Monday, March 06, 2006

Material Fabrication

Reposted from wbf mysp[andbox] blog:

I have a composition class. We are writing different types of essays. This one was a "fiasco" or a "what not to do" descriptive. I reposted it here because the more I read this silly thing, the more I like it. P.S. Prof did too & I did not at first.

Man, or more accurately men are hardwired to create, destroy, improve upon their creation and live to tell about it. However, there are times when imagination, competition, material fabricators and speed should not be combined. Consider the "Harley Sportster Barstool".

Design Elements were straightforward; a lightweight go-cart frame, your standard chromed stainless steel barstool and steering column with straight handlebars. Throttle and braking were addressed with foot pedals, shaped like bare feet as a matter of fact.

The propulsion element of this brilliant theory on beer retrieval was handled by a Harley Sporster engine, the 1200 not the 850. Interestingly, the 1200 was beefed up from a 74 cubic inch to an 82 inch engine with an S & S engine kit, making the total horsepower about 1400.

You might think the inventors of the Harley Sportster Barstool had enough to do on their day jobs. Molotov Motor Sports was a custom fabrication shop, specializing in high-end cars, trucks and motorcycles. The owner and shop manager were making a name for themselves in the motor sport world, with both innovative body design and by experimenting with racing fuel mixtures. Between Pro Mod class racing and the trade show circuit, their creativity and technical skill got them noticed by the Discovery Channel. An offer for a 13-week show featuring the custom fabrication trade was made, however some guy named Jesse ended up with the cable channel contract. That is a story for another day.

In first trial the Harley Sportster barstool reached a distance of 120 feet and land speed of 30 miles per hour. Other than some rattling of teeth, no real problems were noted at that time. If 30 miles per hour was achievable, what was the top end the Molotov crew could push this project toward?

During the second attempt the Harley Sportster barstool's tendency to veer left while the driver's forward motion carried him in a path more or less 90 degrees different, resulted in some minor bruising. The problem was the frame. The disappointing fact was that the frame was too rigid without a suspension system, which was not included in the original design of the Harley Sportster Barstool.

Why would this be so disappointing you might wonder? The object here was speed, adding a suspension system would add a significant amount of weight. Weight always equals a reduction in speed. Perhaps the reason for adding the S & S engine kit was an attempt to compensate for the suspension system weight.

The second trial with the addition of the suspension system solved the rigid frame problem, more or less. Then a new problem arose; the Harley Sportster Barstool's modifications plus a high center of gravity resulted in uncontrolled wheelies. No injuries during this test however, it was back to the drawing board or rather the bar napkins, scrap cardboard or whatever was handy, for the Molotov crew. Since no designs remain in existence, we assume the designs got soggy or were recycled with the pizza boxes.

The third attempt at the Harley Sportster Barstool worked beautifully for a distance of about 350 feet. At a land speed of 60 miles per hour, the horsepower to wheelbase ratio failed. Resultant injuries included three broken fingers, significant injury to delicate body parts including bruising and uncomfortable swelling. The swelling would not be so bad in another context but the combination of bruising and swelling precluded that other context. Additionally, there was the routine, nasty case of road rash.

You may be pondering the question; what might motivate an already busy fabrication shop to attempt something so seemingly unmarketable? The custom motor sport industry is described as an overly testosterone laden, highly charged, elite bunch, and that would be accurate. However it is not a fair description. Speed and foolishness are not the motivating factors, name recognition is.

Molotov Motor Sports was competing with hundreds of other, creative, competitive fabrication shops and skilled hobbyists in the Barstool races. The Barstool Races are an annual event held during Biketober Week at Daytona Beach, Florida in October. Daytona Beach Biketober Week is one of the premier custom fabrication trade events and an innovative design, or a stunning paint theme can make an otherwise no-name shop.

The Barstool Races may not be a wise execution of engineering, design and material fabrication but it never fails to grab attention. Natural mechanical gifts notwithstanding, our observations include this bit of advise; take some basic mechanical engineering classes before trying this at home or entering the Daytona Beach Barstool Race.[1]


[1] Names have been changed to protect the allegedly guilty. However, this piece is based on a first person account of real events, which occurred during preparation for an annual race in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Copyright 2006 WBF; all rights reserved.


hooligan said...

What a bunch of morons. Those guys should be taken to a field somewhere and shot. How did they ever come up with the idea to strap a motor onto something that weighed less than it does is beyond me. I just hope you aren't hanging out with any of these losers. Sheesh.

wbf said...

[coughing violently] well, um no. This piece was an essay for a lit class. 'Scuse me for a sec, gotta wipe the coffee I just choked on off my laptop screen.....
.....................................ok, what was I saying again? Um, I got an A on the paper?

hooligan said...

Glad I could make you barf up some coffee. Of course if you choked on it from anything other than laughing I will deny and involvement whatsoever.