With precipitation on 7 of the last 10 days and temperatures swinging from the 20s to the 60s faster than you can add or remove layers, it’s hard to know what to expect, but buggy demonstrated some toughness and got in two solid days this weekend.  Saturday was pretty enjoyable with lots of sun and no wind making it more comfortable than the thermometers (or smartphones) were indicating.  Sunday was less pleasant and teams seemed worn out from it.  Snow came and went a few times during Sunday but never stuck to the ground enough to warrant Sweepstakes to cancel although Fringe, SDC, and PiKA (I think) all scratched for the day before 9.

In attendance
(Sweepstakes hasn’t updated their roll-count spreadsheet, which – it is now revealed – I depend on since my memory isn’t up to the task.  So we’ll call this an approximate account of things until they get that updated)

Org Saturday Sunday
Apex  Camo
CIA  #18, Ascension, Freyja, Firebird  #18, Ascension, Firebird, Quasar
DeltaForce  Perun  Perun
Fringe  Bonsai, Borealis, Bedlam, Banyan  Bonsai, Borealis, Bedlam
PiKA  Raptor, Zeus  Raptor, Zeus
SDC  Bane, Avarice, Malice  Bane, Avarice, Malice
SigEp  Mamba, Peregrine, Barracuda  Mamba
SigNu  Krait
Spirit  Zuke, Seraph, Fuko  Zuke, Seraph, Fuko
No-Shows  AEPi, SAE

Observations (Saturday Gallery | Sunday Gallery) [Sunday was too cold to take pictures.  I only took about 25 down from my usual ~250]

  • Fringe had first roll on Saturday and the first buggy I saw coming down the hill was covered in pajamas and had “NBXII” (New buggy ’12) taped on the side.  It was rolling surprisingly fast and smoothly for a brand new buggy, but given how similar it looked to their recent designs, that didn’t raise any red flags for me.  At the top of the hill I saw other teams doing the usual neck-craning you see around a new build from a top team.  The pictures of it have also been the most viewed since they were posted on Saturday.  Funny thing was, they only rolled it twice and then the 4th buggy in the lineup was Banyan instead.  Yeah, funny thing indeed.  They didn’t have a build done, they were just screwing with everyone by covering Banyan in pajamas.  They got me.
  • The right rear wheel on Spirit’s Seraph flew off in dramatic fashion right after a hill 2 shove on Sunday.  They were doing a pass test with Seraph doing the passing, and they had a monster of a hill 2 pusher on the job.  He took it up and over the hill as fast as I’ve seen in a while, but the speed didn’t last long.  Just after the shove, the right rear wheel flew off and the buggy slid through a 180 while it ground to a halt with a trail of orange sparks flying from the axle on pavement.  As far as I could tell, neither the wheel nor stub nor axle failed meaning there was likely operator error on the part of whoever was attaching the wheels.  I’m guessing there was no nut on the end of the stub, or if there was it never had a wrench on it.  Seraph was apparently no worse for wear though as Spirit had it loaded and ready for the next roll.  Sweepstakes denied them that roll, but spot-safetied it and it got around the course the next time through.
  • Apex had Camo rolling … ok again on Saturday.  The externally visible improvement was the addition of a duct-tape suspension cable from the tail to the pushbar which apparently kept the non-structural and droopy tail from dragging on the ground.  On their 4th roll the driver took a line on hill 5 towards the super-treacherous right side and rolled over some Kabul-quality pavement.  While working on things Saturday afternoon, the mechanics discovered cracked welds in major structural components of the frame and pronounced Camo dead (again (no really, it’s for real this time)).  That left the brand new team without a buggy again and wondering if they could get a build done before raceday (unlikely) or if they might not make it after all their efforts.  Good news rumors are that they might have a line on another loaner to get them back on the course.
  • SigEp’s Peregrine had the only spin of the weekend on Saturday but I wasn’t near-by and nobody I talked to had much to say about it.  Man, even when SigEp does something exciting I can’t come up with things to write about them.  It’s starting to look like my fault.  Mamba was out after not rolling at the end of last semester or the first weekend of the spring.
  • Fringe put on an exciting driving display on Saturday when Borealis’ front hatch started bouncing around late in the chute so she came to a slow stop.  The stop flags came out and Banyan stopped cleanly right near the chute flag.  Bedlam (coming down last) was not deterred however and did an exciting slalom around her stopped comrades.  All three buggies were pushed back up the hill while my blood pressure slowly receded.  I heard that CIA had something similar on Sunday, but I didn’t catch that one because I was too cold and lethargic to walk down to the chute.
  • SDC and Spirit were both doing more driver’s-perspective filming over the weekend.  I don’t suppose either of them would like to share some of that for everyone to see?
  • Pika and Spirit on both rolling on purple compounds now.  I mentioned catching a glimpse of PiKA’s purple last week, but Spirit joined the purple club with some cool new ones on Saturday.  The profiles are totally different, so there’s no reason to think there is anything more than superficial similarity.  Spirits are actually a pretty interesting parabolic cross-section and it seems to be working well for them with 3 days now of smooth rolls (excluding cases where the wheel was not firmly connected to the buggy).
  • PiKA brought out our dear old friend Zeus on both days, and left the 8-year-younger Chimera in the garage.   It was going just as fast and rolling with the new purple compound so it’s not as if they were just using it as a trainer buggy for a new driver or anything.  It would be pretty interesting if neither buggy from the Chimera / Nemesis generation were on the course this raceday given how big a deal they were when they were new.
  • CIA and PiKA were both set up on the Tepper patio again this weekend, but seemed to be getting along better as far as I could tell.
  • It freaks me out when a dude’s voice comes from inside a buggy as is the case with SigNu’s driver, Mike.  There have been more male drivers in recent years than we usually remember, but I bet it’s been quite a while since an organization had no female drivers.
  • DeltaForce had a funny moment when radio club asked Sweepstakes if everything was normal because Perun had passed all the checkpoints, but nobody had seen a second buggy or a follow car.  Sweepstakes looked over to the top of the hill, and there was DeltaForce’s follow car with two people in it, ready to go.  They claimed they had been watching carefully for their cue but somehow missed it going by.  They offered to try to catch up, but Perun was already in sight on hill 5.
  • With only six weeks until raceday, and only one new buggy on the course, is it time to update the over-under we set at 5.5 at the end of January?  CIA was predicted and they delivered.  AEPi, Apex, DeltaForce, KapSig, and SigNu were all pretty unlikely, and I’d downgrade them all to not-gonna-happen.  I was bearish but unsure on PiKA and Spirit, but now I’m more confident in both cases.  Spirit has wheel projects to keep them busy, and PiKA is just adapting and coping with the status quo.  I had Fringe as a sure-bet and that hasn’t changed, they’ve been bringing their builds out later and later in recent years.  SDC and SigEp are the biggest question marks remaining.  SigEp’s recent builds have come out in mid or late March so I’m betting on seeing something from them after spring break.  SDC’s builds in recent years have been done very early in the spring, so I’m starting to wonder if they are skipping this year or working on something more complex and time consuming than they have in the past.  I’d say Zatch is feeling good having bet the under while my line of 5.5 and trophymursky’s bet on the over are starting to look quite optimistic.

Next weekend is the beginning of spring break, so it’s unlikely rolls will happen, but that’s not definite until chairmen’s meeting happens tonight.  Check our front page for the latest status on rolls and look for some non-rolls report content we’re working on to keep things exciting in the mean time.

27 thoughts on “Rolls Report: March 3 & 4”

  • I tried to get some GPS recording going this weekend from inside the buggy, but it seemed like everytime I took my iPhone inside Krait, it lost the GPS signal. I’m going to try to figure out some sort of mount for the next weekend of rolls to get some good readings.

    • That would be awesome, especially if you shared some product with everyone here. My advice on the project would be to find a GPS logging app that lets you configure the rate at which it records points, and then crank that up to the max. I think the challenge with GPS is getting enough resolution to tell you anything beyond the fact that the buggy did indeed go around the course.

      • There are some cool 10 hz and 100 hz GPS logging systems out there that look perfect for buggy. I suspect a cell phone even with the best app available will have a low sampling rate and the resulting plot will approach abstract art.

      • I was using this app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ski-tracks-gps-track-recorder/id365724094?mt=8
        I used it for skiing, and the recorded lines were very accurate compared to my actual ski path. I don’t really want to buy the bike version of that app for $2.99.

        I also have MotionX GPS, but haven’t tried that yet. I know it takes 1 minute averages for altitude and speed, but the path on the map is more accurate.

        But as I said, I had my phone in my pocket halfway down in the buggy, and there it had absolutely no GPS signal.

    • Fitness GPS watches start at about $100 these days. Probably beyond many orgs’ budgets for some data logging. You might be able to borrow one from a runner or cyclist. If I lived anywhere near Pittsburgh, I would loan mine just to see the data…

  • Fringe got me too! The hesitation when asked who was driving the new buggy and the completed fairings now make sense. Also, Saturday was most definitely very windy. PiKA and CIA were both hanging on to the tents to keep them from sailing away to Never Never Land. There were a few times when I’m sure all the drivers could have held onto the tents and still have gotten airborne.

    What happened on Sunday with CIA was that 18 stopped early in the chute, and Firebird came speeding around the turn and swerved safely around her. Kudos to Shannon in Firebird, who had only driven 3 days before.

    Thanks for the report, Sam!

  • trophymursky says:

    I also am starting to think my bet on over is a bit optimistic, however I still think there are a few scenarios where it can happen. I’ll stick with it for the time being.

  • Hey man, we put it back together and proved it could be fixed. An expert welder could probably fix it with the right tools and it would be fine. It was great for us just to be out there and get rolling. We will be there in the future, I can promise this will not kill us as an org

    • Don’t be a bitch. Get that shit welded, wrap it with 10# of carbon fiber, epoxy the shit out of it, encase it in bondo, cut off the back wheels and bolt it to a horizontal hand truck (hacksaw off the hand truck handle… and replace the handtruck wheels), wrap it with 20# of fiberglass, or build a form to isolate the frame from the driver area and fill it with expanding urethane foam and then glass/carbon the foam.


      • If there is any ancient Colugo dna still left in that buggy, it would love yet another trip to the welding shop. A cracked weld is an invitation for a new weld.

        Roll that sucker.

      • If it’s going to be a tank, go to extremes! Don’t choose any of the above options. Instead, choose all of them!

        On a more serious note, unless you have another loaner, cracked welds shouldn’t stop you from using Camo. Even if rewelding the frame at the cracks isn’t doable, bolting aluminum reinforcement around the craced area would probably be good enough to get to raceday and that’s really something a new org needs.

      • This is an instance where JB Weld is your friend. Seriously though if you drop out now its going to more difficult to get back in the game next year. Getting to raceday will ensure that you retain your people and they stay motivated. It will also help enormously when it comes time to build because you will know what a buggy is and how it works, more or less.

        It might be little dangerous to go around the course with a falling apart buggy, but isn’t doing stupid shit the point of college?

        • Everything is falling apart, man.

          If memory serves me correctly one of Spirit’s first non-purchased buggies (perhaps THE first, but I’m not sure on the exact timing) was an aluminum tube frame that was, basically, glued together. Again, if memory serves, this same buggy crashed on truck weekend, disintegrated, and was rebuilt in time to roll on raceday.

        • As long as all the pieces make it to the finish line with the buggy, what’s the problem?
          Glue & pop rivets are surprisingly strong shit. The makings of many an overnight repair.

      • Little known fact: Messiah’s steering was built ONLY out of JB-weld. We broke like 3 axles in the 3 weeks leading up to raceday. still placed 7th overall.
        If you can’t JB-weld, or don’t feel comfortable with it given the weight, cut some aluminum plates of appropriate shape and size, drill some holes in them, and bolt them around the welded part to strengthen it. I’ve done more hack-ish things than that and STILL passed safeties (see: peregrine)

        • the buggy in question (or at least parts of it) has been through hell and back. Early in it’s life it was bent , hammered, and welded back together following a very high speed impact ( 1984 , one of the fastest rolls on record, sadly truncated at the outside of the chute) and gone on to win the race the following year. It was born all wrong and was unofficially called ‘surgery’ for a while due to all the modifications that happened before it even saw the course. The joy of aluminum is that it can be fixed with minimal effort.

  • The same things that have made it great are now working against it. Every weld in the front is showing signs of fatigue or cracking and it is pretty bent up. We have new drivers and want to be as safe as possible. The whole front overhead bar which holds the steering fork on needs to be cut off and replaced. Also there is a crack or two in the front fork, not an easy part to fix with how it was made. It could definitely be fixed, but with the budget we are on, it would stop us from making our own buggy. We have started the process and our mold will be done within days after break. It would be pushing it to strive for truck weekend, that is sort of the pipe dream goal I have been throwing out there. In the mean time we are trying to secure ourselves a buggy to just stay out there and keep rolling. Lemuroid if you are in Pittsburgh and want to see what is going on let me know, I would love for your thoughts and some insight into the buggy’s history

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