Episode 182: Swinging Pirates

Air Date: April 15, 2012

The following three myths are based on a scene in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

A group of six people in a suspended spherical cage could swing over to one side of a ravine using only their own body weight.

busted

The MythBusters built a cage from steel tubing and tested it for safety and ability to swing, then took it to a firefighter training facility with a building that could be used as a cliff. With the cage hanging on an 80 ft (24 m) cable held up by a construction crane, they were unable to get it to swing on their own. Four circus trapeze performers were brought in to replicate the size of the group in the film scene, but the six still could not reach the building. One final attempt with the cable shortened to 40 ft (12 m) failed as well, so Adam and Jamie declared this portion of the myth busted.

A group of six people in a suspended spherical cage could grab and hold on to vines a the ravine’s vertical face after.

plausible

A section of rope rigging was hung from the building to represent the vines in the movie scene. When the crew hauled the cage back with a rope and let it swing over to the building, the six prisoners were able to grab hold and keep their grip.

A group of six people in a suspended spherical cage could climb to the top of a ravine.

plausible

The six people in the cage were able to climb 12 ft (3.7 m) to the top of the rigging and pull down a Jolly Roger flag hung there.

A 55 US gal (208 L) oil drum filled with 4 US gal (15 L) of methanol can be fitted with wheels and ignited to propel it at high speed as a go kart.

busted

At the bomb range, the Build Team attached a drum to a wheeled dolly and ignited the methanol remotely with a road flare. Their attempts only caused the kart to move a few feet, so they returned to the workshop for small-scale testing. Reducing the fuel/air ratio allowed a slight improvement in distance, but bubbling air into the methanol (for better vapor mixing) gave a much larger increase until the kart set itself and the test track on fire. When the team attached a funnel-shaped exhaust nozzle and injected the fuel through an atomizer (creating a pulse jet engine), they could safely propel the kart to a distance of 15 ft (4.6 m).

For the second full-scale test, they attached the nozzle to a full-sized drum, fitted a scuba air tank to operate the atomizer, and mounted bicycle wheels for reduced friction. This design only moved in short bursts of acceleration and achieved a top speed of 5 mph (8.0 km/h). Declaring the myth busted, they brought in a pulse jet expert to upgrade the engine; his design propelled the kart to 50 mph (80 km/h).

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