An out of town conference and the holidays got in the way of our timely publication of the last rolls report of the fall, but better late than never right?  For posterity, here’s a quick summary of what happened November 21st and 22nd …

In attendance

Org Saturday Sunday
AEPi Camo, Kamikaze, Zephyrus Kamikaze, Zephyrus
CIA Firebird, Renaissance, Quasar Renaissance, Quasar
DTD Bethany Bethany
Fringe Bedlam, Blizzard, Bantam
KKG / ZBT Enigma
PhiKap Svengali
Pioneers Chaos
PiKA Chimera, Knightfall, Nemesis, Zeus Chimera, Knightfall, Nemesis, Zeus
SDC Malice, Envy, Rage Malice, Envy, Rage
SigEp Pandora
SigNu Skua


  • KKG/ZBT took advantage of their last possible chance to get out on the course in the fall, and were out with Enigma which they borrowed from SigEp. Their new driver made it around the course safely and smoothly for several rolls, and the team seemed pretty excited.  That brings buggy up to 13 orgs that have rolled this year.  Glad to have another org out on the hills, especially one that hasn’t been out in years.  Hopefully the Greek coed approach will be successful this time around.
  • DTD fixed their pushbar after a break on the back hills their previous weekend out. Everything went smoothly for a couple of rolls, with Bethany making the driveway under its own power. On their last roll, though, the driver squirreled between the flags and cut the chute turn tight, sending her over the grate and out of control straight into the curb. She flew halfway out of the buggy, an obvious failure of the harness attachments. She walked away with some cuts to her arm.  Not an ideal end  to the semester for DTD, but they’ve already shown themselves to be resilient.
  • PiKA went all out on an end of semester wheel testing binge.  People saw white, purple, black, and yellowish green compounds on Xootr hubs as well as ZeroError hubs.  Chimera and Knightfall seemed to be the test sleds of choice.
  • Zoo was hauling ass.
  • SDC called it quits early on Sunday to celebrate the end of a good semester. Envy was pushed up hill 5 by “an orgy of pushers,” to use a Bordickism.
  • Malice spun on Saturday, fishtailed and lost control going into the chute. The buggy was fine.
  • CIA’s Quasar stopped right near the monument because her helmet fell in front of her eyes so she made a controlled stop.  All was fine and she unloaded on the course and they walked the buggy back.

Edit: AEPi prudently pointed out that Camo didn’t roll on Sunday because it caught the outer bales on Saturday and lost its outside rear wheel.  Never fear all you Camo fans out there, they’ve got things put back together and ready for the spring semester.

Sorry, no pictures from this weekend unless someone wants to upload some that they have kept to themselves thus far.

18 thoughts on “Belated Rolls Report 11/21 & 22”

  • “She flew halfway out of the buggy, an obvious failure of the harness attachments”

    anyone have a pic of this? when something like this happens how much technical guidance can a safety chair give to improve a deficient safety system?

  • Re: tommyK’s comment, “…when something like this happens how much technical guidance can a safety chair give to improve a deficient safety system?”

    — I think the guidance should be: you’re disqualified for not attaching your driver’s harness to the buggy you dumbass. They’ve essentially failed a spot safety and should be fined and not permitted to roll the buggy for some period of time. If the harness attachment points ripped out of the buggy then they probably need to think about re-building because, clearly, something is ruined.

  • before the crowd forms outside sweepstakes’ or DTD’s door with pitchforks and torches, I’m going to throw a couple of things out there.
    – I’m pretty sure sweepstakes is doing things in the punitive / constructive vain to make sure that DTD’s buggy is safer when it comes back out for rolls. I just don’t know the specifics on that so it wasn’t in the report, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
    – As for DTD’s negligence, it seems like a tough situation for them. They bought this buggy less than a year ago from Pioneers. It came with a pretty clean track record of safety, and then the safety chair passed it at safeties. The failure point of harness attachments is a pretty tough thing to test even if they were experienced and knew what they were doing. It definitely sucks that it happened, but I think I would fault the buggy’s builder, or maybe even the safety chair before the guys trying to start a program at DTD.

    What should be done? I’ve always advocated that safety is a domain where secrecy is indefensible. I know the BAA is more than happy to share what we know about harness attachment points if they need a source of information. I have a feeling sweepstakes has already stepped in to offer the same.

  • While I was a stickler for winning, safety is what kept me up at night (or made me wake in a pool of sweat).

    Safety harness technology is pretty simple.
    Step 1: Find the sturdiest part of your feeble machine.
    Step 2: Attach girl to it.

  • jess thurston says:

    we definitely are doing things to make sure this doesn’t happen again, or to at least prevent it as much as possible. the issue of solidly connecting these attachment points to the buggy is one that has pervaded safety discussions for the past few years, and it is unfortunately complicated. however, several buggies that have had some questionable incidents are going to be much more thoroughly safetied this semester by several of us from the committee. i hope that’s specific enough.

    as always, any advice is always appreciated :)

  • Just to clarify for DTD, the driver had all proper safety equipment, was securely in her harness, and the harness was securely attached at all 3 anchor points. It was the anchor points themselves that failed, not the harness.

  • In my day we used to make mock-ups of anchor points and test them with free weights to meet the stipulated design rules. A few years later the new head mechanic proved a new attachment method was vastly superior to our old design through head to head comparisons.

    What kind of access and freedom of information should safety-chairs have to measures such as these? Should harness designs, safety hardware and attachment methods be publicly available information for everyone’s use? On display at design comp?

  • In my day we used seat belt webbing looped around the rear axle on each side of the pushbar and secured to the front through an eye-bolt. Owing to the loading system and the physical characteristics of a human female we figured it to be most likely that we needed to keep a driver from ejecting from the front hatch as in the event of a spin and tail-first crash her ass (and, I suppose, the pushbar… ow…) would keep her from emerging from the rear hatch.

    If memory serves we sourced the webbing ourselves though. Any thought on having Sweepstakes supply suitable webbing? Might avoid the 4AM realization that Carl got drunk and forgot to pick up the webbing we need to roll the new buggy with (‘will duct tape work?’ ‘well, we NEED to roll…’), etc..

  • Though I suppose the attachment point is the problem, right? Yeesh. I dunno how you can standardize with the variety of construction techniques employed. Could add a ‘pick up the buggy w/ driver inside, incline to 45deg, shake for 30 seconds’ step to capes, which would be fun, but doesn’t replicate a crash. But it would be cool to watch.

  • the bottom of the pushbar/pushbar mount provides a seriously strong mount for the harness, it can be looped around rather than just through-bolted. The load is thus distributed evenly to both the top and bottom skins

  • I’m not sure this is a ‘find a better design’ problem as much as its a ‘build it right’ problem. I’ve seen pushbars and axles fail (I’m looking at you Rage). The ‘grab my hands’ rule isn’t a design check, it’s a check on sleepy mechanics forgetting to properly load/tighten/fasten a driver in. I think there’s a missing overlap in the role of design competition and safety inspections. Safety is one of the categories that design is graded on, shouldn’t all buggies built have to submit their build methods and any safety qualifications to an esteemed board of secrecy sworn educators, professionals and colleagues?

    Committee to Restore Utter Dignity to Designcomp

  • I hear you on making Design Comp non-useless Tom, but, well, for example let’s say a team, on a quest to save as much weight as possible, went with a pushbar mount that laminates only to the inside bottom of the buggy with no mechanical attachments and then decided to loop the harness around the pushbar mount. Is a design judge going to look at that and say ‘Hey man, a fat AEPi alumni could fall on the pushbar and break the mount off; that’s totally not going to be restrain your driver if she runs into a curb at speed. By the power vested in me as a design comp judge I award you zero points and tell you to stop being naughty. Now go and roll that buggy on raceday.’? The only way that becomes meaningful is if they mandate design comp (boo for more work for mechanics before raceday) and if they give design comp judges the power to decide that a buggy is unsafe and cannot roll the next day at raceday (boo, and boo for qualifying a buggy for raceday that is deemed unsafe).

    Maybe I’ll start a new design comp thread in forums. But anyway, for safety would it help to have folks give examples of what they’ve done which has worked? I had drivers crash into curbs at speed and into parked cars on the hills and didn’t have any injury issues. A compilation of what has worked (and what has not worked, for those with other experiences) might be helpful.

  • Learning from past mistakes sounds pretty awesome, I’m for it. Are crash records and injury reports a matter of public record or only the inner sanctum of the elected committee types?

    I’m not sure I know enough about how the safety chair operates since I only know the mechanics’ side of things and a few stories of some teams being not only standoffish during inspections but bordering on hostile, confrontational and overly protective of ‘secrets’. The current system puts most of the responsibility on each teams mechanics with some checks and balances vis a vis the safety chair and following design parameters – maybe these should be evaluated publicly at design comp?

    Does each safety chair get briefed and assisted by previous chairs? What does a safety chair drinking party look like? Do they measure the breaking strength of a shot glass with an infinitely stiff lemon?

    The example i gave earlier about mockups might be an interesting requirement for new buggies and maybe significant repair jobs … require a failure test of life size components with estimated stress levels (mike going to town with a ball peen seemed to be a good measure of how much stress an axle should be able to handle) maybe something slightly more scientific could be figured out.

    Things that don’t work:
    -nails as harness attachment points
    -ill-fitting helmets
    -relying on the harness system to keep a skinny driver completely stationary in a spacious buggy
    -letting drivers convince you their arms are short enough when they aren’t.

    Things that do work:
    some composite tips …
    extra kevlar layers at high shock areas like attachment points
    lots of pressure during layups (no voids in your mold!)
    isolate aluminum from carbon (recently had a aluminum sleeve fall out of a carbon canoe after about 10 years of use due to battery effect corrosion)

  • The Sweepstakes Safety chair came into our basement and inspected all of our buggies, Top to bottom, inside and out: including our harnesses and how they attached. We had to install a driver and show how she was attached and the attachment points. It’s the safety chair’s role to ensure the safety of the buggy/driver combination before they even do a capability test. If you’re implying that this process is flawed, we may want to recommend a fix to this process prior to completely removing it.

    The safety chair had a notebook with some “best practices” and yes, there was some flowdown of info from the prior year’s safety chair.

    I don’t see how some graphic designer, unfamiliar with buggy and the course, is going to help us understand the structural components of composite assemblies or how they will react under dynamic loads.

  • when I was safety chair predecessors mentioned a few things that they had seen that would be worth looking out for etc (and the “bring a bright flashlight for the people who are going to try to waste your time by trying to have you safety in a dark room”).
    I did the same while I was still in town/in contact with new safety chairmen each year. I think that is fairly routine (and certainly should be stronger with the committee voted in during the end of the spring term when a graduating safety chair would still be on campus).

    Records of accidents were not necessarily passed down from year to year, I certainly didn’t have old records (at most a notebook with the previous year’s info). Even if I did, most of the accident records weren’t that informative/insightful for updating safety procedures.

    If there was a harness failure it may only say “harness attachment point failed”, not “the attachment point for the harness was made of butter and broke under the stress of a collision with the curb, this was fixed by using steel attached with 25 layers of carbon which was shown to only fail with xxxx force applied”. Simply saying “harness attachment point failed” might be fine for the current safety chair because they see the buggy after the accident and after the repair, but looking at old documents, without context, would be fairly useless.

Comments are closed.