Russell D. Hoffman Interviews Inventor and Ex-stuntman Eddie Paul


Interview with Inventor and Ex-Stuntman Eddie Paul

An interview by Russell D. Hoffman on his radio show HIGH TECH TODAY.

The following full transcript is from a radio show broadcast on radio station WALE. The views expressed are solely those of Russell D. Hoffman and his guest and do not necessarily reflect anyone else's point of view.

May 31st, 1995

Russell Hoffman ("Host"), High Tech Today
Eddie Paul ("EP"), Inventor, ex-stuntman.

Host: Good morning. This is High Tech Today with your host Russell Hoffman... My guest today is Eddie Paul of EP Industries in El Segundo, California. I wish I could simply say that Eddie Paul is a this, or a that. He's an inventor. He's also a stunt developer for the movies. He's done stunts for dozens of movies, everything from ET to Soylent Green. He's done commercials for Coors and Budwieser and Mitsubishi. He's done TV shows for Jacques Cousteau--he invented a shark as a matter of fact, and we'll talk about that later. Sharks of course have been around for hundreds of millions of years but it took Eddie Paul to simplify it and mechanize it. Welcome to the show!

EP: Thank you!

Host: We're going to talk about a new invention that you've got, a Cylindrical Energy Module, which is a pump. And it's not often, I think, that people invent something new in the field of pumps, because pumps have been around for thousands of years. So, why don't we start by discussing that, and then we'll go into some of the exciting things you've done in past with your stunt work, and talk about whatever else comes to our mind.

EP: OK, Great...Yeah, I did this pump--what I did is, like you mentioned, I've been in the movie business for quite a while, quite a few different things: Hang gliding movies, built cars, directed, stunt coordinated--anyway, my wife told me to settle down one day, to pick one thing and stick with it.

Since most of the movie business was inventing, like when we do special effects we had to invent a way to make a car flip over and land without hurting anyone. So, I took one of my ideas, and said "Well, I'm just going to take this and I'm going to follow through" and it happened to be the pumps, because I realized that pumps hadn't changed in about a hundred years.

So I looked at the basic design, threw out everything that I had learned, started all over again and said "This is how I would build a pump to move a liquid, or a gas or whatever", and designed from the ground up. And I've had pretty good success with it. We've got a pump right now that produces about ten times the volume of a compatible-weight pump. We call it the C.E.M., Cylindrical Energy Module and we've got quite a bit of excitement out of it. We've produced our first ten prototypes, and we had the fire department stop by the other day from the town we live in, El Segundo. When they came by they said they could only spend about five minutes looking at the pump because they were busy.

They were there two and a half hours and we had to finally ask them to leave because we wanted to close down the shop! That's kind of been the excitement level of everyone who see's it.

Host: Now, the Cylindrical Energy Module, from what I understand, your decision was to design a pump, and THEN you came up with the Cylindrical Energy Module. It's the most beautiful pump--I mean, it's so simple, I've seen it folks and it's just gorgeous. But what you're saying, really is that for you, the art of inventing follows in the direction that you're interested in going in--it's not so much, an idea comes to you and then you develop it, it's more like, you decide where you want to have an idea.

EP: Right, it's like... I see people who could sit at a piano and play something. If I had to play something if my life was at stake I'd be dead now!

But I can take any kind of problem--for some reason I look at something and say "Well, here's an easier way to do it." And it's sometimes hard to keep my mouth shut! You know--people show me things, and say "look at this! Isn't this neat?" And I want to say something (laughs)--because sometimes it isn't! Sometimes it could be simpler. And what I've done, is focus on making things as absolutely simple as possible, because most people complicate things.

I've noticed that if you put 15 engineers on any kind of project, it's going to have at least 15 parts. It has to, because everybody has to have a job to do, so they have to create something!

My job is: We keep everything simple. Like when we design something with our company, usually I tackle it alone, and I make it an absolute--build with as absolutely few parts as possible. I'll let one part do many things if possible. Like in our pump, we actually have an engine version of it that we're playing with--a gasoline engine. And the body, the inner body, becomes the flywheel. We have no crankshaft. We have a camshaft, we have no crankshaft, we have no connecting rods, we have no piston rings. We've thrown out almost every part of an engine! We don't have any valves--we use ports. We use one glow plug for six cylinders on each end, so we have two glow plugs for twelve cylinders instead of putting in twelve glow plugs. So, we've got it down to it's simplest form and what I'm trying to do now is even reduce that to fewer parts.

So on our pump--one of the things you haven't seen yet--is we have a pump that we believe we can eliminate about four parts on it and we're just now filing for patents on it.

Host: Eliminate four parts out of a seven part pump?

EP: Yeah! Well, our pump does 24 pump cycles per revolution of the drive shaft and has seven moving parts. So when we first started talking to pump companies that got us through a lot of doors. Everybody thought our math was off. Just by the design, we have a double-headed piston. So it pumps at each end--it's basically a rod, and then it does two pump cycles per revolution. So it lines up with six cylinders and you can get 24 pump cycles per revolution. So that's how we wind up getting the big volumes.

Host: ...Let's talk a little bit about the process of inventing. How long ago did you come up with this particular idea, and how long did it take to get the patent?

EP: The pump I came up with--that's hard to say because a lot of times I'm working on--like right now, I probably have a hundred different inventions I'm working on at once.

I gather in my mind, or I'll make notes, and jot down some ideas, and if I hit any kind of stumbling block I just kind of set it aside and don't push it, and I go on to something else. And most of the time, I get an idea on one invention while I'm working on another one. So, I guess the development pretty much came instantaneous once I really sat down and put all my thoughts together, I had it within about a week. But it's a problem that I'd thought about since I was a kid, as far as gasoline engines, I was trying to design a lighter weight gasoline engine.

And the actual process didn't take that long--I think it was two to three years to get the patent. We've put most of our time and money into protecting the patent. We have patent insurance now. We patented it as well as we could. We've put a corporation together, with corporate attorneys, and patent attorneys for our company and we have a communications director. We've put a sales staff together.

Just recently we purchased a machine shop to build the prototypes.

Host: My guest today is Eddie Paul from EP Industries. He's an inventor, and used to be a stunt coordinator and stuntman for all kinds of Hollywood productions, TV, movies, commercials, MTV Videos. I noticed you taught "Twisted Sister" band members how to ride Harleys!...

The pump itself--it's very hard to describe it over the radio. But basically, it's a circular--it has a rotor and a stator. And within the rotor there are pistons that go back and forth and pump on both sides of the piston, so they have a cam that follows a sinusoidal camshaft around [the stator]...


My guest today is Eddie Paul from EP Industries, and Eddie, one of the inventions and shows that you did, for the Discovery Channel, you did a shark suit, and for Jacques Cousteau you did a shark.

EP: Um Hmm.

Host: So tell us about these things.

EP: Okay. We did the shark first. That was a few years ago. I worked for Jean Michele Cousteau for about four or five years designing equipment for them. We did their underwater lighting, using 110 volts and 220 volts AC underwater lighting. So we put a system together for them. And we were in, I believe, Valdez, at the oil slick doing a show on that, and we were all sitting around dinner, and Jean Michele was asking everybody questions, and he asked me, "What's one project you've wanted to do? If you had you're choice what would you do?"

I said "I've always wanted to build a mechanical shark. They look neat. I'd like to duplicate the swimming action of a shark."

Didn't think much more about it. About a year later I got a phone call--I was working on another project for a film and I got a call from Jean Michele--actually it was his assistant--saying Jean Michele wants you to start building a shark. And when we were in Alaska we were talking about a five foot--actually it was smaller, it was a two and a half foot Blue Shark. So as soon as he said he wanted me to build a shark I assumed it was that one since they were also filming Blue Sharks in the Pacific out here. So I started, I think, that night, started building a shark and the next day I had one built as a mockup. It was a two and a half foot Blue Shark. He came over, looked at it, and said "Oh, that's very nice. But, could you make one bigger? We wanted a ten foot Great White Shark!" So we had to scrap it and start over again, and I guess it took us about two weeks, and at the end of the two weeks we had a skeleton for a shark that was made of Lexan, we made the skin out of a material called Skin-Flex, that we use in the studios for skin. We painted--airbrushed it all up so that it looked like a Great White Shark. It even had the teeth--were all serrated and everything, and the jaws would open and close. We put it in a box and shipped it to Australia. And then I had to fly down to operate it.

We got to Dangerous Reef, which is just out of Adelaide, Australia, and went out with Rodney Fox on his boat, went out to where the Great White Sharks live, put it in the water and tested it. And it worked pretty good. We swam with the sharks for three days. Actually I used tail propulsion, figuring it was the simplest way to make it swim, was do what the sharks do. So we had the tail move back and forth, and I powered off a SCUBA tank. So I would run compressed air to the shark through an umbilical, a small quarter inch line. It would move the tail back and forth on command as I moved a little toggle control. And, if I wanted to go straight I would just move the tail back and forth rhythmically. If I wanted to turn left I would hold the tail to the left one beat longer to the left than to the right. If I wanted to go right I would do the same thing. And as it would hold the tail for a second it would act as a rudder and it would start turning left or right.

To go up or down, we had an inner tube inside of the shark that I'd pump air into from another valve, and then let air out so it would tilt up or down. Anyway, it was a success. We swam with the sharks for three days. They seemed to accept it. And then on the third day, he wanted to get a spectacular shot and asked if I could make it act injured. So, we put a lead weight to one side and then I made it swim erratically, and within FIVE seconds it was attacked and torn to shreds by another shark. We've got it all on film, and I guess the show was exactly what they wanted! So it was kind of a fun project.

Host: That's incredible. Now, is that the model I saw when I was at your shop? Is that the small one?

EP: Yeah, that's the one that we decided not to use.

Host: Folks, I've got to tell you: This shark that he built is the image of simplicity. It's just a bunch of Lexan ribs or plates, and the articulation is done through two wires that come from the head all the way to the tail and they pull on the tail, and the thing just flexes back and forth. It's unbelievable simple, and I guess that's a hallmark of your work. It's almost hard to be proud of the things you do because they're so simple you'd think anybody could of thought of them and actually, that's what makes them so beautiful.

My guest today is Eddie Paul from EP Industries and he's talking about his many and varied activities in his life. Among the experiences that you've had--we've got listed here: SCUBA diving, piloting most aircraft, hang gliding, bulldozers, tanks, trucks, motorcycles, rappelling, climbing, firearms, fist fights, knives...what's the most dangerous thing that happened, in what would be an otherwise dull career? (ho ho!)

EP: The most dangerous thing I've ever done? Probably dating, before I got married!

Host: (Laughs.)

EP: No, the rest of it, it isn't that dangerous, the stuff we do for the studios. Most of the time you rehearse it so much and you do safety precautions. I mean, any one of those things, I can describe in detail. They're pretty darn safe. I got my worst injury I guess on a movie called MASK, and I was doing one of the simplest stunts. Most people didn't even know the movie MASK was a stunt movie! But, it had a little bit of stunts in it. That was the one with Cher and Sam Elliot and we were doing a real simple fight scene.

Host: This is not THE MASK, with Jim Carrey, but prior to that, a movie just called MASK.

EP: This is an older one. I had what I called a minor fall, and tore my shoulder out and was in surgery for about six months out of it. But on other things, you know--we've done some hellacious car crashes and walked away without a scratch. But I think it's mostly because you do a lot more planning on the dangerous ones because you know they're dangerous. It's the simple little things you get hurt on, like stepping off a curb or getting out of your car. I don't really consider any of it dangerous. I guess the thing with the shark was a little dangerous, because we didn't know what the Great Whites would do.

The shark suit you mentioned earlier, that was a little dangerous, because we didn't have time to prepare. That was a documentary we did for Discovery Channel, where I had the idea that you can built a plastic shark suit to hold off shark bites, and we had to test it. We only had one day to build the suit and had to test it the next day. And didn't get to test it without--we actually had to go in the water and test it so, we put the shark suit on and went down and got chewed on by, I think it was fourteen sharks.

And when you have that many sharks, it's pretty much--you're out of control because, even if they don't bite through the suit, they have so much power that they can just drag you off and take you somewhere. You'd run out of air and drown. And at one point I had--I made a mistake, we had one shark come up and I was trying to scare him off so I punched at him, and because of the suit my arm was moving so slow through the water that I managed to swing at his mouth--he opened his mouth, [and] I shoved my arm down his throat. He clamped down on my shoulder and took off with me. And while he was swimming through the water with me I'm getting chomped on by other sharks. That was a little scary, because we were also near what they call a dropoff where the water drops to about three thousand feet, and I didn't know if he was going to go up over the hill and down to the bottom, in which case I would have been a sardine!

So, those are the kinds of things that get a little scary but fortunately it worked out alright. I got loose.

Host: All in a day's work for Eddie Paul, of EP Industries. Let's got back to the Cylindrical Energy Module, one of my favorite things. When you first started building this, you sent out descriptions of it to various pump manufacturers? That's right?

EP: The press releases?

Host: Yeah, press releases and so forth. And some of them wrote back and told you it was impossible, right?

EP: Oh yeah, we got--in fact, we got a letter the other day from someone telling us (laughs) it's impossible!

Host: The other day? Even though I've seen it running, but...

EP: Oh yeah. Yeah, we had one big company, I don't want to mention their name...

Host: No.

EP: They sent me about a three page letter. Their top engineer looked at it, gave me five reasons why it wouldn't work, and insisted that I don't go any further, because I'd just be wasting any money I had left. It was kind of funny because we had a turnaround and that company just purchased a pump from us for testing, and they brought the engineer, had him apologize to us personally, which is not a big deal, he was just doing what he'd been taught.

Host: This has got to be the dream of every inventor: To have the chief engineer of someone who turned you down come back and apologize!

EP: It was nice! I actually felt bad for him, because, again, he was just doing what he'd been taught. They aren't taught to look at new technologies.

In the pump industry, we've found, it's like, they haven't had a new invention in a hundred years so they're not prepared to see anything new. So I guess, they get hit with so many bogus ideas...

Host: Okay. You're listening to High Tech Today...


My guest today is Eddie Paul of EP Industries. Eddie Paul is an inventor, a stunt coordinator--at least used to be a stuntman--a retired stuntman, which I guess is a wonderful thing to be!

EP: Uh Hh.

Host: It gives you a lot of memories. Let's talk a little more about the Cylindrical Energy Module, or CEM Pump, the Super Cem and so forth, and let's talk about some of the applications that you've been envisioning for this pump. Do you want to tell us about, well, let's look at fire fighting. Why is this pump useful there?

EP: Okay, we have a gentleman down in Maryland, who just ordered 200 of these for fire fighting and what they're looking at is, I guess for putting them in ponds and lakes and swimming pools. That it's so lightweight you can put it in a pool and fight fires with pool water. They're doing them for, I believe what they call Standing Pipes, installing them in there. He said "all kinds of applications" but I believe it's going to be a portable unit. The one we have now, we just built ten prototypes. They weigh 55 pounds each, which replaces sump pumps that weight about 2,000 pounds. And our next goal is to try to get the 55 pounds down to about 10 pounds, so we're experimenting with new plastics, so we should have a pump that you can lift up with one hand, carry it anywhere and use it.

Host: Okay. In automotive uses--the pump as an engine.

EP: As an engine, we've built one for a company call Applied Laser Systems in Medford, Oregon. A small one that on computer puts out about 28 horsepower and weighed about eight pounds. The reason I say "on computer" was, we only ran for short durations, and the company that was funding it went out of business because of some other investments they had, so we stopped the project. The engine's something we do on the side, because it's going to take millions of dollars to develop. But we've actually--that first one, we had developed in six weeks, we actually had one running. From concept to completion. So, we have a lot of hope for the engine, but what we're trying to do is pursue pumps first, then go into compressors, then gasoline engines. And when we do get into the engines, what we're aiming for is we're going to have an air cooled, lubrication free gasoline engine that has two glow plugs for twelve cylinders and we should get about three horsepower per pound.

Host: Now, also for use in Oil Wells. This same pump is particularly applicable because it can be dropped down the oil well.

EP: Uh Hh. Since it's double ended, one end can be a pump or compressor, the other end can be an engine. Or, one end can be a hydraulically driven motor, the other end could be a compressor or pump. It's got so many variations, plus, I think, one of the first prototypes we did was actually four pumps in one. You could pump four different color fluids in and pump four different color fluids out without mixing them. We have other variations we can pull off. That was with the four cylinder pump. Now, like I say most of them are six cylinders.

The applications--we have everything from--I don't know if I can say this on the radio, but we got a call for a pen*ile implant all the way up to a hundred and fifty thousand horsepower for producing electric power for China.

Host: Well, this is the Nineties. You can certainly say that.

EP: Okay, good.

Host: Energy for China is perfectly alright in the nineties!

EP: We ran an article--a press release. You mentioned the press release earlier, I believe. [Our] communications director told us when you send out press releases, normally you get, out of fifty press releases you might get one or two published. Out of 120, we had 115 of them published, which really surprised us. Out of one of those press releases, I believe it was Design News, we've gotten 8,000 responses. So, it's pretty much a full-time job just keeping up with the responses. Trying to keep people happy and keep them at bay until we're finished.

Host: Okay, we're almost out of time... Eddie Paul has been my guest on High Tech Today... If you want to see an animation of this pump, get on America Online, or CompuServe [or our FTP site] and find out how to get hold of an animation of this pump we've been talking about...Bye Bye!

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