Instructables

Van Helsing Crossbow

I just finished watching van helsing for the umpteenth time and the crossbow that carl gives him is one of the only cool things in the movie, apparantly its steam driven works like a machine gun and uses magazines of crossbow bolts. So my question is, is it possible to make something of the sort using technology from that time? Unfortuately I havent had any ideas on its useage or working as yet.

amech3yesterday

I estimate that the parts and materials would come up to between $150- $180. i totaly redesigned my crossbow and it was not easy. I will begin to post pictures of the different parts and processes as i finish the build.i wanted the crossbow to be complete last year but i ran into some more design problems an had to start from scratch.

pubs701 year ago
Hello, I was wondering if you still had your "Van Helsing" crossbow and if so is it for sale and if not do you know where I can buy either a replica or the toy version? Thank you for your time & consideration. Sincerely, Paul
ravious1 year ago
check the new co2 parker crosbow tough as for old weponry the french had some awsome big bore airguns lewis and clark had one and yes they were military grade back then hmm the chinese had a neat repeating crosbow so maybe a hybrid of the chinese and parker bow with a quick acting cylender
cerberus0014 years ago
i have built a none working replica of the van helsing crossbow ,here is just a few pictures
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Beautiful work.
Ok i dont know how old this is but how much total would i have to pay you to make one for me? or can i have some instuctions and lists of material? Thanks!
hey send me his intructions plz....................
great job, what would you estimate the cost to make the crossbow at,materials, labor,design effort,etc ?
thanks , its taken me a while to put it together,just looking for parts  and things i could use to build it was a chore in its self, most of the parts i had to hand make . the movie its self was alot of help but the scale was a bit of luck and gess work.it has taken me about  6 months to put it together but thats working on it off and on, right now if i wanted to build another i would say it would probably take me about 8 weeks and about 200 in materials
Would it be possible to maybe buy a happy medium between the both of yours? so for example Cerberus's excellent quality crossbow with amech3's cool internal actual working parts?
that might be possible, if amech3 actully built one that worked ,sorry .......but if you would like i could give you a few pointers on how to build your own crossbow
OH SWEET!!! that'd be totally rad awesome!!! same e-mail address so that we can discuss it in more detail, I mean I know it sounds cheeap but see I'd like to if possible buy your non working replica and well, tinker in a few adjustments in order to make it working. But I don't want to take up an entire page just regarding details, so yeah e-mail me whenever you want, I'd be GRATEFUL for any pointers!!!
Thats crazey my crossbow took 6 months to make and $200 in materials, but it doesnt look as nice as yours, its similar to the van helsing crossbow but my own design.
Sure basically it's all the same as it would be today, in your head replace the steam with a Co2 capsule... The only problem is that noone ever would have made on as all the parts would have to be individually lathed or worked as they had no way of mass producing many intricate parts accurately, that's why steam engines were rubbish until newcomen took advantage of some new boring techniques that made tolerances much smaller for his enignes rather than leaky engines from watt...
Depends on the year of the movie ('Dracula' was 1897). I think you underestimate early engineers and mechanics : ) Mass production started around 1780 with flintlocks, complicated clocks with WAY more parts long before that...

There was a steam machine gun shown to the British army at some point in the 1800's I think.

There was a military assault rifle that was compressed air powered in 1803.
and back in the days of the crusades, they produced 5 shot repeating crossbows that had the re-fillable magizine (modern terminology) that sat on the top of the cord release. all the common soldier had to do was re-cock the string. i have seen drawings of this design, but i cant remember where. however they were good enough to construct your own crossbow from.
I think that was Chinese (chu-ko-nu?), not crusades.
blckthng (author)  jtobako3 years ago
Yep, it was chinese and it had a miserable draw force so the bolts did next to no damage, the chinese coated it with poison so even a scratch could kill. It was an extremely impressive innovation, but as far as crossbows go, it hardly qualified. The thing about the Van Helsing one was that it used a Drum Mag, like the ones in old gangster movies.
I'm saying it could well have been made just that it would be a nuisance to make, was the steam machine gun not quite a simple creation anyway? as far as I knw clocks were mostly individually made up until a bit later than that but I may be wrong, flintlocks a far throw from a revolving magazine steam/air powered crossbow, that and it could be either, put compressed steam into a cylinder and it's still gas, it would be affected more greatly by temp differences though...
Look at the link-there aren't that many pieces in the compressed air rifle from 1803. Good machining, fair tolerances, careful workmanship, but not complicated. The hand pump (not steam) filled the tank to 800 psi, with enough air for around 50 shots. If you consider the mechanical process of construction a nuisance, then I haven't got a clue why you would be on this site : )
I don't but many would, I didn't see the link, I just meant that in comparison to powder shot rifle with a well bored barrel most would take the easier road, there's less workmanship... It's the fancy auto firing and auto loading magazine that made me think the van helsing thing wouldn't work too well based on that tech, that said a drop in auto firing crossbow powered by air and a piston would be easy to make under those conditions.
You missed the point of making it a crossbow-a wooden stake to go threw the heart in order to kill a vampire. Plus, it's fiction, and not even historical fiction : )
amech34 years ago
i have built a working version of the rapid fire van helsing cross bow and it is for sale , im asking 1,200 dollars i ll post pictures soon !
if you come up with a working version i would be very interested
amech3 I too am very interested in your working version of the rapid fire van helsing crossbow, I'd be willing to pay for it in a heart beat, please send additional pictures, and details to jonvonn@hotmail.com
i am working on a high end version now, the first crossbow i built was simply a prototype
Dear amech3, I'm very interested in your working version of the Van Helsing Rapid Fire Crossbow if it is made to scale. Please contact me if it is still available at BurbellaRon@cs.com. If you have pictures, please send them or post them. Ron Burbella
RVR794 years ago
Hello all, I don't know if this will help but after a lucky find, I stumbled upon the website of the original art designer for the movie crossbow, Simon Murton (http://simonmurton.com/index.html) If you navigate to 'Illustration', the original sketch is the fourth from the bottom. Kind regards, Rigo
blckthng (author) 4 years ago
I figured as much, although, wouldn't it be slightly more efficient if we got rid of the crossbow part, the string section, and basically used the compressed air itself to drive the bolts?, because the rate of fire in the movie would be impossible to achieve with the assault rifle mechanism. Crossbow strings are under a ton of pressure, and merely compressed air cant really be used to lock the string in place, much less again and again. another solution i figured would be multiple strings...so that when one shot, the other would lock and so on.
Oh dude I totally get what your sayin regarding using an assault rifle mechanism, the only reason I mentioned it was so it'd be easier to describe the internal parts of the reloading mechanism, so you'd use the same principles of trapping the compressed air and then using that to push back the string. The only reason why I mention it is so that it relatively keeps it simple and still follows the overall basic design from the movie. Like if you used multiple strings, yeah it'd probably work, but then you'd be working with a bunch of delicate and moving parts maybe not the strings themselves but the mechanisms (like the wheels since it's a compound crossbow) you'd have to have at least, well let's say 2 or 3 pairs of wheels plus the bowstrings, and then yeah it may look totally badass don't get me wrong, but you'd have similar problems like in the M-16 family, jamming. And reguarding using the compressed air itself to drive the bolts? well then it wouldn't be a crossbow because you'd be basically removing the bow part so it'd be a what, crossgun? crossneedler? get what I'm sayin'? so I agree, they ARE possible solutions, and I'm not sayin' that I'm 100% correct either, it's just that the solution I wrote was the solution that to ME made the most sense.
blckthng (author)  TheJonvonn4 years ago
Lol..crossgun..that'd be cool...but then about two years of extensive research and one episode of Weapon Masters later, I've promptly come to the conclusion, its pretty much impossible to make, keeping the bow looking stock. With that out of the way. Actually, its still pretty impossible-ish. Damn you Hollywood. You have bested us again.
HAHAHAHA agreed! Hollywood jipped us again, but apart from that though what did weapons masters have to say?
TheJonvonn4 years ago
@Jtobako and blckthng The only way that I can see the compressed air being used at ALL that would make sense would be in the recoil system, like in an automatic rifle for example on the AK-47 on the angular tube behind the aiming sight traps the access gas from the fired round and is transferred back into the reloading internal mechanism parts in the chamber of the gun. Now with the gas-operated automatic crossbow just like in an automatic rifle (seeing as though it's automatic in the film) you'd also have to work on the timing. BUT of course you'll point out the blatantly obvious that it's a crossbow and not a rifle so how can the same principles apply? The answer my friends lies in as as jtbako said in the compressed air, if one were to build one, he could time the releasing of the compressed air with the releasing of the trigger, so, at the same time the bolt is released the gas is as well, following small guid tubes if traveling at something like even 400fps(assuming this is the fps) it could travel the distance of say 30 inches in 0.075 of a second, so all you'd have to do is design a small catch on the bowstring that (if you can imagine) travels along like normal as you pull the trigger, the compressed air travelling parallel with the bowstring underneath, (if you could also picture) having 2, 30 inch tubes connected with a angle corner piece at one end, where the top of the straight tubes connect with the angled corner piece is where the small catch on the bowstring will be. The compressed air will travel from the compressed air tank down the tube, up around the corner and to the tube above pushing the small catch on the back of the string. The catch will be connected to a spring that gets compressed as well but the spring will have the distance enough to go behind the nut (or catch that holds the string) and the access gas (as seen in the design of the crossbow) can be released. Does that help?
amech34 years ago
A while ago i chimed in about making a workin version of the van helsing crossbow, but i never got the pictures posted due to a hectic shedule and a lot of computer issues but i will attempt to post them today. i did run into a few problems but have since ironed them out, and its about 85% complete to date.
blckthng (author) 6 years ago
Actually I was wondering where the crossbow bit came in the entire equation as because the thing is driven by compressed air we wouldnt require any tension string rendering the crossbow useless + Carl says its steam driven, thats why i mentioned it.
"Movie Magic" covers a LOT : ) If you want a 'modern' possibility, then the tank is full of very strong hydrogen peroxide which is squirted into a small chamber full of catalyst, creating steam which re-cocks the prod/bow...
blckthng (author) 6 years ago
I am fully aware of the powers of steampunk but its just that the engine would be too small to house any fuel and work without burning the weilders hands.
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It's not steam driven, it's compressed air. Look at the tank in the stock.