Sunday, April 29, 2012

Transformers: Chevy Tiltmaster to Sinking Ship

So I wired the money to the used car sales place.  I'm soon officially the owner of a 2006 Chevrolet W3500 Tiltmaster.  I'm gonna just start calling it a Chevy Tiltmaster, so people go WTF is that?  After camping Friday night with the OC Burners, I have learned a little more about art cars and heavy trucks.  Apparently, I'm going to be surprised by how expensive insurance is.  You see, heavy duty trucks are usually used for commercial purposes and therefore insurance companies think they'll be used 24/7 for making money.  They don't anticipate someone parking at a parking lot for 4 months turning it into an art project.  So I'll probably just keep it registered and insured through Burning Man and then off to storage it goes for a year.

I checked on high-performance alternators today to see if I could run the whole thing and all its lights on 12V power alone from the engine.  Nothing really came up, so I'll just have to investigate later.  The truck has a 5.2 liter four cylinder diesel engine, but I've seen these things used as ambulances so I'm guessing there must be a high performance alternator out there for it.  Or maybe I can just bump up the idle speed and install an ammeter.  Art car veteran suggested I hook up a trickle charger from a generator to keep it going.  But then I will need a generator.

Maybe I should just bite the bullet and get a proper generator, so I don't have to worry about depleting the 12V battery.  To really get major concert-level bass from rental speakers, you need 480V anyway.  So that's a possibility:  get a used really fricking huge generator capable of pumping out 480V.  Plus then I could weld anywhere and wouldn't need to be at the shop.  So many options.

And I've been thinking more and more about the design options.  I could fairly easily design this thing to be like a giant Transformer toy that unfolds and turns into the ship.  Honestly, it's really not that hard for me to imagine and would just have to do some 4-bar linkage calculations.  Think about designing a garage door which opens and closes into two positions.  It's really not that complicated.  What makes a garage door or convertible top on a car difficult to design is predicting the forces needed to do the opening and closing.  If I get rid of all the springs and electric actuators, then it's simply a matter of having a few people retract and expand the pieces.  After all, why did I get two degrees in Mechanical Engineering?  I can assure you it was not so I could calculate and design supersonic flow through nozzles (basic rocket science), although at one point I definitely spent a semester doing just that.  No, I secretly wanted to design and make life-size Transformers as a kid.  I'll have to sketch some concepts up and attach to a post.

Oh and I renamed it again:  now it's the M/V Abandon.  It's rule #18 of Burning Man:  When the captain says welcome aboard Abandon Ship.  Do that.