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Given to Short Fuse Pyrotechnics by an anonymous contributior. Reprinted with permission.                                 

            I admit it. I was bored. I needed a pyro fix. Luckily I knew just what to do, I grabbed my copy of "Best of American Fireworks News II" and started leafing through it. I wanted something not too complicated. Something without a lot of pasting and waiting to dry times. No trips to the hardware/garden center store for a pound of "unobtainium". At first glance, "Double Voice Crackers by AJS" didn't look that promising. Here we go again; make tooling, roll some tubes, let 'em dry, go to store, buy a bandsaw, bandsaw to length, yada, yada , yada. But then the last paragraph caught me, Orville Carlisle loved these things! If they were good enough for that venerable old gentleman, I wanted to look into them.

First of all, let me try to describe what a "Bing Bang" cracker is. Picture, in your mind, a tube. Somewhere near the center is a clay plug. Ah, now the interesting part, through the clay plug is a piece of visco. Picture tube with plug , fuse ends are sticking into each half of the tube. Now imagine filling one half with black powder and sealing with cardboard disk and tape, and putting a healthy amount of flash powder in the other end, then also sealing with disk and tape. If you can carry all this in your head ,put another piece of visco through the sidewall into the black powder, stand the tube on end , black powder side down, light fuse and retreat. The black powder charge lifts the device to 50 feet or so and about then the flash goes off.. Neat!!!   The height of the second bang really adds to the echo effect, it gets the neighborhood dogs barking much more effectively.

I decided to take a photo of the complicated tooling and exotic parts needed to make this device. If you can't find or make these needed items perhaps it is time for a new hobby. I had some tubes from a well known supplier that were pretty close to what the article recommended, but were about 5" long. I tried cutting them to the recommended 4 " but had better luck using the tooling, as is, with the longer tube. One side is longer as a result. This modification gives more room for black powder and you get better height out of the "Double Voice". As a side note, I have had absolutely no luck rolling tubes. I am tube-iclly challenged, anyone willing to offer hands on help out there?

I made the tooling right as it says in AFN. Well kinda, the tubes I had were only 1/2" inside diameter, instead of the recommended 5/8ths. I grabbed some half inch dowel I had and forged ahead. Cut one piece of 1/2" dowel about 2 3/4 inches long . Drill a 1/2" hole about an inch deep in a 2X4. Glue in the dowel. Drill a hole in the top center 1/8th by 3/4" deep. This can be done without a drill press ( I did it) but it sure would be easier with one. You are done building the ramming nipple. Next, the ramming drift is cut about 4-5 inches long with a 1/8th by 1 and 1/4 " hole. in one end. The hole's edge should be counter sunk slightly. Do it, you'll thank me later. Let's make some. First, cut a piece of good visco 2 and 1/4 " long. Angle cut the ends. Put the visco in the ramming nipple drilled hole. Place a tube over the nipple and put in enough powdered clay to get you a 1/2" plug after ramming. In the photo you can see a scoop I made from an empty 308 NATO cartridge . I cut off the skinny part, put a slice in the side, and glued it to a dowel for a scoop. Now we have to fit the ramming nipple into the case and get that pesky piece of visco to fit in the 1/8th hole we drilled. The bevel helps, as does making the visco as straight as possible . This is the only (slightly) hard part of the whole procedure. These "Earth and Sky" crackers really are a simple ,2 hour, start to finish project. Rap the drift sharply with a hammer as you would to ram a clay plug in any device. A non rebounding, like a dead blow hammer, works well for me. I like to feel just a slight bulge on the outer wall of the case, then I know I've "set" the plug. Take the drift out, remove the case from the nipple, shake out the loose clay and peek inside. Amazingly the visco looks fine, the little bit of dust on the ends of the fuse doesn't seem to affect ignition. I always drill a 1/8" hole in the side of the case next. I try to line up the side hole near the end of the visco inside the tube. When I put the ignition fuse into the side of the "Double Kick" cracker I try to keep the two ends close together and hot melt around the fuse on the outside of the case to keep everything lined up and in place. I don't know if it is necessary, but it my first "SkyBomb" cracker worked so well I've never tried any other way. Fill the fused side (which in my version of "Heaven and Earth" crackers is the larger cavity) with 2F commercial black powder. Home made meal doesn't work as well with these devices. Well, my homemade meal doesn't anyway. Seal the end with a cardboard disk or two. The total thickness should be about that of a dime. Put two pieces of 1/2" wide filament packaging tape over and down the end. Then take a wide piece of masking tape and cover it all up. Yes, I know, it not the way it was done by the old masters, but I firmly believe the old masters would have used filament and masking tape if they had it.

The other end cavity can be filled with whatever strikes your fancy. The real crowd pleasure is still a dose of good 70/30 flash powder. You DO NOT have to fill the end with flash. I use ONE scoop made from an empty 9mm cartridge, and they are quite loud. After filling the 'payload' end of the "Earth & Sky" cracker seal the end with another disk and some more masking tape. Filament tape isn't needed for the flash end if you have a decent flash powder. To fly right the "Up and Down " cracker must be placed UPRIGHT on a solid hard base. They have a tendency to tip so you might want to make a holder/base as I did. Three pieces of hardwood are needed. One is the base and the other two are screwed on to the base to form a triangle. The "Bing Bong" is rested in the inside elbow of the triangle and the fuse is lit. Back off a healthy distance. Bang! watch the launch! The inside visco burns long enough to give you that nagging feeling you did something wrong. You dread combing the area for the unexploded flash cracker and then BOOM.! Ah, the sweet sound of success.