Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

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Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby MantaCamp » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:44 pm

Hello!

This will be my 3rd burn ('96, 2008, 2010) across a wide range of years! (I grew up in lake tahoe).

Anyway, I vowed never to go back again unless I was actually contributing to the buuurrrn. Finally, my fellow camp mates are in the same mind state and we have begun planning and fund raising for our ocean-themed camp and manta-ray mutant vehicle.

A have a few questions having never built one myself before, any advice is much appreciated!:

Chasis: For the car we've been debating a gas powered 6 seater golf cart vs an old fladbed truck vs an ATV pulling a trailer. Our goals are: be able to transport 6-8 people, our sound system and generator, and house the manta body. Any thoughts or experience with these would be appreciated!

The second question: we've determined and ordered laser eyes, a bubble machine, fish and dophin bikes to ride along side in a school, etc. For the FABRIC of the manta: we're using PVC for the skeleton, and order programmable LED's (RGB, 600ft) - so we need fabric that will STRECH, NOT BLOW OVER IN THE WIND, and is OPAQUE so the LED's will shine through. My suggestion was parachute, but some are afraid it will catch the wind rather than stand up to it.

OK....that's all I have for now, thanks in advance for your help and we'll see you cruising on the playa! Any other advice is also welcome...

-George Washington.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby uncle sticky » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:58 pm

I think flatbed truck, or something similar and big. I did an atv based vehicle last year, and it wasn't the best choice. The things are designed to move light weight with high acceleration, not heavy weight over slow, steady speeds. The golf cart sounds too light, especially the suspension. That was another issue I ran into. I used an atv base, mated to a golf cart front end, and I didn't have enough suspension. Somebody else suggested a big oldschool sedan, which I think would work as well. You need low gears, decent torque, and heavy suspension. Or block off the suspension with those air or rubber suspension kits.

I've seen lycra type fabrics. Parachute has no give, no stretch, so you're ray is going to end up a little flaccid and difficult to fabricate. Stretchy is the way to go.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby MantaCamp » Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:31 pm

Thanks for the advice!

I'll look into the Lyrca.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby socks » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:01 pm

My choice would be a hearse. Chop off the back roof and make a platform. Most come in black and
they go slow.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby MantaCamp » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:47 pm

I thought you were kidding, but I looked some up and that's actually not a terrible idear!

Thanks!
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Elliot » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:35 pm

Any decent fabric store should have white spandex by the yard. I use it for a movie screen, and I can project from the back just fine.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby ygmir » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:41 pm

Elliot wrote:Any decent fabric store should have white spandex by the yard. I use it for a movie screen, and I can project from the back just fine.


a sentence and an innuendo and pun filled joke, in one line........well done Elliot!!!

you area wordmaster.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:31 am

MantaCamp wrote:Anyway, I vowed never to go back again unless I was actually contributing to the buuurrrn...

Yay!
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Elliot » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:13 pm

MantaCamp wrote:Anyway, I vowed never to go back again unless I was actually contributing to the buuurrrn.

I second that notion! Now, if we could only get everyone who buys a ticket to grasp this. 2012 had a nasty tourist problem.
Carry on! :D
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Elliot » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:25 pm

Perhaps I should mention that we had a nice discussion some time ago about the hypothetical ideal MV chassis. And we seemed to gather some degree of consensus that a four-wheel-drive pickup with automatic transmission and manual-locking front hubs ought to serve very nicely. The idea is to drive in Low Range so we don't have to drag the brakes all the time, but with the front hubs unlocked to avoid tire scrubbing -- and then we can lock the front hubs if the silly thing gets stuck in a dust-drift.

Not so many 4x4s have manual front hubs these days, but conversion kits are readily available in 4x4 shops, and they are cheap and easy to install.

I drove a van-based MV a little bit in 2012, and I did have to ride the brake a lot, which seems to confirm the notion of driving in low range.

:D
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby MantaCamp » Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:36 pm

Thanks Elliot.

The ATV is definitely out, and it sounds like golf cart is out, too.

4x4 truck is the leading contender right now - or I was thinking a tractor pulling a trailer (rather than the atv).

Seems like a small tractor is make to go slowly and pull a lot of weight. I'm personally keen on the trailer idea as it allows more surface space for speakers, passengers, etc, but the truck seems easier to properly build on.

Thanks for your help - I'm sure in the coming months I'll have many more questions! Can't wait to be back on the playa!
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Elliot » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:09 pm

I have seen mutated garden tractors used, yes.
Be advised that DMV has strict rules regarding any kind of trailer used in an MV. There have been accidents where people got in between the power unit and the trailer. From what I understand, the vehicle-combination must be "pinch proof". There is discussion of this on an other thread -- if you can find it.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby trilobyte » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:53 pm

Couple things - first, read the whole Mutant Vehicle section back to front twice, and if you have questions on whether you think something would be permitted/allowed, reach out to the DMV (I'm sure there's an email contact on that section of the site). Second, in the fabric department, I think you mean translucent. Opaque is solid, and light would either not pass through or pass through badly (I mention this in case you're looking to order fabric online). I second the recommendation for stretch spandex, though I recommend you plan an extra extinguisher or two (above/beyond what you'll be planning for everything else). If you live near NY/LA/SF or someplace with great local fabric wholesalers, then make sure to bring a flashlight or something to test how well light will pass through. Otherwise (if you're shopping online), then put in an order for a single yard (or half yard if they'll cut that small) so you can do a lighting test. Good luck with the project!
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby MantaCamp » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:58 pm

Thanks Elliot - after all this, it seems one of our camp-mates is an el camino specialist!

We're going for an el camino and strapping the speakers to the roof. I appreciate the follow up, it's been very helpful.

GW.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby zerzura » Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:02 pm

A good example of a vehicle that used the stretch lycra over PVC method is the Cheshire Cat. The PVC skeleton extends out from the underlying vehicle (a minivan) and the lycra skin is attached in panels using velcro. The key to making this method look good is cutting the panels to fit really well and taut. Oh, and have a beautifully executed substructure. The lycra looks completely opaque until you shine the huge lights through it. Bringing a flashlight to check it out before buying is a good idea if you can. I think any thin swimsuit thickness fabric would be fine.

Here's a link to a photo of the cat, you can find more by typing in a google search.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalturn/3190253529/

While a pickup truck is a great idea, smaller vehicles can be used. For 6 people, a gas powered 6 passenger golf cart would probably be fine. Our first vehicle was on a meter maid cart, and we could carry 10 people no problem (it has a small Ford engine in it). That said, a pickup will probably be cheaper to procure -- just make sure to get an automatic. Then you can just toodle around in 2nd gear at 5 miles an hour in an idle.

DMV wise, the trailer has to look like it belongs to the vehicle in some way, it needs to be mutated as well. But for a Ray it could be a fish, or sea anemone, or...

Can't wait to see the Ray!
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:00 am

I get where people are coming from about using a 4WD truck chassis with the front hubs unlocked, so you can cruise in low range and not have to drag the brakes... great theory but in practice I've found it unnecessary.
If the playa is smooth and hard, I have to drag my brakes a lot but that's actually not a problem. You're only going 5 MPH or so, they don't get hot, you're only driving it for a week anyway. Brake pads are super cheap, a set will last longer than the MV probably will. Screw it, just drag 'em.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby ygmir » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:52 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:I get where people are coming from about using a 4WD truck chassis with the front hubs unlocked, so you can cruise in low range and not have to drag the brakes... great theory but in practice I've found it unnecessary.
If the playa is smooth and hard, I have to drag my brakes a lot but that's actually not a problem. You're only going 5 MPH or so, they don't get hot, you're only driving it for a week anyway. Brake pads are super cheap, a set will last longer than the MV probably will. Screw it, just drag 'em.


and all this time, I thought you used "ocean caught" hippies, put a spreader bar on their ankles, and used them as sea anchors.......till they fill with dirt then cut'em loose and get another.


so much for myth.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:26 am

There's a part of the mutant vehicle application where they ask how you will handle difficult or unruly passengers...
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby EspressoDude » Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:13 am

Lasers are not toys and are regulated by the FDA. Make sure that power levels are within legal limits, and are kept aimed high enough (like over 10 feet) so as not to hit someone in the eyes.

I have personally watched a co-worker accidently cut off the end of a finger with one!!

Even tough it appears that no one at the event is policing the use of lasers, if you cause an injury you can be held liable for injury caused by your laser.

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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Hondovious » Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:34 pm

I would vote for an old Ford Bronco. Tons of late 80s and early 90s ones on Craigslist for very reasonable prices. Can handle a lot of weight, and there are tons of them in bone yards for used parts. I have had and worked on many. Super easy. Tons of room in the engine bay, and with decent sized tires you don't even need to jack it up to get underneath which might be really handy on playa. If I didn't already have an art car that is what I would start with.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Ugly Dougly » Sat Mar 30, 2013 11:15 pm

Go with the art and forget about pleasing the crowd.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:02 am

There's nothing specific about a Bronco that makes it any better a mutant vehicle chassis than a Blazer, or a pickup truck or Suburban, they're all similar other than length. Actually, old rotted motorhomes are terrific chassis. They are big, very stout, nice and flat, and have the driver controls in a much more advantageous spot; they also have generators mounted on them.
If I were building one today I'd look for one of those. But really, in almost every case, the best chassis to use is the one you have!
That is, if you're not gonna build your own...
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Elliot » Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:18 am

Ah yeah.... Do you know why Greg Barron's fabulous sailing ship is called the Monaco? It was built on a Monaco brand motor home. (If I remember right, and I think I do.)
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Ninjaparamedic » Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:10 pm

Awesome idea, I can't wait to see it out there. I have some useful information I've learned over the past 2 years of working on the Inchworm.

InchwormColfax.jpg
InchwormColfax.jpg (240.2 KiB) Viewed 1850 times


I used a golf cart for the Inchworm and it can no longer support 6 people with it's current suspension (even in tow). An El Camino sounds like a great idea, but please make sure your expert is with you on the playa for repairs (my lack of 2-stroke knowledge hit me hard the first year).

Translucent is definitely the word you were looking for. The Inchworm uses 120 yards of spandex (3 bolts at 60") to cover 35' of Inchworm at 4' wide. It is lit with only 100' of rope-light. 600 feet of LED either means the Manta-Ray will be HUGE or extremely bright.

I STRONGLY recommend not cutting the fabric into a jigsaw puzzle. Leave it in 1 piece and stretch it over your PVC frame like a fitted bed sheet.

I definitely have a problem with the wind. I hide behind sturdy structures. A heavy base like a El Camino or a pick up won't have to worry, but you'll be surprised how hard you have to work to secure your PVC skeleton to the base.

The DMV has been very cooperative and despite my ridiculously complicated trailer they've been cool.

Please give us an update on how things are going. I'm excited for you.
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby MantaCamp » Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:06 am

Thanks so much for all of those suggestions Ninjaparamedic! Would you mind explaining further how you attached the spandex skin to the skeleton. That's the part we're kind of baffled about now. I like your idea about using large sections of fabric, rather than doing small sections. So you used bolts to attach the material to the skeleton?
We discussed using either a heavy grade velcro or doing elastic to attach the material. What are you thoughts and suggestions on doing this?

Thanks,

)'(JC Tater)'(
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby Galaxo Magic » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:23 pm

I second that one piece of skin idea. We built the pink elephant, Beau Le'Phant, using a pink parachute. Lycra would be a better idea, more stretch. Less pieces mean easier to assemble and less places wind can catch an opening and try to rip the fabric.

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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby MantaCamp » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:40 am

I wanted to thank everyone for your help - we're deep into the build at this point and can't wait to see you out on the playa! We'll be at 8:45 and Interstellar with bloody mary's noon to 4.

We've incorporated a lot of the ideas here, welded on removable steel supports for the wings, installed the ladder rack, and are meeting up next weekend to compete the wings and fabric.

Some pics attached:
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby MantaCamp » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:41 am

Build day 1!
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Re: Advice for our Mutant Vehicle

Postby MantaCamp » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:42 am

Build day 1
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