Vehicle Incarnations

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Running Mate
• • • • 2000 • • • •
Maintenance 101
While the wheels have had numerous coats of paint over the years, the same cannot be said of the frame. Some maintenance was in order.

In addition, it was time to dissassemble everything and service the differentials, improve robustness, and allow ease of replacement for worn parts.

Electoral College
Unless you've been living under a heap of pregnant chad, you know that 2000 was an election year. da Vinci Days takes place a few weeks after Independence Day.

So, naturally, it made perfect sense to buy red, white, and blue trinkets and shiny things when they went on sale (July 5!). Below, you see the preliminary painting of the red/white/blue wheels.

Re-cycling Dung
Careful observers will recognize the beetle body of '99 [Dung Ho] transformed by use of strips of black garbage bags.

Transformed into what, you ask? An ostrich of course!

Why an ostrich? Read on…

Flightless Candidate <Return to Top>
Bob was set on making art BIG enough to have legs appear to peddle the 8-foot diameter wheels. A serendipitous stop for mocha and sweet roll at a really cool, costal business, gave us inspiration.

While supping mochas, we espied a gangly-looking ostrich.

"That's it!" she thought. "Thin legs, big body, simple colorations."

So much for simple. We wanted the ostrich that rides the Tomato/Dung/whatever to have articulated legs, bendable neck, eyes that wink, a beak that moves, honking ability, and flappable wings—there goes simple.

Testing, testing…
With less than a month to go, the wheels had been given a full American paint job. The (beetle) body was given an ostrich-like tail and covered with "feathers" that rustled in the wind.

The neck proved more troublesome. The articluated sections were attached with small butt hinges. These were breaking. Medium butt hinges broke, too. These hinges were replaced with strong strap hinges and ultimately, custom hinges had to be made.

With all the hardware (3" PVC with seven articulating sections, the mechanics to operate eyes, beak, and honker) the neck weighed over 20 lbs.

Here, daughter helps Dad fish string through tubing. Gottal love those mochas!

Birds of a Feather
Finishing touches on the head included pink eyelashes, glitter on the sclera (remember your Biolgy classes?), coloring the pupils, and putting a tongue inside the beak.

The animatronic-like insides of the head seem crude until a nice coating of white feathers (strips of white trash bags) are applied. Long, pink lashes help, too.

Muddy Buddies <Return to Top>
Good news! The mudbog was not as impossible as 1999. So, this candidate won't have to result to mud-slinging.

In fact, Running Mate practicaly runs through the mud. Here, the body is in the "down" position to assist weight distribution.

Seeping Sepia
Paddles were put on to enhance traction. Legs were removed in readiness for water. Sherry learns how to re-create sepia-toned images. The secret? A soupy mudbog.

This year, the sand and mud were triumphed. The water proved to be a hazard for the aging foam-laminated wheels. In fact, as soon as Running Mate entered the Willamette River, the starboard wheel began sink, again, in water. By the time this was discovered, Bob had a serious 45-degree list to starboard and had to exit at the put-in. Sorry, no photo because the team was too busy rescuing a sinking candidate.

A subsequent calculation showed that the 1/4-inch coating of mud over all that wheel area adds up to over 2-cubic feet (aka 200 lbs). Too much extra load for the flotation. See the coating at right.

Running for the Ovoid Office <Return to Top>
The enormous osrich and the very patriotic vehicle hit the campaign trail in Corvallis.

The bright (primary) colors of the vehicle and the singing, dancing, miniature ostrich (right of Bob's shoulder, below) mounted on the front handlebars, invited spectators as far away as Thailand.

Here, Arusa poses with the candidate and his loyal pilot, Bob.

Note replica of vehicle on the pilot's shirt. Sherry's idea with help from Sarah at Expertees.

Comrades in Crime
Sunburned faces of pilots show their gratitude that the race is over.

Hella, Paul, Mary Lou, Frank, Hal, (Bog Beauty pilots and crew) and Bob try to drown out their aches and pains over a pitcher of microbrew at Clodfelters.

In reality, this wild gang is planning their strategies for the next race—Stevenson, WA.

Mr. Running Mate Goes to Washington
Washington state, that is.

Running mate crosses the Columbia River to "test the polictical waters of" Stevenson, WA where a fun race takes place each Labor Day weekend and heavily sponsored by KINK radio.

When not racing, pilots and crew fill their bellies with fresh bread from an old-fashioned bakery.

The campain in Stevenson was a clean one. The mud bog was crossed twice and proved no obstacle for this candidate. Hence, no mud slinging!

Walking on Water <Return to Top>
Running Mate should look like this [see left photo], in the water—upright and stable.

However, the only reason the vehicle appears upright is that the wheels are touching the bottom of the little lake.

A bit further from shore, the now famous 45-degree list to starboard is back. The temporary fix did not work.

The Stevenson race was fun, short, and sweet. Spectators can see the entire race in one day, practically standing in the same place. A treat for camera-toting pit crew members.

If it's October, This Must Be Port Townsend
Actually, there are two, West coast races in October. This one is Port Townsend, WA. The other, takes place later in the month in Ventura, CA.

Port Townsend (PT) is closer to Running Mate's official residence. PT is also home to long-time kinetic racers including Looney rover, above, and the Spicy Meatballs guys, at right. [*Note, this vehicle is now on display in a casino in Olympia. Is that the fate of all kinetic sculptures?]

Still No Mud Slinging <Return to Top>
Running Mate strives for a clean race---even in mud.

Just as in Corvallis (OR) during da Vinci Days and the Stevenson (WA) KINK (radio) race, the mud proved no obstacle in Port Townsend.

Pit crew member (and son), David, scoots alongside Running Mate, ready to function as any Secret Service agent would guard a presidential hopeful—fending off crowds, keeping local kinetic cops at bay (or in this case, IN the bay!), and accepting all bribes!

Elbow, Elbow, Wrist, Wrist, Wrist
Former Kinetic Kween and race organizer (for a bajillion years), Janet, demostrates Kinetic enthusiasm to her grand-daughter.

Janet was thoroughly bribed by Running Mate's party in the hopes that neither she nor her loyal volunteers would notice a slight (teeny tiny) infraction of the rules.

[Hint: Running Mate never did the Bay (water) section of the course!]

Warp Speed
During the drive back to civilization (Oregon) the Tyvek® which covers the styrofoam wheels began to come loose—revealing previous Killer Tomato's paint colors.

Imagine the gawkers at the rest stop along I-5 who saw this rig pull in from the freeway.

Nuts for Nutcrackers <Return to Top>
A quick shopping spree at a second-hand store provided two lamp shades that were used to fashion a life-size nutcracker. What? You've never seen an orange and black nutcracker? Well, silly, this is OSU-country! Go Beavers.

Yes, if you've been following all these stories, you recognize this as the annual parade held the day after Thanksgiving.

This year, rather than affix boughs of Douglas fir, the now Tyvek®-less wheels were painted bright green and various Christmas decorations applied.

Better yet, it was about time that OSU's Food Science & Technology received proper credit.

New & Improved, Someday
Now that the frame had been serviced (and improved), Bob was free to focus on those heavy wheels. Lighter wheels would improve traversing all terrains.

Bob tracked down some very nice folks at United Pipe Bending in Portland. Finding an affordable (Bob still lacks a sponsor with deep pockets) source for 4-foot long spokes will be harder than bending aluminum pipe into 8-foot diameter wheels. Seventy-two spokes are needed per wheel. At $6 apiece, it adds up quickly.

For now, the bent pipe sits and waits.

<Return to Top>
Updated: 11/6/06

© 2001 by S. Clark