UW-Madison Bucky Wagon Project

September 26, 2011

Building the Bucky Wagon: Under the hood (technically, under the seats)

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , , , , — markonfire @ 3:31 pm

A cracked transmission put the Bucky Wagon out of commission in the first place, so the installation of a new transmission and motor is a pretty monumental step in finishing the revamped wagon. Still, the assembly of the electric motor, donated by Remy International, and the transmission, from ZF Transmissions, seems somewhat unceremonious, partly because it’s the sort of thing that members of the vehicle team do all the time. Here you can see members of the vehicle teams goofing around near the new motor and transmission before they bolt them together using an adaptor system designed by other students in the program. The new engine won’t be under the hood, but instead beneath the body of the wagon. Now, the hood will house all the batteries necessary to keep the wagon running. The engine provides enough power to get the wagon up to around 30 mph. It’s not exactly a speed demon—but there’s more than enough oomph to ferry the Spirit Squad around in style on game day.

From left to right: Formula SAE Team member Kevin Higgins, the electric motor donated by Remy International, and the transmission donated by E&F Transmission.

From left to right: Formula SAE Team member Kevin Higgins, the electric motor donated by Remy International, and the transmission donated by ZF Transmissions.

A closer look at the motor and the transmission, before they were bolted together using a student-designed adaptor system.

A closer look at the motor and the transmission, before they were bolted together using a student-designed adaptor system.

Kevin and the other students work to use the adaptor system to connect the transmission and motor.

Kevin and the other students work to use the adaptor system to connect the transmission and motor.

Advertisements

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.

September 19, 2011

Building the Bucky Wagon: Body Work

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , , — markonfire @ 10:37 am

The body of the Bucky Wagon has only recently started to look like something even close to the iconic fire wagon, mostly because restoring the body has been a tedious, time-consuming process. First, the original body went to the Madison College body shop, where rusted-on bolts had to be ground off to free each piece from the body for restoration. With the wagon stripped down to its skeleton, the frame headed to Eau Claire-based EnviroTech to be sandblasted and powder-coated, banishing rust from the renovated wagon’s undercarriage.

Finally, the wagon headed to Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, where it remains while Pierce engineers–mostly working in between other projects, even on weekends in some cases–have stripped each piece of the wagon of its original paint and primed them all for a fresh coat of Badger red. They’ve also reconstructed the parts of the body that were either beyond repair or not designed for the rigors of carrying around the Spirit Squad, leaving a pile of discarded Bucky Wagon parts in their junk heap.

Now, the wagon awaits its final coat of paint. Until then, take a look at photos of the vanilla-flavored body, primed and ready to show its school colors.

Primed and ready for the last coat of paint.

Primed and ready for the last coat of paint.

Pierce Engineers re-assembled parts that could be re-used, and reproduced those that were beyond repair.

Pierce Engineers re-assembled parts that could be re-used, and reproduced those that were beyond repair.

The frame of the Bucky Wagon, shortly before being sand-blasted and powder-coated.

The frame of the Bucky Wagon, shortly before being sand-blasted and powder-coated at Envirotech in Eau Claire.

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.

 

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.

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!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.