I made my first pop bottle launcher maybe 12 or 13 years ago with my dad. I used it to launch hundreds of 2-liter bottles with kids from Best SELF, Together For Youth, ARIS and of course just for the fun of it. As far as I know the original launcher is still in my mom’s garage somewhere just waiting for a bottle. I thought the kids would really get a kick out of it and being a few thousand miles away from home I decided the best thing to do was to build a new one. This one is a bit different, but basically follows the same pattern we came up with the first time around.
We picked up the parts at the hardware store for less than $20 and I put it together in an evening while the kids were asleep. It is very simple to assemble and kind of amazing that with a bike pump, a bit of PVC and a few pieces of hardware you can launch pop bottles way, way up in the air. I use 1/2″ PVC (which I had to sand a bit to get it to fit the bottle) and I epoxied in a pool toy inflator stem that comes with the pump into the end of the pipe. Put the bottle on, insert the nails into the eye-bolts and pump it up.
The next day Wesley and I shot a few “air only” bottles from the driveway (easily clearing the house and into the neighbors’ yards). Later that night we went to an empty field at the park and shot them off with water. We garnered a good deal of attention and had a blast (pun intended). One-third full of water the bottles go two to three times as high and get you a little wet which adds to the fun. We got it up to about 75 PSI before it started leaking too badly.
Next weekend we head out with the Myer’s family to blast some more off. More people means more fun (and more people to do the pumping)!