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New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow551

    New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

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    stoneagebowyer
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    New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Sun Nov 06, 2011 5:27 am

    Hi, fellow Guild members. Having always wanted to shoot one of these little weapons, I decided to do a fairly simple project and build a Chu-Ko-Nu, and am writing a how-to article for Primitive Archer magazine.

    So far, this has been a real pleasure to build. Tuesday some bamboo is coming from a vendor so I can get the bow built and installed, as well as some cedar shafting to make the little bolts. What is neat about this project is that I have been able to use scrap hardwood, so it isn't costing me much. Aside from the bolt materials (already had some field tips sitting around I can use) and two 1/'4" brass threaded machine screws and washers, plus the bamboo slates, there has been no special outlay of money.

    I expect to have this little weapon completed in the coming week or two, and will eventually post more photos and video of the weapon in action. If anyone wants, I can do a quick buildalong. These are just random photos to show various stages of progress.

    Dane

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    Todd the archer
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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by Todd the archer on Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:30 am

    Very interesting, how powerful do you expect it to be? Originally these were meant as war/defense weapons.



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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by jake-owa on Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:35 am

    Chu ko nu are my favorite historical crossbows and I have built several of various sizes. The biggest issue is string wear. Second one is getting bolt accuracy with no fletching. I have found that an articulating joint in the lever will keep the shuttle section flat and reduce the seesaw string destruction. Also, fairly heavy points and light arrow material, say birch or cedar work well.

    Thanks for sharing. Maybe I will post some of my chu ko nu.

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by jake-owa on Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:37 am

    Todd the archer wrote:Very interesting, how powerful do you expect it to be? Originally these were meant as war/defense weapons.



    Todd
    this is true but most historians agree that these bows were exaggerated greatly in strength and most likely relied on poison to actually incapacitate troops.

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:10 am

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. Todd, the lever gives you a 4/1 advantage, so in theory, the bow can be fairly powerful. I am not sure what the bow I am making will give me, as I am using exact dimensions from an actual bow someone published research on in the 1990s, and I found online.

    I do plan to use relatively heavy metal tips on light shafting. I believe that the original bolts did have fletching, very slight though, as they will bind up in the magazine if the vanes are very big. I am thinking of using parchment maybe, or perhaps goose feathers, two vane probably.

    Jake, I'd like to see your bows. And I agree, the string is the weak link in these machines. The original I based this on used rawhide string, but an old document states that you bind on goose quilles to minimize string wear.

    Here is a quote from a Ming era document:

    “The [Chu-Ko-Nu] is a handy little weapon that even the Confucian scholar or palace women can use in self-defense. It fires weakly so you have to tip the darts with poison. Once the darts are tipped with 'tiger-killing poison', you can fire it at a horse or a man and as long as you draw blood, your adversary will die immediately. The draw-back to the weapon is its very limited range.”

    So yup, poison is the secret. What I find very interesting about the Chu-Ko-Nu is that it was in use in warfare for at least 2000 years. The last time it was used in modern combat was during the Boxer Rebellion circa 1900.

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by jake-owa on Sun Nov 06, 2011 4:25 pm

    Working on strings now for a batch of 5 minis to experiment with. When I get these a little further I will post shots of the arm articulation I am talking about.

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:09 am

    Cool, Jake-Owa. Looking forward to pics and info. The tiny ones look like a lot of fun to make and shoot.

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by Geezer on Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:09 am

    Hey guys: Geezer here with a few observations concerning chinese repeating crossbows. I have made a few of them, so can speak from some experience.
    First: string wear is inevitably pretty bad, given the geometry of the machine. Using a really hard string-serving and lots of lubricant will help, as will making the bolt-track really slick, with rounded edges and paying close attention to detailing the lock/notch and the push-pin that releases the whole thing.
    Of course, adding things like goose-quills to the string could increase string-life, but will also add to the string-weight and cost some modicum of performance... not that you should expect particularly high performance in the first place. Try to keep any slack in the parts, particularly where the magazine and table slide on the lower stock, down to a minimum. That will really help accuracy. I found I could keep all my bolts near the middle of the target, shooting from the hip at 20 yards, shooting about one shot a second. You can walk them on target as you go. Much more than that may be beyond the machine's ability.
    As for fletching bolts, there are two fairly workable solutions. I have made bolts with heavy heads and grooves cut from about mid-way to the tail. 3 or 4 grooves should suffice to give you higher friction at the tail and heavier weight at the head of the bolt. This helps accuracy a LOT, and the grooves won't hang up in the magazine like feathered bolts will do. The original Chinese solution is to fletch the bolts with a very low (1/8 of an inch high?), thin line of feather or even twine, spiralling down the length of the bolt. Start your spiral about midway and go all the way aft. One single line of fletching will do, if it makes a couple of turns around the bolt as it spirals aft. The spiral fletching won't lighten the tail of your bolt, but as long as you use narrow heads, like target points or bodkins, you should have enough fletching to make the bolts spin and keep 'em straight.
    There's one more problem with Chinese repeaters that hasn't been mentioned yet. Well okay, there are two problems. Payne-Gallwey's plan shows a handle made of wood. If you shoot at all fast, you'll probably tear your wooden handle to pieces in a day or two. Get some mild-steel strap from the hardware store and make your handle from that. Second, unfletched bolts disappear beneath the grass MUCH easier than fletched bolts do. Be prepared to make a whole bunch of bolts and don't be surprised when they disappear. Hint: If you take off your shoes and walk slowly back and forth between your firing-line and the target-butt, you should be able to feel the bolts buried beneath the grass.
    Anyway, have fun with the repeaters. Geezer.

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by Ivo on Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:01 pm

    Haha! New project!

    After I read the title I knew Jake-owa would be here in a snap. cyclops Laughing Wink

    Best of luck with this one and happy building! Gotta love those repeaters! Very Happy

    Ivo


    Last edited by Ivo on Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:46 pm; edited 1 time in total




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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:46 pm

    Thanks for the input, Geezer and Ivo. Fei chang gan xie. Smile

    I never expected a high performance weapon, and keeping in mind what these were used for goes a long way toward enjoying such a weapon. Since my nasty old next door neigbor died already, alas, I can't test out the tiger killing poison and see how that goes lol.

    The bolt suggestions are excellent, thank you for that. I will try at least two of the methods and see how they play out, and provide video of the whole affair, dead tigers and all.

    I expect that historically, extra strings would have been on hand.

    I made very careful mortise and tenon joints for the handle, and hope that helps. We will see.

    Dane

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by jake-owa on Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:33 pm

    With one simple joint and a slightly different sliding diaphragm trigger nearly all string wear can be negated. Also, putting the bow itself on a solid pivot point solves it. I have one toy-bow with two bottom handles on here somewhere that demonstrates both improvements. I should draw up the trigger design, its really simple.

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:12 pm

    Please do! Photos would be very helpful too.

    Huzzah, my bamboo and cedar shafting came today. With a bit of luck, my first repeater should be finished within a week.

    Dane

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Fri Nov 25, 2011 12:20 pm

    ]

    Essentially, the repeater is finished. I still have some bits of touchup, testing it and so on, but overall, this project is complete. I will be testing it at the range this weekend. I have a dozen bolts made up.

    This was a totally fun project. I recommend anyone to build one of these. I've only scratched the surface, I suspect, of this particular weapon and the varients I can produce.

    Performance photos, videos, and more thoughts through the testing process will follow. But I wanted to share this now. Happy T-day, everyone.










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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by jake-owa on Fri Nov 25, 2011 3:24 pm

    very nice build. cant wait to see it shoot!

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    Re: New Project - Chinese Repeating Crossbow

    Post by Basilisk120 on Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:52 pm

    Looking good. I second the call to see it shoot. Or at least get a report on how it handles.



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