Explosives charge over the top

It’s a little hard to tell from the article but it appears a guy was making .223 shell casings into explosive devices:

Robert J. Heintz Jr., 36, of Deep Creek Road, has been charged with risking a catastrophe, unlawful possession or manufacture of weapons of mass destruction and recklessly endangering another person in connection with Friday night’s explosion. Heintz, who suffered a serious hand injury during the explosion, was arrested. He had been released from an area hospital on Sunday.

When authorities interviewed Heintz at the hospital, he claimed that he purchased .223 rounds off the Internet from Bulgaria and claimed that the tips were loose on the rounds, according to the arrest affidavit. Heintz allegedly claimed that he was attempting to place the tip back in place with a pliers at the time of the blast.

Heintz, according to the arrest affidavit, told police that he researched “some recipes on the Internet” and downloaded them on his computer. Heintz further claimed that he had mixed a batch using the instructions from the Internet and packed the substance into the .223 round, police alleged.

“He continued to explain that he attempted to ignite these rounds in his back yard with no success of detonation,” Moyer alleged. “Heintz explained that he went back into the house to do another round at the computer table, packing the recipe into the brass when the bullet exploded.”

He is being charged with possession or manufacture of weapons of mass destruction? That seems more than a bit excessive from the information I can glean from the article. I would have given him an honorable mention for a Darwin Award and told him to apologize to his wife for making a mess in the house.

Here is a hint for people that don’t want my nomination for Darwin Awards in the Explosives category. Don’t let metal come in contact with metal in the presence of explosives. Even if you don’t use metals that can create sparks the point of contact between the two metal surfaces generates tremendous pressures. Imagine one pound of force applied to your pliers that makes contact with another piece of metal on an area that is 0.010 x 0.010 inches square. That is 10,000 PSI. Those sorts of pressures, even when confined to an exceedingly small piece of material can initiate a chain reaction. This is part of the reason so many pipe bombers end up blowing themselves up. The threads of the steel pipe create extreme pressures and start a reaction resulting in the rapid dissasembly of the bomb builder a few milliseconds later.


13 thoughts on “Explosives charge over the top

  1. “He is being charged with possession or manufacture of weapons of mass destruction? That seems more than a bit excessive from the information I can glean from the article.”

    I have to agree. It looks more like he was just a dumbass trying to play chemist without really knowing anything about the subject. It doesn’t seem much different than some people who try to experiment with duplex loads when reloading.

  2. Speaking of metal on metal contact Joe. Last time I was in Ace/Tri-State in Moscow I noticed that they had kitchen-aide mixer attachments that were plastic.

    Just an FYI.

  3. Imagine one pound of pressure applied to a your plies

    I think you meant one pound of force. Pressure divided by an area would make:

    Pounds force
    Inches ^ 4

  4. I’m not sure a plastic attachment would be soft enough to eliminate the risk of excessive pressure somewhere. I wouldn’t think anything soft enough to reduce that risk would be firm enough to mix anything other than liquids very well.

  5. Laughingdog,

    You are correct on the force/pressure thing. I was in a hurry to get to work and wasn’t thinking clearly. I have fixed it. Thank you.

    When we mix things by hand we used plastic bowls and spoons all the time. Even the most rigid plastic is going to yield before stainless steel does. Hence the peak pressures experienced are going to be lower.

  6. Then there’s static electricity. I’m guessing static electricity has caused more than one black powder or fireworks “indident”. Hmm– maybe some experimentation is in order. Then there’s induced voltage. As an interesting side note; I was listening to an AM radio that was sitting next to, but not touching, a 36″ gun barrel I was working on. Everytime I’d touch anything metal to the barrel, the radio speaker would “pop”. Extremely low energies getting picked up by the receiver I understand, but if you’re working next to high tension transmission lines, or a powerful RF transmitter under the wrong conditions, who knows?

  7. Yes. Static electricity is a major issue. Which is why the ATF requested I not use plastic shelves for storage. I addressed that issue by treating all the plastics used with anti-static materials. The ethylene glycohol we use for a fuel just so happens to be excellent for anti-static treatments so our tools are anti-static treated simply by using them.

    Lightening storms would be scary and I wouldn’t make explosives during the middle of one of those.

    As you know we are very close to a high voltage power line. But we have not had any indications that it is close enough to cause problems.

  8. Long ago, I had a customer who wanted to mix a slurry with ultrasonic disruption. This process can cause a very homogeneous mixture state, like water and oil not separating after mixing.

    The slurry was made in borosilicate glass containers, in which they wanted to disrupt with our ultrasonic disruptor. I warned them the titanium tip on the disruptor would spark if it touched the glass while vibrating at over 20k cps. They said they understood that and would get back to me if the experiment worked.

    A few weeks later they placed an order for 50 disruptors, IIRC. They then asked that shipment be delay four months. When I asked why, they said the new facility wouldn’t be ready yet. They’d blown up the experimental production line.

    The customer was Hercules Inc. Must be an exciting place to work.

  9. I am always torn when I read stories like this. On the one hand I want to encourage people lacking common sense to try recipes off of the internet without having any knowledge of chemistry or explosives, just to remove them from the gene pool sooner. On the other hand, too often they end up hurting or killing other people in the process so I really don’t want them messing with it.

    Explosives can be fun. If you want to have fun with them though, make sure you learn from someone like Joe who knows what they are doing.

  10. It wasn’t the bowl, it was the flat beater attachment. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a bowl too. I know that at least changing one side of the equation is better than changing none. IIRC this is what I saw. I didn’t stop to really look because I was in a rush but I made a mental note and this post reminded me. Figures they don’t say exactly what it is, but I remember Janelle and I both went “Plastic, our limbs won’t go flying involuntarily!”, at which point we got weird looks and said “Well how else to properly mix 3/4 of a ton of explosives in 3 days”.


  11. Explosives can be fun. If you want to have fun with them though, make sure you learn from someone like Joe who knows what they are doing.

    If you’re as smart as Joe, you can figure it out on your own. But that’s a pretty small pool. Sadly, the number in that pool is much smaller than the number that believe that they’re in that pool.

  12. I live where this happened and have some inside info on this guy. He blew his hands off trying to make fertilizer bombs. He also had a neo-nazi website that was taken down. If the feds are so busy trying to keep track of these people then how did they miss this one?

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