Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tony's Custom Built Three Wheeler

This drawing is of my friend Tony's custom built three wheeler.  The car started life as an 80's Subaru Brat or something like that.  :)  Tony is an automotive modification artist; a natural talent with car metal.  He can see the possible transformations needed to make a car more efficient and useful.  Let me take you to the workshop at his house, lets chop this car!

So just imagine you have this already efficient car…   then you grab a sawzal.  Cut the roof off, cut the rear wheels off, cut the fenders, doors and generally just lose anything you don't "need" to go, stop and streer.  You don't need doors, fenders, a roof, and you only "need" one wheel in the back.  The blade was smoking when Tony was done cutting.

Next after Tony's power surgery, he started to put stuff back.  He put back one rear wheel with some clever geometry.  I would have to get out a car anatomy chart to explain.  Trust me its cool.  Got the windshield and rear deck from a VW bug.  For the front fenders, he made a change.  The stock 80's Subaru fenders would not do.  Found some Mazda RX-8 fenders and fit them.  This gave it a great curve and line.  Following that theme he carried the line down the car, tapering like a hornet as he approached the back.  Slippery.  Oh hang onto that line as it runs around the radius of the spare tire, sending your eye straight up the other side.  With elegance, that tire is mounted to a movable arm so you can axes it.  Yes it conveniently moves into an upright changing position. Motorcycle exhaust pipes pierce the rear taper which makes the whole car remind me of the Morgan three wheeler.  The Morgan is sort of a half Motorcycle half car from Britain.  Tony's car is well…   half Subaru and half southern California.

On a practical level, now that the car is lighter and slicker.  I wonder how many miles to the gallon it gets?  When the car still had four wheels, I borrowed it to drive to the beach.  The gas gage never moved!  I think it got 40 miles to the gallon back then.  So I wonder…   It may be 100 MPG now.  This interest me as Alternative Fuel is not just about different fuels.  Investigations into high efficiency can be just as useful.

The project is mid way through.  Only a few days of work have been put into the car.  Tony has years of experience and makes this look easy.  He is a veteran auto shop teacher and currently splits his time between teaching and building electric trucks.  At his house he surrounds himself with concept cars.  A jeep-like vehicle with a foldable roof deck for camping.  A 4x4 mini van that is more like a 21 piece Swiss army knife.  It has multiple combinations of little doors and pockets for camping gear.  A half Cadillac, half pick up truck.  An amphibious car.  That is a car that can drive in the water!  It is an interesting car collection, great for inspiring ideas and more diverse then most car museums.  Tony can build anything.

I met Tony in an electric vehicle building class back in the summer of 2008.  We stayed in touch and share an interest in building innovative green vehicles.  Over the years I developed a great friendship with Tony.  It was in that class that I got to know him by asking for help building motor mounts and such.  So how did I get the chance to be in that class?  2008 was a special year for me.  Gasoline prices in New Jersey hit a record high of $4 a gallon and I was on a mission to learn how to convert a gasoline car to electric.  I found a class in San Diego and made a plan to visit.  The class was two weeks of lecture and hands on.  Every day I would bicycle down to the shop, work on the car, bicycle to the beach, and then bicycle back home.  Yes I bought a bike on craigslist just to get around.  I was going green and loving life.  After two weeks, the class had a working electric car and I gained some life long friends.  I have been real lucky to have been back to visit every year since.

Fast forward to 2012.  Over the last 4 years I have been teaching about Alternative Fuel.  For me, Alternative fuel is really about American independence.  Having a choice in the price and over all impact of a product is what I think America is all about.  Where we get a product from and who profits from it, is just as important as the performance of that product (or in this case, the fuel).  The harm from petroleum to the environment that makes human life possible on earth is well documented.  I see our (American) economy and environment as being over taxed or disrupted by the large scale use of petroleum.  Each time, the American people, fill up our gas tanks, we are giving away our independent power.  We the people are free to protect our environment, and our economy.  Just as when Britain over taxed the colonies without representing them, it is time to break free and explore our options.  Choosing a fuel or vehicle that is less harmful and competitively priced is worth investigating.  So there…

Hurricane Sandy proved my point this past month.  There was a gasoline shortage in NJ after the storm.  This crippled our local economy and slowed down our food supply.  We need Alternatives and more efficient vehicles.

Summer time is over.  I am now full steam into my teaching season.  For me, the summer time means I get to visit my favorite city, San Diego.  In that city are great friends and a chilled out spirit unparalleled to any other place I have been.  It is there that I got on the path to building green cars.  This past summer I got to sit a draw a picture of Tony's three wheeler.  As you know I really "see" the cars when I draw them.  Tony is a talented designer and this car was just as fun to draw as the Talbot Lago.

Before I go I must also mention another close friend that has been a contributor to the three wheeler build.  Mike Hanes.  AKA “Forager Mike” owns a raw food hot sauce company.  He leads the green life by example, running his own hydroponic garden, and teaching healthy living habits.  When I am out west in California, Mike keeps my NJ road rage down.

1 comment:

  1. This is the best ever! Great job Ron. Pretty soon, you, myself and Tony will be cruising around in these awesome 3 wheel cars with amphibious capabilities. Oh Yes!!! Mike