UW-Madison Bucky Wagon Project

February 2, 2010

Bucky Wagon at Hockey Classic

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 1:19 pm
Glenn Bower and the Bucky Wagon

Team advisor Glenn Bower with the Bucky Wagon and its new axle from Ford Motor Co.

This weekend is the much-anticipated Camp Randall Hockey Classic (the super-cool outdoor exhibition at Camp Randall). On Saturday, February 6, the Badger women’s team faces the Bemidji State Beavers at 2:00 and the men’s team takes on the Michigan Wolverines at 5:00. Before or in between games come by the south entrance of the Engineering Centers Building (1550 Engineering Drive) for hot chocolate served by members of the UW-Madison vehicle teams. Students will be serving from 1:00-5:00.

The Bucky Wagon will be on site for its final public appearance until spring. After Saturday, the vehicle will be in the shop for the beginning of intense renovation efforts. When the Bucky Wagon emerges in May, it will have a new axle and motor, as well as a restored body.

So come out Saturday and celebrate with the vehicle team–go Badgers and go Bucky Wagon!


December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 11:39 am

As students wrap up finals and disperse for the holidays, the Bucky Wagon blog will take a short hiatus. The blog will be back in late January when the vehicle team members return. Until then, don’t hesitate to get in touch with team advisor Glenn Bower at grbower @ facstaff.wisc.edu if you’d like to learn more or get involved with the renovation.

Can’t wait until January to check in with the vehicle teams? Then visit the Garage Cam, which offers a live look at the Phil Meyers Automotive Center, which is where all the student vehicle team action takes place.

Happy holidays!

December 8, 2009

Don’t Leave the Bucky Wagon Out in the Cold

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 10:49 am

Bucky Wagon in the first snowfall of 2009
As winter weather sets in at full force–blizzard conditions are expected in Madison tonight and tomorrow–the vehicle team members are seeking a generous donor who can provide space for the Bucky Wagon through January. More details will be provided soon about the specific size of the Bucky Wagon and the dates it needs a home. If you think you may have an appropriate space for the vehicle, please contact Glenn Bower right away at: grbower @ facstaff.wisc.edu.

The team sincerely appreciates the help in ensuring the Bucky Wagon is stored in a safe place this winter. 

December 7, 2009

UPDATE: Bucky Wagon at Quaker Steak and Lube

Filed under: Bucky Wagon, Vehicle teams — Tags: — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 9:49 am

Thanks to all those who joined us last Saturday. Below is a recap of the event from EcoCAR outreach coordinator and life sciences communication student Andrea Parins.
The UW Hybrid Vehicle Team displayed three vehicles at Quaker Steak and Lube in Middleton, Wisconsin, Dec. 6 to give community members an up close and personal look at the team’s current projects. A dozen team members stood proudly next to the Bucky Wagon, the EcoCAR and the EV1 vehicle.

As the restaurant filled to capacity over the afternoon lunch hours, around 25 patrons spoke with engineering students about the team’s vehicles and took a glimpse under the hood. The Bucky Wagon, which was parked outside the front door for everyone to pass on their way in and out, was a crowd favorite. Badger fans of all ages stopped to admire the iconic vehicle.

“The older fans are especially excited for the electric conversion because they remember the awful black smoke seen behind the Bucky Wagon as it drove around the stadium,” says mechanical engineering student Stacey Ley.

The Bucky Wagon was also a kid favorite at the event. The team was excited to show off its vehicle projects to interested community members as they watched children climb up and pretend to drive the Bucky Wagon.

Inside the restaurant, the team displayed the EV1 vehicle and the EcoCAR, which was sporting a fresh paint job from the Kelly Moss Motorsports shop. Hybrid team leader and electrical and computer engineering student Adam Richards says the entire team is excited about the way the vehicle turned out and was very proud to showcase it along with the Bucky Wagon at Quaker Steak and Lube.

December 1, 2009

Bucky Wagon headed to Middleton for chicken wings

Filed under: Bucky Wagon, Vehicle teams — Tags: , — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 9:46 am

This weekend, the Bucky Wagon and vehicle team members are headed to Quaker Steak & Lube in Middleton, Wisconsin. The students will fill up on some chicken wings and talk with the public about their hybrid technology projects, including the Bucky Wagon and the EcoCAR. See below for more info. We hope to see you there!


What better way to get ready to watch the Badgers take on Hawaii than chicken wings and the Bucky Wagon?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison hybrid vehicle team will be on hand at motorsports-themed Middleton restaurant Quaker Steak & Lube Saturday, Dec. 5 from 11-3 p.m. to showcase two hybrid vehicle projects, the Bucky Wagon and the EcoCAR.. Bring your hybrid questions and interact with faculty and students while surveying the vehicles.

Future Truck hangs from the ceiling at Quaker Steak & Lube

Team advisor Glenn Bower (right) and Quaker Steak & Lube owner Scott Acker stand under the UW Future Truck at the Middleton restaurant.

The Bucky Wagon is an iconic UW-Madison symbol that carries Badger spirit across
campus and throughout Madison on football Saturdays and for each year’s Homecoming festivities and parade. It is currently in transition to the 21st century as a safe, electric-powered vehicle with power hydraulic brakes and power steering.

The EcoCAR project is part of a General Motors and U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored competition, which challenges 17 North American universities to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Over the next two years, the team will engineer a hybrid SUV to a plug-in hybrid capable of 20 miles of electric range before the engine is turned-on allowing longer trips on conventional fuels.

“This event will be a good opportunity for community members to learn about our vehicle team program and how they can get involved, as well as talk with our students about the importance of hybrid technologies in general,” Bower says.

“We’re excited to do this at Quaker Steak & Lube because we’ve had a relationship with the restaurant for years–they currently have three of our past vehicles which would have otherwise been dismantled hanging from their ceiling. We think this is pretty amazing!”

Media and the public are invited to join the UW hybrid team at Quaker Steak and Lube, 2259 Deming Way, Middleton. For more information about the UW-Madison vehicle teams contact team leader Adam Richards, (608) 408-0664, advisor Glenn Bower, (608) 263-7252, or visit http://www.vehicles.wisc.edu/.

—Andrea Parins, EcoCAR Outreach Coordinator, (920) 327-0697, parins@wisc.edu

November 18, 2009

In the Shop with Adam Richards

Filed under: Vehicle teams — Tags: , , , , — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 9:06 am

Adam Richards’s dad was always tinkering with cars in the driveway of their home in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and later outside of Chicago, Illinois. The car that finally grabbed Richards interest was a 1967 Ford Mustang that his dad worked on while Richards was in high school. “That’s when it started,” Richards says. “I was just into cars from there.”

As high school ended, Richards prepared to come to UW-Madison to pursue engineering. He’d always been a tinkerer himself and enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked. So he knew engineering was for him–he just didn’t know what specific discipline would be the best fit. While taking a campus tour, he saw the Phil Myers Automotive Center and was intrigued.

Adam Richards in Bucky Wagon

Hybrid team leader Adam Richards sits at the steering wheel of the Bucky Wagon

However, Richards didn’t join the vehicle teams right away. Instead, he joined the Concrete Canoe team. While he enjoyed that experience, his own interests began to draw him toward electrical engineering, which he eventually declared as his major. To align his extracurricular activities with his academics, Richards explored teams with electrical and controls-related activities. The hybrid vehicle team looked like just the opportunity.

“I just emailed the team leaders and eventually started coming to meetings,” he says. By the 2008-2009 academic year, Richards was the controls leader for the UW-Madison EcoCAR project, which was in its first year. That year the Hybrid Team focused heavily on its electrical and controls projects, and Richards was deeply involved with the team.

His teammates selected him to be the Hybrid Team leader for the 2009-2010 academic year, and Richards now oversees the entire EcoCAR project. “I am really working hard to make sure that we are on task with projects in all areas of vehicle design,” he says. “The first things on my mind are controls tasks, but we also need to make sure we are ready mechanically, as well as with our outreach plan.”

Richards additionally oversees the team’s work to fit and install a new powertrain into the team’s EV1 vehicle, as well as the Hybrid Team’s work for the Bucky Wagon renovation.

“It’s great to be able to spend some time with different vehicles and other forms electric vehicle technology,” he says. “Taking a 1930s firetruck and converting it to a fully electric vehicle is a once in a lifetime experience and will be a project that I hope to see on the field at Badger games for years to come.”

For Richards, experience with hybrid technologies is important for his future career in the automotive industry as an engineer for either an automotive maker or an automotive component company when he graduates in May 2011. Richards encourages other students to seek out student organizations. “You get experience right away with something besides class that makes you get up and do something with your hands and actually build something,” he says.”

November 10, 2009

Asking the expert: Bower visits one of few antique fire engine restorers

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , , — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 11:30 am

Jackson, Michigan, is a city of around 36,000 people located in the center of southern Michigan. East of Detroit by 94 miles, Jackson is home to one of very few fire apparatus restorationists. In late October, vehicle team advisor and Faculty Associate Glenn Bower stopped on the way to the Motor City Badgers’ Road Trip Rally to visit Kenneth Soderbeck, a retired firefighter who is now one of the nation’s only experts on LaFrance fire trucks. Soderbeck runs Hand in Hand Restoration, which specializes in horse-drawn and early-motor fire equipment.

Bucky Wagon 1984

The Bucky Wagon enters Camp Randall Stadium in 1984. Photo courtesy of UW-Madison University Archives

Bower needed Soderbeck’s expertise to learn specific information about the Bucky Wagon’s model and original parts. It was also a chance for Bower to talk to Soderbeck about the students’ efforts to turn the Bucky Wagon into an electric vehicle. Not all antique fire engine enthusiasts would welcome the substantial changes the UW-Madison renovation will entail, but Soderbeck is far from upset.

“I appreciate the engineering that goes into doing something like this,” Soderbeck says. “It’s very interesting to me.”

Soderbeck, who maintains a database of antique fire apparatuses, was able to tell Bower that the Bucky Wagon, which is a model 391 LaFrance pumper truck, was one of only 55 produced in 1932. The 391s were cheaper than other LaFrance vehicles because they were produced with parts from a variety of companies, rather than produced with wholly custom LaFrance components. The 391s were a result of a long line of improvements throughout the 1920s and 1930s, so thousands of this general type of pumper were produced.

Now, Soderbeck estimates a half dozen remain, making the Bucky Wagon project all the more special. The students plan to preserve as much of the wagon’s exterior as possible, including the original hubcaps, and the visit with Soderbeck gave Bower a clear picture of what the Bucky Wagon originally looked like.

The team is lucky Soderbeck is just a state away; he is one of only three or four fire apparatus restorers in the United States. So what does he find appealing about antique fire engines?

“I was a volunteer fireman for 30 years, so I was interested in fire service and how it progressed over the years,” he says. “I think it’s important to preserve the technology since it’s an interesting part of the technical world as far as I’m concerned.”

November 3, 2009

The Bucky Wagon as Homework

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 11:24 am

In the aftermath of the homecoming festivities and road trip to Detroit, the vehicle team members are settling into their work on the Bucky Wagon. They are getting help from a class of approximately 15 mechanical engineering students, who are running calculations and making measurements to ensure the teams install the correct motor and battery pack.

ME 601: Special Topics is taught by vehicle team advisor and Faculty Associate Glenn Bower. The class is figuring out what size battery and motor will keep the Bucky Wagon moving at 30 miles per hour. They are accounting for road load, the effect of headwind (the wind blowing against the Bucky Wagon as it travels) and tail wind, as well as the size of the tires and how fast the tires spin. The class will determine how much horsepower the Bucky Wagon needs in order to keep the wheels going at a certain speed.

Bucky Wagon Engine Detail

Close-up of the current Bucky Wagon engine and the horns that play "On Wisconsin"

The students’ calculations also have to consider how to get the Bucky Wagon in and out of Camp Randall Stadium. The entrance to the field has a relatively steep grade, and while it’s easy to get the Bucky Wagon onto the field, the students have to make sure the vehicle can handle the incline to get off the field. “It could be a disaster if we don’t!” says Adam Strutz, a mechanical engineering student enrolled in the class.

The students are also calculating the size and quantity of the batteries needed so the team can choose a transmission with an appropriate number of gears, based on how much weight the Bucky Wagon needs to carry and how fast it needs to go.

“The Bucky Wagon doesn’t need to fly as fast as a real fire truck, but it does need to get 20 cheerleaders in and out of the stadium,” Strutz says.

The students will work throughout the semester on the calculations. Overall, Strutz and the students are glad to be working on a project they will see implemented. “It’s fun to be working on this icon,” he says. “And the class is fun because of Glenn’s philosophy–if you’re interested in what you’re doing, you’ll learn more. I don’t do the homework because I’m scared of a grade. I do the homework because I’m curious about the project and want to prove to myself that I can actually size parts for a hybrid vehicle.”

October 27, 2009

Motor City Road Trip Rally

Filed under: Vehicle teams — Tags: , , , , , — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 9:27 am

Hauling five vehicles and eight people more than 400 miles is no simple feat, but when it comes to all things automotive, UW-Madison faculty and students will do whatever it takes.

Last Saturday, Oct. 24, Glenn Bower and a group of vehicle team members headed to Detroit, Michigan, for the first-ever Motor City Badgers’ Road Trip Rally. The Detroit chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association organized and hosted the event and launched the Undergraduate Student Automotive Excellence Fund campaign. The team is hoping to raise  $10 million to take the teams to the next level and ensure UW-Madison remains a source of innovative, well-trained engineers to the automotive industry for generations to come.

UW-Madison Formula SAE car

Students and alumni drove the Formula SAE car around cones in a Ford parking lot as part of the Motor City Road Trip Rally.

This relationship between UW-Madison and Southeastern Michigan is why the Motor City Badgers decided to host the Road Trip Rally, says chapter president Mark Polster, a sustainability, environment and safety engineer at Ford.

“The Road Trip Rally raised awareness of the vehicle programs in the Motor City among alumni, original equipment manufactures, suppliers, aftermarket providers and racing companies, and in turn promoted the automotive industry and Southeastern Michigan on the UW-Madison campus,” Polster says.

The event offered attendees the chance to test drive the UW-Madison Baja vehicle, Formula hybrid car, electric snowmobile and electric test car around dozens of cones arranged in the Ford plant parking lot. After the Ride ‘n Drive, a group of almost 70 toured the Roush Automotive Collection in Livonia, Michigan, and students and alumni enjoyed viewing the extensive collection of classic cars, sports cars and racing vehicles, including the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup-winning stock car driven by Wisconsin native Matt Kenseth.

Several speakers addressed the crowd, including mechanical engineering student and Formula team member Luca Mantovano, who talked about the importance of his experiences with the vehicle teams.

“The vehicle teams’ record and facilities actually helped me decide to attend UW-Madison. Right away my freshman year I joined the Formula team, which has fueled my fire in terms of continuing my automotive education,” he says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without these teams.”

Check out photos from the event at the Bucky Wagon Facebook page or at the Road Trip Rally Picasa album.

October 20, 2009

Homecoming 2009: Get the Bucky Wagon back in the game

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , , , — Sandra K. Barnidge @ 9:46 am

For the first time in decades, the Bucky Wagon did not navigate the streets of Madison under its own power during the UW-Madison Homecoming Parade. Instead, the vehicle was relegated to a flatbed truck for the event, held the night of Friday, Oct. 16. Also differently than in previous years, Bucky Badger and members of the Spirit Squad didn’t ride in the vehicle. Instead, almost 15 members of the UW-Madison vehicle teams were on board.

The Bucky Wagon wasn’t the only vehicle project in the parade. In fact, all six of the vehicle teams were represented, and Adam Richards, the UW Hybrid Team leader, says it was a night of unity for the teams. “It was cool to meet everybody from the different teams, since usually we all have our own corner of the shop,” he says. More than 50 vehicle team members were at the parade either walking beside or riding on one of the vehicles.

(Audio transcript: No dialog; honking, street noise)

The parade was also a chance for team members to connect with alumni, and Richards says the Bucky Wagon was one of the first vehicles people wanted to pose with for pictures. The Bucky Wagon was the focus of many more flashbulbs the next morning at the Homecoming Badger Bash tailgate. This is the first season the Wisconsin Union Badger Bashes (which are held before every home football game and offer attendees food, drinks and the chance to see the UW Marching Band)  have been held on Engineering Mall, and it’s fitting since the Bucky Wagon is currently housed at the automotive shop in the Engineering Centers Building.

Engineering students Adam Strutz and Will O’Connor woke up early to take photos of alumni behind the wheel of the Bucky Wagon and answer questions about the renovation project. Local Madison television station WISC-TV was also on hand. (A link to the video clip will be posted soon.)

“I enjoyed talking to alumni about the Bucky Wagon and how much they miss seeing it at football games and other events,” Strutz says. One alumnus reminisced with Strutz about driving the vehicle and expressed hope that the students will preserve as much of the original vehicle as possible.

The Bucky Wagon rode on a flatbed during the 2009 Homecoming Parade.

The Bucky Wagon rode on a flatbed during the 2009 Homecoming Parade.

The Badger Bash was also an opportunity for Bower and the students to introduce alumni to the Undergraduate Automotive Excellence Fund, which is an endowment to keep the six UW-Madison vehicle teams running. Team members hope to raise $10 million over the next three years. For more information about the fund and how to get involved, check out the vehicle team donate page.

Now that the Homecoming festivities are over, the vehicle team members will get to work on the renovation, and by next year’s parade, the Bucky Wagon will once again drive the streets.

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