Steamboat fireworks guru Tim Borden going after world record with 62-inch shell
June 3, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It's official. Steamboat Springs fireworks fanatic Tim Borden will attempt to launch the largest firework ever set off in the world.
To make it official, Borden will pay to have representatives from Guinness World Records visit Steamboat to verify the measurements before the firework is shot into the air during the Steamboat Springs Winter Sport Club's Winter Carnival Night Extravaganza on Feb. 9.
"I've entered into a formal contract," Borden said.
Borden will launch the 62-inch diameter shell, which weighs an estimated 2,400 pounds, a mile into the air for detonation. It will be traveling at 300 mph when it leaves the ground.
Fire danger would prohibit Borden from launching the shell during an Independence Day show.
Borden is a fireworks nut, who, for several years, through his bank, Yampa Valley Bank, has donated the fireworks for Winter Carnival.
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Borden once bought the town of Lay, Colorado, so he could obtain a federal license to manufacture fireworks. Today, he manufactures the big shells at his Steamboat ranch.
Each year, Borden has tried to go bigger and bigger, and his kooky endeavors have included a side project with the Steamboat Pilot & Today last November to blow up Halloween pumpkins with fireworks.
All along, Borden’s goal has been to help bring notoriety to Steamboat.
"I want to be able to say on Feb. 10 that Steamboat Springs is home to the world's largest firework," Borden said. "Imagine a sign when entering Steamboat stating: 'Home of the world's largest firework.'"
In February 2017, he launched a 48-inch shell, which was the biggest shell ever launched in North America.
Borden thinks that shell might have actually broken the world record, but it was not verified by Guinness. He said the Japanese have launched a 52-inch shell, but his 48-inch shell was heavier, at 1,275 pounds.
"The fireworks world record is determined solely by weight and not size," Borden said.
Experts Jim Widmann and Eric Krug will come to Steamboat this month to begin building the 62-inch shell. The job will take 12-hour work days over a three-week period.
The shell will be launched from a mortar tube.
The engineering designs for the tube were 60 pages long.
The basic tube was built in Washington, and Steamboat welder Rollin Stone did the finishing work.
"I spent two weeks in there," Stone said. "It gets hot."
The tube is 26 feet long and weighs seven tons.
It will join the other mortar tubes buried on Emerald Mountain.
Through the years, Native Excavating owner Ed MacArthur has volunteered his time and services to help Borden with his firework projects.
"It's been a blast to be a part of," MacArthur said.
MacArthur said Borden's obsession with fireworks is an asset to the community.
"I've never met someone with a passion like that," MacArthur said.
MacArthur will use the biggest piece of equipment he has, a 110,000-pound excavator, to precisely place the mortar tube into the ground. It will then be secured to prevent tampering.
Borden invests a considerable amount of his own money into Steamboat's fireworks, but he tries to keep his expectations realistic.
He said there are two critical components that are difficult to determine when launching large shells.
Borden has to decide how much explosive to put into the bottom of the tube to propel the shell the right distance into the air, and he has to be careful not to use too much.
"You could blow up the firework in the mortar," Borden said.
He will also have to determine the timing of the fuse so the shell explodes at the desired height.
"I can't tell you what's going to come out of the mortar, but I can tell you there will be a heck of an explosion at the bottom of this thing," Borden said.