Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Great Handcar Regatta

I've recovered somewhat from the sprint (in every sense of the word) that culminated in The Great Handcar Regatta.  A sprint because I spent the last four days working up to 10 hours a day getting the YOXMOBL ready with the crack team of builders.  A sprint, also, because racing the YOXMOBL is an all-out sprint, but the kind of sprint where you're pushing a huge weight up a hill.

The regatta was an awesome event, it was fun to see all the other vehicles, the costumes and characters, and the support of 13,000 spectators.  The races were super exciting, with head-to-head matchups going down two, roughly parallel, sets of curved tracks.  We very nearly won our races, but after losing parts, belts, and rollers on the way down the track, every race ended with us slightly behind.  No matter, we finished every time we started which greatly passed expectations.

Next year, we'll be back with an improved YOXMOBL, a better idea of what we're doing, and a hunger to win!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The YOXMOBL has taken many different forms over the years, but the most recent form is by far the most awesome!

This is a picture of the YOXMOBL after 4 days of fabrication.  It is a human powered machine and is being raced in the Great Handcar Regatta at Railroad Square in Santa Rosa on Sunday, September 26th. 

Our drive mechanism is based on a rotating turntable, force is transmitted by the racers walking in place with the turntable rotating beneath.  Power is transmitted to the wheels by pulleys and belts below the platform.  Pretty sweet, huh?

The build team consists of yours truly, Stefon, Garrick, Kim, Marion, Chezo, Azlan, Logan, and guest appearances from Bruce, Pat, and Malanyon.

The race team is looking likely to be myself, Stefon, Kim, and Garrick, though there is always the possibility for last-minute change-ups.  

The race itself is bound to be amazing, and if you're reading this post, you probably should be there.  There are 22 teams currently registered who all have sweet human powered contraptions of various and sundry wacked-out drive mechanisms.  The event is throw-back themed to the early 1900's, with an interesting sort of super-advanced-railroad-tech look called steampunk.  If you don't know what that is, do a google image search and it'll open your eyes to a whole new sub-culture.

Fabrication has been a lot of fun, it's amazing what you can put together with a welding machine, chop saw, and many hours of grinding metal.  

Recently we hit set-backs in the drive mechanism due to a lack of proper engineering.  Our drive-shaft which couples the platform rotation to the pulleys is very under-engineered and we've broken it several times.  The first time, we had our large pulley attached with set-screws to maintain alignment, but that didn't work, the screws were unable to hold things in place.  To remedy that, we drilled a hole through the large pulley and drive shaft and bolted them together.  That bolt lasted about 10 seconds before it sheared off completely.  We put an actual steel pin in place, one that should be appropriate for such use.  The pin worked properly, but was too strong for the drive shaft, which sheared off.  The last ditch effort, which looks like it MAY work, was to weld a plate directly to the shaft and then bolt the pulley to the plate.  It looks like it's holding for now, but we may win the "Spectacular Failure" award at the race if it doesn't.

In any event, there are more pictures up on facebook.  If you are someone who watches what goes on here, you probably should consider coming out to the race, we definitely could use some fan-base so there are familiar faces amongst the 10,000 people expected to show up.