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Customer feedback:

Here is a sampling of the email we've gotten regarding our products and our customer service. As you'll see, we're not perfect, but we do our best to fix any errors, and we do our best to make sure we have the best kits for the money anywhere. All of these responses were unsolicited. Some have been edited for brevity and to remove any personal information.

Hi, Ron - Years ago, I purchased an F2k kit and simulation software to help us learn about trebs for a Science Olympiad event. More recently, we build an F2k to compete in the Punkin' Chunkin' in Delaware. Last year, we threw a pumpkin 653 ft. to finish 2nd in the youth trebuchet division. This year, we returned and threw 917 ft., 965 ft., and 1143 ft., which placed first in our division and set a new world record for youth trebuchet. The finger adjustment on our machine was inspired by the one on your new F2k kits. Thanks for the inspiration that has led to our success!
Dave, Kutztown, PA



Greetings, My name is Josh ____. I have a traveling science show/programs. I recently added another aspect of my science offerings: Catapults. I invested in the desk-top catapult and trebuchet. FANTASTIC! The design, instructions and operation has been great. The models are eye-catching, have been stained and quickly draw people into the discussion of history and science. I love your products. I love your company.
...
[same customer, different email, regarding the Floating Arm Trebuchet]
This trebuchet is an amazing design. As I read more about you, your company and some other history...I think what you have made is a real achievement. Honestly.



Ron, Our physics class was a marvelous success. Your machines worked out like a champ.

Thanks,
Chris, SuperTrebs.com


Subject: RE: Replacement for a broken part
Thank you very very much! My new part came today, and i am very pleased! You have the best customer support I have seen in a while!

Thank you very much and have an awesome day!
Alex


Subject: Perpetual Motion Machine
In browsing your site, I found the following on the page of the (really nice-looking) "perpetual motion" machine: "In case our educational system has failed you too, please let me explain - Perpetual motion is impossible."

And I wanted to let you know that I got a good laugh out of it and I thank you so much for being courageous enough not to mollycoddle your customers when these days that seems entirely the norm. While the kit that I ordered is great unto itself, the little tidbit above really individuates your company and brand in my mind and I will definitely be ordering from you again.

Thanks, Lucas


Regarding the Onager kit:
All I can say is this is a very quality product. I am very pleased with the construction ease and accuracy. We received the item yesterday and are ready for staining now. This is for a 6th grade school project on Roman War items. My son chose the Onager. Thanks so much.

Steve


Thought you would like to know we found your wonderful site from your ad in Science News Nov 20, 2010 issue. I think our 7 year old mechanically inclined grandson will be delighted with his kit.

David


I wanted to say thank you for creating a great product that our future can have a basic understandings of how things work. I bought the The Stirling Warwolf Trebuchet I and the kids have has a blast putting it together, from launching things to experimenting. Just awesome.

Votre ami.
Luc


Customer who purchased a TK3:
It worked great...first time! Way to go..getting ready to buy another from you.


A Cub Scout leader writes:
I would like to thank you for the wonderful catapult kits (X- Onager and TK3 Trebuchet). I had 20 Cub Scouts...Each Scout built their own catapult from kits that I produced. Of course, my kits were not as powerful as your kits. Therefore, your kits showed the boys what could be accomplished with a little imagination.

Thank you,
Scott, Mechanical Engineer


Hi,I received your F.A.T.for Christmas. Great kit. Thanks so much for a super kit, the instruction photos are right on.

Ricardo


Dear RLT,
Our Roman Onager is Awesome. My Daughter is 13, she's been drawing complex levers since the age of 7 and asked for a catapult when she was 9. Your website is a godsend. We spent the whole christmas morning building our Onager...again, thank you. We will be ordering from you quite frequently.


Slight Mix-up:
My wife just placed an order with you and had some correspondence about an error (which I think is all cleared up). I am impressed by the splendid way your messages are worded. They have a familiar, homey, sound. Although almost all are produced by a computer, they give the feel that they are personal responses from a human. Congratulations to your writer. I wish more programmers had that knack with the language.
...(I feel sure that the wishes to "the birthday boy" really WERE produced by a human.) . . . . .

Allan

[Editor's note: All our customer support messages are written one at a time by a real human. Our order confirmations and shipping notices are the only machine generated emails we send.]


Thank you!
I have purchased your products before and I love your workmanship, attention to detail, and quality materials. There is nothing on the internet that comes close to your products, and your prices are more then reasonable. With so much stuff made overseas it is truly gratifying to buy American.

Mike


Subject: Word of thanks\;
I have purchased two of your "desktop" trebuchets as Christmas presents for my sons and have been greatly pleased with the quality of the kits. My youngest son has completed his and we "dialed in" the throwing mechanics this afternoon. What a Hoot! We've been throwing everything and anything that will fit in the sling. (Haven't broken anything yet, much to my wifes relief).I am seriously considering either a Mangonel or an Onager next, maybe both !
Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for a quality, AMERICAN MADE product that doesn't need batteries ! Keep up the good work.
Respectfully yours,
Kurt S.


Subject: Order number [xxxx] from Steven V.
My dad has the older version of the F.A.T. and we've loved play'n with it. I can't wait to build and try the newest one! Look forward to getting it!


Subject: I just delivered first proposal
Hi Ron,
I stopped in to see some clients (Westborough Public Schools) with the complete SPEC trebuchet in my bag. When I pulled it out the Director's eyes positively lit up. She insisted that I pull my current proposal and substitute the trebuchet. Seems kids in one of the schools have a project involving simple machines, and that said project is a huge burden for parents. Thing was I had to get the proposal in NOW as they were going to press this afternoon.

I took it with me yesterday to a robotics class, and it was hard to keep the kids focused on their robots. I just told them that when they got the day's robotic work done, they could tryout the trebuchet. That worked!

Best,
Ed


Subject: one of your kits
My dad who is an 86 year old retired mechanical emgineer wanted the perpetual motion machine about a year ago while he was in a nursing home and could not walk on his own. We brought him home weekends and he worked on the kit to give to my grandson. It was what kept him focused. [...]
Thank you. Liz M.


Subject: Tabletop Trebuchet
I was so sorry to see that this magnificent item is out of stock! I ordered and assembled these several years ago with my godson and was astounded by how lovely the thing is and how much fun to mess around with it, and now I'd like to get one for my son (and store it until he's old enough...).

Any plans to make this available again? I'm very eager to buy another!

All best,
Peter S.

[Editor's note: We're rarely out of stock for very long. Typically only a few days.]


Subject: Re: broken kits
Well, this is awfully nice and if I may add, the kits are amazing and the kids in my class love them. I ordered directly from RLT with a purchase order from my school. Our purchase order number was Purchase Order no. [xxxx]. We are making everything including onagers, trbuchets, ballista and catapult. Your kits rock and I definitely will use your company again. Thank you for being so understanding. Happy Holidays!
Sincerely,

Susan C
W_____ Middle School

[Editors note: We replaced some broken parts for this customer. No charge.]


Jane Ak writes:
This kit is beautifully made, easy to assemble in one evening (even for a 60 year old, near-sighted woman like myself!!) and the instructions were beyond exceptional in their clarity and detail! And as if that wasn't enough, the shipping was fast!


Subject: RE: FAT
Thank you! We did fire our treb today (150, six to thirteen year old day campers and myself). What a blast (no pun intended)! Our best distance was about 120 feet and that was achieved by the kids themselves. We are going to work on accuracy next.

Since our day camp is located in a county park and is home to a nature center and lots of wildlife, we opted to fling pieces of fruit and veggies and a few raw eggs. We felt this would be preferable to golf balls which we would have to retrieve from the grassy field. I'm sure our marauding raccoons will appreciate our efforts. It did require us to cut or weigh our projectiles, but that was easy enough using an inexpensive diet scale. We used a combination of bolts and sand for our counterweight and also weighed that as well.

We also experimented with all the adjustable features and with different shapes of projectiles and tried various amounts of weight in the counterweight boxes. We did have a few errors with trajectory, but those were easily compensated by adjusting the turnbuckle, string length or weight.

The machine got a real workout (nearly three hours of repeated firings), so despite these very few problems, it really held together well and the kids came away with some new knowledge and appreciation of science and early technology. As a side note...and to be perfectly honest...I wasn't sure it would hold up to the "abuse", but it did!!!

All in all, we had wonderful day learning about the mechanism, physics, and safety; and had just plain good fun splatting food everywhere. This kit was worth every penny and will be highly recommended.

Thanks for your help and best of luck in your business!

Jane K.
______ Day Camp Specialist


Subject: YOUR KITS
I just bought your compound gear train and experimenters catapult kit and they exceeded my expectations. Both are well designed and manufactured products with well written instructions.

There are far too few companies left in this country that manufacture building kits that teach scientific principles.

I intend on buying more of your kits and wish you the best of luck in the future.

Ken F.


Subject: Re: The Stirling Warwolf Trebuchet
Hello Ron
Thank you!
I have purchased your products before and I love your workmanship, attention to detail, and quality materials. There is nothing on the internet that comes close to your products, and your prices are more then reasonable. With so much stuff made overseas it is truly gratifying to buy American. I am so looking forward to making the Warwolf and was just disappointed that a piece was defective..... I have and will continue to tell everyone I know of the quality, and detail of your products.
*The defective piece is a 3 1/2 inch square with eight slots along the sides.
*It looks like part of the basket for the counter weight.
Thank you for your help in this matter!
Mike S.

[Editors note. Wood is a product of nature and can have inconsistencies. We do our best to catch them all, but occasionally one slips through. We replace any defective parts at no cost, and no questions asked.]


Subject: Re: Next Day Air Shipping
Dear RLT,
You are AWESOME!!!! We can't thank you enough for taking the time to answer our questions and provide so much detailed information about the SPECK kit.

The boys have been busy studying your email and the 18 page (!!!) instruction manual for the SPECK kit. Thanks to you, they were able to complete this phase of their assignment for tomorrow and will await the arrival of the kit for the next phase. Hopefullly, with all of this advanced planning, they will actually be able to build it the way they want!

We cannot thank you enough. You are a lifesaver!

We will definitely let others in the class and the science teacher know of your company and your excellent customer service.

Many thanks,

Leslie L.


Subject: Re: 21 st Century Floating Arm Trebuchet (feed back)
Hi
My son Jay Jay won the competition and in fact, lobed the ball over the school building to make a point with his 8th grade teacher. He was able to hit 83 meters (249 ft) consistently ...
[My son's] friend's catapult looked authentic. His fellow students could not believe that my son could throw further. The large [authentic looking] catapult could only go the most 150 feet. My son got the bragging rights in school and is very happy, My son carries a 3.85 GPA and will be attending high school at the Magnet School, Advance Technology Academy, a national blue ribbon school, here in X________.
Thanks,
Joe K.


Subject: RE: Your order from RLT.COM industries has shipped.
Thank you for the terrific service and the awesome kit. My 10yr old daughter and I had a GREAT time putting this together this weekend.


Subject: Trebuchet Feedback
Thanks for a great kit. My stepson and I assembled this trebuchet in one day. Very well engineered kit and easy to follow instructions. Just enough work to keep an eleven year old interested and willing to keep working on it until it was done. Assembled just as you recommend and first tosses were in the 40'+ range right out of the box. We must now wait for better weather to try to tune it even better (snowing outside). Thanks again.

Rusty S.
Lapeer, MI


Subject: Re: F.A.T. 3000, assistance required
Hello RLT,
Thank you very much for such a detailed reply. I have used you recommendations and everything has worked out great. The kit has been completed. It looks fantastic and throws even better than it looks. I am amazed at the consistency of the throws.The weather here in the snowbelt of PA has been terrible so I only throw 3-6 golf balls before retrieving them from their holes in the snow and they usually are within 1-5 feet of a central point. The distance is 180-210 ft. with about 9 pounds of total weight. It is a blast to use and I can't wait for better weather to give it a good workout. Another thing is how quiet it seems to be.

If anyone ever wants a reference I would be glad to give them one. It has turned out to be a very nice machine. The parts could not have been cut more accurately. It meant all of my expectations.

Thanks again and Happy Thanksgiving,

Craig


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Featured Product:


TK3 Model Trebuchet, Hobbyist Version
The TK3 Trebuchet Model Kit is an ideal science project machine! Use the hanging counterweight bucket for variable weights, or convert it to a fixed counterweight machine, wheels, or no wheels. The choice is yours!
   $79.00  more info

Definitions

Catapult

A catapult is any kind of device that shoots or launches a projectile by mechanical means. In England, a catapult is what we call a slingshot in the US. A catapult is also the part of an aircraft carrier that launches airplanes off the deck.

But for our purposes, a catapult is any of the ancient types of artillery, including Onagers, Scorpions, Trebuchets, Ballistae, Springalds, Coullards, Bricoles Perriers and more.

But most people tend to think of a catapult as the one-armed torsion machine used by the Romans. This is also known as the Onager or Mangonel.

Mangonel

The word Mangonel derives from the ancient Greek word "Manganon", literally meaning "engine of war". The Romans called it a Manganum. In pre-medieval French the word Manganum was changed to Manganeau, and the English changed that to Mangonel in the 1300s.

The history gets a little sketchy in the middle ages, but some historians believe that "mangonel" was shortened to the word "gonnel" about the same time that cannons were being developed, and later still, "gonnel" was shortened to "gun." And still today, in the military a "gun" is strictly a piece of big artillery.

Onager

Onager is originally the name for the wild Asian donkey. This donkey bucks like a bronco if anyone gets too close to it, and it is known to kick stones at people and predators too. So when the Romans needed a name for their one-armed torsion catapult, they called it the Onager!

The Onager (catapult) has a single arm that is powered by a large skein of twisted ropes. The ropes were usually made from hair or sinew for their elastic properties.

Trebuchet

The word "Trebuchet" is originally French, and meant something like "to fall over or rotate about the middle" as in a see-saw rotating on its axle. It also seems to have meant a big, heavy beam. Today a Trebuchet is any kind of catapult that is powered by a massive counterweight on one end of an arm, and a sling on the other end. This includes Perriers, or "traction" trebuchets which are powered by a mass of people pulling one end of the arm with ropes.

Ballista

This is a two-armed torsion device invented by the Greeks. It works similar to a crossbow, but instead of a flexible bow, it uses two stiff arms powered by twisted rope skeins like an Onager. The ballista predates the Onager by several centuries and was used to hurl stones (lithobolos style ballista) and also bolts or darts.

Obviously, this is where we get the word "ballistic".