Yet another MV idea

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Yet another MV idea

Postby bubbahotep » Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:37 pm

Here's yet another MV idea for you grizzled veterans to shoot at. I searched on MV-related threads and did see anything quite like it, so sorry if it's duplicate/redundant, or has been done before. The basic idea is a ferry boat with two decks. The lower one would be a bar/lounge area and the upper one would have a 'bridge' where the vehicle would be operated and an additional lounge area, or maybe an open 'dance floor'. I need to do a lot of homework on hydraulics, welding, fabrication, electronics, etc. Is this basic idea feasible for a totally amateur mechanic like me? Would it stand up to the harsh environment of the Playa?

base vehicle-
I'm thinking of a 18-20 foot lo-boy (car-hauler) trailer as the base. The low deck height could give a boat-like appearence, especially if the wheels were covered. The weight capacity and wide wheelbase should support a two-deck vehicle with 20+ people. They cost around $1200 new, so hopefully a used one could be picked up on the cheap. To turn it into a self-propelled vehicle, I would a mount a 4x4 truck front axle to the A-frame, far enough back that the hitch could still be used to tow the vehicle to/from the Playa.

propulsion-
Attach a hydraulic motor to the front axle's differential. I would mount the engine on the side to give the interior an open ferry boat-like appearence. I'm envisioning the engine attached to a driveshaft with pullys driving a pump for the hydraulics and alternators for sound and lights.

steering-
I'd like to have a wooden ship wheel on the bridge. Maybe rig up a cable/pully system to connect it to the front axle's tie rod?

brakes-
I don't really have a clear vision for how the brakes would work. Most lo-boy trailers have electric brakes. Would it be feasible to modify them for use in self-propelled mode, but still be able to use for trailering? Or what about using the front axle's brakes?

Any thoughts, feedback, and/or information sources would be appreciated.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Bounce530 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:53 pm

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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby bubbahotep » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:27 pm

Should have elaborated more on the aesthetics. I had a more art deco look in mind- aerodynamic, lots of chrome. More like this, but hopefully not too much like an Airstream trailer.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby ygmir » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:29 pm

bubbahotep wrote:Here's yet another MV idea for you grizzled veterans to shoot at. I searched on MV-related threads and did see anything quite like it, so sorry if it's duplicate/redundant, or has been done before. The basic idea is a ferry boat with two decks. The lower one would be a bar/lounge area and the upper one would have a 'bridge' where the vehicle would be operated and an additional lounge area, or maybe an open 'dance floor'. I need to do a lot of homework on hydraulics, welding, fabrication, electronics, etc. Is this basic idea feasible for a totally amateur mechanic like me? Would it stand up to the harsh environment of the Playa?

base vehicle-
I'm thinking of a 18-20 foot lo-boy (car-hauler) trailer as the base. The low deck height could give a boat-like appearence, especially if the wheels were covered. The weight capacity and wide wheelbase should support a two-deck vehicle with 20+ people. They cost around $1200 new, so hopefully a used one could be picked up on the cheap. To turn it into a self-propelled vehicle, I would a mount a 4x4 truck front axle to the A-frame, far enough back that the hitch could still be used to tow the vehicle to/from the Playa.

propulsion-
Attach a hydraulic motor to the front axle's differential. I would mount the engine on the side to give the interior an open ferry boat-like appearence. I'm envisioning the engine attached to a driveshaft with pullys driving a pump for the hydraulics and alternators for sound and lights.

steering-
I'd like to have a wooden ship wheel on the bridge. Maybe rig up a cable/pully system to connect it to the front axle's tie rod?

brakes-
I don't really have a clear vision for how the brakes would work. Most lo-boy trailers have electric brakes. Would it be feasible to modify them for use in self-propelled mode, but still be able to use for trailering? Or what about using the front axle's brakes?

Any thoughts, feedback, and/or information sources would be appreciated.


do it!!

steering: you'll want a steering box,for leverage. That much weight will be hard to turn, especially in soft conditions
yes,you could make electric brakes work, lever and wire.
or the hydraulics on the front axle, remote master cylinder and lever.

Why not the whole front end, cut the truck behind the transfer case, you'd have engine, trans, powersteering and brakes all built in. cut the cab off and make a "wheel house" to enclose and hide that part, and you'd have a mount already for the big wooden wheel.

just a thought.
good luck.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby EspressoDude » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:40 pm

if you want KALAKALA, it is available

http://www.kalakala.org/
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby EspressoDude » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:50 pm

or you might try for THUNDERBIRD, and it's a lot closer than Seattle...@ Lake Tahoe
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:26 pm

I think you'd be light-years ahead by starting with an old motorhome chassis, especially if you're not already an accomplished mechanic and fabricator. Hell, even if you are!
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Elliot » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:50 pm

:D
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(Actually, I am going to Norway for three weeks -- to work at a zoo.)

One word in the meantime: Airliner. There are hulks out there, for sale. A few years ago I came within a whisker of obtaining an 18 seat "commuter" airliner fuselage, 40 feet long.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby trilobyte » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:52 pm

Anything's possible, it depends on the skills you currently have and are able to acquire, as well as your budget (whatever you think it will cost…triple it). It doesn't make a difference whether it's been done before, or even if it's been done well. It only matters whether you've done it and want to tackle the project.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:25 pm

OK, I thought about it a bit - here's some input from someone who has built a few M/Vs including a boat...
First, 20' car trailers aren't $1200 new, more like $3000. You'd do well to find a decent used one for $1200.
Your idea of a 4x4 front end sounds OK. The practical issue is it would have to go over or under the trailer tongue to get the right height. It will probably mean cutting the tongue and "C notching" it. That's possible, I did just that to mine (for a different reason). But you have to make it strong and welded properly. I think you could get the ground clearance to tow it by just removing the drive wheels.
Your plan for hydraulic power I feel greatly overcomplicates things, although I went to some pretty extreme engineering in order to achieve my boat's intended form... I applaud extra effort for that but I think you could do it easier and better. The 4x4 front axle will already have a differential offset to one side; I think you could get away with using a driveshaft straight to an engine mounted off to the side as you planned. It's gonna be down at or below your floor height.
I'd use a small 4 cylinder because it's compact, narrow, and all the power you'll need. Use an automatic transmission, it will greatly simplify setting up a remote driving position, and clutches suck for slow-crawling playa rigs anyway. I use a long shift cable from a real boat to operate my shifter, a bargain-deal one from a boatyard that made it the wrong length for the boat it was intended for.
The trailer electric brakes aren't suitable for the ferryboat, they only grab while the trailer is rolling forward, they do little or nothing at a standstill due to how they are physically made. They aren't particularly smooth-acting either, and that's important because you will have a lot of standing passengers you don't want to jostle. You could swap on hydraulic brakes, but on the playa you can get away with just using the brakes on the front drive axle because there are no hills and no real speeds, and I think that's what I'd do so you still have the electric trailer brakes while towing on the highway where you really need them.
You will definitely need a steering box. My rig uses 3/4' black pipe for steering shafts going down the left side of the rig under the floor, with a chain-&-sprocket feeding the steering box, and uses a gearbox up front to gear it down about 4:1 before it gets there. I cut the pedal crank section out of bike frames to use as carrier bearings to support the shafts; I cut off the pedal cranks and welded u-joints on each side to attach the steering shafts.
You could probably use a chain-&-sprocket to go from your top-side ship's wheel down to a shaft that feeds your steering box. You can and should use different size sprockets to gear down your steering - that makes it easier to steer and prevents sudden swerving which makes passengers fall. Tom Kennedy's famous "Whale" M/V from '02 and '03 had such a setup, using motorcycle chain.
You're gonna need a lot of lighting to get a night-time DMV license - to supply the power mount at least one extra alternator on the motor (in addition to the original one). The easiest way is to put it where the A/C compressor was. Get the A/C brackets for your motor from a junkyard if it hasn't already got 'em. I'm able to support about 1000 watts of 120VAC power draw (through an inverter) using that setup. I use GM "CS-130" alternators, from late '80s - early '90s small GM cars or S10 trucks, because they put out exceptionally high current at idle speed - and they are available cheap at wrecking yards. Carry a spare or two! The playa is murder on electrical components.

That's the stuff that comes to mind for now... I think your ferry can be built, but as easy as I make it sound, there will be a ton of fabrication and engineering to make it happen. You'll have to get right on sending in your DMV pre-approval application!! The deadline is coming!

One more thing, you might have issues with traction if a lot of people stand at the rear, you'll wanna try to get as much weight forward as you can, however you accomplish it. Maybe design it so that it's less convenient to gather many people at the tail.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Savannah » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:09 pm

trilobyte wrote:Anything's possible, it depends on the skills you currently have and are able to acquire, as well as your budget (whatever you think it will cost…triple it). It doesn't make a difference whether it's been done before, or even if it's been done well. It only matters whether you've done it and want to tackle the project.


YES. There are thousands of people every year who have never been to the Burn at all, and thousands of non-Virgins who "only" saw 20% of the city in any given year, because the place is huge, and you just just can't see everything. So, make the wonderful thing you want to make.

Every time I come back from the Burn and look at the stories and photos on ePlaya, it's easy to wonder if I actually saw the same city as everyone else. And it's okay if I didn't. :D
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby maladroit » Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:08 pm

I've seen hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of 2012. And maybe 5% of them contain something or someone I recognize. I certainly haven't found a photo of myself, and only one photo of my friend's giant MV.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby bubbahotep » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:10 am

Wow! Lots of food for thought here. The ePlaya provides. Thanks so much for all the feedback. Ygmir and Capt Goddamit - great info about the MV innards, particularly steering, brakes and drivetrain. Nice to hear it could be possible to have a side-mounted motor with a conventional drivetrain. Definitely need to rethink my steering design. The (software) engineer in me loves learning about how MVs work as much as seeing how they look. So much genius and creativity under the hood that no one ever sees. And thank you too for a bit of a reality check on the skills, work and $$ involved in creating one of these things. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of homework to do.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Captain Goddammit » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:02 pm

Ironically I own most of what it would take to build this ferryboat... so I was out looking at my 20' flatbed trailer and a 4x4 front axle...
The front axle placement has a few things to think about. First thing, is your ferryboat intended to be a walk-through, open at the front and rear like car ferries? If so, first issue I noticed today looking at the stuff (that I knew but hadn't occurred to me earlier) is that truck axles are a whole lot narrower than car trailer axles. (Trailer axles are set wide as possible so that trucks can drive on in between them.)
The other thing is the 4x4 front axle mounted up on the tongue will have clearance issues when you are towing it and taking a corner.
You could stretch the trailer tongue; I stretched mine 4 feet. Or, you could do some cutting and set the axle back into the deck area.

I think you could widen a 4x4 truck front axle pretty easily; the differential is always offset to one side (for motor clearance... it's to the passenger side on a Chevy, the driver side on a Ford). You could cut the short side off and weld the long-side axle housing off another junk front end, and use two long-side axle shafts. Widening the front axle would also give the front tires more room to turn.
That would put the differential in the center rather than offset to one side, but I think a low-speed playa M/V can tolerate a fairly steep driveshaft angle. If you wanna get fancy, or it's too steep, use two short shafts and a carrier bearing. Pickup trucks have that arrangement and all the parts are easy to come by.
Or... cut the long side, add a section from another junk axle to get the width where you want it, and weld two axle shafts together to put in it... that would get the differential way over to the side... yeah, I like that... the weld on the axle shaft would have to be really good, but I think it could survive low speed mutant vehicle use.

Or... you could just weld up the spider gears in the differential, then stretch the long side of the 4x4 front axle to whatever width you need, don't bother making an axle shaft to fit inside, and just have one-wheel drive. A little screwy but it would probably work and solve some other issues.
Having no front suspension, just clamping the axle right to the trailer frame, would be a lot simpler and I think you can get away with it on a playa rig.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Captain Goddammit » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:23 pm

I'm kinda' rambling on and on probably boring everyone else... but I like the idea and I think this thing can work, given appropriate fab skills.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:02 am

I've hijacked this thread too much already. Fuck it I'll do a little more.
Use a boat trailer! Everything about it is better suited.
The axles are further back - because powerboats are tail-heavy - and you will get a lot more weight on your drive axle.
You'll need a stout tow vehicle cuz your hitch weight will also be heavy...
Boat trailers taper in at the front and that gives you room for your drive axle.

But making this rig is pretty involved mechanical engineering; if you aren't a pretty well skilled fabricator I still say get a running chassis to build on, use the trailer to haul it.
Old motorhomes are cheap, stout, and usually have generators onboard.
They also have driver control positions that would work out well.
That would eliminate the open front pass through ferryboat design but I'm thinking having a passenger entrance/exit at the front - in the path of the boat's direction of travel - isn't a good idea anyway.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby bubbahotep » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:41 pm

No worries. It's great to hear from someone that's done this before. Some random thoughts based your posts-

axle placement-
Agreed- It would need to be mounted pretty far back on the a-frame (ie. under the deck) or the a-frame would need to be modified to make trailering possible, and the wheels would need to be removed in trailer mode. I assumed the axle would need to be attached directly to the frame- I don't see how any suspension could be rigged up in the available space. I was thinking of cutting wheel slots into the decking. This would make for a pretty short wheelbase so you're probably right about traction being a problem if there's too much weight at the back.

drivetrain-
Since the entire drivetrain would essentially be mounted backwards from the way it was intended, I'm guessing the tranny would need to be in reverse gear in order to go forward. Shouldn't be a big deal since the speed limit is 5mph.

boat trailer-
It would be more of a blank canvas, wouldn't it. My thinking on using a lo-boy trailer was that it would be easier to build on the existing deck. Less fabrication involved, which brings me to ...

fabrication skills-
The more I think all this through, there's going to be a massive of fabrication to do no matter what the base trailer is. And I don't think I have the skills and experience to pull it off. Don't want to risk injuring anyone by not knowing what I'm doing. I think I'll take your advice and try to design this using a more conventional base vehicle. Thanks again for all your thoughts.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:41 pm

OK, well first thing to determine, what do you have the ability to haul to the playa? The transportation logistics pretty much determine the scale of your project.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby ygmir » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:05 pm

Go CGD, go!!
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby EspressoDude » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:42 am

thoughts about axles and suspensions:

If a rear axle is to be powered on the playa, and towed on the highway, you could use a 3/4 ton or 1 ton axle with full floating axles.
This type of axle the axle shafts only provide torque to the wheels and the double set of wheel bearings support the load. For highway use just pull the axles and cap the wheel hubs to keep dirt out. This is similar to 4x4 front axles with freewheel hubs.

Suspensions prevent uneven ground from twisting the frame. If there is enough weight on the body/frame, and the ground is uneven by a foot, the frame will twist that much. If frame is relatively strong, one wheel will be off the ground. Either way the frame will take a beating and eventually break.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Captain Goddammit » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:09 pm

But half the point of a 4x4 front axle was to accomplish steering too.
Yank the front wheels off and then hitch it to the truck like a normal trailer.
Kind of a cool idea, really.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby dragonpilot » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:38 pm

bubbahotep wrote:Should have elaborated more on the aesthetics. I had a more art deco look in mind- aerodynamic, lots of chrome. More like this, but hopefully not too much like an Airstream trailer.
Image


Actually rode on that ferry when I was about 4 years old...Bremerton to Seattle. And paddled my sea kayak around it last year in the Hylebos Waterway near Tacoma.
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby TinkerMom » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:09 pm

EspressoDude wrote:if you want KALAKALA, it is available

http://www.kalakala.org/



It was awesome way back then.

It has such potential, sad to see it just shoved away :(
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Re: Yet another MV idea

Postby Elliot » Wed May 08, 2013 6:43 pm

bubbahotep wrote:Since the entire drivetrain would essentially be mounted backwards from the way it was intended, I'm guessing the tranny would need to be in reverse gear in order to go forward. Shouldn't be a big deal since the speed limit is 5mph.

Not sure that's a good idea. I seem to remember reading that reverse gears are generally not engineered to last more than a couple of hours total.
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