Going off of the other six possibilities and backtrack over my wiring, trying to find the proper orientation of the terminals and matching them, then I probably should be able to tell if either the connections are incorrect or possibly which wire I should examine more closely for defect.From that which you wrote there, at some combination of Switch 1 and Switch 2 (counting from the supply side, Switch 3 turns the lights on and off satisfactorily.
The following diagrams (extracted from ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiway_switching) illustrate one possible condittion where operation of Switch 3 is satisfactory.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiway_switching#/media/File:4-way_switches_position_1.svg for OFF
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiway_switching#/media/File:4-way_switches_position_2.svg for ON.
No matter what you think as to how you have connected these switches, if you "hear a surge of energy at the switch and about 5 secs. later the breaker pops" it indicates that that a Neutral or Ground is connected to the terminals/wiring such as those shown in Black in these two diagrams.
You should be able to find this using a volt meter but it may be that a ground wire has touched one of these terminals when you screwed a switch into its Box.
joed gave another possibility while I was writing this.