Yes, ideally I'd do a welded, all metal vehicle, but that isn't in the cards this year.
this year I'm doing a wire sculpture covered in fabric. (yeah, I'm all designed, submitted and conditionally approved by DMV.). The fabric I'm using is a stretch fabric that is not completely opaque and I'm a little concerned about it holding up to the playa winds. Anyone out there with helpful hints to make sure I don't end up in tatters?
Fabric covered vehicles are common. Rosebrand Fabrics in LA has a variety of very wide specialty theatrical fabrics for order. Some allow some wind to pass, like scrim, and some are stretchy, which responds well to structure destroying gusts. Wider fabric can mean fewer seams, where tearing stress can be concentrated,
increasing the signal to noise ratio with compassion
you may want to wrap some places on the frame with duct tape to minimize chafing. Also test the fabric for flammability. Just in case some idiot drops a cigarette or something on it.
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If it's not completely opaque, you may end up spending a lot of time working to obscure the base vehicle. May not sound so important, but if you don't obscure it enough they'll give you a big fat no, and all those months (and dollars) you put into it will be for naught (well, it'll make a great decoration at camp…). Actually, from my own experience, even with completely opaque fabric you'll still struggle with that. Bring more fabric than you think you'll need.
A flammability test is a good idea too (some of the stretchy stuff burns easily and quickly), and plan to pack a couple extra fire extinguishers for the vehicle. You'll also want to make sure you don't find yourself too close to any of the burns (floating ash/embers), and make sure your drivers and other crew members know where the extinguishers are and to keep an eye out for embers as well as passenger cigarette burns.
Depending on the weather, you may still end up having problems with the wind. When I did a fabric covered vehicle in 2007, we used breathable fabric and it was attached to a steel frame - the wind was severe enough that the fabric + wind bent the frame in a few places. Make sure you bring the tools you need to be able to repair/recover from whatever the playa throws at you.
Last year I ran up against the base visibility problem (yeah, it made a nice way of locating camp when DMV passed on licensing us), so I'm very cognizant of changing the base shape and making sure wheels in particular are invisible.
Just starting night testing lighting. What seems like a good plan can be too dim at night.
It's definitely a process. And you can't use previously licensed vehicle pix as a standard. They've definitely gotten tougher on new submissions.
Our MV is a 20' windsurf board with 19' sail and to keep the sail from....well.....sailing we cut out discreet areas and replaced them with a mesh that the wind can sail right through. Seems to work well in our windy area so it should be good to go on the playa. Just a thought:-)
We used a Rip-Stop nylon parachute for the cloth with grommets. I reinforced each of the grommets with duct tape before punching the holes. Have only had a couple of the grommets show any strain. Make sure that the fabric is tight. Loose fabric is more likely to tear loose or rip. If the material is to see-through, you can get bedsheets at thrift stores and use them underneath the fabric. Also would help against chaffing against the wire frame.
Elephant trainer to the MV Beau Le'Phant, the pink elephant! Camp Upsie Dasium