What's a reliable car for Mutant Vehicles?

Bikes, trikes, personal mobility and mutant vehicles - this is the place to discuss general transportation issues. For ride and RV shares, please go to Share Resources.

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:41 am

Riding lawnmowers can be used and I've done it, more than once. They need to be geared UP though. However, the O.P. said the design goal is 10 - 12 person capacity. Mowers are pretty small for that. The ones I built were one or two passenger MVs.

Yes you can gear up your alternator to get full power from it at idle, but you then overspeed it if you ever throttle up and you won't get as much power as you will by adding a second alternator.
In most cases the donor vehicle will either have an airconditioner compressor or a place where one could have been if the car had been so equipped. It's usually ridiculously easy to mount another alternator there.

A super-high output Ambulance alternator is nice but a second regular one from a wrecking yard is a hell of a lot cheaper and again probably will make more power. I like the GM "CS130" alternators, easily and commonly found in late 80s - early 90s GM small to midsize vehicles. Those were specifically designed to produce a lot of current at idle speed.
I buy 'em for $10 - $15 each at the local Pull-A-Part yard. AT that price you can bring a few spares.

With two of those, at idle speed, running through a cheap inverter, I'm able to hold an 1100-watt electrical load without draining my batteries. At $15 bucks a piece, if more is needed, mount a few more! I've stopped carrying my onboard Honda generator, as much as I love those things.

I think you'll be OK with just about any "real" car tires on the playa. My current MV only has 185-14s on it, weighs about 5000 pounds (without passengers), and carries the 10 - 12 people you want to carry without failure. The tires may be "overloaded" for high-speed freeway use but crawling around on the playa is no problem.

Gearing down by significantly reducing the diameter of your wheels won't work because you wont have enough ground clearance. Nothing is impossible, you COULD get around that, but dragging the brakes a bit is easy and nearly free.

The playa surface conditions will determine whether brake-dragging is even needed. On soft-playa years, I've had to throttle up just to keep rolling. On hard-playa years, I did some brake dragging.

I've had carbureted V8 mutants that idled through crazy amounts of fuel, but the current fuel-injected 4-cylinder I've been using goes through about 20 gallons of gas all week, and that's driving the wheels off of it.
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Say I know this guy...

Postby pk » Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:38 pm

Say I know this guy that is thinking of sending a ’73 Suburban off on a new adventure. He is trying to decide whether to post it on Share Resources or collect a $1000 bounty from the state. So, to help him decide, how about some group think:

Would this be a feasible MV base for misimol?
How should he qualify misimol as worthy?

It’s been a reliable beast of burden to the playa 8 times, most recently in 2009. It has 350 cu engine/Auto/Carb/Load range D tires/Hitch. The rust is clearing up in spots... especially along the roof-line. It lives in the south bay.
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Postby AntiM » Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:56 pm

He does realize that to post it on share resources, he must be giving it away as a gift?
These are not my fuckos.
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Postby pk » Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:04 pm

AntiM wrote:giving it away as a gift?


yes, but its got to warm his heart more than a year's worth of happy meals.
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Postby AntiM » Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:24 pm

pk wrote:
AntiM wrote:giving it away as a gift?


yes, but its got to warm his heart more than a year's worth of happy meals.


LOL. Just checking....
These are not my fuckos.
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Re: Say I know this guy...

Postby gyre » Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:45 pm

pk wrote:Say I know this guy that is thinking of sending a ’73 Suburban off on a new adventure.

Would this be a feasible MV base for misimol?
How should he qualify misimol as worthy?

It’s been a reliable beast of burden to the playa 8 times, most recently in 2009. It has 350 cu engine/Auto/Carb/Load range D tires/Hitch. The rust is clearing up in spots... especially along the roof-line. It lives in the south bay.

Some questions Misimol would have to answer.
It would certainly be viable for something.

If this person wants some direct personal opinions, see if you can get whoever it is to email me (not PM, please).
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Postby gyre » Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:55 pm

Snow wrote:I live at 6200' as well. None of my many cars/trucks/jeeps have EVER been modified for altitude and run just fine, even at idle. you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Just get a vehicle and worry about it running at all, not about making alterations for "altitude." motorcycles and other small carbed engines seem to like to be re-jetted at about 6000' though, again well above the playas elevation.

If you bought at altitude, any factory changes should have already been made.

I saw the pathetic condition of underpowered cars in Denver.
Great place to work on cars.
I even saw one brought in and left as too sad to fix.
It ran like a cartoon car.

My modified car ran up and down the hills like it was on flat land, as it was built for.
It still lost 50 to 100 horsepower due to altitude.

Why not use every advantage?
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Postby Tin Halo » Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:49 pm

pk wrote:
AntiM wrote:giving it away as a gift?


yes, but its got to warm his heart more than a year's worth of happy meals.


A year's worth of Happy Meals will stop his heart.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:14 am

The last art car I had a hand in building was based on an old Suburban just like you described.
A Suburban stripped of it's body is the same thing as a Chevy pickup and of course is a nice stout chassis. It's gonna idle up a lot of gas, and that's not such a big deal, I just mention it because you need to plan for that and bring a bunch.
It's heavy. After it's "MVed out" it's gonna be real heavy. If you're trailering it to the playa, you'll need a big trailer and a big tow vehicle.
The one I was wrenching and welding on belonged to a friend who drove it to the playa, but it did NOT receive a DMV license because it was still too recognizable as once having been a Chevy truck. That's the problem with "art cars" that are intended to be street driveable - it's very hard to "mutate" a vehicle enough to get a playa license to drive at Burning Man with a street-legal rig. The DMV wants purpose-built non-"car" vehicles roaming the playa, and they keep upping the ante as more people want transportation and throw something together.

You don't have to base a mutant vehicle on a car or truck at all... your chances of getting a license are a lot better if there's no car there at all.
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Postby plumblove » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:35 pm

I'd recommend a pick up truck vehicle with a full frame. Once you start cutting the roof off a car without a frame you might see some bowing. I've seen the back broken on a small car MV to the point that it was touching the ground in the middle. We used a 92 Ford Explorer. Cheap, plentiful, strong, fuel injected. Ours worked great for a 15-20 person MV.
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Postby gyre » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:53 am

Rangers have body on frame.
I don't know about other small pickups.

They're built up to 4 litre and can run a 351 if you need the power.
Chassis and gvwr varies a lot.
The chassis codes are online and in the manuals, but they can carry a lot.
Not like a full size can, but more than you would expect.
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Re: What's a reliable car for Mutant Vehicles?

Postby Elorrum » Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:50 pm

I have a one car garage, and drive a small hatchback. Here's something that might work for me as a donor vehicle, walk behind garden tractor towing a sulky wagon.
I could tow the tractor in the wagon behind my car. This is just a picture not anything I'm looking to buy.
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Re: What's a reliable car for Mutant Vehicles?

Postby Turtleburp » Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:29 pm

This is real by the way...
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Re: What's a reliable car for Mutant Vehicles?

Postby gyre » Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:28 pm

Robin Reliant?
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Re: What's a reliable car for Mutant Vehicles?

Postby trilobyte » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:05 am

IMO, any kind of tractor is a great base component. Where cars are designed more for speeds far beyond the limits of BRC and have features that are essentially useless for a MV, tractor engines are all about hauling and pulling, and are generally built to last. If you've got access to one, and the means to haul it to/from Burning Man, I think it'd make a great place to start.
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Re: What's a reliable car for Mutant Vehicles?

Postby Turtleburp » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:20 pm

I actually tried to buy one of these last year - it would have been a very expensive way to make English people of my age laugh, sadly (luckily?) the Bumbler busted me and pointed out that it was not a good use of $1,0000 before our wedding.
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