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Wanted: A contraption to punch two parallel holes in a pumpkin (see pictures) Answered

I really could use some help with this project. 

I live in Williams Bay, Wisconsin and the Williams Bay Recreation Department and the Williams Bay Business Association hold a pumpkin race around Halloween.  The pumpkins have to have two parallel axles, four wheels.  I attached some pictures of what we have been using, but frankly it doesn't work.  

The contraption we have is a piece of wood, 4x4, with two holes drilled into it.  We have two long screwdrivers that go through the holes.  Pumpkin pushed up against the wood and the scewdrivers shoved through.  We also took off the handle of a scewdriver and inserted it into a drill and that seems to work great.  However, the holes were never small enough and the screwdriver can move around inside, which defeats the whole purpose.  Also there are only two holes and that limites the size of pumpkin that can be used.

I like the basic idea of this Pumpkin Punch.  We just didn't have the right tools or know-how to do it right.

The axles have to be parallel or the pumpkin will not go straight. 
We, the Rec Department,  use 5/16 threaded rod and six inch rubber wheels.  The morning of the race, volunteers help attach the wheels and axles for the children, which is why we need this contraption.

I would also like an Instructable made on how to build a pumpkin racer so that the Rec Department can direct people to it for questions.
Check out www.wbhalloween.com for some more information on our event.

I hope there is someone that can help.  The next Pumpkin Race is set for October 30, 2010.

5 Replies

steveastrouk (author)2010-08-02

This is a job for a drilling jig.

Get two pieces of wood, say 2 x 2, mount them in a drill press, and drill two holes through them, the distance apart of your axles, and holes the diameter of your axles..

Get a board, say 12" wide, and with two parallel sides, and mount one of the pieces of wood along one side, and the other along the parallel one. Put two pieces of rod, the size of your axles through the holes to set them perfectly parallel.

Make up a simple stand to hold the board at a little more than the height of the pumpkin,

Using sand, make a pile that you can sit the pumpkin "upside down" on, and at such a height you can drill through your jig and the pumpkin with a nice long length of axle rod. 

Get someone to hold the pumpkin firmly while you drill.

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caitlinsdad (author)2010-07-16

How about taking all of your axles and wheels and fix them to a small square of plywood painted orange so what you have is a preassembled "cart" that you can just screw into the bottom of the pumkin or have a few installed bolt hanger screws so you just spike the pumpkin on the cart? But if you want to modify your "punch" machine, you might want to add a block that is the same height of the guide block that puts the two handles of your screwdriver level and consistent parallel width. You could use a big faced hammer or mallet to drive the endblock in. Epoxy in pointed axle rods instead of your screwdrivers. You could hook up the end to a big lever mechanism to punch through the pumpkin. Make a separate "pin driver" with wider spacing and holes drilled out in the guide block if you need to accomodate for wider or smaller pumpkins. Good luck.

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cdawisconsin (author)caitlinsdad2010-07-17

Sorry, I forgot to mention that the race rules don't allow for a fixed base. The axles have to be independent. It makes it harder to reach the finish line that way. People really get into it and come up with the most amazing ideas. We usually have somewhere between 40 to 60 racers. I suppose like most communities, there are a number of children who, for whatever reason, don't have a parent willing or able to help. It is challenging. I understand that. So, a small group of moms volunteer on race day to help any child that wishes to race. They bring their decorated pumping and we get the wheels on. That's what the punch machine is for. I really appreciate your response. I like the idea on how to modify what we have. I think that is something we could do ourselves. You clearly understand what needs to be done better than we do :)) Thanks.

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caitlinsdad (author)cdawisconsin2010-07-17

I think it would be fun if you did the same thing with watermelons, why wait till halloween.

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NachoMahma (author)2010-07-17

.  Don't know if it will work or not, but the first thing I would try is punching through the pumpkin with thin-wall tubing (eg, EMT) and a hammer, instead of drilling.
.  If you want to drill, get a long (as long as pumpkins are wide) auger bit.

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