2000 Kinetic Drum Roll

Tom Gray

Pilots: Tom Gray, Marek Lechowski
Pit Crew: Mike Davis, Stacey
Builders: mostly Marek, also Tom
Construction Photos: Will Cramer (Nikon Coolpix)
Race photos: Traci Gray, John Gray

Wow! When Drum Roll was conceived a Kinetic Championship Ace seemed like a good goal to shoot for. To accomplish that and also walk away with the 1st place engineering trophy put us on cloud nine. We still can't believe everything held together all 38 miles to Ferndale!

The Beginning

Drum Roll took form and name when we realized we could get wheels and floats at the same time in the form of 55 gallon steel drums. The fact that they were only six bucks apiece at the salvage yard locked us in. With three drums laid out on the garage floor in the form of a trike the real work started.

The construction area was not OSHA approved and no ISO9000 auditors ever set foot in the shop ... although they had a presence on the race course.
The original plastic seats were more appropriate for a bass boat ... probably the same boat that propeller came from. Steve Delaire of Rotator Recumbent Bicycles saw us water testing at the local lake and felt so bad for our butts that he kicked in a couple of really cool high tech seats.
The front end articulates to ride over uneven surfaces without twisting off the motorcycle headset. This turned out to be real headache in the sand as the geometry is unstable. A redesign is in the works just for the heck of it.
The primary drive and gearing is from junked 15-speed department store mountain bikes.
Pilot and co-pilot power is gathered at a collector shaft and transferred to a Honda 50 transmission with go-cart chain and sprockets. The tranny's meshed gears do a rotation reversal which is corrected with a figure eight in the drive chain.
The tilt in the transmission helps the crossing chains clear but created high torque chain skip problems. The tilt was gradually reduced to near zero and teflon guides kept the return side of the chain in the right place.
An early road test. Our first climb up the driveway turned the homebuilt dual overrunning clutch into a butter like blob. 1200ft/lbs of torque can do bad things to steel.
First time in the water to check weight and balance. No propeller installed yet. The rigged proved very stable in the water. She even negotiated the infamous Tomales Bay entrance with 2 foot waves breaking over the barrels.

2000 Arcata to Ferndale World Championships

Day One

We were Rookies all around. Rookie pilots. Rookie crew. None of us had ever laid foot on the course before. Everything we knew was word of mouth. We came to find out that confusion and apparent disorganization were rule. What better way to fuel the wakiness of the event ... "Oh the humanity! The Pandamonium!"

Drum Roll and her crew contributed to the pre-race chaos by grossly failing the brake check. A brave spectator risked all to help bring us to a halt. We almost took out a fire truck. Brake tests and nervous course workers seemed to abound after that.

At the start we found ourselves completely unprepared for the rigors of head to head kinetic racing. We were late getting to the Plaza and didn't get Drum Roll and pit crew appropriately prepared. When things started to break on the opening straight we realized we had no tools on board, our radios were broken, and our crew was lost. We limped. Our transmission bound up tighter and tighter. A broken shift cable and lack of a wrench gave us one man drive. Skin head kids who killed their parents were now throwing eggs at passing sculptures. We were at mile 1 of 38. We contemplated going home after so much work.

A broken down Co-Op sculpture loaned vice-grips to fix the shift cable. Somehow alot of praying .. and sweat .. loosened up the transmission bushings. We clawed our way to Samoa.
Drum Roll has a big advantage at course transitions. She'll roll right off the pavement and onto the sand or in the water without stopping to re-configure. When we rolled into the recreation center at the Samoa Beach entrance, most of the sculptures that passed us during our pathetic episode of self pity on the highway were still there, lacing up their sand tires. Drum Roll wasn't such a steel pig after all!

Drum Roll can sometimes be seen wearing a strap on "Super Tread" for improved traction on the dunes and in the mud.

Neck and neck with a big lizard at the Samoa Beach climbout, a legal push, a nearly impossible pedal.
The final climb to Dead Mman's Drop was a killer. We were pretty beat and the sand seemed so soft and fluffy. Perfect for a nap but kinetic hell for sculptures. We bailed out and pushed as soon we crossed the legal push line.

The drop on the other side was deadly as anticipated.

The problem for Drum Roll was stearage in the deep soft sand. We just rode it out into the trees below and then made some manual course adjustments.
Totally wasted. Dead Man's Drop is in the background. More sand. Still more sand.

Back on the road we fought against the transmission the remaining miles to the Bayshore Mall finish line. The rain and fog came making the last miles a soulful experience. The course along the waterfront was almost completly devoid of spectators, sculptures ... anything. We finshed day one at 6:22pm, only 8 minutes ahead of the ace cutoff time.

Day Two

Day two started early. The rain had stopped. The tired and busted Drum Roll needed some work. The 3 speed tranny came out and a single speed road gear went in. The front fork got a new pair of gussets to stiffen it up and keep the front drum from falling off.

At fields landing we stopped just long enough to put on life jackets and get through the sobriety check. Drum Roll's prop swings down on the left side and propulses her from left to right, very effective but also very amusing to certain radio personalities. The Fields landing exit was tricky ... gently sloping mud ... too shallow to get a bite with the prop but too deep for the wheels. A little poling and weight shifting did the trick.

With no granny gear to climb the sandy burm at the water exit we seriously overstressed the primary drive. A busted collector shaft and freewheel got some immediate attention right there on the beach. The race became a little more spirited for us now. We were in the water just ahead of the Blue Yonder, They now passed us as we lay broken down. We managed our repairs in about 20 minutes and passed Blue Yonder again as they were dismounting there paddle wheels. They would repass us again about 3 miles down the road.

The last big challenge of the day was the Table Bluff Road hill. Much to our surprise Blue Yonder was still climbing about 2 minutes ahead when we arrived at the base of the hill. The thought of making a pass kept us reved up to the top and we arrived at the break check right on their heels. We later learned that one of Blue Yonder's pilots had knee trouble and their rig was only operating at about 1 1/4 people power. Still, it was a major confidence builder for us who previously thought Drum Roll would be mediocre at best on the road.

The Table Bluff down hill threw some more excitment our way. Drum Roll's composite wheels are made up from steel drums, bike rims and tires, and a 12" wide foam slick for sand. The front wheel's foam was held on with two loops of shock cord.
Well, it seems that somewhere between 25 and 30 mph centrifigul force on the foam is about the same as the opposing force provided by the shock cord. Needless to say all hell broke loose when the foam finally buched up behind the front fork.
It took the last 5 miles from Lolita to catch Blue Yonder again. They nicked us by about 20sec. We were pretty stoked to finish 5th for the day. Somehow though, we all still lost to Grandpa.

The rest of the day was spent rebuilding Drum Roll's transmission. Most of the bronze shavings were cleaned out and the case halves were shimmed to make the shafts extra sloppy in all directions. A wrap with aluminum foil and then duct tape made her hermetic. Two quarts of 10W30 topped her off.

Day Three

Day three can be described in thre words: Mud, mud, and mud. Slimy sloped apparently had been watered (beered!?) and rototilled many times over the past several days. It turned out to be all we had expected. A wrong step could leave you thigh deep in the muck. Picking a good line was most important and more easily said than done with two pilots fighting for the wheel.
The final slope ... the Slimey Slope ... finally got us. Only a few feet from the top the side cut became narrower than Drum Roll's 7 1/2 foot drum width. Riding up on the smooth edges of the drums the super tread lost bite and dug some major holes. We had to submit to a tow for last portion of the legal push area.

Everyone who followed had to deal with the wrath of Drum Roll. Drum Roll's super tread chewed up the hill at least as well as the rototillers that preceeded.

Marek, basking in the glory.

The Field

Not a complete list .. just those that found the view finder.

Water ...

Different ways to get in and out of the water ...