-era cannon into a line of pallets loaded with concrete blocks, and found that it could penetrate one pallet and part of a second. Firing their water heater cannon, they were able to destroy one pallet and found the ball stopped at the front edge of the second. Although their cannon did not have as much destructive potential as a real cannon and was not suited for practical use, they judged the myth confirmed.

Water heaters were previously explored in Exploding Water Heater and Myth Evolution.

A man could attach hundreds of fireworks to himself, launch off a ramp, and fly 150 ft (46 m) with a properly designed aircraft. (Based on Fireworks Man.)


Reviewing the earlier test footage, the Build Team decided to redesign their flight vehicle to increase its stability. After fine-tuning their model in a NASA wind tunnel, they did a small-scale test, achieving an estimated 300 ft (91 m) altitude and 150 ft (46 m) range.

They built a full-sized vehicle and launch ramp and set up at a rock quarry, placing the ramp on a ridge overlooking a lake. With 500 fireworks on the back and Buster strapped in, the vehicle achieved a straight flight that carried it 700 ft (213 m) to a touchdown on the other side of the lake. The team reversed their original “busted” decision and declared the myth confirmed. However, they also noted that a person trying it would have a very poor chance of surviving the impact on landing.

A limousine balanced on the edge of a cliff can topple if a bird perches on the hood. (A revisit of Bird Balance.)


Tory put together a 40 lb (18 kg) analog of a Kori Bustard, the heaviest known flying bird, while Grant built a rig to drop up to forty 25 lb (11 kg) raw turkeys on the car hood at once. The Build Team found the balance point using a pipe fulcrum and knife edge, then positioned the car on the edge of a 300 ft (91 m) cliff. Even in high winds, the car did not tip when the Bustard was dropped onto the hood, so Grant began adding one turkey at a time. It only went over the cliff after he had added 26 turkeys, for an approximate total weight of 700 lb (318 kg). The team stood by their original “busted” judgment.

The following myths are spin-offs from Excavator Exuberance.

It is possible to thread a needle using an excavator.


Adam and Jamie set up a dummy with a needle in one hand, and attached a clamp to the excavator’s bucket to hold a piece of thread. Jamie worked the machine while Adam guided him; after several minutes, the thread went through the eye of the needle.

It is possible to pour a glass of wine using an excavator.


A wineglass and sealed bottle were placed on a table, and the bucket was fitted with an attachment to pick up and hold the bottle. Once Adam had it in position and tilted to a suitable upward angle, he shot the cap off with a paintball gun, allowing the wine to pour into the glass.


  1. Jordan says:

    You guys didn’t use the same number of fireworks as the last time! Last time you used 400 and this time you used 500!

  2. Manuel says:

    With a delay of almost an year:

    saw this episode in german tv and met an logical mistake in the cliffhanger-myth.

    it was said you used an limousine to get an bigger lever arm and as a result of force x lever arm an higher moment of force.

    but: as you measured the center of gravity, it was obvious that the front part was a lot shorter, compared to the rear part, resulting in an relatively short lever arm.
    If you really want to make use af an longer lever arm: place a limousine with the rear part down the cliff and you’ll have to use less force respectively weight.

    Greeds of a big german fan


    The limo wasn’t balanced equally and it was pretty obvious. Maybe revisit it again and either put it backwards or actually make it teeter like the myth states. The front of the car was clearly not over the edge enough. Good effort but needs to be redone, again for true results. Thanks, TSBC.

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