Instructables

Gonzo Soap Box Derby Car

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This project was completed for a soap box derby race held in St. Louis, MO.  There are two frames to the design, one that supports all the aesthetics of the car and one that supports all the mechanics of the car.  The car was built on two frames so that both aspects could be worked on in parallel and then joined together to form one piece of finely tuned mechanical artistry.  This instructable will mainly cover the process of building the aesthetics of the car.  The whole project from conception, to funding, to building, took one month for a team of five persons to complete.  Break neck pace... pressure builds diamonds.

The three photos included in this step depict the final product on race day as well as a concept sketch of the design before anything was built.
 
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Step 1: Sourcing Parts and Framing

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Sometimes the best place to find cheap materials for a build is in a dumpster (see photo 1)!

Outside of dumpster diving, rectangular steel tubing was acquired from a metal supplier and welded to provide the frame for the mechanical portion of the car.  An assortment of 1" x 1", 1" x 2" and 2" x 4" lumber was purchased from Home Depot to build the frame for the aesthetic portion of the car.  The aesthetic frame was built around the mechanical frame and bolt holes were drilled to lock the frames together when so desired (see photo 2).

Once the frames were complete, work on the muscle man (Hanz) began by building quick and dirty mock-ups attached to the aesthetic frame (see photos 3 & 4).  These mock-ups were built using PVC tube, Duct Tape, pink insulation foam core (see photo 5) and card board.  All of these parts can be purchased at Home Depot or found in the trash.  The goal with the foam core and PVC was to create ribbing that a lighter weight skin material could be stretched around to develop the general shape of Hanz's body.

Please note that a full parts list with quantities is not included as this project and any similar ones are so custom that there is not much value in including one.  Instead, the parts used are discussed but not the actual quantities.  


The parts used for the aesthetic portion of this build include:

1" x 1", 1" x 2" and 2" x 4"  Wood Lumber
PVC Tubing and connectors
Foam Core
FoamSealR
Duct Tape
HandiFoam
Cardboard


Tools used include:

Power Sander
Circular Saw
Power Drill
Sand Paper
Utility Knife



Step 2: Skinning Ribs, Adding Foam, Sanding and Carving

Once the PVC and foam core ribbing structure was complete, Duct Tape and Owens Corning FoamSealR (see photo 1) was used to stretch over the ribs to form a skin.  The FoamSealR is available at Home Depot.  See photos 2 - 4 for pictures of Hanz with skin.

The next step was applying foam to the skin.  Originally, Great Stuff was used (see photo 5).  However, it quickly became apparent that it would cost a fortune and take forever to completely cover Hanz in Great Stuff.  Thus, HandiFoam (see photo 6) was acquired from Grainger and quickly did the trick.  However, it still cost a fortune.  HandiFoam was sprayed all over Hanz, producing a firm exoskeleton that allowed for sanding and carving once the foam set.  See photos 7 - 13 for the application of HandiFoam, sanding and carving.  The firm exoskeleton provided by the HandiFoam also allowed for partial removal of the PVC and foam core structure, making room for the driver.

Photo 14, (a bit of a team photo but the only one available with the full mechanical frame) depicts the mechanical frame with driver's seat, wheels, steering column, steering linkages, and breaks attached.  In the background rests Hanz on the aesthetic frame waiting to be carved, sanded and painted.


Note:  If a similar project is undertaken in the future, using a hot knife to shape the foam and a sealant on the foam prior to painting would be advisable.  A great resource for more information on this can be found at the Replica Prop Forum.

Step 3: Painting

Once fully sculpted, Hanz was taken to a body shop (oh so fitting in Hanz's case) where he was painted.  Not much else to describe here, paint job followed by a clear coat.  Originally it was thought that the foam would need to be coated in Bondo before painting but this added too much weight and rigidity to the overall car design.  Thus, the paint was applied directly to the foam.

Step 4: Finished Product

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After painting, Hanz and the aesthetic frame were bolted to the mechanical frame to yield the final product.  Figures 1 - 5 show the finished car on display and on the ramp in action.

lancruz2 years ago
This is awesome! I can only imagine the reaction when seen scooting down the road.
ImagineN4tion (author)  lancruz2 years ago
Hi lancruz, glad you like it. Hanz did quite a bit of scooting as the ramp, as big as it was, didn't provide enough energy to get to the finish line. Thus, the driver was forced to stick his feet out the bottom of the car and run to make it all the way. Picture Fred Flinston.
That must have been something to see too. The main thing, you had fun! Did they consider a prize for the most creative?
ImagineN4tion (author)  lancruz2 years ago
You got it, making something like this is always a blast! There was a People's Choice Award that Hanz won.
tleet592 years ago
Very creative and I had to laugh when I saw this. But with the driver's head trapped in Hans' neck hole, it looks like an opportunity for decapitation or a broken neck if he were to crash.
ImagineN4tion (author)  tleet592 years ago
Hi tleet59, thanks for your comment. Ah yes, the element of danger: a must have in gonzo soap boxing!
JoeMurphy2 years ago
I have been laughing for like 5 minuts! Great project and excellent instructable!
ImagineN4tion (author)  JoeMurphy2 years ago
Hi JoeMurphy. Glad to hear you liked the project and love hearing it induced a few laughs!

Checked out your projects and Mercury11, keep up the good work pushing the economy forward through entrepreneurial pursuits.
Amazing, you have my vote.
ImagineN4tion (author)  The Cartographer2 years ago
Hi Cartographer, thanks for the support!
Does Hanz flip up to get inside?
Or how do you get inside of him?
ImagineN4tion (author)  zipzapper8592 years ago
Hi zipzapper859. Great observation, it was quite an undertaking to get inside of Hanz. The driver actually had to climb underneath the car and crawl up inside of Hanz's body. The seat was detachable and the driver took the seat with him when he climbed inside of Hanz and attached it underneath himself once inside. The steering column went through Hanz's chest to where the drive could reach the controls. Also, once inside another team member would have to pop the driver's helmet on his head... kind of like on the movie Cool Runnings if you remember the scene!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ7M52Rtvlg&feature=related

Having Hanz's body flip up or having a cut out that would swing open like the door of a Delorean would be a great modification for future projects.
Thanks for the response. I have seen Cool Runnings many times, and that is one of my favorite scenes. I think it would be cool if his front flipped up, than flipped back down like the front restrains of a roller coaster that was individual chest plates. like in the movie Zombieland where the two girls go up in the tall tower thing, they have chest restraints. Basically a Delorean door, but sideways so it went up from the front, if that makes since.

I want to make one of these, im not sure what them im going to do. i was thinking of making it look like a giant wheelchair, and have yo sit in the wheelchair but you would look really small sitting there
ImagineN4tion (author)  zipzapper8592 years ago
Completely understand where you are going with the flip up entrance. It might work best if Hanz's back flipped up and not his front as the steering column in the front introduces a little more complexity. But the flip up entry idea would be a great addition to the project regardless of how it is applied.

Glad to hear you are thinking of making a similar gonzo car! The wheelchair idea sounds great too. Perhaps, you could add a couple ramjet engines (fake of course) to the sides for extra style points. You could also fashion them to half look like a ramjet engine and half look like an oxygen tank - to go along with the wheel chair theme!

Feel free to ask questions if you have any hiccups or just want another opinion during your build. Collaboration is huge.

nipples are pert...I like it.
ImagineN4tion (author)  The Papier Boy2 years ago
:)
Very cool,,,, Question: How do you get in an out of the sculpture ?
Hi themoldblaster. It was quite an undertaking to get inside of Hanz. The driver actually had to climb underneath the car and crawl up inside of Hanz's body. The seat was detachable and the driver took the seat with him when he climbed inside of Hanz and attached it underneath himself once inside. The steering column went through Hanz's chest to where the drive could reach the controls. Also, once inside another team member would have to pop the driver's helmet on his head... kind of like on the movie Cool Runnings if you remember the scene!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ7M52Rtvlg&feature=related

Having Hanz's body flip up or having a cut out that would swing open like the door of a Delorean would be a great modification for future projects.
mrbiff2 years ago
Cheese Puffs should have won. Just sayin'...

Kidding. Great job. I'm just jealous. Look for Cheese Puffs at a flugtag soon!
ImagineN4tion (author)  mrbiff2 years ago
Ha! I take it Cheese Puffs were there as well? Is this a team that competes at Red Bull events regularly? Flugtag looks amazing, perhaps Hanz's cousin Franz will make an appearance there too...

Good luck at Flugtag Cheese Puffs!
dansan1012 years ago
I certainly hope you won on most exciting cart!
ImagineN4tion (author)  dansan1012 years ago
Hi dansan101. The car's design was a big hit and it won the People's Choice Award!

Thanks for the comment and any support in the Extreme! contest. Subscriber's welcome here and on twitter @ImagineN4tion!

mygibzone2 years ago
This is AWESOME! Not sure if I understand your sketch correctly. Is the driver standing inside??? It seems he would need a high seat to be able to drive more comfortably. I'm throwing a vote your way or sure! ;)
ImagineN4tion (author)  mygibzone2 years ago
Hi mygibzone, thanks for the support! You are exactly correct that in the sketch the driver is standing. Originally that was the plan as the idea was to have the car be as insane and unique as possible, in-line with the spirit of the competition and team of builders. Can you imagine blasting down a 60ft ramp standing up!? Awesome. However, the race operators raised safety questions and weight limitations on the car were implemented that did not allow lowering the center of gravity by adding more weight to the frame, changed the original concept.

Thanks again for the comment and support. Would love any subscribers interested in future Gonzo Builds too!
triumphman2 years ago
That looks awesome! A lot of wind resistance though! Still, really cool!
ImagineN4tion (author)  triumphman2 years ago
Thanks triumphman! Yes, Hanz was not the most aerodynamic car on the ramp that day. However, what he lacked in aerodynamics and low coefficient of skin friction he made up for in pecs and deltoids!

This instructable should be reviewed and available for voting in the EXTREME! challange soon. Any and all support is appreciated!