UW-Madison Bucky Wagon Project

September 13, 2011

Building the Bucky Wagon: Tires and Rims

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , , — markonfire @ 1:49 pm

Not everything about the Bucky Wagon could be faithfully brought over to the all-electric version. Most of the changes won’t be visible–the old motor, brakes and steering mechanisms had to go for obvious reasons, but their disappearance will not be immediately apparent to Badger fans watching the wagon glide by. But one necessary cosmetic change is being made to the wheels, specifically the wagon’s rims.

The original Bucky Wagon had split rims, the type that you might see on a tractor, with an outer rim supporting the tire and an inner rim that connects the axle and the tire. This makes tire changes possible without removing the entire wheel assembly, but the design of the rim places a tremendous amount of pressure on the bolts holding rims together. Changing split rims requires a level of experience that students working on the wagon might not have. And then there’s the small point that having students work with a rim nicknamed “the widow maker” probably wouldn’t be popular with parents and administrators.

Swapping the cumbersome old rims for new rims from Alcoa became a matter of necessity–they may not look like something that came off the assembly line in 1931, but the custom-made rims look pretty sharp just the same.

Glenn Bower explains the dangers of the old split rim design.

Glenn Bower explains the dangers of the old split rim design.

Shiny custom-made aluminum rims, courtesy of Alcoa.

Shiny custom-made aluminum rims, courtesy of Alcoa.


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.”

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