Reverend Captain Flint has seen many things in his travels around the world, and many things that should be dead. From the horrors of the undead catacombs of Paris, to the mysterious goliaths of deepest Africa, to the cold steely hull of a pirate Airship invading the Antartic, one must always be prepared with the proper armament. Luckily, he had commissioned and worked with Mr. Nikola Tesla, one electric rifle.
The Tesla Electric Rifle is a rifle which fires charged electrical bolts, similar in behavior to standard gunpowder bullets. Is is not a ray gun, as it shoots visible micro-charges of electricity, and not electrical arcs or mysterious rays. These electrical bullets can be scaled in both lethality and range to serve a wide variety of uses. Through means of a portable Tesla battery/capacitor, enormous amounts of electric energy can be focused and sent in a shaped charge, bringing down a foe, great terrible lizard, or the flammable gas bag of an enemy ship.
Use and Operation.
Similar to the electric bullets of Cpt. Nemo, the Tesla Electric Rifle is a weapon of the modern age. While the inner workings remain a mystery, the basic concept is known. A battery/capacitor about the size of a small candlestick is hung from the belt of the operator. Two electrodes are present, to which the alligator clip terminals of the rifles’ input wires attach. The wires feed to terminals on the right side of the rifle, where the electricity is internally stored and processed through miniaturized electrical connections embedded inside the device. Two miniature Tesla coil banks are mounted externally, near the rear brass peep sight and electrics. When fired, energy is sent coursing through two wires, stabilized by a rare earth magnet, and gaining the desired charge and lethality through windings over various material and components. The wires then proceed to a copper cooled anode and cathode.
Through not easily understood means, the internal electrics, anode and cathode work in harmony to create shaped charges of electrical bolts. The rifle can store enough energy for several charges after a disconnect from the power source. The bolts are focused down a half inch diameter brass tube at great velocity, and then expelled with alarming accuracy into whatever target they are aimed at, conductive or otherwise. Each bolt-bullet is like a small, highly focused lightning strike, sending full power of the strike into a very small area. The anodizing and scorch marks at the end of the barrel are a testament to this.
Let it be known the Steampunk Rifle will be on display, carried on the person of one Reverend Captain Samuel Flint of the RLGEMS at the World Steam Expo in Dearborn MI, this last weekend of May, 2011.
Building the Rifle.
The Tesla Electric Rifle began as a prop rifle for the inaugural Teslacon. I needed a good solid weapon, and I’m a big fan of Tesla lore and DIY. I didn’t want to mod an existing weapon or plastic NERF blaster, I wanted something hefty, something wooden and brass, and something that looked like it meant business.
A friend gave me her old parade rifle stock, and it was a fabulous platform to work with. My original intention was to sand the white paint off and dye the wood, but I am pleased with the worn, painted look, though I may update it if time allows.
The brass sights and underbarrel winding rods are from a brass toilet seat hinge, purchased at Menards (I drove all over the city trying to remember where I got the first one). The copper parts are simple pipe straps, tarnishing comes from use and age. Various brass screws, washers and pegs hold everything together.
The Tesla coils are simple steel fender washers alternating with small locking washers, and the bold is threaded right into the stock. The brass rod is from a small candlestick. The trigger guard is a drawer pull, with a shelf peg and brass washer set inside, sheepishly, window putty.
At the business end of the gun, I’ve used a small brass candlestick rod with threads at either end. One end is epoxied into a threaded hole, and the other is capped with a steel cap nut. The barrel is from a 1/2″ dia. brass pipe from American Science and Surplus. A threaded rod was screwed into the end of the stock, drilled through a candlestick cup. The brass rod is held in place via two washers and nuts forming a bushing. The brazing at the end was from simply holding it over a gas stoce and quenching. An old faux leather purse was scrapped to provide material for the cheek rest.
The wires come from various old headphones purchased on eBay. They were arranged to give the impression of implied circuitry; they feed into two points, and the branching wires feed from these points to the other various odds and ends on the rifle, terminating into two steel tips (original to the wires), seemingly plugged into the anode and cathode at the working end.
The main feeding wires with alligator clips come from a fantastic lineman’s rotary handset I picked up for $12 at an antique store. Red and black with two mean clips, they shout business (and tuck nicely under the cheek rest).
Building the Power Source.
The power source came to be when I realized the rifle had to get its juice from somewhere. Unsuitable for attachment to the rifle, a large tube like candlestick was used as a base. Two sturdy brass candlestick cups were added in place at the bottom of the device with window putty. Sandwiched inbetween the cups are two more old wires, feeding up to the terminals at top, which are door stopper posts. A few hose clamps and odd hooks and catches hold everything together. The result is the capacitor battery bank, which has a surprising heft to it, thanks to the brass candlestick parts. The device is inconspicuous and can be hung from the belt or used as a sidearm when it may be inappropriate to wield a large rifle (museums, parks, day care, bars).
I may varnish the wood and make the trigger more secure. I am a huge fan of working devices and originally intended to make it at the least light up, but this proved too costly and time consuming, I’m satisfied as is. I recently purchased a new stock from an old crossbow at Lost Eras antique shop in Rogers Park, Chicago. I’m currently in the sketching stages with this one, as its larger and very unique.