Above you can see a very broad breakdown of what all we did to make our Barbie Jeep wonderful for racing at the Detroit Maker Faire Power Wheels Racing Series. As you can see, we ran with a lot of stock parts and in doing so learned that some of them probably oughtn’t be stock. Click on the image to get an embiggened view.
1. HELMET – This is very very very important. Cars were run into, flipped over, and tipped over at several points during the race. Having a helmet is an excellent part of being a safe driver.
2. HANDSOME DRIVER – It isn’t necessary that your driver be as handsome and modest as me, but it definitely helps. Regardless of who they are and how many eyes they have, you need a driver. Choose well as they’ll be piloting your precious.
3. CAMERA – I really don’t know whose camera this was. Someone ran up as we were sitting in starting formation and asked if they could attach it, so we said yes. Once we had a motor burnout and left the track, they quickly recovered it. Sector67 brought their own helmet-mounted cameras, though. I suppose that’s an option if you like sprinkles in your coffee.
4. THROTTLE – Yes, you definitely need a throttle. Ours was…derpy. But such is the work of Canaderp, and it did indeed work. However, it was awkward to use in that it required some yoga flame ankle dexterity to use at all and sometimes didn’t seem to be listening to what my (or Simplepi or Prof. Flynns’) foot was telling it at all. If we go with this design again instead of the tank drive I am agitating for, I will be racing it barefoot so that my toesies can be more agile.
5. STEERING – We really recommend you include a steering system in your car. We just used the stock plastic steering apparatus, which worked about as well as trying to swim in lead underpants. I mean, it did steer, but it steered poorly. I was trying to drift corners to improve our race time and the wheels would lock full left, but to no effect: it kept going in a straight line.
6. BUMPERS – If you think you might be one of the slowest cars on the track–as we were–bumpers would be a terrific idea. These welded-scrap-metal-and-foam-pool-noodle bumpers kept me stable and safe when other cars that were lapping me ran right into me. I spent more time up against the tires than I would have liked, but having bumpers kept me from getting my wheels stuck in them.
7. DRIVETRAIN – In retrospect, we probably should have cannibalized a snow mobile or scooter for its metal transmission instead of doing Hopeful Leprechaun Jigs to allay the probability that our stock plastic transmission would get ground to shattered dreams by the torque we were feeding through it. I heard that there were some teams who actually milled through own transmissions, and I suspect that that was likely a very major advantage to them.
8. BATTERIES – Deep cycle batteries are ideal for pulling lots of amps out of to get acceleration while still retaining a charge. I have no idea where these came from, but there were 3 of them daisy-chained together into a 40V monster (Power Wheels run stock at 6V).
9. COOLING – Putting more voltage through motors that weren’t meant to handle all that much means that said motors are going to get really hot. We figured that dry ice is cold, so we put it in the chamber with the motors hoping it would cool them down. It didn’t do too much besides make the wiring to them very cold, as we still burnt out a motor in the 7th lap of the road race and I then intelligently burnt myself on said motor to see if it was hot (the scorch marks on the bottom of the seat should have been indication enough, no?).
10. AXLE BRACKETS – These were absolutely critical. Without them, the plastic chassis sagged over the wheels and ground down upon them. Having these brackets meant we could ride high and pretty.
11. WHEELS – The best part about using stock wheels was how much wonderful noise they made. Clattering, skittering, nostalgic noise. But no traction. Hard plastic on asphalt doesn’t get you anywhere fast.