2009 Ideas

After wrestling with RoboShaw to get through some of the amazing dunes that formed last year, I was very eager to do the following:

  • Get larger tires, with more flotation, and add weight to the driving wheels.  The total weight of Roboshaw (people + vehicle) is probably 1800 lbs, and the driving wheels carry perhaps 300 lbs of that.... so we we spent some time pushing to get through the dunes.   Getting larger diameter tires and lowering the gear ratio significantly looks like it would really help.  I'm curious about the effects of better tire traction on steering, but so far this hasn't appeared to be a problem.  The steering remains pretty high effort at slow speeds - not surprising given the lack of a differential.
  • The chain again appears to be a weak link in terms of drive, although given the weight we're carrying it's not surprising.  A proper gear-type final drive would help a lot here; the torque converter seems pretty  immune to the dust, but the chains bite it in one week - about 120 miles or so... 

To accomplish the above, I've obtained 11" wide x 22" diameter lawn tractor tires, and a 11.7:1 gear box that will serve as the final drive, and designed a largely new front drive unit. However, RoboShaw is playing second fiddle this year to rebuilding a antique steam engine for our 19' steam launch, and it looks like the RoboShaw projects will have to wait for 2010.  In addition, our camp situation has changed, so we're rebuilding some infrastructure as well as acquiring a new trailer to transport everything out to the playa, so this years improvements appear to be confined to the following largely maintenance type items:

  • replace once again the final drive sprocket and chain.
  • leak check propane system, redo steel wool on ignitors.
  • spot paint rusty areas (RoboShaw spent the year outside).
  • replace rear wheel bearings.
  • repaint wooden seats and find cushions - wooden bench seat gets pretty hard.
  • check wiring - one light tube appears disconnected, and the head leds are flakey.
  • lube all bearings, change engine oil, service air cleaner, leak check tires.
  • Reload IPod with best playa tunes ever!