UW-Madison Bucky Wagon Project

September 26, 2011

Building the Bucky Wagon: Same Classic Siren

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , , — markonfire @ 3:08 pm

The Bucky Wagon’s siren has been cleaned and polished to a new shine, but it’s still the same siren the wagon sounded in Camp Randall in 1973. Not only does it maintain the look of the wagon, the siren–along with the old headlights, which also are cleaned up originals–are some of the most valuable parts of the wagon, fetching several thousand dollars apiece when up for sale. Unfortunately, engineers designing fire engines in the 1930s weren’t all that concerned about electricity use, so the siren is a huge power draw. If left unchecked, that power draw could spell trouble for an all-electric vehicle, so Bower and his team have worked around the siren’s limitations: A controller will prevent the siren from wailing for too long or too often, depending on battery levels. A few short bursts might be kind of a bummer—but that’s certainly better than forcing the Spirit Squad to push the Bucky Wagon the rest of the way to its destination.

The siren has been cleaned up, but otherwise it will function the same as ever, flaws and all.

The siren has been cleaned up, but otherwise it will function the same as ever, flaws and all.

Mascot Bucky Badger and cheerleaders from the UW Spirit Squad drive along Regent Street in the Bucky Wagon before the Wisconsin vs. Penn State University football game at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Oct. 11, 2008. Note the same siren on the hood.

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October 13, 2009

Turning a red fire engine green: Bucky Wagon renovation begins

Welcome to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Bucky Wagon blog! 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. Until 2001, the Bucky Wagon was used on game days to carry the Spirit Squad into Camp Randall Stadium.

Mascot Bucky Badger and cheerleaders from the UW Spirit Squad drive along Regent Street in the Bucky Wagon before the Wisconsin vs. Penn State University football game at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Oct. 11, 2008. Penn State won the game, 48-7

Mascot Bucky Badger and cheerleaders from the UW Spirit Squad drive along Regent Street in the Bucky Wagon before a home football game.

The current Bucky Wagon, which is the third vehicle known by the name, is a restored 1932 La France fire engine, donated by alumni to the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) in 1971. Time has taken its toll on the Bucky Wagon, and it’s nearly impossible to find parts to repair and maintain the vehicle, so the WAA has paired with the College of Engineering to help the Bucky Wagon transition to the 21st Century as a safe, electric-powered vehicle with power hydraulic brakes and power steering.

The renovation, which will preserve the vehicle’s exterior, wheels and hubcaps in order to maintain the iconic appearance of the wagon, will be done by engineering students under the guidance of Mechanical Engineering Faculty Associate Glenn Bower. Bower leads the six college vehicle teams, have been victorious at 16 different international automotive competitions since 1998.

The teams are currently raising money for an endowment fund to ensure future students have the opportunity to learn and implement innovative vehicle design. More information about this will be posted soon.

Along with covering the Bucky Wagon renovation step-by-step, this blog will also feature stories and profiles about the vehicle team students and projects. Starting October 13, be sure to check back for weekly, in-depth looks at what it takes to turn a red fire engine green!

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