The Tale of a Soapbox Driver

Up Hill, Fail, Down Hill

Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on November 15, 2010

It would appear I never did really fix that wonky wheel problem, and the day started with so much hope, aspirations and dreams….

The 4am start leaving Nottingham only heightened the sense of venture as we travelled over to Cadwell  for our first folly into soapbox racing, with the car in the back and free Sunday Times CD of inspirational speeches on the cd player, preparations couldn’t have been better…

The Dayton 1 passed scruiteneering at its 2nd attempt. Failing initially on its brakes (they didn’t even move the first time)

As we milled around the paddock area, we got various comments regarding our dodgy wheel angles, something that became apparent due to every other team’s cars having nice vertical wheels with no angled bits. People even stopped to take photos, although not out of admiration but im guessing out of shock.

A typical conversation in the paddock went something like this,

Me: “I’m a bit worried about my brakes”

Old man: “Yeh, I would be”

Old Man: “You ever been down a hill in that yet?”

Me: “erm.. No”

Old man: “You know that’s a  35 mph hill, don’t you”

Me: “oh”

Anyway, pushing these lingering thoughts about my imminent death to the rear of my mind, I had passed scrutineering and found myself tieing the soapbox to the back of a van along with 5 other soapbox to be towed to the top of the hill.

I made it to the top of the hill. It was here that problems started to surface.
The Dayton 1 took one look down the hill, shivered, panicked and in one quick shriek collapsed to the ground. Actually the front left axle bolt bent as the car was moved from trackside ready for the first run. Quickly followed by the front right axle. Gutted.

The soapbox was swiftly taken back down the same hill on the back of some  quad bike trailer combo, like a really cheap royal procession, with me sitting on the back, with my pathetic looking soapbox, waving to the spectators.

So I did manage to get up the hill, and go down it again. It’s just a shame that both times were aided by another vehicle….

Something that stood out throughout the day, was the support, advice and help from the other soapbox teams. Helping me load my soapbox onto the quad bike trailer,  giving me advice about better axles to use, and encouraging me to come back next year. 

So I failed to race. I guess thats quite a major failure, but the day was peppered with other smaller successes, I passed scrutineering, and made it up the hill, and for a few moments I was just another soapbox waiting to run with everyone else….

Already there are ideas and plans annoying buzzing around in my head for the Dayton II.


Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on November 12, 2010

It’s the Eve of the race.

I’ve managed to fix the wobbly wheel problem, which is a relief, by drilling and fabricating a shape out of a cap nut, that then fits snuggly into my wheel. They now run smoothly and straight. Hurrah.

My brakes are still causing me a few problems, and its the only element of the car im unhappy with. I have an idea which I will try tomorrow morning, before I hand my car over to be scrutinised, currently they only grind the car to a halt rather than stop briskly, which I feel unless I can improve them may be a problem with the race organisers.

The car is packed in the van ready for our 4:30am start tomorrow morning, travelling over to Cadwell park will probably take 1:40 mins or so.

We tested the car outside for the first time, running it down a road which is on a slight slope. To my astonishment the soapbox ran like a dream, it’s a smooth ride, the steering feels good and it picks up speed quickly. The body work is on the heavy side, which I always thought would have a negative effect, but it grounds the car nicely, and doesn’t fling all over the place.

Good luck to all the other teams and cars tomorrow!

Finally I would like to thank the following for their help / advice / time / effort of the past few weeks.
Amelia Beavis Harrison / Sam Mercer / Liam Aitkin / John Chambers / Simon Withers / Guy Brown / The music guy from upstairs / Steven Ingman / The fish man downstairs / all the Nottingham Contemporary GA’s /

Number 49

Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on November 11, 2010

Starting to add various bits of detail onto the bodywork. A nice big Tethervison logo, who gave me some money to fund the various bits of the car.

I am number 49 on Saturday. So keep a look out for me, and if your racing or just watching come on over and say hello / give advice / be nosey. Or if a car with 49 on the side is wobbling in your direction, I apologies in advance!

If I come 49th out of 50 i would be really pleased…

There are two days till race day, and i’ve got so many small niggling jobs to do, to give the car the highest possible chance of passing scrutinising.  So off to the studio….

I will update later tonight.

The maiden voyage

Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on November 9, 2010

A little video!   

The soapbox’s first outing, making tentative but lumbersome  rolls around the studio. It handles similar to what I image handling a cow would be like.

A bit of blue

Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on November 8, 2010

Quite a lot of progress today. Which is nice, considering there are only 4 days left.

I finished making the front nose, and almost finished the bodywork, I’m quite happy with it. Also managed to start putting on some undercoat, which provides the first glimpse of what it’s going to actually look like.  Here are some pictures.

Is’nt she lovley?

My brakes are causing some problems, they are not releasing properly when used, meaning they are almost ‘one use brakes’, which is of actual little use if i need to brake twice.

Also im still concerned about the weight: wheel ratio and whether the wheels and axles will cope. I wheeled the soapbox around the studio, and various problems seem to arise, this needs moving, or this bits too small… whats going to happen when i get it outside on the road?

Thought I would list some of my worries, as the race gets nearer, im feeling more worried about various possible scenarios. Here are my current worries (they change). Biggest worry first.

  1. Wheels falling off
  2. Brakes failing, and me crashing into a hedge, person or both
  3. Not moving when that race starts… and everyone else rolling into the distance
  4. breaking a bone (from crashing)
  5. just general humiliation amongst the soapbox regulars 

Maybe all soapbox racers have these worries?  

I had some help today from a work friend, has been good to get all those small jobs that require more than one pair of hands to complete…. thanks John.  

Finally…. a question for wordpress.  Why is this text small?

Go. Stop. Go

Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on November 4, 2010

I’ve attached one of the back wheels, along with a rear brake. It took a while to attach, after faffing about with fixing the brake to the frame. I now have 3 wheels attached.

I am planning my first ‘test run’ around the studio on Friday. I’m Nervous.
I was reading a blog yesterday about someones soapbox, and their tweaking of the suspension…. TWEAKING ?! I don’t even have a suspension, and tweaking is something i’m a world away from. I consider just having four wheels an achievement.

I’m going to upload a little video of the first test run on friday… hope your ready.

9 days to race day.

I’ve caught the wobbles

Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on November 2, 2010

Brand new BMX wheels have arrived, all 4 of them.
Ive tried ‘attaching’ them to my stub axles… they seem a bit wobbly… I will update later/tomorrow

11 days till race day.

Thunderbird doors

Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on November 1, 2010

My blogging frequency is nothing short of shameful.

Hopefully these new photos will satisfy this blogs massive demand. I like to imagine 1000,s read this, in reality my dashboard tells me its more like 6.

My soapbox has developed various features, including a pair of Thunderbird style doors, which look cool. The doors maybe go against the idea of developing a light, quick vehicle, maybe they are excessive and just add additional weight ,but I think they look good. If i’m going to trail in last place I would at least like to cling onto the small piece of dignity of looking good.

A pair of Caliper brakes arrived last week, I now just need to work out how to attach them, and a 3 point harness is on its way. My soapbox will be the safest mode of transport available in the UK by the time I’ve finished.

Tether have kindly stumped up some extra cash to buy 4 new wheels. They arrive in 4 days. I hope they fit…

In other news, I slipped with my drill over the weekend, and proceeded to drill into my thumb. It fucking hurt.

12 days till race day…

burglers, van meat and two wheels

Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on October 4, 2010

I have wheels. Two of them. Praise the Lord. Some progress.

I had my maidan trip to a place in which I have heard many a story. Nottingham’s cattle market, and true to form it lived up to my expectations. A Man selling/throwing meat from the back of a van, was a particular highlight, but other than meat selling maniacs there are various people  (burglars) selling second-hand (stolen) goods at cheap prices, I managed to pick up a BMX  for £8, which provided me with my two wheels. Great for me, although which young childhood I have contributed to breaking, is lingering at the back of my mind.

anyway… here is a picture

My two wheels means I can push the car around the studio now… like a wheelbarrow.

The more observant of my limited readers, will notice I need another two wheels to make four… Which means another trip to the cattle market. Yippee.

The frame is nearly finished, I am planning to take this creation to a friend who will weld the frame together on Friday, currently its just bolted and clamped.

I have made some drawings which have helped me (kind of) along the way, although i’m reluctant to post them, some mechanical people might be reading this blog, and I wouldn’t want to offend them with my appalling efforts. Maybe tomorrow.

Wasting time

Posted in Uncategorized by soapbox1934 on September 4, 2010

I’ve been away for the past week, which has meant little to no progress on the Soapbox car. There are 9 weeks to the race, my ‘car’ is still a steel frame, with no wheels, no body…  time to panic?

I’ve found some wheels on ebay, im going to buy them. I’ve  little knowledge of whether they will take the weight of the car (and me) I guess I will found out when I test it…