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"Aurora Junior High-built super car gets 358 miles per gallon"

Awesome:

The Junior High students managed to beat High School students from across the state.

A pull of a string and it's all engines go. "We have a four stroke engine. It's hooked up to a gear box," said Aurora SuperMileage Team member Nate Basham.

The driver, aptly known around the shop as "Rodeo," straps in and #17 takes off.

"I'm pretty proud of it because it took a long time for us to make it," said Aurora SuperMileage Team member Brett Schellen.

The car it isn't just a toy. "We were just nervous about our car looking the coolest I think," said Aurora SuperMileage Team member Caleb "Rodeo" Baker. ...

When asked what it was like competing against boys older than them, Scheller replied, "At first it was a little intimidating, but once we saw how they were doing it made us feel better."

Awesome. Go to it, Occupiers! ;-)

Many of the students worked on the car after school, on snow days, even on Saturdays. The Junior High Students even beat the state record by more than 30 miles per gallon. It was previously held by the Aurora High School team 4 years ago.

Just awesome. And incredibly hopeful. I have to believe, I do believe, that stuff like this is going on all over the country. It's just not part of the narrative, which is designed to keep us fearful, and consuming the goods and services that enslave us.

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techno's picture
Submitted by techno on

Now I like mechanically gifted kids as much as anyone. I was one myself—wasting much of my youth building insanely complicated flying model airplanes.

But these stories are extremely counter-productive. The takeaway message here is "See, getting higher gas mileage is easy—even a junior high school kid can do it. Those corrupt automakers must be holding out on us."

Well, no! The most obvious fact here is that these things are so far from real cars that the distance can be measured in light-years. Not only do these student "cars" not have airbags or could pass even a minimal safety test, they probably don't even have windshield wipers. Besides, when the big boys build "cars" like this, they get in excess of 3000 miles per gallon.

I have a pretty good idea about what a kid in a junior high shop can build and it isn't much. I mean, their cars have gearboxes, but can you imagine a 14 yo cutting gears? There is nothing remotely complicated about what these kids did—they bought or scavenged everything difficult.

Because of the "reasoning" behind this story, we get folks like Elon Musk treated as an automaker because he managed to stuff a bunch of laptop batteries into a Lotus and call it a Tesla. So for $135,000, you can buy a backyard conversion. Musk is an interesting guy, but to call him an automaker is absurd. And Musk is actually better at this than some kids from Aurora. Because no, there aren't 50 easy ways to save the planet. Cars are extremely hard to build and making them more energy efficient or run on something other that fossil fuels will be an insanely difficult undertaking. Yes, the engineers of tomorrow start out doing projects like this, but let's not get distracted by them or take away bad lessons about how difficult this is.

Submitted by lambert on

I'd be perfectly happy with a small vehicle to go to the mall. The days of showing two tons of metal around the roads are going to pass, and stories like this help.

That said, I agree the main problems are not technical!

techno's picture
Submitted by techno on

You don't need a two-ton car to go to the mall. But notice how something whacky like the Smart Car doesn't get as good gas mileage as a Focus or a Corolla.

But hey, if you want to putter around in traffic while lying on your back using a model engine without pollution controls for power, have at it. You can build one of those yourself in your garage—even a junior high kid can do it (see the attached article).

Good luck getting it licensed for street use, though.

Oh, and by the way, the main problems ARE technical—and there are thousands of them. You will find this out when you build your car. Please post pictures of how your project is progressing.

techno's picture
Submitted by techno on

And they already make very high quality versions.

But IF you power those bikes, there are whole different laws that apply (depending on your locale).

Like I say—if you think this is easy, please show us the way. Me? I once actually tried to build a car in 1970-71. It was insanely difficult and I wasn't making the glass or steel or brake linings. This is why I am delighted to buy my vehicles from Toyota these days. I drive a 96 that is so wonderful, I literally cannot think of one part I could improve on.

Submitted by lambert on

... because if I had broken my hand, that would have meant not typing, and that would have meant complete collapse of my personal economy.

All I can tell you is that I've personally seen a street-legal 3-wheeled, sit-up, hybrid bike that was locally built, and talked to the maker, and personally seen a street-legal 4-wheeled, sit-up, hybrid bike that was manufactured, and talked to the maker. The latter had a web site, but I can't find it in my mail archives.

Googling about, there's a huge ferment of tinkering in this area; you may have just been ahead of your time.