Watch the MythBusters Implode a Steel Railroad Tanker

Watching things explode in slow motion is often satisfying, but it’s not always the post-explosion carnage that's the most impressive. Armed with the largest prop in the history of their recorded experiments, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman of MythBusters traveled to Boardman, Oregon to see if it would be possible for a full-sized tanker car to crush itself.

The myth in question, according to Savage, involved a tanker that had been freshly steam cleaned, sealed, and left alone on the tracks, only to suddenly crumble like a soda can. To see if this could actually happen, the team acquired a 30,000 gallon capacity tanker that measured 67 feet long with a 10-foot diameter and weighed 67,000 pounds. After conducting smaller experiments in the lab with steel drums and models of the real thing, they designed a full-sized experiment.

A video segment explains that, if the myth was plausible, it would be caused by a difference in internal and external pressure:

Filling the container with steam pushes out the air. But if the vessel is sealed while it’s still hot and then allowed to cool, the steam condenses and the internal pressure drops, meaning the now greater external pressure pushes in on the surface.

For the grand experiment, the MythBusters duo got a massive steamer to fill the tanker, then sealed it and waited. The experiment ended in a bust, but after simulating “corrosion that a negligent train yard might not catch,” they got the result that they and the fans had hoped for.

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To see the full video, head over to Discovery, and watch the Tanker Crush Aftershow on YouTube for more behind-the-scenes information.

Banner image via YouTube

[h/t: YouTube]

By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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