This year, my friend and campmate Aaron and I decided to take our skills and build something for ourselves, on top of our usual Duck Pond duties. We had been talking about an art car for a while and my friends old one just kinda fell into our lap. Above you can see a picture of what we are working with.
We bought this cart as well as a trailer with benches on it that was setup to hold about 6 to 8 people. It was owned and operated by my friend Andy under the name ‘Liberace’. It’s seen many trips to the playa with them and before that it was owned by someone in the Space Cowboys. Pictures of its past life can be seen here on Flickr.
The cart is of an unknown manufacturer, displacement, and any real history. All names and logos are long gone and stripped off. What I do I know is its a simple bidirectional 2-stroke motor with a small single barrel carburetor and a centrifugal drive mechanism. The part I found strange was that there is no idle. When you lift your foot from the gas the motor turns off. Just as well, its more environmentally friendly and wastes less gas. Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy with it as it is a simple drive mechanism and much easier than the car I usually work on.
As you can see from the picture above its a pretty uninspired looking cart. Rather than slap some color and fur on it and call it a day, we wanted to create something different with a lot of attention to detail. Something that would grab the attention of passerby’s on the Playa. The Flintstones idea, like many good ideas, came to us out the blue when we were thinking of other ideas.
The picture above is our inspiration photo. I found it on one of my favorite maker sites, instructables.com. A family had made it for their kid and its a perfect jumping off point for us to follow. I also got the ideas for the fake wooden side rails made of foam from them. The article can be found here.
As I mentioned before, our idea is to be very authentic and detailed. We are using real bones for handles, twine to hide modern bolts or materials, and all of our electronics will be hidden. We are also using real wood and branches wherever possible to complete the look. Below is a sketch of the vehicle.
Our car is going to be mostly operating without the trailer behind it. Although we will take it out from time to time, its mostly a personal transport/ice hauling vehicle. On the back, we will have a bench seat and removable foot rest for when we are not using the trailer; however, when the trailer is in use we will remove it and not allow people to sit back there as it is dangerous. For more pictures of the trailer please see my Flickr page.
The most complicated part of our project is going to be the wooden canopy. Not only is it going to be tough to turn 4×4 square pieces of wood into round looking branches, we will need a lot of support structure. We are going to be bolting the canopy into the frame rails as well as using metal pipe to support the heavier components of the canopy.
Once the final structure is said and done, we will wrap all the joints and cover all metal pieces with twine to keep the look authentic. And of course we will have a burlap white canopy to shield us from the sun.
Our next challenge will be to add modern electronics without having them show and ruin the look we are going for. We are going to be adding a small 50-or-so-watt stereo and speakers in the dash as well as some other lights and switches. Below is a sketch of the fake slate dashboard we will be building.
Below is a photo of the trailer. It can hold three people on each of the side benches and two on the back bench. Time permitting we are going to tackle the redesign of it but as of now we have our hands full. Luckily for us its fully operational and ready to go, it just needs more lighting.
We do plan on driving at night so we will clearly illuminate our car and trailer. We plan on having a few different types of lighting. The first and most blatant for safety will be amber lights underneath the car on all sides. Not only will it help others see us, it will us to get on and off. The second type of lighting will be under-canopy lighting that will be red to allow us to see while others will be able to see us. I feel that should be enough; however, we are planning on creating some lanterns with dim little flicker bulbs hanging off the canopy and maybe on the front to really help complete the look.
Our trailer will also be equipped with lighting in the case we want to take our friends out at night. It barely had lighting when we got it from our friend other than the rear red running lights. We will add amber underneath/side lights to clearly illuminate the ground below which will help us be seen. Also this will aid in our passengers ability to safely get on and off.
As I’ve said before, when all is said and done we want this car to be true to the theme and interesting to look at out at Burning Man. We are even creating Flintstone character costumes to complete the look. We are not just creating a transport vehicle, we are creating something interesting and artistic, melding form and function and contributing back to the community.
(Follow up post, Flintstones art car is coming together)