Miner Baja Team Rallies, Completes Race.

Chief Engineer Wes Thomas reports that Baja’s second event in an ambitious racing season was successful. After early breakdowns in the season’s first SAE event, the mudders finished ALL events at the Caterpillar-hosted mud-slog. They finished on 65th place out of 94 teams that showed up, and had a strong finish (27th) in their first-ever rock crawl, which is very good considering they didn’t have their rock specialty vehicle ready and raced their general purpose quad instead.
Wes reports “this was a learning year. We fixed the stuff that broke in Tennessee, but found new weak points. Our car was also heavier than last year (and at ~500 pounds a good 150 more than the fast teams). I am still waiting to hopefully get some judges’ feedback as to why we didn’t fare well in design, sales, and cost, so there should be a significant improvement next year. It’s most likely because we report our numbers accurately”.
He continues that “maneuverability would have been better, but two bad thunderstorms turned the course into sticky clay that wouldn’t come off tires. It was like driving on ice, spinning the tires at 5 mph on flat terrain. You couldn’t even see the tires after just a short run”.
“We’re also hoping that having two running cars and a design ready to go by next semester should help with member retention. If finances and team member ability allow, we should have a complete, competition-ready car by December. The chief engineers will spend time trying to teach the new kids how to actually build stuff so the designers can do their job, and reduce the risk of burn-out by year’s end". On students, not clutches, we think he means.
They’ve also come to the realization that it takes a lot more money and outsourcing then initially thought to field a competitive car these days. They’re already working on designs for next year to simplify the car, cut costs, shed weight, and improve reliability, and already have a lighter, more efficient transmission picked out.
Wes lastly comments that “we tried to do too much with too little and the team suffered. Lesson learned".
We can’t think of better way of summing up experiential learning, because this is all about learning. Thanks for a truly brilliant summation, Wes.

We Interrupt This ‘Bot Fest……….

S&T’s Baja team is back on campus after their ambitious second ’08 design competition, and they report a significant improvement over the race in Tennessee. You might remember that they withdrew from the last month’s grueling endurance race with a shattered CV joint, but we hear that they finished ALL the events at Caterpillar’s sprawling test facility near Peoria. We’ll have more info as we get it, but in the meantime here are a couple of shots from the earlier event.

The team had probably jettisoned the floatation chambers because the Peoria event substituted a rock crawl for the amphibious challenge.

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Baja Miners Withdraw With Broken Ankle

S&T’s baja-style racers weren’t brought down by a nail (broken flywheel key) or a shoe (shattered A-arm), but on a sad Derby Day in neighboring Kentucky their horse couldn’t overcome a metaphorically broken ankle and had to be put down. The bearing basket on a CV joint broke in half and even then the Miners were set to attempt emergency repairs until they realized that all the ball bearings were probably ground deep into the mud on the Tennessee Tech campus.

At that point there was little to do but pack it in, watch the remaining race, and rest up. They’ll return to campus, regroup, and get back to working on their other baja-style buggy for the SAE event near Peoria IL in just two weeks. That one is primarily a rock-crawler so the winner will probably be the most rugged rather than then most nimble. Stay tuned!

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Ladies And Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

OK, for all of yesterday’s drama the real Baja action is the four-hour (!) endurance race. In a mass start eerily similar to quitting time on the S&T campus (except baja drivers wear helmets), round after round of cars charge into a lake. Wouldn’t be so confusing except that dirt cars don’t steer very well in water (or is that just a K-State driver getting chewed out for lousy driving?).

Our Miners developed a strategy to avoid this mess; they simply waited until the first wave (ouch!) either collided and withdrew, or simply sunk as one did, and then waded (sorry!) into the fray. Kept their car nice and clean, too!

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For Want Of A Nail, A Shoe Was Lost…………..

……..for want of a shoe, a horse was lost, then the soldier, regiment, battle, king and kingdom were all lost, or so goes the old saw from centuries past.

That was nearly the case for S&T’s Baja this weekend. After the requisite judge-mandated modifications, they managed to re-enter tech inspection, gain approval, and head for the skid pad arena, but the engine wouldn’t re-start.

No amount of hauling on the starter rope succeeded, so they pushed the beast to Briggs’ support center where they found the flywheel key had sheared. Easy repair, except nobody had one, so they resorted to every engineer’s stand-by equation; extreme force, to tighten the flywheel. Worked like a charm and after a rainstorm delay they handled skid pad and acceleration with aplomb.
The next task, maneuverability, was not so easy as their right A-arm tore off at the bottom of a steep drop.

Such was the end, albeit temporary, of qualifying for the Miners that day.

Time to borrow a TIG welder and let Wes Thomas do his aluminum magic. After what was probably a sleep-free night for the five-man crew both A-arms were repaired and strengthened and un-named car was ready for the all-important 4-hour endurance race. Did we mention there was a slight water hazard on the course?

Engineering Waterbugs in Florida

If you think that Missouri S&T’s (yeah, we know that it is still UMR for a few more weeks) engineering students spend all their time in the lab designing and building projects, you couldn’t be more wrong! Some of us just love to get dirty. We just ran across a treasure trove of photos from the recent SAE-Baja competition that show the Miners doing their best to get filthy and having a LOT of fun!

Like the fastest waterbug on the river, the campus’ off-roaders are pulling far ahead of the pack on the race’s challenging amphibious leg. They were clawing (paddling?) their way into the top 10 of the all-important endurance race, designed to test the limits of each vehicle, when a shifter mount broke slowing the baja boat.
Did we mention that the Miners won the Mud Bog event over nearly 100 other mudders? How appropriate that a school founded to efficiently burrow into the earth took top honors in just the group’s second year of existence. Not bad, not bad at all for a sophomore team, eh?

Watch this!

We just discovered a bunch of these moving pictures of UMR’s amphibious dune buggy/baja vehicle. No telling what you’re going to find on the Internets these days…

The awesomest blog ever

If you heard about this blog on KJPW in Waynesville, you’re probably looking for that photo of the amphibious dune buggy. (Hint: Click on the word photo.)

You’ve heard about off-road vehicles, but this is ridiculous

The UMR Baja Team has been testing an amphibious vehicle in the waters of Little Prairie Lake. The team is preparing for a competition in Florida, where mud bogs and water hazards await.